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Southern Thailand's warm, clear waters and west coast tropical islands provide a perfect winter getaway. Combine some of the world's most beautiful beaches by kayak, speedboat and longtail boat with time to explore ancient jungles that are home to whooping gibbons, long tailed macaques and wild elephant. A few days in Bangkok adds contrast with the opportunity to try Thai boxing and cruising the city's klongs.
Explore Tour Leader
2 nights comfortable bungalow
1 nights simple camping
1 nights simple homestay
8 nights comfortable hotel
12 - 18
Itineraries on some departure dates may differ, please select the itinerary that you wish to explore.
Arrive in Bangkok, the bustling capital of Thailand famous for its street vendors serving up tasty Thai food, bright lights, tuk tuks and khlong boats plying the network of canals and waterways.
For those arriving on time our Leader plans to meet you in the hotel reception at 6pm for the welcome meeting and for those that wish, there is the chance to go out for dinner. There are no other activities planned today, so you are free to arrive in Bangkok at any time. If you would like to receive a complimentary airport transfer today, you'll need to arrive into Bangkok's Suvarnabhumi International airport (airport code BKK), which is 30km, between 45 minutes and an hour from the hotel. Should you miss the welcome meeting, your Leader will inform you of any essential information as soon as you catch up.
If your flight arrives earlier in the day, perhaps you might choose to join a sight-seeing tour this afternoon of the Grand Palace and rambling complex of Wat Po. Older than the city itself, this is home to a reclining Buddha which is a 46 metre golden plated statue depicting Lord Buddha as he enters Nirvana. Another option is to visit the Rattanakosin Exhibition Hall. This interactive museum is regarded as one of the best in Thailand and helps to bring Bangkok's history and culture to life.
Royal Princess Larn Luang (or similar)
This morning visit the Sor Vorapin gym - the famous Muay Thai training camp to watch Thai Boxing experts in action. Afterwards, we will have the chance to try out training techniques of the traditional martial art in a training session. There is no sparring involved, instead we use pads and kick bags; for those that don't wish to take part there is a café on site serving drinks and light meals.
This afternoon head to Tha Tien Pier and embark on a traditional long-tail boat to cruise along Thonburi's klongs (canals). This is the ideal way to explore Bangkok's network of meandering waterways that continue to serve as an important thoroughfare in the city. Along our route watch local life taking place around us - vendors pass by on small wooden boats that are filled with vegetables and noodles to be sold to canal-side homes. We may even see the postman making his deliveries in his engine-powered banana-boat. This evening, head to the lively back packer area of Khao San Road, where we can enjoy a traditional Thai food dinner with the opportunity to shop in the area for souvenirs before we return to our hotel for the evening.
Set off this morning for the floating market of Damnoen Saduak, a ninety minute drive west of Bangkok. Here you board a longtail boat to explore the many canals that are filled with market traders selling everything from chicken and sticky rice to souvenirs and nik naks.
Our destination this afternoon is Khao Sam Roi Yort National Park. Upon arrival, disembark our bus onto a mangrove boardwalk where we walk along a 1km raised platform through the fragile ecosystem in search of mud crabs and giant monitor lizards. These forests are unique and offer a wonderful experience with their sprawling roots and shady canopy. Continue on foot to our beach camp in Khao Sam Roi Yort National Park, a vast untouched beach in front of our campsite. Tents are located a secluded wooded area, sleeping sheets, mats and pillows are provided. The site has male and female shower blocks as well as a restaurant where dinner is included tonight. Tonight we sleep with the sound of the waves gently breaking on the shore next to our tents.
Sampraya Beach Camp (or similar)
It's just a short drive from our campsite to the start of our walk to Laem Sala Beach, a spectacular stretch of coastline. Secluded from all roads, you have time to relax and enjoy the stunning scenery as we take a short walk along the beach.
One of the highlights is the spectacular cave temple of Phraya Nakhon Temple with its atmospheric pagoda built within. There is a short but steep ascent up a staircase, the sights waiting at the top makes the climb well worthwhile. After exploring the cave, return to the car park to meet our driver and transfer to our resort in Kui Buri, a ten minute drive. The rest of the day is free to relax on the nearby excellent Sam Roi beach or around the pool.
Dolphin Bay Resort (or similar)
This morning transfer to the nearby Kui Buri National Park Thai/Burma border. Transfer to off road trucks in search of wild elephant herds that calls the park home. Whilst sightings are not guaranteed, the park rangers that accompany us are familiar with the herds movements so there is a high success rate. You will also have time to learn about other aspects of the park before returning back to our beach resort in the afternoon.
Today has been kept free to relax and enjoy Sam Roi beach or the hotel pool.
Following breakfast we move onto Koh Phitak, a drive of four hours. Leaving behind the mainland, we take a long-tail boat the short kilometre crossing to the island. Upon disembarking, settle into our homestay accommodation and meet the community hosting us.
