Happy Thanksgiving! Our offices will be closed on Nov. 27th and 28th.
You can still reserve online, make a payment, or contact us via our website. We'll reopen on Monday, Dec. 1st to help with your travel plans!

Friendly Planet Blog

Posts Tagged ‘Bangkok’

« Newer PostsOlder Posts »

Thailand protests spark travel alert from US: What Friendly Planet travelers need to know

This post has been updated here.

We have been posting regular updates on the blog about the political situation in Thailand, keeping you informed on what has been taking place. The situation changed over the weekend, and I wanted you to know what you should do and how we are handling it.

The safety of our travelers is one of our prime concerns, so we reacted immediately to the situation. Here is the e-mail we sent to all of our travelers who have booked a tour to Thailand. It explains what has happened and what we are doing to accommodate each traveler.

If, after reading it, you have any questions please feel free to contact me directly or post a question here on the blog.

Dear Friendly Planet Thailand Travelers,

Like us, you have no doubt been following the unfolding drama in Bangkok. We have posted regular updates about the situation on our blog, and until this past weekend, the situation was peaceful despite the growing numbers of protesters. Unfortunately, as we now know, violence erupted during the weekend causing some deaths and injuries. This is truly not in character with the Thai people, who have a history of expressing their dissatisfaction with their government through marches and demonstrations but not violence.

These are the facts as we know them at this moment. According to our representatives on the ground in Bangkok, the outbreaks of violence have occurred in a small part of the city and did not spread to other areas. While the protesters have not yet dispersed, the city appears to be calm, although many people are shocked and saddened that such hostile acts could occur in their midst. Both sides of the dispute are now in talks to try and resolve the impasse, and we are hopeful that a solution will now be found so that no further violence will occur.

This coming week, Thailand will celebrate a national holiday and many people are away. The streets are relatively quiet, and all tourist sites, hotels, restaurants, shops and businesses are all open as usual. The US Department of State has issued a travel alert about the situation. http://travel.state.gov/travel/cis_pa_tw/pa/pa_1998.html. While the alert describes the situation, it does not ask travelers to refrain from visiting Thailand. In fact, the alert states that Thailand is usually a very safe tourist destination and only asks that visitors take extra precautions to avoid areas where demonstrations are taking place. Please follow the link to read the entire text of the alert.

Under the circumstances, we want to make sure that you are comfortable in knowing that all options are available to you, from going forward with your plans to canceling your trip without penalty. Please consider the following options for travel to Thailand between April 12 and April 23:

  • You may proceed with your trip as planned. If, when you arrive in Bangkok, the situation has not stabilized, our representatives will offer a revised program outside of Bangkok. Details of this alternate program will be made available upon arrival.
  • You may switch to another date of the same trip. No change fees will apply should you select another departure. However, the tour price in effect for the new dates will apply. That is, if your tour price is presently $1500 and the new date price is $1800, your balance due will be $300. If your new date price is $1300, you will receive a refund of $200.
  • You may cancel your Thailand tour and apply your tour payments to a different Friendly Planet tour. Again, the tour price of the new tour will apply.
  • You may cancel your tour without any cancellation penalties whatsoever, even if tickets have already been issued.


For departures after April 23, we do not as yet have a ruling by the airline or hotels regarding penalties. It is believed that the situation will be calm by then, and no further cancellations will be necessary. However, if this is not the case and the situation remains volatile, we believe our suppliers will extend the grace period and waive penalties for departures beyond April 23.

Please notify us without delay about your wishes. You may call us (800-555-5765) or send us a message by email at (reservations@friendlyplanet.com)

Rest assured that your well being and safety is our primary concern. We are watching the situation carefully, and we will do everything possible to facilitate a proper and positive outcome for all our travelers. If you have questions or need further clarification or information, contact us so we can help.


If you want to be the first to find out about Friendly Planet news, we will be introducing a new feature that will let you sign up for e-mail notifications. Once it is in action, I will tell you about it here.

Thailand protests coming to an end

This post has been updated here.

It looks like this will be my final update on the political protests in Bangkok. Today we’ve seen only a few small gatherings and marches. My representatives in Thailand told me there are no major disruptions in the city. Their sense is these gatherings will fizzle out over the next few days.

