Thailand: The Golden Kingdom 12 days
94.6% of reviewers recommend this tourRead Reviews 
About This Experience
Discover the “Golden Kingdom” in Thailand’s glittering palaces and Buddhist temples; then experience the “Land of Smiles” in the warm, welcoming people. From bustling Bangkok, you’ll travel north to ancient ruined capitals, hill tribe villages and mountaintop temples to investigate all sides of this vibrant country of contrasts. The spice and rice will nourish your body; the scenery and history will nourish your soul.
Look for this symbol throughout the tour itinerary to discover sustainable highlights. Sustainable highlights include activities that benefit indigenous cultures or help protect local wildlife.
Your Tour Includes
Round-trip airfare & transfers
10 nights in handpicked hotels
Breakfast daily, 2 lunches, 4 three-course dinners with beer or wine
Multilingual Tour Director
Private deluxe motor coach
Select entrance fees
Why You'll Love It
Spicy, sweet, salty & sour—Thai food at its finest
Bangkok’s canals & floating markets
Interacting with the hill tribes outside Chiang Rai
Soaring to the summit of Doi Suthep
Up-close encounters with elephants
Ornate Buddhist temples, stupas & ruins
Overnight Flight1 night
Bangkok3 nights - hotel info
Wander the wats, examining thousands of holy images
Grand Palace, Temple of the Golden Buddha, Temple of the Reclining Buddha, canal cruise
This morning, your Tour Director leads a sightseeing tour of Bangkok featuring the Grand Palace, Temple of the Emerald Buddha (Wat Phra Kaew), Temple of the Reclining Buddha (Wat Po), and Temple of the Golden Buddha (Wat Timitr). In the afternoon, enjoy a tour of Bangkok’s klongs, or canals, on a speedboat and converted rice barge. This evening get acquainted with your fellow travelers at an included welcome dinner.
Sample the exotic fruits at Damnoen Saduak Floating Market
World War II Museum
Discover the unique and fascinating culture of Thailand today, as you experience the Damnoen Saduak Floating Market. Here, locals sell exquisite produce, like Malacca grapes, Chinese grapefruits, mangoes, bananas and coconuts—all from their small boats. Then journey west to Kanchanaburi, home to the River Kwai and its infamous bridge, and Nakorn Pathom, the largest pagoda in southeast Asia. Next, visit the World War II Cemetery, resting place of over 9,000 Allied soldiers.
Phitsanuloke1 night - hotel info
Explore the evocative ruins of the old capital at Ayutthaya
Optional Excursion - Rickshaw Ride & Market
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Wat Chantaram Temple, Ayutthaya Ruins
Journey to Ayutthaya, Thailand’s capital from 1350 to 1767. Here, you’ll tour the ruins, decorated with beautiful images of the Buddha draped in saffron robes, just like living monks. Continue on to Uthai Thani to visit the beautiful Wat Chantaram Temple. Enjoy an included lunch before transferring to Phitsanuloke, where you’ll enjoy an included group dinner. For a night you won’t forget, consider joining our exciting Rickshaw Ride and Phitsanuloke Night Market optional.
Rickshaw Ride & Market $29* pp
Take a rickshaw to the Phitsanuloke Night Market, where you’ll find fresh food cooked and served to order. Try Pak Boong Loy Fah ("Flying Morning Glory" in English), a dish that takes its name from its preparation: vegetables are fried in a wok, then tossed high into the air to be caught. In addition to the food, you’ll discover an astounding variety of local handicrafts, souvenirs and clothing for sale.
Chiang Rai2 nights - hotel info
Discover the remnants of Sukhothai palace and dozens of temples
Sukhothai Historical Park
On your way to Chiang Rai today, stop to tour the Sukhothai Historical Park. Now a UNESCO World Heritage Site, this park includes classical Buddha statues and temple ruins. Here you’ll enjoy an included lunch, before continuing on to your destination, known for its hill tribe villages. The rest of the day is free to explore Chiang Rai on your own.
Encounter the hill tribes of Mae Kok and Mae Salong
Karen Hill Tribe Village
This morning, venture along the Mae Kok River to a Karen Hill Tribe Village. Learn about the traditional life of the Karen people, as you marvel at their bamboo houses, which are raised on stilts. They, like all the tribes, are skilled at crop rotation and hunting with spears and crossbows. Next, you’ll visit the Golden Triangle, where the three countries of Burma, Thailand and Laos meet on the Mekong River. In the afternoon, drive across upper Northern Thailand to Mae Salong, an ethnic Chinese town set in the hills. Here, various Chinese agricultural products are produced—the most well-known being its tea. You’ll see the 1949 Kuomintang soldier settlement, founded by soldiers who fled China after Mao Tse Tung’s victory in the Chinese Civil War.
