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Overview

Discover the Isaan culture, on an exploration of north-east and north Thailand. Hop from Khao Yai, Khon Kaen, Udonthani to ancient city of Sukhothai arriving at Chiang Mai. Get to taste the local cuisine distinct to the region, visit sacred places and meet the real locals. 

Trip Highlights

Isaan & The Northern Explorer

Archaeological exploration of the north

Discover prehistoric sites where dinosaur bones and fossils were found.

Taste distinct Isaan cuisine

Stop by street food stalls and taste distinct foods of the north such as grilled chicken and papaya salad.

Visit ancient cities and rural villages

Visit the ancient capital of Thailand, Sukhothai and venture off-the-beaten track to meet the real locals.

Itinerary

1

Bangkok – Korat – Khao Yai

Bangkok city – Prasat Hin Phimai, Korat (322 km): 4.01 hr Prasat Hin Phimai – Korat town (61.2 km): 53 min Korat town – Kirimaya Golf Resort & Spa (112 km): 1.37 hr

Depart from Bangkok and drive through mountains to Korat, the gateway to Thailand’s northeast plateau. Largely agricultural, Korat is the largest province in northeast Thailand and its inhabitants have their own unique culture, architecture and cuisine.

The first stop on the journey is at Prasat Hin Phimai, the largest sandstone Khmer temple complex in Thailand, which dates back to the Angkorian period when the Khmer empire stretched across Thailand. The sanctuary has been magnificently restored and preserved as a National Historical Park.

Then proceed to Korat town to have lunch. Guests should try the famous local version of pad Thai “pad mee Korat”, papaya salad and barbecued chicken.

Depart for Khao Yai in the afternoon. The area surrounding Khao Yai National Park offers the ideal climate for grapevine cultivation, and wine from Khao Yai is gaining a global reputation.

Explore one of the area’s vineyards in a wonderful tropical hillside setting, overlooking the Khao Yai mountains, and enjoy a wine tasting session with a local expert.

In the evening, enjoy dinner at Lookkai Restaurant, a local fine dining restaurant in Khao Yai.

Optional: Night Safari

Depart the resort around 18:20 for the transfer to the national park and head on a night drive spotlighting, finding wildlife of all sizes. Possible sightings include: Asian elephants, Indian Palm civets, Porcupines, Wild Dogs, Deers, Slow Loris etc. Reach your resort around 8.30 pm.

Price: 3,290 THB per person (minimum 2 persons)

Overnight in Khao Yai.

2

Khao Yai – Chaiyaphum – Khon Kaen

Kirimaya Golf Resort & Spa – Ban Khwao District Chaiyaphum (198 km): 2.59 hr Ban Khwao District – Phu Wiang Dinosaur Museum (158 km): 2.48 hr Phu Wiang Dinosaur Museum – Khon Kaen (80.6 km): 1.34 hr

After breakfast at the hotel, guests depart for Ban Khwao in Chaiyaphum, which is famous for the quality of its silk and cotton weaving. Unique to the town is the art of “mud mee silk”, which has been practiced in the area for generations.

Stop at a local home to see how traditional Isaan (northeast Thai) sausages are made. Guests will be able to see the production process and understand how these sausages have become popular all across Thailand. 

Continue to Phu Wiang, where the first dinosaur fossil was found in Thailand. Visit the Dinosaur Museum, a geological learning resource that contains a wide range of fossils and educational exhibits. Lunch is served at a local restaurant before guests continue to Khon Kaen in the afternoon.

Khon Kaen is the commercial, administrative and educational center of the Upper Isaan region, and is often used by travelers as a base for visiting other parts of the northeast and Indochina.

Walk through the local market to see a variety of Isaan food on offer, and to experience the local way of life. A vast array of vegetables, fruits, herbs, spices and authentic local foods are available.

In the evening, enjoy a Vietnamese-Isaan dinner at a local restaurant.

Overnight in Khon Kaen.

3

Khon Kaen – Udon Thani

Khon Kaen – Khao Suan Kwang District (58.6 km): 1.11 hr Khao Suan Kwang District – Ban Chiang Udon Thani (106 km): 2.13 hr

Depart early to visit the local morning market, and sample some special local delights such as grilled sticky rice cakes and grilled pork.

Then take a walk through Khon Kaen town and visit Phra That Kham Kaen at Wat Chetiyaphum, where the city of Khon Kaen is believed to have been founded in ancient times. Visit Nong Wang temple and climb the nine flights of stairs in the temple's pagoda to enjoy panoramic views of the city and Kaen Nakorn Lake.

Depart for Khao Suan Kwang for lunch and enjoy Isaan’s famous roasted chicken and papaya salad.

Then continue to Baan Chiang Village, an archeological site located in Udon Thani Province. Baan Chiang was discovered in 1957 by Stephen Young, a Harvard sociology graduate, but a major excavation of the site only commenced in the 1970s.

This excavation found evidence of pre-historical settlements dating back between 1,800 and 5,600 years. Baan Chiang is best known for the beautiful pottery the ancient villagers made, but many other artifacts have also been discovered including, metals, charcoal, animal bones and human skeletons. UNESCO registered Baan Chiang as a World Heritage site in 1992.

Return to the resort for dinner.

Overnight in Udon Thani

4

Udon Thani – Dan Sai

Udon Thani City– Phu Phra Bath Historical Park (73.6 km): 1.30 hr Phu Phra Bath Historical Park – Chiang Khan (136 km): 2.30 hr Chiang Khan - PhuNaCome Resort (123 km): 2.15 hr

After breakfast at the hotel, drive to Phu Phra Bath Historical Park. Situated in Ban Phue District, this archeological site features a large number of ancient ruins and objects dating from prehistory. They are mostly from the Dvaravati, Lop Buri, and Lan Xang periods. The site is located in a lush forest called Pa Khua Nam. Within are many rocks of peculiar shapes, the result of a slow-moving glacier millions of years ago.

