Thailand rolls such an array of experiences and destinations into one easy-to-explore country. White beaches and turquoise waters provide the most famous image, discovered on archipelagos in two different seas. Spirituality abounds in this highly Buddhist nation, providing an entirely different perspective. Unique hill tribes dot the jungle, ancient monuments delight in their originality, while cuisine and culture is found at every turn. And best of all, you don't need to choose one paradigm or destination. Thailand is compact enough to explore them all.
One night in Bangkok, as the song goes, makes a hard man humble. We promise no such result, but you can find legendary luxury hotels, sprawling night bazaars, pulsing streets, world-class galleries and shopping, infamous after-dark attractions and culinary attractions. All this makes Bangkok like no other city in the world. The cityscape of Bangkok is vast and complex, encompassing everything from sublime local neighborhoods to the towering skyscrapers of a modern metropolis that has so much to offer.
Floating markets in and around Bangkok are another excellent way to get an introduction to Thai culture, as well as sampling some of the many varieties of Thai cuisine. The Grand Palace of Bangkok was built on Ratanakosin Island in 1782 as the home for the Thai king, a gilded attraction attraction not to miss. As you've no doubt heard, this is one of the world's most spiritual capitals, where a Buddhist temples can be found on almost every street. Yet the city also knows how to party and there's so much to explore after dark. From night bazaars with an exotic variety of goods to infamous go-go bars, local guides can tailor your discovery of this thrilling city.
In gradients of bliss, Chiang Rai is the even more laid-back version of Chiang Mai, which in turn is the tranquil escape from Bangkok. This gem of a northern city is considerably quieter than either Chiang Mai or Bangkok, with most finding the atmosphere calmer and more relaxing. More recently, the small town is becoming noted for the resettlement of the country's most famous artists, who have escaped big-city Bangkok to set up boutique galleries. The capital of the far north, Chiang Rai is also known for its central location in the notorious Golden Triangle of decades past. A private day tour has you gazing into Myanmar and standing on the river looking across at Laos.
There are several interesting museums in Chiang Rai, including the Hill Tribe Museum and Education Center, which introduces the complexities and cultures of the surrounding hill tribes. Hill tribe experiences are very immersive here and you'll come to understand the contrasts between alternative cultures. For something different, the fascinating Hall of Opium Museum traces the history of the region's past in drug production and smuggling. We'd also point you towards elephant experiences here, which are better than those close to Chiang Mai. It's worth a visit just for the journey, the beautifully-scenic drive from Chiang Mai to Chiang Rai one of the finest in Indochina. For escapism on arrival, the Four Season's renowned Tented Camp provides a peaceful retreat in the lush setting of the Golden Triangle.
Experience the warm welcome of the lanna Thai of Chiang Mai, exploring picturesque mountain valleys and lush landscapes. The experience is considerably different from Bangkok, the atmosphere dictated by an old-world spirituality and tranquility. Here is the place to learn authentic Thai cooking, buy all your handicrafts, visit hill-tribe villages, mountain bike scenic landscapes, and laze in world-class boutique properties to renowned resorts, such as the Four Seasons.
Chiang Mai is a great people-watching city, from the popular weekend and night markets to street side cafes, then an hour or two of lovers' meeting surreptitiously near the gilded hilltop temple, Doi Suthep. We'd recommend giving the city time, because it's a great place to relax and settle into the local rhythm. For a day trip, the hill tribes in the vicinity are very friendly and welcoming to visitors. We can arrange visits to the lesser-visited villages.
Sukhothai is one of Asia's most underrated World Heritage Sites, a fabulous park filled with the striking ruins of royal palaces, Buddhist temples and crumbling monuments. Sukothai translates as "rising of happiness" and indeed the best time to visit is with the rising sun. We'll take you in the dawn light, a beautiful time that's ahead of the tour buses.
At this time you're almost alone in the main attractions. Wat Traphang Ngoen impresses with its flamboyance and size. The massive pagoda, Wat Mahathat, is etched in intricate details. Wat Sa Si has a lovely chedi and giant seated Buddha. A sublime shimmering lotus pool welcomes you to Wat Mahathat, the largest and arguably most impressive single site in Sukohthai, although many visitors will argue that the most awe-inspiring monument is Wat Si Chum.
