Below are only a small sampling of adventures in The Land of Smiles. Thailand's mix of mountains, jungles, rivers, ancient rainforest, tropical islands, Bangkok, smaller towns and hilltribe villages provides for a wide variety of incredible experiences almost no other country can match.
Bangkok can be baffling. This metropolis is full of contrasts, an exhilarating and intriguing mixture of old and new, where serene Buddhist temples juxtapose with futuristic skyscrapers, and sprawling traditional markets border luxurious developments. Yet Bangkok is usually only seen as a convenient transit point when you have children. Our handcrafted Thailand family tours like to showcase the authenticity of the city through a series of unique local encounters. Bangkok doesn’t need to be stressful with children. Instead, a selection of tours showcase why the locals call their capital Krungthep Mahanakorn, the "great city of angels."
Board a privately-hired longtail boat and explore a maze of canals, disembarking at traditional stilted houses where time has stood still. Escape to luxury hotel pools, midday oases for kids to getaway from the cacophony of the streets. Splash in waterparks, whizz through the streets by tuk tuk, visit unique community walls, then go looking for crocodiles and chimpanzees. But these are just ideas. There are many other options to consider when handcrafting a Thailand family tour.
Sail the crystal clear blue waters through Phang Nga Bay Marine Park, where striking karst formations and deserted islands await. This marine paradise of over 40 islands awaits in the Strait of Malacca, just off of Phuket. Millions of years ago, this was a limestone range of hills, flooded by rising sea levels. The results are vaulting cliff spires called karsts, with caves and rock pillars also in abundance. Sailing is the ideal way to experience such quiet waters and stunning views, the captain dropping anchor at deserted islands that resemble many people’s idea of paradise.
Spend a day or more on a private yacht cruise. Then complement the experience with one of the world’s most amazing helicopter tours, viewing the striking karst scenery off shore from Phuket. Phuket helicopter flights from 30 minutes or longer can be arranged, swooping over the massive mangrove forests along the coast, around the towering rock formations and deserted beaches.
Thailand’s jungle can be a place of adventure, where you trek with elephants and cycle into lush landscapes of green. Yet the thick forested cliffs of the country’s interior also open up options for utter serenity. Float down blue rivers on bamboo rafts, enveloped by the charm of the jungle. Disembark at dramatic luxury lodges, places of indulgence and comfort amongst these spectacular landscapes. It feels like you’re a million miles from anywhere, destinations like Khao Sok and Kachanaburi creating this alternative Thailand escape. Most people visit the beaches to relax. We know some wonderfully hidden retreats deep in these exotic jungle landscapes.
Thailand is a showcase of the culinary journey. Our Iron Chef tours celebrate the best of a legendary cuisine and there are so many dishes that could be considered the ultimate icon. Perhaps a green curry, a pad thai, or a fragrant piece of street food. Los Angeles legend Neal Fraser leads a unique journey across Asia’s culinary capitals, with Bangkok a firm favorite on the itinerary. But these one-off tours aren’t the only way to sample the best of the country.
Take a cooking class with ebullient television chef Ian Kittichai, a man who started by pushing a food cart through the city’s alleyways. Journey through markets of street food, sampling the most unusual and creative of local cuisine. Enjoy personalized dining recommendations at the country’s best restaurants, as defined by world-renowned chefs we partner with. Thailand luxury travel can include a sample of these experiences, or it can journey into the heart of a cuisine, from foraging for ingredients in the markets to private cooking classes and fine dining breakfasts.
This cycling the small back roads through villages of Ahka and Lisu hilltribes. When we’ve had enough biking, we’ll place our bikes on a private longtail boat and head back down river to Chiang Rai town and our resort.
From Koh Lipe you can also explore the archipelago’s other islands, taking sail trips to other deserted places of bliss. You could spend weeks here, settled into the dreamy rhythm of the islands. But one rare encounter stands out. Koh Kipe in inhabited by indigenous sea gypsies, who established a village when they arrived a century ago. Their customs are completely different from those in the rest of Thailand, making for a unique cultural encounter amidst turquoise waters.
Bangkok has never shied away from being different. Its art scene excels in the unusual and unthought of. With a private guide you discover art on the edge, exploring Bangkok's contemporary and street art scene, including suburbs painted by local and international artists. You’ll find some iconic pieces, such as Alex Face’s Mardi, while also taking in some of the world’s best exhibiting space for street artists. Artists discuss their creations as you explore more informal art spaces near the university as well as higher-end galleries near Silom.
The most famous of the stops is the MOCA, a five-story building that is Thailand’s biggest private museum and the country's first permanent modern art collection open to the public. The works are mostly post-1990s, often focusing on realism and surrealism depicting Thai rural life, Buddhist scenes or mythological motifs from the Ramayana. The guide also shows you to few more political and controversial pieces that have made their way into the collection as well. A temporary exhibition space on the first floor is dedicated to rare works from Thai masters, either from the archives of the founder Boonchai’s personal collection or on loan from other institutions.
Many of the most enchanting animal species are nocturnal, or at least only come out after dusk to feed. On a night safari you climb aboard range rovers or minibuses especially fitted with spotlights, or wander down safe walking trails, intimately observing more than 400 different species. You can visit the park in the day, but it’s so much better after dark, the open park grounds an exciting adventure that’s not just for kids.
The park is divided into three habitat zones. Explore the African savannah, glimpse Asian and African carnivores in the Predator Prowl Zone, then go in search of rare hunters in the Jaguar Trail Zone. Encounters are mystical and mesmerizing, from tigers and lions to Asiatic black bears and capybaras, so many bizarre creatures beneath the spot lights.
The waters of Southern Thailand feature dramatic scenery of crystal tropical blue waters and vaulting limestone rock formations. Cave formation, deserted beach coves and wildlife ignite the imagination. Kayaking is always under calm conditions, at a gentle pace, suitable for begbiining to advanced kayakers.
Elephants are indigenous to Thailand but elephant camps have somewhat of an unfortunate reputation. A handful of dodgy camps have twisted the impression of a mahout experience. Over the last two decades we’ve sourced the most ethical local camps and pick from a small selection of experiences around Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai. Daily shows give you a hilarious insight into the many talents these gray giants harbor, including painting and making music through their natural trumpets (trunks).
For a more immersive experience, particularly for couples and families, we can connect you with mahouts (elephant trainers), who reveal how to bathe these gentle giants and how to convince them to carry huge tree logs. The main elephant camp we use near Chiang Rai is set up as a working mahout village, meaning that the elephants and their handlers are not just there for tourist display, but are actually deployed in the logging industry, in the streets and other construction projects.