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THE ULTIMATE NORTHERN THAILAND EXPLORER

taking the path less travelled

Perfectly described by Lonely Planet as ‘friendly and food-obsessed, hedonistic and historic, cultured and curious’ Thailand welcomes visitors with a smile ‘as golden as the country’s glittering temples and tropical beaches’.

This Buddhist nation holds their celestial world close, and religious dedication is colourful and omnipresent. Glorious temples and golden Buddhas frame this incredible landscape – this is a place where ancient banyan trees are wrapped in sacred cloth and mysticism is intertwined with superstition and intricate spirit houses are found everywhere from the humblest of homes, palatial villas to vast stretches of winding roads.

Starting in in the city of angels, or Krung Thep as Bangkok is known to its inhabitants, we discover a city where the exotic and familiar collide. We get lost in the tiny lanes of Chinatown, dine after dark on the Chao Phraya and explore a nightlife scene that reveals a cosmopolitan and vibrant city.

Gliding along the Chao Phraya we will discover picturesque scenes of Thai river life, the uninterrupted lines of buildings, markets, warehouses, shops and magnificent temples as well as the continuous flow of boats going about their daily routines as we head to a place once replete with gilded temples and treasure-laden palaces. Here we discover the enigmatic temple ruins that are strewn across the city of Ayutthaya. Dozens of ruins remain from this period of thriving trade and art and offer a tantalising glimpse into its glorious past.

Continuing north we head to a sprawling modern city that has grown up around its ancient town. This dichotomy is best appreciated within the moat-encircled old city, which retains much of the fortified wall that once protected the city centre as well as the four main gates that provided access to the former Lanna capital city.

It is from this 'Rose of the North' that we venture far off the hard beaten tourist trail and where our real adventure begins. Rice paddies, forests and villages and in the north, fields set against the mountains, Thailand’s rural heartland is a place where life is dominated by the rhythms of the seasons. Using our trusty tuk tuk’s we explore this incredible landscape - pristine forests dotted with churning waterfalls, serene wáts and peaceful country villages and discover an innate pleasure from disconnecting from the outside world and taking a moment to slow down and reconnect with ourselves and the world the around us.

WE INVITE YOU TO JOIN US ON OUR ULTIMATE NORTHERN THAILAND ADVENTURE!

PACKAGE PRICING & INCLUSIONS

Priced from R69'952 per person sharing (terms and conditions apply, subject to availability) departure ex-Johannesburg
US & European departures available from US$4'820 per person

PLEASE NOTE THAT OUR 2020 DEPARTURE HAS BEEN CANCELLED DUE TO COVID. We will release our 2021 travel date as soon as possible.

Package includes

・Airport meet & greet services (Johannesburg OR Tambo departure check in assistance & lounge access; Bangkok Suvarnabhumi arrival immigration & security fast track)
・All flights (international flights ex-Johannesburg & internal flights in Thailand. All flights in economy class)
・Marmalade Toast bespoke travel standard flight concierge services including online check-in, pre-seating (subject to availability) and meal selection (if required)
・Marmalade Toast bespoke travel hosts travelling with you, managing all daily aspects of itinerary and sharing insider insight and tips to the destination
・All transfers
・10 nights' accommodation comprised of 3 nights Bangkok (5*), 4 nights in a Chiang Mai (5*), 1 night Mae Wang, 1 night Samoeng and 1 night Pai 
・Meals as specified in itinerary (10 x breakfast, 5 x lunch, 9 x dinner)
・Tours as specified in itinerary (including entrance fees where applicable, English speaking guides, drinking water and transport as specified)
・Tuk tuk adventure including fuel, drivers, support vehicle, guides and insurance
・Thailand tourist SIM (complimentary wifi 'on-the-go' is also available at all times that you are out and about with your Marmalade Toast hosts in Thailand)
・Full comprehensive travel insurance for South African departures (compulsory)
・Electronic travel document distribution (via email) including destination guide (what-to-pack, weather, customs, hotel details and things to look forward to)

Not Included:
・Meals not specified, drinks, items of a personal nature (such as laundry), visas if required (South African passport holders are granted entry for 30 days on arrival in Thailand at no charge), flights to and from Johannesburg if required (these can be arranged by our team at an additional cost)

(Please note that due to some of the activities and excursions on this trip we have a minimum age requirement of 21 years of age and participants wishing to drive their own tuk tuk's must have a valid drivers licence and IDP - International Drivers Licence)

 

ITINERARY

FRIDAY 2 OCTOBER - DEPART JOHANNESBURG

On arrival at the OR Tambo International Airport (3 hours prior to departure) we ask that you make your way to the departures terminal, where you will find a Marmalade Toast bespoke travel team member at the check-in desk (look for the Marmalade Toast signage). Once your check in procedures are complete and you have cleared immigration, we invite you to take a moment to relax in the departures lounge, have some food and a drink and get to know your fellow adventurers.

