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Archive for August, 2010

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Friday’s Friendly Funny

New 2011 departure dates announced for Friendly Planet’s Pyramids and Nile Cruise

It’s finally easier to get a seat on Friendly Planet Travel’s signature tour to Egypt. Almost every tour sold out in 2010, so we’re jam-packing the beginning of 2011 with nine new departure dates for the Pyramids and Nile Cruise. They include: Jan. 12, Jan. 26, Feb. 9, Feb. 23, March 9, March 16, April 6, April 27, and May 4.

Egypt’s contrast of ancient treasures and contemporary cities has made it one of the world’s most popular travel destinations. It’s pyramids, temples, and architecture are just the tip of the iceberg. So we’ve put together nine first-class tours highlighting the most desirable sites and exotic locales Egypt has to offer.

Starting in the cosmopolitan city of Cairo, you stay on the bank of the Nile River in the Ramses Hilton or Cairo Sheraton hotel. Here you’re just a short drive from the pyramids of Giza and the Sphinx. Seeing these elaborate structures that were built by man 46 centuries ago will take your breath away.

Next fly to Luxor and walk the Temple of Karnak, one of the most overwhelming monuments of the Pharaonic legacy, and Luxor Temple. Then board the five-star Tamr Henna ship and settle into your outside balcony cabin.

From there you begin your luxury excursion down the Nile River. The first stop is in Esna to see the Valley of the Kings and the Deir El Bahari mortuary temple of Queen Hatshepsut. After Esna comes Edfu, home to the Temple of Horus, Egypt’s best-preserved temple.

Continue sailing to Kom Ombo to the Temple of Kom Ombo. It overlooks the Nile and features fascinating drawings on the walls, including detailed drawings of surgical instruments. Lastly, you’ll disembark in Aswan to enjoy a tour by felucca. It’s a swift Egyptian sailboat that takes you around Elephantine Island, once the center of modern Aswan.

Head back to Cairo by air to sightsee in the cosmopolitan city or take advantage of an optional guided tour of Old Cairo. If your time and budget permits, why not opt for the extension to the Lost City of Petra in Jordan. You’ll roam the Monastery and Treasury at Petra, the Amman Citadel, the Roman Amphitheater, and more with your English-speaking guide along to explain the highlights of this amazing site.

Packaged in the price, from just $2,099, are roundtrip flights from New York (JFK) via EgyptAir; five-star hotel accommodations at the Ramses Hilton or Cairo Sheraton; four nights aboard the five-star Tamr Henna ship in outside balcony cabin; all internal flights; ground transportation and transfers, with assistance and porterage; daily breakfast buffet and all meals aboard the cruises; comprehensive sightseeing programs, including a half-day in Cairo featuring the Giza Pyramids and Sphinx, and all touring on the Nile cruise; and professional, English-speaking local tour guides.

Although we just announced these additional departure dates, we expect them to sell out quickly. Don’t wait long to reserve your spot! If you want to experience Egypt, book the nine-day Pyramids and Nile Cruise for $2,099 by Oct. 20.

To enjoy a longer stay in cruise including a 7-night Nile cruise, Friendly Planet also offers the 12-day Treasures of Egypt tour for $2,199. Also available is the eight-day Pyramids and Petra tour for $1,799, which offers a taste of Egypt’s antiquities in and around Cairo plus a visit to Amman, Jordan’s capital and the amazing Petra.

If you have any questions, visit our website for the full itineraries of each tours. And as always, feel free to write to me or call 1-800-555-5765 and speak to our reservations team.

Travel and Leisure readers name Bangkok Top City

Travel and Leisure gave Bangkok its Top City award in its August issue. Some people were surprised to hear this because of the political protests that took place in the city from March to June, but I wasn’t.

Keep in mind that from December to March, 16,000 Travel and Leisure readers voted for their favorite city for this issue. So the protests that disrupted tourism in Bangkok had not yet occurred.

But honestly, even if the survey had been taken in the midst of the demonstrations, I doubt the results would have been different. Bangkok is simply a spectacular city, and this award clearly demonstrates how much it is loved by travelers.

Unfortunately, the protests did put a dark cloud over the city, and even though peace has been restored, tourism to Thailand is still suffering as travelers cautiously reconsider traveling there.

While I’m sure tourism will soon rebound and exceed previous levels, it still saddens me that for now, some people are missing out on opportunities to experience the islands, cities, ancient ruins, and exotic architecture that make Thailand one of the best places on the planet to visit.

I hope this award reminds travelers of what makes Bangkok so alluring. I love that it’s a microcosm, a city with something for everyone. You can tour the city, admiring the modern buildings, malls, and plazas.

Or you can shop and explore the numerous street markets, travel the canals to see traditional Thai homes and people going about their everyday lives, and eat the most amazing food you’ll ever taste. (I’m terribly fussy about what I eat, but I love Thai food.) Just a few hours from Bangkok are gorgeous, and not terribly expensive, beach resorts as well as historical sites, complete with intricately carved temples.

The value for your money in Thailand is incredible. I like to tell a story of when I needed a new suitcase to bring home all the treasures I had bought in Bangkok. I wanted to buy a good-quality suitcase so I could use it for future trips, and I was prepared to spend what I thought would be at least a few hundred dollars.

My guide brought me to a luggage store in a lovely, upscale mall. I looked around, examining all the various options and then proceeded to buy the best (most expensive) suitcase I could find. It had all the bells and whistles on it, including hidden compartments, zippers galore, non-rip material, and locks with keys. It only cost me $29.

I’ve been using it for two years now, and by the way, it has held up better than any other suitcase I own. And the value Thailand offers to travelers goes way beyond goods to all areas of tourism infrastructure, including hotels, meals, entrance fees, and every other cost item associated with a trip to Thailand. The genuine warmth, friendliness, and goodwill of the Thai people toward their visitors is the value added that is absolutely for free.

Friendly Planet Travel has been selling tours to Thailand since 2003 because we believe in it as a destination. This award proves that we’re not the only ones who think so. Shortly after the political protests ended we felt it was safe to re-enter Bangkok. So we reinstated our programs and even launched a new tour, giving us three different tours to Thailand.

My goal is that they will help boost tourism back to its previous levels and hopefully beyond. With all my heart, I hope Travel and Leisure’s award brings to people’s attention that Thailand is ready to welcome tourists back.

And for those travelers ready to go, please check out our three wonderful tours. A Taste of Thailand, Incredible Thailand, and Treasures of Thailand all have available departure dates and will cost you less than a weekend in Las Vegas.

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About Peggy

Peggy Goldman is a specialty tour operator and travel expert, who owns and operates Friendly Planet Travel, a full-service company that specializes in tour packages to exotic worldwide destinations at affordable prices.   More about Peggy

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