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South Thailand Tour | ‘Mountains and Rainforests’

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

An off the beaten track south Thailand Tour

Our 2-week central and 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 more off the beaten track, sights of Bangkok, Kanchanaburi Province and the far south. We’ll journey by road, rail and river from the nation’s hectic yet fun capital, through the jungles and mountains of the Thai Peninsula to finish in the far south’s Trang Province on the picturesque Andaman Sea coast.

Along the way we’ll explore both the iconic sites and hidden backstreets of fascinating, Bangkok on an unusual behind the scenes tour; kayak down the famous River Kwai; hike along the route of the old Death Railway – constructed by the Japanese using POW labour during WW2 – travel by boat through the lush jungles and karst scenery of awe-inspiring Khao Sok and discover the dramatic waterfalls of lesser-known Khao Luang National Park. As well as a wealth of exotic locations, varied activities include jungle hiking, canoeing through mangrove swamps, bathing in forest cascades, exploring atmospheric cave temples and, last but not least, sampling the country’s justifiably renowned cuisine.

Despite their large numbers, most visitors do little more than scratch the surface of the country so we reckon our south Thailand tour – ‘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 April island extension on the delightfully low-key and unspoilt Koh Jum on Thailand’s picturesque Andaman Sea Coast while during the May to September, western monsoon period, we move our island stay to the sheltered Gulf of Thailand and the picturesque island of Koh Thalu.

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

Check in to our heritage-style downtown hotel in Bangkok’s lively Banglamphu district with some 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 river taxi, Skytrain, tuk-tuk and canal boat with visits along the way including the Grand Palace, fabulous Wat Phra Keow, (‘Temple of the Emerald Buddha’), and the local markets and street-life of vibrant Chinatown.

Overnight: Bangkok Transport: Train, Boat, Tuk Tuk,  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 to see the canal-side fireflies rounds off our day.

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

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

Up early perhaps for the monks’ alms ritual before a departure for Kanchanaburi Province where we’ll take the local train over the Bridge on the River Kwai and along the infamous, but scenic, ‘Death Railway’. Afternoon visit to Sai Yok Noi Waterfall and short nature hike through the lush surrounding jungle before checking into our floating raft accommodation.

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

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Day 5 - Kanchanaburi - down the River Kwai

Departure for nearby ‘Hellfire Pass’ where we’ll visit the fascinating museum and hike along the former route of the ‘Death Railway’ itself. (So named because of the numbers of local workers and Allied POWs who died during its construction by the Japanese army.) 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, D, 

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

Complete our Western Thailand loop with a return to Kanchanaburi Town by way of the impressive 12th-century ruins of Muang Singh – a former, fortified, frontier town of the Angkor Empire. Time to visit some of the sites of Kanchanaburi Town on foot or bicycle, such as the ‘Bridge on the River Kwai’ and War Museum before catching a night sleeper train to the South.

Please note, single accommodation is not available on the sleeper train

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. An afternoon at leisure offers the options of tubing down the nearby Khao Sok River, an afternoon’s ‘elephant experience – with the opportunity to bathe with and learn about the gentle giants – an unusual jungle cookery class or just kicking back on your balcony and admiring the fabulous tropical flora and fauna.

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

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

A day trip into the park’s interior to discover the incredible karst scenery of Cheow Lan Lake by boat and on foot including cave exploration, a jungle hike and lunch in a floating raft restaurant.

Overnight: Khao Sok Transport: 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 (now on UNESCO’s tentative list) and check out the region’s traditional shadow puppet making.

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 nearby 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 before an afternoon transfer to Thale Noi where we’ll stay in a charming little resort set on the edge of this vast inland sea.

Overnight: Thale Noi Transport: Minibus, Walk,  Meals: B, L, 

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Day 11 - To Trang via Thale Noi Bird Sanctuary and a cave temple

Early morning boat trip through the atmospheric marshes and lily-covered wetlands of Thale Noi Bird Sanctuary – one of the region’s most important water-bird sites. Time to soak up the wonderful scenery before afternoon visits to the unusual Wat Tham Sumano cave temples and lush Thung Khai Botanical Gardens with their canopy walkway. Arrival in Trang Town and evening street food tour of the bustling night market.

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

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Day 12 - Trang - mangroves and sea caves

Head for the Andaman 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 13 - Trang - morning at leisure

A morning at leisure in Trang before a transfer to Krabi airport for a return flight to Bangkok. Alternatively, transfer to the unspoilt island of Koh Jum in nearby Krabi Province for a few days quality beach time?

Extra nights in Bangkok prior to, or after your tour are available on request.

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

  • Explore Bangkok - temples, markets, museums as well as the hidden parts few visitors ever see, on our unique city tour
  • Boat journey through the serene landscapes of lotus-filled Thale Noi Lake and Bird Sanctuary
  • Sample the superb regional Thai food of Bangkok and southern Thailand in street stalls and local markets
  • Hike through the tropical rainforest and discover the lush flora, fauna and dramatic landscapes of Khao Sok
  • Canoe through mangrove swamps and sea caves in Hat Chao Mai National Park
  • Take the train over the Bridge on the River Kwai and stay overnight in floating raft houses

Air Departures (UK)

  • 28 November 20 2,150 GBP
  • 10 January 21 2,350 GBP
  • 7 February 21 2,150 GBP
  • 7 March 21 2,100 GBP
  • 27 March 21 2,100 GBP
  • 1 May 21 2,100 GBP
  • 12 June 21 2,100 GBP
  • 10 July 21 2,100 GBP
  • 7 August 21 2,300 GBP
  • 4 September 21 2,100 GBP
  • 2 October 21 2,100 GBP
  • 30 October 21 2,100 GBP
  • 27 November 21 2,150 GBP
  • 26 December 21 2,400 GBP

Land Departures

  • 29 November 20 1,650 GBP
  • 11 January 21 1,650 GBP
  • 9 February 21 1,650 GBP
  • 8 March 21 1,600 GBP
  • 28 March 21 1,600 GBP
  • 2 May 21 1,600 GBP
  • 13 June 21 1,600 GBP
  • 11 July 21 1,600 GBP
  • 8 August 21 1,650 GBP
  • 5 September 21 1,600 GBP
  • 3 October 21 1,600 GBP
  • 31 October 21 1,600 GBP
  • 28 November 21 1,650 GBP
  • 27 December 21 1,700 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

Khaothone River View Resort view

  • Low-key, friendly resort on the banks of the River Kwai
  • Floating wooden raft-houses
  • Located in Sai Yok district close to the national park

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

Sri Pakpra Boutique Resort view

  • Delightful, low-key, family-run resort and waterside setting
  • Well-appointed, chalet-style accommodation
  • In-house spa, bar, restaurant and swimming pool

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

*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 the 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, the 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 a 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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