From the hill tribes of Northern Thailand to the glittering cityscapes of Malaysia, unveil a vast spectrum of distinct Southeast Asian cultures. Experience Thailand’s famous hospitality in a tribal village near Chiang Rai. Relax before the vista of a sparkling white beach on the Andaman Coast, and recharge in energetic Penang, a charming city where cultures collide. Step far back in time in Malacca, the historic link between Asia and Europe, and get a glimpse of the future among the skyscrapers of Kuala Lumpur. From almsgiving with Buddhist monks to preparing lunch with locals in an island village, the warmth of these legendary kingdoms leaves an indelible impression on even the most worldly explorer.
7 nights from only $1895
Before you travel to Thailand and Malaysia, visit Burma, currently known as Myanmar, a forest-clad country of mountain ranges and river systems, with an abundance of golden pagodas. After a period of isolation, Burma has again opened itself to visitors, while remaining one of the least Western-influenced countries in Southeast Asia. Come experience its magical sights, friendly people, and its own distinctive culture.View Extension Itinerary
Depart the U.S. today on your international flight to Bangkok.
An O.A.T. representative will greet you at the airport and assist with the transfer to the hotel, where you'll meet the travelers who joined the pre-trip extension to Burma & the Irrawaddy River.
Following breakfast, your Trip Leader, who will be with you throughout your trip, gives you a briefing on Bangkok. Then, we'll have the chance to see the floral market at Pakklong Talad, where we'll observe garland making and sample fresh tropical fruit before continuing our exploration of Bangkok by canal. We'll sail aboard motorboats down the river and along the klongs, or canals, through residential areas on the outskirts of town. We become part of Bangkok's lifeblood as we cruise its network of rivers and klongs—a part of Bangkok most travelers never see. We'll then enjoy a cooking demonstration and lunch.
After lunch, we'll take another boat ride to visit the Royal Barge Museum, where we'll discover a fleet of ornate teak and gold vessels that were once reserved for royal processions and grand ceremonies along the Chao Phraya River.
After the museum visit, we return to the hotel for an orientation walk of the surrounding area before embarking on a dinner cruise.
This morning after breakfast, we’ll depart for the airport to board our two-hour flight to Chiang Rai. Upon arrival, we’ll gather for lunch in a local restaurant. This afternoon, we’ll peruse the Hill Tribe Museum, a collection of exhibits that contain a wealth of information on Thailand’s various hill tribes.
Later today, we’ll check in to our hotel and enjoy dinner as a group.
This morning, we will rise early to participate in a centuries-old Buddhist tradition: the almsgiving procession of local monks. Locals make offerings of food to monks as they walk down the street in an effort to make merit, an important part of the Buddhist faith. When the ceremony is over, we’ll return to our hotel to freshen up.
We’ll then depart for the Doi Tung Royal Villa, a former summer home for the Thai royal family. Today, it houses a museum and displays the family's work improving the lives of local tribal people. We'll have time at the end of our visit to explore the Mae Fah Luang Gardens, a botanical park on the hillside below the villa, before we have lunch at a local restaurant.
This afternoon, we’ll return to our hotel, where you’ll have the rest of the day to spend at leisure. Dinner is on your own this evening.
Today we venture to the Golden Triangle, where we'll visit the Opium Museum and hear stories about the opium warlords who once held sway in this region. At one time, the hill tribes in this region relied on the cultivation of opium for survival—including several bands of Chinese nationalist followers of Chiang Kai Shek, who have been living here (somewhat in hiding and in dwindling numbers) since the Revolution. But times have changed. The Thai royal family has established 38 regional programs to introduce more viable crops in northern Thailand, and most of the people are law-abiding farmers. Today, tourism has become a preferable alternative to drug smuggling, and the hill tribes are more concerned about preserving their old traditions.
For lunch, we'll take local transport to a nearby restaurant, then depart for our visit to the village of the Akha people. Their lives were heavily impacted by the royal project, and we'll discuss its impact plus some of the social issues they face as a minority in Thailand.
