What does the trip package price include?
Your trip includes: transportation to the destinations on the itinerary; breakfast, lunch and dinner every day; translations by Daphne; entertaining conversation by Eric (muted upon request…); lodging; admission to scheduled attractions; our photos taken during the trip (non-commercial use, please) plus an unforgettable experience!
What’s not included?
Transportation from your home to Bangkok and personal purchases (souvenirs, snacks, alcoholic drinks).
Will I have my own room?
Our prices are based on double-occupancy, so expect to share a room with another guest of the same gender. Couples will be roomed together (unless you specify otherwise). Contact us for single supplement pricing. Hotel accommodations will be at least “three star” quality and generally will be “four or five” star quality. Temple stays are an exception. Please see the temple section for an explanation of sleeping arrangements there.
I’m used to traveling on my own; will I feel comfortable?
Our tours are small – usually no more than 10 people. Travelling with a few like-minded individuals can be very rewarding. Eric and Daphne strive to provide a personalized experience for each one of our guests. We are confident that you will be comfortable with our small group. You might even make some life-long friends!
Will my rooms have a private bath?
The hotels will have private baths/showers. The temple showers and toilets will have private stalls and will be segregated by gender. It’s part of the tradition and adds to the experience.
What if I would like to visit places not on the itinerary?
We don’t mind lingering for a little while, if you need more time, or stopping along the way for photos. Our itineraries are designed to share with you some of our favorite places, so we can’t go too far off the plan. If there’s something specific you’d like to see, please contact us in advance. We can always customize a trip for you.
What if I don’t want to participate in one of the scheduled activities?
We do our best to ensure you have an exceptional experience. We choose our activities with that in mind. Of course, you are never obligated to partake in any given activity. We want you to be comfortable and have fun!
What if I have a special diet request?
Please let us know in advance. Restaurants in Thailand are very accommodating and we will do our best to provide for special diets.
Will my possessions be safe during the trip?
While theft is not common, we don’t recommend traveling with expensive items, jewelry, etc. During any temple stay we will store your valuables (laptops, cell phones, etc.) with a trusted agent.
How do you ensure the quality of your trips?
Eric and Daphne own the company and we’re with you during your entire trip. If you have an issue, please let us know right away so we can address it.
I’m ready to make a reservation. What do I do next?
We will collect a $500 deposit per person to reserve a spot. You can make this payment online, on the phone or by check – we’re easy. The trip fee is payable in installments, however the balance is due 30 days before the trip start date.
How long have you been in business?
In 2010 Daphne and Eric took a small group of family and friends on a tour of Thailand. Building on the success of that trip, Thai Temple Stay LLC was incorporated in Idaho in November 2011 to fill a need for intimate, small-group travel to Thailand. In August 2018 we re-incorporated as Awake in Thailand LLC to better represent our business. Eric and Daphne have a combined 60+ years of international travel experience.
What is your maximum group size?
There’s no hard and fast rule. We’re here for you. That said, we specialize in small-group travel with 8-10 guests typically. Of course, we can accommodate groups of any size for a customized tour and we occasionally accept larger groups for special events.
Is there a minimum age requirement for your trips?
While we do not have a specific age restriction, please keep in mind that the temple is a sacred place requiring simple etiquette and respect. We’ve taken teenagers and octagenarians. Please be mindful of the people in your group and consider whether they would be able to display acceptable behavior.
Can I give a trip as a gift?
Of course! Please contact us so we can arrange it to meet your needs.
Do you offer custom tours?
We would love to create a private tour for you. Please get in touch.
How do I get to and from Thailand?
We want you to have the flexibility to make your own arrangements. We find that many people prefer to use frequent fliers miles or have preferred airlines. Please make your own international reservations that best meet your needs. Presently, all tours begin and end in Bangkok.
Do I need a visa?
No visa is required for Americans staying in Thailand for 30 days or less. You will need a passport that is valid for at least 6 months beyond the start of your trip. Some of our itineraries include visits outside of Thailand and do require a visa. The countries of Myanmar and Cambodia allow for visas to be purchased online and we strongly encourage our guests to utilize this method. We walk you through the process for all of our trips requiring a visa.
Is Thailand safe for tourists?
Thailand is very safe for tourists. Violent crime is very rare and we’ll help you steer clear of any dishonest vendors. We have family and friends all over Thailand and keep abreast of major events. We will also stay informed of any tourist information updates.
What’s the food like?
In a word – excellent! Thai food uses plenty of fresh vegetables with various kinds of meat and fish. It is a myth that Thai food is always spicy. For those dishes that use spice, we’ll help you order any level of “hotness” to suit you. We encourage our guests to try something new every day.
How will I charge my cameras, phones, tablets, laptops?
American-style plugs are almost universally found, even in the remote areas of Thailand. Voltage is 220V, 50Hz. Most electronics have universal converters, but please check yours before you travel. Plug adapters are no longer a necessity anywhere in Thailand.
How do you use an Asian-style toilet?
Many of the “facilities” in Thailand are Western style but we will run across the more traditional form on occasion. That will be your only choice at the temple. There is nothing to be afraid of but it does take a little getting used to. Mark Weins has an excellent and informative step-by-step process for Asian-style toilets (used with permission).
Do you recommend travel insurance?
Absolutely! Life happens. Natural disasters, personal disasters – all sorts of things can interrupt travel plans. We will do our best to provide a refund if you must cancel but we can’t promise this within 30 days of travel. That’s what travel insurance is for. Check out these listings from Frommers.
What about medical insurance?
You must have insurance that will cover medical emergencies during your stay. Thailand has excellent medical facilities and competent doctors, but foreigners are not covered under their national health system and you will be required to pay for any treatment you require.