Chiang Mai3 nights - hotel info
Taste khao soi and see the view from Doi Suthep
Optional Excursion - Thai Massage
Temple of Wat Phrathat Doi Suthep
Today on your way to Chiang Mai, enjoy the stunning scenery before stopping to visit Wat Suan Dok. Built by King Keu Na of Lanna, the temple was constructed for a revered priest visiting from Sukhothai. Here, you will have the unique opportunity to learn about Buddhism from one of the resident monks. Later, discover the dominating presence on the horizon, Doi Suthep. This regal mountain overlooks the city from the northwest and is home to some of the most deeply loved symbols in the Kingdom. As the Thai saying goes, “If you haven’t tasted Khao Soi or seen the view from Doi Suthep, you haven’t been to Chiang Mai.” On this exciting excursion to Doi Suthep, walk the 290 steps skyward or take a cable car to the Temple of Wat Phrathat Doi Suthep. The temple is a major pilgrimage destinations during the important Buddhist holidays of Makha Buja and Visak. Later, arrive in Chiang Mai. Later this afternoon, let all your tension melt away with an optional Thai massage. Dinner is included this evening.
Thai Massage $29* pp
Let your tension melt away as a skilled Thai masseuse unknots weary muscles. Using traditional Thai massage techniques, your masseuse will help you relax and achieve a balance between mind and body. Believed to have been developed by the Buddha's physician more than 2,500 years ago in India, what we know as Thai massage gradually made its way to Thailand, where the Ayurvedic techniques and principles blended with elements of traditional Chinese medicine. Muscle compression, joint mobilization, and acupressure are may also used during Thai massage, leading to a relaxing experience some adherents compare to yoga.
Travel in high Thai style—on elephant backs and bamboo rafts
Optional Excursion - Khantoke Dinner
Orchid Farm, Chiang Dao Elephant Camp
Spend the morning at Chiang Dao Elephant Camp. Watch the elephants take their morning bath and demonstrate their amazing skills for you. Keep in mind the years of arduous training that give these regal animals and mahouts the skills to impress you. After your elephant ride, take a bamboo raft trip down the Ping River and admire the scenery and absorb the tranquility (weather permitting). This afternoon, come face-to-pistil with some of the world’s loveliest orchids at the Orchid Farm, center of cultivation and development of both precious and new orchid flowers. This evening, join an optional Khantoke Dinner.
Khantoke Dinner $29* pp
Revel in a delectable, entertaining khantoke dinner. The customary northern Thai style of eating, khantoke-style dining became popular in the early 1950s, though it has been a Lanna Thai tradition for centuries. You’ll sit on floor mats at low-top tables, while food is served in large platters. Relax and enjoy your meal as you are entertained by a variety of cultural performances.
Bangkok1 night - hotel info
Flight homefor a day
Extend Your Stay
Add Cambodia & Bangkok $949*
Learn about the dramatic history of the Khmer civilization and see how Cambodia is reinventing itself today. Wander among Angkor’s temples and terraces and discover one of humankind's most astonishing and enduring architectural achievements. From the layout of the temple sites to the intricate bas-relief and the iconographic sculpture, the sites of Siem Reap will mesmerize and amaze.
Siem Reap2 nights - hotel info
See the sun set behind the magnificent temple mountain of Angkor Wat
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Fly to Siem Reap and enjoy an included lunch upon arrival. At sunset, tour the majestic temples of Angkor Wat. Honoring Hinduism and Buddhism, its five inter-nested rectangular walls and moats represent mountains and the ocean. Return to Siem Reap later for an included dinner.
Investigate the evocative temples and terraces of Angkor Thom
This morning, see Angkor Thom, the Elephant Terrace, Terrace of the Leper King and the Bayon Temple. Lunch is included this afternoon before you tour the Buddhist monastic complex Ta Prohm, where the architecture blends in with original vegetation from its founding in the 12th century.