We'll return to Chiang Rai this afternoon, and have some time at leisure before dinner at a local restaurant.
Today, we’ll take our time on the drive to Chiang Mai, stopping at one of Thailand’s most famous temples, Wat Rong Khun or the White Temple. Approaching from a distance, the bright-white "temple" (actually built as an art exhibit just twenty years ago) appears to sparkle, thanks to inlaid mirror chips in its façade. The imagery inside includes Hello Kitty, Elvis, and Superman.
As our journey to Chiang Mai continues, we’ll stop for lunch in a local restaurant. We’ll arrive in mid-afternoon and have some time at leisure before we gather to explore Chiang Mai’s alluring old city. We’ll begin by crossing the moat, which dates back to 1296, and entering through one of the town gates. Inside the town walls, we’ll visit the old city hall and Wat Chiang Mun, one of the city’s oldest temples.
Tonight, we get a flavor of local life when we join a family in their home for dinner.
This morning after breakfast, we will drive to the village of Amphoe Mae, one of 38 projects started by the Thai Royals to help the people of Northern Thailand develop livelihoods and move on from the opium trade. We will get an idea of how successful the project has been when we learn how this village cultivates produce for markets around Thailand.
Later this morning, we will drive to the villages of Mae Kampong and Ban Pa Miang. We'll visit a local temple, chat with the monks, and walk through the neighboring rainforest.
Upon returning to Chiang Mai this afternoon, lunch will be on your own and you will have some time at leisure. This evening, we gather to walk to a nearby night market, which you may continue to explore at your own leisure. Dinner is on your own this evening.
This morning after breakfast, we check out of our hotel and head for the airport. A two-hour flight brings us to Phuket, where we’ll have lunch on our own before the drive to Krabi. We arrive at our hotel this evening and gather for dinner at a local restaurant.
Today after breakfast, we’ll depart to explore the tropical charms of Krabi, the gateway to Thailand’s Andaman Islands, including a stop at the famous Emerald Pool. There, we will walk along a stream and you may choose to take a dip in the warm, crystal waters. We’ll visit the Andaman Art Center next, to learn about Thai art through the ages, before stopping for lunch at a local restaurant.
This afternoon, we’ll return to our hotel for some time at leisure, and dinner is on your own this evening.
After breakfast, you will have some time at leisure for the remainder of the morning. Or, you may choose to join an optional tour to Ao Tha Lane, an island of mangrove forests that we will explore by kayak. We'll have the opportunity to search for wildlife in a nearby limestone canyon, and if the tide is low, we can keep our eyes peeled for monkeys. We'll return to the hotel before midday.
Lunch is on your own today, and afterward we will check out and depart for Trang, arriving late this afternoon.
Our first activity in Trang will be an orientation drive around the city. Still relatively under the radar as a tourism destination, Trang has held onto an old-school, laid-back Thai personality and is well-known for its wide variety of cuisines. We'll enjoy dinner together as a group at a local restaurant.
This morning after breakfast, we’ll depart for a short boat ride to one of Trang’s islands, Koh Sukon. Our first stop is the Haad Saitong School to meet the schoolchildren. From there, we’ll visit a fishing village. Trang, like many of Thailand’s provinces, has undergone significant changes as tourism becomes a leading Thai industry, and we’ll discuss its impact with our hosts.
This afternoon, we’ll return to our hotel on the mainland, where you’ll have the remainder of the day on your own. Dinner is on your own this evening.
After breakfast, we’ll check out and begin the drive to Thailand’s border with Malaysia. We’ll stop for lunch shortly before crossing the border and continuing on to Penang. We arrive at our hotel this evening and go out for dinner as a group in the George Town area.
This morning after breakfast, we’ll walk into historic George Town, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the first British settlements in Southeast Asia, to discover its ancient cultural influences, colonial architecture, and indelible charm. Later in the morning, we’ll embark on a driving tour of Penang’s historical monuments on our way to the home of a local, who can tell us about the city’s distinct mix of cultures.
