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Download Origins of Thai Culture Detailed Itinerary
Day 1: Arrival in Bangkok
We arrive in Bangkok and transfer to our comfortable hotel. Welcome dinner and overnight in Bangkok.
Day 2: Bangkok; Grand Palace, Reclining Buddha and Canals by long-tail boat
This morning we visit the Grand Palace and the ancient temple of Wat Po, Temple of the Reclining Buddha. After lunch, we board our long-tail boats to travel along the Chao Phraya River and the small canals and see how the Thais live on the water, with restaurants, fruit sellers, laundry and even temples all accessible by boat. Tonight we fly to Chiang Mai. Upon arrival in Chiang Mai we transfer to our hotel.
Day 3: Chiang Mai - Doi Suthep Temple
Chiang Mai has a striking mountain backdrop, over 300 temples and a quaint historical aura. It is also a modern, friendly, internationally flavored city with much to offer the visitor. Food, accommodation and shopping are all top quality and the nights are relatively cool.
Day 4: Hill Tribe Villages, Thai Cooking Lesson
This morning, we visit Baan Tong Luang Ethnic village where we can visit with the Longneck Karen and as well as other tribal and ethnic groups. We also have time to visit the Hill Tribes museum.
Day 5: Chiang Rai
This morning we have a picturesque drive high up above the Mae (River) Ping. We visit the Chiang Dao, famous for its elephant camp. Next, we have a stop at Hmong market for traditional hilltribe handcrafts.
Day 6: The Golden Triangle
We start our day with a visit to Doi Tung to see the lovely Mae Fah Luang Botanical gardens. Our visit to the 'Golden Triangle', where the borders of Burma, Thailand and Laos meet, at the confluence of the Ruak and Mekong Rivers. Historically, the 'Golden Triangle' refers to a large geographic area, stretching thousands of square kilometers, within which opium trade is prevalent. We will see this area by boat, as we glide down the Mekong River. We also visit the 'Hall of Opium'.
Day 7: Ethnic Minorities and Beautiful Scenery of Laos
We cross the border into Laos this morning. We drive through an incredibly picturesque area called Luang Namtha which is known for its ethnic diversity and its mountainous terrain. There will be plenty of photo stops along the way. We arrive in the pretty town of Muang Sing which is ringed by distant mountains and is popular for its gorgeous scenery and relaxed atmosphere. Up to 20 different ethnic groups live in this area, and locals wearing traditional dress are a common and spectacular sight. Wander the backstreets which are bustling with activity and see the beautiful wooden houses built in the decorative Tai Lue style.
Day 8: HillTribe Trekking: Akha, Thai Dam and Hmong
There are numerous minority villages in the valley around Muang Sing and today we will visit Akha, Thai Dam and Hmong Villages. We will learn about the culture and traditions of these interesting tribes. Enjoy a picnic lunch surrounded by spectacular scenery before continuing on with our hike. Tonight we will have dinner at a local restaurant and overnight in Muang Sing.
Day 9: Luang Namtha, Village Cycling Adventure
Today we travel to Luang Namtha, where we embark on an entertaining bicycle ride. Our first stop will be the Tai Dam village of Ban Thong Chai Neua. Here we will get an opportunity to see the traditional architecture, and watch the local women weaving. Our next stop is a Lanten village, Ban Nam Dee where we will see a spectacular waterfall. For those wishing to cool off, a dip in the pool is possible here. After a picnic lunch we make our way back visiting two more ethnic villages and the old Wat Luang Khone Temple enroute. We continue on to the famous Lao Rice whiskey distillery where we will observe the distillation process. Take a short walk to the top of Tat Poum Pouk Stupa where you will have a stunning view of the river valley. We have one more stop to visit, a Lanten village before our dinner and overnight in Luang Namtha.
Day 10: Xishuangbanna, China
This morning we cross the border into China. We drive to Jinghong the capital of Xishuangbanna Dai Autonomous Prefecture in southern Yunnan, which is known as China's own 'mini Thailand.' In Thai this district is known as Sipsongpanna which literally translates as '12,000 rice fields.' Xishuangbanna is comprised of 14 minority groups including the Dai, the Han, the Jinuo, the Yi and the Bulang. Dinner and overnight in Jinghong.
Day 11: Local Markets & Tribes of Xishuangbanna
A trip to the market will give you a feeling of the rhythm of life in rural Xishuangbanna. We then drive to Menghai to visit the Bulang ethnic group. The Bulang are Theravada Buddhists, who still follow strict religious doctrines in their daily life. Tea is an important cash crop in this area, and we will enjoy the tranquility of being surrounded by tea plantations. We will make a visit to Nannuo which is inhabited by the Aini people, who have their own spoken language but no written one. Their religion is a mix of ancestor worship and animism. We will visit a private house where we will learn more about the customs and traditions of the Aini people.
