updated 12/2/2008 9:51:38 AM ET 2008-12-02T14:51:38

The Real Deal: Round-trip international airfare, a local flight, 15 nights' accommodations, and no single supplement, from $1,795 per person—plus taxes of $90-$150, depending on departure city.

When: May 10, 11, 18, 20, 25, 27, 31, 2009; add $100 for April 6, 8, 13, 20, 22; $300 for March 6, 9, 11, 13, 18, 30; $400 for Feb. 3, 4, 12, 16, 18, 20, 22, 24, 25, 27, 28; $500 for Jan. 8, 12, 23, 25, 28.

Gateways: L.A., San Francisco, Seattle; add $100 for Atlanta, Dallas, Miami, Minneapolis, New York City, San Diego, and Tucson; additional gateways are available.

The fine print: Included are hotel taxes, 14 breakfasts, 9 lunches, and 10 dinners, a local flight, 16 tours and activities, the services of an English-speaking OAT trip leader, and baggage handling and tips for one piece of luggage per person. You'll also receive a 5 percent credit toward your next OAT trip. Airport taxes and charges are an additional $90-$150, depending on departure city. Based on double occupancy; no single supplement. To enter Thailand for this package, a U.S. citizen must have a passport but does not need a visa. Read these guidelines before you book any Real Deal.

Book by: Dec. 5, 2008.

Contact: Overseas Adventure Travel, 800/873-5628, oattravel.com.

Why it's a deal: According to a recent Kayak search, the lowest round-trip airfare between L.A. and Bangkok is $1,077 for a flight departing May 13 (Asiana). For an additional $808, the OAT package covers round-trip international airfare, a local flight, accommodations, most meals, some activities, the services of an English-speaking tour guide, and taxes. OAT estimates that the starting rate offers savings of about $500 per person compared to the company's standard rates for this trip.

Trip details: The Discover Thailand package includes round-trip airfare on Northwest or United, a local flight from Chiang Mai to Bangkok on Nok Air, and 15 nights' accommodations split between Bangkok and five other destinations along the tour. Groups are small—typically no larger than 16 people.

Upon your arrival in Bangkok, the capital of Thailand, you'll be met by your group leader and transferred to your hotel, which will likely be the Grand China Princess, the Tawana Bangkok, or a similar hotel.

Stay three nights in Bangkok. Take the included trip to the floral market Pak Khlong Talat, followed by a motorboat ride along twisting waterways and concluding with a visit to the Temple of the Dawn (Wat Arun), a cooking demonstration at a Thai home, and an afternoon visit to the Royal Barges Museum, which houses ceremonial riverboats.

An optional tour covers Bangkok's major attractions, such as Wat Traimit (the temple housing the world's largest golden Buddha), a traditional market in Chinatown, and Wat Po (Bangkok's oldest temple)—plus lunch and other stops—for an additional $70 per person.

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After leaving Bangkok, you'll visit the famous floating market, Damnern Saduak, which will inspire you to snap some photographs. Then you'll head to the World War II railway infamously built by Allied prisoners of war and Asian conscripts. You'll explore the lush countryside, cross the bridge over the River Kwai, and make a stop at Kanchanaburi's war cemetery and museum to learn more about the region's World War II history.

Among other featured activities is a drive to Hell Fire Pass to visit a war memorial as well as a speedboat ride along the River Kwai. This part of the trip includes a two-night stay at the Comsaed River Kwai, the Pavilion Rim Kwai, the Yoko Riverkwai, or a similar resort.

Leaving Kanchanaburi province, you'll pass through Uthai Thani province, where you'll board a barge built to carry rice; you'll sail along the Sakae Krang River to Phitsanulok. You'll stay overnight at the Grand Riverside Hotel or the Amarin Lagoon Hotel.

Continue on Sukhothai, a district with the country's greatest collection of historic ruins. A tram will take you through grounds dotted with well-preserved palaces, shrines, and temples. But the highlight of this part of the tour is a visit to a local school to meet the students and get an inside glimpse of everyday Thai life. You'll stay one night at the Maeyom Palace Hotel in the town of Phrae.

The tour will stop by an indigo-dyeing workshop before proceeding to the main city of the Golden Triangle, Chiang Rai. You'll learn about the opium warlords who once ruled the city and the story behind the name "Golden Triangle."

You'll hop on an open taxi truck (songtaew) and ride up the mountain to Mae Salong, a rural village about 3,000 feet above sea level, where the way of life hasn't changed in centuries—from the traditional clothing to the compact huts. You'll stay two nights at the Phowadol, the Golden Pine, or a similar resort.

Here, you'll get a chance to visit two hill tribes, the Mien and the Akha. You'll also have time to explore on your own or join an optional excursion across the border to Myanmar and Laos ($80 per person).

Next on the itinerary is Chiang Mai, northern Thailand's cultural epicenter, surrounded by 13th-century walls and home to numerous temples and religious sites. You'll stay three nights at the Park Hotel or the Centara Duangtawan Hotel.

As part of the tour, you'll visit the bustling night bazaar, where you'll find handmade basketry, wood carvings, and costumed dolls; watch an elephant show at Elephant Camp; explore a lush forest on an elephant's back; and float downstream on a small bamboo raft.

After witnessing a traditional Buddhist alms-giving ceremony followed by a discussion with the monks, you'll visit the Wat Phra That Doi Suthep temple and learn about jade at a nearby jade factory. You'll conclude your stay in Chiang Mai with a traditional Thai dinner with a local family.

You can also go on an optional tour that includes a visit to a Chiang Mai farmhouse to learn about herbs in Thai culture and a sunset cruise along the Ping River ($30 per person).

Leaving the northern town, you'll take a short flight (70 minutes) back to Bangkok, where you'll stay for two more nights at the Grand China Princess or the Tawana Hotel and tour the Grand Palace before boarding your flight home. (An optional puppet show and dinner at the Joe Louis Theater are $55 per person.)

If you'd like to spend more time in the region, you can tack on a four-night pre-trip excursion to Angkor Wat, starting at $995 per person, or a post-trip extension to Burma and the Irrawaddy River, starting at $1,195 for five nights.

A note on safety: Despite recent activities by antigovernment protestors, which included a shutdown of Bangkok's main international airport on November 25, nationwide travel is not affected and the political situation in the country is deemed safe. For the latest travel updates and alerts, check the U.S. Department of State fact sheet.

This package is available on dates during the country's dry season, an optimal time to visit. For more details about the area, visit the official Web site for the Tourism Authority of Thailand.

Copyright © 2012 Newsweek Budget Travel, Inc.

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