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Thailand World Heritage | Isan Tour

Northeast Thailand, a rich culture, superb landscapes and 3,000 years of history

UNESCO sites of Ayutthaya, Khao Yai and Phanom Rung

Our Thailand World Heritage tour takes you from the bustling and vibrant modern-day capital Bangkok, via the ancient Siamese capital, now UNESCO-listed, Ayutthaya into the country’s rarely visited northeast – commonly known as Isan.

Varied destinations and activities along the way begin with a tour of some of Ayutthaya’s many spectacular historical sites by boat followed by a jungle hike and wildlife safari in World Heritage Khao Yai National Park. From here we continue east to the well-preserved Angkor-period temple of Phanom Rung, perched atop an extinct volcano, and the picturesque 11th-century site of Muang Tam (both currently on UNESCO’s tentative list). A stay in the scenic riverside town of Khong Chiam and a trek through Pha Taem National Park with its spectacular views of the Mekong River – as well as 3,000-year-old petroglyphs – complete this highly original itinerary.

This 1-week Thailand World Heritage tour is designed as a stand-alone trip, perhaps with the addition of our unusual Bangkok Behind the Scenes add-on and/or an island extension to unspoilt Koh Mak or Koh Chang in the Gulf of Thailand. For those with more time on their hands, there’s the option of continuing over the border from Ubon Ratchathani into southern Laos and northern Cambodia on our Emerald Triangle Tour. Finishing in Cambodia’s Phnom Penh, this extended tour includes the landscapes of the Boloven Plateau, the charming 4,000 Islands and Khone Phapaeng Falls as well as the additional World Heritage Site of Wat Phu Laos.

As we said then, 3,000 years of history on our Thailand World Heritage tour as well as truly spectacular landscapes, exotic flora and fauna plus the fascinating street life, local markets and, of course, local food.

Since airfares are fluctuating wildly at present, as well as varying considerably from period to period, our ‘with flight’ prices, below, are approximate only.

Includes: Meals: B x 6, L x 3, D x 3

Also, note that further information, tour descriptions and photographs can be found on our travel blog’s Thailand World Heritage Tour page.



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

Bangkok City Tour

Day 1 - Bangkok - arrival

Our tour begins with a late morning check-in to a well-located hotel situated in the city’s bustling Banglamphu District. The afternoon is at leisure – with activities depending upon arrival time – but could include, for instance, a walking tour of the narrow alleys, street cafes and street art of fascinating Chinatown before a local-style welcome dinner.

Extra nights in Bangkok available on request

Overnight: Bangkok Transport: Walk,  Meals: D, 

Ayutthaya tour

Day 2 - Ayutthaya - ancient capital of Siam

Departure upcountry for the ancient city of Ayutthaya, the Siamese capital between the 14th and 18th centuries, and once one of the largest and wealthiest cities in Asia. Tour of some of the myriad historical sites by boat and on foot before an afternoon transfer to Pak Chong town, our base for nearby Khao Yai National Park.

Overnight: Pak Chong Transport: Minibus, Boat, Walk,  Meals: B, 

Khao Yai National Park

Day 3 - In the jungle - Khao Yai National Park

Day tour of the World Heritage site includes morning and afternoon safaris to spot some of the park’s rich fauna including gibbons, hornbills and with luck wild elephants. We’ll also take you on a jungle hike and visit one of Khao Yai’s most picturesque waterfalls.

Overnight: Pak Chong Transport: Minibus, Walk,  Meals: B, L, 

Thailand, Muang Tam

Day 4 - Phanom Rung - atop an extinct volcano

Heading east to Buriram Province our first stop will be the charming 11th-century site of Muang Tam, a well-preserved Angkor-period temple set amid picturesque lily ponds. Following a local-style, partly cook-your-own, lunch, we’ll climb up to Phanom Rung, another spectacular ancient temple, (now on UNESCO’s tentative list), set atop an extinct volcano. An evening tour of Surin Town’s night food market completes the day.

Overnight: Surin Transport: Minibus, Walk,  Meals: B, L, D, 

Thailand, Pha Taem cliff paintings

Day 5 - East to Khong Chiam

This morning’s stops include the small town of Sikorapum, location of another beautifully restored Angkor site, as well as the picturesque Sirindhorn Lake. Afternoon arrival at the small town of Khong Chiam on the banks of the Mekong River, overlooking Laos, with some time at leisure to take in the scenery from our well-placed riverside resort.

