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Yi Peng Lantern Festival (10 Days)
Day 1: Bangkok
Welcome to Bangkok, the ever-alluring capital of Thailand. Arrival transfer to our hotel where our Welcome Meeting takes place later in the evening.
Overnight in Bangkok.
Day 2: Bangkok
This morning we visit the spiritual and religious heart of the city – the striking Grand Palace. Topped by golden stupas, the complex has been the site of royal coronations and is home to the legendary Emerald Buddha. We’ll also visit the House of the Reclining Buddha, the Original Thai Massage School and the 24hr Flower Market before boarding longtail boats to explore the city’s canals. Known as khlongs, the canals enable surface water to make its way to the sea and have long been a way of getting around Bangkok. On our journey we’ll glide by curious stilted houses and gleaming temples whilst old men fish and children folic about on the waters edge.
Our boats drop us off within walking distance of Khao San Road, popular with backpackers and hippies. Late afternoon offers free time for you to enjoy the many bars, restaurants, street performers, market stalls and tailors – that will measure you up for a new suit, that line this vibrant road.
Overnight in Bangkok.
Day 3: Bangkok –Kanchanaburi
It’s an early start today as we drive 2.5hrs west of the capital to the small town of Kanchanaburi. Here we pay our respects to the thousands of Allied POWs who perished in the area under the hand of the Imperial Japanese Army. After pausing at the Allied War Cemetery we continue to the infamous ‘Bridge over the River Kwai’, immortalised by the film of the same name. You have a chance to take pictures before you board a train for a 2 hour journey that crosses the bridge before following the tracks dug by the POWs and locals some 75 years earlier.
Disembarking at Nam Tok we have a short drive to ‘Hellfire Pass’ where the POWs dug through a mountain often using only their bare hands. A fascinating museum at the entrance details the region’s history.
After our day’s sightseeing a leisurely longtail boat ride leads us to our fabulous floating jungle raft hotel. To the beauty of a hundred softly glowing lanterns and the sounds of the tropical forest and cool water flowing by we enjoy dinner and a relaxing evening on the deck.
Overnight in Kanchanaburi.
Day 4: Kanchanaburi –Ayuthaya
This morning we travel on to the beautiful Erawan National Park, to explore the rivers, waterfalls and trails on foot. The park boasts a stunning tiered waterfall and there’s time to swim in one of the many refreshing crystalline rock pools. After we travel on to Ayuthaya, the former capital and once one of the wealthiest cities in the world.
Overnight in Ayuthaya.
Day 5: Ayuthaya –Bangkok –Chiang Mai
Ayuthaya was sacked by the Burmese, leading them to abandon the site and relocate the capital to Bangkok. All that remains are the stone and brick temples from the era. Today we explore Ayuthaya’s famous ruins, visiting the magnificent stupas at Wat Phri Sanphet, the giant Bronze Statue of Buddha and iconic Wat Mahatat where the head of a damaged Buddha statue has slowly been embraced and lifted by a nearby tree. This is one of Thailand’s most religiously significant places.
Departing Ayuthaya we board a cruise ship on the mighty Chao Praya River, for a scenic cruise back to the Bangkok, enjoying lunch on board. On arrival there’s time to explore the nearby shops and bars before heading to Bangkok’s main train station to catch our overnight express sleeper train (2nd class A/C sleeper cabins) to Chiang Mai.
Overnight in Sleeper Train.
Day 6: Yi Peng Festival
This morning we arrive into the picturesque city of Chiang Mai, nestled in the foothills of northern Thailand. This afternoon we take a trishaw ride and explore the old city of Chiang Mai before driving up to the majestic Doi Suthep, standing like a sentinel overlooking Chiang Mai. The tranquillity of monks chanting as the sun slowly heads to the horizon is a highlight for many. In the evening we head into the night market to explore many of the street foods on offer and enjoy the festivities of Loi Krathong and Yi Peng.
Yi Peng & Loi Krathong Festivals Celebrated throughout the Kingdom on the evening of the full moon of the 12th month in the traditional Thai lunar calendar, the Loi Krathong festival is named after the floating lanterns, boats and ornaments that are set adrift onto rivers during the celebrations. For some, floating a Krathong, especially when lit, are meant to honour Buddha. For most Thais, it’s a way to thank the Hindu Goddess of Water, Phra Mae Khongkha, for her help in providing the most basic of all human necessities. The practice is also associated with creating good luck and ridding oneself of anger and negative thoughts. Some will cut their fingernails and hair and add them to the Krathong, to symbolise the letting go of the bad elements of one’s self.
In Chiang Mai, the ancient capital of the former Lanna Kingdom, Loi Krathong coincides with the Lanna (northern Thai) festival known as ‘Yi Peng’ where a multitude of Lanna-style sky lanterns adorned with good luck wishes and prayer are released into the sky.
