Elephants, Arts and Adventure for Families

An active family adventure featuring highlights of Thailand
Overview

overview

Thailand, one of the most family-friendly vacation destinations in the world, loves children, especially children visiting from other countries. This exciting adventure  is a wonderful mix of excursions for families, including hill tribe communities, tranquil Buddhist temples, vibrant city sights, interesting rural bicycling, and elephant training.

This is a hands-on trip with opportunities to learn crafts, hike, bicycle, learn about and care for elephants, visit and interact with tiger cubs, and explore nature, all with kid-friendly guides.  Also on this trip, visit bustling Bangkok and its many diverse sights as well as the lush valleys, rivers, and local hilltribe villages of Chiang Rai, Thaton, Chiang Dao, Mae Sa, and Chiang Mai.  If your schedule permits, add a stop in Thailand’s first ancient capital, Sukhothai, now an extensive UNESCO Word Heritage Historical Park, or perhaps spend a few days relaxing on the beaches of Ko Samui or Phuket.  No matter what your family seeks – be it adventure, culinary delights, fantastic ruins, cities, or countryside – you are sure to find it here in friendly, colorful Thailand.

itinerary

itinerary

  • Day 1: Bangkok
    Enjoy Bangkok's rich and varied sights

    Upon arrival at the airport in Bangkok, you will be met by your guide and transferred to your hotel for check-in.  The rest of the day is free to explore at your leisure.  Your accommodation will be at an attractive, small boutique hotel in the heart of Bangkok.

    Meals
    None
    Lodging
    Siam Heritage or similar
    Show on a map
  • Day 2: Bangkok City, Temple, and Canal Tours
    Travel along the khlongs - the canals - of Bangkok

    After breakfast at the hotel, visit some of the city’s most impressive highlights:  Wat Pho, home to an enormous reclining Buddha covered in gold leaf (and the largest in Thailand) and lots of interesting nooks and crannies around the site.  Next, head to the Grand Palace, Bangkok’s most significant landmark and a must-see for every visitor.  Built by King Rama I in 1782, it was the center of power for more than 150 years.  Today, the king uses the buildings of the palace for ceremonial occasions such as Coronation Day.  Within the compound is Wat Pra Kaew, "Temple of the Emerald Buddha," a fantastically-decorated building guarded by a pair of mythical giants. Wat Pra Kaew houses the temple’s main attraction, the Emerald Buddha, which is cloaked in royal robes which are changed with the seasons.  Enjoy lunch in a Thai restaurant near the busy and picturesque Mae Nam Chao Phraya River, the River of Kings. Return to your hotel where you have the rest of the day free to explore on your own.
     
    In the evening, consider an optional visit (at additional cost) to the exciting Siam Niramit Show, a world-class performance showcasing Thailand’s arts and cultural heritage. With over 150 performers, 500 costumes, and enhanced high-tech special effects, this Journey to the Enchanted Kingdom of Siam is a spectacular, stimulating, realistic, and inspiring experience that should not be missed. 

    Meals
    Breakfast, Lunch
    Lodging
    Siam Heritage or similar
    Show on a map
  • Day 3: Bangkok Options
    Visit Bangkok's gilded Grand Palace

    There are several activity options available today. 

    1. Visit Siam Ocean World, one of the largest and best aquariums in all of Southeast Asia, with over 30,000 marine animals such as seals, octopus, sharks, and crabs. Your adventure takes you through seven different environments including "Weird and Wonderful," "Open Ocean," "Deep Reef," "Rainforest," "Rocky Shore," "Living Ocean," and "Sea Jellies." For more adventurous types, you will have the chance to climb into the Oceanarium and swim face-to-face with sea creatures with the assistance of fully-qualified instructors. For those not-so-adventurous types, you can take a ride on a glass bottom boat for a better view of the sea creatures.

    2. Half day Khlong Tour - Travel at a relaxing pace on the river through the khlongs (canals) of Thonburi on the west side of the river, observing and photographing the serene family homes and temples along the waterways which gave the city the name "Venice of the East." While on the west side of the river, visit a major riverside landmark, Wat Arun, the Temple of Dawn, with a striking prang (tower) rising 270 feet into the sky, and decorated with glazed ceramic pieces from top to bottom. Return to your hotel around lunch time.

