(Bangkok, Chiang Mai)
(Yangon, Bagan, Inle Lake)
Come face-to-face with the centuries-old rural lifestyle of the Shan people as you visit their floating villages on stunning Inle Lake.
You’ll be invited into the home of these tranquil, kind-hearted people for a rare insight into the culture of time-locked Myanmar. Formerly known as Burma, the country has only recently reopened to foreign tourists, and sitting down to afternoon tea with a Shan family is like stepping into a time machine to the old world. Elsewhere, visit the royal monuments and impressive Emerald Buddha in Bangkok; meet the monks of peaceful Chiang Mai; interact with elephants in the Chiang Dao rainforests; marvel at Bagan’s deserted ancient temples; and discover the floating gardens of Inle Lake.
Accompanied by expert guides and private drivers, this trip offers a rare insight into the lives of South East Asia’s rural fisherman and farmers through a range of hands-on activities and interactions. From cooking classes at a traditional Lanna school in Chiang Mai to a romantic picnic lunch next to the ancient temples of Minnanthu, this trip is full of immersive experiences you’ll remember for decades. And you’ll enjoy the comfort of premium colonial villas, boutique riverside hotels and lake-view resorts along the way.
Enjoy a personalized vacation that best suits your needs, developed by one of our experienced destination experts. Relax during your trip with our 24/7 support and expert local guidance.
Meet your driver for an airport transfer with a private vehicle and English speaking guide.
During this tour you will visit the Royal Grand Palace - the nation’s landmark and most praised royal monument in Thailand, with the enclosed and dazzling Wat Phra Keo with its revered Emerald Buddha, the Golden Chedi, the Pantheon of the Chakri Kings, and the Eight Coloured Towers. It is considered by many to be a living example of classical Siamese Court, being the former residence of the kings of Thailand. Wat Po is also regarded as the first centre of public education and is sometimes called ‘Thailand’s first university’. Mural paintings, inscriptions, and statues found in the temple served to educate people on subjects such as literature, warfare, archaeology, astronomy, geology, and meditation and is considered to be the home of Thai traditional massage. Here, you will enjoy a 30 minute Thai massage as an excellent break after a morning sightseeing. In the afternoon, sail along the bustling Chao Phya River and the quiet klongs in a long tail boat. A stop will be made at Wat Arun - the “Temple of Dawn”. Finally, a visit to the flower and vegetable market will round off the day. Located close to the Chao Phraya River, this part of Bangkok brings you to a rural piece of Bangkok where you will find a vast selection of flowers, especially orchids and tropical flowers and see how the merchants create very special flower garlands.
Photography is permitted in the Royal Palace Grounds and in the compounds of the Emerald Buddha Temple, but not inside the buildings. Please dress respectfully (no bare shoulders, knees or strapless-heel shoes) when visiting the Grand Palace and temple complex. Shoes must be removed before entering the temple buildings as a matter of respect. The Palace may be closed without prior notice during Royal ceremonies and officials or head of state visit.
Fly from Bangkok to Chiang Mai. Flight time is approximately 1.5 hours.
This amazing sightseeing tour takes you around the famous city for an up-close and personal look at some of its most notable temples, as well as stops at its old city walls, gates and moat, and the local market and Tapae Gate. The highlight of this tour includes Wat Chiang Man, the city’s oldest temple and famed for a Chedi supported by rows of elephantine buttresses; Wat Phrasing home of the beautiful Lai Kham chapel with its exquisite woodcarving and northern style murals; Wat Chedi Luang and its enormous Pagoda; and Wat Suan Dok, which dates back to the 14th century when it served as the pleasure gardens to the Thai monarchy. Nowadays it houses several white Chedi’s, containing the ashes of Chiang Mai’s former Royal family. The last temple also houses one of the most famous monk schools in all of Chiang Mai.
The Elephant is Thailand’s working pride and one of this country’s national symbols. Current estimates of wild elephants left in Thailand are between 3000-4000. Although logging is being banned in this Kingdom, they remain a very important mode of jungle transport as it beats any other animal or machine for its ability to move through a forest with minimum damage. For centuries these animals were trained to use their skills by moving lumber and served as a mode of transport within the jungle area. Over the past decade, with the reduction in lumbering, these giants of the forest have been protected in various conservation camps. An interesting journey through the scenic countryside brings you to Chiang Dao Elephant Conservation Camp. Here you will get to see elephants at work during a half-hour presentation. There is also an opportunity to watch the elephants as they take their morning bath. During your visit to the camp, you will have an opportunity to ride an elephant back during a one hour trek into the surrounding forest. After a Thai set lunch at the camp, the afternoon is reserved for a leisurely cruise on board a bamboo raft.
Today you will go to a Lanna style school located in a countryside village, just 15 minutes from the city of Chiang Mai. The school offers lessons on how to cook delicious Thai food, Thai sweets, fruit carving, and presentation. When cooking Thai food, various local spices that enhance your health and physical well-being, are used as ingredients. It is the ideal school to learn how to cook Thai food to preserve it for generations to come. The atmosphere surrounding the school is filled with warmth, sympathy, and helpfulness, all representing ancient, traditional Lanna custom and culture.
