Discover the quiet and rustic charm of Thailand in this mesmerizing cultural tour through its northeastern provinces, collectively known as Isaan. This itinerary offers a rare and rewarding insight into a relatively unexplored Isaan.
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Day 1 - Bangkok - Korat (L,D)
Depart Bangkok by car and drive north to Ayutthaya to visit the highlights of the historical parks. Lunch at a local restaurant and continue driving to Korat in the afternoon. Visit Prasat Hin Phimai the largest sandstone Khmer temple complex in Thailand dating back to the Angkorian period when the Khmer empire stretched across Thailand. The Sanctuary has been magnificently restored and renovated ruins and has been preserved as a National Historical Park. Proceed to Ban Dan Kwian Pottery Village. Enjoy dinner at your hotel in the evening.
Overnight in Korat
Day 2 - Korat - Buriram - Surin (B,L,D)
After breakfast drive east to Phanom Rung Historical Park in Buriram, one of the most impressive of all Khmer monuments in Thailand. Also visit the nearby Prasat Muang Tham, an older Khmer temple built by King Jayavarman V. Lunch at local restaurant.
Afternoon, drive to Surin and visit Baan Tasawang, witness the magnificence of ancient silk weaving process and beautiful golden brocade Silk Fabric. This weaving project is supported and promoted by the Bureau of the Royal Household and Her Majesty the Queen's Foundation.
Guests stay at Samorn Villa, a rustic, traditional Northern Thailand style house set amongst colourful flower gardens and an organic farm. Designed with western comforts in mind, guests can relax amid the lush gardens whilst enjoying local delicacies in a friendly atmosphere.
Overnight in Surin
Day 3 - Surin - Ubon Ratchathani - Khong Jiam (B,L,D)
Depart to “Surin Project” (www.surinproject.org) where is focused on finding solutions to the challenges faced by mahouts and their elephants in Surin province. It objectives is to improving the living conditions of Asian elephants and providing sustainable economic revenue for their mahouts in the local community. Spend your time here to be closed with elephants and help on some matter. (Further assistance can also be provided through organization)
En route to Ubon Ratchathani, stop at Sikhoraphum Sanctuary to see Khmer temple and the only Apsara sculptures found in Thailand – same as Angkor Wat.
Continue driving to Ubon Ratchathani and visit the local temples in town including Wat Thung Sri Muang, built in a very unusual mixture of Thai, Lao & Burmese styles. Also see the National Museum (except if this day falls on a Tuesday, when the museum is closed). The exhibits here help to put what you have seen over the last days into perspective. This museum is also home to 3 of the most important known inscription stones in Thai history.
Later this afternoon, we drive to the easternmost town of the Siamese border – Khong Jiam district located on the Mekhong and the Mun.
Overnight in Khong Jiam
Day 4 - Khong Jiam - Pha Taem - Mekong - Khong Jiam (B,L,D)
After breakfast, drive up to the short distance to Pha Taem Historical park with the pre-historic paintings. History in the Thai sense begins with the life of the Lord Buddha; 2547 years ago…therefore these paintings are between 5-7 thousand years old. You can see what clearly fish are and other animals painted here, but some other figures are not so clear. Listen to what the Fine Arts Department has to say, and make up your own mind.
Drive down to the village on the Mekong River below the cliff we have just visited. There is a lovely little – and very Lao style – temple here just where we will board our boat to Khong Jiam. Enjoy a ride on a local style Mekong river boat on this narrow and interesting part of the river. Drive to visit Kaeng Tana, is the biggest cataract in the middle of the Moon River. The cataract itself is a big stone platform lying across the Moon River, causing the water which flows through Kaeng Tana to take the form of beautiful waterfalls. (Kaeng Tana is best seen during dry season)
Return to your resort for dinner
Overnight in Khong Jiam
Day 5 - Khong Jiam - Nakhon Phanom (B,L,D)
Breakfast at the hotel, and we drive to the Thai-Laos border town of Chong Mek, a brief shopping for Laos products can be made at the market nearby, continue up north through beautiful mountain and Mekong scenery following the river to Mukhdahan. Stop en route for Lunch at a local restaurant near Indochina Market overlooking Thai-Laos Friendship Bridge across the Mekhong. Continue to visit Ban Nong Hoi Yai, a traditional Lao-Isan village on the Korat Plateau where the customs and crafts of old are still very much a part of everyday life. See the process of creating beautiful cotton cloth. It gives an insight not only into culture but also an appreciation of how much is actually involved in making the cloth they wear. The villagers are more than happy for you to sit and try any of the steps of the process. Stop at Phra That Phanom, a highly revered sacred monument for both the Thai and Laotian people for centuries.
