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River Kwai and Jungle Adventure

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River Kwai and Jungle Adventure

1-Join tour Bangkok; optional boat trips along the canals
Joining the tour in Bangkok today, there will be the opportunity to take an optional cruise along the city’s Klongs (canals) in a traditional longtail boat. This is the ideal
way to explore something of Bangkok’s network of meandering waterways that lead away from the main channel of the Chao Phraya River. The excursion will also
include visits to the Royal Barge Museum and Wat Arun, the poetically named Temples of the Dawn, one of Bangkok’s most iconic landmarks, built to represent
the towering slopes of Mount Meru, home to the gods of Khmer mythology. And what better way to end the day than with a traditional Thai massage, with options
available for both a foot and a body massage (optional).
Overnight: Comfortable Hotel

2-Visit Grand Palace, Emerald Buddha and Wat Po; PM free
Travelling by tuk tuk we head for the magnificent splendour of the Grand Palace, where we enjoy a tour of the site in the company of a local guide. Dating from the latter years of the 18th century, this huge edifice represents the emergence of the Thai nation once more from under the yolk of Burmese oppression. It is opulence on the grandest scale and is almost certainly the most impressive site in the city, with its unrivalled collection of palaces, golden stupas, wats (temples) and ornately decorative statues. The most impressive of the wats within the palace grounds is Wat Phra Kaeo (The Temple of the Emerald Buddha), where we find the small jade statue of
Buddha, believed to have been created in Sri Lanka and reputedly discovered when a lightening storm split open an ancient chedi in the northern town of Chiang Rai during the early years of the 15th century. Believed to contain fabulous powers it is still worshipped by Thais to this day, from the king down to the lowliest commoner. After our visit we continue by foot to the rambling complex of Wat Po, older even than the city itself and home to the fabulous reclining Buddha, a 46 metre golden plated statue depicting Lord Buddha as he enters Nirvana. From here we return to the hotel by tuk tuk, so you can have the rest of the day free to enjoy this lively city. Bangkok abounds with museums and palaces, temples and markets, offering a number of fascinating options for you to enjoy at your leisure. One of its more unusual attractions is the house of the American adventurer and entrepreneur Jim Thompson, who mysteriously disappeared into the jungles of Malaysia in the late 1960s. Eccentric to a fault and almost singlehandedly responsible for saving the Thai silk weaving industry, he went on to fill his graceful residence with all manner of traditional artefacts, arts and crafts, presenting a fascinating insight into a man and a culture that is sadly lost to today’s modern world. Alternatively, you might just like to wander Bangkok’s myriad of shops and markets in search of a bargain or two.
Overnight: Comfortable Hotel

3-AM Cookery course; PM boat along Kwai Noi River
This morning we visit the market to purchase the ingredients required for our cookery course, where an expert cook will teach even the most inexperienced amongst you the fundamentals of Thai cookery so that this fabulous cuisine can be recreated on your return home. There are five basic flavours to Thai cuisine – sweet, sour, salty, creamy and spicy and these courses will show you the best way to combine the rich tastes with the freshest ingredients, to conjure up a feast that will carry you back to these idyllic shores (until you have to do the washing up anyway). This afternoon we then drive on to Pakseang, where we board a longtail boat for the 45-minute ride along the Kwai Noi River, to the spectacularly located jungle raft houses where we will be spending the next 2 nights. The rest of the day is free to relax and enjoy at your own pace.
Overnight: Simple Raft House

4-AM bamboo rafting; PM cycle to limestone caves
This morning we walk to a nearby Mon village, from where we board some bamboo rafts to explore more of this stunning landscape from the waters of the Kwai Noi. The Mon people are spread throughout Burma and the western provinces of Thailand and are believed to have originated in either India or Mongolia, travelling south into the Chao Phraya valley sometime during the 1st century BC. Founders of the Dvaravati Kingdom of the 6th to 11th centuries AD, the Mon have been accredited with introducing Theravada Buddhism to the area and the creation of some of the oldest Buddhist monuments in the region. However centuries of persecution, particularly at the hands of the repressive Burmese junta, has seen them lose their traditional homelands and seen their language and culture banned from schools. This afternoon we then take to the saddle, picking up bikes for a cycle ride out towards some nearby limestone caves.
Overnight: Simple Raft House

5-Visit the Bridge of the River Kwai and then take overnight train to Punpin
A boat and bus journey brings us to the emotive setting of the Bridge on the River Kwai, where over 16,000 allied prisoners of war and an estimated 75,000 Asian forced labourers lost their lives building the infamous ‘Death Railway’. One of the most notorious events of the Second World War, the bridge and its railroad was built between June 1942 and October 1943 by the occupying Japanese to link Siam with neighbouring Burma (Myanmar), intended as a means of carrying supplies to their fast expanding empire and by doing so cutting some 1300 miles off the sea routes from Japan. We will pay a visit to the Memorial Museum at Hellfire Pass and the bridge itself, before continuing on to the railway station at Nakhon Pathom, from where we board the overnight train south towards Punpin and the Gulf of Thailand.
Overnight: Basic Overnight Train