The Ramkamhaeng National Museum, located at the entrance, provides a comprehensive overview of the Sukhothai kingdom, a place to pause after exploring the monuments. We've identified Sukhothai's best guides, adding their narrative to your exploration. To continue the day, take a short hike to Wat Saphan Hin, a hilltop temple that affords views of the central zone ruins and surrounding countryside.
Khao Sok National Park unravels the forgotten side to Thailand's natural beauty. While it's the urban landscapes and white sandy beaches that most entice visitors, Khao Sok envelopes you in the vibrant green of thick rainforests. From spectacular waterfalls to a lake filled with islands, this national park creates a pure vision of the jungle. To sail through the jungle on a rustic craft is one of Indochina's great pleasures, the silence and solitude as escapist as any island beach. Along the way there's a great chance to encounter wildlife, with the very lucky seeing a tiger or leopard. Don't expect to see these big cats, but definitely prepare yourself for tropical birds and primate species. Accommodation varies from rustic tree houses to luxury tented accommodation; we will tailor the tour to your preferences.
Phuket, Thailand's largest island and premier resort area has been built up in recent years with a large amount of haphazard development. However, the picturesque white sand beaches and lush feeling of escapism remains, with world-renowned resorts providing luxury and tranquility. To the east, stunning Phang Nga Bay offers newer, exceptional properties such as the Six Senses Yao Nai. A multitude of world-class diving is just off shore and other activities are easy to arrange, including golfing, wind surfing, kayaking, and mountain biking.
Fringed with long sandy beaches licked by the turquoise and emerald-green waters of the surrounding Andaman Sea, and covered in rubber tree plantations, fruit orchards and patches of untamed rainforest, Phuket has always been the jewel of Thai tourism. More recently, the focus hasn't been whether to go, but how to get away from the mushrooming crowds. We recommend a small handful of properties that have stayed true to Phuket's dreamy original appeal.
Krabi is a serene getaway, ferries taking you out to beaches without footprints and the craggy cliffs of nearby Raillay. It's the furthest-flung beaches that really enchant, where waves lap softly against the white sand and indulgent spas take you through the afternoon. This isn't a destination with a lot to do, but a place where you encounter the serene ambience of a beach escape. Our luxury Thailand tours often culminate at a boutique island resort like those on Krabi, where you rest amidst the charm of untouched beach paradise.
Koh Yao is Phuket's secret island, a pair of pristine and peaceful islands that feel far removed from the crowds of Phuket. This is the fourth largest island in Thailand yet only has a handful of resorts. For those wanting to escape the Honolulu-type development of Phuket, and feel the original allure of Thailand, Koh Yao is the country's last unspoiled island.
In 2002, Koh Yao Noi gained worldwide attention for receiving a World Legacy Award from Conservation International and National Geographic Traveler magazine. It was awarded for the eco-friendly homestay programs offered by its local residents. Islanders here are more interested than their mainland cousins in preserving traditional ways asking visitors to dress modestly and not engage in the wilder behavior typical in Thailand's other beach destinations.
"We were pleased that Indochina Travel was small enough to provide the things larger companies cannot, yet with all the benefits of using a larger one. In Saigon, we were honored to visit our guide's family. The BEST parts of our trip were the PEOPLE we met, especially the real, local people, not just the famous ones (though they were fascinating as well). Cuong made this possible throughout our time with him."
—Ric Haas, Menlo Park
"Chris and I had a wonderful journey. Thanks to you, everything was flawless. All of the guides were superb (especially Thiha in Burma). The accommodations were top-rate in most cases, the special activities and personal service much appreciated!"
—Ann & Chris McMurray, Alexandria, VA
"Overall, we had an excellent trip! Don and I both loved Bhutan and Myanmar. Both countries are beautiful, each in their own way. Our main comment would be to say how wonderful our guides were. As we've discussed in the past, it's really the difference between a good trip and great one. It was really nice to have the same guide for the entire itinerary, you really get to establish a rapport and they get to know us. We thought both guides were very professional, knowledgeable and personable, and we learned a lot from both."
—Irene Ing and Don Ershig, Rancho Palos Verdes, CA
Boating - "Thank you for an amazing adventure, we were delighted at every turn and the activities and people we met were thoroughly fascinating. We really the appreciated the authentic experiences we shared. Our girls are still talking about the trip, please give Linh and Duc our best!"
—The Anderson Family
Halong Bay Kayaking - "This was our fourth trip with you guys and it couldn't have possibly been any better. Your crew is outstanding in every way-well prepared, attentive, and professional. Again, you planned some very special things for us which we really enjoyed. Thank you for another amazing experience."