If anything does change, I will update you here as I have been doing all along. But overall, the protests did not slow tourism down, and Friendly Planet travelers are happy to be in Thailand.

Thailand protests not slowing tourism

This post has been updated here.

Here’s the latest update from my representatives on the political situation in Thailand.

On Sunday, supporters of the former prime minister began protests, described as peaceful, in a small part of Bangkok. Sources estimate about 100,000 supporters showed up and the demonstrations continued through Monday.

As we anticipated, these protests did not affect tourism. The Grand Palace, Wat Po, other tourist sites, shops, restaurants, and businesses all remained open in Bangkok. Even traffic remained light, making access to the tourist sites very easy. Travel to other parts of Thailand has also not been affected.

Here at Friendly Planet, we did have a few travelers who opted for an alternative itinerary during the protests, and we were more than happy to oblige. Other than that, the balance of our travelers continued on their originally planned tour. Either way, it was fine with us!

Stay tuned to the blog for the latest news and updates on the Thailand situation for travelers.

Thailand political protests update

This post has been updated here.

I just got off the phone with our representatives in Thailand. Here’s the latest update. I told you yesterday that supporters of former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatrain were going to start protesting today outside of government buildings in Bangkok. I’m happy to report that there is, indeed, very little to report.

Sites where protests were scheduled had very little attendance. There have been no major disruptions in the city of Bangkok. In fact, there was barely any traffic today. Most people either stayed home from work or did not drive their cars into the city. And the roads that we anticipated were going to close, did not.

But this is only day one of the planned protests. I understand that more supporters will be arriving over the weekend, culminating in a large gathering on Sunday. Our contingency plans that I discussed for Friendly Planet travelers are still in place.

We’ll continue to monitor the situation very closely, but my representatives in Thailand feel confident that these protests will pass peacefully and not disrupt tourism. Stay tuned to the blog for the latest information.

Update on the political situation in Thailand

This post has been updated here.

In the past I’ve told you about how we take care of our travelers when the unexpected arises. No sooner had I written that post did I get an opportunity to live up to it.

In my effort to keep you up to date with the political situation in Thailand, I wanted to let you know what is expected to happen this weekend. As I mentioned in my previous post, supporters of former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra were planning to hold a rally in mid March. Well, they made a public announcement that they plan to protest around Bangkok government buildings from March 12 – 14.

In anticipating these events, Friendly Planet is planning to reroute some itineraries for our travelers who are in Thailand. These protests could be large or they could be small. We don’t yet know. But either way, we’re taking steps to ensure that our travelers, no matter what, have a great time in Thailand, and are not affected by these demonstrations.

If the roads within Bangkok close due to the protests, travelers booked on tours to the Grand Palace, Wat Po, or Chinatown will be picked up at their hotels and taken to the nearest river pier. They will get to travel by boat to their destination, rather than drive through the city.

New tours will be offered to those who prefer to stay outside of Bangkok completely, at no additional charge. If travelers want to stay in their hotels and not tour, Friendly Planet will refund any of their prepaid tours.

All other tours in Thailand including Klong Tours, Ayuthaya Tours, and Amphawa Tours will operate as usual. As I’ve said before, we would never send our travelers into harm’s way. Safety and security are our prime concerns, and we’re taking these steps to make sure our travelers are well served and enjoy their trip.

If you have any questions or want more information, write to me directly.

Update: Is it safe to travel to Thailand?

This information has been updated here.

Last week there were numerous travel advisories telling people to be cautious when traveling to Bangkok, Thailand. In my previous post, I told you the advisories were issued because the Thai supreme court was announcing its decision regarding the seizure of assets from former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra on Feb. 26. Diplomats were worried the decision would spark demonstrations.

I wanted to update you on what has happened since last week. It was ruled that Shinawatra did abuse his power as Prime Minister to enrich himself, and $1.4 billion of his frozen $2.3 billion fortune will be seized. There was plenty of reaction from Shinawatra’s supporters, but no demonstrations were held.

However, there are reports from his supporters about a mass rally taking place in Bangkok in mid March. With that said, if travel advisories are issued for Thailand around that time, Friendly Planet would take all of the measures I discussed in my earlier post.