    3. Visit Art in Paradise, also known as the Bangkok Trickeye 3-D Museum. This three-dimensional art museum was ceated by Korean artists and allows the viewers to complete the various dramatic scenarios by posing for photos with the artworks. There are also another 150 images you can play with, through computer software that responds to your movements. This is a fun way to spend a morning or afternoon with the family.

    4. The Bangkok Snake Farm is a great place to learn about everything there is to know about these reptiles.

    In the evening, consider another fun family excursion (optional, at additional cost), a dinner cruise along the Chao Praya River, where you can enjoy the scenery and spectacular night lights of the city.   The trip is on a beautifully-restored 50-year-old rice barge and features delicious Thai foods. Along the way, you will see some of Bangkok’s most picturesque temples and other city sights, all aglow on a warm Thai evening. 

    Meals
    Breakfast
    Lodging
    Siam Heritage or similar
    Show on a map
  • Day 4: Bangkok/Chiang Rai/Thaton
    Get to know a Padong refugee woman

    After breakfast at the hotel, you will be transferred to the airport for your flight to Chiang Rai, Thailand’s northernmost province. On arrival, you will be transferred to Thaton and the Maekok River Village Resort, a beautiful, new, small hotel in a peaceful rural setting. On the way, you will visit the huge, modern “Hall of Opium” where you will learn about the long history of opium (including the Opium Wars between China and Britain); the beneficial aspects of the plant to humans; the history of legal opium product, trade, and use; and the many negative impacts of the illegal drug trade.

    Next, visit one of the nearby Padong refugee villages where “long neck” women live. These women wear a coil around their necks, and sometimes their limbs, that can weigh around 10 pounds but sometimes more than 40 pounds! The process starts at a young age when girls put increasing numbers of brass rings around their necks to compress the collarbone and rib cage, making their necks look very long. Despite the unusual appearance, there is no evidence that this practice impairs women’s health. Here at the village, you’ll have an opportunith to interact and get an inside look into their daily lives. Afterward, check in at the Maekok River Village Resort, ideally located on the banks of the Mae Kok River with sweeping views across the valley to distant forested mountains. Enjoy the panoramic view of the river and the valley over dinner in the resort’s restaurant before retiring for the evening.

    Meals
    Breakfast, Dinner
    Lodging
    Maekok River Village Resort or similar
    Show on a map
  • Days 5-6: Thaton Adventure Activities
    Take a river trip to see local villages

    During your two-day stay in this beautiful natural area, you are free to explore the area on your own, or to sign up for one of many optional excursions that can be booked on the spot at your hotel (at additional cost). Choose from a variety of half-day activities suitable for the whole family such as: a four-wheel-drive vehicle tour into the Wawee region, home to nine different ethnic groups; a trek around Baan Thaton village and Wat Thaton (with its impressive Buddha images spread over five hilltops); a mountain bike trip in the Fang Valley; a river trip by barge or canoe to different villages; a three-dish Thai cooking program; or a relaxing herbal steam bath and Thai massage. Your family may also choose to learn about community development by visiting the local hospital orphanage or an organic farming project. Dinners and overnights in Thaton at the Maekok River Village Resort.

    Meals
    Breakfast, Dinner
    Lodging
    Maekok River Village Resort or similar
    Show on a map
  • Day 7: Chiang Dao / Mae Sa / Chiang Mai
    Try your hand at cultural activities in Mae Sa Valley

    In the morning, you'll check out of your hotel and drive to Chiang Mai. On the way, you’ll stop to visit a Meo hill tribe village at Baan Huay Luek in the Chiang Dao region. After lunch at a local restaurant, visit Mae Sa Valley and its craft village where the entire family can select among any of several cultural activities, from watching artisans at work to hands-on sessions in various northern Thai arts and skills such as “saa” or handmade paper-making, parasol, and fan painting, batik dyeing, ceramic painting, candle-making, traditional Thai massage, and more. Afterward, drive a short distance to Chiang Mai and check in at your hotel, the lovely, small Bodhi Serene Boutique Hotel in the heart of Chiang Mai. In the evening, your guide will take you to a restaurant near the colorful night market and will assist you in choosing a delicious food combination of your choice (cost not included.) Afterward, wander around and enjoy the colorful sights, sounds, and bustling activity of the night market.

