Thailand: Temples & Beaches

A Luxurious Gay Tour of Bangkok, Chiang Rai, Chiang Mai and Phuket

DESCRIPTION

The Land of Smiles awaits on this exquisite LGBT journey. We begin in Bangkok, wandering the Grand Palace and devouring the street food. In the evenings we'll indulge in the raucous revelry and gay nightlife of Silom. We’ll then explore the famous temples of Northern Thailand, spend time with Chiang Mai’s Asian elephants, and learn about the once-bustling poppy industry at the Hall of Opium. To wrap up our adventure, we hit the island of Phuket, where restaurants and gay nightlife compete with the beaches. Please note: two of our departures coincide with annual holidays, New Year's Eve and Songkran Festival. Our December departure coincides with New Year’s Eve, and includes an extra night of accommodation in Phuket to round it off as a fantastic 11-day gay celebration! Meanwhile, our April departure coincides with Songkran -- Thailand's famous New Year festival -- and is an official Out Adventures 10 Year Anniversary Tour.

QUICK FACTS

Duration: 10 Days/9 Nights
Starts In: Bangkok
Ends In: Phuket
Group Size: Min 4, Max 16
Deposit: $750 USD
Accommodation: 4-5 Star Hotels
Physical Rating: 2/5
Prices: Based on double occupancy

DEPARTURES & PRICES:

Nov. 15, 2019 to Nov. 24, 2019 - 4195.00 USD
Dec. 23, 2019 to Jan. 2, 2020 - 4695.00 USD
Feb. 14, 2020 to Feb. 23, 2020 - 4095.00 USD
April 6, 2020 to April 15, 2020 - 4095.00 USD

HIGHLIGHTS

• Delve into the cuisine of Bangkok on a Private Food Tour
• Explore the Grand Palace, home to the King of Siam
• Immerse yourself in the famed nightlife of Silom
• Cook your own three-course meal in Chiang Mai
• Shop for the perfect souvenir at the Chiang Mai Night Bazaar
• Learn about, and spend time with, the majestic Asian Elephant
• Witness sunset from Doi Suthep Temple
• Lounge poolside at luxurious, hand-selected lodges and hotels
• Visit the Doi Tung Royal Villa in Chiang Rai
• Explore the Golden Triangle, where Thailand, Laos and Myanmar meet
• Live it up on Phuket, Thailand’s famous beach island
• Get an extra night in Phuket on our December 23rd departure to recover from NYE shenanigans
• Celebrate Thai New Year in April by bearing witness to the most fun water fight in the world

Sawadee Krap! Welcome to Thailand. Our trip begins with a Welcome Meeting at 4pm in the hotel. After introductions, we'll take a short ride via BTS Skytrain to a streetfood tour to fuel the many adventures ahead. We then head for Silom – the financial district that let its hair down after sunset – to scope out the gay scene.

Bangkok is even more breathtaking from the river, our unusual avenue to the gleaming spires of the Grand Palace by local river boat. Here, the Emerald Buddha awaits, highly regarded as the Palladium of the Kingdom of Thailand. We’ll then venture to Wat Pho to marvel at the majesty of the Reclining Buddha, and feast on a local lunch before some free time by the infinity pool.

This morning we fly to the chilled-out town of Chiang Rai, where we’ll visit Doi Tung Royal Villa, once home to the Princess Grandmother Srinagarindra, affectionately known by the hill tribe people as “Royal Mother from the Sky”. Here we’ll take in the royal gardens, and sweeping views – before continuing to Choui Fong Tea plantation for more views, and, you guessed it – tea. We’ll then visit Wat Rong Suea Ten, also known as the Blue Temple, before checking in to our lovely hotel for some free time. This evening we’ll enjoy an included dinner at, or near our hotel.

After breakfast we’ll drive to the Golden Triangle, where Thailand, Laos and Myanmar meet on the Mekong River. We’ll explore this epic waterway by boat tour, then head to the Opium Museum to glean some highlights about how this region was once the hub of the poppy-growing industry. We’ll enjoy an optional lunch before we visit Wat Phra That Pha Ngao temple for some sweeping views of the countryside, then end our day with an an optional dinner and a relaxing evening.

