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New Year's in Thailand: Thailand Island Paradise

22 Days  •  7 Cities //@ts-ignore//@ts-ignore7

Why Go?

Celebrate New Year’s Eve in Thailand! There’s no such thing as too much of a good thing—especially when it comes to Thailand. That’s why with this 22-day trip, the question isn’t if you should go, but how fast can you pack your bags to get there. Equal parts exotic paradise, culinary delight, and all-around friendliest place in the world, Thailand is begging to be explored. Beautiful islands, spicy street noodles, peaceful Buddhist temples, world-famous nightlife…the list goes on and the reasons keep stacking up.

What are the top highlights?

  • Count down to the new year in Chiang Mai, Thailand
  • Get your fill of Thai street food as you wander through famous night markets
  • Dance the nights away on the beaches of Koh Pha Ngan
  • Lounge in the sun on a white sand beach and snorkel in the crystal-clear waters of Ang Thong
  • Say hi to some curious primates on Monkey Beach in the Phi Phi Islands
  • Cruise through the 42 islands of Phang Nga Nay, and snap a picture of the famous James Bond Island
  • Enter the Grand Palace and behold the intricate gold buildings, temples, and statues adorned in vibrant tile work
  • Do some shopping via boat at Bangkok’s floating markets

Your trip includes

  • Round-trip flights & airport transfers
  • Multilingual Tour Director & local guides
  • Private motorcoach
  • Internal flights
  • 20 nights in hand-picked accommodations
  • Welcome Mixer with appetizers & drinks
  • Daily breakfast & three-course Farewell Dinner
  • Entrance to an Elephant Nature Park, Wat Suan Dok temple, and many more attractions
  • Traditional Kantoke dinner in Chiang Mai

Accommodations

You’ve selected an UltimatePlus departure. Nice choice! You’ll be staying at 3-4-star hotels throughout your trip. Each property is located in a safe and convenient area to ensure a comfortable stay, in rooms that are only for EF Ultimate Break travelers. Actual accommodations will be made available to you 30 days before your trip. Looking for our standard accommodations? Choose a departure date without the diamond icon, and you’ll stay at a combination of boutique hostels and hotels.

Flights

Admit it, booking flights is the worst. Here's why you should let us do it for you:


  • Flight costs are included in your monthly payment plan, so you can pay over time
  • Airport transfers are included, so we’ll be waiting, sign in hand
  • Flights are booked with major airlines
  • 24/7 support no matter what time zone you’re in
  • One checked bag included on most flights
  • Option to make changes to your trip up to 99 days before departure

Booking with a friend? Let us know and we’ll do our best to make sure you’re on the same flight. Still want to book your own flights? That’s cool, simply select ‘No flights included’ instead of your departure city in the ‘Flights from’ dropdown.

Itinerary

Day 1: Fly to Bangkok

Board your overnight flight, bound for Thailand! It’s a long haul, but will be well worth it. For now, sit back, relax, and practice some yoga. Try corpse pose, which, is essentially sleeping. You’ll be arriving at night the next day, so be ready to hit the hay and rest up for the coming adventures.

Day 2: Arrive in Bangkok

Welcome to the other City of Angels—Bangkok! Home to ancient temples, nonstop nightlife, and stunning architecture, Thailand’s capital city has it all, including a dinosaur theme park in the middle of the city. While you’re coming in at night, you’ll have plenty of time throughout your trip to treat yourself to a Thai massage, and as much street food and Thai iced tea as humanly possible.


Today's Highlights:


  • Meet an EF representative at the airport.
  • Transfer to your accommodations and check in.
  • Receive the latest schedule from your Tour Director.
  • Rest up for the adventures to come.

Day 3: Tour Bangkok

Bangkok is one of the world’s top travel destinations, and you’ll soon understand why. Explore the city with your Tour Director the way it was meant to be seen: by river. This city isn’t called the “Venice of the East” for nothing. Today, you’ll visit some of the most important Buddhist temples in Thailand, including the Grand Palace. Pro tip: if you were thinking of going commando to beat the heat, don’t. In Bangkok, it’s illegal to leave the house without underwear. The more you know!