Fly from Chiang Mai to Bangkok. Flight time is approximately 1 hour.
Fly from Bangkok to Yangon, Myanmar. Flight time is approximately 1.5 hours.
Meet your driver for an airport transfer with a private vehicle.
Yangon is a sprawling city with a relatively small downtown area including several markets, colonial buildings, the Yangon River, and a very green area with tree-lined streets and several lakes. During this full day tour you will be shown the different faces of Yangon from the landmarks to the hidden markets that have only seen a few westerners. During the day you will visit the Sule Pagoda, colonial downtown, the harbor, The Strand, and one of the colorful local markets. The reclining Buddha will be visited just before taking a tasteful lunch of typical dishes from tribes from all over the country like Kachin, Shan, and Rakhine. A local market will lead you to a small station where you will take the famous circular train that will bring you right behind Bogyoke Aung San market before heading back to your hotel. The tour includes a drink at the Strand Hotel and lunch at a local restaurant.
Fly from Yangon to Bagan. Flight time is approximately 1.5 hours.
Minnanthu is probably the most favorite temple area amongst frequent Bagan visitors and you know why? It’s quiet, it’s a beautiful area, and the temples here are often completely deserted. Your guide will bring you by car to this forgotten part of Bagan and will spread out a blanket and serve you a great picnic lunch in this historical setting before or after visiting 2 or 3 ancient temples ruins in this area.
A full day tour by car with an experienced guide through Bagan will show you the best known temples of the area. You will start the day climbing a pagoda to get an impressive view over the whole area. From here your guide plans his way to some of the other amazing temples that have been here for hundreds of years. Places like the Ananda, Dhammayangyi, Sulamani, and Thatbyinnyu will certainly impress you. Lunch will be taken at a local restaurant. Around 4:00PM, you will continue the tour by horse cart to Pyathagyi pagoda to catch the sunset with some refreshing drinks served.
Fly from Bagan to Inle Lake. Flight time is approximately 1 hour.
As described in many books, the Shan culture is very interesting and rich and especially in Nyaung Shwe you still get a bit of the feeling of the former Shan kingdom of Nyaung Shwe. Begin with a visit of the Buddha museum which is housed in the former “Haw” (palace) of the last Shan prince of Nyaung Shwe (Mr. Sao Shwe Thaike, who later became the first prime minister of Myanmar after independence). Enjoy a nice Shan lunch at the Viewpoint restaurant and then continue the tour to the local market looking for some traditional Shan cotton and Shan traditional dresses. A visit to the ancient teak wooden Shwe Yan Pyay monastery with the oval windows gives the opportunity for some great pictures. You will be peddled around some small canals and pass floating gardens in a small wooden boat for about half an hour to see more of the local Shan life from the water. End the tour with a visit and some wine tasting of the excellent wines at the Red Mountain winery in Nyaung Shwe.
Inle Lake is a vast natural lake surrounded by traditional Shan villages. On the lake itself the Intha people have been living for many centuries in villages built entirely on stilts on the lake. Today, you'll be taken by a private motorboat around the lake to discover its natural beauty, visit the floating gardens and hopefully see some of the famous leg rowers as well as enjoy tea time at a local family’s house. On and around the lake, traditional markets are held in different villages according to a 5-day rotating schedule and today you will visit a colourful market frequented by Shan and Pao people living nearby. Afterwards, visit a local cheroot factory where the Burmese cigars are made, floating tomato gardens, Intha Heritage house where the Burmese cats are bred, and if wanted, you can visit a weaving factory. Return to your hotel around 4:00 PM, in time for sunset.
Fly from Inle Lake to Yangon. Flight time is approximately 1 hour.
Enjoy the usage of a private vehicle with English speaking driver and guide at leisure for a half day in Yangon.
Welcome to the Ariyasom Villa located in the heart of Bangkok – step back in time to a more leisurely lifestyle. The villa was built in 1942 and is still in the hands of the original family who built it. With 25 beautifully appointed rooms and suites, Na Aroon Restaurant, room service, swimming pool, spa, library, and meditation hall makes them well equipped to look after guests while they stay in the "City of Angels".
Nestling on the banks of the Mae Ping River, the Aruntara Boutique Hotel is a unique way to experience Chiang Mai. The design of the hotel is an architectural marriage between British Colonial and Northern Thai influences, this can be seen by the traditional Lanna style handcrafted teak columns and high ceilings. Every piece of furniture in the hotel is exclusively designed and traditionally handmade by Thai craftsmen which enhances the overall Lanna concept. All the rooms are portrayed by one of the four classical elements which bring peace and tranquility to this Buddhist cultural theme.
