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Mountains and Rainforests

A 2-week south Thailand tour taking in the famous sites and hidden secrets from Bangkok back-streets to Andaman Sea islands

Off the beaten track south Thailand Tour

Our 2-week south Thailand tour, Mountains and Rainforests, includes spectacular sights, stunning landscapes, a wide range of activities and of course plenty of great food and friendly people. This tour takes in some of the well-known, as well as some of the off the beaten track, sights of Bangkok, Kanchanaburi Province and the far south. We’ll journey from the vibrant capital, through the jungles, mountains and along rivers of western and southern Thailand to finish in Trang Town on the Andaman Sea coast.

Explore fascinating, bustling Bangkok on an unusual behind the scenes tour; kayak down the famous River Kwai; hike along the route of the old Death Railway; travel by boat through the lush jungles and karst scenery of spectacular Khao Sok and Khao Luang National Parks and visit fabulous cave temples. As well as a wealth of exotic locations other varied activities include jungle hiking, canoeing through mangrove swamps and bathing in forest cascades.

Despite their numbers, most visitors do no more than scratch the surface of the country so we reckon ‘Mountains and Rainforests’ is an ideal opportunity to discover the authentic Thailand that surprisingly few visitors get to see.

For those with a few extra days to spare, we also offer an October to May island extension to the delightfully low-key and little developed Libong Island on Thailand’s picturesque Andaman Sea Coast.

Thailand

Itinerary

Here's an idea of what you can expect to do and see day-to-day.

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Day 1 - Bangkok - arrival and time to explore the area

Morning check in to a downtown hotel in Bangkok’s lively Banglamphu district. Time to relax, explore the area or perhaps check out some of the lively local markets before a local-style welcome dinner.

Overnight: Bangkok Transport: Walk,  Meals: D, 

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Day 2 - Bangkok - city tour with a difference

City tour with a difference taking in both the famous sites and the parts tourists don’t usually get to see! Bangkok by riverboat, sky-train, tuk-tuk and canal boat with visits along the way including the Grand Palace, fabulous Wat Phra Keow, (‘Temple of the Emerald Buddha’), Wat Pho and, of course, local markets and vibrant street-life.

Overnight: Bangkok Transport: Train, Taxi, Boat, Walk,  Meals: B, L, 

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Day 3 - Amphawa - explore the canals

After a visit to the famous Mae Klong ‘Railway Market,’ we’ll head to Amphawa to explore the old-style stilt houses, canals and markets of this picturesque district as well as discovering some of the resident’s traditional livelihoods such as parasol making or sea salt fabrication. A sunset boat trip along the canals rounds off our day.

Overnight: Amphawa Transport: Minibus, Boat,  Meals: B, 

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Day 4 - Bangkok to Kanchanaburi - on the 'Death Railway'

Early morning boat ride along the canals before continuing to Kanchanaburi where we’ll ride the local train across the historic Bridge on the River Kwai and along the infamous, but highly scenic, ‘Death Railway’. Afternoon visit to Sai Yok Noi Waterfall and short jungle hike through the national park before checking into our accommodation on the banks of the Kwai itself.

Overnight: Sai Yok Transport: Minibus, Train,  Meals: B, L, D, 

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Day 5 - Kanchanaburi - down the River Kwai

Morning visits include the impressive 12th-century Khmer ruins of Muang Singh – an old frontier post of the Angkor Empire – and the sobering, albeit informative, Hellfire Pass Museum with a hike along the route of the Japanese ‘Death Railway’ itself. (So named because of the numbers of prisoners who died during its construction.) Afternoon expedition down the jungle-lined River Kwai with a choice of kayaks or 2-person canoes for the uninitiated.

Overnight: Kanchanaburi Transport: Minibus, Boat,  Meals: B, L, 

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Day 6 - Kanchanaburi - Angkor period ruins and a night train

Morning at leisure by the river with an afternoon visit to some of the sites of Kanchanaburi Town such as the ‘Bridge on the River Kwai’, Allied war cemetery and an old riverside temple. In the evening we’ll transfer to nearby Nakhon Pathom to catch the night sleeper train to the south.

Please note, single accommodation is not available on the sleeper train and therefore accommodation will be on a shared basis.

Overnight: Night sleeper train Transport: Minibus, Train, Walk,  Meals: B, L, 

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Day 7 - Khao Sok - explore the stunning scenery

On to Khao Sok in Surat Thani Province – acknowledged as one of Thailand’s most spectacular National Parks – with its dramatic limestone, karst scenery, lakes, waterfalls and lush jungle. Our 2-day exploration of the park includes canoeing or tubing, a boat trip on the lake and jungle hiking, with time to relax, splash around in the streams and waterfalls or just kick back in your chalet and admire the fabulous tropical flora and fauna.

Overnight: Khao Sok Transport: Boat, Walk,  Meals: B, L, D, 

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Day 8 - Khao Sok - boat trip on Chiew Lan Lake

A boat trip to discover the incredible karst scenery of Chiew Lan Lake including cave exploration, hiking and lunch in a floating raft restaurant.