The accommodation is a mix of twin-share and communal rooms, with some guests staying in the homes of locals. There is access to toilets and showers in a central area. Dinner is included this evening.
The rest of the day has been left free to either relax and soak up the tranquil atmosphere, or to explore the island. There is a short circular walk of around 1-2 kilometres around the island, and there is also the option to take a boat trip out to snorkel the surrounding coral reefs. In the evening you may like to join the local fisherman on a squid fishing quest, where we learn the interesting techniques of this old trade, and if we get lucky our catch can be cooked onboard the boat for us to enjoy - ocean to plate in a matter of minutes.
Koh Phitak Homestay (or similar)
After saying goodbye to our hosts we continue our journey south this morning, heading for our riverside jungle lodge in Khao Sok National Park. Covering an area of some 65,000 sq km, the park is one of the oldest and most bio-diverse jungles in South East Asia, boasting a lush rainforest that is older than those of either the Amazon or Central Africa.
Set against a spectacular backdrop of towering limestone mountains, the park is home to a rich diversity of wildlife. Some 180 species of birds are also in residence - a delight for both keen birdwatchers and novices alike.
This afternoon, head out into the park in a canoe ride along one of the tributaries that snake through this natural wonderland. Here, the sounds of gibbon calls mingle with the flowing river. The park is also a haven for a wide variety of exotic plants, including bamboo, fig, palms and the carnivorous pitcher plant, which gruesomely consumes its prey in its specially adapted 'bag'. Our jungle lodge will be our base for the next two nights. In this magical setting, we can look forward to the sight of monkeys descending from the surrounding canopy to drink from the river.
Anurak Community Lodge (or similar)
Our second day in the jungle sees us enjoying a guided walk through the dense forest keeping our eyes peeled for mischievous monkeys playing in the canopy above and watching out for colourful hornbills and kingfishers as they dart amongst the trees. The rest of the day is then free to indulge, explore or relax as you see fit. Our lodge is set close to the river, so a swim in this idyllic and unique setting is a welcome possibility. It is also possible to hire a canoe to explore a bit further afield. This evening, there is the option to go on a walking jungle safari, to witness the jungle bursting with life at night.
This morning trade in the teeming jungle for the idyllic beaches of Khao Lak , a short one hour drive away. On arrival check in to your hotel, the rest of the day free to explore the nearby beaches.
The Leaf on the Sand (or similar)
Today you set off to explore the Similian Islands National Marine Park by speedboat. Comprising nine islands in total, only five are open to the public. Spend the day exploring a couple of superb snorkeling areas and enjoy a delicious Thai lunch with your crew for the day. All snorkeling equipment is provided in this dawn till dusk adventure.
Today is kept free for you to relax on the beach or enjoy the hotel pool.
The trip ends after breakfast at our hotel in Khao Lak.
There are no activities planned today, so you are free to depart from Khao Lak at any time. If your flight is departing later in the day luggage storage facilities are available at our hotel. If you would like to receive a complimentary airport transfer today, you need to depart from Phuket's International airport (airport code HKT), which is 85km, around 90 minutes from the hotel.
Generally hot with high humidity. There is some rainfall from April to September with most days being hot (around 33 Degrees) and a light breeze on the islands. If it does rain, it will be more of a heavy tropical downpour that lasts a few hours. Additional information and climate charts can be accessed at http://www.explore.co.uk/weather.
2 Pin Round
Bangkok - Excursion on Tik Tuk to Grand Palace, Emerald Budha and Wat Po Khao Sok NP - Night Safari US$25
Pack essentially for hot weather. Bear in mind that the region is tropical (humid) and that days can be very hot. Lightweight rainwear or an umbrella is advisable all year. Casual clothes are the most practical (something with long sleeves, and long trousers for evenings), and tight fitting garments should be avoided. A fleece is useful for the overnight train. Laundry facilities are available on the islands. A swimming costume is a must and waterproof sandals are a good idea for wading out of boats. When visiting the Grand Palace in Bangkok shorts are not permitted and shoulders and feet must be covered.
Comfortable shoes and sandals. Flipflops are useful when hopping on and off boats.
One main piece of baggage and daypack. Remember you are expected to carry your own luggage so don't overload yourself.
A small torch and insect repellent. Bring a beach towel and high factor sunscreen. If you intend to do much snorkelling we recommend you bring your own mask and snorkel, as local equipment is not always top quality. A disposable waterprof camera can be useful whilst snorkelling. Any qualified divers should remember to bring logbooks and certification with them if intending to dive. We advise you bring a water bottle for day to day use.
Bus, Boat, Ferry
The hotels have pools plus you can swim when staying on the islands.
Can you drink the water?
The water quality is poor and therefore it is recommended to avoid drinking tap water during your trip.
We strongly recommend that you check your government's travel advisory for up-to-date information and advice about your destination: safety and security, entry requirements, health, local laws and customs. For UK citizens, check the latest Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office advice.