Bangkok1 night - hotel info
Passport & Visa
In order to enter Thailand (as well as Cambodia on the tour extension), U.S. and Canadian citizens need a valid passport with an expiration date extending at least six months beyond the date of your return home. A visa is also required for U.S. and Canadian passport holders to enter Cambodia on the tour extension. To purchase a visa upon arrival in Cambodia, you will need $20USD cash and two passport-sized photos. Although it is possible to obtain a visa at the airport upon arrival, we recommend that you obtain your visa in advance using our provider VisaCentral (www.visacentral.com/goaheadtours). If you are not a U.S. or Canadian citizen, you must contact each country’s consulate for your specific entry requirements.
There are no major health risks when traveling to Thailand. It is always advisable to check with your doctor or health-care provider for the latest updates and overseas travel requirements. More information on vaccinations and other health precautions can be found via the CDC website.
Transportation / Walking on tour
Round-trip flights arrive in and depart from Bangkok. Included transportation on this tour is by private motor coach and internal flights. Your tour to Thailand does involve some moderate walking around historic sites. Walks are leisurely paced. However, be aware of some climbing of steps and winding, narrow passageways.
Clothing & Packing Tips
Light, loose-fitting clothing that provides comfort when exploring the sights is essential for your tour. A sun hat, sunglasses and a sturdy pair of walking shoes or sneakers are recommended for sightseeing. It’s always a good idea to be prepared for any eventuality—a lightweight sports jacket and emergency rainwear are advised. Remember that it is preferable not to visit churches or other religious sites with bare legs and shoulders (and entrance may be denied on this basis).
While the currency in Thailand is the baht, it is best to bring only major currencies, such as US Dollars or Canadian Dollars. Also, Visa, Amex, Diners Club and Mastercard are accepted in Thailand and Cambodia, the extension destination.
At the conclusion of your tour, it is customary to offer your Tour Director and driver a gratuity. We recommend tipping in your tour country’s currency, the equivalent of $3USD/CAD per person per day for your driver, $2USD/CAD per day for your bus attendant and $6USD/CAD to $9USD/CAD per person per day for your Tour Director. If applicable, we also recommend the equivalent of $2USD/CAD per local guide. Tips can only be paid in cash. Please keep current local currency exchange rates in mind when tipping.
More about the Chiang Dao Elephant Camp: The Elephant Training Center was founded in 1969 and was one of the first elephant camps in Chiang Mai and has one of the most beautiful natural settings, surrounded by small hills and the Ping River running through it year round. Manas Yaviraj was the founder of the elephant training center, which he started by renting three elephants from neighboring Karen hill tribes to showcase to tourists elephants’ working skills, such as teak logging. The center expanded over the years and Chiang-Dao Chiang Mai Elephant Training Center began to purchase its own elephants, as well as implementing a breeding program. The camp works elephants in the mornings only, allowing all elephants to enjoy their afternoons and nights in the beautiful and bountiful natural environments so they can return to their natural habitats, breed and enjoy a natural, fulfilling life. Because of the importance put upon their natural habits, baby elephants are adopted by the herd and the natural behaviors of the elephants allow them to behave as they would in the wild. Baby elephants are cared for and grow into members of the herd which in turn care for the future young.
Pay a visit to Chatuchak Weekend Market, where people buy and sell thousands of local products, including food, clothing, art, collectibles, handicrafts and potted plants. It operates on Saturdays and Sundays. From Wednesday to Fridays, the market becomes a venue for wholesale of various plants. Also, be sure to visit the Suan Lum Night Bazaar and test your bargaining expertise. Thousands of local products, like antiques and handicrafts, are up for grabs.
94.6% of reviewers recommend this tourRead Reviews 
Marvelous views of Temples, Museums, and historic trails through the mountains. Be prepared to climb lots of stairs and walking on beautiful trails as well as adventurous boat rides on rivers and lakes. Meet with elephants and tigers and view lots of rice and corn farms. Be prepared to shop for lots of artistic items and jewels. Also the cities are crowded with people and interesting buildings of new and old architecture. The food is great and includes lots of Thai and Chinese as well as western foods.
We had no idea what to expect on this trip... What an amazing experience!!!! The food, culture and scenery were all breathtaking. Lek was a wonderful tour director, showing us all the great sights and providing in-depth information...beyond what many of the on-site directors provided. Riding an elephant was an awesome experience all in itself. I would highly recommend this tour for anyone seeking adventure, culture and a desire to see a fascinating part of the world. If possible, definitely do the extension to Cambodia...again, another wonderful country!
