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Old Siam and The River Kwai OS

Visiting: Thailand
Trip Duration 11 Days
 

Reviews for Old Siam and The River Kwai

Travellers were asked to provide a review of the trip, including highlights and tips.

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Old Siam & The River Kwai reviews verified by reevooReevoo

12 reviews

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Old Siam & The River KwaiScores 7.8 out of 10 based on 12 reviews
(9 out of 10)

Paul

Cheltenham
Elephant sanctuary, River Raft Hotel, Sukothai,
1 of 2 people found this review helpful
Confirmed traveller: 25 February 2017
Published on: 13 March 2017
(7 out of 10)

Hazel

Ludlow
Loved the many and varied methods of transport: overnight train, converted rice barge, long-tail boat bike. Accommodation was varied but the lower grade hotels were confined to pure overnight stops where there was no time to enjoy any facilities had there been any, so fine. Loved the 'le Charme Sukhothai Resort' hotel especially. Staying on the Jungle Rafts was a good experience although it did feel a little like 'rich tourists play Tarzan and Jane'. The dance show by the Mon villagers was disappointing: the dancers looked thoroughly bored; no wonder if they perform every night to the tourists. Thoroughly enjoyed visiting most of the places and sites, although the Doi Suthep experience in Chaing Mai was ruined by the sheer number of loud and disrespectful Chinese tourists. I would rather have spent more time discovering the textiles and crafts of Chiang Mai. The food was amazing everywhere we went and we loved eating out in the night markets etc. Loved all the roadside snacks and all the delicious variations on a theme of what you can do with a common banana! My absolute highlights were the elephant sanctuary (I thought it would be a complete waste of a day! Quite the opposite), the ruins at Si Satchanalai which we had to ourselves (I could have spent hours there), and Jim Thompson's house in Bangkok.
1 of 2 people found this review helpful
Confirmed traveller: 08 February 2017
Published on: 16 February 2017
(3 out of 10)

Michelle

A real disappointment - book this holiday if you like spending most of your time on transport to the detriment of visiting the sites.

As a frequent traveller, I am very aware that things don't always go to plan but this trip seemed to be trying to minimise time spent at the sights advertised whilst maximising the time taken travelling to places. For example we spent about 6hrs on a rice barge over the course of an afternoon and following morning - the food provided by the crew was delicious but there was little to see (especially after the sun set and we were still a couple of hours to the destination!) and it meant we arrived at Ayutthaya with not much time to visit sites before they closed.

Beware the overnight train - a rocky ride and a number of us struggled to get any sleep. We spent that morning on a tour of the Grand Palace and Wat Pho but had checked out of the hotel that morning so had to wait about before heading to the station for the train - given how uncomfortable the journey was, how relatively inexpensive travel is and how the afternoon before the train seemed a waste of time - I suggest Explore revisit the order of the trip and has us fly straight to Chiang Mai, leaving Bangkok for the end

Another disappointment was that the tour leader was unable to explain any of the historic sites we visited - I had booked this tour specifically for the Sukhothai, Ayutthaya, River Kwai and Kanchanaburi. On previous tours, leaders have been able to provide some background of the sites we were visiting or engage local guides at the sites - this didn't happen. Further we arrived at the Hellfire pass museum to discover it was closed - I would have expected the local tour agency to be aware of this (it was closed for a couple of days over Xmas) and have rearranged the itinerary accordingly.

Our Raft House stay was basic but I was most disappointed that Explore was supporting accomodation from which one can arrange elephant rides, especially given all the recent coverage about the ethics of this activity.

Cycling around Sukhothai was great - I recommend taking the chance to visit some of the sites outside where the leader takes you. There is a cycle path on the main road so it is safe and easy to travel between locations and there are some interesting ruins to see.

The museum at Kanchanaburi (just opposite the graveyard) is really worth a visit - this wasn't on our itinerary so our group had to ask that we stop for a short while (especially as the Hellfire Pass museum was closed). It is a small and informative museum and was one of the highlights for me.

