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. Stay: Royal Princess Larn Luang (Comfortable)
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. Stay: Royal Princess Larn Luang (Comfortable) (B)
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. Stay: Sampraya Beach Camp (Simple) (B/D)
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. Stay: Dolphin Bay Resort (Comfortable) (B)
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. Stay: Dolphin Bay Resort (Comfortable) (B)
Today has been kept free to relax and enjoy Sam Roi beach or the hotel pool. Stay: Dolphin Bay Resort (Comfortable) (B)
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. Stay: Koh Phitak Homestay (Simple) (B/D)
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. Stay: Anurak Community Lodge (Comfortable) (B)
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. Stay: Anurak Community Lodge (Comfortable) (B)
This morning we take a fast ferry to Koh Samui, arriving late in the morning. This is the largest and most developed of the islands in the Sumai Archipelago, with a distinctive mix of quiet palm-fringed beaches, backpacker resorts and coconut plantations.
The rest of the day is free for you to relax and explore at your own pace. You may choose to take to the waters with mask and snorkel again, or simply wander the palm-fringed beaches and trails around the island. Koh Samui has a slightly different feel to many of the other islands in southern Thailand, owing in some part to the influence of the Hainan islanders who first settled the island 150 years ago. The Chinese influence is still visible in some of the building in Na Thon, and some descendants of the original settlers still live in the area. Stay: Lamai Coconut Beach Resort (Comfortable) (B)
Today we have the opportunity to visit the beautiful chain of islands that make up the Ang Thong National Marine Park. The group of islands cover over 250 square kilometres, are situated around 45 km north-west from Koh Samui. Once renowned as a haven for pirates, this stunning archipelago's reputation now centres on its pristine beaches, remote bays and virginal rainforest. The limestone islands are home to sea otters, monitor lizards, dolphins and wild pigs, and offer the perfect setting for some aquatic exploration.
The boat journey to Ang Thong takes around two hours, once in the park there is ample opportunity to swim and explore. We make a stop up on one of the islands to climb up a flight of steps to see the wonderful 'Emerald Lake' known locally as Talay Nai, the lake has a magnificent l backdrop of the surrounding islands. A buffet lunch is served on board, returning to Koh Samui early evening. Stay: Lamai Coconut Beach Resort (Comfortable) (B/L)
Today has been left free to spend as you wish. You may choose to relax on the beach, or enjoy a snorkelling trip around the island.
Another option is to take a Longtail boat trip to Coral Island, Koh Samui's neighbouring island 20 minutes away. Coral island is far less developed than its neighbour, surrounded by coral reefs and white sandy beaches appealing to snorkelers and sunbathers alike. Stay: Lamai Coconut Beach Resort (Comfortable) (B)
There are no activities planned today, so you are free to depart from Koh Samui 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 Koh Samui's airport (airport code USM), which is 30km, around 45 minutes from the hotel. (B)