Thailand for Lantern Festival

Treehouses, Tuk-Tuks and Temples, Oh My!

From island hopping on a long tail boat to jungle trekking in one of the oldest rain forests in the world, you won’t be disappointed in the Land of Smiles. Come join us this year for one of the most coveted events in travel…The mass lantern release in Chiang Mai! This highly anticipated event sells out fast and is definitely a bucket list item! It is an awe inspiring sight to witness thousands of lanterns drift into the sky simultaneously.

Thailand’s breathtaking landscape, mouth-watering food, relaxing massages and laid back vibe makes it the perfect vacation spot. Did we mention that the massages are only $8 each?! No matter your style, Thailand has something for everyone.

 Day 1 : Bangkok Arrival

Sawasdee ka and Welcome to Thailand! Bangkok is an intoxicating and sometimes jarring mix of modern and ancient. Scattered concrete skyscrapers share space with traditional wooden homes while gleaming temples sparkle in the background with the smells of street food encompassing the air. Bangkok has a vast array of activities such as golden temple visits, cabaret shows, Muay Thai fights, boat rides on back canals, floating markets and much more! Just taking a walk around the city and sampling the street food is an amazing experience in itself. Today is arrival day and as many of you will have had long plane rides, you will have the day to settle in and get adjusted to the new time zone. The hotel we are staying at has a very nice salt water pool to lounge in if you need some time to unwind after the long flight.

Included :

  • Activities : Arrival; Free time
  • Accommodation : Ad Lib Hotel

Day 2 : Bangkok  

Today we will get an early start and make our way to the wet market, Klong Toei, the largest and most local in all of Bangkok. If you are squeamish or sensitive to smells, this might not be the best option for you. However, if you would like to see what a real market looks like, then put on a pair of closed toe shoes and let’s head to Klong Toei where everything and anything is sold, including live ducks, insects and snakes! (Trust us, you won’t want to wear flip flops here.) We will walk through the market sampling exotic fruits and our guide will explain the foods that you see. If you’re brave enough you can sample some of it! Along the way we will be picking up food for the cooking class after the market visit. Thereafter, we will head to a cooking school to master our Thai cooking skills. This is an activity that you can feel good about as some of the proceeds go to the Klong Toei slums, which are the largest in Thailand and neighboring market. If you want to see a market that few farangs (“foreigners” in Thai) visit, then Klong Toei is it! If the market and cooking class are not your cup of tea, don’t worry. We have an activities list that you can choose from and we can arrange an alternative activity for you to do based on your interests!

After the cooking class, we will head back to the hotel for some R&R. Later that evening, we will go for a drink at a rooftop bar that offers a 360 degree, panoramic view of Bangkok at sunset. After that, let’s head to Cabbages and Condoms for dinner. This restaurant promotes family planning and generates income for various projects that advocate family planning. Inside the restaurant almost everything is made of condoms! If you are feeling up to it, we can head to Soi Cowboy to check out why Bangkok is so synonymous with…nightlife!

Included :

  • Activities : Market visit; Cooking class; Free time
  • Meals : Breakfast, Lunch
  • Accommodation : Ad Lib Hotel

Day 3 : Bangkok – Railay Beach (by plane, boat & van)  

Today we will head to Railay Beach, which is approximately a one hour plane ride away from Bangkok. Once we arrive, we will have an approximately 45 minute minivan transfer and then a 20 minute boat ride to Railay as it is only accessible by boat. We will arrive in the late afternoon just in time for one of the most awe inspiring sunsets you will ever see! We will grab a drink or smoothie on the beach and then have dinner together.

Railay is something out of a fairy tale with large limestone rocks jutting out from the sandy beaches making for a breathtaking view right from the beach. There are also no cars or motorbikes in town, which will be a relief coming from the bustle and blaring horns of Bangkok. The town itself is completely walkable making it easy to get around without ever feeling lost. Even though it is a peninsula, it is only accessible by boat because the peninsula is surrounded by large limestone cliffs making it unreachable by ground transportation. Railay is best known for its rock-climbing, but don’t worry…there are plenty of other activities from which to choose!

