Thai Community Encounter Trip Notes
Trip code: FHFTI
Trip length: 13 days
- Explore stunning little-visited areas of southern Thailand
- Get stuck into village activities in Ban Talae Nok
- Savour some chill out time on tropical islands
This itinerary will take you on a journey into stunning little-visited parts of Thailand. From swimming to jungle walks in ancient rainforest and exploring tropical islands above and below the waves, you'll really get under the skin of the country. Spending time as guests of a rural village community is a highlight, providing a fantastic experience of real Thai hospitality.
After checking in to your hotel you'll have the chance to gently acclimatise to the temperature, humidity and time zone, so the rest of the day is left free for you to spend as you please - perhaps relax by the pool or explore the sights and sounds of the bustling Thai capital.
Nouvo City Hotel (AAA) - 1 night - Swimming Pool
Today you take a city tour to uncover the delights that Bangkok has to offer. Wat Pho or Temple of the Reclining Buddha is the oldest, largest and probably most spectacular temple in Bangkok and a good place to start your day. From here, you have time to visit the Temple of the Emerald Buddha (Wat Phra Kaew), where frescoes display various stages of Buddha's life, and the Grand Palace, still used to house visiting dignitaries as well as the Thai royal family. One of the most famous sights in Bangkok is the klongs or waterways. You have time to travel down these and watch daily Thai life take place - a great place to people watch! From here you transfer to the station for your overnight train journey to Surat Thani.
Berth on sleeper Train (1 night) (B)
Khao Sok National Park
In the morning you arrive at Surat Thani and drive for approximately two hours to Khao Sok National Park. In Khao Sok you’ll find some of Thailand’s best remaining rainforest, which is an incredible 150 million years old and where, amongst the giant tropical hardwood trees, limestone ‘karst’ formations stretch up from the jungle floor. This exciting national park is home to some of the country’s rarest animals, including leopard, Malayan sun bear, elephant, langur and even tiger, though they are elusive and rarely seen. During your two-day stay you will have plenty of time to explore independently. You can take a half-day walk to learn more about the tropical rainforest ecosystem and perhaps visit incredible stalactite caves. Although the walking is not difficult and you carry only a daypack, it can be tiring as conditions are hot and underfoot it’s often wet and slippery.
In the rainy season you may be able to take to the river in inner tubes and float downstream through the rainforest (dependant on water level), listening to the calls of gibbons and the other sounds of the jungle (optional). In addition to a float downstream, there’s the chance for those who wish to take a short elephant ride (optional).
As you would expect in the jungle, facilities are more basic; however the setting of superb limestone cliffs, mountains and rainforest more than makes up for any lack of comfort.
Morning Mist Resort (AAA) - 2 nights - Swimming Pool (B)
Discover village life
After the rainforest, you’ll head to the rural village of Ban Talae Nok on the Andaman coast. For over 10 years, the Thailand Community Based Tourism Institute has helped to teach local communities how to manage tourism by creating tours that support conservation and development as well as the preservation of culture and tradition. Not everyone has the time to spend several weeks, or even months volunteering on a project, although many people want to have the opportunity to do so. This ‘hands on’ aspect has been integrated into the trip itinerary to give you the chance to contribute something to the community without requiring a long time commitment. The only requirement is that you come with an open mind and a “have a go” attitude.
After a welcome and introduction to this fantastic initiative, you’ll meet your host family who will proudly show you around their home and village and what follows will be a positive cultural interchange where you’ll experience what life is like in this Thai village community, as well as their unique customs and traditions. The village was hit by the 2004 tsunami and the villagers who are now rebuilding their lives and their homes are an true inspiration.
During your stay, you'll get stuck in to an array of activities, which include English lessons and games with children - maybe even a spot of football on the beach, Thai dessert making, Nipa Palm roof weaving, fishing on the beach and a long-tail boat trip through the mangrove forest. The kids will love integrating with the local children and this is the ideal way to give something back to the community that you visit.
