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Posts Tagged ‘Bangkok’

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Gary Arndt’s lessons to take with you on the road

A few months ago, we caught up with Gary Arndt, author of Everything Everywhere, in a podcast. We talked to him about how he quit his job, sold his house, and started traveling the world. For the last three years he’s been documenting his travels on Everything Everywhere, which was voted one of Time Magazine’s 25 Best Blogs of 2010.

The reason I’m bringing up Gary is that I stumbled upon a guest post he wrote on the The Blog of Tim Ferriss, called “20 Things I’ve Learned From Traveling Around the World for Three Years.” Everything he’s learned I can say I, too, have learned in my 30 plus years of traveling.

Not only that, but a few of his lessons are the very same ones I am constantly preaching, such as everyone should travel. Traveling exposes you to different cultures, but it also teaches you that despite where we come from, we’re not all so different from one another.

Gary also brings up an important point about the political protests we covered in detail when they occurred earlier in the year in Bangkok, Thailand. He was in Bangkok at the time of the protests, and he witnessed firsthand, that unless you were in the area where these protests were occurring, you would never know they were happening.

Bangkok is a sprawling city, and these protests were occurring in isolated areas. It broke my heart when tourism to this magnificent country suffered because of reports that led travelers to believe it was unsafe to go there. Fortunately, tourism to Thailand has been rebounding beautifully and all has returned to normal.

Jump over to the article to read more about what he’s learned on the road. I think a lot of travelers will be able to relate with what Gary says. And in case you missed the podcast with Gary the first time around you can still listen to it or read the transcript.

Is there anything you’ve learned from traveling that Gary doesn’t mention? Leave a comment on this post letting us know what it is.

The best cities in the world to shop

Travel and shopping. They’re like two peas in a pod. Most people want a great souvenir to bring home from a trip abroad. Not only is it a great conversation starter, but it brings back memories of your adventure.

I came across a few helpful articles about shopping when traveling that I thought I would share with you today.

For the bargain hunter in all of us, Frommer’s lists the “World’s Best Cities for Bargain Shopping.” It’s complete with the names of places to shop and gives you an idea about how much items should cost. Some of the cities are part of Friendly Planet tours, including Buenos Aires, Argentina; Hoi An, VietnamShanghai, China; and Bangkok, Thailand.

In addition to Frommer’s list, Conde Nast Traveler highlights the wonderful shopping in Marrakech, Morocco and Jaipur, India this month, two other cities Friendly Planet can bring you to. It reminds readers that Marrakech offers fashion in the form of art. Through a beautiful profile of a city that is in the midst of a renaissance, you’ll discover why a mosaic of colors and intricate designs are found on almost everything sold in the souk.

And in Jaipur, brightly colored saris and lavish gems are the Indians’ definition of casual. In stark contrast to the terrain around the city, hot colors are worn on everything — including the camels. The article takes you on a shopping journey through the “pink city” that will leave you lusting for your own jewels from Jaipur.

Where have you found incredible bargain shopping on your travels?

Travel to Thailand bouncing back

It warms my heart to hear the news that tourism to Thailand is making a strong rebound from the political protests that disrupted this normally peaceful country from March to June. eTurboNews reported that tourism is up by almost 14 percent and Thailand hopes to reach the 14 million visitors goal it set for 2010.

We followed the unfolding situation in Bangkok from day one to give you the most up-to-date information about what was happening on the ground. And as soon as the U.S. Department of State lifted its travel warning to the country we resumed our tours to Thailand to help the country rebuild the tourism infrastructure that it relies so dearly upon.

The country is also a top tourism destination. Travel and Leisure recently gave Bangkok its Top City award in its August issue. And Friendly Planet Travel loves it for its beauty, spirituality, and fascinating sights and sounds. Most of all, its welcoming, warm people make every visitor feel at home.