Included :

  • Activities : Transfer to Railay; Free time
  • Meals : Breakfast
  • Accommodation : Hotel

Day 4 : Railay Beach 

Today you will have complete control over your schedule. On the plane ride from Bangkok to Railay, you will be given a list of activities while in Railay. All of the activities can be arranged the day before without a problem, so you can pick what interests you most and we will make the arrangements for you. You can go kayaking, caving, snorkeling, island hopping, scuba diving or just lounge around on the beach and get massages; it is completely up to you! We will have three full days here and four nights, so you don’t have to squeeze everything into one day and you can do things at your own pace.

Later this evening, we will take a short 10 minute walk to Phra Nang Beach. It is best to visit this beach after all the day trippers from Phuket and Ao Nang have left and then we can have the beach to ourselves. This is one of the most photographed beaches in Thailand and it is exquisite. On the beach, we will check out a “penis temple” where Thai women go and leave a penis statue with the hope of good fertility. Then, let’s watch the sunset on a nice, empty beach!

Included :

  • Activities : Free time (Choice of activity at your own expense); Phra Nang Beach visit
  • Meals : Breakfast
  • Accommodation : Hotel

Day 5 : Railay Beach

Today, you will have the option of going on a sunset cruise on an old Thai sailboat where you will have the opportunity to go snorkeling and enjoy views of the massive rocks protruding from the ocean depths. Once the sun goes down, the fun does not end. If you fancy, you can jump into the water with your snorkel gear and see the bio-luminescent plankton light up around you. We highly recommend this cruise over the speedboat tours where guests are crammed into boats like sardines. We suggest this Thai-style sail boat, which is also used for fishing as well as leisure, so it will not be packed full like the touristy speedboat tours. This means that you will have plenty of space to relax as you take in the scenery. Dinner will be served on the boat and it has a full bar. If you are not into snorkeling, you can get on an inner tube and float around or try out paddle boarding from the boat. It’s completely up to you! The boat trip starts at 2:00 PM and allows for views of a spectacular sunset on board as well as the chance to swim with bio-luminescent plankton once the sun goes down around 7:00 PM. You will arrive back at Railay around 8:00 PM.

Included :

  • Activities : Free time; Optional sunset cruise (At your own expense, dinner included)
  • Meals : Breakfast
  • Accommodation : Hotel

Day 6 : Railay Beach

You have another free day to participate in one of the many optional activities today. We highly suggest going to Ton Sai Beach. Ton Sai Beach has  a bit of a “hippie” feel to it, but it is slowly being developed for large scale commercial and tourism. The highlight of Ton Sai Beach is the short 15 minute climb over some rocks (with a rope as a handrail) to access the beach. Many people on our past trips have done this and have told us that while it was not overly difficult, it was still a bit of a challenge, but totally worth the unique experience. Only those willing to make the brief upward journey will be granted access to this “secret beach”! On the other side there are bars and hostels that are mainly geared toward backpackers who want to learn how to rock climb. It is best to see this beach now before it becomes developed.

Included :

  • Activities : Choice of activity (At your own expense); Ton Sai Beach; Free time
  • Meals : Breakfast
  • Accommodation : Hotel

Day 7 : Railay – Khao Sok National Park (by boat & van)

Fancy a visit to one of the oldest rain forests in the world? The Amazon Rain forest may come to mind at first thought, but Khao Sok National Park’s rain forest is estimated to be over 160 million years old, making it the second oldest in the world. It is diverse in its flora and fauna including tigers, elephants, bears, wild boar, monkeys, and hundreds of other animal species. Tubing or canoeing down the river is just one activity you can do here. You can also visit hot springs, get jungle massages, go hiking on nature trails, and caving. This park is one of the most awe-inspiring places in the world. Be forewarned, monkeys will steal your food and leeches will suck your blood. Welcome to the jungle!

Today we will take the 2.5 hour journey to Khao Sok National Park. We will arrive around 1:00 PM and check in to our jungle bungalows. From there you will have free time to go swimming in the river or if you are up for it, a night safari into the jungle!