Today begins with a 3-hour drive to Chiang Mai, Thailand’s lively northern capital. We’ll stop at the White Temple (Wat Rong Khun) on our way, an essential site on any visit to the Golden Triangle. Upon arrival we’ll enjoy an orientation walk, then leave you the afternoon to explore on your own. Then things get cooking with a culinary lesson that turns into a dinner to savour over sunset. Enjoy the rest of the evening in solace, or join us out for drinks.

Another day forward, and we’ve stepped back in time: get a taste of the Lanna Period at Doi Suthep temple, replete with chanting monks. After exploring the temple, we'll enjoy an included lunch. In the evening we’ll stroll the Chiang Mai Night Bazaar for some friendly haggling and souvenir-hunting. To conclude a busy day we'll take in a sultry sunset from the mountain where copper-plated stupas populate the sweeping views.

Prepare for the biggest day of our adventure, which will be spent at a sanctuary for Asian elephants that have been rescued from unfortunate circumstances such as circuses or logging businesses. We’ll learn about their health, then join them on a walk through the jungle and even play with and bathe them. Lunch will be included. This evening you may relax or stroll around the hotel with fellow travellers.

The famous beach island of Phuket is our final stop on this tour, and a perfect place to celebrate the end of our holiday. We’ll transfer to our resort-style hotel, then head out for an optional lunch before we visit the gay beach. Beware there is nothing serene or secluded about Phuket: this global destination features tons of restaurants, nightlife galore, and beaches teeming with people. This evening we’ll enjoy an optional dinner, and if you’re up for it, the island’s epic nightlife! NOTE: If you're joining our April departure, today marks the beginning of Songkran -- Thailand's New Year festival. Be prepared to make a splash (or get splashed) at this festival as Thai people celebrate with a national water fight. This evening we hit the streets armed with water balloons and water guns to fully embrace the festival. We'll head to the Paradise Complex where the majority of the festivities are taking place.

Escape the hustle and bustle of Patong Beach on our final excursion. We’ll transfer to the other side of the island to explore the caves of Phang Nga Bay by sea kayak. No experience is necessary, as you’ll be captained by an expert local. We’ll explore hidden bays and caves and even make our own krathong (buoyant, all-natural decorated baskets). Launched after sunset, they may even stir up the bioluminescent plankton, causing the water to glow gorgeously. After heading back to land, we’ll freshen up for Farewell Drinks. (Please note: if you're interested in our December tour, today is NYE. You'll have the entire day to yourself and we'll reconvene for a gala dinner and celebration in the evening. Days 10 & 11 of the December tour will reflect Days 9 & 10 of this itinerary.)

There are no activities planned today, so you are free to depart at your leisure. Your local guide will help arrange your included departure transfer to the airport.

• Domestic Airfare
• Arrival & departure transfers to/from Out Adventures’ joining/finishing point hotel
• Group leader from beginning to end of tour
• 9 breakfasts, 3 lunches, 3 dinners 
• 4-star or higher accommodation (9 nights) 
• Grand Palace & Wat Pho tour, including Queen Sirkit Textile Museum (Bangkok)  
• Local food tour (Bangkok)
• Temple Visits (Chiang Rai)
• Golden Triangle Local Boat Ride (Chiang Rai)

• Opium Museum (Chiang Rai)
• Wat Rong Khun/White Temple (Chiang Rai)
• Elephant experience (Chiang Mai)
• Doi Suthep Monastery (Chiang Mai) 
• Thai cooking class & dinner (Chiang Mai) 
• Temple Tour by Songthaew (Chiang Mai) 
• Sea Canoe Full-Day Excursion (Phuket)

• International Airfare
• Meals and activities not outlined in itinerary
• Travel insurance is mandatory for all travellers. Visit www.outadventures.com/insurance for more details.

• Gratuities for Tour Leader ($50-$100 USD)
• Gratuities for drivers, hotel staff, porters (approximately $30-$50 USD)

OUT Adventures is all about good times with likeminded guys. Whatever's on the itinerary - from fireside camping to five-star decadence - our goal is to make the experience magical. We're also committed to supporting the communities we visit by hiring local guides, staying at locally-owned accommodations when possible, and celebrating local cuisine. It all adds up to a great way to immerse yourself in the culture.

