Day 1 (Friday) Arrive at Bangkok Suvarnabhumi airport (airport code BKK) and say Sawasdee to Thailand. After clearing customs and immigration, you’ll be met by our local team and taken straight to your accommodation in the heart of Bangkok’s backpacker district, a journey of around 40 minutes, depending on traffic. Arrive any time between 6am and 10pm and we’ll be there to meet you at the airport with a warm welcome.
Day 2 (Saturday) After a good night’s sleep (and/or a late night enjoying the Khao San scene), you’ll meet your coordinator and any other members of your group at orientation (it is highly likely you met already yesterday… At orientation you will learn more about Thailand, its history, culture and modern day life; as well as what to expect from your program. Later, we take you on a fun city tour of Bangkok – we’ll explore the old city and its magnificent temples, and we’ll head out by boat on the Chao Praya, Bangkok’s main river which serves as a major transport route to get around this city, avoiding the infamous traffic jams. On return, we’ll enjoy an evening out on Khao San Road.
Day 3 (Sunday) This morning we head to Surin, usually by train (sometimes bus), a journey of up to 7 hours through the Thai countryside. Thailand’s trains are slow but full of character making the journey an experience in itself! On arrival in Surin, we’ll check in to our city accommodation with time to explore this great regional city, where tourists remain a novelty and are often met with a warm welcome.
Days 4 to 7 (Monday to Thursday) On Monday morning we’re off to the elephant village, in the countryside outside Surin city. The training of domestic elephants by mahouts is an ancient tradition in Thailand. Traditionally elephants were largely trained for logging to support the local community. With the ban of the logging industry many mahouts were forced to bring elephants into urban areas to beg for money. The elephant village experience provides a responsible and sustainable alternative, one which financially supports the whole community whilst allowing visitors to participate in village life. This fosters an opportunity for travellers to learn about rural Thai culture as well as begin to understand the diverse challenges that face elephant communities in Thailand. Along with your group, you will spend lots of time up close to these magnificent animals. Riding of the elephants by customers is not allowed.
At the village you’ll stay in homestay accommodation with local families, the elephants never far away, learning about their traditions and helping care for the elephants. Your village hosts are excellent cooks and all meals while at the village are included.
On Thursday afternoon, we return to the city to spend an evening enjoying the charm and relaxed pace of Surin, where tourists remain a novelty and are often met with a warm welcome.
Day 8 (Friday) Our team will drop you at the train station with all you need for the journey to Bangkok - tickets, hotel reservation and taxi fare with instructions in Thai for the driver. The Bangkok hotel will be familiar, as you stayed here the first two nights, so you'll already know the area.
Day 9 and 10 (Saturday / Sunday) After a day free to explore Bangkok, you’ll take the 9pm overnight coach south to Koh Phangan. Long distance overnight bus travel in Thailand is very normal, very safe and a fun part of any travel experience here, and our team will have provided everything you need for a seamless journey. You’ll be met on arrival in Koh Phangan next morning and taken to your home for the next few days of paradise !
Days 10 to 13 (Sunday to Wednesday) Your days and nights here in this idyllic island paradise are yours to play with as you wish. Koh Phangan has some of the most incredible beaches in Thailand, with white sand, clear water and blue skies at every turn. On the water, try your hand at kiteboarding or water-skiing, or go snorkelling or SCUBA diving to check out the underwater world. To work up an appetite, take a hike up to one of the many awesome viewpoints on the island for a breathtaking panorama, and there are also loads of temples, waterfalls and jungle to explore on the island.
Whatever your pace, come sunset you’ll want to grab a cocktail or coconut and enjoy the good vibes. Koh Phangan is world famous for its parties – full moon, half moon, black moon…you name it, there will be a party of some sort most nights. For a more chilled evening, grab dinner in a beach shack restaurant and chat with backpackers from across the globe.
Days 14 & 15 (Thursday / Friday) Time to wave goodbye to Koh Phangan as you make an early start on the ferry to the mainland, heading back to Bangkok on the daytime bus. We arrive in the evening, with one last night to shop or party on Khao San Road before you depart any time on Friday.
Accommodation In Bangkok, you’ll stay at a local guest house on Khao San Road, the backpacker heartland of Bangkok. Rooms are basic but comfortable, allocated on a shared basis and with air-con, hot shower and en-suite bathrooms. Wifi is available.
At the elephant village, accommodation is a local family homestay, basic but clean and comfortable. You will live ‘Thai style’ sleeping up to five a room on floor mattresses. Fan-cooled rooms have mosquito mesh windows to keep the bugs out, and shared bathrooms have cool showers. There is a shared kitchen where our team will help you prepare some delicious meals. No wifi here.
In Koh Phangan, you’ll stay in a twin/triple/quad share room at a beachfront hotel with pool in a relaxing area, easily accessible to busy Haadrin.
All meals are provided whilst at the elephant village - purchase or self-cater elsewhere