Included :

  • Activities : Transfer to Khao Sok National Park; Choice of activity (At your own expense); Free time
  • Meals : Breakfast
  • Accommodation : Hotel

Day 8 : Khao Sok National Park

Our hotel is situated along the river and since we are going right before the dry season, we will have a full and flowing river to tube down. This activity is not to be missed and it really is a once in a lifetime experience. Imagine lazily tubing down a river and as you look up, incredible mountains surround you and lush green jungle inundates the river banks. Luckily, we will float right back to our hotel, so we can just drop the inner tube off at the hotel lobby and go right for a massage or have drinks and appetizers!  Although we highly recommend the river inner tube excursion, if you would rather skip it, you can go to a nearby local hot spring or take a canoe down the river instead.

Included :

  • Activities : River inner tube excursion; Choice of activity (At your own expense); Free time
  • Meals : None
  • Accommodation : Hotel

Day 9 : Khao Sok National Park Lake (by van & boat)

Today we will leave our  jungle bungalows to spend the night in a floating lake hotel inside the national park. This is a unique experience that is specific to this area and should not be missed. Once we arrive at the docks, there is a 30 minute boat ride to our floating hotels. The boat ride offers amazing views of large limestone cliffs and dense jungle. Once we arrive at the floating lake house, we will have some lunch and then head out for a jungle trek. During the trek, we will stop at a cave and take bamboo rafts down a river. This trek is considered easy by most with no incline and plenty of time to stop and look at wildlife. After the trek, we will head back to our floating hotels where you can take a dip in the lake or rest. We will have dinner together tonight. After dinner you will have the option to go on a night safari by boat while trying to spot local wildlife.

Included :

  • Activities :  1 jungle trek; Boat ride; Nighttime jungle safari; Free time
  • Meals : Lunch, Dinner
  • Accommodation : Floating Hotel

Day 10 : Khao Sok National Park – Chiang Mai (by plane, boat & songthaew)

In the morning, we will have breakfast and then you can take a swim in the lake or kayak around before departing. Afterwards, we will head back to the airport and escape the heat as we make our way North toward the mountains.

Chiang Mai is laid-back, creative and reverential. Once in Chiang Mai, there are endless things to discover apart from its beautiful and historic temples. Intriguing diversity among ethnic tribes, a number of elephant sanctuaries, abundant cooking and massage schools, numerous outdoor activities, a variety of handicrafts workshops, various cultural performances, waterfalls and more waterfalls along with breathtaking scenery make Chiang Mai a must-see when visiting Thailand.

After we check in to our hotel, you will have the afternoon at your leisure. Our hotel is centrally located, so there are plenty of things to see nearby and you can easily walk around to check things out on your own. Later, we will leave for a night out on the town to the night market and then to the best lady boy show in town!

Included :

  • Activities :  Transfer to Chiang Mai; Free time; Night market; Lady boy show
  • Meals : Breakfast
  • Accommodation : Hotel

Day 11 : Chiang Mai 

Today is the start of Loy Krathong (Lantern Festival). To learn more about Loy Krathong, click HERE. Today you will have your choice of activity. From roaming the maze of small side streets in Chiang Mai to taking flight as you zip line through the jungle. We will provide you with a list of activities for you to choose from while here, so you are free to pick what interests you. Later that night, get ready for the mass lantern release as crowds of people simultaneously release lanterns together in one area making for a moment that will never be forgotten as thousands of lanterns drift through the air and light up the night sky.

Included :

  • Activities :  Optional activities (At your own expense); Free time; Mass lantern release (Included)
  • Meals : Breakfast
  • Accommodation : Hotel

Day 12 : Chiang Mai 

Today you will have the option to go to an elephant conservation outside of Chiang Mai. Once you get up close and personal with these majestic creatures, the moment will be etched in your mind forever. This will be a half-day activity and thereafter you will have some free time to relax before heading out on the town to see the many parades and festivities for Loy Krathong.