VISAS: A visa is not typically required for American, Australian, British and Canadian citizens travelling to Thailand for fewer than 30 days. There may be exceptions, and all visas are the responsibility of the traveller.

CULTURE SHOCK: Tourism in Thailand is well-developed enough to afford many of the luxuries of home, however in our experience the culture and craziness of Thailand can be a tad overwhelming at times. We recommend you relax, have a sense of humour and take it easy.

LOCAL LGBT SCENE: Most major cities in Thailand, such as Bangkok and Chiang Mai, have vibrant gay scenes with exciting nightlife and welcoming locals. While it is not yet viewed as socially acceptable for LGBT locals, tourists are welcomed with open arms.

WEATHER: Expect it to be hot and sticky at times. It can be pleasantly chilly in the evenings, and there is a chance of showers (although they are not common during our tours). We recommend travelling with a light sweater and jacket, but don't leave your summer clothes at home: mid-day temperatures can climb well above 30°C/85°F.

REQUIRED VACCINATIONS: Based on the entry requirements for Thailand, there are no vaccinations needed for entry. To determine if you should take preventative measures to reduce the risk of illness, you should consult your doctor or a travel medical clinic, as OUT Adventures cannot provide vaccination recommendations.

ELECTRICITY: You will need an international travel plug/adapter for type A/B/C sockets. Visit http://www.power-plugs-sockets.com/thailand/ for more information.

CONNECTIVITY: All our hotels will have Wi-Fi access, so feel free to tweet, pin, post and share your experience with your friends and family at home. They might be a tad jealous!

For everybody's peace of mind, medical travel insurance is required on all Out Adventures tours. At a minimum, your travel insurance must provide cover against personal accident, death, medical expenses, emergency repatriation and personal liability, with a minimum medical coverage of US $50,000.

For more details, visit www.outadventures.com/insurance.

All OUT Adventures are led by a gay (or gay-welcoming) guide. Whenever possible, we hire destination locals. And we can also connect you with the right people if you'd like to delve deeper into the local culture. If you're pleased with your guide, we recommend a tip of US $50-$100 per person... they'll certainly appreciate it!

OUT adventures are a great way to meet people from around the world and all walks of life. Bear in mind that everybody's there for a good time, so mutual respect will go a long way. Please be on time for any meet ups, empathetic to the needs of others, and ready to roll with whatever the adventure brings.

Although we can't tell you who your fellow travellers will be for privacy reasons, we can tell you many great friendships began with an OUT Adventure. And just because we're a gay tour operator doesn't mean we're exclusive: friends and family are always welcome to join the fun.

If you've never travelled on your own, it's an amazing way to get to know yourself while making new friends along the way. We can arrange for you to share a room with people in your age range at no charge, or you can pay a supplement for your own room. And if there's an odd number of solos, we'll rotate a single room on a random basis.

The itinerary is correct at time of publishing. If anything, it will only get better based on feedback from prior travellers and our own research. It's best to reference your final trip documents rather than our website in case there have been any changes that affect your departure.

Every OUT Adventure offers optional excursions that are not included in price of this trip. Please see your daily itinerary in your final pre-trip packet to see what's available.

To keep things flexible, not all meals are included in the trip price. Although we typically dine together so that everybody can get a taste of everything, feel free to explore on your own...your guide will always have some restaurant recommendations.

Sofitel So Bangkok
2 North Sathorn Road, Bangrak, Bangkok
Phone: +66 (2) 624-0000

Standard check-in time is between 2PM and 3PM. We are unable to arrange early check ins, however you are able to store your luggage and explore the central area near the hotel while you wait. If you would like a guaranteed early check-in, you will need to reserve a pre-tour night of accommodation.

If you are checking in to the hotel under your OUT Adventures reservation, a complimentary arrival transfer will be included.

Novotel Vintage Park
89 Rat U Thit, 200 Pee Rd, Pa Tong, Kathu District, Phuket 

If you are happy with services throughout your trip, a tip is recommended. Tipping details will be provided in your final trip documentation, however we recommend budgeting approximately $150 USD.

The local currency is Thai Baht. We usually recommend carrying local currency for small purchases, however credit cards are accepted at most upscale restaurants, and at hotels. We recommend carrying approximately $400 USD to be used only in the case of an emergency, or if your credit/ATM cards are placed on hold.

