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THAILAND CULINARY TOUR ITINERARY

Day 1
Welcome to our Thailand culinary tour! Thailand is a fascinating, exotic, friendly country with something for everyone. Since you are reading this, you already know how delicious Thai food is, and Thailand is the perfect destination to learn to cook. We will pick you up at Bangkok International Airport and drive you to our 5-star Bangkok hotel perched on the banks of the Chao Phraya River. We have specifically chosen this hotel for its excellent location. Each room has a panoramic river view, and there are two swimming pools overlooking the river as well. You may wish to enjoy your first dinner in Thailand at one of the hotel’s many restaurants or venture out to discover Bangkok’s rich dining scene. As guests will be arriving throughout the day and evening, we have scheduled our first group meal for Day 2 of the tour.

Drive Time: Approximately 45 minutes, depending on traffic
Meals included: None

Day 2
We’ll begin our Thailand culinary tour this morning with a visit to Wat Po in time to hear the monks’ morning chanting. One of the oldest temples in Bangkok, Wat Po is home to the famous 45m reclining Buddha and is considered to be the birthplace of traditional Thai massage. From there we’ll hop in a tuk-tuk (a three wheel, open-air taxi) for a short ride to the Grand Palace, Thailand’s most important monument. One of the most spectacular palaces in Southeast Asia, construction was begun in 1782 by King Rama I, after he moved the capital from Thonburi to Bangkok. The complex houses not only the Royal residence and throne halls, but also government offices and the renowned Wat Phra Kaew, containing the Emerald Buddha, the symbol of the country. The palace and temple are an architectural wonder of golden stupas, walls and pillars encrusted in shining and colorful mosaics, glittering under the tropical sun.

Next we’ll head to our welcome and orientation lunch, where our trip leader will give an overview of the tour and what to expect each day. Our lunch is hosted at an excellent and slightly retro Thai restaurant looking out on the Democracy Monument. After lunch we’ll walk through Bangkok’s wholesale flower market for a look at how the Thai people create flower offerings out of orchids, lotuses and other exotic blossoms. Then we’ll head back to our hotel for a mid-afternoon break before our evening feast.

One of the best ways to experience the true flavor of a city is to walk its streets. This evening we’ll go for a walk through Bangkok’s Chinatown, one of the most densely populated, richly ethnic neighborhoods in the city. While walking along narrow lanes, peer into the doorways of Chinese pharmacies with their medicinal herbs and natural cures, or watch fresh Chinese delicacies being prepared and served, savoring the aromatic fragrance of spice and herbs that saturate the air. Pay special attention to the “funeral shops” where paper models of worldly items are sold, ensuring the deceased will have the comforts of home on their journey to the afterworld. We’ll enjoy a private dinner served in an old Chinese shop house as Chef Jok cooks up a multi-course Chinese-Thai banquet using only the freshest ingredients of the day.

Meals included: Breakfast, lunch, dinner

Day 3
Get ready for your first Thai cooking class. After a light breakfast we will leave the hotel and head up the Chao Phraya River by long-tail boat to Chef Tam’s family home, which is located beside a klong (canal), amidst beautiful organic herb gardens. We’ll begin our private class with a tour of the gardens, learning about the herbs used in Thai cooking. We’ll then head to the open-air kitchen where Chef Tam will demonstrate Thai cooking techniques before going to our own cooking stations to cook our soup, two entrees and desert. You’ll have plenty of time for questions, and when all the food is cooked we’ll sit down for a lunch feast of Thailand culinary delights amidst the lovely gardens. After cooking class we’ll head back to the hotel to freshen up.

Around 3:30 we’ll take the hotel’s shuttle boat and then the sky train to visit Jim Thompson’s magnificent Thai-style house, containing a collection of Thai art objects and antiques. Jim Thompson was a famous American businessman who came to Thailand at the end of the World War II and rediscovered the Thai silk industry. His “House by the Klong”, which is now a museum, consists of six separate old Ayutthaya period Thai teak houses joined together in one complex. Mr. Thompson disappeared in 1967 in the jungles of the Cameron Highlands of Malaysia, and what happened to him remains a mystery to this day.

Tonight is our last night in Bangkok, and you are free to venture out on the town or relax at the hotel.

Meals included: Breakfast, lunch

Day 4
Enjoy a relaxing morning at the hotel, before we drive to the airport around 11am. We’ll take a short 1.5 hour flight to Chiang Rai, and then drive another 1.5 hours to our riverside resort at Ban Thaton, on the banks of the Mae Kok River, just a few miles from the Myanmar border. Relax at the pool before dinner, or simply wander the beautiful gardens and enjoy the sweeping views across the valley. After the hustle and bustle of Bangkok, you’ll enjoy the change of pace in the Thai countryside.

