AD­VEN­TURES IN THAIL AND

Tem­ples, food and beaches... Lee Cobaj se­lects hol­i­days for ev­ery­one

The Sunday Telegraph - Travel - - People & Places -

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)

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