If you've been waiting for the right price for a trip to Thailand, this package from Friendly Planet (tel. 800/555-5765; www.friendlyplanet.com) may very well be the one. A Taste of Thailand is this week's smart deal, and it's priced from $999 for nine days, plus an additional $99 in taxes and fees. This price reflects a savings of up to $800 per couple, based on double occupancy, as long as you reserve by February 10, but if you want that long there may not be much availability, as this trip is selling fast.
The lowest advertised price reflects travel dates later this year; specifically, August 25 and 30. All of the departures in the winter and spring are sold out. The earliest availability is May 3, which starts at $1,099, with four other departures that month for the same price. It includes round-trip airfare from Los Angeles, intra-Thailand transportation, fuel surcharges, accommodations at first-class hotels with full American breakfast every day, and one dinner. In terms of your guidance, the price also covers sightseeing tours per itinerary, and the services of professional, English-speaking tour guides. It's possible to extend the trip for a few days and head to Angkor Wat, Cambodia, or the sunny beaches of Phuket.
The itinerary starts in Bangkok with a canal boat ride that gives you an orientation to the city and its extensive network of canals. Other events throughout the trip include a sightseeing tour of Bangkok's well-known temples revering Buddha, with stops at Wat Trimitr, Wat Po, and Wat Benchamabophit. There will be time for shopping and independent exploration of Bangkok before departing to Ayutthaya, a UNESCO World Heritage Site founded around 1350 as the second Siamese capital. Its remains give visitors a sense of the towers and monasteries that were once there. Other destinations include Kanchanaburi and the River Kwai, and a return trip back to Bangkok for your departure.