Bangkok to Singapore Overland - Overland Trip

2 weeks: to (IMT-GTBS)

Intro

This trip is the perfect way to experience South East Asia, starting in Bangkok and travelling down through Southern Thailand and the Malay Peninsula and onto Singapore. You will experience beach resorts, jungle walks, colonial towns, dynamic cities, tea plantations and much more! And of course there are the diverse, friendly, relaxed peoples of the region and lots of tasty local food. We travel on a wide variety of local transport, including train, bus, boat, songthaew, mini-van and tuk-tuk. We stay in an interesting mix of hotels and guesthouses.

After discovering the sights and sounds of Bangkok we head south to the beaches on the Andaman Sea, swimming and lazing around on the white sandy beaches near Krabi. In Malaysia we visit the island of Penang before heading into the tea plantations of the Cameron Highlands and on to Kuala Lumpur and the historic town of Malacca (Melaka). Our final destination is the modern and dynamic city-state of Singapore.

Included

All tours are led by an experienced local leader, plus the services of local guides at certain sites. All transportation, accommodation, sightseeing and meals as indicated.

Itineraries

Day 1 - Bangkok

Your trip starts today with your arrival in Bangkok. No activities are planned until your evening group meeting, so you may arrive at any time. Please check the noticeboard in the hotel lobby, located on the ground floor, for a notice containing details of your tour. This will advise you of your tour leader’s name, telephone number and the time and location of your group meeting. Normally this meeting takes place around 6pm. Until your meeting we encourage you to get out and discover the delights that Bangkok has to offer, including Thailand’s famous cuisine. Make sure that you take a hotel business card so that you will be able to find your way back to the hotel.

Day 2 - Bangkok

This morning we introduce you to some of Bangkok’s most famous sights, including the impressive Grand Palace and the adjoining Temple of the Emerald Buddha (Wat Phra Kaew). We also visit Wat Po – the temple of the famous Reclining Buddha. From near our hotel we jump on board a local khlong (canal) boat, before catching a public bus to these sites. This is a great way to sample a couple of the more popular forms of local transport. You have a free afternoon to make your own discoveries or to do some shopping in the many excellent shops and markets for which Bangkok is renowned. In the evening we catch the overnight train to Surat Thani, in the south of Thailand (approximately 2 hours).

Day 3-4 - Krabi (Rai Leh)

Our train arrives in the early morning and we transfer by bus to the township of Krabi (approximately 3½ hours) and then onto Ao Nang by songthaew (approximately ½ an hour), where we catch a boat to the beautiful and secluded beach area of Rai Leh. Here, we spend two days appreciating the peace and tranquillity, as this is a great place to kick back, relax and swim in the warm waters of a hidden tropical paradise. Our accommodation is in comfortable, but basic, fan cooled bungalows. There are plenty of optional activities to fill your time, you can choose from cave exploring, sea kayaking, diving and rock climbing.

Day 5 - Krabi to Penang

Reluctantly, we leave the sands of Railay and return to Krabi by longtail boat. There may be time for a quick look around before jumping on board the bus for the nine-hour drive to Penang. The first par of the journey takes us to Hat Yai where we can buses for the onward journey to Penang. During the afternoon we will cross the border into Malaysia, so keep your passports handy. The whole process is very quick and before you know it, we’ll be driving down the multi-lane highway on your way to Penang. We arrive in Georgetown, the largest town on the island, in the evening.

Day 6 - Penang

In the morning we enjoy a walking/sightseeing tour of Georgetown, following the Heritage Trail. The city’s population is probably the most diverse in all of Malaysia, with influences from Thailand, Burma, Sumatra, Java, India, South China and Europe. Penang was the oldest British settlement in Malaya (1786) and as our tour winds its way around the busy narrow streets, you witness all the different elements that contributed to its rich cultural heritage. We visit Fort Cornwallis, built on the site where Captain Francis Light first set foot on the island, and the fascinating Penang Museum, a small eclectic collection showcasing the various cultures. On the ground floor are displays about the customs and traditions of the island, whilst the first floor recounts the local history. There’s free time here for you to discover the colourful markets, old temples and historic Chinese clan houses of Georgetown or to catch the bus to Batu Ferringhi Beach (bus depot situated at the base of the Komtar Building). At some stage during your stay, be sure to hunt down a street stall in Little India, where you can buy cheap snacks such as samosas or pakoras - they are a real taste sensation! Penang’s population is dominated by Hokkien Chinese and their cuisine is everywhere to be seen. An optional evening rickshaw ride to Gurney Drive enables you to dine at one of the many hawker food stalls there – local specialities include char kway teow, Penang prawn mee (noodles) and laksa.