Please refer to our COVID-19 entry requirements page for any country-specific conditions of entry. Whilst we strive to update this on a regular basis we recommend you also check the FCDO website for the latest advice on entry requirements in this fast-evolving situation. Information can change at any time.
Please note that some countries require proof of parental consent when travelling overseas with under 18s. Please check requirements with the relevant embassy or consular office well in advance of travel if this applies to your party.
Once your booking has been confirmed we guarantee the price will not increase, whatever the circumstances. However, please note that if you voluntarily make any changes to your booking including changing your trip or departure date, any additional costs or charges incurred will not be covered. Before booking please ensure you have read our important tour pricing information.Booking Conditions
Thailand: Visas are not required by UK, Australian, New Zealand, US and Canadian citizens for a stay of less than 30 days. All passports must have at least 6 months validity remaining on entry to Thailand. Other nationalities should consult their local embassy or consular office. You should confirm all visa related questions with the relevant Embassy prior to departure.
If you do require assistance in obtaining a visa then you may be able to apply through Explore's recommended visa service in the UK, Travcour. See www.travcour.com to download the relevant visa application for your trip, if applicable (UK citizens only), along with details of how to apply for your visa through Travcour. The Team at Travcour will be happy to answer specific questions relating to visa applications, please call them directly on 0208 5431846.
It is your responsibility to ensure that you are in possession of a full passport, with the correct validity for your chosen destination.
Before booking your Explore trip, please ensure that you read both our Essential Information and Booking Conditions.
Customers who have chosen to book on the ‘Land Only’ arrangements of our tour, please ensure that you have checked your tour specific ‘Joining Instructions’ prior to booking your own travel arrangements. Your joining instructions can be found below in the dates and prices information.
You may also be eligible for the Free Explore Transfer.
Customers booked on the ‘Land Only’ arrangements will receive a Free Transfer, provided you arrive and depart on the tour only itinerary start and end dates. The complimentary transfers will be arranged from the Explore designated airport or train station to your trips joining point, and then back from the ending point to the designated airport or train station. Generally the airport or station that Explore have selected will be the one that is closest to the town or city where the trip starts, or the one nearest to the joining point. It will be either an airport or train station but not both.
The exception to this rule is customers who are booked on a tour where the joining and ending point is at the designated airport or train station.
Free transfers are not available for Polar customers.
If you are not eligible for the Free Transfer then you will need to make your own way through to the joining and ending point. On a majority of our tours Explore will be able to provide a private transfer at an additional cost. Please ask for a quote at the time of booking.
For more information regarding the Explore Free Transfer click here
It is a condition of booking with Explore that you have adequate valid travel insurance. It is your responsibility to arrange appropriate travel insurance and ensure you have read and understood the full terms and conditions of your travel insurance policy to ensure that you are covered for all activities you intend to undertake whilst on the tour, including all optional activities. Your Insurance Policy must fully cover you for medical expenses and emergency repatriation to your home country. Please ensure your policy includes medical emergency helicopter evacuation in the event of illness or injury and covers the entire duration of your holiday. If you are trekking at altitude please ensure that there is no upper altitude limit which may limit or exclude cover for your trip. The cost of many of our Polar Voyages will exceed the capped amount covered by standard insurance premiums and you will be required to pay an additional premium to cover the full value of your trip. Please ensure that you are covered for the full amount of your holiday cost, as insufficient cover could invalidate a claim under the policy. Medical and repatriation insurance cover is not mandatory for UK residents who are travelling on trips within the United Kingdom.
Read more information about what travel insurance is required.
Explore offers a wide range of flexible flying options to make joining and leaving our trips easy. Read more about them here.
You are able to book this tour on a 'land only' basis or as a ‘flight inclusive’ package. Your flight inclusive package will be fully protected by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) ATOL protection scheme.
We have a good selection of flights not only from London but from many regional airports around the UK allowing us to compare fares between scheduled carriers as well as low cost and charter airlines. Our dedicated flights team will match the best flight options to your arrival and departure airport.
On our website we display a UK flight inclusive package guide price which is generally based on a London departure. To avoid paying supplements or to secure your preferred flight option, we recommend booking as early as possible, especially for peak travel dates.
An ability to swim is essential for your safe enjoyment of the water based activities on this trip. If you wish to participate in these activities then we insist that you are able to swim.
Nothing compulsory, we recommend protection against malaria, typhoid, tetanus, diphtheria, polio and infectious hepatitis. Although not compulsory, travellers may also wish to immunise themselves against Japanese encephalitis. Consult your travel clinic for latest advice on Dengue, Malaria and Zika Virus. Please take preventative measures to avoid mosquito bites - these include mosquito repellent as well as long trousers and long sleeve shirts to cover up when necessary. Please check the latest requirements with your travel clinic or doctor prior to departure. The above is not an exhaustive list. Further information regarding vaccinations and travel health advice can be found by following the NHS and NaTHNaC links at Explore Travel Health and from your local healthcare provider. Visa and vaccination requirements are subject to change and should be confirmed by you before travelling.