Travel Time: Approximately 4.5 hours
Meals included: Breakfast, lunch

Day 5
After breakfast we will drive about two hours to Mae Sai, the northernmost point in Thailand. As this is one of just a few official land crossings between Thailand and Myanmar, Mae Sai is an important trade hub, and it’s an excellent place to observe border life and interactions between local tribes engaged in trade. Many Burmese come over daily from Tachilek to work or do business and then hurry back before the sun sets. Burmese lacquerware, gems, jade and other goods from Laos and Burma are sold in shops along the main street. After a local Northern Thai lunch, we’ll drive 45 minutes to the infamous Golden Triangle, renowned for centuries as the center of the opium trade. From a hilltop viewpoint, we’ll marvel at the splendour of the mighty Mekong joining with the Ruak to form the actual “triangle” with Laos, Myanmar and Thailand. We’ll then visit the Hall of Opium museum, which provides fascinating insights into the history of Opium trade and the region as a whole.

Drive Time: About 5 hours
Meals included: Breakfast, lunch

Day 6
This morning we are headed to the charming northern city of Chiang Mai, which is the principal religious center in northern Thailand and the focal point of temples and monasteries. The moat bounding the historic old city is still intact, but the walls were largely destroyed during World War II. Here we will visit Wat Prathat, built some 600 years ago, this temple is Chiang Mai’s most important and visible landmark, located near the summit of Doi Suthep, at 3,520 feet above sea level. After a drive up the mountain’s winding road, the final climb to the site is via a magnificent Naga (dragon-headed serpent) staircase of 306 steps. The climb up is rewarded with a superb panoramic view over the city.

We’ll enjoy lunch today at an authentic local restaurant that specializes in “Khao Soi” or Chiang Mai curry noodles. It is often made with chicken served over Chinese egg noodles, and garnished with fried noodles, shallots, cilantro, pickled mustard greens, fried whole chilis and a squeeze of lime juice. This dish is a combination of strong flavors, each distinct yet blended harmoniously into one delicious bowl.

After lunch we’ll check in to our stunning 4-star boutique hotel, designed and decorated with impeccable style, inspired by traditional wooden homes found in Chiang Mai and intended to be as comfortable as your own home. The hotel is located in a heritage zone that is home to the city’s greatest concentration of antique wooden buildings, yet is within walking distance of the commercial center of Chiang Mai and the famous Night Bazaar.

You’ll have a little while to rest and refresh before we drive to a local organic farm for a private evening Thai cooking class culminating in a delicious dinner that we made ourselves. We’ll learn how to pound curry paste, and then we’ll use that paste to create one of Thailand’s most delicious dishes, red curry chicken. We’ll also make soup, spring rolls and finally, bananas in coconut milk.

Drive time: 4 hours
Meals included: Breakfast, lunch, dinner

Day 7
Today we will take a picturesque drive through the countryside to an elephant sanctuary. This conservation center is home to many rescued animals – including elephants, buffalo, and even birds. We will spend a relaxing day with these majestic animals, hearing about their pasts and learning how we can help with elephant conservation.

Saying goodbye to the animals, we will return to our hotel to relax. Those who are interested in Thai handicrafts may join our guide for an optional visit to local handicrafts factories including silk and lacquerware. You will see the artisans at work and will have an opportunity to shop in the factory showrooms. Please note that the quality of the merchandise is better than at the Chiang Mai Night Bazaar, and the prices are commensurately higher. If you would also like to visit the night bazaar, please let our guide know and we will arrange a visit. The Night Bazaar is a great place to pick up gifts and hill tribe crafts, but be ready to bargain.

Meals included: Breakfast, lunch

Day 8
Today we will have our final Thailand culinary class where we’ll learn to make healthy papaya salad, steamed fish and more. Our private chef, Yui, will also teach us how to carve raw vegetables. By the end of this class you’ll be ready to throw a dinner party back home. The class will end around 2pm with a farewell lunch.

After lunch, we’ll take a rickshaw from our hotel into the old city, getting a glimpse of how the locals live and work. In the late afternoon, you may choose to get a Thai massage. Traditional Thai massage includes both stretching of the joints and muscles and applied pressure to the major channels of the body to aid regional blood flow, relieve aches and pain, and relax you mentally and physically. Otherwise you can take the rest of the afternoon to pick up some souvenirs, relax by the pool, or stroll around Chiang Mai’s old town.

Meals included: Breakfast, lunch

Day 9
Today our Thailand culinary tour ends. You can choose to stay on in Chiang Mai, head back to Bangkok for your flight home, or fly to Phuket or Ko Samui for a few days in the island sun.

Meals included: Breakfast

Please note: This itinerary is designed to give you an idea of what to expect during our trip but is not set in stone. What we actually do on a given day is flexible and can be tailored to the interests of the group.