Historical Thailand

Immerse yourself in the rich cultures of Thailand and the Kingdom of Siam on our Historical Thailand holiday, which will carry you through the canals of Bangkok to the temples of Sukhothai, the royal palaces of Ayutthaya, and over a rather famous bridge, which spans the River Khwae.

At a glance
  • Explore Bangkok’s canals on a traditional longtail boat
  • See the ornate barges used by Thailand’s kings
  • Witness the rituals of Wat Pho’s monks
  • Learn to cook Thai cuisine with Auntie Naa
  • Uncover Thailand’s ancient roots at Sukhothai
  • Meet the descendants of the Lanna Kingdom
  • Visit the Summer Palace of the Thai royal family
  • Catch a train over the River Khwae
  • Spend a day with rescued elephants
Price & Hotels

Bangkok - 3 nights

Thailand's capital since 1782, this modern metropolis bubbles with energy, and endlessly reinvents itself; but underpinning the evolution is a deep cultural heritage, which will be the focus of your stay here. Bangkok was once known as 'Venice of the East' due to its complex network of canals, and you’ll explore these aboard a traditional longtail boat, stopping off to visit key historical sites and discover hidden parts of Bangkok which few visitors get to see. You'll also witness early morning rituals at one of the oldest temples in Bangkok, and be escorted around various buildings within the Grand Palace. You arrival day will be at leisure.

Day 1 - Arrive Bangkok

On arrival in Thailand, you'll be met by your private guide, who will accompany you to your hotel.

Welcome to Selective Asia! This level of personal service (such as private transfers, private tours etc) is what you can expect throughout your trip. A few services (eg boat cruises) will be shared, but we'll always make sure you're aware of these.

Day 2 - Chao Phraya River & klongs by longtail boat


Board your long-tail boat at the bank of the Chao Phraya River for a cruise along Bangkok’s ‘River of Kings’. This is a crucial lifeline for the city, and there’s no better way to discover the true heart of Bangkok, and learn more about its local ways of life away from the busy city centre, than aboard a traditional boat. Enter the labyrinth of ‘klongs’ (small canals), where you may notice a slower pace of life as you pass by old teak houses, countless temples, vendors selling vegetables from wooden boats, and children splashing around at the canal edge. Disembark for a spell at the Royal Barge Museum, which houses some of the ornately carved royal barges used by Thailand's Kings on state occasions, and learn about the craftmanship required to build them. Your final stop will be the majestic Wat Arun, the ‘Temple of the Dawn’, which is one of Bangkok’s best-known landmarks with its a distinctive 70-metre tall central ‘prang’, encrusted with coloured glass and porcelain. Having had a good look around, return to your hotel.

Day 3 - Wat Pho Chanting & Grand Palace


Start the day by visiting Wat Pho to witness the monks' morning chanting ritual, which starts at 9am. One of the oldest temples in Bangkok, Wat Pho is renowned for its enormous 45 metre reclining Buddha, along with being home to one of the oldest traditional Thai massage schools in the country. Continue to the nearby Grand Palace, the most important royal landmark in Thailand, where you can see some of the buildings used for different occasions, including the Funeral Palace, Reception Palace, Throne Hall, Coronation Hall, Royal Guest House, and the Emerald Buddha, the most revered Buddha image in Thailand. The rest of your day will be at leisure.

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Sukhothai & Ayutthaya - 4 nights

Sukhothai - ‘Dawn of Happiness’ - was founded in the 13th century as the first truly independent Thai Kingdom, and its craftsmen developed the graceful aesthetic now most closely associated with Thailand. Thanks to its wonderful temples and monuments, the city has in recent years been restored to its former glory, and is now the UNESCO protected Sukhothai Historical Park. Ayutthaya, another of Thailand’s UNESCO World Heritage Sites, was described by 17th century traders and diplomats as the most illustrious and glittering city they had ever visited. Despite being sacked by the Burmese in 1767, it still retains vast beauty in its mix of Khmer and early Sukhothai architecture, and you’ll find some spectacular temples and ruins within its ancient city walls. Your time in both places will be spent exploring the historical sites, and meet the descendants of the ancient Lanna Kingdom, who still live in the region.

Day 4 - Train to Sukhothai, explore by bike


Rise early for the train journey north towards Sukhothai, spending a few hours relaxing and watching the countryside roll by before you disembark at Phitsanulok to meet your guide, who'll take you to see the famous golden Buddha sculpture at Wat Mahathat before driving on to Sukhothai itself. In the late afternoon, take a leisurely cycle ride through the Historical Park, pausing to explore the ancient ruins, some of which have been meticulously restored to their former glory.

