TYPES OF TOURS:
Service Programs / Volunteer Vacations
Educational / Cultural Tours
   
2006/2007 DESTINATIONS:
Africa
Australia
Asia
Mexico
Central & South America
Caribbean
North America
   
GROUP DEPARTURES:
Galapagos Enchanted Isles: June 24 - July 4**
Best of Costa Rica: July 12 -24**
South Africa Wildlife Conservation Volunteer Vacation: September 25 - October 6 **
   
Other Programs:
Women's Expedition to Aconcaugua
Musician's Cultural Workshop in Ecuador
   
** These programs are available for credit through the Colorado School of Mines Teacher Enhancement Program.
   
ULTIMATE THAILAND EXPLORER

INTRODUCTION:
Thailand (Prathet Thai, meaning "land of the free") lies in the heart of Southeast Asia, making it a natural gateway to Indochina , Myanmar and Southern China . Its shape and geography divide into four natural regions: the mountains and forests of the North; the vast rice fields of the Central Plains; the semi-arid farm lands of the Northeast plateau; and the tropical islands and long coastline of the peninsula South.

The country comprises 76 provinces that are divided into districts, sub districts and villages. Bangkok (Krung Thep, meaning " city of angels"), the capital city and center of political, commercial, industrial and cultural activities, is also the seat of Thailand's revered Royal Family, with His Majesty the King recognized as Head of State, Head of the Armed Forces, Upholder of the Buddhist and other religions. Thailand is a constitutional monarchy with His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej, or King Rama IX, the ninth king of the Chakri Dynasty, the present king. The King has reigned for more than half a century, making him the longest reigning Thai monarch. Thailand embraces a rich diversity of cultures and traditions.

Thailand is a land of breathtaking natural beauty, inspiring temples, renowned hospitality, robust cuisine and ruins of fabulous ancient kingdoms making it a never-ending source of fascination and pleasure for international visitors.

SAMPLE ITINERARY:
Days 1-2: Arrive in Bangkok (meals in flight)
Evening arrival. A representative will meet you at the airport and transfer you to your hotel.

Day 2: Explore Bangkok (B, L, D)
After breakfast, your trip leader will give you a briefing on Bangkok at the hotel. This will be followed by a City Highlights Tour and lunch. The rest of the afternoon is free to rest and explore on your own. Group Dinner. Siam Heritage Hotel or similar.

Day 3: Bangkok-Chiang Mai (B, L, D)
After breakfast we will transfer to the airport for our flight to Chiang Mai. Chiang Mai is the principal city of the northern Thailand , and a major cultural center. Chiang Mai's medieval walls encircle an amazing 300 temples and more than 80 official religious sites. This afternoon, we will explore two of the more important temples and the Wat Gate Museum . Tonight enjoy a Khantoke Dinner. Atypical northern Thai meal served on a low round tray whilst watching a traditional dance performance. Chiang Mai Plaza Hotel or similar.

Day 3: Chiang Mai (B, L)
After breakfast, we will depart for the elephant camp at Mae Taman to watch the elephants taking timber in the forest. Their strengh and clever teamwork will amaze you. Take a one hour elephant ride into the jungle. Contimue to visit the Orchid Farm and lunch. Afternoon visit to Wat Doi Suthep, tucked away in the mountains at an eleveation of over 3000 feet. The monastery was built by King Gue-Na in 1383. The center is a big Chedi which contains partial relics of Lord Budda. Return to hotel. Dinner on own.

Day 4: Chiang Mai-Chaing Rai (B,L)
8am departure from Chiang Mai, traveling north to Fang and Thaton via Chiang Dao. Stop at Chiang Dao village for a drink and a walk around the local markets. If time allows, visit Tham Chiang Dao caves which house statues of Buddha and huge stalactites and stalagmites. Near the caves is a temple, Wat Tham Chiang Dao, with a Buddhist meditation center. En route visit Huey Luek, a Meo hilltribe village. After arrival in Thaton, a small village just a few kilometers from the Burmese border, enjoy lunch at Maekok River Lodge. Depart by traditional motor-powered boat for a five-hour journey down the Kok River , passing tiny hilltribe villages, and incredible jungle scenery. There will be a stop at Mae Salah, a river checkpoint followed by a visit to a Lahu hilltribe village. The last stop will allow an exploration of a cave housing many sacred statues of Lord Buddha. Arrive early evening in Chiang Rai and check in at RIMKOK RESORT or similar hotel.

Day 5: Chiang Rai-Tachilek-Chiang Saen (B, L, D)
8am Check out. Before departing for the Thai-Burmese border market village of Mae Sai , visit Wat Phra Kaeo, the most revered temple in Chiang Rai, and the Hill Tribe Museum . Upon arrival in Mae Sai, cross the river to Burma and visit the unusual markets in Tachilek. Return to Thailand and drive to the Golden Triangle area and enjoy lunch at a restaurant overlooking the river. After lunch, board a riverboat and cross the Mekong River to visit Laos (no visa required). Spend time exploring the handicraft market packed full of interesting items. On the return to Thailand , visit The House of Opium museum. Lodging at the Chiang Saen River Hill Hotel, Imperial Golden Triangle Resort or similar hotel.

