Thailand Family Holiday | ‘Reefs and Rainforests’
Explore Bangkok' canals and backstreets; kayak the River Kwai; hike through Khao Sok National Park's lush rainforest and finish on an unspoilt island in the Gulf of Thailand
Private family tour of Thailand - May to October
This exciting and varied Thailand family holiday is a ‘summer’ (May to October) version of our popular, off the beaten track, south Thailand family tour. Jungles and Islands.
The itinerary takes you from Bangkok, with a behind the scenes tour of this hectic yet fascinating city, via the canals and local markets of Amphawa District, to Kanchanaburi and the infamous Death Railway and Bridge on the River Kwai. From here we head south by night sleeper train to explore the spectacular karst scenery and lush rainforest of Khao Sok National Park before making our way back up the Peninsula to Prachuap Khiri Khan Province and unspoilt Thalu Island.
A few of the many highlights include canoeing down the River Kwai and staying overnight on floating raft houses; a boat trip on Cheow Lan Lake, bathing with elephants and an exciting jungle nature hike amid the majestic karst scenery of Khao Sok. We’ll finish with a 3-night stay on the unspoilt island of Koh Thalu where, the choice of activities on offer includes snorkelling on the area’s vibrant coral reefs, kayaking, hiking and sailing or just chilling out in a beach-side hammock in our well-appointed but low-key resort.
A great introduction to south Thailand’s famous, and lesser-known sites plus a wide range of destinations with varied, and flexible activities should guarantee to keep any family member entertained!
This is a private family tour, based on a minimum of 4 persons sharing 2 twin or double rooms, and can be organised on any dates to suit your family while all activities mentioned below can be tailored to suit your specific preferences or family’s age group.
Finally, please note that this Thailand Family Holiday is recommended for the May to October period to compliment our aforementioned Jungles and Islands family tour – designed for October to April. Additional nights in Bangkok before your tour or extra nights on the island afterwards are available on request.
Here's an idea of what you can expect to do and see day-to-day.
Day 1 - Bangkok - arrival and time to explore the area
Arrival in Bangkok and check in to a downtown heritage hotel in the City’s lively Banglamphu district. Time to relax, explore the area or check out some local markets before a local-style welcome dinner.
Overnight: Bangkok Transport: Walk, Meals: D,
Day 2 - Bangkok - city tour with a difference
City tour with a difference! Bangkok by riverboat, Skytrain, tuk-tuk and canal boat. Flexible stops could include the Grand Palace, fabulous Wat Phra Keow (Temple of the Emerald Buddha) and bustling Chinatown with its maze of narrow alleys, markets, colourful street art and sumptuous street food.
Overnight: Bangkok Transport: Train, Boat, Walk, Tuk Tuk, Meals: B,
Day 3 - Ampawa - canals and markets
Off into Bangkok’s leafy and canal-lined suburbs with a stop at the famous Mae Klong ‘Railway Market’ plus a chance to discover some of the area’s local industries such as sea salt production and parasol fabrication. Check-in to our accommodation in waterside Amphawa with an evening visit to a floating market and a firefly viewing boat trip.
Overnight: Amphawa Transport: Minibus, Boat, Meals: B,
Day 4 - Bangkok to Kanchanaburi - a ride on the 'Death Railway'
Up early perhaps to witness the monks’ morning alms round 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, a short hike through the lush surrounding jungle and overnight on floating raft houses.
Overnight: Sai Yok floating raft house Transport: Minibus, Train, Meals: B, L, D,
Day 5 - Kanchanaburi - down the River Kwai
Departure for nearby ‘Hellfire Pass’; 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: Sai Yok floating raft house Transport: Boat, Walk, Meals: B, L, D,
Day 6 - Kanchanaburi - Angkor period ruins and a night train south
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 outpost 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’ before catching a night sleeper train to the South.
Overnight: Night sleeper train Transport: Minibus, Train, Walk, Meals: B, L,
Day 7 - Khao Sok - explore the stunning scenery
Arrival in Surat Thani and on to Khao Sok – acknowledged as one of Thailand’s most spectacular National Parks with its dramatic limestone karst scenery, lakes, waterfalls and lush jungle. Accommodation in treehouses with an afternoon at leisure to kick back on your balcony and soak up the sights and sounds of the jungle, try out an optional Thai cookery lesson or tubing down the Khao Sok River.
Overnight: Khao Sok Treehouse Transport: Minibus, Boat, Walk, Meals: B,
Day 8 - Khao Sok - boat trip on Cheow Lan Lake
A boat trip through the fabulous scenery and limestone, karst landscapes of Cheow Lan Lake in Khao Sok National Park with stops to visit lake-side caves and of course swim and kayak in the crystal waters.
Overnight: Khao Sok Treehouse Transport: Boat, Walk, Meals: B,
Day 9 - Jungle, nature hike and bathing with elephants
A fascinating morning nature hike through the park’s lush rainforest is followed by an afternoon’s ‘elephant experience’ where you’ll have the opportunity to bathe with, feed and learn about these gentle giants.
Overnight: Khao Sok Treehouse Transport: Walk, Meals: B,
Day 10 - Chumporn - heading north
Heading north up the coast our stops include the historic town of Chaiya – one of the oldest towns in Thailand – Koh Chumporn National Park for spectacular views over the nearby islands and the fishing village of Sairee for well-earned sunset drinks on the picturesque beach. Overnight in Chumporn with a visit to the lively night market to check out some of the local specialities!
Overnight: Chumporn Transport: Minibus, Walk, Meals: B, D,
Day 11 - Koh Thalu - arrival on the island and afternoon at leisure
Short transfer up the coast to Bang Saphan where we’ll take a speedboat to the scenic and unspoilt Koh Thalu Island for 3 night’s accommodation in a secluded, beach-side resort.
Overnight: Koh Thalu Transport: Minibus, Boat, Meals: B, L, D,
Day 14 - Koh Thalu to Bangkok - morning at leisure and end of tour
Morning at leisure on the island and return drive to Bangkok at your convenience.
Extra nights in Bangkok after your tour are available on request.
Airport transfers are included if you purchase the 'with flights' package. If you purchased your own flights, airport transfers can be arranged.
This tour is fully accompanied except the island stay on days 12, 13 and 14.
Transport: Minibus, Boat, Meals: B,
The nitty-gritty, the things you need to know, the answers to your burning questions.
Just a few of the many highlights
Discover behind the scenes Bangkok; kayak down the River Kwai, hike through the karst scenery and ancient rainforest of Khao Sok National Park and stay on the unspoilt tropical island of Koh Thalu
- Discover Bangkok - famous sites, temples and markets as well as the hidden parts that few visitors ever see
- Stay on the secluded and unspoilt tropical island of Koh Thalu on Thailand's sheltered Gulf coast
- Stay in jungle treehouse, floating raft houses on the River Kwai and a beach resort on a tropical island
- Trek through the tropical rain-forest and check out the lush flora and fauna of Khao Sok National Park
- Train ride across the Bridge on the River Kwai and a kayaking expedition down the jungle-lined river itself
- Sample the superb Thai food in street stalls, markets, jungle picnics and local restaurants where Thais eat!
Air Departures (UK) *From
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
- Award-winning 100 year old wooden heritage hotel
- Delightful location overlooking one of the district's canals
- Low-key, friendly, comfortable and beautifully situated
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
Koh Thalu Resort Prachuap Khiri Khan view
- The secluded beach-side Koh Thalu Resort
- Sheltered location makes a great monsoon season choice
- Snorkelling, sailing, kayaking, hiking, fishing and more
*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 it’s 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 hotels; 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 included, such as 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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