Ultimate Thailand 10-Day Backpacking Tour
Sieving through the best backpacker experiences that Thailand has to offer to form the Ultimate 10-Day tour combo meal of cities, culture, chill and carnage.
Ultimate by name, ultimate by nature.
One of my dear friends recommended looking into Ultimate Tours after divulging in their UltimateOz Sydney jaunt. I was on my way to Bangkok and found some pretty solid reviews across the board for Ultimate Thailand and it included all the backpacking stops I intended to check out so it was a no brainer.
If their other tours offered across Asia and Australasia are anything like this beauty then I seriously suggest checking them out. Throughout these 10 days I felt the true hustle and bustle of Thai city life, the tranquil serenity of the surrounding rural areas and the tropical euphoria of the party island paradises. Just writing now I can feel the nostalgia kicking in…
Right so here’s a quick overview – Ultimate Thailand is a 10 day tour through the city of smiles split into 5 parts:
Day 1 – 3: Bangkok
Day 4: Khao Sok Lake & Jungle
Day 5: Jungle Village
Day 6 – 7: Koh Phi Phi
Day 8 – 10: Koh Phangan
Ultimate Thailand Day 1 Itinerary – Bangkok
Jumped on an early flight to Thailand after a heavy night so I was feeling a little fragile but I was greeted by our lovely tour guide Fi at the airport. After 2 minutes with her all my regret from the previous night’s bad decision making evaporated into the humid Thai air, replaced by the standard excitement/anxiety before starting any tour with a group of strangers.
We waited for a few more of the group to get to the airport before shooting off to our hotel near Khao San Road. I was joined by 2 girls from Manchester, a German couple and a few Ozzies who all seemed like good craic. In the people carrier to the hotel I was told that half the group (so far) had been on Ultimate Tours before and were singing their praises. .
We got to the hotel, dropped off our bags and chilled out while we waited for the rest of the group. After a much needed shower the first half of the group headed down to the lobby to meet the rest of the backpackers we would be spending the next ten days with. We were greeted by big smiles from a couple of Canadians, a Dane, two Kiwis and Hannah, our second tour guide which completed the group. A very eclectic group which grew on me more and more as the days past and language barriers were broken.
Fi gave us a quick rundown of what to expect from Ultimate Thailand and the typical pre-tour brief you receive before drinking too much and making a fool of yourself in front of strangers. My hangover resurfaced into the evening so when the news that we were going for a welcome dinner was announced, a smile erupted across my sweaty face. Dinner was fantastic. I had the Tom Yun Goong and some Pad Thai which really hit the spot.
At the beginning of the dinner a few of the tour-mates seemed a little reserved and on edge but after we got to know each other a little more people started to relax and get into the Thailand party head space.
Ultimate knew where all the best backpacker bars were and duly stumbled around the city with us. A good mix of backpackers and locals frequented the places we hit up and it turned out to be the perfect way to kick start Ultimate Thailand.
Never a shortage of buckets, laughter and heavy basslines. One of Bangkok’s most celebrated lady-boys ended up hitting on Dylan, one of the Australians, who didn’t seem to realise until about 30 minutes of conversation. Still made for a funny story! Stumbled back to the hotel with sore cheeks due to excessive laughter.
A strong start.
Ultimate Thailand Day 2 Itinerary – Bangkok
Up early, crushed some coffees and carried on in our journey. Niran, the local guide was in charge of the day’s activity which was a serene boat trip through Bangkok’s busy rivers and canals. Bangkok’s has been branded as the Venice of the East and now I know why.
We saw a very funky side to the city and were briefed on the rich history of landmarks and about the culture and religion of the locals. I’ve grown to love the architecture across Asia and Bangkok certainly solidified my sentiment. Wat Arun (Temple of Dawn) on the Thornburi West Bank was a beauty and then Wat Pho (Reclining Buddha Temple) was breathtaking as well.
2 of our group ended up getting the Reclining Buddha tattoos the day after! After a long day we grabbed a bite, had some cocktails and called it a night.
Ultimate Thailand Day 3 Itinerary – Bangkok
Our final day in the capital was chilled. After a big breakfast we wandered around the markets picking up little Bangkok souvenirs, people watching and enjoying our last hoorah in Krung Thep (the Thai name for Bangkok). A few of the group didn’t seem too keen as we headed for our overnight sleeper train but I think what they had pictured was far worse than we actually got. We all had our own beds and spent most of the night playing games and getting to know each other a little better.
This was the night I realised how great the company I was with were.
Ultimate Thailand Day 4 Itinerary – Khao Sok Lake & Jungle
After 11 hours on the sleeper train we ended up at Khao Sok National Park for an intense backpacking session through the beautiful wilderness. I’ve always been an outdoorsy type so my juices were flowing as we hopped on a longtail boat across to our floating raft houses…yes they are as cool as they sound.