There is no need to change any of your travel arrangements if you’re going to Thailand. I will keep you updated here and on our Facebook page if the situation does change. You can always e-mail me with any additional questions.

Is it safe to travel to Thailand?

This information has been updated here.

You might have heard about a travel advisory telling people “to consider safety matters when traveling to Bangkok, Thailand.” I was asked about it on our Facebook page and have received a couple of e-mails, so let me tell you what I know.

There has been an ongoing legal debate between the Thai government and former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra. On Feb. 26, the Thai supreme court announces its decision regarding the seizure of billions of Thai Bhat in Shinawatra’s assets.

If the court rules against him, his supporters originally announced they would demonstrate. This announcement caused various government agencies, namely Australian and British, to warn travelers to avoid Bangkok around the decision date.

Fortunately, the demonstration leaders announced that no demonstrations will take place. Travelers can set their worries aside. Go to Thailand and enjoy the splendid white sand beaches, exotic architecture, fascinating culture, and ancient ruins.

However, I wanted to take this opportunity to explain how Friendly Planet handles these situations. We’ve been in business for 30 years, and over that long span, we’ve experienced many travel advisories and warnings for points around the globe.

If the demonstrations in Bangkok had been held as originally announced, we would have rerouted our travelers already in the country to avoid any areas where the demonstrations were taking place.

For customers who were about to depart for Thailand, we would have carefully assessed the situation and made a decision whether or not to operate the tour. If the U.S. Department of State did issue a travel warning, we would have postponed our tour. But, our travelers wouldn’t incur any penalties.

We would never send our travelers into harm’s way. I want you to know that our travelers’ safety and security are our prime concerns. The determining factor behind any of our actions is always for your safety.

I spoke to our representatives on the ground in Thailand, and they told me that the streets of Bangkok are calm, and it’s business as usual. Our Taste of Thailand and Treasures of Thailand tours are happening as planned.

If the situation in Thailand does change, we will let you know about it on our blog and our Facebook page as soon as possible. If you have questions or would like more information, please send them directly to me.

Getting a Taste of Vietnam

It’s been almost a year since my visit to Vietnam. I can’t believe how fast time flies. It feels like I was just basking on the sun deck of the Emeraude, sailing in the beautiful waters of Halong Bay. Vietnam was one of those trips that I just didn’t want to end.

CRUISING: Halong Bay’s stunning emerald green waters

When I was there, I fell in love with the country’s extraordinary beauty and charming people. I’ve never before experienced a country whose people were so warm and receptive to tourists. Despite America and Vietnam’s history, the Vietnamese people hold no animosity towards us.

In fact, if you don’t speak Vietnamese, you really only have to smile to communicate with the people. After spending two weeks in the country, I wanted to make sure our Taste of Vietnam tour was giving something more than just tourism back to the country.

I set out to find opportunities for our travelers to directly give back to the locals of the towns they are visiting. So now on the Taste of Vietnam tour, we bring travelers to KOTO. It is a nonprofit restaurant and vocational training program that is changing the lives of disadvantaged youths in Vietnam. A portion of what our travelers spend there goes directly back to KOTO to continue to improve the lives of Vietnamese children.

Another place we visit, en route to Halong Bay, is a shop where travelers can buy paintings and jewelry. The profits from the shop go to a school that teaches handicapped Vietnamese to become artisans. The students then create all of the artwork in the shop our travelers visit. Everything you buy directly benefits students at the school.

Better yet, these two places are not often visited by tourists. So you get to not only give a little something back to this beautiful country, but you also get to see some places off the beaten trail.

In addition to finding these great social causes in Vietnam, I found more ways to make the eight-day Taste of Vietnam tour even better. For $1,199 you’ll also visit two of Vietnam’s most dynamic and culturally awe-inspiring cities, Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon) and Hanoi.

The price includes round-trip airfare from Los Angeles, all intra-Asia flights and ground transportation, superior hotel accommodations, daily buffet breakfast, and comprehensive sightseeing in each city with a local, English-speaking Vietnamese guide.

The tour immerses travelers in the country’s rich culture, starting with Ho Chi Minh City (still called Saigon by many locals) and ends in Hanoi. They see the country’s floating markets, winding canals, sweeping rice paddies, and bustling cityscapes.