Day 12: Tea Plantations of Pu'er
Today we start out on an excursion to Pu'er. Enroute we will make stops at the Golden Stupa, museum in Jinghong. We also enjoy the stunning scenery among the vast tea plantations which thrive in foggy weather, acidic red soil and high elevation. Our journey retraces the route tea caravans endured on their way to Tibet, around 200-years-ago. We can even see some sections of the rock-paved road from that era. Pu'er was the tea trade center of Yunnan during the Qing Dynasty.
Day 13: To Jianshui; City of Ancient Culture, Architecture and Art
On our way to Jianshui, we will stop at Bixi, a small ancient town in the middle of the country. In the distant past Bixi was a busy and prosperous stop on the tea caravan route. We continue on to Jianshui, a historic and cultural city, which was founded over 1300-years-ago. During the course of its history, Jianshui has produced thousands of scholars. Since the time of the Ming Dynasty (1368 - 1644) Jianshui has earned the name of "The Cultural City" due to the influence of the Grand Jianshui Confucius Temple. As a result of its history, culture and traditions, there are many historic sites in Jianshui including more than 100 temples, 50 ancient bridges and 56 state protected cultural relics. Jianshui is known for it's ancient Chinese culture and art.
Day 14: Private Garden of the Zhu Family
After breakfast we will take a relaxing walk in the private garden of the Zhu family. This grand complex covering over 200,000 sq feet, was constructed over 100-years-ago. It is here you will see the ancient architecture of the area, in its perfect original form. It was built by the Zhu brothers in the late Qing Dynasty. Later we will visit a local tofu workshop where we will learn how this popular food is traditionally produced. We will walk around in the old town and visit the Confucian Temple Wen Miao, which is the largest temple in Yunnan and the second largest in the country. The temple dates back to the Yuan Dynasty and it's history spans over 700 years. Stroll around in the old part of Jianshui Town, see ancient wells that have been used by local residents for centuries and admire the Grand Chaoyang Gateway Arch built in 1389, which now serves as the landmark of this cultural and historic city. In the afternoon we will drive to Yuanyang.
Day 15: The most beautiful Rice Fields of China
Today we will visit the most beautiful rice fields in China, which were built by hand, by the Hani people over 1000-years-ago. The paddies are flooded from December to April which creates a reflecting pool effect that draws photographers from around the world. They are particularly spectacular at sunrise and sunset. Today we will walk through this fascinating landscape and will visit the villages of several ethnic minorities including the Yi and Hani.
Day 16: Traditional Houses of Tuanshan
We will see more spectacular rice terraces this morning before continuing on to Tuanshan. The Tuanshan traditional houses have been listed by the World Monuments Fund (WMF) as an endangered site. The. buildings in Tuanshan, most of which were built in late imperial Qing Dynasty (1644-1911), are unique two-storey compounds with houses around courtyards, facing east and featuring black tile roofs, pointed eaves, and whitewashed outer walls. We will also see the unique double-dragon bridge which is over 200 years old.
Day 17: To Kunming
Today we make our way to Kunming, visiting Xinmeng Town enroute. This is the only place in Yunnan where ethnic Mongolians reside. They are the descendants of the Mongolian soldiers that came on an expedition at the beginning of the Yuan Dynasty, over 750-years-ago. In that period, China was ruled by Genghis Khan and his horsemen. We walk around the village and learn more about the origins of these people, who were originally horsemen and became farmers. We also visit Hui, a Muslim village. Upon arrival in Kunming, we visit a bird and flower market. Kunming is famous for its mild climate, beautiful natural scenery, and is nicknamed the City of Eternal Spring.
Day 18: Stone Forest
Today we visit the world-famous Stone Forest, one of the most remarkable natural phenomena in China. It consists of 80 hectares of innumerable bizarre shaped ancient limestone cliffs and peaks created by wind and water erosion some 270 million-years-ago. It is the home of the Sani Tribe, one of the branches of the Yi Minority People. This evening, we enjoy dinner at a local restaurant and a dynamic Yunnan show.
Day 19: Fly to Bangkok
We fly from Kunming to Bangkok where we will transfer to our hotel. The remainder of the day will be at leisure followed by our Farewell Dinner.
Day 20: Departure Bangkok
We say a fond farewell to Bangkok and transfer to the airport for our flight home.
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