SATURDAY 3 OCTOBER - SAWADEE KAP THAILAND: BANGKOK

Welcome to Thailand, the land of smiles, and to Bangkok where anything worth doing should have an element of sànùk. Ordering food, changing money and haggling at markets will usually involve a sense of playfulness – a dash of flirtation, perhaps – and a smile.

You will be met at skybridge of the aircraft by our local team and escorted through immigration and customs before being transferred to our hotel where we will be eagerly waiting for you. After we complete check-in procedures you can take some time to freshen up, relax and enjoy lunch or an ice cold drink with us and your fellow adventurers.

This evening we’ll find ourselves dining in luxury on the Chao Phraya River. Witness the sights and lights of Bangkok at night as we travel along The “River of Kings”, lined with an array of shimmering temples and unique Bangkok sights that provide a stunning backdrop to our dinner cruise. Both sides of the river offer incredible glimpses of fascinating architecture, both ancient and modern, and we will witness famous historic landmarks as you pass by, including Wat Arun, or the Temple of Dawn, The Grand Palace and Wat Pho. You’ll also be able to see the glow of modern Bangkok and the string of prestigious waterfront hotels. While on board we will enjoy a 6-course traditional Thai menu with the riverside views making this a magical dining experience.

After dinner we transfer back to our hotel where we can enjoy a nightcap before we head to bed for sweet dreams of what lies ahead as we start to explore more of this incredible country.

Overnight: Hotel Muse (Jatu Deluxe)

Meals included: Dinner

SUNDAY 4 OCTOBER - BANGKOK

This morning is an easy one. Enjoy a leisurely breakfast and take some time for yourself.

For those feeling up to a little cultural exploration, join us on a little unscheduled excursion to see our two favourite temples in the city. Wat Pho (the Temple of the Reclining Buddha) is a must-see for any first-time visitor to Bangkok is famed for its giant reclining Buddha that is 46 metres long, covered in gold leaf.
From here we cross the river to Wat Arun. Locally known as Wat Chaeng, this landmark temple on the west (Thonburi) bank of the Chao Phraya river is easily one of the most stunning temples in Bangkok. Wat Arun (nicknamed the 'Temple of Dawn') is partly made up of colourfully decorated spires and stands majestically over the water. From Wat Arun it's an easy river taxi to Icon Siam if you want to get in a spot of luxury shopping, or you can head back to the hotel with us for a little free time and a cocktail pool side.

Sitting casually in Silom Soi 7, surrounded by glass and steel high-rises you could be forgiven for missing the Namsaah Bottling Trust... a fuchsia pink century-old house. The name of the venue pays homage to its colourful history – a residence of a royal aide-de-camp, a soda company’s bottling office, and the headquarters of a bank, but now it is home to Chef Ian Kittichai’s whimsical bespoke bar and Michelin plated restaurant and the venue for tonight’s dinner – a gastronomic experience!

From his humble beginnings in Bangkok where as a child he pushed a cart through the neighbourhood to sell food his mother made, Chef Ian Kittichai has become an award-winning chef, restaurateur, cookbook author and television personality. From Wagyu dumplings and popcorn shrimp (in a Sriracha aioli) to crispy tangerine chicken (in a tamarind, palm sugar and chilli sauce), slow-cooked beef red curry and a Thai coffee and chocolate creme brûlée with churros and chocolate sauce, tonight’s dinner at Namsaah will be an absolute feast for the senses.

From here, for those in the mood for something different, it is a short walk to our favourite camp drinking spot on Soi 4, where you are invited to join us for a casual drink and the chance to catch one of our favourite drag shows in the city!

Overnight: Hotel Muse (Jatu Deluxe)

Meals included: Breakfast | Dinner

MONDAY 5 OCTOBER - BANGKOK & AYUTTHAYA

It’s a very early start this morning with breakfast on the go and a transfer to Si Praya pier to board the White Orchid River Cruise. Relax and take in the picturesque scenes of Thai river life, the uninterrupted lines of buildings, markets, warehouses, shops and magnificent temples as well as the continuous flow of boats going about their daily routines. A buffet lunch will be presented with a variety of Thai delights and Western cuisines.

