Bangkok is the starting point for many Thai tours. (Photo: bangkok image by Adrian Hillman from Fotolia.com )
Escorted trips to Thailand range from nature tours (think tracking elephants and river rafting) to big-city exploration (visiting famous canals and temples of Bangkok). You can also get acquainted with local residents - tours often feature stops at educational institutions where you talk with teachers and students. Many guided trips combine Thailand with neighboring countries including Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam.
Wild Planet Adventures
Wild Planet Adventures offers a 15-day trip that gets you off the beaten path in Thailand and a little bit of Laos. Experienced naturalist guides take you snorkeling on Ko Talu Island, tracking wild elephants in Kaeng Krachan National Parkand, and rafting in Chiang Mai. Other stops include a night bazaar, a Thai spa, a cloud forest and an indigenous village. A highlight in Laos is paying a visit to the Bokeo Nature Preserve where you zip-line through the trees. As for big cities, you'll sightsee in Bangkok, with visits to the Grand Palace, Temple of the Emerald Buddha and the renowned floating market. Wild Planet Adventures 1001 Bridgeway #455 Sausalito, CA 94965 800-990-4376 wildplanetadventures.com
Most of Explorica's trip participants are students and teachers, but the company is also happy to conduct tours for adults. It offers a guided tour to Thailand, starting with activities in Bangkok. You visit major sights such as Wat Po and Wat Arun (Temple of Dawn), and you take a cruise on the Chao Phraya River. The trip proceeds to the Kanchanaburi area, where you visit a war cemetery and the River Kwai bridge. At the Mae Sa Elephant Camp, you take in an elephant show and enjoy a river trip on a bamboo raft. Highlights in Chiang Mai include a tribal museum and the Wat Suan Dok and Wat Phra Singh temples. Explorica 145 Tremont St. Boston, MA 02111 888-310-7120 explorica.com
Most Exploritas tours are designed for travelers age 50 and up, but you'll also find intergenerational trips for grandparents, parents and older children. One family trip is called Treasures Along the Mekong; it ventures into Thailand, Laos and Cambodia. Activities include bathing and feeding elephants at a sanctuary, working on community projects at local schools and learning about cultural phenomena such as the Ramayana, an ancient religious tale of good and evil. Another trip - this one for adults - also goes down the Mekong River; its highlights include rural villages in Laos, canals in Thailand, Cambodian temples and a hill tribe museum. Trip participants also meet with university students to discuss life and current issues in Vietnam. Exploritas 11 Avenue de Lafayette Boston, MA 02111 800-454-5768 exploritas.org