    Meals
    Breakfast, Lunch
    Lodging
    Bodhi Serene Boutique Hotel or similar
  • Day 8: Chiang Mai Arts and Crafts
    Pray at Wat Phra That Doi Suthep temple

    After breakfast, visit Doi Suthep, a 5,500-foot peak named after a hermit who lived on the mountain’s slopes for many years. Near its summit is Wat Phra That Doi Suthep, a 14th century sacred temple reached either by a 300-step staircase or tram. Easily the most sacred and legendary place in all of northern Thailand, Doi Suthep is a nature sanctuary, royal preserve, monastery, and very popular Buddhist pilgrimage site for believers from all over the world, especially those from Thailand. The temple at the top of the mountain offers something to hold everyone’s attention, such as exquisite scenes fashioned in gold, mythological figures, flaming lamps, wafting scents of incense, prostrating devotees, ringing bells, and a five-tiered gold umbrella stupa. Surrounded by ponds, canals, ornamental plantings, and agricultural antiques, you’ll hear rushing water and see bountiful earth all around. On a clear day, the views of Chiang Mai are fantastic.

    The afternoon is yours to relax by the pool or explore Chiang Mai at your leisure. Alternatively, you can take a short drive to nearby Tiger Kingdom to learn about these beautiful endangered creatures and efforts to save, rehabilitate, and breed them. Kids age 15 and under may interact and play with baby tigers, while adults may, at their option, interact with young adult tigers. At about US$15 per person (plus transportation), this is a great opportunity!

    Meals
    Breakfast
    Lodging
    Bodhi Serene Boutique Hotel or similar
    Show on a map
  • Day 9: Elephant Training at Maesa Elephant Camp
    Help to bathe the elephants at Maesa Elephant Camp

    In the morning, you depart your hotel for an exciting full day at Maesa Elephant Camp. On arrival, mahout (elephant trainer) instructors will greet you and you’ll change into a mahout uniform. You’ll then begin the Mahout Training Course, attend a briefing on Maesa Elephant Camp, and meet the Camp’s veterinarian and instructor team. You’ll also attend the daily elephant show and help with elephant bathing. After lunch at the camp, you’ll participate in a lesson, learn basic commands for elephants, check out the paintings of the resident elephant artist, and have your photo taken with one of the elephants. At the end of the day, return to Chiang Mai for your final night in northern Thailand.

    Meals
    Breakfast, Lunch
    Lodging
    Bodhi Serene Boutique Hotel or similar
    Show on a map
  • Day 10: Chiang Mai/Bangkok
    Visit Chiang Mai's Golden Triangle

    This morning will be spent at your leisure until it’s time to transfer to Chiang Mai airport for your flight to Bangkok. You will be met on arrival in Bangkok and transferred to a hotel near the airport.  If you have opted to add the Sukhothai excursion, you will begin that part of the trip today. See the Sukhothai extension description for details.

    Meals
    Breakfast
    Lodging
    Best Western Suvarnabhumi Airport Hotel or similar
    Show on a map
  • Day 11: Bangkok
    Bid farewell to colorful, complex Bangkok - until your next visit!

    Transfer to the airport for your morning flight back to the USA, or consider a relaxing extension to one of Thailand’s beautiful beaches such as Ko Samui or Phuket.