In Nonthaburi, we disembark and continue overland to Bang Pa Inn summer palace, before making our way to the Ayutthaya Historical Park. Ayutthaya once was the capital of the Siamese kingdom, until it was occupied by the Burmese army in 1767 and almost levelled to the ground. Located on the west bank of the Chao Phraya River, the restored ruins of the Wat Chai Wattanaram is one of Ayutthaya's most photographed sites. Our journey in Ayutthaya includes Wat Phra Sri Sanphet - the prototypes of the famous Grand Palace in Bangkok, and Wat Mahathat where we will have a chance to see the famous Buddha Head in the banyan tree. After exploring the ancient ruins of Ayutthaya we will make our way back to Bangkok by air-conditioned vehicle where you will have some time to yourself to rest your feet and cool down before dinner.

Bangkok is famous for its incredible street food, buzzing nightlife and it’s iconic three-wheeled tuk tuk. So we’ve combined all three on our special evening excursion.

Starting at our hotel we head by tuk tuk to Chinatown and the bright lights of Yaowarat Road and the Odeon Circle. Off the main road are a series of narrow alleys that offer a great insight into how the Chinese community have preserved their cultural traditions for over two centuries. The area was once renowned for being a dense warren of opium dens, gambling joints and brothels. Today it's the great food, fabric and gold that lures people to this area.

Tonight, we will sample different local Thai and Chinese dishes from different street food vendors. These vary but our favourites include Satay (grilled meat with a peanut sauce), Sala Pow (steamed buns with meat or vegetables inside), Khao Mun Gai (Hainanese-style chicken rice) Bamee Moo Daeng (noodles with slices of red pork), Khao Niew Mamuang (mango sticky rice) and Bua Loy Nam Khing (rice dough balls filled with sesame paste in hot ginger juice).

After sampling the incredible food, we jump back into our tuk tuk's and head to Thatien Pier, for a short photo stop of Wat Arun before passing through Pak Klong Talad Market (which is best visited at night when there are fresh deliveries of flowers, fruit and spices). Back in the tuk tuk we drive through Rattanakosin, the original area of Bangkok, capital over 200 years ago. You will see magnificent temples and architectural buildings, like the Grand Palace, Wat Pho and Democracy Monument. We stop at The Press Sky Bar to enjoy a drink on their roof. While not the highest bar in Bangkok, it offers a wonderful panoramic view from the 6th floor. Relax on the comfy sofas before being dropped off back at your hotel to rest our weary heads after a long day of discovery.

Overnight: Hotel Muse (Jatu Deluxe)

Meals included: Breakfast | Lunch | Dinner

TUESDAY 6 OCTOBER - CHIANG MAI

After an early breakfast and once we have completed check-out formalities it’s time to head to the airport for our short flight to the 'Rose of the North'. Chiang Mai is a land of misty mountains and colourful hill tribes, a playground for seasoned travellers, a paradise for shoppers and a delight for adventurers. Located 700 km north of Bangkok in a verdant valley on the banks of the Ping River, Chiang Mai was founded in 1296 as the capital of the ancient Lanna Kingdom. Today it is a place where past and the present seamlessly merge with modern buildings standing side by side with venerable temples.

On arrival we are transferred by our local Chiang Mai team to our hotel for check in. Take some time to lie by the pool or sit on the banks of the Ping River and enjoy a drink while watching the locals go about their daily routines, the afternoon is yours to do as you wish.

This evening we are collected by songthaews the local covered pickup trucks with rows of seats in the back that transport people along set routes in Thailand - a common way to get around. The word "songthaew" literally means "two rows" in Thai.
We follow a route that will take us to two evening markets, where we'll try a wide variety of dishes, from kannom jin Chinese noodles to northern Thai specialties, coconut dumplings, stewed pork, and sweets. This is the perfect time to learn some basic phrases with help from a local, and practice ordering dishes in Thai. As a small group and with our experienced guide, you’ll have plenty of time to ask questions about unfamiliar foods, ingredients, and how to eat some of Thailand’s more exotic dishes. Once we've sampled our way through both markets, we'll hop on songthaews and return to your hotel.

