Friendly Planet Blog

Exploring the wonders of Thailand with a devoted and passionate local guide

I always look back on my trip to Thailand with fond memories. One of the biggest reasons why I had such a memorable experience is due, in large part, to our local tour guide Lek, who was warm, welcoming, and extremely knowledgeable about Thailand’s history, attractions, and culture.

Now, as we end our Exotic Malaysia & Thailand Sweepstakes, is a good opportunity for Lek to share with our readers what makes Thailand special from a native’s perspective, and what travelers can look forward to seeing when they visit. Read on for our Q-and-A with her.

Q: Lek, could you please share a bit of your background with us?

A: I was born, raised, and educated in Bangkok. After graduating from high school, I attended the Convent of the Holy Infant Jesus [for college]. I was a secretary major, and then joined the travel industry. I’ve worked for several agencies, but I’ve been with Exotissimo, Friendly Planet’s local supplier, for almost ten years!

Q: What made you decide that you wanted to get into the travel industry?

A: When I was young I had contact with foreigners because I attended Catholic school. The nuns who came from abroad taught me English, and I got to know them. My interactions with the nuns and priests sparked my interest in travel, and I envisioned joining the travel industry by possibly becoming a flight attendant.

Q: What’s your favorite thing about being a tour guide? Read more…

Friday’s Friendly Funny: The value of travel

Check out this week’s throwback Friday Funny from cartoonist Dave Blazek!

Friday’s Friendly Funny by Dave Blazek is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs 3.0 United States License.
Based on a work at blog.friendlyplanet.com.
Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available at http://blog.friendlyplanet.com.

Friday’s Friendly Funny: Willkommen Novemberfest

Check out this week’s throwback Friday Funny from cartoonist Dave Blazek!

Friday’s Friendly Funny by Dave Blazek is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs 3.0 United States License.
Based on a work at blog.friendlyplanet.com.
Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available at http://blog.friendlyplanet.com.

Friday’s Friendly Funny: Shoe shopping saga

Check out this week’s Friday Funny from cartoonist Dave Blazek!

Friday’s Friendly Funny by Dave Blazek is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs 3.0 United States License.
Based on a work at blog.friendlyplanet.com.
Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available at http://blog.friendlyplanet.com.

Finding the spiritual side of Thailand

Most visitors to Thailand are struck by the obvious spirituality of the place, a paradox in a way, because life, particularly in Bangkok, is as frenetic and modern as anywhere in the world. Over 93 percent of the population in Thailand practices Buddhism, according to the Pew Research Center, and this religion permeates almost every aspect of life there – from the culture to the architecture to the people.

It’s a very special place, and one lucky traveler will get to experience it for free through our Win Exotic Malaysia and Thailand Sweepstakes. Be sure to enter to win a free trip for two now if you haven’t.

Visiting Thailand was also a very special experience for Liz Hutchins, a member of the Friendly Planet Travel Reservations Team and our resident SE Asia expert. We shared her first-hand account of her trip to Vietnam earlier this year in a blog post, as well as some of her photography and her review of authentic Vietnamese cuisine. But her trip to Thailand was a once-in-a-lifetime experience for Liz, and you’ll see why when you read her account of her trip to this fascinating destination.

“My trip to Vietnam last year helped me realize that I absolutely love traveling to Southeast Asia. Once I was advised I was being invited by the tourism board to see Thailand, I literally jumped at the opportunity. The spiritual side of Asia has always been a big part of its draw for me. I was brought up as a Christian, but I have always appreciated and respected all religions, Buddhism in particular. Getting to immerse myself in the Buddhist culture was very eye-opening, and as you can see, was right on time, for I was about to enter a new chapter of my life …

Our tour started in the busy city of Bangkok. Here we saw popular sites like the Grand Palace and the Reclining Buddha. Because of their enormous significance, each site had more tourists than the last, which made our experience feel very fast-paced and exciting. But my favorite temple that we visited was Wat Phrathat Doi Suthep.

Read more…

The top phrases you need to know before traveling to Thailand and Malaysia

If you haven’t already heard, we’re giving away yet another free trip! This one is for our Exotic Borneo & Bangkok tour to Malaysia and Thailand — a true treat for any traveler who wants to experience everything Southeast Asia has to offer.