Today's Highlights:


  • Get to know Bangkok on a guided sightseeing tour of the city.
  • Coast down the Chao Phraya River on a boat tour and see why gelato has nothing to do with Bangkok being referred to as the “Venice of the East.”
  • Visit the Temple of the Emerald Buddha, located on the grounds of the Grand Palace, and say hey to a very famous green figurine that many believe protects the Kingdom of Thailand.
  • Soak in some ancient history at the Temple of Dawn, a colorful sanctuary on the banks of the Chao Phraya that’s been around since the 17th century.

In the evening, it's time for our Welcome Mixer. Enjoy appetizers and drinks with your new friends and travelers. Afterwards, you’re free to take the party elsewhere!

Day 4: Explore the Damnoen Saduak Floating Markets

Travel outside of Bangkok to the Damnoen Saduak Floating Markets. It’s like a mall, but everything is floating and must be accessed by longboats. And you can find locally-crafted goods and fresh fruit. And the food vendors put your local food court to shame. Okay, so it’s not like a mall at all. It’s better.


Today's Highlights:


  • Head to the world-famous Damnoen Saduak Floating Markets, located in a bustling village outside of the city.
  • Explore the maze of narrow canals by boat, and test your negotiation skills with the vendors.
  • Browse the small wooden boats that sell fresh produce, colorful flowers, and local food. It’s all about the noodles, people.
  • Shop around, and pick up some souvenirs for your friends and family back home. And yourself. Because #TreatYourself.
  • Count down to midnight in style with a group New Year’s Eve celebration.

Day 5: Fly to Chiang Mai + Visi Wat Phra That Doi Suthep Temple

You’re headed to Chiang Mai for three days of…everything. First up: Wat Phra That Doi Suthep. This temple is the most holy and opulent Buddhist site in Thailand (you know, in case the fact that it’s entirely covered in gold gets lost on you) and is one of the top experiences in Thailand.


Today's Highlights:


  • Hop on a flight to Chiang Mai, the largest city in Northern Thailand.
  • Snake up the 306 steps to get to the famous Buddhist temple, Wat Phra That Doi Suthep.
  • Say “holy poop” (you are at a religious site after all) as you take in the vistas of Chiang Mai and the emerald green forests below.

Day 6: Visit an Elephant Nature Park & Wat Suan Dok Temple + Optional Home-Hosted Dinner

Elephants are the grandpas of the animal kingdom, with their adorableness and little hairs atop their head, and you get to spend the morning with them at an Elephant Sanctuary. Observe them in their natural habit before heading to the Wat Suan Dok temple and monastery. While you’re there, talk to a Buddhist monk—about your time with the gentle giants, the meaning of life, or anything else. In the evening enjoy dinner on your own or participate in an optional Lanna dinner.


Today's Highlights:


  • Learn about and observe Asian elephants.
  • Visit the Wat Suan Dok Temple and learn how the “flower garden temple” got its name.
  • Ask the monk anything at an open forum, and gain better insight into the Buddhist way.

Chiang Mai Home Hosted Dinner(extra cost)

Enjoy an authentic home-cooked meal in a local family’s home during a rare glimpse into Thai culture. Get to know them personally, while experiencing how their daily life feels, smells, and most importantly, tastes!


Why wait? Save money by booking this optional excursion before your trip departs.

Day 7: Enjoy a Full Day at Mae Kampong + New Year's Eve Celebration

Get ready for Thailand, B.I. (Before Internet). At Mae Kampong, experience traditional Thailand, where they make fermented tea to pass the time, and actually sit and have conversations with one another. And, no, this isn’t a sitcom from the ‘80s. Learn how they’re getting by from eco-tourism and why this is a must-visit location in Thailand.


Today's Highlights:


  • Explore the quaint mountain village of Mae Kampong.
  • Tour the surrounding forest with a local guide and learn about conservation.
  • See how fermented tea is made and chat with the locals about their way of life.
  • Have a “Top Chef” moment cooking your own lunch in a village home.
  • Unwind with a traditional Thai massage, because you deserve it.

Day 8: Fly to Phuket + Free Time

You’re headed to Phuket, where there’s an abundance of white sand and palm trees, but, there’s more to Phuket than incredible beaches and views for days. This place is steeped in ancient history, rich culture, and endless nature. So if you need a break from the beach to shake the sand out of your hair, check out some of the island’s museums and historic spots.


Today's Highlights:


  • Fly to Thailand’s largest island, Phuket.
  • Explore the area, and stick your toes in the sand of any of the 20+ beaches.
  • Grab a cocktail, and a seat and just say “this is the life” over and over.
  • Hit the beach, town, or pillow and spend the evening however you’d like.