    Meals
    None
    Lodging
    None
    Show on a map
Price and Date Details

Price and Date Details

Dec 22, 2014-Jan 1, 2015
Jul 13-23, 2015
Dec 20-30, 2015
Or Privately on Request
Land Cost:
$2,500
- $2,850
$2,850 per adult $2,650 per child under 16 $2,400 per child under 12 Bangkok/Chiang Rai & Chiang Mai/Bangkok flights add: $500 (estimated)
Single Supplement:
$600
The single supplement is applicable if a roommate is not available or if single accommodation is specifically requested. While single accommodation is not available on all trips, we will try and honor this request whenever possible.
Need to Know

Need to Know

Duration:
11 days
The number of days, or duration, in a destination corresponds with the itinerary as published. This is the time period covered by the land cost.
Comfort Level:
3
Delightful boutique hotels and eco-lodges around the country
Group Size:
2-16
The stated range indicates minimum required for guaranteed departure and maximum accepted on the scheduled dates. Exceptions can often be made for private departures.
Activity Level:
2
Easy walking, optional bicycling

Terms & Conditions: 

Standard

Included in costs: Meals as noted, each night in double occupancy accommodations, land transfers between components, English speaking guides, park or site entry fees, surface transport, equipment other than personal gear, government tax, airport transfer assistance, in-country ticket reconfirmation and check-in assistance (where permitted), complete pre-departure packet, toll-free pre-departure phone assistance.

Not included in costs: Meals not noted as included, gratuities, beverages (except tea or coffee at meals), international or domestic airfare unless specified, airport departure taxes not included with air tickets, visas, itinerary changes after confirmation, any services not included in itinerary, any costs incurred due to canceled or delayed flights, acts of nature or other happenings beyond our control, or other costs as are more fully described in JOURNEYS Terms & Conditions.

Deposit and payment schedule: $500 per person per trip or the applicable amount based on the trip and the proximity of the departure date. A second deposit of $800 per person is due four months prior to departure, and final payment for land arrangements is due 60 days prior to departure.  Any applicable permit fees required in advance are non-refundable as well.  Airlines require full payment when tickets are issued. The deposit may be made by Visa, Master Card, American Express, or check, and the Reservation Form may be submitted by fax, mail, or via our website. Full payment schedule and cancellation penalties are described in our Terms and Conditions as noted in our Global Expedition Catalog, on our website, and elsewhere. Please request these if you do not have them before advancing a deposit.

Air fares: JOURNEYS can make complete air arrangements applicable to your trip as noted in this itinerary. If you wish to redeem frequent flyer mileage or arrange flights directly with the airline, you may do so on your own at no penalty. If you do, please consult with us on exact arrival and departure dates and times before having your tickets issued to avoid errors.

Insurance: When you make your application, we strongly recommend the purchase of comprehensive travel insurance in case of emergency situations. Please contact us for a recommended policy.

Itinerary Change Fee: There will be a $40 fee for changes once an itinerary has been confirmed and approved. Additional cancellation penalties or change fees may apply as per our terms and conditions. The passenger is responsible for such fees.

Resources

Trip Extensions

Trip Extensions

Phuket

Duration: 4 days

Phuket is the largest of Thailand's islands. It is incredibly varied with rocky beaches, long broad sandy beaches, forested hills, and clear waters great for snorkeling and relaxing. There is no better way to end a trip!

Angkor Wat 3-Day Odyssey

Duration: 3 days

This excursion focuses on the amazing ruins of Angkor in Siem Reap. Angkor Wat, a spectacular architectural legacy of a period of bizarre regimes, is the most famous and confusing of the ruins in southeast Asia. This makes a perfect extension to any ... read more

Angkor Wat 5-Day Odyssey

Duration: 5 days

This excursion takes you to Siem Reap where you explore the magnificent Angkor sites followed by a ride on the Tonle Sap to see the local fishing villages. Then a short flight to Phnom Penh where you visit interesting museums, including Toul Sleng, a... read more

River Kwai & Erawan National Park

Duration: 4 days

This extension gives you a mixed variety of history and nature. You begin by exploring along the River Kwai stopping at important historical sites. You then travel to Erawan National Park, a unique and rugged landscape of high elevation plateau and s... read more

Ko Samui

Duration: 4 days

Relax and explore the beautiful island of Ko Samui. A perfect extension to any Asia tour.

Sukhothai, Thailand's Early Kingdom

Duration: 3 days

Consider adding a couple of days to your Thailand odyssey to explore Sukhothai and other towns and ruins of Thailand's ancient kingdom.

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