Sa-wat dee! Welcome to Thailand. Bangkok is a heady mixture of ancient traditions and slick modernity, where the bazaars (obviously bustling) and world-class cuisine are only the beginning. Your adventure begins with a welcome meeting at 6pm today. Please look for a note in the hotel lobby or ask the hotel reception where it will take place. If you can't arrange a flight that will arrive in time, you may wish to arrive a day early so you're able to attend. We'll be happy to book additional accommodation for you (subject to availability). If you're going to be late, please inform the hotel reception. Have your insurance details and next of kin information on hand for collection. With free time, acquaint yourself with this frenetic city of tuk tuks, street food and traditional khlong boats winding down the Chao Phraya River. Tonight you might want to experience the unique tourist mecca of Khao San Road.
You’ll start today with a visit to Wat Arun – Temple of the Dawn. Named after the Indian God of Dawn - Aruna, this impressive landmark of Bangkok sits majestically on the westbank of the Chao Phraya River. The rest of the afternoon is free for optional activities, and this city has so much to offer – perhaps head next door to the magnificent Grand Palace and the Temple of the Emerald Buddha or Wat Pho, home to the country's largest reclining Buddha and keeper of the magic behind Thai massage. You may want to take a riverboat to Chinatown and explore the crowded streets, or travel by longtail boat down the Chao Phraya River to explore the famous 'khlongs' (canals) of Bangkok. Life along these canals seems a world away from the chaotic streets of the capital. Tonight you will board an overnight train southbound for Langsuan (approximately 9 hours). Notes: Sleeper trains are clean and air-conditioned, and beds are multi-share compartments with bunk bed padded berths with sheets, pillow and blanket provided (although some people prefer to bring their own sleeping sheet). Please note that you may be sharing compartments with locals of the same or opposite gender. Your baggage will travel in the carriage with you. There's also a food and drink service available on board. Some may find the air conditioning on the train quite cold overnight so best to pack a jumper and some long pants.
Arrive on your overnight train early in the morning, at around 6 am. Try a local style breakfast in Luangsuan market before heading to the pier (approximately 20 minutes) for Koh Pitak. Take a 10-minute boat to nearby Koh Pitak, a gorgeous little island, the location of tonight's homestay. Take an orientation walk around the village. While you're here, you'll see how the fisherman live and how they make their interesting fish traps. Your homestay tonight will include lunch, dinner and breakfast. Most meals will be be typical southern fare with fresh local seafood.
Say goodbye to your hosts and travel back to the mainland on a short boat trip. Then make the journey to Chumphon by private minivan (approximately 1.5 hours) and check into your resort. Your accommodation is beautifully located, right on the beachfront at Thung Wua Lan Beach (located about 16 kilometres away from the main town). You'll join the rest of the group to travel to a local lookout point, Khao Matsee, to take in some nice views and perhaps grab a cup of coffee. Back at the beach, spend free time stolling along the white sands of this pristine, uncrowded strip of coast.
Embark on a full-day snorkelling adventure. You will start at around 9 am and finish up at around 3 pm. The trip covers three different snorkelling spots, which gives you a nice variety of underwater scenery. See how many different kinds of tropical fish you can spot. The snorkelling will take place in the open water, so there will be no beach stops. Lunch is included, and you will arrive back at base at around 5 pm.
Hop from one beach paradise to another, travelling to Ko Tao. The ferrry takes around 2 hours, and you'll arrive on Ko Tao mid-afternoon. Famous for its spectacular coral reefs, the delightful little island of Ko Tao is popular not only among divers but also those looking for beautiful palm-fringed beaches such as Sairee. Here you can relax or perhaps take up some optional diving. Cooking classes, aromatherapy sessions or local spa visits are also great options. Ko Tao also has a small but lively nightlife for those interested in dancing and socialising on the beach or in bars.
Today you’ll experience the beautiful underwater world that surrounds Ko Tao with an exploratory snorkelling trip. With coral and fish a plenty and the remote chance of seeing timid reef sharks amongst mesmerising coral formations, Ko Tao is undeniably one of the jewels in southern Thailand's crown. Sail south from Mae Haad Pier, navigating around the southern tip of the island until you reach Shark Island. You might see the occasional leopard shark. Drop by Luek Bay for one of the best swimming beaches on the island with fish-filled reefs on either side, then stop at Hin Wong Bay for lunch aboard the boat – an idyllic spot where palm trees line the sheltered inlet. The shallow waters of Muang Bay are filled with colourful fish to swim by, and then stop at Nang Yuan Island. You can pay the small entrance fee to this privately owned island and take a short hike up to a viewpoint, relax on the beach, snorkel through schools of parrotfish, or chill out on the boat.
Jump on another boat today and cruise over to Ko Samui (approximately 2.5 hours). The island is certainly a brasher, more vibrant extrovert compared to its sister islands. If a little modern pizazz is what you’re after with your dose of sunshine exotica, look no further – this island offers a little something for everyone. Known simply as Samui by locals, Thailand's third largest island is rich with white sandy beaches, coral reefs and coconut trees. There's also the Big Buddha, waterfalls, markets, temples, a mummified monk, great shopping opportunities, Michelin star restaurants, luxury spas, and a lively nightlife. Today you can take an optional sightseeing tour around the island or brush up on your cooking techniques with a Thai cooking class.
It’s up to you what you want to do today, but if you feel like being more active, take an optional day trip to Ang Thong Marine National Park, an idyllic archipelago of around 40 islands (many uninhabited). If you choose this option you’ll take a speedboat to the Marine Park, with the island of Ko Wao or Ko Tai Plow as your first stop – here you can snorkel in the turquoise waters filled with ever changing colours of coral and fish. Sail around the steep limestone cliff islands and stop near an inland saltwater lagoon called Emerald Lake (Talay Nai), which is fed by an underground cave. Take a short walk up pathways and a wooden staircase to reach a magnificent hilltop lake viewpoint. Enjoy lunch on the island that houses the park headquarters, then chill out on the beach, climb up for a panorama of the Marine Park, and get out on to the bay for some kayaking. You’ll head back to Ko Samui in mid-afternoon. Maybe join you the rest of your group for a drink to celebrate the end of this east coast Thailand beach adventure tonight.
This wonderful Thailand beach adventure comes to an end today, and you are able to depart the accommodation at any time. Perhaps continue your exploration of South East Asia with another Intrepid adventure.