Tonight, as both Loi Krathong and Yi Peng are being celebrated at the same time, we will see lanterns floating on the waters, strings of pretty lights hanging from houses and temples, and hundreds of beautiful lanterns floating by in the sky. Setting out on foot with our guide, we’ll aim to catch the lantern releases and join the other festivities which usually include fireworks, boat racing on the Ping River and parades through the streets.
Overnight in Chiang Mai.
Day 7: Chiang Mai
Today is free for you to enjoy at your leisure or enjoy more of the Yi Peng and Loi Krathong festivities. With our guide, we head to the market to stock up on all materials needed to make our own Krathongs, then learn how to make them ready to be sailed this evening. There will also be a host of other festival activities that we can enjoy during the day. Not to mention activities unrelated to the festival such as cookery courses and flying through the jungle canopy on zip lines!
Overnight in Chiang Mai.
Day 8: Chiang Mai-Chiang Rai
Our journey today takes us through stunning karst and jungle scenery. Stopping for lunch at Ta Thon we board private long tail boats for a cruise down the Kok River watching rural life pass us by. Farmers work the land where oranges grow whilst men fish along the banks and buffalo wallow in the shallow waters. From our arrival point continue to the unconventional Wat Rong Khun Buddhist temple (aka the White Temple) which depicts scenes from modern movies including the Matrix, Star Wars and Superman! Proceed to Chiang Rai where we wander the night market for last-minute souvenirs and tasty street food.
Overnight in Chiang Rai.
Day 9: Chiang Rai –Bangkok
The city of Chiang Rai is a great base for visiting local hill tribes and this morning we visit a Karen village where we may encounter the famous Long Neck tribe, so known for the neck rings that the women wear to elongate their necks. Continuing to the border frontier town of Mae Sai, we may have the chance to cross briefly into Myanmar and enter the Burmese town of Tachilek (optional). At Chiang Saen we stand at a viewpoint that lets us see both Myanmar and Laos. We take time to visit the Opium Museum before returning to Chiang Mai to catch our flight back to Bangkok.
On arrival in the city we transfer to our hotel arriving late in the evening – not really a problem in ‘the city that never sleeps’!
Overnight in Bangkok.
Day 10: Bangkok
Tuesday 07 November 2017. Today marks the end of your Thai adventure. After breakfast and hotel check out we will transfer you to the airport in time for your onward departure flight. Your most welcome to extend your stay in Bangkok. If choosing to book post tour accommodation with us a departure transfer to the airport will be offered at the completion of your post tour accommodation arrangements.
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- Bangkok - Grand Palace, Wat Pho, Original Thai Massage School, Flower Market and Khao San Road
- Erawan National Park - wildlife, evergreen forests, beautiful waterfalls & swimming
- Chiang Mai - night market and free time for optional activities from spa treatments to canopy ziplines
- Wat Rhon Khung - the ‘White Temple’
- Crossing the border into Burma to explore the small town of Tachileik (optional)
- Kanchanaburi - Allied War Cemetery, Bridge on the River Kwai and Hellfire Pass
- Ayuthaya - Former capital of Thailand, ancient ruins including iconic Wat Mahatat
- Cruising on the Kok River in a longtail boat
- Chiang Rai - Karen (Longneck) tribe village, frontier town of Mae Sai, Chiang Saen in the ‘Golden Triangle’ & the Opium Museum
- Yi Peng & Loi Krathong Festival in Chiang Mai. Watch on as thousands of colourful lanterns are released into the Ping River and into the night Sky
- 8 breakfasts, 1 lunch, 1 dinner
- Economy class flight Chiang Mai - Bangkok
- Escorted by an English-speaking Thai tour guide
- Train ride over the River Kwai and visit to Hellfire Pass
- River cruise from Ayuthaya to Bangkok
- All relevant transfers and transportation in private air-conditioned vehicles
- 7 nights 3 - 4 star & Special Class hotels, 1 night floating hotel in the jungle, 1 night overnight sleeper train from Bangkok to Chiang Mai
- Airport arrival transfer day 1 & departure transfer day 10
- Guided sightseeing - Bangkok, Kanchanaburi, Erawan National Park, Ayuthaya and Chiang Rai
- Longtail boat cruise on the canals of Bangkok and on the Kok River
- Excursion to the hill tribe villages around Chiang Rai
- International flights and visa
Our Yi Peng arrangements do not include the 'Mass Release' event at Mae Jo. The Mae Jo Mass Release is a paid event with no historical significance. Tickets cost between $100 - $300, are limited and can be purchased independantly online, should you wish to make your own arrangements to attend