Elephant Explorer Thailand

specialAsian elephants and their mahouts are a distinct feature of Thailand’s amazing culture as is its wats (temples), longtail boats, klongs (canals), northern hill tribes and white sand islands. Embark upon your adventure with a brief stay in Bangkok before heading to ancient Ayutthaya. Explore Chiang Rai’s unusual temples and handicrafts. Visit “coffee mountain”, a reforestation project and the Hall of Opium. Discover the Golden Triangle. You learn how elephants bathe, eat and understand this endangered species plight along with the life of their owner or “mahout”. Elephant Explorer Thailand joins experience with heart.

Day 1 – Bangkok
Arrive in Bangkok where you will be met and driven to your hotel. Your accommodations while staying in Bangkok are at a luxury boutique hotel which is a refuge from the fast pace of city life. Relax your first day in Bangkok with a traditional Thai massage and herbal steam. Have a meditation class with an English speaking monk arranged prior to your arrival.

Day 2 – Bangkok
Multi-transport Adventure: Using different modes of transport: Skytrain, inner-city canal boat, three-wheeled tuk-tuk, motorcycle taxi and longtail river boat, you’ll experience more in a single day than most do in three. Step in stride with locals and hit the capital in style. Visit Erewan Shrine, Pratunam Market, Wat Saket, Wat Phra Kaew (Grand Palace and Emerald Buddha Temple) and Little Bangkok, the canals. Enjoy an evening dinner at one of the tastiest Thai restaurants.

Day 3 – Bangkok
Begin the day with a visit to Wat Po famed for its reclining buddha statue and receive a private blessing from the monks. Next it’s across the Chao Phraya River to Bang Krachao, a green lung for Bangkok where no building can be taller than a coconut tree. The Lung occupies a small peninsula formed by a bend in the river. The peninsula has few cars, is still covered in lush jungle and can be accessed by boat in just a few minutes from the city. Biking is the best way to see the lush scenery. In the afternoon explore the beauty of Thai houses with visits to the HR Kukrit, a heritage museum consisting of five teak houses (the earliest of which is 100 years old) and Jim Thompson Homes, formed from parts of six antique Thai houses and housing collectibles from trips made throughout southeast Asia. Visit the National Museum and an art gallery. Tonight we’ll explore flower/vegetable markets, enjoy a dinner of Thai favorites and see key temples lit up.

Day 4 – Bangkok/Ayutthaya/Chiang Rai
After breakfast drive to Ayutthaya which was once the capital of Thailand from 1350-1767 during the period which Thailand grew to its largest size. Explore the many temples and ruins. Drive back to Bangkok and transfer to the airport and fly to Chiang Rai in the kingdom’s northernmost province. Your charming accommodation is along the banks of the city’s main river, Mae Kok.

Day 5 – Chiang Rai
Today ride mountain bikes out of the city (all paved) to a Karen hill tribe elephant camp. You’ll take lunch on the river, enjoy a one-hour elephant ride, then make your way back to the hotel by longtail boat. Tonight enjoy an amazing Thai meal then stroll the night bazaar. Return to your boutique hotel.

Day 6 – Chiang Rai/Doi Chaang/Chiang Rai
In early morning visit Wat Rong Khun and learn more about Thai life. Wat Rong Khun is unique from other temples in Thailand because it is entirely white with white glass. The white color symbolizes Buddha’s purity and the white glass his wisdom. Journey to Doi Chaang (Elephant Mountain), a charming mountain where coffee has become a big crop that’s gaining international attention. Learn about the Akha hill tribe, people have created a new livelihood for themselves farming Aribica coffee instead of opium. Subsistence farmers also known for their artistry, the Akha people live in small high altitude villages in Thailand’s Northern provinces. Their practice of mythology includes ornately carved village gates made of wood where the guardian spirits are said to dwell. Take a stroll along coffee fields and have a full tour of the mountain and coffee processing facilities from one of the company’s representatives. Return to Chiang Rai and overnight.

Day 7 – Chiang Rai/Doi Mae Salong
Today you head further north to the charming town of Doi Mae Salong. Home to Yunanese who fled southern China, the area is home to terraced tea fields and other small hill tribe communities. Hike through fields, visit villages of the Karen, Lisu and Mon and gain an appreciation for these wonderful people and their ways. Overnight at a nearby resort.

Day 8 – Doi Mae Salong/Golden Triangle
After breakfast, travel north to the Golden Triangle where the Mekong River converges on Thailand, Laos and Myanmar. Visit the Hall of Opium, which tells the fascinating story which traces the drug’s global roots and its role in the region. Travel onward to the Anantara Resort, your accommodations for the next two nights. In the afternoon you meet the Director of Elephants for your first introduction and working session with elephants (about 14:00-17:00). Tonight is yours to enjoy as you wish.

Day 9 – Golden Triangle
In the morning participate in the ‘mahout program’ at the Anantara. A mahout is the elephant owners and just as the Asian elephant is an endangered species so is the mahout. Learn how to feed, bathe and ride these gentle giants while also learning about their plight in one of Asia’s most beautiful mountain landscapes. In the afternoon try boating on the Mekong River. Explore the ruins at nearby Chiang Saen, then picnic on a sand island on the Mekong River under a marquee tent, feasting on northern Thai specialties. Tonight dine at the resort.

Day 10 – Depart Golden Triangle/Bangkok
Morning complete your mahout program with your last elephant feeding and take plenty of pictures before you depart, Transfer to the airport for your departure flight.

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