Cambodia and Thailand (The Land of Smiles)
with Shakta Kaur

Spring 2018

Join Shakta Kaur for a once-in-a-lifetime tour across Thailand, the 'land of smiles!' and Cambodia. Charming smiles are so contagious that you will feel cozy and contented just by being in this beautiful country. The Thais are renowned for their friendliness and hospitality to strangers. And, their delicious national cuisine needs no introduction. Thailand is a country which has never been subservient to any foreign power. As a result, the Thai people are proud, yet humble. Also the world's greatest temples at Ankor Wat in Cambodia.

Buddhism has been practiced throughout Thailand's most recent history. All her kings and queens were practicing Buddhists. That is why the country is dotted with some of the most stunning statutes of Lord Buddha you will ever see! Whether made from simple materials or semi-precious stones and metals, the Buddha's images never fail to impress. We will also reflect on modern history and the futility of war as we visit the River Kwai where the infamous Death Railway was built connecting Thailand to what was once Burma.

Highlights of the tour include:

  • Kundalini Yoga and Meditation classes with Shakta Kaur
  • Sunset at the breahtaking Ankor Wat temple complex in Cambodia
  • Visits to Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai in Thailand
  • Optional 3-days in Bangkok, Thailand

Shakta leads this tour across Thailand, from Bangkok to its northern tip, and Cambodia. She looks forward to sharing Kundalini Yoga and Meditation with you as well as experiencing the charm of the Thai people in their own country. Your smile will join with hers in the 'land of smiles!'.

Shakta Kaur is your tour leader

 

Day 1: Depart the USA
Depart the USA this afternoon. Overnight: On board your aircraft.

Day 2: ARRIVE BANGKOK
Arrive Bangkok Suvarnabhumi Airport. Spiritual Journeys representative will meet you as you exit customs and immigration, and transfer you to your hotel. Overnight: Bangkok. Meal included: None.


Day 3: BANGKOK to CHIANG MAI
After breakfast, transfer from hotel to airport for your flight to Chiang Mai (0930/1040). Arrive Chiang Mai, and our representative will help transfer you to your hotel.

In the afternoon visit Handicraft Factories. Chiang Mai has long been known as Thailand's City of Handicrafts, and in the Sankamphaeng district of Chiang Mai is the heart of the handicraft industry. Many of Thailand's major producers are located here and you will find all of the traditional crafts of the old days and the new in the shops along the Chiang Mai - Sankampaeng Road. Lacquer-ware: This ancient art form of decorating wooden objects with many layers of black lacquer provides a combination of beauty and practicality. Silk and textiles: Thailand is famous worldwide for its fine, pure silk and Chiang Mai produces some of the finest. You can select readymade products or have an arrangement for your own tailoring. Hand-woven and ethnic textile designs for the collector are also offered. Woodcarving: Another feature that you don't want to miss is the woodcarving industry. The skilled craftsmen are professional experts in carving fine teakwood in reliefs, statuary, and furniture. A wide range of handcrafted souvenirs is also available. Umbrella making: Bor sang has been the traditional center of Chiang Mai's famous umbrella and fan making. Here the hand-painted wares are made of delicate "Sa" paper and are available in many designs and colors. Silverware and Gems: Silver smithing in Chiang Mai began centuries ago along Wualai Road, an area still known as the Silver village. Traditional items such as trays, bowls and boxes are on sale, precious stones and high quality jewelry can be bought at Gems Gallery.