Day 5 - Na Thon Chan Community project, Si Satchanalai Historical Park


Pay a visit to the Ban Na Thon Chan Community project, a small rural village which is home to descendants of the ancient Lanna Kingdom, who are preserving their culture and heritage, and inviting visitors to experience their way of life. Local resources are utilized to sustain the community and create extra income. Most villagers make a living from agriculture, the local men make furniture for export, and housewives make the village’s unique hand-woven mud-fermented fabric. With your guide to interpret, you will have the opportunity to chat with the villagers, along with enjoying a delicious lunch hosted by one of the families. In the afternoon, visit Si Satchanalai Historical Park, just north of Sukhothai on the Yom River banks. Home to the Crown Princes during the 13th and 14th centuries, Si Satchanalai - ‘City of Good People’ - is now a complex of ancient temples and crumbled palace buildings.

Day 6 - Home cooking with Auntie Naa


Take a day off temple exploration and spend the morning learning to cook Thai food under the watchful eye of Sukhothai-born Auntie Naa, a talented chef who adds her own twists to traditional Sukhothai recipes that have been passed down for generations. After a market visit continue on to Auntie Naa’s house where you will learn how to make three dishes: an appetizer, a main dish and a dessert. It’s a fun, hands on morning and you'll be sampling your own creations for lunch! Your afternoon is at leisure.

Day 7 - Drive to Ayutthaya, tuk-tuk tour


Depart for Ayutthaya, located at the junction of the Chao Phraya, Lopburi and Pa Sak Rivers, and on the main north-south railway linking Chiang Mai with Bangkok. Its old city is on an island formed by a bend of the Chao Phraya, and served as the Thai capital for 417 years. When you reach the city, hop onto a distinctive 'Kermit' tuk-tuk (you'll see why!), one of Thailand's most iconic modes of transport and a great way to tour the city and its nearby ruins. Pause in the Muslim quarter to sample a candy floss roti - one of Ayutthaya's lesser known highlights! The remainder of your day will be at leisure.

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Kanchanaburi - 2 nights

Situated alongside the Mae Klong River (part of which is now known as the River Khwae) the town of Kanchanaburi is surrounded by sugarcane fields and dramatic mountains. Its best-known landmarks - both of which you will see during your visit - are the railway bridge and ‘Hellfire Pass’, built by allied POWs during World War II. Besides these historical sites, the area is home to pristine national parks, meandering rivers and spectacular waterfalls.

Day 8 - Bang Pa-In, drive to Kanchanaburi, River Kwai Bridge


After breakfast, take a leisurely long-tailed boat ride to the 17th century Summer Palace and majestic royal mansions at Bang Pa-In. Before setting off for Kanchanaburi, stop off at Wat Niwet Thammaprawat to admire its remarkable Gothic-style architecture and stained glass windows.

On arrival in Kanchanaburi, visit the bridge over the Khwae Yai (part of the Mae Klong River), which was built by Allied POWs under Japanese direction during World War II. Then continue to Pak Praek Street – an area rich in WWII history. The street is lined with preserved wooden houses, some of which have been refashioned into shops. You’ll make stops at the House of Boonpong and Chuan Panich Shop, both of which hold historical significance and are akin to mini museums. In these two houses, you will have the opportunity to meet and talk with the owners, whose descendants survived the war.

Day 9 - POW Cemetery & Hellfire Pass


In the morning visit the POW Memorial Cemetery and spend time in the Railway Museum, before boarding a train for the short journey through Kwai Noi Gorge, with its breathtaking views of the river, and on to Nam Tok Station. This afternoon you'll visit Hellfire Pass, a railway cutting on what became infamous as ‘Death Railway’. The pass was constructed by World War II POWs from Australia, Britain, the Netherlands and other nations, along with paid Indian workers who came voluntarily. All of them worked in particularly hazardous conditions, and this section of the railway ultimately claimed a very high number of lives. Walk through a section of the pass and spend time at the particularly good onsite museum, before heading back to Kanchanaburi.

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Bangkok - 1 night

As the grand finale to your holiday, spend an inspiring day at the Elephant World Sanctuary. Founded by local vet Dr Prasitphol, the project cares for sick, old, and abused elephants, often rescued from illegal loggers or from beggars on city streets. The sanctuary exists to provide rest and care for the elephants, fulfilling the motto of 'we humans work for the elephants, not the elephants for us'. For obvious reasons, the centre does not allow guests to ride the elephants; the experience is far more fulfilling than the standard one-hour ride on an unhappy elephant, which is still sold across Thailand. Throughout the day you will be involved in tasks ranging from gathering and preparing the elephants' food, feeding and bathing the animals, spending time with the mahouts who work at the centre, and learning about the skills and commitment required to care for elephants. At around 3pm, you will help the mahouts guide the elephants back into the forest where they spend the night resting, and foraging for yet more food! Having put the elephants to bed, meet your guide for the journey into Bangkok, where the rest of your stay will be at leisure.