Deep in the rainforest we were surrounded by incredible flora and fauna. Gibbons lined the trees as we made our grand entrance into the wild. In the distance we caught a leopard eyeing us up! A crazy start to a beautiful place. We had a bit of time before our jungle safari began so a few of us went swimming and others just lay on the deck taking in the surroundings. The water is warm year round so a refreshing dip was perfect.
Our jungle guide or Thai Tarzan as I liked to call him (in my head) lead the way into the jungle for some monkey spotting which was an incredibly successful outing. Gibbons, macaques and langurs were out in force, swinging around and popping their heads out to take a look at us. One ballsy macaque actually climbed down the tree and started running towards us before quickly changing his mind last minute.
After a long day of trekking around we headed back and had my favourite dinner of the tour. Fresh fish that had just been caught on the lake were thrown on the grill and served to us as we listened to the animated jungle sounds that laced the evening.
Ultimate Thailand Day 5 Itinerary – Khao Sok Lake & Jungle
Waking up in the bamboo rafthouses, we heard the same enchanting sounds from the evening before, like the animals had been on an all-night rager. The Germans and I had a morning dip before joining everyone for some breakky. Where to next? Back in the longboat and towards Khao Sok Jungle Village.
Animal lovers prepare to have your hearts melted by the adorable baby monkeys in the village who you get to feed and play with. We left about an hour later than we had expected because nobody wanted to leave them! I was blown away by how interactive they were – a memory I am not likely to forget anytime soon.
Unfortunately, it wasn’t the right season, but if the water levels are high enough, the tour group will go tubing down the river through the jungle.
Fi and Hannah seemed excited to take us to Thai Reggae Bar that evening and it certainly didn’t disappoint. Excessive amounts of food and drink were consumed for another awesome evening.
Ultimate Thailand Day 6 Itinerary – Ko Phi Phi
A pale faced, sweaty group of hungover backpackers awoke the next morning as we headed for Ko Phi Phi by ferry from Krabi for 2 nights of tropical island fun. A beautiful ferry ride in, we arrived late afternoon to our accommodation which was full of likeminded travellers who all seemed to have one thing in mind – to party right.
We all rendezvoused at a swanky beach bar for dinner, drinks and music on the beach as the sun starts setting. This evening consisted of buckets, fireworks, fire shows and dancing. Always been a sucker for a nice sunset and watching this one with this amazing group of people was a real treat. An Ultimate evening in Ko Phi Phi.
Ultimate Thailand Day 7 Itinerary – Ko Phi Phi
On to Maya Bay! This is one of the most idyllic spots mother earth has in her locker for the backpacking population. This vast sandy cove is the picturesque bay that was made famous by Hollywood blockbuster, ‘The Beach’. After having our Di Caprio moment we dived under the crystal clear water for some snorkelling action and saw an incredible display of fish and limestone reefs.
That evening, we partied hard…again. Another beach club for a similar but no less fun evening.
Ultimate Thailand Day 8 Itinerary – Ko Phangan
After I regained consciousness after the two day out of body experience I savoured whilst dancing around Koh Phi Phi, the tour group moved on as a smiling unit towards the final destination – Koh Phangan, home of the infamous Full Moon Party.
One bus and two boat rides later we strolled down to our waterside hostel, dumped our bags and headed to the sand to bask in another beautiful Thai sunset. I think the squad were pretty happy to sip a few cocktails and take it easy after a heavy couple of days. Back to the hostel and slept like a baby!
Ultimate Thailand Day 9 Itinerary – Ko Phangan
Day 9 was a free day. Dylan, Harvey and myself opted for some snorkelling in the crystal clear waters while a few went kayaking and others went exploring around Koh Phangan. Get launched into the air at WipeOut if you are up for it! After we all reconvened for dinner we stuck our party hats firmly back on and into the night we went!
Fiona took us to a beach side club that brought backpackers from all over the world and we met some great people. Ended up catching sunrise by the water with a massive group of travellers, all in awe of the spectacle we were witnessing.
Ultimate Thailand Day 10 Itinerary – Ko Phangan
The final day. It hit me as soon as I woke up that we would all be parting ways after such a great time together. The day was spent relaxing and planning our individual adventures after the tour officially finished. Fiona was an absolute gem helping us work everything out and giving us insight into where to head to next.
A farewell dinner and final hurrah ensued which involved a whole bag of emotions from everyone! There were tears, hugs, beers and cocktails.
I departed feeling physically and spiritually cleansed, and with 12 new lifelong buddies. One of which (much love Harvey) is sipping on a beer beside me, right here right now in Kampot.
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