Lunch is on your own today, and you will have this afternoon at leisure. Dinner is on your own.
After breakfast, we depart for the Cameron Highlands. On the way, we’ll stop in Ipoh, once an important tin mining outpost for China. We’ll visit a tin-mining museum, have lunch at a local restaurant, and see a tin dredging machine before continuing our trip into the hills.
We arrive in the Cameron Highlands early this evening. This area, with its mild climate and verdant hills, was hugely popular with Malaysia’s British population, who built cottages, golf courses, and resorts across the hilltops. Tonight we’ll gather for dinner at a local restaurant.
After breakfast this morning, we’ll depart on a local truck to visit the village of Samoi Lama, an Orang Asli ethnic village. The Orang Asli people, a local aboriginal population, were displaced in the 20th century when the Cameron Highlands became a mountain getaway for the Brits. We’ll learn about the way of life the Orang Asli maintain today and join the villagers and their chief for a snack.
Back in town this afternoon, we’ll have some time at leisure, with lunch on your own, before we gather to meet a local man who assisted in the search for Jim Thompson, an American expatriate (and former intelligence operative) who went missing here in 1967. Afterward, we'll have dinner at a local restaurant.
After breakfast, we depart the highlands and make our way to Kuala Lumpur, a drive of about three hours. Upon arrival, we’ll have lunch at a local restaurant and check into our hotel.
The capital and largest city in Malaysia, Kuala Lumpur (known locally as KL) is one of Southeast Asia’s fastest-growing and most modern cities. However, our discoveries begin in Kuala Lumpur’s past: we’ll visit Independence Square, in the heart of the colonial district (where Malaysia declared independence in 1957), and a century-old theater that occupies KL’s Old City Hall.
This evening, dinner is on your own.
This morning after breakfast, we’ll venture south to Malacca. Founded in 1377, Malacca rose to prominence as a hub of trade between Asia and the West. After an era of Portuguese dominance, the Dutch took over in Malacca. They were succeeded by the Brits, who moved their trading center to Singapore, leaving Malacca’s historic center relatively untouched by modern development. It is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Besides the European influence, Malacca has a large Malay-Chinese, or Peranakan, population—known locally as Baba Nyonya. We’ll start our discoveries today at a Baba Nyonya house and view local handicrafts that are considered a dying trade (like shoes for bound feet). We’ll have lunch at a Baba Nyonya restaurant before continuing on to discover the European legacy of Malacca.
This afternoon, we’ll explore the original Portuguese fort, nearby St. Paul’s church, and Dutch Square, bordered by bright-red, 17th-century buildings—where Dutch colonialists presided over their far-flung trading hub.
We’ll return to Kuala Lumpur late this afternoon. Dinner is on your own this evening.
Today we will explore Kuala Lumpur, starting after breakfast with a trip to the National Monument, commemorating Malaysia’s fight for independence during and after World War II. From there, we’ll visit the National Mosque and the Islamic Arts Museum, an outstanding collection of textiles, rugs, gems, and pottery housed in gorgeous domed buildings.
Later this morning, we’ll wander KL’s China Town, with stops at Guan Di Temple and the neighborhood’s shophouses.
Lunch today is on your own, and you will have some time to spend at leisure before we gather again this evening at the 88-story Petronas Towers, an icon of modern-day KL. There, we’ll enjoy a Farewell Dinner to reminisce about our adventure.
After breakfast this morning, you will transfer to the airport for your flight home to the U.S. If you have opted to take our post-trip extension to Phnom Penh & Angkor Wat, Cambodia, you’ll fly to Phnom Penh this morning.
6 nights from only $1395
After your travel in Thailand and Malaysia, discover Cambodia’s bustling capital and see one of the world’s most stunning antiquities when you explore the sights and sounds of Phnom Penh and the spectacular temple complex of Angkor. Set amid tropical forests, the temples showcase the creative genius of the Khmer Empire, which reached its pinnacle between the ninth and 14th centuries.View Extension Itinerary