Free Time Suggestions
Bangla Road Nightlife: When the sun goes down, and the roads close to vehicle traffic, Bangla Road is the place to be. Loud music. Cheap beer. Neon lights. It’s like an outdoor club…except the drinks are ridiculously cheap.
Museum Mania: With beaches and endless amounts of nightlife around, visiting a museum might sound like the last thing you’d want to do. But Phuket has a museum for everyone, like the Phuket Seashell Museum and the Phuket Trickeye Museum, an interactive 3D exhibition.

Day 9: Explore Nga Hong Phang National Park

Get ready, you’re headed to the. MOST. INSTAGRAMMABLE. PLACE. EVER. Phang Nga Bay. This bay is home to the James Bond Island, named not because it likes things shaken not than stirred, but because it’s where "Man with the Golden Gun" was filmed. Spend the day exploring the islands during an unforgettable excursion to Nga Hong Phang National Park.


Today's Highlights:


  • Cruise through the islands, and see if you can count all 42.
  • Swim in the Bay and practice your breast stroke.
  • Kayak through room-like tidal caves, and see some of Thailand’s hidden wonders.
  • Release decorative flower floats called Kratongs into the naturally luminescent water after dark for a truly unique experience.

Day 10: Enjoy a Free Day in Phuket

Another day in paradise. Another day to do what you want. What’s that you say? You want to sit on the beach with a drink in hand and laugh at all your friends and family back home who are busy working, or going to school, or getting into an argument over the season finale of some show? Trust your gut. Laugh away. And then, sunscreen up!


Today's Highlights:


  • Wake up whenever you want, to do whatever you want, because today is all yours.
  • Expand your culinary palette with Tom Yam Goong and Thai spring rolls.
  • Treat yo’ self to another massage—or seven—you’ll never get prices like this back home.

Free Time Suggestions:
Triple Threat: Walk to Kho Sam Head, AKA “Hill of the Three Beaches,” for stunning views of three picturesque bays.
Cabaret with the Ladyboys: The Ladyboy Cabaret shows are exactly what they sound like, and they’re something you have to see to appreciate. Think bright lights, great costumes, and nonstop entertainment.

Day 11: Transfer to Phi Phi Islands + Free Time

Islands so nice, they named it twice. Head there on your private boat (yeah, you’ve got a private boat) and get ready for three days on Thailand’s not-so-secret weapon of amazingness. Here, time stands still. People move slowly. There’s never anything wrong. Sounds like paradise, right? Nah, it’s the Phi Phi Islands.

Day 12: Free Day in the Phi Phi Islands + Optional Captain Bob’s Cruise

Kick back, relax, and embrace the Phi Phi way of life. Whether that includes sampling new Thai foods, building an epic sandcastle, or taking a dip in the turquoise water, there’s no bad choice here. Or, you can take a cruise with Captain Bob for a full day of adventure on an optional excursion.


Today's Highlights:


  • Spend your free day building that base.
  • Apply SPF to your base so you don’t get burned.
  • Roll over so you tan both sides of your body (consistency, people).
  • In between, grab a drink or two, eat some food, and read the latest book that’s being adapted into a movie starring Ryan Gosling.

Captain Bob’s Cruise(extra cost)

Join a group cruise around Phi Phi’s surrounding lagoons and bays. You’ll stop at Monkey Beach to see… Monkeys. You’ll go deep into the Viking caves at Phi Phi Leh Island. And, best of all, at Maya Bay you’ll have your chance at recreating a scene with Leo in something other than “Titanic.” (In this instance it’s “The Beach”). Finally, watch the sunset in Wang Long Bay and return to Camp bar for the after party and BBQ dinner.


Why wait? Save money by booking this optional excursion before your trip departs.

Day 13: Free Day in Phi Phi

Is there such thing as too much of a good thing? When it comes to Phi Phi, no, no there’s not. That’s why Phi Phi has 6 islands, and why you have one more free day to explore them. You’re welcome.


Today's Highlights:


  • Spend more time on the beach because, let’s be honest, the beach is always a great idea when you’re in Thailand.
  • Take a quick hike to Phi Phi Viewpoint to get your blood pumping and your Instagram account more followers.
  • Rent a kayak for a sunset adventure around the island.
  • Hop around a few of Phi Phi’s best bars and beach clubs.