So that’s why I’m excited to give travelers more chances to experience the islands, cities, ancient ruins, and exotic architecture that make Thailand one of the best places on the planet to visit at an unbelievable price. Friendly Planet Travel’s nine-day Taste of Thailand tour is now just $999 (which is less than a weekend in Las Vegas when you think about it!).

Not a single corner is cut in the price tag. Included is round-trip airfare from Los Angeles via China Airlines, including fuel surcharges; intra-Thailand transportation; accommodations at first-class hotels; full American buffet breakfast daily and one dinner; sightseeing tours as per itinerary and all transfers; professional, English-speaking tour guides; optional extensions to Angkor Wat and Phuket Island; and more.

The Taste of Thailand tour takes travelers to three of Thailand’s most dynamic and awe-inspiring cities: Bangkok, Ayutthaya, and Kanchanaburi. I’ve told you all about these locations before, so flip back to my previous post on Thailand to read all about them, or visit our website for the full tour itinerary.

I expect this tour to be one of our most popular, so don’t wait an extra second to book the nine-day Taste of Thailand tour for $999 price. If you have questions, visit our website for the full tour itinerary, 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.

Friendly Planet resumes tours to Thailand

In my last post about Thailand, I told you how I couldn’t make an official announcement about new tours we were planning — but I can now! Today we officially re-launched the Taste of Thailand tour starting at $999. There are only two dates available right now at that price, so book your trip before it sells out.

I’m thrilled about this news! :) We issued a press release that hit today. Read on to get the details on why we decided now was the right time to go back to Thailand and what’s included in the price.


Friendly Planet Travel Resumes Tours to Thailand

With travel warnings lifted for Thailand, Friendly Planet Travel re-launches its nine-day Taste of Thailand Tour for $999

JENKINTOWN, Pa.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Friendly Planet Travel has resumed its tours to Thailand after the U.S. Department of State lifted its travel warning to the country. Friendly Planet is re-launching its nine-day Taste of Thailand tour for $999 with the first departure on Aug. 25, 2010. Two months ago, Friendly Planet cancelled all of its Thailand tours without any penalties to its customers when travel warnings were issued due to political demonstrations. With demonstrations ceased, the U.S. and other countries have lifted their travel warnings and the Thai people are welcoming back travelers to restore its tourism infrastructure.

“The U.S. Department of State has given us the OK to resume travel to Thailand as the political unrest has died down,” says Peggy Goldman, President of Friendly Planet Travel. “We’ve also been working closely with our partners on the ground in Thailand to monitor the situation.

We’ve been in business for 30 years, and over that long span, have experienced many travel warnings for points around the globe. The determining factor behind all of our actions is always safety. We would never send our travelers into harm’s way. So rest assured, anyone traveling to Thailand with Friendly Planet Travel will safely enjoy the country’s intense beauty and rich culture.”

The Taste of Thailand tour takes travelers to three of Thailand’s most dynamic and awe-inspiring cities: Bangkok, Ayutthaya, and Kanchanaburi. Included in the price are: round-trip airfare from Los Angeles via China Airlines, including fuel surcharges; intra-Thailand transportation; accommodations at first class hotels; daily American buffet breakfast; a welcome dinner; sightseeing tours as per itinerary and all transfers; and professional, English-speaking tour guides.

The tour begins in Bangkok, Thailand’s sprawling capital city, also known as “Venice of the East.” Travelers will take a canal boat ride on Bangkok’s waterways for a close up view of traditional Thai life. But to fully understand Thailand, it is essential to experience the fabric that binds together its national identity: its temples. Travelers will visit some of the country’s most important temple sites, including Wat Po, the oldest temple in Bangkok, and Wat Trimitr, where the 5-ton, 700-year-old Golden Buddha resides, the largest in the world.

Then it’s on to Ayutthaya, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It’s best known for Bang Pa, King Rama IV’s summer palace. It represents an appealing fusion of Thai, Chinese, and European architectural styles. Next up is Kanchanaburi and the River Kwai, where visitors can ride an elephant through the lush jungle and enjoy a bamboo raft ride down the gently flowing river.

