ADVENTURES IN THAIL AND
Temples, food and beaches... Lee Cobaj selects holidays for everyone
1 FIRST-TIME FABULOUS
Taking in city, mountains and beach, On the Go’s Best of Thailand tour is perfect for first-timers who want to hit the country’s highlights without feeling rushed. Over 13 days, the tour loops from Bangkok to Hellfire Pass and the Kanchanaburi War Cemetery, before venturing towards Erawan National Park, Ayutthaya’s crumbling ruins and neon-green Mae Rim countryside. Spend the last four nights lazing on Kamala beach in Phuket.
From £1,695 for 13 days, including three or four-star accommodation on a B&B basis. Flights extra. Year-round departures. On The Go Tours (020 7371 1113; onthegotours.com)
2 COOKING AND CORAL REEFS
You can barely walk a hundred paces in Thailand without tripping over street food, from grilled meats being fired in the back of tuk-tuks to cauldrons of curry bubbling by the roadside to nose-nipping chilli salads at pavement cafes. Get the full flavour on a 15-day Cooking in Thailand Holiday with Responsible Travel, which blends the delights of Bangkok, Ayutthaya, Chiang Mai and Krabi with morning forages, visits to wet markets and cooking classes in formal schools and mom-and-pop home kitchens. And it’s not all sweating over a hot stove – the last four nights are for lolling between the beaches, coral reefs and jade waters of Krabi.
From £2,225, including accommodation, most meals, transfers and flights. No single supplement. Year-round departures. Responsible Travel (01273 823700; responsibletravel.com)
3 WATER BABIES
Picture this: four days at sea, sun shining, water shimmering like the surface of an opal and wind tousling your hair as you lie on the deck of your private catamaran. Overhead, white-bellied sea eagles swoop and soar, below the surface rainbowcoloured corals, clownfish and barracuda, while giant limestone stacks rise in the distance. Sound tempting? Sign up for STA Travel’s Sailing Thailand tour, which slinks from Phuket through Phang Nga Bay, with an optional side-trip to the island of Phi Phi.
From £463, including accommodation in an airconditioned cabin and on-board meals. Flights extra. STA Travel (0333 321 0099; statravel.co.uk)
4 TEMPLES AND TRIBES
Thailand packs plenty of cultural clout. Choose from royal palaces, ancient temples, beguiling ruins and treks to meet with animist hill tribes. Kuoni’s 11-night Thailand Explorer tour packs in all the must-sees: Bangkok street eats; the riverside city of Ayutthaya; the remains of Sukhothai, the first capital of the Kingdom of Siam and the temples of Chiang Mai. Other experiences include rice planting and a visit to Elephant Nature Park.
From £2,159, including boutique accommodation, most meals and flights with Thai Airways. Departures in January, February, April and November 2018. Kuoni (01306 747008; kuoni.co.uk)
5 ON THE BEACH
You want adventure, but you also want massages, mooching on the beach and a splash of nightlife. This laid-back trip winds down the dreamy Andaman Coast, where you can glide through the luminous green waters of Phang Nga Bay on long-tail boat, stay overnight on the serene island of Koh Yao Noi and snorkel with pink seahorses off the shores of Koh Lanta. Explore’s 14-day Islands in the Sun tour starts from £1,619, B&B, with flights. Year-round departures (01252 883746; explore.co.uk)
6 GETTING ACTIVE
Thailand is filled with opportunities for adventure, but if it’s a full-on blood-pumping experience you’re after, Intrepid Travel’s physically demanding Hike, Bike and Kayak Thailand tour does what it says on the tin. The 12-day expedition starts on two wheels in Bangkok, exploring the tiny sois (streets) and boisterous local markets that line the Chao Phraya River. Next, it’s an overnight train to Chiang Mai and a three-day trek into the lush green countryside. Cross the finish line in Kanchanaburi kayaking down the River Kwai.
From £858, including accommodation, transfers and most meals. Excluding flights. Year-round departures. (0808 274 5111, intrepidtravel.com/uk)
7 MAKE TRACKS IN STYLE
There is no more romantic way to view Thailand than from the teakwood observation car of the Eastern and Oriental Express. Evoking all the glamour of the Golden Age of Travel, each carriage is beautifully adorned
with inlaid woods, silk curtains, oriental rugs and dainty deco lamps.
Bangkok to Singapore from £2,140, including private sleeper, tours, meals, and house wine and beer. Departures two or three times a month. Excluding flights. Belmond (0845 2170799; belmond.com)
8 THE FLYING VISIT
High on energy but low on time? Insider Journeys’ Taste of Thailand tour spends six rapid-fire nights hitting the country’s cultural hot spots with a range of memorable experiences thrown in. Starting in the cacophonous capital, guests are eased in with a river cruise and traditional Thai massage at Wat Pho temple, before heading to Kanchanaburi to meet rescue elephants and spend a night glamping at the Hintok River Camp on the banks of the River Kwai.
From £1,363, including breakfast and some meals. Flights not included. Year-round departures. Insider Journeys (01865 268941; insiderjourneys.co.uk)
9 PARTY TIME
Aimed at budget travellers aged 18-39, G Adventures’ Thailand on a Shoestring tour scales cities and villages, mountains and jungle, islands and beaches. With an average group size of 12, there’s plenty of opportunity for bonding as you comb the night markets for bargains, raft from village to village and swim in the super-sized Lake Cheow Lan. The group also gets to sample one of Thailand’s (in)famous full moon parties on Koh Phangan.
15 days from £1,069, including accommodation, some meals and activities. Excluding flights. G Adventures (0344 272 2060; gadadventures.com)
10 GOING OFF-GRID
Bordering Cambodia and Laos, Thailand’s enormous northeastern corner, also known is Isaan, may be the most populous part of the country but it’s also the part least visited by tourists. There are no snowy beaches or wild parties. What you’ll find instead are rolling farmlands, ethereal Khmer ruins, Khao Yai National Park and the snaking Mekong River. The people are wonderfully friendly. Take a deep dive into this fascinating region with Transindus on their 13-day Unexplored Thailand tour.
From £3,320, B&B, including flights. Year-round departures. Transindus (020 8566 3739; transindus.co.uk)