Free Time Suggestions:
Tonsai Village: Make your way to the small area of beach-lined land where the island’s main village is located. Tonsai Village is home to small shops and boutiques, as well as the Phi Phi market.
Ready to Reggae: Check out the Phi Phi Reggae Bar and get your night started. It’s one of the longest-established nightlife spot in the village and has everything from pool tables to music to bucket drinks to a Thai boxing ring.

Day 14: Travel to Koh Samui + Free Time

Travel by plane, bus, boat, unicycle, time travel, and dolphin to arrive at your destination—Koh Samui. The last three aren’t exactly true, but either way, you’ll arrive on the island in the afternoon when you can get familiar with the area, and explore with your fellow travelers. You’ll soon discover that Koh Samui is more than just a pretty face— this island is home to beautiful monuments and historic villages that are begging to be explored.


Today's Highlights:


  • Take a ferry to Phuket Pier before hopping on a flight to Koh Samui.
  • Get your bearings as your Tour Director shows you around the area.
  • Enjoy free time to hit up the nearest beaches (hint: you’re surrounded by them). Chaweng and Lamai are two of the island’s most famous.
  • Explore some of the island’s well-known monuments, like the Secret Buddha Garden or the Laem Sor Pagoda.
  • Dance till the break of dawn and immerse yourself in Koh Samui’s famous nightlife.

Day 15: Free Day in Koh Samui + Optional Ang Thong Island

Enjoy a free day in Koh Samui or partake in an optional excursion that includes reefs, sandy beaches, lagoons, rock formations, caves, salt lakes…oh, you were convinced after lagoons? Great. If you choose to do your own thing, the island is your oyster. Grab a fruity drink and some sunscreen and get exploring. Or beaching. Or whatever-ing. It’s your day.


Today's Highlights:


  • Enjoy a free day exploring Koh Samui.
  • Visit a few of Koh Samui’s historic Buddhist Temples and shrines, and get in touch with your inner zen. We recommend the Big Buddha and Wat Plai Laem.
  • Kick back on some white sand and relax—no shame in being a beach bum when the setting is this incredible.
  • Join the group on an optional excursion to Ang Thong Island.

Free Time Suggestions
And a bucket o’ rum: Koh Samui has some of the best nightlife in Thailand. Here, it’s all about beach bars, rum buckets, and cold beer. Chaweng, Lamai and Bophut are all beaches known for their exciting nightlife. 10/10 would recommend.
Go fish: Explore Bophut’s Fisherman’s Village. This old part of Bophut Beach used to be a fishing community, and is now a charming village full of boutiques and beach front restaurants.

Ang Thong Island(extra cost)

Zoom over to Ang Thong National Marine Park on a speedboat and get ready to hit the beach. Take a dip and snorkel the reefs of Ang Thong, home to exotic sea creatures and colorful coral. Then, explore the islands, and keep an eye out for hidden coves and waterfalls (and falling coconuts!). Get your blood pumping as you kayak around the islands, and then reward yourself with a nap on a soft, sandy beach. Enjoy an included lunch before heading back to Koh Samui.


Why wait? Save money by booking this optional excursion before your trip departs.

Day 16: Travel to Koh Tao + Free Time

Another day, another island. Life’s hard. Oh wait, what’s the opposite of hard? Easy. Yes, that’s it. Life’s easy when you’re island-hopping around Thailand. But you deserve it. Koh Tao’s wildlife has remained mostly untouched since it was first inhabited, and the exotic island has been on bucket lists since the first travelers discovered it in the ‘70s. Thank you, random travelers of the past.


Today's Highlights:


  • Board a ferry, bound for Koh Tao.
  • Check into your new accommodations and get acquainted with the area.
  • Wonder how it’s possible for each island to be as incredible as the next, and make some room on your camera roll for the new views.
  • Spend the rest of the day exploring the island, relaxing on a beach, or maybe a little of both.

Free Time Suggestions:
Lovin’ Life: Spend some time at Love @ Koh Tao, a terrace café overlooking Tanote Bay on the east side of island. This is the perfect spot to relax with and iced coffee or fruity smoothie.
Take a Hike: Take in crazy view of a beautiful Thai sunset during a hike up to Mango Bay Viewpoint.