Overnight: Khao Sok Transport: Minibus, Boat, Walk,  Meals: B, L, 

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Day 9 - Nakorn Si Thammarat - the deep south

A scenic morning drive east to Nakorn Si Thammarat Town with an afternoon tour to discover this friendly southern town’s bustling markets and ancient temples and check out some of the local handicrafts.

Overnight: Nakorn Si Thammarat Transport: Minibus, Walk,  Meals: B, L, D, 

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Day 10 - Khao Luang National Park - lush jungle

Excursion to Khao Luang National Park, site of the dramatic Kharom Waterfall – one of the highest and most spectacular in Thailand. Bathing, nature hike and scrambling up the falls!

Overnight: Nakorn Si Thammarat Transport: Minibus, Walk,  Meals: B, L, 

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Day 11 - Nakorn to Trang - Thale Noi Bird Sanctuary and cave temple

On to Thale Noi Bird Sanctuary in Phattalung Province – one of the region’s most important water-bird sites – where we’ll travel by boat through the atmospheric marshes and lily-covered lakes. Afternoon visit to the Wat Tham Sumano cave temple complex and an evening arrival in Trang Town on the Andaman Coast.

Overnight: Trang Transport: Minibus, Boat,  Meals: B, L, D, 

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Day 12 - Trang - canopy walkway and jungle hike

Into the surrounding countryside to the Thung Khai Botanical Gardens with its new canopy walkway followed by a jungle expedition to Ban-Traat Mountain where we’ll trek through the rainforest, bathe in mountain streams and visit a Maniq settlement – a former nomadic, hunter-gatherer, jungle-dwelling people.

Overnight: Trang Transport: Minibus, Walk,  Meals: B, L, 

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Day 13 - Trang - mangroves and sea caves

Head for the coast to Ban Chao Mai National Park where we’ll canoe through mangrove swamps and travel along underground streams to visit the spectacular and mysterious sacred sea caves. Time to relax on superb Hat Yao beach (and with luck catch a glimpse of the resident langurs) and a leisurely return drive along the scenic coastline with perhaps sundowners on the beach at Pak Meng.

Overnight: Trang Transport: Minibus, Walk,  Meals: B, D, 

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Day 14 - Trang - morning at leisure

A morning at leisure in Trang before a transfer to Krabi airport for a return flight to Bangkok. Alternatively catch the local ferry to nearby Koh Libong for a few days quality beach time while you’re down that way?

Extra nights in Bangkok prior to, or after your tour are available on request. Or take up our optional island extension with a transfer to Koh Libong Island for accommodation at a secluded beach resort (October to April)

Overnight: Departure Transport: Minibus, Plane,  Meals: B, 

Print Itinerary

Details

The nitty-gritty, the things you need to know, the answers to your burning questions.

Thailand, Amphawa canals

Just a few of the many highlights

Hike through lush jungle, boat on lotus-covered lakes, canoe through mangroves and sea caves, kayak the River Kwai and take a ride on the Death Railway

  • Discover Bangkok - famous sites, temples, markets, museums as well as the hidden parts that few visitors ever see, on our unique Bangkok day
  • Boat journey through the serene landscapes of lotus filled Thale Noi Lake & Bird Sanctuary
  • Sample the superb regional Thai food of Bangkok and southern Thailand in street stalls & local markets where the locals eat
  • Trek through the tropical rainforest and check out the lush flora and fauna and dramatic landscapes of Thailand's Khao Sok National Park
  • Canoe through mangrove swamps and underground tunnels in Hat Chao Mai National Park
  • Optional extension on an unspoilt tropical island

Air Departures (UK)

  • 26 October 19 2,275 GBP
  • 26 December 19 2,475 GBP
  • 7 February 20 2,275 GBP
  • 10 April 20 2,275 GBP
  • 23 May 20 2,275 GBP
  • 25 July 20 2,375 GBP
  • 19 September 20 2,275 GBP
  • 28 November 20 2,275 GBP

Land Departures

  • 27 October 19 1,475 GBP
  • 27 December 19 1,475 GBP
  • 8 February 20 1,475 GBP
  • 11 April 20 1,475 GBP
  • 24 May 20 1,475 GBP
  • 26 July 20 1,475 GBP
  • 20 September 20 1,475 GBP
  • 29 November 20 1,475 GBP

Guaranteed Places Left Special Price Solo Traveller Closed

*Air departures are from the UK. Land departures start from Bangkok

*Land departure dates correspond to the FIRST day of the itinerary.

We choose our hotels based on a combination of location, comfort and convenience. Here is a *selection of the types of hotel/rooms you can expect to stay at on this tour...

