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Adventurous Thailand

Highlights of siam... - Trip for singles

Book From   € 799,-
GROUP SIZE: 6-24 | 13 DAYS

Adventurous Thailand

A fine combination of the cultural highlights of Thailand completed with a relaxing stay on a tropical isle set in an azure-blue sea. By boat, bicycle or tuk-tuk you'll get acquainted with the bustling capital Bangkok. You visit Buddhist temples, busy markets and feast on perhaps the best food in the world. You may choose an impressive trek through verdant countryside, where you will get to know the colourful hill tribes in the north. Finally, enjoy the sandy beaches on the island of Koh Samet where you can relax with an exotic cocktail in one of the charming bars and restaurants. Welcome to the 'Land of Smiles'!

Travel documents

Travelling with the correct travel documentation is your own responsibility. Please ensure your passport is valid for a minimum of 6 months beyond the finish date of your trip.

For Thailand, a visa is not required for many nationalities. Please check this information in good time before your trip commences as this information is always subject to change. You can check this information through a site such as this one. To arrange your visa, you should either contact your nearest Thai embassy or use an agency such as CIBT.

Accommodation and transport

Transportation 
Throughout this entire tour of Thailand, we have access to a good (private) air-conditioned minibus, so that we can stop at beautiful places as we go. The bus is non-smoking. The transfers to and from the airport are not included. Any additional transportation costs of optional excursions are not included. 

This tour offers plenty of opportunities to travel using other transportation methods. You take a comfortable night train from Chiang Mai to Bangkok for example where you sleep in reserved berths in second class with comfortable beds. The cabins are also air-conditioned. A pleasant way to experience the long distance! 

The boat transfers to Kanchanaburi (Floatel) and Koh Samet are included in your package. In Sukhothai a bike ride is included and you can also rent bikes elsewhere on site. The route from Sukhothai to Chiang Mai is travelled by public bus, for a nice change! The optional two-day trek is a must! You will navigate your way through the hills of northern Thailand and a part of the journey is made by bamboo raft (if the river's water level permits). Optional rides in a tuk-tuk, a local taxi or a ‘taxi boat’ in Bangkok are all good fun. More than enough variety of transportation here in Thailand!

Travel distances
Bangkok airport to hotel: 38 km / 45 mins
Bangkok to Kanchanaburi via Damnoen Saduak: 160 km / 4½ hours
Kanchanaburi to Sukhothai: 525 km / 7 to 8 hours
Sukhothai to Chiang Mai: 540 km / 5 to 6 hours (by public bus)
Chiang Mai to Bangkok: 745 km / 13 hours (night train)
Bangkok to Koh Samet: 280 km / 3½ hours by bus and 45 mins by boat
Note: These are approximate journey times, highly dependent on traffic, road conditions and weather.

Accommodation
During the tour we stay in medium-class hotels and guesthouses, in 2-person rooms with private bathrooms. Your stay is based on bed and breakfast. Most hotels have their own restaurant and sometimes a garden or terrace. The entry and check-out time at the hotels is usually 12:00.

The planned hotels in Sukhothai, Chiang Mai and Koh Samet each have a pool; nice to rinse off at the end of a hot day! In exceptional cases it is possible that another hotel must be used instead and that it is without a pool. If this occurs we will try to find a suitable alternative. Obviously there are other swimming opportunities too, think of the sea at Koh Samet!

Your night on the 'Floatel' (Jungle Rafts) is particularly special. This property is completely built on bamboo rafts. You have your own floating cottage with jetty and hammock. There is no electricity. In the evening there is the ambient lighting of flickering oil lamps. At the 'Floatel "your supper is included, as well as your breakfast. Occasionally it may be that the floating hotel is fully booked. In that case, you'll stay in a charming hotel in the same area.

Travellers who book individually for a trip will share a twin room with another person of the same sex. If you prefer to have a room for yourself, this can be arranged. You need to indicate this on the booking form and a single supplement will be charged. Single occupancy is not possible on the train, nor during the optional two-day trek.