Overlooking the spectacular Shwedagon Pagoda, The Savoy Hotel is ideally located in a picturesque area of Yangon and is easily accessible from popular regional attractions. Each guest room is comfortably furnished with colonial-style wooden fittings, traditional Myanmar antiques and beautifully appointed bathrooms. Dine at Kipling's Restaurant where a splendid assortment of Asian flavors are served, or savor traditional Italian cuisines at Rossini. Sip your favorite drink at the Captain's Bar and enjoy refreshments and tea specialties at the Cafe Yangon. Spend your day absorbing the aromas, sights and sensations of a different world, at The Savoy Hotel.
The Tharabar Gate Hotel is located in the most unique archaeological site of Southeast Asia, the Ancient capital of the Burmese Empire, Old Bagan. Surrounded by more than 4000 ancient temples and Pagodas, you will be enchanted by the breathtaking views. The Hotel offers 84 luxury rooms including 4 Suites. Every room is decorated with teak floors and typical Burmese furniture.
One of the few deluxe boutique hotels of international standard on the shores of Inle Lake, the Inle Lake View Resort is the built on 24 acres of a lush landscape of trees and flowers. The resort is ideally located in a picturesque area overlooking the Inle lake and features 38 large and spacious rooms. Located on the western edge of the lake, the hotel offers luxury and elegance throughout. The spa center is beautifully designed and offers a variety of treatments. The Bourgainvillaea restaurant serves some of the finest wine and cuisine to be found in Myanmar, including organic vegetables and salads and the Lotus Bar offers the perfect spot for an aperatif or after dinner drink.
Olive Ramchand ,
June 03, 2014
"I have to admit, this was the BEST vacation I ever had. The tour was nothing less than Fantastic! The hotels were great, the guides were great, the transportation was great, the places were great, the people were great, the food was great and last but not least China, itself was out of this world. I'm so glad I booked this tour and would recommend this to anyone. Thanks so much for all your help, your interest and your recommendations. Steve in China was so attentive, he called constantly to make sure everything was fine. We really had a fabulous time and even my jaded husband who normally only seems to care about where the nearest golf course is, was impressed and had a wonderful time.
Thanks again, and unto the next vacation (although I don't know how we would top this one!!)
Jeanne Tarvin ,
April 21, 2014
"The tour was absolutely fabulous. It all started with the planning. Kathryn graciously accommodated our tight schedule and multiple needs, including a mid-trip change in plans. The tour guides and drivers were all great and extremely knowledgeable. The accommodations and meals were fantastic. I was apprehensive about going to China not knowing the language but it worked out great!"
January 15, 2014
"We just returned on Monday from our wonderful trip to South Korea, Bangkok and Phuket. I wanted to thank you for all of your hard work in planning our tours and adventures. Everything was spot on, from our arrivals at the airports, to the guides and the tours. I would not hesitate to recommend you and your company. It was truly a wonderful vacation. Thank you again.
Bob Feldman ,
November 19, 2013
"I wanted to let you know that our trip to China was great! Everybody enjoyed themselves. When planning a trip I am always concerned about the itinerary, the vehicles and the guides. All 3 of these were great. The guides were particularly good and in this case really made the trip a pleasure. Overall a great trip. Thanks for all you did."
Gloria DeWeese ,
October 10, 2013
"A wonderful trip and everything went like clockwork. Thank you so very much for all your assistance. I hope I will have a chance to work with you again."
Wayne Gavioli ,
September 04, 2013
"We just returned from our thailand/cambodia trip. It was fantastic. You did a great job. The guides were excellent as was the drivers. We loved the Victoria Hotel you selected in Siem. Wish we had more time. Thailand met our expectations but our expectations for Cambodia were low and they exceeded them. Loved the places selected for the included lunches. Certainly would use Kensington again"
Santo Filice ,
August 30, 2013
"Thank you for arranging our guided trip to Thailand - Vietnam. It was a memorable, and pleasant trip - a 1st for us with Kensington tours and a most enjoyable one. We found that we were able to maximize our visit of the the area without the concern of booking hotels, airline, finding parking and understanding the local language. "
Tim Mesarch ,
August 02, 2013
"Alexis helped us fit in all of the sites we wanted to see on our trip to Thailand and Cambodia, and suggested some more. It was valuable talking with someone who had been there and done that. The planning went pretty smoothly, and so did the trip. The local guides were all top-notch! "
July 25, 2013
"I highly recommend Kesington Tours. The planning of our trip to Cambodia was outstanding. Our advisor Alexis Mayer was unbelievably patient, knowledgeable and responsive. We planned the trip in every possible detail and Alexis was extraordinary during the whole process. Once we were in Cambodia, we had a tiny issue with the car. I was able to get in contact with Alexis right away and the problem was instantly solved. The trip itself was fantastic. Everything was very well planned and perfectly organized. The local guides and drivers were great. The hotels were very well chosen.
Great trip. I would definitely travel again with Kensington Tours."
Pennie Quintana ,
August 07, 2013
"Thank you so much for the amazing trip we enjoyed!! All our guides were fantasy. Joseph in Jakarta, July in Jojakarta and Deon in Borneo!! Wow!! Bless you for all your attention to detail and the outstanding communication to all my questions. You made me feel so taken care of and tended too!! "
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