Travelers can also choose from two optional extensions. The first is Phuket Island, Thailand’s largest island, also known as “the Pearl of the Andaman Sea.” This stop includes a relaxing stay at Thailand’s famous Novotel Resort with plenty of sun-drenched days on the pristine beaches of Kalim Bay. There’s also an optional tour to the astonishing Angkor Wat in Cambodia for travelers looking to explore one of the most magnificent archaeological sites in the world.

For more information visit Friendly Planet Travel’s website at www.FriendlyPlanet.com, the blog at blog.friendlyplanet.com, or contact Jackie Zima at Gregory FCA at 610-228-2138 (office), 215-534-2973 (mobile), or write to Jackie@GregoryFCA.com.

ABOUT FRIENDLY PLANET TRAVEL

Friendly Planet Travel (http://www.friendlyplanet.com/) makes high-quality exotic travel affordable for everyone. Since 1981, Friendly Planet Travel has been arranging all-inclusive escorted discount vacation packages and cruises to the most exciting destinations in the world at the lowest possible prices.

Each year, Friendly Planet Travel offers more than 30 different group travel packages to Asia, the Middle East, Africa, Europe and South America — at discounts of hundreds of dollars off similar vacations. With no hidden charges, add-ons or surprises, Friendly Planet Travel vacations include convenient flights and airfare, carefully-selected first-class and superior hotels, knowledgeable English-speaking guides, many meals, and itineraries as well as friendships and memories that last a lifetime.

Friendly Planet Travel offers its extensive, economical travel services to private groups including universities, religious institutions, alumni associations, and families. Groups who wish to travel together can count on Friendly Planet Travel’s three decades of experience to operate their group travel program expertly and always at the very best possible prices. Visit us at www.FriendlyPlanet.com.

Press contact:
Gregory FCA
Jackie Zima
Account Supervisor
610-228-2138
Jackie@GregoryFCA.com

Company Contact:
Friendly Planet Travel
Peggy Goldman
President
215-572-9594
PMGoldman@FriendlyPlanet.com

US lifts travel warning on Thailand

There is more good news coming out of Thailand. The U.S. Department of State lifted its travel warning on Thailand, citing that safety has improved. In addition, my representatives on the ground in Bangkok told me that almost all evidence of the violent demonstrations have been cleaned up and repaired.

In fact, the people of Thailand have undertaken a mission to restore the tourism infrastructure that existed before the political demonstrations. They’re eager to welcome back tourists. Its islands, cities, ancient ruins, and exotic architecture make it one of the best places on the planet to visit.

Friendly Planet has a lot of faith in the Thai people to once again make their country as inviting as it was just three short months ago. I can’t make an official announcement today, but I can tell you that we are planning three new tours to Thailand. The moment they become available, I will post the details here and on our Facebook page. Keep your eyes peeled.

Putting violence behind them, Thailand moves forward

Here’s the most recent report from my representatives in Thailand. I was told that the situation in Bangkok has calmed down substantially and life is pretty much back normal. Our Thai representatives have reopened their main office and everyone is back to work as usual.

During the worst of the violence, our office had to close due to its close proximity to the demonstrations and the staff worked out of satellite offices in other locations around the city. Everyone is now back to work and our staff is safe and well.

A few days ago, thousands of volunteers turned up at the demonstration sites around the city and cleaned up the streets to remove all evidence of the protests. My representatives describe an overwhelming sense of relief in that the Thai people appear ready to put these violent demonstrations behind them and move on with their lives.

People from all walks of life participated in the clean up, and judging from the comments of the participants, the people have no intention of allowing a repeat of the past few months. Everyone wants peace.

There are no restrictions or curfews imposed at the airports in Thailand, and all flights are operating. But as usual, all passengers must be in possession of their travel documents to access the airport if curfew hours are put into place by The Centre for the Resolution of Emergency Situation.