Day 17: Full Day Koh Tao Snorkeling Excursion

Koh Tao, also known as Turtle Island, is every snorkeler’s dream destination. Don’t snorkel? You will here. During today’s snorkeling excursion, colorful coral reefs and a variety of exotic sea life await you beneath the turquoise waters off the shores of Koh Tao’s beaches. Remember: fish are friends.


Today's Highlights:


  • Gear up and head out for a day of snorkeling, sunbathing, and fish sightings.
  • Hop around to different areas for the best variety of snorkeling, including the ominously named Shark Bay.
  • Enjoy an included lunch at Aow Him Wong and get your energy back up, because you’re going back out on the water.
  • Keep an eye out for a spotted ray, and name said ray Spot, for obvious reasons.

Day 18: Travel to Koh Pha Ngan

Continue your island-hopping adventure—you’re headed to Koh Pha Ngan. From night markets, to tranquil bays, to waterfalls, to raging beach parties, Koh Pha Ngan is the place to be. And you’re there. Sounds like a reason to celebrate!


Today's Highlights:


  • Wave goodbye to Koh Tao from a ferry as you head to your next destination.
  • Arrive in Koh Pha Ngan, and settle into your new accommodations.
  • The rest of the day is yours to explore: walk along some of the island’s scenic beaches, perfect your downward facing dog at a yoga studio, or sample street foods.
  • Grab some friends and spend the evening hitting up the best bars. Prepare yourselves, when it’s time to party, Thailand cranks it up to a 11…trillion.

Day 19: Enjoy a Free day in Koh Pha Ngan

Two is always better than one. Two scoops of ice cream, two shots of espresso, two helpings of pad thai and two free days in beachy paradise. Today, you’re going for round two of free time in Koh Pha Ngan. You can use the time to relax on a new beach, explore more of the island, or do a little of both.


Today's Highlights:


  • Use your free day to visit one of the many waterfalls.
  • Fill up on authentic street food and check out the local markets.
  • Explore the Thong Sala Night Market. Wander the various food stalls in the evening and try out some local street food favorites at low prices. Tip: come hungry.

Free Time Suggestions:
Just Beachy: It’s pretty much impossible to get tired of Thailand’s incredible beaches. Swim with the fishes as you snorkel along a coral reef off Mae Haad Beach.
Fallin' for you: Sweat it out and hike to one (or all) of the seven waterfalls on the island. They’re all magnificent, but Phaeng Waterfall is at the top of our list. Once you see it, you’ll understand why.

Day 20: Free Day in Koh Pha Ngan + Farewell Dinner

Hopefully you’ve swam, shopped, snorkeled, sunbathed, and sipped fruity drinks to your hearts content. But in case you haven’t, enjoy one last free day in Koh Phangan. Revisit your favorite napping spot on the beach, splash around with your fish friends, or grab last minute souvenirs before an included farewell dinner with the group.


Free Time Suggestions
Inhale, exhale: Find some inner peace and relaxation during local yoga classes and meditation.
When the sun goes down: Get the best seat in the house for tonight’s sunset at the Amsterdam Bar, a balcony situated on the side of a mountain with jaw-dropping views and refreshing drinks.

Farewell Dinner
Share some last laughs (and maybe shed a few tears) at an included farewell dinner with the group.

Day 21: Travel to Bangkok via Samui

We’re taking you back to the beginning, where this whole adventure began: Bangkok. Sort of poetic, isn’t it?


Today's Highlights:


  • Shake off any remaining sand—you’re back in the big city now.
  • Arrive in Bangkok, and make the most of your last day in paradise.
  • Revisit your favorite sites or to check off your final to-do’s from your Thailand bucket list.

Day 22: Fly Home

Goodbye, friends!
Your next destination awaits—home. Before you head to the airport, enjoy your last few moments together. Take one more group photo. Grab that final drink. (Fine, maybe a couple of drinks.) But this isn’t goodbye. It’s “See you later.” The only question is, where?


–OR–


EXTEND YOUR TRIP 2 WAYS


1. Double the fun
A lot of our trips line up back to back! Give us a call—we can help you add another and save big while you're at it.


2. Go ahead or stay behind
Extending your trip is easy! During checkout, you'll have the option to fly to (or from) the gateway of your choice for an additional fee. We'll adjust your flights accordingly, but you'll be responsible to take care of your transportation, hotels, and other logistics outside of tour.


Note: Depending on your desired gateways, additional fees may apply.

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