Day 10 - Elephant World Sanctuary, return to Bangkok


Spend a day at the Elephant World Sanctuary learning about the inspirational work that takes place here, assisting with elephant food preparation and getting up close to the resident elephants. Late afternoon drive back to Bangkok.

Day 11 - Depart Bangkok


Transfer to the airport for your onward flight.

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We only provide privately guided holidays - meaning that you will not be expected to share guides or transport for the duration of your visit. You can also start on any day you choose.

Please click on the hotel category buttons below to view hotel details. These are recommended properties only - we have many alternative options for you to choose from if you would prefer. You can mix hotel categories throughout your holiday.

Hotel class Price per person (based on total # travelling)
2 persons 3-4 5-6
First Class £1,958US$2,337 £1,581US$1,887 £1,274US$1,521

U Sukhumvit Bangkok

The U Sukhumvit Bangkok enjoys a prime location in the heart of Sukhumvit, with shopping, restaurants and nightlife on the doorstep. The 82 rooms and suites are contemporary in style and spacious.   

Legendha Sukhothai

With rooms designed to resemble ancient Thai houses and a charming village-style ambience, the Legendha Sukhothai is in perfect harmony with its location, minutes from the Sukhothai Historical Park... See more

Iudia on the River

As you arrive at the Iudia the first thing you notice is just how close you are to the Ayutthaya World Heritage Park - you are literally facing it. Perhaps ideal for visitors wishing to enjoy the early morning light at the park, the Iudia is also...

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Royal River Kwai

Situated in expansive tropical gardens on the bank of the famous Thai river, the Royal River Kwai is very nicely presented, and convenient for exploring the region’s infamous railway... See more
Superior £2,280US$2,721 £1,903US$2,271 £1,596US$1,905

Riva Surya

The intimate surroundings of the Riva Surya will suit those looking to get away from the more intense parts of Bangkok... See more

Sriwilai Sukhothai Resort & Spa

Surrounded by the raw beauty of rural Thailand, the serene Sriwilai Resort & Spa sits peacefully within a landscape dotted with ancient temples... See more

Sala Ayutthaya

With a philosophy of “intimate and indulgent”, you instantly know what to expect from your stay at Sala Ayutthaya... See more

U Inchantree Kanchanaburi

With picturesque views of the historic bridge from the garden, U Inchantree Kanchanaburi makes the most of it’s evocative location on the banks of the River Kwai… See more
Deluxe £2,516US$3,003 £2,139US$2,553 £1,833US$2,187

COMO Metropolitan Bangkok

Amongst Bangkok's most sought-after properties, COMO Metropolitan Bangkok is the ideal hotel for clients wishing to experience the hip and ultra-modern side of the city... See more

Sriwilai Sukhothai Resort & Spa

Surrounded by the raw beauty of rural Thailand, the serene Sriwilai Resort & Spa sits peacefully within a landscape dotted with ancient temples... See more

Sala Ayutthaya

With a philosophy of “intimate and indulgent”, you instantly know what to expect from your stay at Sala Ayutthaya... See more

X2 River Kwai Resort

If cutting-edge architecture isn’t your thing then look away now! The X2 River Kwai Resort is a totally unique, innovatively designed, boutique hotel... See more

Solo travellers are always welcome - please contact us for a tailored quote.

These prices are shown in GBPUSD.
Selective Asia is a UK-registered company, but our client-base spans the globe, so we bank in both GBP and USD and can therefore provide a fixed price in either currency.
We also have payment facilities in Canada, New Zealand, Australia and the EU, and can typically offer better-than-bank exchange rates on the date of payment in these currencies (against a booking priced in GBP).