6-Arrive Punpin and drive to Khao Sok National Park; PM elephant ride
Arriving in Punpin we may have the chance to visit a local market before driving to the verdant karst landscapes of Khao Sok National Park. Covering an area of some 65,000sq km the park is one of the oldest and most bio-diverse jungles in Southeast Asia, boasting a lush rainforest that is older than those of either the Amazon or Central Africa. Set against a spectacular backdrop of towering limestone mountains, the park is home to a rich diversity of wildlife including elephant, tiger and Malaysian sun bear and, with some 180 species of birds in residence, it is a haven for keen birdwatchers and novices alike. Later we clamber aboard elephants for a fabulous ride through this majestic and verdant landscape. This really is the way to travel and with a stop at a waterfall for some well-earned swimming, this promises to be a very special safari.
Overnight: Standard Lodge

7-In Khao Sok NP; jungle walks and free time
Our second morning in the jungle sees us taking a guided walk through the surrounding bush. Keep your eyes peeled for mischievous monkeys playing in the canopy above and watch out for colourful hornbills and kingfishers as they dart amongst the trees. The park is also a haven for a wide variety of exotic plants, including bamboo, fig, palms and the carnivorous pitcher plant, which gruesomely consumes its prey in its specially adapted bag. The rest of the day is then free to indulge, explore or relax as you see fit.
Overnight: Standard Lodge

8-Drive to homestay; PM boat ride through mangrove forests
Today we drive to the village of Klong Rosai, located on the Tapi River in Surat Thani Province. We will be spending the next two nights staying in local houses, spreading ourselves amongst the villagers and staying with indigenous families. On arrival we will divide up to stay with different families; we will have a chance to settle in and take lunch with our hosts, before talking to the waters this afternoon for a cruise through the mangrove forests. The river and its myriad of channels were once infested with crocodiles, but the arrival of Indian merchants and the subsequent trade in the reptiles saw there numbers decimated, a factor that saw the villagers migrate
away from traditional agriculture and rice farming to fishing the waters of the Tapi instead. Today fishing, along with coconut palm plantations, are the main livelihoods for these people and as we cruise through the backwaters we will hopefully have a chance to take in some of daily activities of rural life as we enjoy this idyllic setting from aboard local fishing boats. Returning to the village later this afternoon, dinner this evening will again be taken with our host families, after which we may have an opportunity to watch (and even join in) with some local folk dances.
Overnight: Basic Village House

9-Full day’s activities around Klong Rosai
With another full day to make the most of our time here we have an opportunity to spend it partaking in a number of activities around the village, perhaps trying our hand at working in the nearby rubber plantation, fishing or paying a visit to a local school, affording us a unique chance to join in with the local people as they go about their daily lives.
Overnight: Basic Village House

10-Ferry to Koh Samui
Transferring by road to Surat Thani, we catch the morning ferry to the outlying island of Koh Samui, the largest and most developed of the islands in the Samui Archipelago, a distinctive mix of quiet palm fringed beaches, backpacker resorts and coconut plantations. Transferring by fast ferry we arrive at our beachside destination on the north of the island. This area is more relaxed than the bustling east coast and retains a laid back atmosphere that is perfect for families. The rest of the day is free for you to relax and explore at your leisure, perhaps taking to the waters with a mask and snorkel, or simply wandering the palm fringed beached and trails around the island. Koh Samui is slightly different from many of the other islands in Southern Thailand, owing in some part to the influence of the Hainan islanders who first settled the island some 150 years ago. The Chinese influence is still visible in some of the building in Na Thon and some descendants of the original settlers still live in the area.
Overnight: Standard Hotel

11-Boat trip to Ang Thong National Marine Park
Today we have the opportunity to visit teh beautiful chain of islands that make up the Ang Thong National Marine Park, once renowned as a haven for pirates, but now a stunning archipelago of pristine beaches, remote bays and virgin rainforest. These limestone islands are home to monitor lizards, dolphins and wild pigs and offer the perfect setting for both land based and aquatic exploration. There will be plenty of time to stop off for swimming and perhaps snorkelling. Lunch will be provided today.
Overnight: Standard Hotel

12-On Koh Samui
A final free day in paradise affords the opportunity for some more swimming or beachcombing trips around the island. Alternatively, there is the opportunity to partake in another Thai cookery course.
Overnight: Standard Hotel

13-AM free; PM fly to Bangkok
After a free morning we transfer back to Samui’s airport for a short flight back to Bangkok, arriving back in the Thai capital later this afternoon.
Overnight: Comfortable Hotel

14-Tour ends Bangkok
Our tour ends today in Bangkok.

Tour includes:

12 Breakfast
4 Lunch
4 Dinner
Minimum Age:
From 8 years
Train, Boat, Ferry, Minibus
3 nights Comfortable Hotel
2 nights Simple Raft House
1 night Basic Overnight Train
2 nights Standard Lodge
2 nights Basic Village House
3 nights Standard Hotel
Tour Staff:
Explore Tour Leader, Boat Crew, Driver(s), Local Guide(s)
Group Size:
Generally 14 – 20

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explore holidaysExplore have been running small group adventure holidays throughout the world since 1981 and have a vast array of experience, knowledge and well established close personal contacts in all the countries in which they operate, which makes them stand out as one of the most trusted adventure tour operators in the UK.

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