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Total Thailand

Land of Smiles - Trip for singles

Book From   € 1,099,-
GROUP SIZE: 6-24 | 20 DAYS

Total Thailand

This trip combines a tropical green landscape with golden Buddhist monuments. You'll visit a variety of colourful hill tribes, exploring the metropolis of Bangkok, and relax on two tropical islands in the azure seas of the Gulf of Thailand. You also have the opportunity to go on an adventurous trek through the lush countryside. Also thrown into the mixture are: great food, watersports, spectacular temples and a bustling nightlife. In short a trip to the "Land of Smiles" with lots of variety and freedom.

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

Transport
Throughout the tour we have access to a good private air-conditioned (mini) bus, so we can stop at beautiful places in nature as we please. There is no smoking on the bus. The transfers to and from the airport are NOT included. Any additional transportation costs of optional excursions are not included.

You will have opportunities to travel by other transportation methods. To bridge the distances we use the comfortable overnight train from Chiang Mai to Bangkok, from Bangkok to Surat Thani and Surat Thani to Bangkok. Here you sleep in a reserved berth in the second class in comfortable beds (air-conditioned). Between Sukhothai and Chiang Mai we travel by public bus.

The boat/ferry transfers to Kanchanaburi ( 'floatel' ), Koh Pha Ngan and Koh Samui are included in the price. In Sukhothai you make a nice bike ride (included) and you can often rent bicycles in other places too. The optional two-day trek, where you walk through the hills of Northern Thailand is highly recommended and an optional ride by tuk-tuk , taxi or by local ' taxi - boat ' in Bangkok is always fun!

Accommodation

During the tour we stay in hotels and guesthouses in double rooms with private bathrooms. You stay on a bed and breakfast basis. Most hotels have a restaurant and usually a garden or terrace . The check-in and check-out times in the hotels is usually 12:00.

Some of the planned hotels have a swimming pool to let you rinse off from the tropical heat! This applies to those hotels in Kanchanaburi , Sukhothai , Chiang Mai and Koh Samui. In exceptional cases it may happen that you do not stay there. If this occurs we will try to find a suitable alternative. Of course, you can also swim in the sea on the bounty islands of Koh Pha Ngan and Koh Samui !

Your night on the ' floatel ' Jungle Rafts will be a real highlight. The accommodation comprises of bamboo rafts supporting 'floating' cottages. You have your own floating house with swimming ladder and hammock. There is no electricity here. In the evening there is atmospheric lighting from flickering oil lamps. At the ' floatel ' your supper is included as well as your breakfast. In high season it is common that the floating hotel is fully booked. In that case you stay in a charming hotel in the area .

Travellers who - like many - register for a trip alone , can share a room with another person of the same sex. If you want a room for yourself for the whole trip then that can be easily arranged. You pay a single room supplement for this at time of booking. There are no single rooms on the night trains nor is it possible during the 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 journey is classified as Category B

The difficulty of our trips varies greatly. Added to this is the fact that travel difficulty is a very personal perception. To give an impression of the difficulty of a particular journey, 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 Total Thailand tour falls into category B. This trip is doable for anyone who prepares properly and is flexible. We stay in medium class hotels and often travel with our own transportation. It is generally good to remember that you are travelling in a developing country with much lower living standards than you are used to at home. Hotel rooms can be less comfortable, the electricity can sometimes fail and it could be that you suddenly have a shortage of hot water whilst taking a shower. 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.
 

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

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