Maximise your holiday by flying through the night to Bangkok, Thailand’s bright-lights, fast-paced metropolis.
After being whisked off to Sala Rattanakosin, your home for three nights, the day is yours. Relax at the hotel. Or for those who just can’t wait, head out to start exploring the city and its 400 temples. At sunset, the hotel’s rooftop bar is the place to be. Raise a glass to your holiday in Thailand, while soaking up the view of the Chao Phraya river and Wat Arun. Wander through the Old Quarter past glittering golden temples – for once not overrun by tourists – on your way to one of the city’s trendiest rooftop restaurants, perhaps Alfresco 64 or Sirocco.
This afternoon, explore on a Bangkok Sunset cycling tour of the city’s highlights. Peddle through Klongsan Market, past a riverside Chinese pagoda. Refuel at a local food market, where you’ll hop off and wander the stalls with your Bangkok-based, foodie guide. Next stop: Wat Arun – the Temple of Dawn – where you’ll marvel at its 82m high phrang (Khmer-style tower). Peddle past Wat Rakhang Khositaram, Sanam Luang and the Grand Palace before a stop at Wat Pho. The final call on your bike tour is Pak Klong Talad, the city’s flower market.
Set sail northwards on the Chao Phraya river – the main thoroughfare in this area until recent times. Go with the flow and play eye-spy as you float along in this refurbished rice barge. Dock at the local market in Bangkok’s neighbour Pathumthani to explore and shop. Stop at Wat Kai Tia – a rural Buddhist temple, a beloved place of prayer for the locals.
First, a stop at a Mon village. Next port of call is Bang Pa In Palace, once the summer home of kings. Bangkok will feel lightyears away upon arrival at the ancient Siamese capital of Ayutthaya. This 4km-island is located at the confluence of three rivers. Now a World Heritage Site, Ayutthaya was founded in 1350. It flourished, exchanging ambassadors with Versailles and the Mughal court in Delhi, until it was sacked in 1767. Glimpses of its grandeur can be clearly seen in the ruined temples.
Voyage along the serene river as you cruise back to Bangkok. Dock at Koh Kret. This artificial island was made when a canal was dug nearly 300 years ago. Koh Kret is one of Thailand’s oldest Mon settlements. Explore the village’s narrow lanes, the island’s temple, pottery museum and the 200-year-old leaning stupa. Reboard your river cruiser for the final stage of your return trip to Bangkok – you’ll be back in the city by late afternoon.
Today, we’ll take you north to Chiang Mai. The former capital of the Lanna kingdom is nestled in forested hills. It’s real, unspoilt and deliciously authentic. The perfect place to become a momentary local. Check into your hotel and start to check out Chiang Mai. The city’s Night Market is great for shopping and for dipping into the street-food delights.
They don’t call Chiang Mai ‘The Rose of the North’ for nothing. Get under the skin of this gorgeous destination this morning. Maybe visit the Three Kings, the Thapae Gate and Wat Phra Singh. In the afternoon, take a 75km trip to Chiang Dao. Gallivanters will love seeing rural life by bike. First peddle to Akha village. Accompanied by your guide, you’ll meet this hill tribe and learn about their sustainable way of life. Next cycle your way to Palong village. These colourful people trace their ancestry across the border into Myanmar.
This morning, after a visit to a local Abercrombie & Kent Philanthropy project, you’ll explore the ancient capital’s vibrant contemporary arts scene. MAIIAM Museum of Contemporary Art is a thriving gallery that houses an important private collection of Thai art. Ban Chang Nak gallery houses a remarkable collection of carved elephant statues by Sala Phet Wiriya, a local artist. Sated by art, it’ll be time to satisfy another hunger at the Royal Project Café – founded by the royal family’s foundation, which promotes sustainable agricultural practices. Enjoy a farm-fresh lunch.
Hop on a short flight down to Phuket. Your resort, Sala Phuket, is pure Phuket perfection. Mai Khao Beach just begs to be flopped upon. The award-winning spa sings its siren’s call. The pool sparkles seductively, that’s if you can bear to leave your cabana.
Spend the next two days luxuriating in this beach idyll or seeing what Phuket’s all about.
Reluctantly, start you journey home.