Overnight: Khong Chiam Transport: Minibus, Walk,  Meals: B, 

Mun River, Ubon Ratchathani

Day 6 - Pha Taem National Park

Our day trip to nearby Pha Taem National Park includes a forest hike to discover the spectacular cliff paintings and unusual mushroom rock features for which the park is famous. Take in the magnificent Mekong vistas from the clifftops before a later afternoon boat trip along the Mun and Mekong rivers.

Overnight: Khong Chiam Transport: Minibus, Boat, Walk,  Meals: B, L, D, 

Ayutthaya lunch

Day 7 - Ubon Ratchathani and departure

Our tour ends with a transfer to nearby Ubon Ratchathani Airport for either a return to Bangkok or flight to Trat for a few days’ extension on an island in the Gulf of Thailand. (We recommend Koh Mak for the November to April period and Koh Chang any time of the year.) Alternatively, if you have more days to spare you could perhaps have a morning at leisure before transferring over the nearby border to Pakse Town to link up with our south Laos tour.

Transport: Minibus,  Meals: B, 

Print Itinerary


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

Thailand, Prasart Sikhorapum

Just a few of the many highlights

Bangkok street life, ancient cities, lush jungle and exotic wildlife. National parks, an Angkor temple on the summit of an extinct volcano and 2 of Thailand's World Heritage sites.

  • Explore the ancient, now UNESCO-listed, Siamese capital of Ayutthaya on foot and by boat
  • The spectacular and well-preserved Angkor-period temples of Phanom Rung and Muang Tam
  • 2-night stay in a garden resort on the banks of the Mekong River
  • Jungle hike and wildlife safari in World Heritage Khao Yai National Park
  • Hike in Pha Taem National Park to discover the curious rock formations, cliff paintings and awe-inspiring views
  • ...and of course the delicious, varied and world-renowned Thai cuisine

Air Departures (UK) *From

  • 5 June 23 1,695 GBP
  • 4 July 24 1,695 GBP
  • 31 July 24 1,695 GBP
  • 29 August 24 1,695 GBP
  • 26 September 24 1,695 GBP
  • 24 October 24 1,750 GBP
  • 21 November 24 1,750 GBP
  • 16 January 25 1,800 GBP
  • 13 February 25 1,800 GBP
  • 13 May 25 1,800 GBP
  • 17 June 25 1,800 GBP
  • 22 July 25 1,800 GBP
  • 26 August 25 1,900 GBP

Land Departures

  • 6 June 24 895 GBP
  • 5 July 24 895 GBP
  • 1 August 24 895 GBP
  • 30 August 24 895 GBP
  • 27 September 24 895 GBP
  • 25 October 24 935 GBP
  • 22 November 24 935 GBP
  • 17 January 25 985 GBP
  • 14 February 25 985 GBP
  • 14 May 25 985 GBP
  • 18 June 25 985 GBP
  • 23 July 25 985 GBP
  • 27 August 25 985 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...

Centara Life Phra Nakhon

Centra Life Phra Nakhon view

  • Excellent central albeit quiet location
  • Well-appointed with pool, restaurant, bar and coffee shop
  • Comofrtable, well-equipped rooms and helpful staff
Khao Yai Cottage

Khao Yai Cottage view

  • Small, low-key but comfortable resort
  • Quiet garden setting with plentiful birdlife
  • Excellent location a short walk from shops and restaurants
Thailand Isan Tour

The Wood Surin view

  • Excellent, small, comfortable boutique-style hotel
  • Central location, 5 minutes walk from the night market
  • Well-appointed and lovingly decorated
Peerada River View Resort, Kong Chiam

Peerada River View Resort, Kong Chiam

  • Chalet-style accommodation in a garden setting
  • Situated on the banks of the Mekong River itself
  • Excellent in-house restaurant, bar and coffee shop

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

Visa Info & Notes

Visas: Visitors holding passports of Australia, Canada, UK, US, certain EU countries plus citizens of other ASEAN member states receive an automatic 30-day entry stamp on arrival. Note this is a visa waiver rather than a tourist visa however obtaining a visa in advance or visa or arrival is consequently not necessary and there is no advantage in applying for an e-visa. (Rules may vary for stays over 30 days or multiple entries.)

Not all European countries are covered by this scheme so passport holders from eastern European EU or non-EU nations are advised to check conditions with your consulate or embassy beforehand. You can also check current information on the Thai immigration website.

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. Note that the standard entry and exit point for this tour is Suvarnabhumi International Airport, (Bangkok) International Airport.

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 ($3-$4) per person per day. For your guide/tour-leader tip – who will accompany you for the duration of your tour – we’d recommend approximately $25-30 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 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 offered, including trekking, can be tailored for any fitness level or alternatives suggested.

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