On this occasion, following local norms, an unusual visit to Bangkok by using its very modern, economic and efficient public transport. Then going in a westerly direction to the Burmese border to discover Kanchanaburi, center for precious stones on the banks of the river Khwai and surrounded by tropical jungle where few wild animals still survive. Last stage is to Amphawa and its canals, where the inhabitants of the city can escape over a weekend as a family or with friends, to admire the scene of thousands of fireflies by the waters’ edge illuminating the night.
Day 1: BANGKOK
You will start this trave Another Thailand travel with a whole day to discover the capital, accompanied by a guide, using public transport: a different way of visiting, in direct contact with the daily life of the locals, while avoiding as much as possible any traffic jams. This suggestion enables a program to be adapted to your wishes, open to be discussed and reviewed at any moment depending on what you want; free time, etc. Among the recommended visits, is the home of Jim Thompson, a beautiful site of 7 traditional Thai wooden buildings, built on stilts, at the edge of a canal, purchased and restored by a former American officer at the end of the Second World War. We owe him the new growth of the silk industry in Thailand, thanks to the silk work done in the surrounding neighborhood, which we can still see working today. Jim Thompson disappeared mysteriously and without trace in 1967, during a trip to Malaysia.
2nd Day: BANGKOK
Both morning and early afternoon is devoted to the discovery of the capitals more typical aspects: life along the Chao Phraya River and its side canals, a different world, a fundamental part of the soul and culture of this country. Extensive tour by private boat on the river, passing in front of buildings that have been part of the history of the city: the Oriental Hotel, the Church of the Holy Rosary, the old customs house, the Central Post Office, the vast flower and vegetable market of Pak Khlong, and a number of temples. Stop off at Wat Arun, the Temple of the Dawn, one of the symbols of Bangkok that is even found on 10 baht coins! Visit to the Grand Palace, a stunning complex of secular and sacred buildings occupying a space of more than one and half km sqr, which constitutes a veritable showcase of Thai architecture and art, and the best introduction to the charms of this culture. Along side, there’s Wat Phra Keo, or Temple of the Emerald Buddha, one of the major wonders of Asia. The final stage is to the temple of the reclining Buddha, Wat Po, which houses a gigantic statue of 46 mtrs long and 15 high, completely covered in gold leaf. Then to the College of Traditional Medicine.
3rd Day: BANGKOK – KANCHANABURI
Departure to the small town of Kanchanaburi (120 km, about 2h30), not far from the Burmese border. Founded at the beginning of the xixth century, today it is one of the favorite places for the inhabitants of the capital seeking a weekend in the country, being at the same time an important center of trade for teak and precious stones, extracted from the numerous mines in the region. It is here that is located the famous bridge over the river Khwai, that the Japanese built by using, for the most part, Asian and British prisoners of war during the 2nd World War. The testimony of this tragedy, which claimed the lives of 100,000 asian convicts and 16,000 prisoners, can be seen at the Jeath Museum. Market walk, discovering the region, followed by a train journey of 45 mn: you will embark a few km to the west of the bridge, towards the Burmese border, in order to see the most interesting part of the journey, which overlooks the river. Booking into a floating bungalow (several options available, Houses for 4*), then the rest of the afternoon is free to enjoy the site and the environment.
Optional: visit to Wat Pa Luang Ta Bua, a Buddhist complex where the abbot has been receiving, for years, all kinds of injured and abandoned animals, as well as those who have been subjected to maltreatment. This includes a few tigers, which have now become the main attraction, and that we can, under the control of guards, approach and touch, all this is during the walk at the beginning of the afternoon.
Possibility to stay an extra night at Sangklaburi (80 km), with a full day in an elephant camp, where under the guidance of a mahout, you will spend the day with these pachidermes. You will go with them for their baths, feed them and also learn to ride them.
4th Day: KANCHANABURI- AMPHAWA
The visits end with the Prasat MUONG SING (the “City of the Lion”), a religious and military complex of 4 buildings, built by khmer kings between 1157 and 1207, marking the western most limit of their empire. Then by road for Amphawa (1h30), and booking into the Hotel : Either a magnificent villa in Thai wood or a colonial house on the edge of a canal. Free time to familiarize and to enjoy the place. Towards 17h30 leave in a traditional boat for a ride along the canals up to the floating night market, bordered by small restaurants built on stilts. Dinner on site and returning by night by boat, via the fireflies display which is the great attraction of the region.
Amarita note: the Amphawa market is only open on Friday, Saturday and Sunday evenings. The program can be modified or reversed in order to allow a stay at Amphawa at the end of the week.
5th Day: AMPHAWA
Departure for Ratchaburi (1 h by Road) and Wat Khanon temple which houses a school of art: traditional music and dances, Shadow Theatre, dolls… Mid morning a visit to the Shadows Theatre museum and an open air performance by the School of Art. In the afternoon a visit to the Tham Khao Bin caves, at 30 mn of Ratchaburi, and then returning to Amphawa. Evening spent in the floating market of Amphawa
Option: Waking up just before 6 o’clock to attend the offering of food to monks, who roam the canals in boats on their daily quest.
6th day: AMPHAWA
Finally the end of the visit will be in the small town of Amphawa, with its temple, its handicraft shops, and its surroundings. In the morning a visit to a factory for manufacturing sugar palm and then onto a genuine floating market. They operate only on weekends and only for 5 day spells and are real local markets, frequented by people from the city out for a walk. Then onto the small school of music and Wat Phumarin temple. In the afternoon a visit to the residence of King Rama II as well as other ancient temples including the strange Wat Kai Bang Kung and its large statues in the shape of wrestlers. Returning to Bangkok in the evening (or the following morning).
End of suggestions.
Optional, for those who have a real affinity with cats: a private tour of the breeding home of one of the famous specialists in Siamese cats –( subject to availability, be sure to plan in advance).