Thailand can justifiably claim to be an almost perfect getaway for a family vacation. This is a country that makes unique exploration very accessible., Blessed with an extraordinarily varied landscape, a very agreeable tropical climate, rich friendly culture and a well-developed tourist infrastructure, The locals are extremely fond of kids and Thailand family travel provides a unique cultural connection. Your children enjoy their own insight into local culture, as told through the children they meet and the iconic connections they are able to make.
In the south of Thailand there are literally thousands of miles of shoreline, dotted with boutique resorts, from the turquoise and deep blue waters of the Andaman Sea to the Gulf of Thailand, strewn with islands and islets of any size and in any state of development. You can still find absolutely pristine, Robinson-Crusoe-style islands, places of dreamy beach escapism and safe waters to swim in.
The country’s mountainous north also imparts its very own charms, with a slew of ancient towns and cities steeped in history. Plenty of lush rainforest covers the mountain ranges for trips to hidden waterfalls, remote hill tribe villages and age-old hilltop temples. Then countless rivers and brooks are ideal for rafting and kayaking adventures. The northern provinces are also home to numerous elephant camps, where your whole family enjoys these magnificent creatures from close-up.
All our private Thailand family tours are expertly crafted, incorporating a full sphere of activities, from urban encounters to jungle kayaking and everything in between.
Luxury comes in many forms on a custom Thailand tour. Exceptional hotels span the sphere of design, from vintage icons to ultra-modern city hotels and decadent retreats in the hills. Chauffeured services seamlessly connect contrasting experiences, while expert guides provide a narrative that goes beyond the norm. Classic luxury moments are always available, from cocktails at sunset to fine dining restaurants and the bare-footed escapism of a boutique resort. But luxury is also in the experience here. Time spent with a monk in an ancient temple, floating down a deserted river on a bamboo raft, maybe a street food tour that arouses all the senses. We handcraft all the experiences and everything feels luxurious, even when you’re sat on a private beach with nothing for miles.
Almost everyone has a favorite Thai dish, such as pad Thai or green curry chicken with a sweet Thai iced tea. Thai cuisine needs no introduction and cuisine is inevitably a highlight of any visit to the country. A staggering diversity of ingredients divulges an array of flavors, aromas, textures and colors, culminating in an eclectic cuisine that is sought after throughout the gastronomic world. With such a wondrous culinary repertoire to please every palette, culinary adventures feature highly on many of our private Thailand tours.
It's a little known fact that many Thai restaurants in the West are actually run by Laotians, whose cuisine is very similar. Western Thai restaurants typically make dishes much more milder than the spicy versions in Thailand. Truly exploring the cuisine requires something that honors these little-known nuances. Our custom Thailand tours take you beyond the norm, from cooking classes with the country’s television chefs to foraging in floating markets for ingredients. Enjoy dining reservations at the very best restaurants, from elaborate fine dining affairs to authentic local hotspots. And take a journey through the street food, so much to find when you have good local guides.
Thai food is known for its firepower, especially in the north, but traditional dishes don’t necessarily have to be hot nor spicy. There is a harmony of flavors not just in a Thai meal as a whole but also in each individual dish that combines the Thai favorite tastes of sweet, sour, salty, and spicy. Then there are exotic fruits travelers have never encountered before. The tropical climate and natural fertility of Thailand combine to produce the world's most outstanding and unique variety tropical fruits. The sight of colorful market stalls featuring every conceivable shape and size are joined by road-side stands of impressive towering displays, while in addition to astounding sweetness, Thailand’s fruit harvests also include pungent and sour varieties.
While tourism thrives, the Land of a Thousand Smiles remains as authentic as ever, especially on our private Thailand tours. Here’s an example. Following a thrilling stopover in Bangkok, travel to the laid back north to discover the tranquil culture of the Lanna Thai. In Chiang Mai, explore verdant landscapes, sacred temples and monasteries, elephant camps, infamous night bazaars, and sample fiery dishes the north is known for. Further north lies a nexus of borders between Laos and Myanmar, Chiang Rai known for its bohemian enclave and luxury resorts, including the renowned Four Seasons Tented Camp. Here too are are diverse mix of colorful hill tribes, providing fascinating personal encounters. Then escape to bucolic luxury resorts on Thailand’s famous beaches, for two days of utter tranquility and barefooted bliss.