Day 6: Chiang Saen-Phayao-Phrae (B, L)
8am check out to visit: Wat Phra That Chedi Luang, (the largest temple in Chiang Saen); the Lue textile market (an ethnic minority from China ); and the Chian Saen National Museum (houses a collection of stone carvings from the Lanna period, Buddha images and hill tribe artifacts). Before enjoying lunch in Phayao, we make a short visit Wat Si KomKam, which houses the largest Buddha image in northern Thailand . Travel on to Phrae where we will visit the indigo dyeing workshop. The afternoon is free to relax or explore the city's numerous temples. Lodging Mae Yom Palace Hotel/Nakhon Phrae Tower Hotel or similar hotel.

Day 7: Phrae-Sukhothai-Pitsanuloke (B, L, D)
8am departure for the UNESCO Heritage site of Old Sukhothai, the first notable kingdom of the Tai ( Siam ) people which arose in the early 13 th century. Theravada Buddhism achieved new expression during the Sukhothai period, in innovative architecture and images of Buddha finely cast in bronze. The site has around 40 temples spread over an area of 28 sq miles. At its center is the walled Royal City , protected by moats and ramparts. Many of the most important ruins are within this inner compound. We will spend most of the day exploring this amazing complex and surrounding area. Picnic lunch. Late afternoon, proceed to Phitsanuloke. Lodging at Amarin Lagoon, Topland or similar hotel.

Day 8: Phitsanuloke-Uthai Thani-LopBuri (B, L)
Early morning departure for morning exploration of the Thung Yai Naresuan and Huai Kha Khaeng wildlife sanctuaries west of the city of UthaiThani . One of the most important conservation area in Southeast Asia, they are listed jointly as a UNESCO World Heritage Site and are home to some of Thailand's largest remaining wild elephant herds as well as several endangered carnivores such as tigers, clouded leopards and Malaysian sun bears. Lunch will be aboard a traditional wooden rice barge ( Khiri Nava ). After lunch, travel to Lop Buri, where we will visit Prang Sam Yot (Sacred Three Spired Pagoda), ruins of Wat Phra Si Rattana Mahathat, and the museum at Narai Raja Nives Palace . The rest of the afternoon will be at your leisure. Lodging at Panasiri Resort or similar hotel.

Day 9: LopBuri-Khao Yai National Park (B, L, D)
8am departure for Khao Yai National Park . On the way, stop at Phra Phutthabat, with its shrine of the holy footprint of Buddha, a major pilgrimage site. Khao Yai National Park consists of several forest types, producing 2000-2500 plant species, over 350 bird species and large mammals including elephants, white-handed gibbon, gaur, Asian black bear and tiger. Easy hikes with naturalist leaders will enable a close look at Thailand 's unique flora and fauna. After a short hike, our porters will prepare a traditional Thai lunch in this forest setting. An afternoon hike will be followed by a relaxing afternoon at the lodge. After dinner, there will be an opportunity to view nocturnal animals via a game drive. Over night at Juldis Resort.

Day 10: Khao Yai-Saraburi-Ayutthaya-Kanchanaburi (B, L)
Early morning hike and jungle breakfast before departing to Ayutthaya , the former capital of Thailand . In Ayutthaya , visit the giant bronze statues of Wihan Phra Mongkhon Bophit, the three ancient pagodas at Wat Phra Si Sanphet, and other significant sites. Lunch at a local restaurant. Travel to Kanchanaburi, to visit the memorials dedicated to those who built and died constructing the bridge over the River Kwai during WWII. Visit the JEATH ( Japan , England , Australia/America, Thailand , Holland ) War Museum , Kanchanaburi War Cemetery and Kwai Bridge . Lodge at River Kwai Resort

Day 11: Kanchanaburi-Pakseng-Ratchaburi-Cha Am (B, L)
8am departure for Kang Lava Caves , a fascinating stone formation in one of Thailand 's most beautiful caves. Checkout and depart for Pakseng and lunch. Continue to Nam Tok Station, terminal of Thailand-Burma Railway. Take a ride on the World-famous "Death Railway" through magnificent scenery, passing over the original wooden viaduct constructed by Allied POWs. Arrive in Kanchanburi, proceed to Ratchaburi and visit local pottery factory. Travel to Phetchburi and visit: the famous Khao Luang Cave with its many much-worshipped Buddha statues; Wat Ko Keo Sutharam, well known for its unusual and well-preserved frescoes; and Wat Kamphaeng Laeng, one of the few surviving Khmer shrines in Thailand. Lodging in Cha-Am at Golden Sands or similar

Day 12: Cha An-Phetchburi-Samut Sakoon-Bangkok (B, L)
Morning free to explore Cha-Am. Lunch at local restaurant. Visit to nineteenth-century summer palace of King Mongkut in Phetchburi. Continue to Samut Sakorn, one of Thailand 's busiest fishing ports. Visit a farmhouse along the way that produces sugar from sugar palms. Stroll through local markets in Samut Sakorn. Return to Bangkok . Dinner on own. Siam Heritage Hotel or similar.

Day 13: Bangkok (B,D)
Day is free for last minute shopping and sight seeing; farewell dinner. Siam Heritage Hotel or similar.

Day 14: Depart for USA , Angkor Wat extension, OR Southern Thailand Golden Beaches Extension

DETAILS:
Dates: Dates and customized itinerary to be determined by group.

Price: The land-only price based on double occupancy is from $1995 per person. The price includes: all internal air and ground transportation, local guide, travel insurance, meals where indicated, tours and entrance fees. (Not included: international air, tips, items of a personal nature or alcoholic beverages. While international air is not included, we can make those arrangements for you.)

Call Pam at 720-746-0748 or email her at pam@kindredspiritstourandtravel.com

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Heather Lopez,
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PO Box 474,
Empire, CO 80438
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