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An adventure in flavor, experience the fresh aromas and heavenly spices that make Thai food a worldwide phenomenon. Explore bustling markets spread out over land and water, and taste exotic fruits and aromatic dishes whipped up in front of your eyes. Learn the trick behind making palm sugar, experience the thrill of a passing train in the Mae Glong railway market, slurp noodles alongside the locals in Bangkok, whip up a jungle curry in Kanchanaburi, enjoy home cooking with a family in Chiang Mai, sit down to a Khantohk feast and tour all the must-see sights of Thailand in one incredible culinary journey through one of south east Asia's most seductive food cultures.
Participants will stay at the following:
We use soft sleeper class trains for all of our overnight train journeys. Multi share compartments are air conditioned with bunk beds. Sheets and pillow are provided. Our baggage travels in the carriage with us. There is a food and drink service available on board. Please note that on occasion the overnight trains may be covered by an overnight bus rather than train.
Our accommodation at homestay is multi-share and basic but the atmosphere is warm and welcoming. Beds are fold-out mattresses on the floor and bathrooms are shared.
The style of accommodation indicated in the day-to-day itinerary is a guideline. On rare occasions, alternative arrangements may need to be made due to the lack of availability of rooms in our usual accommodation. A similar standard of accommodation will be used in these instances.
Accommodation on this trip is on a twin or multi-share basis. Please note there may be times where facilities will be shared rather than en-suite and rare occasions when you share a room with passengers travelling on different Intrepid trips than your own.
Sa-wat dee! Welcome to Thailand. Your adventure begins with a welcome meeting at 18:00. Please look for a note in the hotel lobby or ask the hotel reception where it will take place. If you can't arrange a flight that will arrive in time, you may wish to arrive a day early so you're able to attend. We'll be happy to book additional accommodation for you. this will be subject to availability. If you're going to be late, please inform the hotel reception. We will be collecting your insurance details and next of kin information at this meeting. So, please ensure you have all these details to provide to your leader.
This evening we jump in a tuk tuk and set off on a food crawl through one of the most dynamic dining destinations in the city, Yaowarat (Bangkok's Chinatown). With bright neon signs, a sea of red plastic chairs and precariously balanced street food stalls with smoking cauldrons of stock and sizzling barbeques, Bangkok's Chinatown comes into its own in the evening.
Hop from stall to stall, tasting your way through classics such as kha moo grob (crispy fried pork with rice), ba mee hong kong (Hong Kong fried noodles) and, of course, pad thai, probably one of the most famous of all Thai or Chinese fusion dishes. Wash it all down with a refreshing glass of ginseng tea or an icy cold Singha beer. Included activities: Chinatown food crawl.
Rise early and drive to the Mae Glong railway market (Talaad Rom Hoob), a curious market that is actually set up on the railway tracks (approximately 1.5 hours). When the train comes through, vendors must quickly remove their wares then replace them back on the tracks after the train has passed. Grab some breakfast from the trackside vendors. Maybe try some khnom krok (rice pudding) or khnom gui chai (fried Chinese chives rice cake).
Continue by minivan to the Tha Kha floating market, an authentic local market unlike other more touristy commercial markets around Bangkok. Locals bring their produce from their nearby orchards for trading and, outside of weekends, opening days are dependent on the auspicious waxing and waning of the moon.
Take a walk along the canals, then board a paddle boat to explore the waterways further. Float through stalls piled high with fresh fruit and produce. This area is well known coconut palm sugar production and along the way we'll stop past a riverside operation to see how it is made. Then, depart for Kanchanaburi (approximately 1 hour).
Along the way, stop past Nakorn Pathom to witness the tallest stupa in the world, standing at a cool height of 127 meters. Also take this opportunity to sample a popular regional dessert, khao lam, an enticing mixture of sweet sticky rice neatly wrapped in a bamboo tube. Arrive in Kanchanaburi by mid afternoon.