Overnight: Na Nirand Romantic Boutique Resort (Romantic Lanna Deluxe)

Meals included: Breakfast | Dinner

WEDNESDAY 7 OCTOBER - TUK TUKS, ELEPHANTS & BAMBOO RAFTING

After an early breakfast and arranging any luggage you might want to leave at the hotel it's time to transfer to our tuk tuk base in the valley of Mae Wang, around 60 minutes South West of Chiang Mai for can only be billed as the greatest adventure of your life!

On arrival we get straight into the action as those choosing the ‘self-drive’ option start their detailed tuk tuk training. We’re taken slowly through every step of how to drive these wonderful vehicles (a cross between a car and a moped!) and after around an hour (or more if needed) we head out in a convoy led by our expert guide.

Travelling along tiny rural lanes and through small farming villages you’ll get used to your tuk tuk as we head to a remote forest meditation temple where our journey ahead will be blessed by the resident monk, a fascinating experience in a unique and beautiful location.

Onward we pass through small rural communities rarely seen by tourists as we head to a super spot for lunch - a family run restaurant with delicious and authentic Thai food. Enjoy several shared dishes (family style, the real Thai way to eat) and relax after your morning’s training and adventures.

After lunch we head north through the valley to a small elephant sanctuary. This sanctuary has been on a great journey over the last 5 years, moving away from anything to do with elephant riding and ‘entertaining’ and working to ensure that their elephants come first (whilst still enabling a sustainable life for their mahouts to ensure that the cycle of inhumane treatment and work stops). This experience provides a great opportunity to learn about the role of elephants in Thai culture and communities and how their future in Thailand is intertwined with people and the mahouts who look after them. We'll assist the mahouts with feeding and then walk with these wonderful animals to the local river to help bathe them.

Once the elephants have decided they’re clean we will transfer a short distance to enjoy a change of pace as we float gently down the local river on bamboo rafts. Expertly steered by people from the local community it’s a relaxing way to enjoy a very different perspective on the local area.

Then we are back in our tuk tuk’s to drive back through the valley to our overnight accommodation. We spend this evening in a small countryside hotel that’s locally owned and run. With spacious and comfortable rooms, air-conditioning, wi-fi and of course en-suite facilities this is a hotel with a lovely location to relax after an exciting day.

Finally, we head for a feast of a dinner at a local country ‘pub’. As authentic as it gets, located next to the rice fields, this ‘pub’ is hugely popular with the local community and well known for its superb food in a very laid back and relaxed environment.

Overnight: Khun Khum Wang Resort (Standard Room)

Meals included: Breakfast | Lunch | Dinner

THURSDAY 8 OCTOBER - MOUNTAINS, HILL TRIBES & THE MARKET VILLAGE OF SAMOENG

After breakfast it’s time to venture deep into Hill Tribe territory. Setting off in convoy these specially built tuk tuks are simply the best way to experience every element of the region we pass through putting you right in the heart of the action.
With plenty of stops to enjoy the scenery, take in forest waterfalls, enjoy some mountain coffee shops and stretch the legs, we’ll quickly find ourselves 1,500 metres above sea level and in what feels like a very different world.

After breakfast it’s time to venture deep into Hill Tribe territory. Setting off in convoy these specially built tuk tuks are simply the best way to experience every element of the region we pass through putting you right in the heart of the action.
With plenty of stops to enjoy the scenery, take in forest waterfalls, enjoy some mountain coffee shops and stretch the legs, we’ll quickly find ourselves 1,500 metres above sea level and in what feels like a very different world.

Our lunch stop is at a simple rural restaurant – great food in real mountain surroundings. Explore giant Buddha images soaring out of the forest and be in awe as we spend time in communities rarely visited by other travellers.
By mid-afternoon we arrive at our overnight accommodation in Samoeng, a lovely small market town acting as a trading post for many of the local mountain communities. Our accommodation is simple, but clean, at a family run ‘resort’ located next to the river with lovely views all around.

In the evening we head out for a traditional Thai bbq, something most visitors never get to experience and a great communal way to eat.

Overnight: local family run hotel

Meals included: Breakfast | Lunch | Dinner

FRIDAY 9 OCTOBER - REMOTE VILLAGES, CAVES, HOT SPRINGS & THE MOUNTAIN TOWN OF PAI

After breakfast we're back in our Tuk Tuk convoy heading further North. Stopping to explore remote caves, old teak Temples, fascinating Karen Hill tribe villages and the all-important mountain coffee shops - we'll wind our way throughout some of Northern Thailand’s most stunning and remote regions.