Included :

  • Activities :  Elephant conservation/Optional activity (At your own expense); Free time; Loy Krathong parade
  • Meals : Breakfast
  • Accommodation : Hotel

Day 13 : Doi Saket (by van)

Do you remember your childhood tree house? Well, here is your chance to relive those childhood memories and stay in a tree house made for adults! This ‘hotel’ will bring out the kid in you and is reminiscent of The Swiss Family Robinson. The tree houses are in Doi Saket, which is about one hour away from Chiang Mai. Along the way we will make a quick stop at one of the coolest waterfalls in Thailand that bears the nickname ‘Sticky Waterfalls’. To find out how it got its nickname, then come on the trip! Surrounding our tree house hotel is a small Thai village where you can get a taste of Northern Thai village life. At the hotel, we will participate in a workshop in which we will make our own krathong. After we make the krathong, we will set them adrift down the river. The longer your incense and candle stay lit, the better luck you will have in the coming year. It is a magical experience and by far more rewarding and personal than the mass lantern release in Chiang Mai.

Included :

  • Activities :  Transfer to Doi Saket; Sticky waterfalls; Free time; Krathong making workshop and release
  • Meals : Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
  • Accommodation : Tree house hotel

Day 14 : Bangkok (by plane & van)

We will head back to Bangkok today where you can enjoy your last massage, fruit smoothie and pad thai on the famous (or should we say infamous?) Khao San Road. Khao San Roas is a large tourist street jam-packed with backpacker hostels, bars, massage parlors, street food, bars, souvenir stalls and did we mention…bars?! Nearly all backpackers doing a SouthEast Asia journey start here on this road. It is a great place to sit back and watch people from every walk of life stroll by as well as pick up some last minute souvenirs.

Included :

  • Activities :  Flight to Bangkok; Khao San Road visit; Free time
  • Meals : Breakfast
  • Accommodation : Ad Lib Hotel

Day 15 : Bangkok – Departure

Depending on your flight time, you will have free time on your own in Bangkok before catching your flight.

Included :

  • Activities : Free time; Departure
  • Meals : Breakfast

 

* Itinerary subject to change

15-Day Tour

$2,900 – Trip cost (See below for inclusions and exclusions)

I’m a single traveler. Will I be charged a single supplement?

If you would like to be paired up with someone of the same gender on the trip to avoid paying the single supplement, we can arrange this for you. If there is no other traveler with whom to pair you up, you WILL have to pay the single supplement. Pairing with another person of the same gender comes on a first-come, first-served basis. After you reserve your spot, we will send you a questionnaire pertaining to this. Please return it to us immediately, so that we can try our best to accommodate your needs.

If you want a single room throughout the tour, you can buy the “single supplement”. The single supplement fee for this trip is $600. If you would like your own room, you can buy the additional supplement at check-out.

What is included :

  • 14 nights accommodation
  • 3 domestic flights
  • Ground transportation
  • Ferry/Speed boat transfers
  • 2 guides (One Thai, one Western)
  • Activities as noted in itinerary
  • 12 breakfasts, 3 lunches and 2 dinners

What is not included :

  •  Most excursions and activities
  •  Most meals
  • Beverages
  • Gratuities
  • International flight
  • Insurance
Currency

The most convenient way to handle money is to use a debit card for withdrawals from an ATM and/or to bring US dollars to exchange.

  • Many of the hotels and finer restaurants will take major credit cards (Visa and MasterCard), but be prepared to pay a foreign transaction fee every time you use your credit/debit card.
  • ATM machines are plentiful in Thailand, so you can easily pull out money. However, the fee is quite high at 200 baht (approximately $6 USD) for every ATM withdrawal. The maximum you can pull from an ATM at one time is 10,000 baht (approximately $280).
  • There are many banks and money changers in Thailand that offer a fair exchange rate for the US dollar.

Once you arrive in Bangkok you will need to either exchange some money at the airport or go to an ATM machine to take out some Thai baht. We recommend only exchanging a small amount of money at the airport (around $25-$50) because the exchange rates at the airport are not very good. The next day, you can go to a bank and exchange a larger amount of money at a much better rate. Pulling from an ATM is always very easy and we recommend pulling the maximum amount allowed in order to avoid fees and hassles.

We strongly recommend calling your bank before arriving in Thailand to let them know that you will be traveling, so they do not put a hold on your card.