Triple rooms are on a request basis. Please note that a triple room is often a double room with simply an extra bed or mattress added. The room will therefore be less spacious.


Festivals

SONGKRAN FESTIVAL

Songkran is the Thai New Year and is celebrated on April 13 in Thailand. The Thai word Songkran comes from Sanskrit and means "move" or "change place". In this case, a change in the position of the sun.

In big cities often Songkran lasts three days. During this period, the residents of the cities go back to their home provinces, together with their families to enjoy this feast. The modern Songkran is also called "the feast of the water" because during the three days anyone has the chance of getting wet with water. Along the way entire families with buckets of water, garden hoses and water guns wait ready to throw water at unsuspecting passers-by. Pick-up trucks driving slowly round, filled with people in their midst have a large water barrel. They use big boxes to throw water at everyone they encounter. Often they have picked up a large block of ice from somewhere to continue making water. People with umbrellas and those that are still dry become the targets. Some have tubs with white menthol powder mixed with water. Everyone has fun and because it is so hot, it's actually quite welcome to be cooled with the water!

In the morning the monks wash the Buddha images (as a way of begging to get enough rain for the rice fields) and often small animals are released from their cages. Also during these days the grandparents, older relatives and teachers are honoured by the younger generation. With their palms together, young people pour scented water over the hands of the elderly. In return they get wishes for good health, long life and prosperity.

LOY KRATHONG

Loy Krathong is a festival celebrated in Thailand and neighbouring countries. 'Loy' literally means floating, and a "Krathong" is the receptacle, made of various materials in the form of a lotus flower. It normally contains a candle, 3 incense sticks, flowers and a few coins (preferably 9, because the Thai people believe that this number brings happiness). After the Thai New Year (Songkran) on 13-15th April, this is the next most popular festival.

The festival begins in the evening when there is a full moon (and often the nights before and after). People then go to the banks of ponds, canals, lakes, rivers and even seas to send their krathong to the water. The candle and incense sticks are lit and then the krathong is launched. It is believed that the longer the candle will burn the better your luck in the coming year. Thai couples often float their krathongs together. The longer they stay close together, the longer and better the relationship between the lovers will be. Some couples adapt their krathongs with a small length of string to connect them. You do not need to make your own krathong, although this is the most fun. Krathongs can be bought everywhere in street stalls, and range from very small to huge.

Also, in addition, most provinces outside Bangkok create and fly small balloons with a candle underneath. This can create a beautiful starry sky with thousands of balloons. Many of these balloons crash and can sometimes cause considerable damage if they hit power lines or transformers, so the balloons are prohibited in Bangkok. The hundreds and thousands of floated krathongs can also make for a beautiful sight.

According to legend, Nang Noppamas was the most favourite concubine of the Sukhothai king. She made krathong as lotus-shaped and the king of Sukhothai floated it along the river. Nang Noppamas is often described as the most beautiful, intelligent and talented woman who ever lived in the Sukhothai kingdom. This was the original floatation and so the modern Loy Krathong started.

During the festival all radio and television stations play the Loy Krathong song almost continually. In most places there is a 'Nang Noppamas' contest held in which local beauties vye for the right to be local Nang Noppamas. Also, in most places are parades, where groups of people (schools, universities, police, etc.) have built giant krathongs, ready to be launched.

The northern provinces around Sukhothai and Chiang Mai put a lot of work into providing multi-day festivals in this period, which attracts people from all over Thailand. Since the late 90s the governors of Bangkok are making every effort to lower the limit on krathongs. This is because the cost of cleaning is astronomical and ever more people in Bangkok are going to use plastic instead of natural materials. These actions have had little effect and the Thais continue launching their krathongs. Some more than one per evening.