In the evening Kantoke Dinner. The Old Chiang Mai Cultural Center was set up over 25 years ago to preserve and promote the history and culture of the ancient northern kingdom of Lan Na, its royal tradition of dances and music, its unique food and the folk art of the people of the valleys and of the hill-tribes. You sit comfortably on cushions on the floor and are served a traditional northern meal. You then watch a spectacular performance of traditional northern Thai dances by a renowned troupe of beautiful dancers. After dinner, you can stroll across to the hill-tribe theatre where genuine folk dances and music are performed by Akha, Hmong, Yao, Lahu and Lisu boys and girls who live and work at the Cultural Center. A kantoke dinner at the Old Cultural Centre must be at the heart of any visit to Chiang Mai and will, together with the photographs you take, be a cherished memory of your visit to Chiang Mai. Overnight: Chiang Mai. Meal included: Breakfast & Dinner


Day 4: CHIANG MAI
In the morning visit Mae Saa Elephant Camp & Water Fall. Half an hour north of Chiang Mai City, Mae Saa Elephant Camp is located in a pleasant forested valley. Here elephants provide a demonstration of their skill, intelligence, good humor and strength. After elephant show, go on an elephant for a ride then continue to visit botanic garden and canopy walk way and queen botanic garden which is also water fall in side. Lunch at local restaurant.

After lunch visit Wat Doi Suthep & Chiang Mai City Temples. Wat Doi Suthep is tucked away in the mountains at 3,280 feet. The temple is reached by a staircase of 290 steps, flanked by a naga balustrade on either side. The monastery was built by King Gue-Na in 1383. The center is a big Chedi (spired pagoda), which contains partial relics of Lord Buddha. You then pass the city’s biggest market – Waroros Market before going to two important temples: Wat Chedi Luang and Wat Phra Singh. Overnight: Chiang Mai. Meal included: Breakfast & lunch.


Day 5: CHIANG MAI to CHIANG RAI

After breakfast, depart Chiang Rai to Thatorn via Chiang Dao and Fang by road & boat. En route, visit Huay Luek, a Hmong hill tribe village. At Thatorn, a small town just a few kilometers away from the Burmese border, lunch is served at Maekok River Village Resort. Depart by long tailed motor boats from Ban Phatai for a three hour journey down the Kok River, passing tiny hill tribe villages consisting of simple bamboo huts among lush vegetation. A stop will be made to visit a Lahu hill tribe village along the way. Arrive Chiang Rai in the early evening. Overnight: Chiang Rai. Meal included: Breakfast & lunch.


Day 6: CHIANG RAI to PHNOM PENH, CAMBODIA

Explore the "Golden Triangle", once a center for trading opium. Here the borders of Myanmar, Thailand and Laos meet. Take a one-hour boat trip on the mighty Mekong River. Continue by road to Chiang Saen, a small crossroads town on the banks of the Mekong River. Visit the Chiang Saen museum, which houses a remarkable selection of ancient Buddha images and antiques. Then stroll through the nearby Wat Chedi Luang, a temple which features a chedi in the classic Chiang Saen or Lanna style. Visit Wat Pa Sak where the ruins of seven monuments can be seen. The tour ends with a visit to Wat Phra Thaat Jom Kitti, located on a hilltop. On clear days Chiang Saen and the river can be observed from the top of the hill. Transfer back to Chiang Rai airport for flight to Bangkok (1700/1820) this evening, and then connect to your flight for Phnom Penh (2135/2245) in Cambodia. Upon arrival at Phnom Penh Airport, Spiritual Journeys representative will meet you after customs and immigration, and transfer you to your hotel. Overnight: Phnom Penh. Meal included: Breakfast & lunch.


Day 7: PHNOM PENH to SIEM REAP
Spend the day sightseeing the city of Phnom Penh starting at the elegant Royal Palace; it is the home of His Majesty Preah Bat Samdech Preah Norodom Sihanouk and her Majesty Preah Reach Akka Mohesey Norodom Monineath Sihanouk. The Palace is actually a number of structures within a pagoda-style compound. An awe-inspiring sight, the throne room, or the main building has a tiered roof topped by a 59m tower. Silver Pagoda is the royal chapel, located within the Royal Palace grounds but walled off in a separate enclosure. The Silver Pagoda takes its name from the estimated 5,000 silver tiles covering the floor of the main temple. Each tile is made from a kilogram of silver. Although plundered by the Khmer Rouge, the Silver Pagoda contains some superb Buddha statuary; a few artefacts from the royal collection are displayed in glass cases. National Museum was designed by the French archaeologist and painter George Grislier, and constructed in a traditional style by Cambodian craftsmen in 1917, and first opened in 1920. It’s small, but houses an astonishing wealth of Khmer stone, bronze, and wooden sculpture. Last stop at Wat Phnom, a small hill crowned by an active Wat marks the legendary founding place of Phnom Penh. Then transfer to Phnom Penh Airport for your flight to Siem Reap (1400/1445). Upon arrival visit Angkor Wat for sunset and then transfer to your hotel for check-in. Overnight: Siem Reap. Meal included: Breakfast.