We suggest bringing or having access to anywhere from $800 – $1,000 while on the trip, either in cash or on your debit card.  On past trips, most travelers have spent approximately $400 – $600 on the trip and this includes souvenirs. WE HIGHLY ADVISE BUDGETING MORE MONEY THAN YOU EXPECT TO SPEND IN CASE OF AN EMERGENCY.

What to Bring

In Thailand, pretty much anything goes. It is almost always hot, so bring lightweight, cool clothes that dry fast. When visiting a temple, shoulders and knees need to be covered, so please take this into account when deciding what to bring. A long, thin scarf or shawl that can be easily packed into a day pack or purse is a good idea for temple visits.

Laundry service is offered at most of our accommodations and is very cheap. You can bring less clothing and have your clothes laundered at the hotels. This will allow for more room in your bag for souvenirs!

Recommended items for this trip are :

  • Sunscreen
  • Mosquito repellent (DEET strength)
  • Hat
  • Sunglasses
  • Diarrhea medicine
  • Bathing suit
  • Poncho or rain coat
  • Snorkeling gear (Also be available to rent in Thailand)
  • Flip flops and closed-toed shoes (Water shoes and/or sneakers)
  • Small backpack or across the shoulder bag for the day (A water-proof bag will be useful)
  • Flashlight or head torch
Group Size

The groups on our tours have a maximum of 12 travelers plus two guides, one western and one local. Large groups are less able to integrate into a society and generally have less authentic contact with the locals. The more people in the tour group, the more the group experiences their own culture rather than the one of the country they are visiting.

The small size means that tour group members will receive a more personal treatment by the tour guide who can more thoroughly cater to each person. Small tour groups are also more mobile and can be easily integrated into a social scene in Thailand where the traveler is more likely to be treated as an individual rather than a tourist ready to be exploited for their money.

Small tour groups are more flexible as travel plans can be more easily changed or altered en route. If the group discovers a special event or festival in Thailand that they would like to attend and this is not covered by the original tour itinerary, it is possible to change the itinerary. As a small group it is easier for the group to come to an agreement and for the tour guide to alter the reservations.

Small groups are low impact because they don’t introduce a large number of foreigners to a local scene where they can have adverse impacts on the local society and other travelers. For example, a large tour group can take up all the seats on a local bus or book out an entire restaurant forcing locals and other travelers away from their preferences.

Wifi

Wifi is available at almost every hotel at which we will stay. At some hotels, the Internet is not available in your room, but only in the hotel lobby/reception area. The only hotel without wifi is the floating lake house hotel for one night. The tree house hotel and jungle house hotel only have wifi in the reception/lobby area. The rest of the hotels have access to the Internet from your room. Almost every restaurant we go to will have wifi available as well.

Safety

Thailand is a safe country in terms of crime, violent and non-violent. Those who get their belongings stolen or have had something bad happen to them usually have acted irresponsibly. In most cases of theft, drugs and alcohol are usually involved. If you steer clear of illegal and irresponsible behavior, your biggest worry will most likely will only be sunburn, so make sure to lather up each day!

Gun violence and armed robberies are extremely rare in Thailand and the penalty for this type of crime is quite severe in Thailand.

U.S. State Department Travel to Thailand

Water

The water in Thailand is safe for brushing your teeth, but it is not recommended for drinking. The bottled water in Thailand is very affordably priced at around $0.10 USD per bottle, but please make sure to recycle!

Thailand has a very serious plastic waste problem, but unfortunately, they do not have many water refill stations. Most of the hotels at which we stay have two free glass water bottles that are placed in your room each day. These can  be used to refill your personal water bottles, so you can bring a water bottle and refill it with water from the glass bottles in your room. This is a small role we can play in the solution to the plastic epidemic that plagues Thailand.

Another thing you can do to help the environment is to put purchased items in your day pack/backpack rather than using the plastic bag that the store provides you. Small things can add up to make a big difference!

Medical Facilities

The doctors in Thailand are very well-trained, so you will not have any problems getting proper medical treatment if needed.