Nanda Heritage Hotel, Bangkok view

  • Based around a beautifully restored 1920s teak family villa
  • The award winning design combines traditional and modern
  • Great central location for restaurants, cafes and shopping

Our Jungle House, Khao Sok view

  • Our choice for South Thailand's Khao Sok National Park
  • Tree houses or garden chalets
  • Friendly servcie and spot on location

Thumrin Thana Hotel, Trang view

  • The comfortable 3* Thumrin Thana in central Trang Town
  • Welcome pool and coffee shop after your jungle exertions
  • Central location for cafes, restaurants and the market

Libong Island Resort, Trang view

  • A very popular stop on this unspoilt Andaman Sea island.
  • Individual, traditonal style, wooden beachfront chalets
  • Great sunset bar and seafood restaurant

*This list should be considered a guide only, hotels/rooms may change (without notice) depending on availability.

Visa Info & Notes

Visas: While most nationalities receive an automatic 30-day stamp on arrival, so you can dispense with visa on arrivals, e-visas etc – in terms of the small print and variations to the rule Thailand has some complex regulations and there are still a few details to watch out for plus various bilateral arrangements between Thailand and other nations do throw up a lot of anomalies. Firstly, 6 months passport validity is required and while we can’t find any specifications regarding number of blank pages, as usual in these parts, you’re better off with at least 2 available.

The following nationalities benefit from a visa waiver or exemption scheme and passport holders will automatically receive 30-day stamps on arrival at any Thai international airport: Australia, Canada, UK, US, certain EU countries plus citizens of other Asean member states. Generally, citizens of western and central European EU countries are included while those of some newer, particularly eastern EU nations aren’t. Conversely, several South American nationalities receive 90-day visas so do check in advance. A full visa exemption list can be found here.  Note this is a visa waiver and not a tourist visa.

Importantly, and this can, in theory, go for airports too, you may be asked for proof of onward travel and proof you have sufficient funds for your stay. We reckon these are more aimed at long-stay visitors and though we haven’t come across either rule being applied to casual tourists they are specified on the Thai immigration site and they do have these rules in their armoury.

If you’re not covered by any of the above or have any doubts or if you intend to stay more than 30 days then you will need to apply in advance for a Thai tourist visa. The validity of single entry tourist visas is generally 60 days but again can vary depending upon nationality and you need to make an application at your nearest Thai embassy. (Cost is approximately $30 or equivalent in local currency.) If you are planning on exiting and re-entering Thailand more than once then you can also apply for a multiple entry tourist visa costing approximately $150. (Precise costs and waiting time vary from one embassy to another.)

Furthermore, citizens of states not covered by the visa waiver system can also apply for a visa on arrival at an international airport. This is a 30-day one costing 2,000 baht payable in Thai currency only. Again you may be asked for proof of onward travel and funds.

The above can be construed as unnecessarily complicated and furthermore regulations do change on a regular basis so again, please check beforehand if you’re not a passport holder from one of the usual suspects Canada, France, Germany, UK, et al. We have in the past come across smaller Thai embassies providing inaccurate or out of date information and anecdotal travellers’ tales are – well anecdotal – so the official Thai Ministry of Foreign Affairs site should, in theory, be your best source. 

Tipping: we recommend a kitty system for smaller, daily tips such as hotel/restaurant staff and local drivers. Amounts inevitably vary with group size but would generally be in the region of 100 baht ($2-$3) per person per day. For your guide/tour-leader tip – who will accompany you for the duration of your tour – we’d recommend approximately $20-30 per person total for the former though of course, this is always discretionary and performance related. (Local currency or USD are fine.) 

Meals: Although Thailand’s world-renowned cuisine needs no introduction its highly varied regional cooking – firey southern-style, Chiang Mai and northern specialities, Bangkok and central Thai fare plus the ubiquitous I-san (northeastern) cuisine – is far less known. Also, bear in mind that authentic local food in Thailand may be considerably different from your neighbourhood Thai restaurant at home. Our emphasis will be on local-style food – including market and street food – including aforementioned regional specialities while chilli tolerance levels will, of course, be taken into account by your tour-leader.

Breakfasts are either buffets or a la carte in smaller hotel; lunches on the road are typically simpler dishes such as variations on noodles or fried rice while your tour-leader will generally order more elaborate-style dinners consisting of a selection of local fare. Both vegetarians and vegans are very easily catered for. For any other likes and dislikes please remind your tour-leader at the start of the tour.  A number of meals are not included, which allows you to ‘do your own thing’ or take a break if you’re feeling ‘riced out’.

Accommodation: all choices fall into the comfortable 3* range, with an emphasis where possible on the smaller, ‘boutique-style’, and are en-suite and air-conditioned with, where possible, pools. We have posted a selection of sample accommodation on the lefthand hotel tab but please note that as we try and avoid the larger hotels, availability, in high season particularly, means we use several options in each destination. 

Activities: note that no activities are compulsory and that any offered, including trekking, can be tailored for any fitness level or alternatives suggested.

Further info: detailed descriptions and photos can be found on the corresponding page of our travel blog.

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