Ruins, Rivers, and Jungle: Family Adventure

6 Days, 5 Nights

This active exploration of northern Thai culture, history and cuisine will have you cycling through the famed temples of Sukhothai and the lesser-seen relics of Khamphaeng Phet. Archaeological explorations give way to mountain treks uncovering the artisanal hamlets of the Karen people, before finally enjoying some post-adventure relaxation in Chiang Mai, the ancient capital of the Lanna Kingdom.

Trip Highlights

  • Cycle through the ancient capital of Sukhothai and the majestic ruins of Kamphaeng Phet
  • Visit a Karen community with a fellow cyclist from Li Village to see how the Karen combine tradition with modernity
  • Trek to waterfalls so remote they have no name and go local with a village-stay in a more traditional agrarian Karen village
Price
$1350 USD adult /
$1250 USD under 12
Trip Activities
Cycling, trekking, kayaking
Trip Length
6 Days, 5 Nights
Physical Level
Casual
Start/End
Sukhothai, Thailand / Sukhothai, Thailand Chiang Mai, Thailand
Accommodation
Hotel (4 nights)
Guesthouse (1 night)
Age
Minimum 12 years of age
Meals not included
Lunch, Breakfast Day 1
Lunch, Dinner Day 6
Flights Included
None

Day-by-day Itinerary

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Day 1
Activities
None
Transfers
None
Description

At around five in the evening in the lobby of the Legenda Hotel, we’ll welcome your family to the ancient city of Sukhothai. Our guide will host a celebratory mingler to kick off our trip, review logistics and answer any questions. Then, it’s the moment we’ve all been waiting for: dinner. You can expect surprising, delicious and addictive flavors at your first authentic Thai meal tonight.

Sukhothai, most commonly known as the capital of the ancient Sukhothai Kingdom, is also renowned for its mouthwatering noodles. Tonight, we’ll sample some Sukhothai noodles (or kuaytiao Sukhothai), a bold and spicy bowl of noodles that can be eaten with or without broth. It’s a delicacy that the Thai are crazy about—we’re willing to wager you’ll go a little crazy for them too.

Meals
  • Dinner
Accommodation
  • Legenda Hotel
Day 2
Activities
  • Cycling: 35 km
Transfers
  • Van: 1
Description

This morning after breakfast, we’ll pile into our private van and drive to Kamphaeng Phet, an ancient fortress town. The ruins you’ll find here are part of the Sukhothai and Associated Cities UNESCO World Heritage Site. The fortress’s clever defensive shape and sturdy walls gave it its name, which in Thai means ‘walls as strong as diamonds’. In the 14th century, this fortress was part of an important frontline of defense for the Sukhothai Kingdom. Your family will saddle up here and spend the morning cycling through ancient ruins, exploring impressive palaces like Wat Phra Kaeo.

Wat Phra Kaeo, meaning “Temple of the Emerald Buddha” in Thai, is named after a small jade Buddha statue that, according to legend, gives the king of Thailand divine power. The sacred statue was housed here in Kamphaeng Phet for a short while in the 1400s, but it moved several times before finally finding its present-day home in Bangkok. We’ll also see curious, bell-shaped chedi (Buddhist shrines) and many wat (Thai temples) that house beautiful Buddha statues.

Our ride ends at a popular local lunch spot where we’ll refuel. This afternoon, avoid the midday heat and head to your hotel for a dip in the pool.

In the cool of the early evening, we’ll hop back on our bikes to explore the rest of Sukhothai Historical Park. The royal palace and twenty-six temples you’ll find on the grounds are relics of the Sukhothai Kingdom that saw its heyday in the 13th and 14th centuries. As you and your family make your way from one archaeological hotspot to another, your guide will be on hand to answer your questions but you’ll also have the freedom to wander off on your own.

Tonight we have one more opportunity to taste Sukhothai’s regional delicacies. Or if you’re already hooked on Sukhothai noodles, feel free to go for another bowl. If you chose sai nam (noodles in soup) the first time, then try it heng (broth on the side) tonight.

Meals
  • Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Accommodation
  • Legenda Hotel
Day 3
Activities
  • Cycling: 20 km
Transfers
  • Van: 4.5
Description

After breakfast, we’ll leave the river plains of Sukhothai behind and head into the cool of the mountains on a 2.5-hour drive to the village of Li, which was founded seventy years ago in part by a visionary monk. The Karen people, an ethnic minority group in Thailand whose ancestral homelands run along the Thai-Burma border, followed the monk’s urban vision and built the village of Li. You might be surprised to find that their well-manicured stilt homes are artisan cottage industries. One house creates the ornamental naga (a mythical serpent) that you’ll see at Thai wat. Another produces punched-tin decorations for Burmese-style wat, and many others craft silver jewelry. This little artisan town is anything but touristy.

