Off The Beaten Track (OBT12)
(12 days/11 nights)
Isan (or Isaan) is a wonderful region of north eastern Thailand that is rarely visited by tourists. If you are looking for roads less travelled, then this is the tour for you.
Our itinerary is designed to bring you some of the very best highlights of the Isan region. You will have the opportunity to spot wild elephants in Khao Yai National Park, gasp at over a million bats leaving their cave at dusk, sample real, authentic Isan food, learn about Granny Mo and how she saved a town, wander through ancient Khmer temple ruins, watch local fishermen on a sunset cruise along the Mekong River, cross the First Thai Lao Friendship Bridge in Laos, Spend a day in Vientiane, the capital of Laos, enjoy the bizarre sculpture park of Sala Kaew Ku and climb the rickety wooden walkways that lead to the seven levels of Wat Phu Tok, the mountain temple.
There is so much to see and do, yet our pace is deliberately slow. You will spend at least two nights at each of your destinations, allowing you more time to relax and take in the Isan way of life. And we have also built in 3 Flexi Days, in which you can decide upon your itinerary from a range of options on offer.
- Your adventure begins when we pick you up from Bangkok Airport or from your hotel in Bangkok. You will have your own private, air-conditioned vehicle, with driver and guide for the duration of your two week journey.
- Your transfer from Bangkok to Khao Yai will take 2-3 hours
- After settling into your accommodation and having a tasty Thai lunch, you will start your 21⁄2 day tour of Khao Yai National Park, Thailand’s oldest nature reserve.
- The itinerary is dependent on weather, ground conditions, season and the migration and behaviour of wildlife, but should include the following highlights
o Swim below the wonderful Haew Suwat waterfall, made famous by the film, The Beach, when Leonardo Di Caprio dived into its refreshingly cool waters.
o A night safari, using searchlights to look for nocturnal animals
o Viewing several million bats stream out of the bat cave at sunset as they begin their nightly
search for food.
o Bathing under the park’s highest waterfall, o
- We will leave Khao Yai National Park mid afternoon on Day 3 and travel towards Nakhon Ratchasima (locally called Korat), one of the major commercial centres in Isan
- En route, we will stop off on the outskirts of Sikhio town to view the majestic Wat Luang Phor Toh temple, with a huge golden, seated Buddha and beautiful grounds
- After checking into your hotel, we will set out for dinner at the vibrant Night Bazaar. Nakhon Ratchasima is often dubbed the gateway to Isan and tonight will be your first real introduction to the way of life in north eastern Thailand.
- Day 4 Flexi Day: Your guide will talk with you about today’s itinerary. Whatever you decide, your guide and driver will be on hand to help out. You may choose to explore the old town on your own, or with your guide, where you will find many monuments celebrating the heroine of Korat, Granny Mo, who took back the town from the invading Laotians! Other options are to travel out to the village of Dan Kwian, famed for its pottery, or visit the floating temple, Wat Sala Loi, or, if you are lucky enough to be visiting in December or January, then you could take a tour of the Jim Thompson silk farm.
- We will leave Korat early and travel north east for about an hour to the impressive Khmer ruins of Prasat Hin Phimai. The temple is similar in style to the Angkor Wat in Cambodia which it predates, but much it is smaller, and with a far fewer visitors.
- After your morning in the park, we will travel north towards the city of Udon Thani, where we will spend the next couple of nights.
- Like Korat, Udon Thani is another major city of Isan, yet one that is rarely visited by tourists. After a brief exploration of the city, we will arrange for you to dine at a local restaurant where you will be served a popular Isan dish, Chim Chum. This is a type of Thai hot pot, served as a broth on top of a pot of burning coals, to which you add your ingredients to be cooked. Delicious and fun!
- Day 6 Flexi Day: There is a lot to see and do in Udon and you may wish to spend the day here wandering through the parks, visiting the museums or strolling through its busy markets. Or you may choose to head out to Ban Chiang, where prehistoric earthenware and settlements have been unearthed. Perhaps you’d like to see the cave paintings, sandstone caverns and unusual rock formations of Phu Phra Baht. Or if you are visiting from December to February, then a visit to the ‘Sea of Red Lotus Flowers’ is an absolute must!
- From the hustle and bustle of Udon, we will whisk you off to an idyllic guesthouse in the Loei province, on the edge of the majestic Mekong River.
- Here, far from the madding crowd, is a place to relax and be at one with nature. You can settle down on the veranda and enjoy a cold drink, whilst taking in the magical views across the Mekong into Laos.
- Tonight we will arrange a special sunset boat trip. You will stop on small islets and sand spits to watch the local fishermen and take in the scenery. This is a photographer’s paradise.
- Day 8 Flexi Day: Your time at the Mekong River will be truly unforgettable. You may choose to remain at the water’s edge all day with a good book at hand, enjoying the wonderful views, or maybe head into lovely Chiang Khan, a sleepy riverside town of timber houses that is popular with the Thais, or you could take to the water once again to discover more of the river by boat. Whatever you decide, your guide and driver will be there to help you plan your day and show you round.
- Day 9: This morning we set off on a stunning drive along the banks of the Mekong river to the border town of Nong Khai
- After checking into your rooms and having a light lunch, we will visit the surreal and bizarre statue park of Sala Kaew Ku. The fantastical extravagance of the park is a truly joyous experience and one that will live long in the memory.
- Tonight you will eat with the Nong Khai locals on the riverside road, the Rimkhong, which is famous for its freshly cooked Isan food.
- On Day 10 you will cross the first Thai Lao Friendship Bridge that spans the mighty Mekong, taking you into the neighboring country of Laos.
- A short journey will take you right into Vientiane, the Lao capital city, where we will spend the day
- Your full-day tour of Vientiane will showcase the best of the city. Your journey will take in parks, markets, temples, busy shopping streets and the presidential palace. You will sample Lao food and learn about its history and culture. Which country will you have dinner in?! The choice is yours!
- On Day 11, we will take you to one of the true wonders of Thailand, Wat Phu Tok. This mountain temple is formed from a huge sandstone outcrop and can be accessed by seven levels of stairs and wooden walkways. The seven levels represent the seven levels of Buddhism enlightenment.
- The walkways are exposed and rickety, so it is not recommended that you try and access any higher than level 4 if you have a fear of heights.
- The views are astounding and are sure to live long in the memory.
- After your day’s excursion, we will bring you back to Nong Khai for a celebratory banquet. It is the
end of your adventure and tonight you will eat in style with a sumptuous Isan feast!
- After breakfast, you will be leaving Isan and your guide will ensure that you get to Udon Thani Airport with plenty of time to catch your flight back to Bangkok
- It’s time to say goodbye
- We are sure that it will be a sad farewell to Thailand, the Land of Smiles, but we are equally sure that
you will take many, many happy memories away with you.
Services included in the price:
- Tour Guide: 1 car with driver and 1 English speaking guide will be provided throughout.
- Accommodation: 1 twin/double room with air conditioning and private facilities.
- Internal Flight: Udon Thani to Bangkok
- Meals: As specified in the program: 11 x Breakfast, 7 x Lunch, 7 x Dinner
- Transport: Tours and transfers by air-conditioned vehicle.
- Misc: Local English-speaking guides and all activities as specified in the itinerary, including admission fees, with instruction where necessary.
Services not included in the price:
- International flights
- Drinks and meals not mentioned in the itinerary
- Tips for guide and drivers / Personal expenses