Homestay (A) - 2 nights - Swimming Pool (Bx2, Lx2, Dx2)
This morning, you you'll take part in some palm room weaving before helping the villagers prepare lunch (with some very tasty desserts!) It'll then be time to say farewell to the community before returning to Kuraburi, then onwards to the Don Sak Pier for your onward journey by ferry to the laid back tropical island of Koh Phangan where you'll enjoy the white sand beaches and crystal clear waters, every bit the tropical island paradise that Thailand is famous for. You have the option of taking a day trip out to snorkel on the sea and watch the impressive marine life below the water. Or if you prefer, just lie back on the beach and take the time to unwind here.
Grand Sea Resort (AAA) - 2 nights - Swimming Pool (Bx2)
You’ll depart Koh Phangan in the morning and travel by ferry to Koh Samui, a short 45 minute journey. Landing on Thailand's third largest island you’ll see a blanket of coconut palms stretching right down to the pristine beaches in front of you; a perfect spot to swim and relax.
The island’s inhabitants refer to themselves as Chao Samui (Samui folk) rather than Thai, and are renowned for their friendliness and good humour. During your stay here you could take a songthaew (local taxi) to explore the island; a great way to see its waterfalls and temples. A visit to the Na Muang Waterfall, near to the centre of the island and a butterfly farm are also fun possibilities (both at additional cost).
With free time to explore, there is also plenty of time to spend snorkelling or to take optional boat trips, perhaps to Ang Thong National Marine Park, a lush, dense group of 41 small islands strewn over the deep blue Gulf of Thailand. A climb up the wooded slopes will give you some breathtaking views of the surrounding archipelago, or you can see the landlocked lake that gives the park the name Ang Thong, meaning 'Golden Bowl'.
Those who simply want to relax will be able to sample the wonderful coconut cuisine, enjoy a traditional Thai massage or just soak up the sun and atmosphere on the beaches.
Buddy Oriental Samui Beach Resort (AAA) - 3 nights - Swimming Pool (Bx3)
You'll have some free time in the morning before you transfer to the airport in Koh Samui, where you'll catch an early afternoon flight back to Bangkok. Here, you can decide to have your 'last supper' with the group, do some last minute bargin hunting (and bartering!) and reflect on some wonderful memories.
Nouvo City Hotel (AAA) - 1 night - Swimming Pool (B)
The trip ends here for land only passengers. (B)
About The Imaginative Traveller
Our aim has always been to provide exceptional travel experiences. We believe that adventure travel should be stimulating, and that it should give you an authentic experience of a place. We want our travellers to relish the amazing diversity of countries and cultures the world has to offer. Our focus is on innovation, not imitation.
Obsessed with quality
One of our strengths has been our obsession with quality. We've always believed that our commitment to you doesn't end as soon as you've paid for your holiday. On the contrary, it is just beginning. Whilst most operators simply get a local company to handle the day to day operation of their tours, we do it all ourselves. We have managers for each of our key destinations around the world and all our small groups are escorted by our own leaders. Our local teams include guides, drivers, administration staff and contacts in the local community who help us ensure that our adventures are active and involving.
For comparability, all prices in this dossier are quoted in one currency. We use the US Dollar since that is familiar to most. However, once on tour you will need to pay for all goods and services in the local currency. See your Country Dossier for details of exchange rates.
Transport - Minibus, boat, ferry, on foot, pick-up truck, public bus, sky train, long-tail boat, domestic flight.
Accommodation - Overnight train (1nt), homestay (2nts), hotels (2nts), lodges (2nts), beach bungalows (5nts).
Meals - 11 breakfasts, 3 lunches & 2 dinners.
Single room supplementA single supplement is available for this trip priced from 253 GBP. This does not guarantee a single room for all accommodation. please contact us to discuss this.
For your comfort we recommend you travel as light as possible; many airlines impose a maximum weight limit of 20kg – we advise you to take 10kg as you will be on the move a good deal! For domestic flights using light aircraft the usual weight limit is 15 kg.