Dinner and Overnight in Nakhon Phanom
Day 6 - Nakhon Phanom - Nong Khai (B,L,D)
This morning, we first visit the House of Ho Chi Minh at Najok Village of Nakhon Phanom, a Thai community of Vietnamese origin. The place is an important historical site because President Ho Chi Minh used to stay here for seven years (1924-1931) when he was the leader of the resistance movement against the French.
We then drive to Udon Thani via Sakon Nakhon with a stop at “Phra That Choeng Chum” Stop for lunch at a local restaurant. This afternoon, we visit Ban Chiang archeological site – UNESCO World Heritage Site of History since 1992, the village is best known for the beautiful pottery the ancient villagers made in the old time, but there are many more types of artifacts that came from this interesting site included pottery, metal, stone, soil, charcoal, animal bone, and human skeletons. Late afternoon, we travel to “Wang Nam Mok” Homestay – the award winning village of preserving natural resources and developing occupation for local people. Upon arrival, the villagers give a warm welcome with their tradition and check in at your homestay house. Walk around the village situated amidst the rice paddies, you may meet up with the local kids playing in the natural playground and swimming after school. Enjoy chatting or taking part in their activities or helping with the preparation of the dinner.
Tonight, the villagers perform the impressive traditional Baci Ceremony as blessing the visitors for safe travels, health and good luck. Then enjoy local specialties dinner together.
Overnight at the Wang Nam Mok Homestay
Day 7 - Nong Khai - Chiang Khan - Dan Sai (B,L,D)
Early morning, join your host the Buddhist morning alm giving and return to your house for local breakfast. A short trek to the beautiful “Nam Mok” waterfall can fill up your local village experience. Picnic lunch can be arranged for your trek. It is time to say “Good Bye” to your host family.
This afternoon, continue driving to Loei, stop to take a boat trip on Mae Khong River at Chiang Khan and visit the charming riverside town characterized by rows of teak shop houses.
Arrive in Loei in time to enjoy a stroll around the small town centre.
Dinner and overnight in Dan Sai
Day 8 - Dan Sai (B,L,D)
Breakfast is at the hotel. Visit Phra That Sri Song Rak, located on the bank of the Man River, this large Lao-style pagoda similar to that of Phra That Phanom houses relics of the Lord Buddha. The place is worth a visit, especially during the Phi Ta Khon celebration held annually in May or June. Visit Dansai Folk Museum with an excellent display on the history, culture & costumes of the Phi Ta Khon festival as well as the old tradition of Dansai District. Try yourself the Mask Painting / making and bring back home this hand-made souvenir.
Short stop at Wat Neramitt Vipatsana, The beautiful hall and pagoda were both constructed of laterite (red soil) and products of monks and novices.
Drive to Phu Rua High Altitude Agricultural Research Station. Phu Rua's summit is a large plain at 1,365 meters above sea level. Stop at Chateau de Loei & Vineyard, one of the first entrepreneurs in the region that has succeeded in building its own brand based on solid, internationally-accepted quality. Visitors can test the wines, sample grapes, try the passion fruit juice and nibble on fresh vegetables from the orchard and farm. (Chateau de Loei open 0900-1600)
Dinner and overnight in Dan Sai
Day 9 - Dan Sai - Phitsanulok - Sukhothai (B)
After breakfast, depart from the hotel drive through spectacular mountain scenery to Phitsanulok. Visit Wat Phra Si Rattana Mahathat, his monastery commonly called by the inhabitants as "Wat Yai" is the most important monastery of Phitsanulok, the home of the famous Phra Buddha Chinnarat. The monastery was built in the reign of Phra Maha Thamma Racha I (Phraya Lithai) in 1357 A.D. It houses the Phra Buddha Chinnarat regarded as the most beautiful Buddha image in Thailand.
Continue to Sukhothai Airport for a flight to Bangkok.
Tour Duration: 9 Days / 8 Nights
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