This is a Thailand trip jam-packed with experiences and destinations that ventures beyond where other trips go. Thailand's stunning beauty and charismatic culture are ever present on this Intrepid adventure - discover the exquisite 'Land of Smiles' in style. Thailand conjures up images of spicy delicacies, majestic elephants, golden Buddhas, colourful hilltribe villages, fantastic shopping and exotic hideaways - and we experience it all on this trip. Witness traditional hilltribe life in a H'mong village, support the rehabilitation of the endangered Asian elephant, step back in time in the ancient kingdom of Sukhothai and try your hand at creating some gastronomic delights. This is your chance to capture the adventure and essence of timeless Thailand. TRIP CHANGES FOR 2016: Following the death of King Bhumibol Adulyadej a 1 year mourning period has been declared in Thailand. In the first 30 days all government offices will fly the Thai flag at half-mast and there will likely be restrictions on the opening hours or selling of alcohol at entertainment venues including pubs and clubs. If your trip is before mid-January 2017 and includes a visit to the Grand Palace, this activity will be replaced with an alternative as the Palace will be closed to tourists while people from all over Thailand pay their respects to the King. Your leader will discuss this and any other changes with you at the Group Meeting on Day 1. As this is an emotional time for Thailand and its people we ask that our travellers wear dark coloured clothing over the next 30 days as a mark of respect to the much loved King. TRIP CHANGES FOR 2017: In 2017 this trip will change from a 10 day trip to an 11 day trip. An extra night will be added in Sukhothai. 2017 trip notes will be available online in September.

Highlights

Whip up a culinary storm and taste delicious local dishes in a Thai cooking class in Chiang Mai

Travel like the locals do on an overnight sleeper train, the best way to travel long distances, meet locals and maximise time at destinations

Immerse yourself in the wonders of an ancient tribal culture with a night in the Hmong Lodge, treated to a BBQ dinner and Hmong Cultural show

Make some new pachyderm pals at the unique Friends of the Asia Elephants Hospital and learn about the great work they do to protect these magnificent creatures

Uncover the ancient charms of Sukhothai as you leisurely cycle around the ruin-filled Historical Park, and feel your own cheerfulness increasing in the city named ‘Rising Happiness’

Pay your respect at the memorials by the infamous ‘Bridge over the River Kwai’ – learn about its dark history and the construction of the death railway in Kanchanaburi during the war