After breakfast we're back in our tuk Tuk convoy heading further North. Stopping to explore remote caves, old teak Temples, fascinating Karen Hill tribe villages and the all-important mountain coffee shops, we'll wind our way throughout some of Northern Thailand’s most stunning and remote regions.

With a chance to cook up some eggs in the hot springs before we arrive at our overnight accommodation a few kilometres outside the mountain town of Pai, we’ll find ourselves Nestled amongst rice fields and surrounded by mountains. This lovely locally owned resort has large individual bungalows as rooms with great outdoor terraces to relax on (and most importantly, a fantasitc infinity pool with views across the rice fields).

In the evening we head out with the team for a street food experience sampling items from all over the North of Thailand

Overnight: Phu Pai Art Resort

Meals included: Breakfast | Lunch | Dinner

SATURDAY 10 OCTOBER: CHIANG MAI

After breakfast and check out formalities we bid sad farewell to our incredible tuk tuk team and head back to the luxury of Na Nirand in Chiang Mai stopping for a quick lunch on the way. Back in Chiang Mai it’s time for a little rest and relaxation.

A short walk from our hotel, and once home to the British Consulate, tonight’s dinner venue is a gorgeous 1920’s teak colonial style building and a place where secret recipes blend vibrant flavours and historic illusion casts mystery and intrigue. The consulate house reimagines this splendid era with an eccentric British intelligence concept at The Service 1921.

Pairing inventive concoctions by their resident mixologist with gourmet Asian and Latin bites as we savour a choice of modern Thai, Chinese-Szechuanese and Vietnamese cuisines. The Service 1921 is a gastronomic experience that will delight on all fronts and well deserved of their Michelin Plate.

For those feeling a little adventurous after dinner you are invited to join us for a drink at the high energy and incredible 6ixcret cabaret show, a short walk from our dinner location.

Overnight: Na Nirand Romantic Boutique Resort (Romantic Lanna Deluxe)

Meals included: Breakfast | Lunch | Dinner

SUNDAY 11 OCTOBER: CHIANG MAI

Today is a sleep in late, mimosa's at breakfast kind of day. Do as much or as little as you want! The whole day is yours!

For those up to it, this evening you are invited to join us at the Thae Pae Sunday walking street - one of our all-time favourite street markets.

Here we can have a drink and watch some live music, haggle with the street vendors for the best price and sample some of the best street food this side of Bangkok (we'll also show you some magical hidden temples that will take your breath away).

Overnight: Na Nirand Romantic Boutique Resort (Romantic Lanna Deluxe)

Meals included: Breakfast

MONDAY 12 OCTOBER: CHIANG MAI

After breakfast it's time for a last bit of Chiang Mai culture. Our local team will collect us at the hotel for a morning of temple hopping and learning a little more about the incredible city of Chiang Mai.

The magnificent temple of Wat Doi Suthep is our starting point. Much revered locally and the temple is found at the top of Doi Suthep (Suthep Mountain). To reach the temple, we climb the 290 steps up its dramatic staircase, flanked by twin nagas (serpents) which undulate up the sides of the stairs. Those who are unable to climb the staircase may use the lift for a small charge and walk back down the steps. Wat Doi Suthep was built in 1383 and is dominated by a gorgeous golden chedi which contains relics of Lord Buddha.

Our tour continues on to Chiang Mai’s biggest market, colourful Waroros Market, and we’ll stop off at impressive Wat Chedi Luang and Wat Phra Singh, both 14th century temples of considerable interest.

After some time to relax at the hotel,  we invite you to join us at the hotel rooftop bar for sundowners before one last culinary journey in the hotel's restaurant.

Overnight: Na Nirand Romantic Boutique Resort (Romantic Lanna Deluxe)

Meals included: Breakfast | Dinner

TUESDAY 13 OCTOBER: WÁI JEE GAN - GOODBYE'S ARE NEVER EASY

It's a leisurely breakfast morning before we start our check out formalities. For those that want we can arrange a taxi to take you into town for a quick bit of last bit of shopping before we say fond farewell and our local team collects everyone at the hotel for your transfer to the airport and the start of your journey home.

Meals included: Breakfast 

WEDNESDAY 14 OCTOBER: WELCOME HOME

Arrival back in South Africa (OR Tambo)

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BOOK NOW

This bespoke tour has a limited capacity of ten (10) guests. If you are interested in joining we urge you to chat to our reservations team as soon as possible to book your space.

You can do this by completing the form below, popping us an email on info@marmaladetoast.co.za or by giving us a call on +27 10 140 6583. We look forward to welcoming you to Thailand!