Day 1: Bangkok – River Kwai – Cruising the Limestone Lake near Burma
Join your guide when the van picks you up at your Bangkok hotel. Drive to Kanchanaburi and enjoy lunch at a local restaurant with a good view of the "Bridge over River Kwai", made famous by the film. Walk the bridge that cost the lives of thousands of Allied POWs during WWII, when construction of the “Burma Railway” was the last hurdle to conquest of points further West. Visit the War Cemetery before continuing the last leg to Sangklaburi. Reach the small fishing village and board the houseboat, which will begin its cruising to the scenic spot on the lake for the sunset. Enjoy jumping from the tower, relaxing on a sundeck or napping in a hammock. The cook will prepare a variety of different Thai dishes using chicken, pork, beef, and vegetables and often including delicious local fish. Regardless of season, the breeze on the lake makes for pleasant sleeping temperatures, and – oddly enough – mosquitoes are rare here.
Day 2: Lake Cruising: Waterfall Hike & Coconut Island
After breakfast kayak to the end of a small bay where you can hear the Dai Chong Thong waterfall, a 30 minute walk in the jungle. Bring sandals and a swim-suit as you will more than likely get wet (note that there is no water in the waterfall from March-May). On the houseboat, cruise along while enjoying lunch freshly prepared by the onboard chef. In the afternoon you will continue your visit to a ‘boutique’ plantation. Inhabited by only seven tribal Mon people managing special agricultural needs, this small island produces two unusual foods: the cacao plant, and a rare, delicious kind of coconut, prized for its rich oil & milk. Stroll leisurely with your guide giving you the opportunity to answer questions about what you see through the clean Mon camp and over the island to the waiting boat. Enjoy lunch as spectacular limestone cliffs slide by, and then anchor to spend the rest of the day & evening at leisure.
Day 3: Lake Cruising: Caves, Tribal Village, Elephant Ride & River Rafting
After breakfast paddle a kayak to several small limestone caves where the opportunity to encounter bats can be seen due to noise disturbance from passing travellers (Bats are active after dusk). Return to the houseboat to cruise slowly north and then ride a long-tail boat up a tributary river to an ethnic Karen tribal village to ride elephants in the jungle. Modernity increasingly alienates tribal groups everywhere as it homogenizes traditions, and these Karen have an additional concern: their elephants (who need 100kg food daily). Buffalo Tours is proud to support such projects: Rather than pursue larger illegal profits logging, this Karen Community-based Development Project committed to long-term sustainability through tourism. These dignified people continue their traditional way of life, and are also realizing the only survival strategy for the dwindling Asian Elephant. Climb aboard with your mahout and safari elephant-back for an hour through a lovely piece of jungle before lunch. Then embark on a rafting adventure. Note: rafting can be “easy” Nov-Jun, but to moderately strenuous Jul-Oct. After dinner, sleep well.
Day 4: Lake Cruising: Sunken Temple – Market & Wooden Bridge – Bangkok
Swim, fish, or sunbathe before and immediately after breakfast. Learn the story of the ‘sunken temple’ as you pass by on the houseboat’s last leg to shore. Around 11:00hrs, say goodbye to the on-board crew, and ensure all gear is loaded into the van. You will then Walk the a village where local people wearing the traditional Burmese ‘Longi’ and other tribal identifiers make it seem more Karen, Mon, Lao and Burmese than Thai. Here, visit the temple and a Burmese market before continuing a short drive to Sangkhlaburi town. Learn the unique history of the town from your guide, and walk the long wooden Burmese style bridge. Meet the minivan, and then return to Bangkok to be dropped off at your hotel.