Day 8: SIEM REAP
After breakfast visit the South Gate of Angkor Thom where most visitors enter the ancient city. The Bayon is located exactly in the middle of the former Khmer capital. There are more than 200 enigmatic smiling faces on the 54 towers of the temple. The faces are said to represent the Buddha of Compassion but are assumed to have striking resemblance to the god-king. Other important sights within the city of Angkor Thom are the pyramidal Baphuon, currently being restored, the Terrace of the Leper Kings, where some exceptionally well conserved early carvings can be seen and the Terrace of Elephants, supported by sculpted stone elephants, it served as the giant viewing platform for royal ceremonies.

In the afternoon, drive to visit Angkor Wat, the largest religious monument in the world whose famous silhouette never fails to impress. It covers an area of 1.6 sq. km (one sq. mile) and is surrounded by a wide moat. The god-king Suryavarman II ordered the construction in the 12th century and dedicated the temple to Vishnu, the Hindu deity he identified with. The five enormous towers have the same symbolic function as other temple mountains of Angkor: they represent Mount Meru, the mythical dwelling place of Hindu gods. In the outer galleries are some of the finest and best-preserved bas-reliefs of the Khmer Art. Then you will end the day with a sunset view at Angkor Wat. Return to hotel. Overnight: Siem Reap. Meal included: Breakfast.


Day 9: SIEM REAP to BANGKOK
Check out and depart from hotel to visit the Artisan d’Angkor and see wood and stone carvers at work. Banteay Srei, located about 25 km from the central Angkor area is exceptional in many ways, it is a small complex built in the 10th century by the spiritual mentor of King Jayavarman V and dedicated to the Hindu deity Shiva. Unique to Banteay Srei is the rare pink sandstone on which are exquisite ornamental carvings of gods, demons, coiling serpents and floral garlands. Most of the bas-reliefs found on the walls depict scenes of Hindu episodes - the Ramayana. Continue to visit Banteay Samre built in the third quarter of the 12thcentury and Pre Rup; architecturally and artistically superior temple-mountain.

In the afternoon, visit Ta Prohm where the jungle has reclaimed the monuments and giant tree trunks reach through the ancient stone. Here you can get a feeling of how the first European Explorers would have found the ruins. This temple is dedicated to the mother of Jayavarman VII, constructed as a Buddhist monastery and enormously wealthy in its time. Well worth an extended exploration of its dark corridors and open plazas. Massive trees growing from stone towers are photo classics. Ta Keo; ending the day with a visit to Preah Khan; it means “sacred sword”. Preah Khan is a huge, complex full of carvings, passages and photo opportunities. In evening, an in-time transfer to Siem Reap Airport for your flight to Bangkok. Upon arrival, Spiritual Journeys representative will meet you as you exit customs and immigration and transfer you to your hotel. Overnight: Bangkok. Meal included: Breakfast.


Day 10: BANGKOK to KANCHANABURI

Depart early by road for Kanchanaburi. Fascinating, nostalgic and memorable sums up this day tour to the River Kwai area in Kanchanaburi province. The famous bridge and beginning of the 'Death Railway' is a poignant reminder of the thousands of POW’s and forced laborers who lost their lives in the Second World War during the construction works of the railway. Visit the JEATH (Japanese, English, Australian, American, Thai and Holland War) Museum, for the primary nationalities involved in the construction of the railway, whereas the Thai name is Phíphítháphan Songkhram Wát Tâi (Wat Tai War Museum). The War Cemetery, final resting place for over 6,000 allied P.O.W. who worked and died during the Japanese occupation. After lunch, board the local train for a thrilling ride across wooden viaducts, which offer fantastic scenery along the Kwai River. Transfer from Nam Tok Station to Paksaeng pier, and continue by long-tailed motor boat to your resort hotel. Overnight: River Kwai Resotel. Meal included: Breakfast & lunch.