If you’ve never visited this part of the word, it’s a juxtaposition of new and old, modern and traditional, exotic and familiar. The languages of Malaysia and Thailand, however, are usually difficult for travelers from the West to navigate.

Consider, for example, that there are virtually no similarities between English and Thai or Malay. But that doesn’t mean you can’t learn a few key words and phrases that will help you get around and earn you lots of smiles and big-time approval from the locals when you test your skills.

We’ve put together a chart of some of these common words and phrases. Click on them for an easy-to-print version and keep them in your wallet for easy access on your trip! Read more…

Friday’s Friendly Funny: A frog’s dinner

Check out this week’s Friday Funny from cartoonist Dave Blazek!

Friday’s Friendly Funny by Dave Blazek is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs 3.0 United States License.
Based on a work at blog.friendlyplanet.com.
Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available at http://blog.friendlyplanet.com.

How you can win a FREE trip for two to Malaysia and Thailand!

If you didn’t come out on top of our Win Wild South Africa Sweepstakes, don’t fret. We had so much fun putting that sweepstakes together that we’ve got another surprise in store — we’re giving away ANOTHER free trip for two!

This one is a real treat — an 11-day adventure to Malaysia and Thailand on our Exotic Borneo & Bangkok tour. And since we’re conducting this sweepstakes in partnership with Tourism Malaysia and Tourism Authority of Thailand, you know you’ll see the best these countries have to offer. If you don’t need to hear more and want to enter now, simply visit our Facebook page, Like us, and enter your information in the Win Exotic Malaysia and Thailand tab for your chance to win this prize, worth up to $4,900! Since this is a brand-new contest, you’ll have to enter your information (whether or not you participated in our Win Wild South Africa Sweepstakes) to be eligible to win this prize.

Thailand is a beautiful country that’s flush with exotic wildlife, spectacular islands, and rich history. In fact, it’s one of the most visited destinations we offer. On the other hand, Malaysia is an up-and-coming hot spot that offers visitors a fusion of cultures, cuisine, beauty, and adventure that travelers need to see to believe. The lucky traveler that wins this tour won’t be disappointed with all there is to see and do in these countries.

Our grand prize package includes:

  • Round-trip airfare from Los Angeles or New York including fuel surcharges, taxes, and fees
  • All intra-Asia flights and ground transportation
  • Accommodations in deluxe and superior first-class hotels
  • Buffet breakfast daily and five lunches
  • Comprehensive sightseeing tours
  • Professional English-speaking tour guides

So read the full itinerary and then be sure to visit our Facebook page to put your name in the hat! Don’t forget to invite your friends to enter! You’ll earn an extra entry for every friend that enters through your invite, increasing your chances of winning.

The sweepstakes will close at 11:59 p.m. on November 15, and we’ll announce the winner soon after. To all of our travelers, good luck!

 

Find out who’s going on a free trip to South Africa!

It might be Monday, but I was excited to come into work today. That’s because I got to let one lucky traveler know that she’s going on a free trip to South Africa, on us! It’s been a blast to read your comments on our Facebook page about how much you love South Africa, and I’m sad to see our sweepstakes come to an end — I wish you all could win! And hopefully, some of you who have gotten a chance to learn more about this great destination will be motivated to join us on tour, even if it’s not for free.

But one lucky person will take home this amazing prize. So without further ado (drum roll please), the winner of our Win Wild South Africa Sweepstakes is …

Mary Wood from Oregon!

Congratulations, Mary! I know you and your guest will have an amazing time taking in the beauty, majesty, and adventure of South Africa. Take lots of pictures for us, and we hope you’ll share your South Africa story on the blog upon your return.

But hold on, travelers. If you didn’t win this prize, don’t lose hope! We have a very special announcement that we’ll reveal tomorrow. You never know — we just might be giving away another trip! Come back tomorrow to find out.

Friday’s Friendly Funny: Finding a phone charger

Check out this week’s Friday Funny from cartoonist Dave Blazek!

Friday’s Friendly Funny by Dave Blazek is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs 3.0 United States License.
Based on a work at blog.friendlyplanet.com.
Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available at http://blog.friendlyplanet.com.
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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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