We meet at 4pm in our hotel in Chinatown. Around 5:30 pm, we leave for a surprising restaurant in Chinatown (optional). Many people said they’ve never eaten that good in their live.
We start out by deepdiving into a completely different culture: Bangkok’s Chinatown. First, we’ll have breakfast at one of the many local food vendors. Then we’ll explore the markets that stretch around the myriads of narrow streets in the area, between shophouses and colonial-style buildings. Here, you’ll experience, see, smell, taste and touch so many different new things. After lunch, we’ll take the boat to visit the temple of dawn by the Chao Phraya river. Climbing up there will give you a spectacular view over the city.
After such an adventurous day, we’ll relax and recharge with a traditional Thai massage at the Wat Po temple. Energy points will be stimulated, meridians balanced, tired muscles will be kneaded and stretched, joints adjusted, and in the end, you’ll feel great. Then it’s time to visit the 46 meter long, 15 meter high reclining Buddha. After that, you’ll be hungry – so we’ll venture back to Chinatown, to one of the best food vendors there.
Because the climate in Thailand is so different, and clothing so much cheaper, it’s time to do some shopping. We go where merchants to go get wholesale prices, and if you want to shop for clothes, you’ll run out of breath before you finish walking through the literally thousands of stores. If you want to buy electronics or cameras, there’s another shopping center just for that too. And if you need high-quality clothing, we can recommend a top-notch tailor.
Bangkok is a mekka for shopping lovers, and if that’s you, you’ll be in paradise. Whether it’s the chaotic MBK mall or one of the most luxurious and decadent shopping malls in the world (want to buy a Lamborghini? 3rd floor please) – it’s a reflection of the cultural and social melting pot this city is, and it’s fascinating to think about it.
We’ll then use Bangkok’s sky- and underground- train to find our way back to the hotel where you can deposit your newly acquired treasures and relax for a while. If you feel like it, join us for a visit to one of Bangkok’s most breathtaking views – an open-air skybar where you’ll get to see all of Bangkok (optional).
In the early morning hours, we’ll check out and get on the way to Kanchanaburi. We’ll have breakfast at selected places to eat yummy authentic, local cuisine and arrive around noon at the Erawan waterfalls. A seven-tiered waterfall, each level has a different atmosphere and feel to it, and it’s a great place to enjoy nature, relax and just have a good time in the water. Monkeys watch you from the treetops, small fish nibble on your toes while you drift in the clear, refreshing water. We spend all day here and sleep in the vicinity.
In the morning, we’ll move on towards the Hin Dat hot springs. It’s a well of natural hot mineral water that has a temperature between 45-55°C, and is taken care of and used by Buddhist monks – but you can enjoy the benefits too. We spend several hours here – if there is even the slightest bit of stress left anywhere in your body or mind after the Wat Po massage and the Erawan waterfalls – it will melt in the healing waters here. Just let time pass, as you drift from one pool to the next, between taking refreshing dips in the cool river nearby. Afterwards, we enjoy our lunch together and move on to a beautiful small family-owned guesthouse near the Burmese border.
After breakfast overlooking the lake, we start into our next adventure. You can take a motorscooter or drive with our “local village taxi” to the Three-Pagoda-Pass. In the past, this was one of the most strategically important points during military conflicts between the Burmese and Thai forces, and a constant battleground. Until one day, they decided that peace must rule, and build three pagodas here. Nowadays, all you find here is a market that sells Burmese gemstones and silver, as well as a couple of food vendors that serve excellent local food. If you’re into gemstones, you can find some pieces here that cost only a fraction what they sell for in Europe (but you’ll need a discerning eye).
Afterwards, we visit an old Mon temple, that is different from the usual Thai temples. There’s a legend about a holy monk who passed away in a deep state of meditation and the locals say his body didn’t decompose. The rest of the day is do-whatever-you-feel-like-time. If you want, you can explore the surrounding area by motorscooter, relax or walk over Thailand’s longest wooden bridge.
After yet another satisfying breakfast overlooking the lake, we put on our life vests and get in our boats. We visit the sunken temple – if the water is very low, it’s even possible to walk inside. All around the lake are mountains, and the landscape is so beautiful and captivating that you might just forget to take pictures. Finally, we stop at a small rubber plantation, and you can see how rubber is produced.
We enjoy a short walk through nature, and all of the sudden there are elephants in front of us. And all of the sudden, we change our mode of transportation. On an elephants back, we move through mountain valleys and rivers. This is the kind of experience you’ll never forget – and oftentimes, participants dream of their journeys with these gentle giants.