Travelers also take a step back into the country’s history with a trip to Hoa Lo Prison, also known as the “Hanoi Hilton,” and the Cu Chi Tunnels that were part of the underground highway of the Viet Cong.

There is also an array of discounted optional tours, including the Halong Bay overnight cruise, my personal favorite. Travelers stay aboard a deluxe river boat, the Emeraude. It’s a replica of one of the classic steamships of the colonial era of French Indochina. You feel like you’re in the movie, “Indochine,” which consequently, is played on your stay.

And if that still isn’t enough, take advantage of your already included international airfare and spend three additional nights in Bangkok, Thailand. Visit what is often called the “Venice of the East” for its network of canals (klongs), and explore Bangkok by boat.

Book our eight-day Taste of Vietnam tour for $1,199 by Feb. 24, 2010. As I said earlier, it’s almost impossible not to fall in love with this amazing country and not want to leave. For complete details, visit our Web site. If you have any questions, send me an e-mail.

Get a “Taste of Thailand” before it sells out!

New Picture.png

Since we featured the Taste of Thailand tour on the blog last July, it’s become one of our most popular destinations. Many travelers have been enjoying our tour guides showcasing its fascinating culture, exotic beaches, and islands.

Departure dates are filling up quickly, so if you want to experience the bustling capital city of Bangkok, the ancient city of Ayutthaya, and the historic River Kwai this spring — all for an amazingly affordable price, you need to act now!

You can book this tour  for $999 by Feb. 10. It includes round-trip airfare from Los Angeles, accommodations at superior first-class hotels, daily breakfast, sightseeing tours, English-speaking tour guides, optional extensions to Angkor Wat in Cambodia and Phuket Island, and more.

As I’ve told you before, Thailand has emerged as one of Asia’s most cosmopolitan destinations in the world. Travelers will explore Bangkok’s waterways on a canal boat ride, enjoy a traditional Thai Set dinner at Supatra River House Restaurant, visit the most visually stunning temples in the world, and so much more.

The nine-day tour will give you a deep appreciation for the old and new that gives the country its remarkable appeal. Read my previous post about the Taste of Thailand tour to get all the details about this magnificent country.

For travelers who want more time in Thailand, check out the Treasures of Thailand tour for 12 days. For more information on either of our Thailand tours, take a look at our Web site.

Friendly Planet Travel giving travelers what they want, according to Conde Nast Traveler’s 2009 Readers Choice Awards

As I was home catching up on some work-related e-mail this weekend, I spent some time browsing the latest Condé Nast Traveler: 2009 Readers’ Choice Awards. I couldn’t help smiling to myself as I read that once again, Friendly Planet has it pretty well covered in terms of what travelers want.

Take the Top Cities category. We offer trips to eight out of the top 10 Asian cities: Bangkok, Hong Kong, Chiang Mai, Kyuoto, Shanghai, Jaipur, Tokyo, and Hanoi. Singapore, also on the top 10 list, is coming in 2010, and that’s just Asia. We also cover four out of five of the best Africa and Middle East cities: Cape Town, Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, and Dubai.

FP_Plane.jpgThe No. 1 and No. 2 airlines on the list of Ten Best Global Carriers – Singapore Airlines and Emirates – are prominently featured on some of our tours. And even some of the world’s best hotels, such as the Fairmont Hotel Dubai, are found on our programs.

So, you could be thinking, "big deal." A lot of companies feature these places, these airlines, and these hotels. And that’s the point. A lot do feature all of this and more, but at what price? That’s where we differ from almost everyone out there. The best for the least means something in my mind. It translates into a lot of work in creating the tours that result in great vacations in great destinations at great prices.
 

That’s the thought  I had after reading these lists, anyway. But more importantly, how do YOU think Friendly Planet Travel stacks up? Are there cities we don’t offer that you wish we did? Where do you want to go with us? Let me know in the comments section below! I would really love to hear from you.

« Newer PostsOlder Posts »

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

Tours & Packages Our specialty for 30 years! Find one now:
choose a region Europe Mediterranean Asia Middle East Africa Central America Caribbean South America South Pacific
Cyber Monday Travel Sale: save up to $500