Day 11: KANCHANABURI to BANGKOK
After breakfast walk to Lawa Cave, a cave with beautiful stalactites and stalagmites cast by nature. The entrance to the cave is a bit narrow but spacious chambers are hidden inside. Then, return to the hotel for lunch and boat trip to Resotel pier. Continue by road to Bangkok airport for a late evening onward flight departure. This is the end of the Main Tour. Meal included: Breakfast & lunch.

For those staying back for the Bangkok tour, check in to your hotel. Overnight: Bangkok.

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Optional Bangkok City Tour

Day 12: BANGKOK
Ayutthaya lies about an hour by road to the north of the city and was the proud and powerful ancient capital of Siam until its destruction, 230 or so years ago. Much of the fabulous ornate city was lost at that time, but what remains will still give you an excellent idea of life during the 4 centuries that the Kings of Ayutthaya ruled. You will also visit the nearby summer palace of the present modern day Chakri dynasty. After the sightseeing, you will travel by road for 1 hour to join a cruise boat at Wat Chong- Lom Pier for a leisurely boat ride (approximately 2 hours) back down the Chao Phraya River to River City Pier taking in all of the splendid scenery and typical Thai water-borne life on the way. (Go by private land and return by join cruise). Overnight: Bangkok. Meal included: Breakfast & lunch.


Day 13: BANGKOK
Depart for your Canal (klong) Tour and Royal Grand Palace private tour. Among the best ways to explore Bangkok is by long tail boat along the Chao Phraya River - the city's lifeblood - and the canals of Thonburi reveal scenes at odds with the bustling, modern inner city. Get a glimpse of the serene and simple lifestyle of riverbank dwellers. This picturesque view is what earned Bangkok the title of "Venice of the East." En route, stop at Wat Arun (Temple of Dawn), one of the most attractive temples in Thailand. Lunch at Supatra River House Restaurant. Then depart for the Grand Palace. The Grand Palace was the seat not only of the king and his court, but contained within its crenellated walls the entire government administration. The architecture is vibrantly Thai though there are some European designs as well. Brilliantly colored and gilded, and decorated with intricate detail, the overall effect is dazzling. The palace served as the official residence of the kings of Thailand from the 18th to the mid-20th century. The most famous building on the palace grounds is Wat Phra Kaew (Temple of the Emerald Buddha), regarded as the most sacred Buddhist temple (wat) in Thailand. Construction of the temple began when King Rama I moved the capital from Thonburi to Bangkok in 1785. Unlike other Thai temples, it does not contain living quarters for monks; rather, it has only the richly decorated holy buildings, statues, and pagodas. The main temple building is the central ubosoth, which houses the Emerald Buddha. Though green in color, the Buddha is actually carved from a single piece of jade, and though only 17 inches tall, is the most revered object in Thailand. Also within the grounds are several palaces, used for various occasions: the Funeral Palace, Reception Palace, Throne Hall, Coronation Hall, and the Royal Guest House. The majority of halls and palaces can be viewed from outside only, but the exteriors are captivating enough to please. Note: The entire Grand Palace is closed during special royal ceremonies and during visiting heads of state, while other buildings (such as the Throne Hall and Coronation Hall), closed on Saturdays, Sundays and public holidays, during special ceremonies and on Buddhist Holidays. A calendar for visiting the Palace and Temple of the Emerald Buddha can be viewed on the web-site of the Bureau of the Royal Household. Overnight: Bangkok. Meal included: Breakfast & lunch.