Continue driving to Loei province. Stop to take a boat trip along the Mekong River at Chiang Khan (Kaeng Khut Khu) and visit the charming riverside town characterized by rows of teak shop houses.

Lunch at a local restaurant.

Continue to Dan Sai district in Loei for overnight.

Dinner and overnight in Dan Sai.

5

Dan Sai

Dan Sai District – Phu Ruea National Park (44 km): 60 min

Breakfast at the hotel. The first visit of the day is Phra That Sri Song Rak, located on the bank of the Mun River. This large Lao-style pagoda similar to that of Phra That Phanom houses relics of the Lord Buddha. Although it’s a great place to see throughout the year, it really comes to life during the Phi Ta Khon celebration held annually in May or June. After, a visit is made at the Dansai Folk Museum with an excellent display on the history, culture and costumes of the Phi Ta Khon Festival as well as the old tradition of Dansai District. Getting hands-on experience with the mask painting is an exciting way to learn more and also provides a memorable handmade souvenir to take home.

A short stop is taken at Wat Neramitt Vipatsana with its beautiful hall and pagoda both constructed of laterite (red soil), and products created by the monks and novices.

Lunch at a local restaurant.

Driving to Phu Rua High Altitude Agricultural Research Station offers some superb views. Phu Rua's summit is a large plain at 1,365 meters above sea level. After a visit to the viewpoint, return back to the hotel.

Dinner and overnight in Dan Sai.

6

Dan Sai – Phitsanulok - Sukhothai

Dan Sai District - Phitsanulok (147 km): 2.30 hr Phitsanulok – Sukhothai Historical Park (84.2 km): 1.15 hr

Breakfast at the hotel, followed by a drive through spectacular mountain scenery to Phitsanulok. Visit Wat Phra Si Rattana Mahathat commonly known by the inhabitants as “Wat Yai”, which is the most important monastery of Phitsanulok, and also the home of the famous Phra Phuttha Chinnarat. The monastery was built in the reign of Phra Maha Thamma Racha I (Phraya Lithai) in 1357 A.D. It houses Phra Phuttha Chinnarat, regarded as the most beautiful Buddha image in Thailand.

In the afternoon, we take you to Sukhothai whose name means dawn of happiness and which was founded in the 13th century and became the kingdom's first capital, as well as that period was also known as the golden age of Thai history. Take an electric tuk tuk around the Sukhothai Historical Park which was once a walled city surrounded by a moat, the park contains almost 200 ruined chedis in remarkable conditions. See the main sites of Wat Mahathat, Wat Sri Chum, Wat Sri Sawai, War Sra Sri, Wat Trapang Ngoen and Ramkamhaeng Museum before checking into your hotel. Bike ride is possible in supplement in the historical park, a nice and easy way to stroll around the ruins! 

Overnight in Sukhothai.

7

Sukhothai - Lampang

Sukothai – Si Satchanalai (59.8 km) 1.08 hr Si Satchanalai – Lampang (153 km): 2.16 hr

After breakfast at the hotel, travel to a local organic farm where you will be dressing up in the distinctive indigo colored cotton Thai Farmer uniform and get the hands dirty in the organic rice farm transplanting rice seedlings, harvesting, or milling rice, there is also an opportunity to plough the paddies with water buffalo. (Note: Closed on Wed)

Then venture off the beaten track into Baan Na Thon Chan Community in Si Satchanalai District. The location of the tour is not something you will find in neither the guide books nor most holiday brochures and our guests will have the opportunity to see how locals live and experience what an average day in a grass-root Thai person’s life is like.

Enjoy a very basic but delicious noodle soup in Sukhothai style served in a local cook shop.

After lunch, guests will have the opportunity to do fruit picking (longan) in an orchard, visit a local silk weaving house, observe the process of fermented cloth production and see a toy wooden manufacturer at work.

You will clearly see how the community applies more progressive attitude towards sustainable living than people in the more developed areas. A key feature of this tour is locals opening their doors to foreign guests and sharing with them the intimacy of their home lives. Then continue up to Lampang.

Overnight in Lampang.

8

Lampang – Lamphun – Chiang Mai

Lampang – Lamphun (76 km) 1.08 hr Lamphun – Chiang Mai city (30 km): 36 min

After breakfast, drive up to visit Wat Phra That Lampang Luang, one of the most spectacular temples in Thailand. Dating back to 1486, itis believed to be one of the oldest wooden buildings in Thailand.

Continue driving to the northern capital Chiang Mai with a stop on the way to visit Wat Phra That Hariphunchai and its associated National Museum in Lamphun, before continuing along the old highway lined by beautiful 30-metre tall Yang trees which are often wrapped in decorative cloth.

Arrive Chiang Mai in the late afternoon, and you can be dropped off at either Chiang Mai Hotel or Chiang Mai Airport.

Important Information

Our services include:

  • Accommodation in selected hotels.
  • Meals as mentioned (B= Breakfast, L= Lunch, D= Dinner).
  • English speaking guide.
  • Tours and transfers as mentioned by private air-conditioned vehicle.
  • Entrance fees for mentioned visits.
  • Tips for driver and hotel porters
  • Drinking water

Our services do not include:

  • Other meals than mentioned.
  • Other services than mentioned.
  • International and domestic flights.
  • Laundry, telephone calls and expenditure of a personal nature.
  • Tips, travel insurance.

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