Is airfare to Thailand included in the trip price?
Our package price does not include international airfare unless special arrangements are made.
Do I receive any trip preparation materials?
We will be in contact with you periodically before the trip to make sure you have everything you need to make your trip enjoyable and worry-free.
What if I have to cancel?
Emergencies or circumstances sometimes arise that may prevent you from making the trip. We understand. Our policy is to refund as much of your money as we can when the unexpected occurs. You must understand that we send deposits to those we do business with in Thailand in order to secure the best experience for our guests. Your best protection is inexpensive trip cancellation insurance. See our terms & conditions for details.
What about transferring trips?
We will accommodate changing itineraries, subject to availability, as long as you do it before 30 days from the original departure date.
What if Awake in Thailand cancels my trip?
In the unlikely event that we cannot provide service, we will render a full refund.
What are my responsibilities/obligations as a trip member?
You need to make your own arrangements to and from Bangkok. You need to provide us with your flight information into Bangkok and let us know if you experience travel delays. You need to ensure you have the required trip and medical insurance. You need to abide by the temple ground rules.
What is it like to visit a Buddhist temple?
The temple is a quiet sanctuary where monks and visitors can meditate, pay respect to Buddha and venerated monks, and make merit (donations). Life is simple and introspective. There are few luxuries that might distract from this contemplative environment. Guests are expected to silence cell phones and speak softly so as not to disturb others. As you quietly take in the beauty of the architecture and landscaping, the spirituality and reverence of thousands of years of Buddhist tradition begins to reveal itself. It is a very rewarding experience that is difficult to find in our hectic world. Please review the temple etiquette section below for tips.
Will someone try to convert me to Buddhism?
Not at all. Buddhists do not proselytize. The core of Buddhism is internal reflection. No one can “convert” you as we know it in the West. Monks are there only to offer teaching. It is up to the student to accept and learn.
Are there gender-specific expectations of behavior in the temple?
Monks take a vow of chastity. It is forbidden for a woman to touch a monk. If a woman would like to give something to a monk, the monk will lay out a cloth so she can place the object on the cloth. Couples should refrain from physical displays of affection. Please refer to the temple etiquette section for additional information.
Guidelines for Temple Etiquette
The Thai expect proper behavior when going to the temple. This is also true of guests. All people are welcome but it is important to remember that the temple is a tranquil place to practice dharma, or meditation. People go to the temple to make merit and to calm their minds. Remember this and it is easy to behave appropriately at the temple. It is also important to realize that the temple is a common ground where people from all walks of life, beliefs, and backgrounds come.
These guidelines will help you to have a good experience:
Make yourself ready so that you will not be distracted. put away any electronic devices, food, drink or other material things that may divert your attention. Keep an open mind and open your heart. Recall the good deeds you have done in the past as well as those done for you.
Minimize distractions such as perfume, cologne, loud clothing, adornments, or makeup. The goal is to be comfortable when seated and meditating. Clothing should be loose and cover the arms and legs. Soft colors or modest prints are best.
Children and Guests
Children are encouraged at temples. Be mindful to have children behave such that they do not create distractions or disturb other temple goers. When bringing newcomers, make sure they are reminded of the guidelines.
General Behavior While on the Temple Grounds
Be careful with your speech, movement, and mind. Avoid strong emotional displays, loud words and profanity. Please, no smoking, drinking, or chewing, including gum.
Conversation with Monks
When visiting with a monk, pay respect first to the Buddha statue present in the room and then to the monk. Be mindful that a monk has a higher status than a layperson, while he is also a servant of the people. This is similar to western religious figures. Females may not touch a monk.
Staying at the Temple
Some of our tours include a stay at a secluded temple with which we have a special arrangement. This is a rare experience to really immerse yourself in temple life. For these tours, we offer the following suggestions:
What are the sleeping arrangements at the temple?
Men and women will be segregated, 2-4 in a room. The temple experience is simple and non-luxurious. Guests will be sleeping on the floor. We will provide cushioned mats and pillows. Those who prefer Thai-style can sleep on a traditional thin straw mat. Most rooms have tile floors and are kept clean. Most toilets are Western style with a shower hose and floor drain in the same room.
What is the daily ritual that I can expect at the temple?
Temple life is dedicated to meditation and introspection. Generally, there will be an optional morning chant (5 am). The decision to attend can be made the night before. We will escort the group and ensure that we do not become a distraction. Ground rules will be discussed the night before. After the morning prayer service, there will be voluntary opportunities to assist with cooking, cleaning, sweeping, and other chores.
Mid-morning there will be a group meditation session with a private lesson from a monk. He will guide us through meditation techniques. We will practice for a while before breaking for lunch. In the afternoon, there will be more group practicing time. There will also be free time. Monks do not eat solid food after noon so we will be dining separately in the evening.
Will there be other tourists at the temple?
Eric and Daphne have a special arrangement with the monks at Wat Nonjaksi. This temple is remote from tourists, although it is a destination for many Thai. It is unlikely that you will see another westerner there. Although Wat Nonjaksi does not receive a lot of foreign visitors, you will be a welcomed guest, and all activities are optional. The monks sole purpose is to teach and advise. They relish the opportunity to teach anyone who wants to learn. You will have a very rare and authentic experience with Thai Buddhism and temple life.
Is there a fee to stay at the temple?
No. The temple is free to all visitors, foreigners and locals. However, all Buddhist temples rely on voluntary donations to cover expenses. It is customary to make a donation when you visit. When we stay on the temple grounds it is only fair that we make an appropriate donation to defray related expenses. We will make this donation on behalf of the group – no individual offering will be expected from you. We will also be compensating the temple for food and sundry items. We’ve got you covered on all of this.