We have great faith in Thailand as a destination, and despite the events of the past few months, we are working hard on new programs to Thailand. As soon as these programs are finalized with dates and prices, we will post the new tours and invite our travelers to resume travel to Thailand.

There is hardly a more wonderful destination in the world, and with peace restored, we believe the rush to visit will resume as never before. Stay tuned for details of specials once the new tours are ready. Bookmark the Thailand tag on our blog to stay up to date on the latest information.

Thailand: Our hearts are with you

This post has been updated here.

This morning I received more bad news from Thailand. Our office in Bangkok is located just across the street from the Dusit Thani hotel — ground zero for the political demonstrations. The situation has become violent again, and we’ve moved our office to other quarters for the time being to make sure everyone stays out of harm’s way.

During the past few weeks, I have closely watched the deteriorating situation in Bangkok. I was sure that King Bhumibol Adulyadej, revered by all Thais, would speak out with a demand for a peaceful resolution to the conflict. But there has been nothing but silence from the king.

I was positive that the naturally peaceful and warm nature of the Thai people would ultimately cause the demonstrators to go home, the government to call for new elections, and life to go back to normal. Nothing of the sort has come to pass. The determination of both sides has created quite the stalemate, bringing a sense of tension and fear to the heart of Bangkok’s most affluent and popular neighborhood.

My heart is broken. I realize that until the Thai people decide once and for all to settle their differences through elections and not through force, there will not be peace. I worry for all the wonderful friends and colleagues who depend on tourism to feed, house, and clothe their families. And I’m sorry for all of us, who are deprived of visiting this gorgeous and friendly country. It is one of the most amazing vacation destinations in the entire world.

So it was with great regret and sadness that Friendly Planet had to cancel all travel to Thailand for the time being. But rest assured, the moment the current crisis is resolved, we will be back with more tours to Thailand. I will continue to pray that moment comes very, very soon.

Thailand protests cooling down

This post has been updated here.

This just in from my representatives in Thailand. The political situation in Bangkok seems to be improving at this moment. The number of protesters has reduced substantially, and there have been no threats of violence for several days.

Even more promising is the fact that the negotiations between the government and the protesters appear to be progressing. All roads in Bangkok, except where the protesters are stationed, are open. Most travel warnings have been downgraded or lifted.

The atmosphere is calm elsewhere in Thailand. I’m confident we’ll be resuming travel to Thailand soon. I sincerely hope this situation will be resolved peacefully and that life will return to normal in Bangkok.

Thailand protests turn violent, four Friendly Planet departure dates canceled

This post has been updated here.

Until a few hours ago, I honestly thought the situation in Bangkok would be resolved peacefully, with the calling of a new election. However, I just spoke with our representatives in Thailand and found out the protests have turned violent. As a result, we’ve decided for the safety of our travelers to cancel the following departures to Thailand.

There have been a number of explosions on Silom Road, including inside the Saladaeng Skytrain station, in Bangkok at 20.30 hours Bangkok time this evening. Several people were injured including three foreigners and one Thai person has been reported dead. The situation is now very tense. Hundreds of Bangkok residents confronted the protesters who have occupied Rajadamri Road in central Bangkok for the last two days.

If one of these departure dates is yours, we are contacting you right now to give you all of your options and make sure you understand all the details.

All Friendly Planet passengers in Bangkok are being contacted right now and advised to stay inside their hotels until tomorrow morning. We are strongly advising against any movement in Bangkok and we will not be moving passengers from any hotels this evening.

We are continuing to monitor the situation around the clock and will keep all passengers affected through direct e-mails and phone calls. We’ll also continue to post updates on the blog.

Our thoughts and prayers are with the people of Thailand in this difficult time. I hope this emergency situation will pass quickly, and calmness will be restored to this beautiful country.

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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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