Famed as the location of the bridge on the river Kwai, Kanchanaburi is a beautiful town surrounded by verdant jungle, waterfalls and rivers. Consider a cycle rickshaw tour over the iconic bridge that marked the tragic starting point of the Burma railway constructed by the Allied prisoners of war, taking in the WW2 cemetery and museum. Alternatively relax at one of the floating restaurants along the river, watching the river traffic pass by.
Join the locals for a lively street food dinner at the Kanchanaburi night markets. The following day, get ready for a hands-on master class in central Thai cuisine. Start at the markets to collect ingredients for the day's menu, then whip up some classic dishes including 'fern' salad and jungle curry. Feast on your creations for lunch.
The rest of the afternoon is free for your own exploration. Perhaps we meet again in the evening for dinner at a restaurant specializing in Issan flavors found in north eastern Thailand. Included activities: Tha Kha floating market visit and paddle boat ride, palm sugar demonstration, Mae Glong railway market visit, market tour and central Thai cooking class.
Wake early and travel to Ayutthaya (approximately 3.5 hours). Once the capital of ancient Siam, Ayuthaya offers a great opportunity to stroll the world heritage-listed ruins of this once magnificent city. Stop past a street food stall for a demonstration and tasting of roti sai mai. A dish synonymous with the kingdom of Ayutthaya, roti sai mai consist of a thin pancake wrapped around delicious, fine strands of thin-spun cotton candy. Also be sure to try a steaming bowl of kwit-tieau reua, widely known in English as 'boat noodles'.
A morish combination of fragrant pork broth, tender and thin roasted strips of pork or beef, Thai-style pork balls and crackling skin along with sliced morning glory stalks, fresh green onion and a choice of small (sen lek), large (sen yai) or extra thin (sen mee) rice noodles, this popular and ancient dish, once served from wooden sampans in the canals and rivers of Ayutthaya, can be found all over Thailand. But the boat noodles in Ayutthaya are widely recognized as the original and the best. While no longer served from sampans on the river, these narrow rowboats now adorn the roadside eateries as a marker that boat noodles are on the menu.
There's time for a guided tour of the picturesque ruins and temples spread across the town. The ruins at Wat Phra Mahathat provide many photo opportunities and the Buddha head surrounded by Banyan tree roots is perhaps the most photographed site in Ayuthaya. Board an overnight train bound for Chiang Mai (approximately 11 hours). We use soft sleeper class trains for all of our overnight train journeys. Multi share compartments with air-conditioning, bunk beds, sheets and a pillow are provided. Our baggage travels in the carriage with us. There's a food and drink service available on board. Included activities: temple ruins guided tour and roti sai mai demonstration.
Arrive in Chiang Mai by mid morning. The most vibrant city in northern Thailand, Chiang Mai has many famous temples and an interesting old city area. This rose of the North is also known for its beauty and the friendliness of the local people. Most importantly Chiang Mai is famous for its northern Thai cuisine and may just be home to many of your favorite Thai dishes.
Check out Chiang Mai's bustling Warorot market (Kad Luang). One of Chiang Mais largest markets and a thriving social hub, this is the perfect place to get a glimpse of daily life in northern Thailand, as well as some of the ingredients and snacks unique to northern cuisine. Take a tasting tour through the stalls. Be sure to try sai ua (Chaing Mai sausage). Bamboo worms are for the more intrepid foodies.
Lunch today is khao soi, a delicious curry noodle dish which is synonymous with this region of Thailand. It is often made with chicken, served over Chinese bah-mi egg noodle, and garnished with fried noodles, shallots, cilantro, pickled mustard greens, fried whole chilies and a squeeze of lime juice. The rest of the day is free for your own exploration.
There are so many things to do: spectacular temples, an enormous night market, a picturesque river front and fantastic shopping. Join your leader on a walk through the old city or undertake the many optional activities available. Chiang Mai is a great place for hiring a bicycle or simply loosening those muscles with some traditional Thai massage. Alternatively, take a songthaew to the famous temple complex of Doi Suthep.