Tour leader

Our tours are led by trained, local English speaking tour leaders. We know that our travellers appreciate being accompanied by these local tour leaders who, compared to their counterparts (living outside of the destination) have more detailed knowledge of their country. He/she knows the area well, can provide background information and ensure that the trip goes smoothly. He/she knows what to do if something were to go wrong, but is not a "walking encyclopedia". Therefore we would like to refer you to study a good travel guide (book) in advance of travel.

Your tour leader understandably expects a tip at the end, if she/he has completed the job well. Shoestring pay the tour guides a wage which is higher than that of most adventurous travel companies. Our guideline for tipping is between € 1, - and € 2, - per passenger per day (the equivalent thereof).

Trip rating

This trip is classified as Category A.

The difficulty of our travels varies greatly. Added to this is the fact that difficulty is a very personal perception. To give an impression of the difficulty of a particular holiday we have developed a classification system.

Category A: Light travel for everyone to do. Short distances, good hotels, travel at a slow pace.
Category B: For everyone to do as well. Sometimes long distances. Good hotels and camping facilities, sometimes an adventurous overnight experience, travel at a normal pace.
Category C: Good to do for anyone who prepares themself well and is flexible. There are tougher parts of the journey, such as longer distances or walking tours. Several nights can be spent in basic accommodation.
Category D: A relatively difficult journey, travelling long distances, often primitive accommodation or tents, and challenging walking tours.

The Adventurous Thailand tour is a Category A holiday. It can be made by any reasonably healthy individual. In the summer the trip is considerably more difficult than during the rest of the year. Although in the cities we stay in simple medium-priced hotels, remember that you are travelling in a developing country with much lower living standards than you are used to at home. Also, roads may be temporarily blocked because of the weather or owing to their state of repair, in which case a detour is unavoidable. A flexible and positive attitude is just as important as a good physical condition.

Nature of the trip
This tour of Thailand combines a tropical and green landscape with the golden Buddhist monuments. You will visit diverse and colourful mountain tribes in the North and you can relax on a tropical island and its azure-blue waters. You will have the chance to hike through the stunning nature and to visit the metropolis of Bangkok. Other elements are delicious food, a stay in a ‘floatel’ (hotel on water), various water sports, impressive temples, a nature park with amazing flora and fauna and a lively nightlife. In short, it is a journey through the ‘Land of smiles’, with much variety and freedom.

Sustainability

We know that travelling to remote corners of this planet has its effects. At Shoestring we really try to make an effort to keep our impact to a minimum. We try to avoid the use of plastic water bottles on our treks through Nepal and we do not dump our litter during our trips through Africa. All of our staff have been trained to take special care to ensure we make as little impact on the environment as possible. 

Furthermore we support a lot of local projects which are mostly related to clean drinking water or making sure that children get vaccinated against illnesses such as tuberculosis. On most tours you will be able to visit some of the projects we support through our local agents. Find out more about the different projects Shoestring are involved with, how you can make a difference and our environmental policies here

Insurance

Travel insurance, including medical repatriation insurance, is mandatory. It is not included with our packages and it is your responsibility to purchase suitable travel insurance. Make sure that it covers all the activities that you are likely to undertake, such as rafting and trekking. Many ‘free’ insurances that come with banking packages, credit cards etc, are quite often inadequate to cover you on our tours, so make sure you check the policy before you travel. You should enter your travel insurance details via your my.shoestring account and you are required to give a copy of your insurance policy to your tour leader upon arrival. Without proper insurance like this, you will not be allowed to join the tour as we will not be able to respond adequately in case of an emergency if you do not have the right insurance.

Address

Shoestring International
Entrada 223
1114 AA Amsterdam-Duivendrecht, The Netherlands.
www.shoestring.com                    

You can call us on number +31 20 6850203 or +44 (0)1306 744797 and email us at info@shoestring.com           

Opening hours Monday to Saturday 10 AM to 5 PM (Local times in Netherlands).

Country information

More country information about Thailand

Frequently asked questions

Frequently asked questions about Thailand

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