Day 7-8 - Cameron Highlands

In the morning we leave for the mainland and continue on the hot coastal plains until the turn-off for the Cameron Highlands (approximately 4-5 hours). It was here that the famous silk trader, Jim Thompson, vanished back on March 26, 1967, when he went out for a pre-dinner stroll and never came back. No trace of him was ever found! The bus ride will take up much of the afternoon, but will take you through a wide variety of scenery from the flat lowlands up through mountainous terrain, before arriving at the scenic hill town of Tanah Rata. Here you can choose from the many optional activities (at your own expense) such as a trek along one of the many surrounding mountain trails, a visit to the lush green tea plantations that have made this region famous (this can be pre-arranged with the local taxi drivers) or maybe you would prefer a relaxing day enjoying afternoon tea and scones at a quaint English-style place of lodging called ‘Ye Olde Smokehouse’. Please note that all walking trails are numbered and well marked, so it is relatively simple to organise your walk.

Day 9-10 - Kuala Lumpur

We leave Tana Rata and travel by bus for the five-hour journey to the Malaysian capital, Kuala Lumpur. Meaning ‘Muddy Confluence’, it was settled in the 1860s by tin prospectors who named it after its location at the meeting point of the Kelang and Gombak rivers. An orientation tour will take us past some of its most famous sights including Merdeka Square, Lake Gardens, National Monument and the impressive old railway station, designed in a Moorish style. KL, as it is commonly known, is home to the world’s tallest twin-towered buildings, the Petronas Towers (491 metres), as well as many impressive colonial structures. Here you have time to discover and experience for yourself the diversity of old and new Malaysia. With its strong Indian and Chinese influences, the city contains some of the finest markets and restaurants in South East Asia. Our hotel is located right in the heart of Chinatown – all you need do is walk out the front door and you are spoilt for choice with a multitude of hawker stalls and cafes to pick from. For the best views of the city we suggest you take a ride up the elevators of the 421 metre tall Menara Kuala Lumpur (KL Tower).

Day 11-12 - Malacca (Melaka)

We continue heading south to 15th-Century port town of Malacca (Melaka). It all began in 1403 when an exiled Hindu prince from Sumatra sought refuge in the little fishing village. The Malay name ‘Melaka’ comes from the name of the tree the prince sat under when he first arrived here. Under his rule the little village quickly became a strong maritime trading port visited by merchants from China, India, Arabia and Europe. Due to the spice trade, it wasn’t long before its prosperity attracted the attention of European maritime powers. The Portuguese were first to arrive in 1511, colonising and ruling it for 130 years. Then in 1641 it was taken over by the Dutch, who ruled before the British came in 1824. It remained part of the British Empire until Malaysia gained independence in 1957. Our accommodation is located in the heart of the old town, and is an old Baba home. As we step out the front door of our guesthouse, we take a walking tour through these ancient streets and experience the eclectic cultural mix. We visit a variety of temples such as Cheng Hoon Teng Temple, Kampung Kling Mosque and Sri Poyatha Venayagar Moorthi Temple. We also visit the fascinating Baba Nonya Museum, which showcases the history of the Straits Chinese immigrants, who were the result of the original Chinese overture dating back to 1405. In your free time, you can hire one of the colourful rickshaws and explore the intriguing Chinese side streets that are dotted with old churches, antique shops, temples and other remnants of the past.

Day 13 - Singapore

This morning we head off on the four-hour bus ride that brings us to the Straits of Johore and then on to the island state of Singapore. The border crossing from Malaysia into Singapore is one the largest you will ever come across, yet it is usually very efficient. After arriving at our hotel we are soon out exploring this modern city. Making our way past modern skyscrapers and bustling street stalls, we visit Chinatown, Boat Quay, as well as the Merlion statue - the half-fish, half-lion icon that became the symbol of Singapore in the 1960s. The remainder of the day is yours to sample the contrasts in this exciting Asian city.

Day 14 - Singapore

Your adventure ends this morning and it’s time to head home. However you may wish to extend your stay in Singapore, to explore its other attractions. Singapore has one of the best zoos in the world, whilst Sentosa Island has its share of tourist attractions, as well as a small beach.



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