Drive along a scenic, winding mountain road that ends at an impressive 300-step naga-guarded stairway (approximately 45 minutes). The rewards justify the climb with one of the most beautiful temples in Thailand on display, not to mention fantastic panoramic views of the city and the opportunity to listen to hypnotic evening chanting by resident Buddhist monks. In the evening, check out the Chiang Mai night bazaar, full of local handicrafts and fabulous northern street food dishes. Included activities: khao soi lunch and Chiang Mai Warorot market tasting tour.
This morning wake early to join locals on the streets giving alms to the passing Buddhist monks. Then, savor a simple Thai-style congee breakfast. Later in the morning, meet our host for an incredible homestay experience in a small Thai village. You can leave your main luggage at the Chiang Mai hotel and pack an overnight bag for the homestay. As we will be staying in a traditional rural community, please be mindful to pack and wear conservative dress.
Our first stop is lunch at a restaurant specializing in fermented rice noodles. We will also be treated to a noodle-making demonstration to see how this local delicacy is made. Next, head to the homestay via a couple of local producers, including a mushroom farm, to pick up ingredients for a northern Thai cooking class. By mid afternoon gather in the kitchen for a unique hands-on experience, the preparation of a traditional khantohk dinner. Khantohk technically refers to a raised tray used for serving food in northern Thailand.
Over the years, a khantohk dinner has become a traditional way to welcome guests. Some of the traditional northern Thai dishes that will likely be on the menu include: gai tod (northern fried chicken), nam prig ong (minced pork and tomato chili paste), nam prick num (young green pepper chili paste), gaeng hung lay (northern Thai pork curry), laab moo (minced pork spicy salad with mint and coriander), khao neow (sticky rice) and assorted vegetables. Enjoy your delicious khantohk dinner accompanied by local musicians playing traditional Thai music and performing traditional Thai dance. Included activities: khantohk cooking class.
Breakfast on fried rice, sweet sticky rice and egg custard, before bidding farewell to your hosts and returning to Chiang Mai. The rest of the day is free for last minute shopping, eating or a final massage. Perhaps we meet up again in the evening for a final dinner at a restaurant along the Mae Ping river and toast the end of this real food adventure Thailand with a beautiful view over the water. There are no activities planned for the final day and you are free to leave at any time.
This food adventure takes you to Bangkok and Chiang Mai, in Thailand.
While travelling with us, you'll experience a vast array of dishes, beverages, dining experiences, ingredients and produce. To give you the maximum flexibility in deciding where, what and with whom to eat, the trip price does not include all meals. This also gives you more budgeting flexibility, whether you wish to partake in budget, mid-range or high-end dining options. Your group leader will be able to suggest restaurants to try during your trip. Generally, our groups tend to eat together to enable you to taste a larger variety of dishes and enjoy each other's company. However, there's no obligation to do this.
For travelers wanting to eat at a particular high profile and/or fine dining restaurant, there will be specified free nights in certain locations where you can make your own restaurant reservations. It is recommended that you make reservations for high profile and/or fine dining restaurants well in advance of your departure, as there can be long lead times for booking in some instances. Your group leader will endeavor to cater for specific dietary requirements, where possible, and vegetarianism and gluten intolerance will be catered for in most instances. There are, however some meals and activities that are fixed in advance and therefore cannot be modified to suit dietary requirements.
Please notify your group leader of any dietary requirements in your group meeting at the start of the trip. For those suffering from particular food allergies, your group leader will endeavor to disclose to their fullest knowledge the main ingredients in dishes being consumed. It is, however, your personal responsibility to ensure that you do not ingest any foods to which you are allergic.
Metered taxi ranks are located outside the airport entrance on the 1st floor (gate 4 and 7). Go out of the customs hall, down to the 1st level and walk outside the airport where there is a table with a sign saying "metered taxis". The cost is the metered fare plus a THB 50 surcharge. If the taxi uses the toll way it is up to an extra THB 75. The total fare should be about THB 400 (USD 11). Non-metered taxis are also available, where you will be given a docket to pay the driver a set price of THB 700 (USD 20).