Tipping

Tipping is not compulsory at most establishments in Thailand, but for many Western travelers, it is customary. If you receive exceptional service from anyone, tipping is greatly appreciated. It is best to tip equivalent to the local standards and follow the same guidelines as in the West, 10-20% of the total cost and dependent on how good the service was. Most of the people who will be helping you make very little money and any tip is highly appreciated. Services and goods are relatively cheap, so the tip will usually only cost you a dollar or two. If you do not receive good service, do not feel obligated to tip. It is not compulsory.

Outlets

American plugs will fit and function perfectly fine with Thai outlets.

Airport Arrival

In your pre-departure notes, you will receive the name of the Bangkok hotel in both Thai and English language as well as pertinent phone numbers and instructions on how to get a taxi from the airport to the hotel.

You can read more about getting to your hotel from the airport by clicking HERE.

Visa :

In Thailand, most western countries DO NOT need a visa if arriving by air and staying 30 days or less. This means that you will NOT need a visa for this trip.

Citizens of most western countries do not need a visa for entry into Thailand, including : USA, Australia, UK, South Africa, Canada, New Zealand and Ireland.

Entry into Thailand allows for 30 days without a visa. If you plan on staying in Thailand before or after the trip, please be aware that after 30 days, you will need to either leave the country or go to your nearest immigration office for an extension.

Flights :

The group will officially meet for the first time on Day 2 in the morning for breakfast in the hotel lobby area. This will be discussed more in your pre-departure notes that you will receive approximately two weeks before your trip.

Once you reserve your spot on the trip, we will send you a confirmation email containing a questionnaire regarding your arrival and departure from Thailand as well as if you would like to book extra nights before or after your trip.

*Please do not book any flights until you receive a confirmation of payment email from us, which will be sent to you approximately 24 hours at the most after paying your deposit!

PEAK Season:  December and January – A bit cooler than the other months and not as much humidity. Monsoon season has ended, so usually little to no rain. Although the weather is nice, the crowds are the biggest during this time period.

SHOULDER Season : November, February and March – Shoulder season is right before and after peak season and is a great time to experience Thailand as there is good weather, but less crowds. Monsoon season has ended, so there is usually little to no rain.

LOW Season : April to  early October – Hot both day and night along with some short, intense showers usually in the late afternoon or evening. The upside to this is that it is far less crowded. In the tropics, the storms are short, but intense and usually come late in the afternoon only lasting for about 15-20 minutes.

The accommodation on the trip has been a highlight for many of our past travelers. Please understand that 2 of the 5 hotels at which we stay are jungle and tree house hotels, so insects and monkeys can get in your room if you are not careful. The best way to prevent this from happening is to make sure that you have no food in your room. If you have an open bag of peanuts, it is very likely that you will have monkeys trying to break into your room and the insects will not be far behind. Welcome to the jungle! We also suggest that you use the mosquito net while sleeping. Accommodation style and comfort level will vary in each area that we visit.


Bangkok

Ad Lib Hotel

ad lib1 


 West Railay Beach Hotel


 Khao Sok National Park Hotel

IMG_3462 copy  81 copy    our-jungle-house (6)


 Floating Lake House Hotel

124 copy  19 copy  24 copy


 Chiang Mai Hotel

616600  1301462310-2


 Doi Saket Hotel

IMG_4001 copy  IMG_3999 copy  IMG_3996 copy  treehouse 1  tree house 2

 

We strongly recommend that you purchase trip/travel insurance for your trip. We work with Travelex, which offers travel protection plans to help protect you and your travel investment against the unexpected. Travel protection plans include coverage for Trip Cancellation, Trip Interruption, Emergency Medical and Emergency Evacuation/Repatriation, Trip Delay, Baggage Delay and more. Otherwise, you are welcome to shop around online for a provider and policy that best suits your needs.

For more information on the recommended plans or to enroll, click HERE or contact Travelex Insurance Services at 800-228- 9792. Globe Drifters’ reference location number is 09-0984.

 

Vaccinations :

Below is information from the CDC and its recommendations regarding vaccinations for travel to Thailand :

CDC Thailand

 

Trip Date

OCTOBER 24
NOVEMBER 7, 2017 - SOLD OUT!
RESERVE YOUR SPOT
Book
USD $2900

Price based on double occupancy. Single Supplement can be purchased for an additional $600.


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