I also enjoyed some free time wandering around the old town of Chiang Mai - we didn't do a walking tour of this area (despite this being described in the itinerary) but there are a lot of old and beautiful temples to see so I recommend grabbing the chance to do this. Also sample the food sold in the night market - delicious and excellent value
1 of 2 people found this review helpful
Confirmed traveller: 27 December 2016
Published on: 09 February 2017

Hi Michelle, thank you for your feedback on your trip with us. I am sorry you were unhappy with how the itinerary was arranged. Previous reviewers have loved the meandering rice barges which are a bit of respite in the full-on schedule. We’ve considered flying to Chiang Mai, however it takes as long overall – and would involve time sitting in a bland airport lounge. Train travel, especially sleeper trains, are rarely going to be at the glamorous end of travelling but it’s great for meeting locals, seeing parts of the world you are travelling through and offers a different experience. In regards to the raft house, our policy is that we do not offer elephant rides and we are partnered with mahouts to offer local communities retraining to raise awareness. We don’t have the power to ban elephant riding at some establishments. This being said, our local agent is working with the raft house regards the elephants and we hope that the changing of customer opinion in riding elephants (and the dwindling market for it) will turn the tide to a more collaborative approach. We have contacted you directly to discuss your issues in more depth.

(3 out of 10)

Luca

London
Our tour leader (John) has been really a disappointment, and I think it is responsible for how I rated the tour. We did not have any local guide through the tour, and John was not knowledge about his country, and he spoke a really broken English. We missed stops in the itinerary, and we were left in the dark about what was going on. We had a lot of free time (scheduled and also unscheduled) compare to other trips (+5) that I previously did with Explore. With a different tour leader, II might had enjoyed the tour, but it was really a disappointment with him!
1 of 2 people found this review helpful
Confirmed traveller: 27 December 2016
Published on: 21 January 2017

Hi Luca, thank you for your feedback. I am really sorry to hear that John didn’t live up to your expectations on this trip. It’s such a shame as this trip previously has overwhelmingly positive reviews regarding its trip leaders, and John specifically. In light of John’s past performance with us we are offering additional guidance. We will continue to monitor all feedback we receive to make sure he maintains his historically positive performance.

(10 out of 10)

Helen

London
If you want a real taste of Thailand in just 10 days, this is the way to do it. An amazing experience, with so many highlights. The mad fun overnight train ,discovering all forms of local transport,our day exploring Chiang Mai on our own, the serene voyages on our private converted rice barge with meals cooked on it from scratch . Also the vastly contrasting local markets from a mish mash of roadside stalls to large indoor complexes, especially the honey seller ,livestock from fish to frogs, and dodging the mopeds in Uthai Thani.
Temples upon temples, but what contrasts from the in your face splendour of the Grand Palace to the eerily magnificent ruins at Si Satchanali. After a moving, thought provoking day at the River Kwai and Hellfire Pass, the tour finishes with 2 memorable days on the floating Jungle Raft hotel,. An experience in itself, sitting on our deck in the moonlight,feet dangling in the water, sleeping inches above the fast flowing river, waking to the steamy jungle mists and getting to know the visiting elephant. This is a perfectly paced tour, we had a lovely group of 10 and our exceptional tour leader John really made it work.
He always went the extra mile to make sure rooms ready early etc. Coped well with changes around the grand palace due to the King's death. Always made sure we had a time and place to return to if we got separated. Made sure we could pick up supplies if they were going to be limited or expensive where we were staying Very aware of explore policies re guests doing their own thing. His country, his people so we were very aware of the respect for the King and how to behave at temple sights. He was visibly upset by the way some Thai people were behaving around some of the temples. A truly lovely man . Also tip kitty accounted for to the baht, and signed off by clients. Absolutely nothing went wrong logistically (that we noticed!) Massive thank you to John
Can't recommend this trip enough.
1 of 2 people found this review helpful
Confirmed traveller: 14 November 2016
Published on: 09 February 2017
(10 out of 10)

Steven

Dorset
Very enjoyable; thanks to all the staff here and in Thailand
1 of 2 people found this review helpful
Confirmed traveller: 13 April 2016
Published on: 18 April 2016
(9 out of 10)

Diana

London
The bicycle ride round the site at Sukhotai and the wonderful walking Buddha in the museum there.
Also the raft hotel was lovely if a bit primitive
But we enjoyed the rice barge trips which were a gentle respite from the fairly busy schedule
1 of 2 people found this review helpful
Confirmed traveller: 04 January 2016
Published on: 05 January 2016
(10 out of 10)

Confirmed traveller

This tour was absolutely perfect from start to finish - so well organised and a wonderful way to see Thailand.
Highlights included the Thai cooking course, elephant sanctuary, seeing Hell Fire pass and eating lunch on the Rice Barge. The Jungle Raft accommodation on the River Kwai was one of the best experiences of my life and I can't recommend it highly enough.
1 of 2 people found this review helpful
Confirmed traveller: 29 December 2015
Published on: 15 April 2016