Finally, when we arrive, the locals will prepare a quick picnic for us. Simple food, but all the more tasty because we’ve spend all day active in nature. By now, our senses are sharpened and our spirits lifted up high – and so is our hunger. We then continue our trek for a short while until we arrive at the river, where yet another change in mode of transportation is going to happen: bamboo rafts. You wouldn’t believe how challenging and how much fun it is to navigate those rafts over the “wild” waters. Finally, park your raft, take a swim in the clear stream and get ready to go back to our guesthouse.
As usual, the day starts with a delicious breakfast overlooking the lake. With our bus, we head towards central Thailand. And just because it was so nice, we make another stop at the hot springs. Afterwards, we’ll visit the famous bridge by the river Kwai.
Finally, we move on to our guesthouse near the floating market.
Today we get up early – this way, we still get to experience the floating market the way it used to be. We can enjoy our breakfast in a tiny boat, while the vendors paddle towards our boats and will offer you fresh coffee, soups, all kinds of different dishes, fruits and delicious traditional Thai desserts. Just around the time we’re ready to leave, the big tourist buses come and hundreds of tourists flood the market, and the whole thing turns into a Disneyland show. We on the other hand move on to a hidden gem – an traditional Thai house. It’s about 150 years old, and it’s build right next to the Chao Phraya river. Life here still has it’s own rhythm, and you get the feeling that you’re in some remote village, far away from Bangkok. The community here has preserved there traditional way of life, and even though nobody here speaks English, you’ll see that it is easy to understand each other and feel welcomed.
We eat like the locals and have a good time together in the house. This is a good place, and a good time, to mentally revisit the many experiences and new impressions.
After breakfast, we’ll do a little cycling tour through the area. Although cycling in Bangkok is not typically fun – here it is. One of the view places in Bangkok where there is more green than cement, it’s interesting to drive between ricefields and small-scale, organic banana and fruit plantations. If you want, you can also enjoy the services of our own, personal Thai massage therapist who will be available today.
Later we cook together with the elders of the village. Here you can still experience -and take part in – the preparation of authentic local foods (with the exception that our dishes has about a handful of small, red chillies less). Because (or despite) your help in preparing the dishes and desserts, the food tastes very delicious, and we’ll enjoy eating it together.
Finally, we’ll do another excursion on the Chao Phraya river at night, enjoying the color spectacle of the sunset. With our own chartered long-tail boat, we’ll see the harber that seems like a space-station at night, and the beautifully lighted bridge.
After breakfast, it’s time to head back into the “real” Bangkok. You have some time for yourself – some people want to shop, some people want to go sightseeing, some people want another massage, visit a museum or exhibition (and believe it or not: some people want to see a dentist, because it’s so much cheaper, and the quality is as good as top-end dentists in Europe).
In the late afternoon, we meet at the train station. It’s time to get on board of the night train that’s headed south. This is a very comfortable and fun way to travel. You feel a little bit like a protagonist of Jule Verne’s “In 80 Day Around The World” in this train. It’s a slow and comfortable train ride. Comes time to sleep, the train conductors transform the seats into comfortable beds, and we’re up for a night of good sleep. If you look out the window, you’ll see the silhouettes of the jungles and mountains of Thailand, all covered by a sky full of shining stars. When we wake up, it’s already breakfast time, and we’re close to our destination.
TAG 12 – 15
Once we arrived at Trang, we get on a MiniVan and drive to the port at Pak Bara. There, we get on a boat that brings us to our little paradise island. When we arrive at the island, we change into a small boat navigated by sea gypsies, because there is no port at which a big boat could anchor. We get into our little beach huts, and then it’s time for a long period of intense relaxation. Chill, explore the island, go for a swim, find a hammock and drink a fresh fruit shake – whatever it takes to get the island feeling. We meet for dinner and eat together.
From then on, until day 15, it’s totally up to you how you spend your time. Get up whenever you want, eat whenever you want, do whatever you want whenever you feel like it. Maybe you want to do nothing but relax. Maybe you want to learn diving (there are good instructors on the island and you can get an open water diving license). Maybe you want to hire a longtail boat and explore the surrounding islands. There`s a rich and colorful underwater world around the island, with beautiful coral reefs and lots of fish.
Time has passed so fast – it’s time to pack our bags and get on that long-tail boat one last time. We’re on our way back to the mainland, and than back for another night in the train back to Bangkok.
In the morning hours, when we arrive at Bangkok’s main train statoin, it’s time to say goodbye to Thailand and your travel companions. Time to go back into your “everyday life”. In Thailand, they say: “same same, but different”.