One main piece (a soft bag or rucksack, not a hard suitcase).
A daypack (25-30 litres), large enough to carry what you need for the day including camera, water, etc.
There are two basic types of curry in Thailand, those based on water and those based on coconut milk. Coconut-based dishes are well known in the UK and include the classic red, green and yellow curries. Local favourites in Thailand include the water-based ‘sour curry,’ often prepared with fish and ‘jungle curry,’ which is usually very spicy.
Phra Farang, an English Monk in Thailand – Phra Peter Pannapadipo
Borderlines: A Journey in Thailand & Burma – Charles Nicholl
Anna and the King of Siam - Margaret Landon
The Beach – Alex Garland
Bridge on the River Kwai – Pierre Boulle
An English Governess at the Court of Siam – Anna Leonowens
The Revolutionary King: The True-life Sequel to "The King and I" - William Stevenson
Your Child’s Health Abroad - Matthew Ellis and Jane Wilson-Howarth, (Bradt publications).
Travel with Children – Maureen Wheeler (Lonely Planet)
For Younger Readers:
Even a Little is Something: Stories of Nong – Tom Glass
The Girl who Wore too Much: A Folktale from Thailand – Margaret Read MacDonald
Hello - Sawàt dii
Please - Karuna
Yes – Chai
No – Mai Chai
Thank you – Khap Khun
How Much? - Thâo Rai or Kee Baht?
Local Costs - Thailand
Approximate average costs are given for guidance only, and may vary widely according to location and type of establishment.
Soft drink £1.00
Bottle of mineral water £1.50
Medium beer £2.00
Bottle of wine £10
Local snack lunch £3.00
3-course dinner* £9.00
*reasonable mid-range tourist class restaurant
Visas & Permits - Thailand
Holders of UK & IRL passports do not require a visa unless stay exceeds 30 days. Nationals of all other countries should contact their local embassy or consulate. Passports must be valid for at least six months after the end date of your trip. Information can also be found at www.travcour.com. This information is given in good faith, but may be subject to change without warning. Please note that, where appropriate, obtaining a valid visa is ultimately your responsibility. Please consult a visa agency or the consular authorities 4-6 weeks before departure for the most up-to-date information.
We advise all passengers to carry photocopies of passport & travel documents & to be aware that is it a legal requirement to carry id at all times.
Vaccinations - Thailand
The following are recommended:
- Hepatitis A
- Tetanus Polio
- Typhoid Malaria
- Diphtheria NB: Yellow Fever vaccination is compulsory if coming from an infected country.
For detailed information and advice concerning vaccinations go to:www.fitfortravel.scot.nhs.uk
Vaccination requirements change periodically so we advise that you check with your nearest specialist travel clinic 4-6 weeks before departure to get up-to-date information.
International rules for carrying medicines vary. Some countries do not allow certain medicines to be imported, or require official documents, such as a doctor’s letter, to prove drugs have been prescribed by a doctor and obtained legally. It is sensible to contact the relevant embassy or high commission of your destination to check what their drug transportation rules are before you travel.
The itinerary and supplementary information has been compiled with care and provided in good faith. However it may be subject to change, and does not form part of a contract between the client and The Imaginative Traveller.
Responsible Travel - Travellers' Guidelines
At Imaginative Traveller we love helping our clients experience the beauty and cultures of the destinations we visit. However, hand in hand with this we have always been aware that we have a responsibility to minimise any negative impacts that tourism can bring.
Responsible Travel is twofold. It’s about taking people to the places they want to go in a safe and responsible manner but also about respecting and maintaining the natural and often delicate balance of the destination. Economic gain from tourism is often fundamental to a country, but should never be at the expense of its culture or the environment.
- It is our aim to provide journeys that have minimal negative and maximum positive impact on the places we visit.
- We do not believe that, as visitors, we should impose our own cultures on others; rather that we should experience foreign cultures and appreciate them for what they are.