Itinerary additions

  • Thailand is known around the world for its white sands, with a startlingly large choice of stunning beaches and luxurious resorts scattered across the southern section of the mainland and outlying islands. While this holiday includes a specific beach destination, you are by no means restricted to this and we are always happy to help you discover your perfect stretch of paradise.
  • There are any number of half and full day activities that we can incorporate into your stay in Bangkok. Options range from: cycling through the green heart of the city (away from the traffic and skyscrapers!); visiting the various city centre temples, either by boat or on foot; witnessing the monks’ early morning chants at Wat Po; massage schools; cooking classes; tours of China Town - the list goes on and on.
  • Extend your river cruise by choosing two nights living on board the Thanatharee, a traditional teak rice barge. Start your journey by heading up the Chao Phraya River, away from the hustle of Bangkok, and into regions rarely visited by tourists, en route to Ayutthaya, the ancient capital of Siam. Sailing onto the ancient Maenam Noi kilns, you will witness first hand the traditional way of life of Thailand’s rural communities. You'll disembark to tour - by foot and bike - the Thai countryside, small out-of-the-way villages, schools and local markets. Back on board, you can also participate in Thai cooking classes using ingredients bought during your visits to the village markets.
At Selective Asia we specialise in creating unique, tailor-made experiences. The holiday itineraries provided on this website are intended to help you visualise what is achievable in your destinations of choice, over a given period of time and at an intended budget.
Whilst many clients are happy with of our recommended itineraries in the current form (and at the price quoted), there are those that wish to personalise their holiday in some way, whether it be a change of hotel, an additional destination or even start from scratch. This is when our tailor-made specialists come into their own; with many years of experience both living and working in the region they are ideally equipped to advise on alternatives and to facilitate any necessary changes.

The important stuff

Please note: During high season periods (such as Christmas and New Year) hotels often levy a surcharge and these are not included in the above prices. Your consultant will be happy to advise you of these.


  • English speaking, local guide
  • All accommodation listed
  • Land transportation by private air-conditioned vehicles
  • All admission fees at attractions, temples and activities as mentioned in the itinerary
  • All meals listed
  • International flight reconfirmation.


  • Flights to/from Asia. We are an ATOL bonded operator and can arrange flights for all our clients, regardless of whether you are departing from the UK or from almost any other worldwide destination.
  • Entry visas
  • Any meals not listed in the itinerary
  • Drinks, other than water on activity days
  • Personal expenses (laundry, telephone, drinks, tip...)
  • Travel insurance
  • All other services not listed in 'inclusive'

Please note

All prices are correct at the time of publishing. They are liable to change and can only be confirmed upon submitting an enquiry.




We will arrange all internal flights used within our holiday itineraries. We can also arrange discounted flights from all UK airports to Asia and we are a fully bonded ATOL operator. If you would like a quote for your international flights then please complete the required section on the enquiry form.


You may require a visa to enter Thailand. Your consultant will be happy to advise you on visa requirements.


Please ensure that you have a valid passport with at least 6 months validity remaining after your return date. You will also need at least one blank page for each of the countries you are visiting.


You will require a comprehensive travel insurance that covers you for medical costs associated with hospitalisation, emergency travel and repatriation back to your home country. We offer our customers a specially discounted insurance policy, ideally suited to the needs that a trip such as this creates. Tick the insurance box in the enquiry form and we will send you a quote to suit your needs.

Vaccinations and Malaria Prevention

You will undoubtedly require vaccinations for your visit to Asia. Please consult your doctor or a vaccination clinic for the most up-to-date advice. They will also be able to advise you of the most suitable anti-malarial medication if required. It is important that you do this well in advance of your departure date.

Booking Procedure

Only once you are completely happy with any holiday itinerary we create for you will we ask for a payment. In order that we can secure availability for your booking we would typically require a deposit of 20%.

Travelling Responsibly

We care about the places and the communities that you will travel through. It is important to us that we travel as responsibly as possible throughout Asia and that we are giving something back to the regions and the people that make these journeys so special. Full details on our approach to responsible travel can be found on a dedicated section of this website.

Make it yours!

Call us on 01273 670 001

Get in touch

Anna – Thailand tailor-made specialist

'For many, the first thing that attracted them to Thailand was the stories of empty sands and incredible temples. The sand perhaps isn't quite as undeveloped these days but the cultural highlights shine every bit as bright.'

AnnaThailand tailor-made specialist

Speak to Anna on 01273 670 001

Make it yours!

Call us on 01273 670 001

Get in touch

Our tailor-made service costs you no extra

This itinerary is designed to work straight off the peg, but we'll happily tailor it until it's a perfect fit for you, to ensure we’re making the absolute best of your time and funds. All you need to do is ask...

Your own private guides & drivers

You'll typically have your own private guides & drivers throughout your trip. When you will be sharing a service (eg a boat cruise) with others, we'll always let you know.

Book With Confidence

For peace of mind when booking your future holiday to Asia, we have introduced flexible booking conditions & full financial clarity.