Day 14: BANGKOK
Full day Railway Market and Ladplee Floating Market private tour. Drive to The Floating Market Ladlpee which is only a short drive. Introduction to the history of the first floating market in Thailand where water transport played an important role in daily life including trading goods. A short walk leads to the area of present day “Damnoen Saduak Floating Market” along the way see the old-style shops which are hardly to be found these days. See the vibrant and colourful fresh fruits, vegetables, flowers and local products from the vendors on their rowing boats. Then continue to Wat Bang Kung, the Buddhist temple covered with large trees, one of the Unseen Thailand landmarks. On the way to our next stop, see monkeys in the Conservation Mangrove Centre which we drive through. Arrive to Don Hoi Lot and lunch is served at Seafood Restaurant. Continue to Maeklong Railway Market, or “Talad Rom Hoop” in Thai. Upon arrival the guide will introduce you to the history of the area. See the action in several minutes before the train is due to pass through the market. The process happens so quick it will amaze you for this unique moment. Then we walk to the pier and take a boat cruise down to Wat Julamanee. Depart from Wat Julamanee and transfer to Bangkok international airport for your onward flight. Meal included: Breakfast & lunch.


~ ~ End of Services as Offered by Spiritual Journeys, Inc ~ ~

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HOTELS ENVISIONED

Bangkok: Arnoma Grand Bangkok Hotel – Superior Room (Also for Optional Tour)
Chiang Mai: Holiday Inn Chiang Mai – Superior Room
Chiang Rai: The Imperial Golden Triangle Resort– Superior Room
Phnom Penh: Frangipani Royal Palace – Deluxe Room
Siem Reap: Angkor Sayana Hotel – Deluxe Room
Kanchanaburi: River Kwai Resotel – Standard Chalet

COSTING Contact Shakta Kaur or Deepak Singh for pricing.

COSTS FOR BOTH TOURS WOULD INCLUDE:
• Hotel accommodation as above on double/twin-sharing room with breakfast, inclusive of present applicable hotel taxes,
• Meals included are where stated (5 Lunches & 1 Dinner for Main Tour and 3 Lunches for City Tour) in local restaurants unless otherwise stated,
• Yoga led by Shakta at: (a) Sayana Hotel, Siem Reap (b) Holiday Inn Chiang Mai, (c) Imperial Golden Triangle, Chiang Rai, and, (d) Arnoma Grand, Bangkok,
• English speaking local guide for sightseeing in all places as per program,
• All applicable taxes including mandatory government service tax,
• Economy class flights in following sectors: Bangkok/Chiang Mai, Chiang Rai/Bangkok, Bangkok/Phnom Penh, Phnom Penh/Siem Reap and Siem Reap/Bangkok,
• Entrances fee for entry into monuments as per the itinerary,
• The services of a SJI representative at all airport and hotel transfers,
• Transfers, excursions and sightseeing will be by using an air-conditioned vehicle,
• All road taxes, parking fee, fuel charges, interstate taxes and currently applicable taxes, and,
• Tips or gratuities to guides/drivers/restaurant staff only.

COSTS FOR ALL TOURS WOULD NOT INCLUDE:
• Beverages, mineral water, alcohol, laundry, telephone calls; or other items of personal nature,
• Tips and gratuities to driver, guide, porters, bellboys and waiters at restaurants,
• Increases in Airfares or Government imposed taxes or entrance fees,
• Still camera or video camera fees at the various monuments and museums,
• Costs for any and all visa fees for Thailand or Cambodia,
• Services not specifically stated in the itinerary,
• Breakfast ordered in the room/room service breakfast,
• Personal or travel insurance,
• Departure Taxes or Visa Handling Fees,
• Any changes you may choose to make during your tour,
• International Air, and,
• Tips/gratiuties to bellhops in hotels for personal luggage.

REGISTRATION: Fill Registration Form and e-mail to Deepak Singh.

Additional information: E-mail: Deepak Singh, Spiritual Journeys, Inc., 262 Upland Road, Cambridge, MA 02140. USA. Ph: +1-508-358-4267.