We had a great time. Tour director was very knowledgeable and very generous, with lots of little tastings and gifts. The elephant rides were the highlight. Chat with monk was interesting. Temples were all different and some surprisingly ornate. Only problems were in the cassettes which did not always work, and some confusion regarding hotel reservations, but we were nicely compensated with a free massage! Hotels were clean and up to scale. Would highly recommend, but beware the flights are very long.
Thailand: The Golden Kingdom is hands down the best tour I've ever taken. Kong, the tour director, made this tour memorable and fun. Thailand is not only a beautiful country, but the people are warm, friendly and accommodating.
A trip of a life time!
I just returned from this 12-day fabulous tour on Monday. Everything went perfect..what a country, what kind, polite and respectful people...astounding that there was amidst all these cars, bicycles, rickshaws and trucks, never a horn blasted.We saw no accidents, no road rage...a very polite nation...so many impressions, so much to digest yet...the Elephant Training Camp, the ride, OMG, the boat ride to Laos, the Grand Palace, the Golden Buddha, the chat with a Buddhist Monk; the White Temple in Chaing Rai, the visits to tribal villages, to see how they live, and the shopping....unbelievable...oh not to forget the Night Market/Bazaar, and the Festival of Lights....Our Tour Director Mr. Kongkaa went above and beyond to make this trip as informative and enjoyable for all of us 35 travelers, no small task he had...He showed utmost patience and respect toward all of us and the love of his country was crystal clear. He needs to be commended, as he, along with the bus driver Nuk and the bus boy Nop made this an unbelievable adventure. Thank you!
Trek thru Buddhism
I learned a lot about Buddhism. The temples are amazing. Elephant ride and Bamboo raft trip were so much fun. Beautiful country. The extension to Cambodia is well worth the cost and effort. The temple ruins are breathtaking!!
Thailand:The Golden Kingdom
My husband and I went to Thailand on this tour in March 2013. I cannot say enough good things about it. Although this was our first Go Ahead Tour, we have traveled quite a bit with other companies. We were very impressed on this tour. Our tour director Tony was wonderful. He was knowledgeable, kind, personable and included so many extras. Thailand was a beautiful country with such friendly, delightful people. Of course, the elephant ride was a highlight. However, the entire tour was filled with beautiful sights, remarkable experiences, fascinating history. . . and a lot of fun. This will not be our last Go Ahead Tour.
Thailand was a very interesting place to visit - but I don't think I'd return. Too much poverty and a lot of trash around building and streets where ever you go. The people are charming and polite and helpful and the Temples are pretty amazing. We liked all of the hotels but felt the Eastern in Bangkok was a bit out of the way. The Duset was amazing and we also like the Topland hotels. Holiday Inn lobby area and bar areas were quite nice but the rooms are getting a bit dated and bathrooms need some tender love and care. Our tour guide from Destination Asia ( his name is Top ) was simply outstanding - knowledgeable, courteous, attentive and a great sense of humor. Food was terrific and the lunches arranged by Top were at very nice locations and the food was an excellant value. Overall, the bang for the buck is hard to beat.
Thailand: The Golden Kingdom
I can't say enough about our wonderful tour guide Louis. We came into Bangkok 2 days early and he came to our hotel the next morning to give us a map and make recommendations of places to go. He was wonderful through the rest of the tour. My favorite guide ever. We enjoyed the tour thoroughly except for the intense heat and long days. We saw many wonderful temples. The UNESCO sites were great and not so crowded that you couldn't enjoy them. The elephant ride was the highlight of the trip. It was wonderful. We rode for an hour in the jungles and rivers of Thailand with our very own mahout. We found the Thai people to be very friendly. The food was quite good. The hotel in Chiang Rai was very nice. In Bangkok the hotel is nice but you'll need a taxi to go anywhere. The other hotels were adequate. We took the extension to Cambodia and although we are glad we took it, it was even hotter and extremely crowded with Asian tourist. It was hard to enjoy with so many other tourist.
Thailand and Cambodia
This trip was a wonderful glimpse into a part of the world that was new to me. I loved the people and the food, and was in awe of the majestic temples and historic ruins that we saw. Louis, our tour guide, was great. His pride in his country and his knowledge of it's people and customs made the trip worthwhile. If I had any complaint, it was that we had very little time to relax and enjoy ourselves when we weren't touring. In Cambodia, I would have liked to have seen more of Siem Reap.