Most Out Adventures entail carrying your own luggage on occasion. And while you'll never schlep far, things can quickly get costlier than a celebrity breakup if you don't keep your baggage under 20kg/44lb thanks to costly surcharges on domestic flights. You should also bring something smaller for day trips to carry water, your camera, and any souvenirs you find along the way.

The following packing list is a guideline, not gospel. Our Out Adventure Specialists are happy to answer any specific questions about how much or little to bring.

Travel Documents:

  • Passport/Visas/Flight Itineraries/Travel Insurance
  • Pre-trip packet
  • Credit/ATM card

General Personal Items:

  • Eye mask/ear plugs
  • Smartphone/camera/tablet/charging cords/International travel plug.
  • Daypack
  • Luggage lock
  • Personal Wipes
  • Guidebook/Phrase book/Reading material
  • Protection for your devices from water
  • Travel-size towel

Shoes:

  • Socks
  • Walking shoes
  • Sandals
  • 'Nice' shoes for dinners

Bottoms:

  • Underwear
  • Pants/Jeans
  • Shorts
  • Swimwear
  • 'Nice' pants for dinners

Tops:

  • Short-sleeved shirts
  • Long-sleeved shirts
  • Sweaters
  • 'Nice' shirts for dinners

Jackets:

  • Fleece sweater/jacket
  • Waterproof jacket/poncho

Other:

  • Warm hat and gloves
  • Sunglasses/Hat
  • Small Umbrella
  • Refillable water bottle(s)

Health-related Items:

  • Small First aid kit including ibuprofen, acetaminophen, zinc oxide tape and small scissors, blister pads, diarrhea tablets, dioralyte rehydration packs
  • Personal Medication
  • High protection sunscreen/lip balm + sun barrier cream for nose/ears
  • Insect repellent/bite cream/antihistamine
  • Antibacterial gel/wipes
  • Toiletries including toothbrush, toothpaste & deodorant

We love when groups of friends join us on an OUT Adventure, whether you're celebrating a major milestone, or you just love to travel together. However, since we have travellers that will be flying solo, or as a couple, we would love your help ensuring everybody feels welcome and has an epic time. Here are some ways you can give us a hand, while also getting to know and befriending your fellow travellers:

  • Sit with (and get to know) different people at different meals
  • Mix up walking partners on excursions
  • Invite solo travellers to join you for an optional excursion or meal
  • Enjoy inside jokes in privacy, or let the group in on the secret ;)

If you'd rather relish an exclusive escape with just your own party, we also offer private departures. This is a great way to create and manage your own holiday guest list, while possibly saving money as well. Please contact one of our Adventure Specialists if you're interested in a customized quote.

All Out Adventures guests must have a good level of health. All tours, regardless of activity level, involve uneven steps, stairs, walking tours, and you will be required to carry your own luggage from time to time. Unfortunately, we are not able to accommodate individuals with limited mobility unless they are willing to absorb the cost of a private guide/assistant which varies by country and is only possible on a case by case basis. It is also your responsibility to advise Out Adventures of any pre-existing medical conditions that may increase the risk of you requiring medical attention, or that may affect the normal conduct of the tour and the enjoyment of the tour by other participants.

Below is a breakdown of our Physical Rating guide.

1 - Relaxing

  • Very little or no hiking
  • Light activities such as walking, bike tours, paddling or swimming are completely optional
  • Low altitude
  • Suitable for all fitness levels

2 - Light

  • Light walking and hiking (2 hours or less per day and at low altitude)
  • Light activities such as bike tours, paddling or swimming are completely optional
  • Suitable for most fitness levels

3 - Average

  • Light walking and hiking (3 hours or less per day, rarely at high altitude)
  • Some activities such as biking, paddling or swimming. Active days are mixed with relaxed days
  • Suitable for an average fitness level

4 - Demanding

  • Walking, hiking is a component of the tour (can range from 2 hours to 6 hours per day, at various altitudes)
  • Activities such as biking, paddling or swimming may be mixed in
  • Suitable for a good fitness level

5 - Challenging

  • Walking, hiking, biking, paddling or kayaking are the vast majority of the trip (can range from 2 hours to 8 hours per day, generally at high altitude)
  • Activities will likely happen day after day with limited rest days
  • Suitable for above average fitness level