By Holly Monahan
December 15, 2018
ake1150sb/Getty Images

Holly Monahan is a member of Travel + Leisure’s A-List, a collection of the top travel advisors in the world, and can help plan your perfect getaway. Below is an example of the type of itineraries she creates. To work with Holly, you can contact her directly at holly@ilextravel.com

Day 1: Arrive in Bangkok

Stay

137 Pillars Suites Bangkok

Days 2-3: Bangkok

On your first full day in the city, take a private tour — traveling by foot, boat, three-wheeled tuk-tuk, and Sky Train. Depart early for the Marble Temple, where you will observe monks practicing their morning chants. Walk up the Golden Mount at Wat Saket, then board a tuk-tuk to the Grand Palace for a visit of the grounds and a stop at Wat Phra Kaew to see the Emerald Buddha. Afterwards, you will continue to Wat Pho to see the Reclining Buddha. Then, take a private longtail boat ride in the canals of Bangkok Noi to see a quieter side of this bustling city. That evening, take a nighttime tour exploring secret nooks and crannies, night markets, the “Little Lebanon” district, and live jazz.

The next day, take a tour of the cutting edge of Bangkok's art scene. Start at Chatuchack Market, one of Asia’s largest outdoor bazaars, then continue to a tour with a specialist guide at MOCA, Bangkok’s Museum of Contemporary Art, showcasing the best modern Thai artists. Head back to the city center to see the exhibits at BACC (Bangkok Art and Culture Center). 

Stay

137 Pillars Suites Bangkok

Days 4-6: Phuket

Fly from Bangkok to Phuket and check in to your hotel before heading to the Phuket Vegetarian Festival.

The next day, spend the morning at leisure before a private excursion in Phang Nga Bay with the John Gray Sea Canoe company. Explore island caves by kayak with a private guide — dinner will be served on board the larger boat as the sun sets. 

Spend the second full day in Phuket at your leisure.

Stay

Rosewood Phuket

Days 7-9: Chiang Mai

Fly from Phuket to Chiang Mai. That afternoon, accompany your guide on a tour of the Sankampang district of Chiang Mai and the MAIIAM Museum of Contemporary Art. 

The next day, tour Chiang Mai, a city with an entirely different feel than bustling Bangkok. We suggest exploring the city's numerous temples; visit Wat Chedi Luang, the original home of the Emerald Buddha, and stroll some of the charming streets of the Old City. Then, discover the city’s vibrant art scene on the stylish Nimmanhemin Road. Later in the afternoon, visit the mountain temple of Doi Suthep. From the base of the temple, there are 300 steps up an intricately-carved staircase — the longest in Thailand — to the temple gate.

On your last day in town, depart with your guide for Elephant Nature Park, about 40 miles away. The park is the proud home to elephants of all ages. You will hear the personal stories of rescued and orphaned elephants, and see how they became free from abuse for the first time in their lives. You can help feed these magnificent creatures before enjoying your own vegetarian buffet meal. After lunch, visit "Cat Kingdom," where dozens of stray cats and kittens are cared for — then head back to the park to help staff bathe the elephants in the river. Your visit helps support the program’s regional projects and offers an invaluable opportunity to help elephant conservation.

Stay

Villa Mahabhirom

Days 10-11: Siem Reap

Fly from Chiang Mai to Siem Reap, in Cambodia. That afternoon, take a private cooking class where you will learn to make fresh, healthy vegetarian food — Khmer-style. Pick fresh organic herbs from the on-site garden and prepare fresh spring rolls, papaya salad, and the local specialty, amok. Enjoy the fruits of your labor for dinner.

The next day, take a Temples of the Forest tour by bicycle. Begin early at the ancient baths of Srah Srang, and then move on Ta Prohm and the lesser-visited temple of Ta Nei. There is a reasonable chance of having this beautiful Angkor temple to yourself to explore. End the morning at Ta Keo temple, known as the “mountain with bronze peaks,” and admire its five-tiered pyramid structure. Return to Siem Reap for lunch. In the afternoon, head to the Victory Gate of Angkor Thom, where you can cycle along the 8-meter-high laterite city wall. End at Bayon, King Jayavarman VII's state temple at the center of the city, where your guide will take you through the detailed bas reliefs illustrating everyday life in the Angkorian era. In the evening, enjoy an hour-long performance by Phare, The Cambodian Circus.

Stay

Jaya House River Park

Day 12: Lake Tonle Sap and Beng Mealea

Set out this morning with your guide and driver for a boat tour of Lake Tonle Sap, which is dotted with dozens of floating villages. Explore the town of Kompong Khleang, and take the opportunity to meet and interact with local fishing families. After exploring life on the water, enjoy a picnic lunch on board and continue to the mysterious jungle-clad Beng Mealea, often described as the blueprint for Angkor Wat. Built under the control of Suryavarman II, this temple is overgrown with roots and vines, retaining a very atmospheric feel.

Stay

Villa Mahabhirom

Day 13: Angkor Wat

Take an early morning tour for breathtaking views of Angkor Wat temple at sunrise, the best time for photography. Explore the central complex and bas-reliefs of the 12th century temple. Following lunch, see the work carried out by the local animal organization Siem Reap Pagoda Cats. For over four years, founder Josette has been caring for stray cats in Siem Reap,  providing much needed veterinary care and finding adoptive homes.

Stay

Villa Mahabhirom

Day 14: Depart from Siem Reap

Continue on to your next destination.

Advertisement