- Whilst it is our aim to show destinations and cultures in a positive light, we do not believe in papering over the cracks or shielding visitors from the realities of life. This does not mean, however, that we condone or endorse certain situations or regimes that may be in place.
Our guidelines are meant not as rigid instructions but rather as suggestions to make our holidays more enjoyable – for everybody. As cultural and environmental sensitivities vary from country to country more specific guidelines can be found in our individual country and trip dossiers.
Before you depart try to spend some time familiarising yourself with the destination you will be travelling to – their culture and customs. The country dossiers on our website offer detailed information about all the regions we visit. They also include some useful phrases in the local language for you to use on your trip! A few words of the local language can open up many more opportunities for you to interact with the people you will meet.
Although it is tempting to give out pens, sweets and money to people begging, and particularly tempting to give to children, we feel that this encourages a begging mentality and has a long-term negative impact on communities. If someone begging earns more than someone in the same community who works this can discourage local employment. If children regularly bring home money it may discourage their parents from sending them to school. It is of course your own personal choice but you could consider giving to registered charities or contributing to our Responsible Travel fund instead. Money donated through our fund to our worldwide projects is matched pound for pound by Imaginative Traveller and used to help local grassroots projects.
Always ask permission to photograph local people and respect their decision if they would prefer not to have their picture taken.
Respect local dress codes, especially at religious sites. Our tour leaders are always on hand to give you advice about this.
In many of the countries we visit you might see examples of animal cruelty (for example dancing bears, performing monkeys and snake charmers). Please do not take photographs of this or offer money as it encourages the activity.
Respect the environment you are in. It sounds obvious but do not throw litter, take it with you or use rubbish bins! You may see locals throwing rubbish on the street but do not follow their example!
When shopping in countries where haggling is the norm – enjoy it and only pay what you feel is a fair price for the goods you are purchasing. However, remember that the shopkeeper does have to make a living so do stop once you have reached a price you are happy with. Bargaining should be fun but always remember that a small amount can mean much more to the vendor than to you.
Endeavor to take home souvenirs made locally; the money you spend can be very important to the local communities. However, do use your common sense and don’t buy anything that you think might be made out of endangered animals or plants.
To help keep as much money as possible in the host country - try to eat in locally owned restaurants and order local drinks and produce rather than international brands.
In hotels do be conscious of how much water you are using. Many of the areas we visit regularly have shortages; try not to have hour long showers! Don’t leave lights, air conditioners or fans on when you leave the room – you wouldn’t at home!
Respect the environment you are in, especially when in national parks or reserves. Pay attention to rules about keeping on paths, keeping a distance from animals and not removing any of the natural habitat.
Relax and immerse yourself in the differences of the culture you are in – you’ll be back home in the familiar soon enough (and wishing you were still on holiday!). These cultural differences are part of what makes your experience special.
If you would like to offset the carbon dioxide that will be produced on your flights you can do this on our website (on our Responsible travel page). We work with climatecare, who will reduce the equivalent amount of carbon dioxide that you produce in another part of the World through their emission reduction projects. These projects are low carbon efficient technologies in developing countries and not only serve to reduce emissions but also help to spread the adoption of low carbon technologies and improve the quality of life for local communities. Details of climatecare’s projects can be found on their website.
If you would like to contribute to our Worldwide projects, helping communities all over the World, you can also do this on our website or with a sales consultant. Please refer to our responsible travel page on the website for details of our current projects. Any donation you make will be matched £ for £ by Imaginative Traveller (up to a maximum of £1000).
Have a great trip!
Please do let us know if you have any comments about responsible travel at firstname.lastname@example.orgThe Imaginative Traveller & The Adventure Company. This trip is operated by our partner company, The Adventure Company. They have more than 10 years experience in adventure travel and they share our ethos for offering unique holiday adventures. As this is a codeshared departure you can expect there to be both Imaginative Traveller and Adventure Company travellers on your trip.