For lunch, we’ll meet Mr. Nu Chit, a Li local who’s a passionate ambassador for his hometown. After enjoying lunch at his wife’s popular noodle shop, Mrs. Bur’s, we’ll go on a cycling tour of their beloved village. On our excursion, Mr. Nu Chit will introduce us to a few of his neighbors.

Once we say goodbye to Mr. Nu Chit, we’ll continue north by van to Hot. Tonight you’ll stay in a funky and cozy eco-guesthouse run by a young Thai couple. Their passion for up-cycling antique glass, tiles, and old teak doors have created a beautiful and peaceful stop for travellers. Kids might enjoy meeting the resident family of water buffalos, and there’s also a sandpan that you’re welcome to use.

Meals
  • Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Accommodation
  • Phu Anna Eco-House
Day 4
Activities
  • Trekking: 1.5 hours
Transfers
  • Van: 2.5
Description

After a hearty breakfast at Phu Anna, a 2-hour drive will bring us to Ob Luang National Park, where a maze of canyons, caves and rivers wait to be explored.

First, we’ll hike the 2-kilometer interpretive loop that includes Stone Age pictographs and an ancient burial ground. We’ll follow the river through the gorge, cross the suspension bridge, and scramble over the giant granite boulders on our trek.

We’ll stop for a well-deserved lunch at one of the local restaurants in the park, where heaps of scrumptious Thai food—mostly Isan style—is served. Then, we’ll drive 15 minutes to where your rafting adventure will begin. After a safety talk and a few tips on paddling techniques, it’s ‘all aboard’ down the Mae Chaem River.

After about 1.5 hours of rafting on this pristine jungle river, we’ll come to where we’ll meet our van. Then it’s just a 2.5-hour drive to Chiang Mai, where you’ll check in to your boutique hotel on the banks of the lazy Ping River.

Tonight for dinner you’re welcome to fill up on Thai curries, roasted eggplant, and spicy soups at a riverside restaurant. If you’re up for exploring, visit the nearby Night Bazaar or Anusarn Market, which are packed with foot massages, curios, intriguing handicrafts and, of course, more food. If you’re interested in giving alms to monks the next morning, our guide can take you to the local market to pick out a small offering.

Meals
  • Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Accommodation
  • Aruntara Riverside Boutique Hotel
Day 5
Activities
  • Kayaking: 1.5 hours
Transfers
  • Van: 4.5
Description

This morning, you’ll have the chance to earn Buddhist karmic merit by making an offering to the monks of Chiang Mai. Wake up before dawn and head outside, where saffron-robed monks will be walking barefoot and single file with their alms bowls. Follow our guide’s lead to make an offering respectfully in this reverent tradition.

Today after breakfast, we’ll drive 2 hours to Mae Ngat Dam, home to a vast reservoir surrounded by mountains. This is the peaceful setting for your kayaking trip. From the dam, you’ll kayak roughly 1.5 hours to a floating restaurant for lunch, where you can fill up on fried rice, spicy salads, grilled meats and other Thai favorites. And, if you feel like going for a swim, just jump into the water straight from the floating deck. If you’ve had enough activity today, feel free to lounge on the deck in the shade and read a book or watch the swimmers. (A support boat with a long-tail engine will follow just in case you need a boost.)

After lunch, take the long-tail boat back to the dam. Then a scenic 30-minute drive through shady mountain passes will bring you to the curious Bua Thong Waterfalls, also known as the ‘Sticky Waterfalls.’ The limestone rocks here are porous and easy to climb when wet, making them feel ‘sticky’ beneath your feet. Take off your shoes and climb the falls, or simply take a stroll on the path that runs along the cascading water.

When you feel like heading back to town, we’ll take a leisurely 2-hour drive to Chiang Mai, enjoying the scenery as we go. For dinner, enjoy one final meal of authentic northern Thai dishes and flavors.

Meals
  • Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Accommodation
  • Aruntara Riverside Boutique Hotel
Day 6
Activities
None
Transfers
None
Description

Today after breakfast we’ll wish you and your family a happy onward journey. Your guide will be in the lobby this morning to help you make arrangements for your return transfer.

Meals
  • Breakfast
Accommodation
None

Trip Information

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Inclusions

Plenty of water, snacks, and local fruit

Rove Certified Guide

An assistant guide for 11-15 pax, 2 assistant guides for 16+ pax

Vehicles: (varies based on local conditions and vehicle sizes available)

A first aid kit per guide

Entrance fees

Meals as mentioned in the itinerary, including two non alcoholic beverages per person per meal

Accommodation as listed above

Exclusions

Visa arrangements

International and domestic flights

Alcoholic drinks

Meals other than mentioned above

Guide(s) tips

Energy drinks or powders, performance bars, or performance gels (Gatorade, Powerbars, Gu, Isostar, etc)

Personal Travel Insurance

Personal expenditure (laundry, telephone etc.)