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Posts Tagged ‘Taste of China’

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A trip to The Philadelphia Inquirer Travel Show this weekend could send you to China or India

Philly’s more fun when you win a trip to China or India! If you go to The Philadelphia Inquirer Travel Show at The Pennsylvania Convention Center this weekend, you have the chance to win an extraordinary trip for two on Friendly Planet Travel’s Taste of China tour or the Taj Mahal Express tour. And those two trips aren’t the only prizes attendees can win. We’re also giving away a Nikon S8100 digital camera.

Friendly Planet Travel will be exhibiting at the show at booth #514 where attendees can register to win. It’s that simple. The winners will be randomly selected and announced right here on the blog on Monday.

If you do make it to the show, please stop by booth #514 and say hello! I’ll be there all weekend. I’ll also be giving two presentations. “7 Exotic Locations for the Price of a Vegas Weekend” will reveal the exotic spots on the globe that offer your family an unforgettable experience of a lifetime for the cost of the typical week down the shore or a long weekend in Vegas. That’s slated for Saturday at 12:15 p.m. on the entertainment stage.

And “How to Compare Travel Offers for the Best Value” will teach you how to compare different packages and uncover hidden fees to slim down your cost without slimming down your experience. That’s scheduled for Sunday at 11:15 a.m. And I’ll be answering your travel questions after each presentation.

If you haven’t bought your tickets yet, you can still do so online. Adults are $10 and kids under 18 are free. So for just $10, you could win a trip to China, India, or a pretty snazzy camera. Not a bad deal, right? And that’s in addition to the abundance of travel information and fun planned for show visitors.

There are 63 booths in addition to Friendly Planet Travel’s, although I personally have a preference for booth #514! We will have lots of material, an international slide show with amazing images of the many places around the world we visit, and special, show-only discount coupons valid for many of our tours.

Here are more details on our prizes. The Nikon S8100 features a 3-inch, high-resolution clear color display. It has 12.1 megapixals with a 10X wide Zoom-NIKKOR ED glass lens, covering 30-300 mm. It also comes with Optical VR Image Stabilzation, high ISO sensitivity to 3200, and a new flash control system. Plus, you can record full 1080p HD movies with stereo sound.

The winner of the Taste of China tour visits three of China’s most dynamic and culturally awe-inspiring cities: Beijing, Xi’an, and Shanghai. Included are roundtrip airfare from Los Angeles via Air China including fuel surcharges; all ground transfers; all intra-China flights; deluxe and first class hotel accommodations with private bath; many meals; comprehensive sightseeing with a local, English-speaking expert guide; and more. Jump back to my previous posts on the tour find out all the sights you’ll see in each city.

The Taj Mahal Express tour includes roundtrip airfare from New York on Emirates; superior first-class hotels; daily buffet breakfasts; an authentic Indian farewell dinner in Delhi; expert guides throughout the journey; fuel surcharges, transfers, and much more.

While in India, we take you on expert-guided tours of the Taj Mahal, Fatehpur Sikhri, Jaipur (known as the “pink city”), and the Amber Fort, with an ascent on elephant or a Jeep. You also get a one-day tour in Delhi that takes you to its most important sites, such as the Laxmi Narayan Temple, Raj Ghat, the Red Fort, and more. Your tour concludes with a rickshaw tour through Old Delhi’s most popular street market, Chandni Chowk. There’s so much more, but you can read about it in my recent posts.

I hope to see you this weekend! If you can’t make it, you’ll have another chance to see us at The New York Times Travel Show where we’ll be exhibiting on Feb. 25 to 27. But more to come on that in a future post.

Read along as Farihah Ali searches for the perfect dumpling in China

If you want another helping of dumplings, err, I mean another helping of our podcast with Farihah Ali, you can download the transcript. Read along as Farihah tries to find the best dumplings on Friendly Planet Travel’s Taste of China tour.

Farihah Ali searches for the perfect dumpling on Friendly Planet Travel’s Taste of China tour

Spiced beef dumplings in Shanghai

Food and travel — they’re like two peas in a pod. I always enjoy trying the exotic foods native to the country I’m visiting.

In fact, I’ve told you plenty of times that Vietnam tops my list of countries to go to for the food. But it’s not the only country in Asia that foodies adore.

Let’s head north to China. Farihah Ali, from Atlanta, went on Friendly Planet Travel’s Taste of China tour in November and wrote about her time in the country on her own blog, Spice Bites. When I stumbled upon her blog posts, I asked one of our Friendly Planet Travel bloggers, Melissa, to get to know what mouth-watering food Farihah discovered in China.

In our podcast Farihah dives into what she saw and ate in the three cities she visited in China, ShanghaiXi’an, and Beijing. Dumplings where on the top of Farihah’s list to find. She tells us about her adventures to find the best ones in each city, as well as the other food she tasted along the way thanks to help of her tour guides.

Farihah breaks down what the hotels, escorted tours, tour guides, and transportation was like in each city. She also tells Melissa how it was easy to get around the cities when she only knew one or two phrases in Chinese, and much more.

After you listen to the podcast, I encourage you to flip over to her blog to read her posts about China and look at all the beautiful photos she took. If you’ve been to China and ate some amazing food, please tell me about it in a comment on this post.

Farihah in Suzhou, China

The Washington Post features our Taste of China tour as a ‘travel bargain’

My new year started off on a high note when I picked up The Washington Post on Sunday. Carol Sottili featured Friendly Planet Travel’s Taste of China tour in her travel column, “What’s the deal? Travel bargains from around the globe.”

Thanks Carol for featuring our tour! Hit Carol’s article to find out why she named Taste of China one of her travel bargains this week.

Taste of China tour guides shine bright in one couple’s eyes

Tour guides can really make or break an experience in a new country. Anyone who has ever gone on a group tour can attest to that, including Nicole Zuchelli and Zack Grahama. They just returned from Friendly Planet Travel’s Taste of China tour and thought their tour guides took their experience to a whole new level of enjoyment.

Nicole and Zack sent me a detailed e-mail about how wonderful their tour guides were and what they thought were some of the highlights of the group tour. I copied and pasted the e-mail (verbatim) below. Give it a read. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

Nicole and Zack in the Forbidden City

“Dear Friendly Planet and CITS,

We just returned from Friendly Planet’s “Taste of China” tour and we are two incredibly satisfied travelers — it was fabulous. Although we’ve been fortunate enough to travel pretty extensively in our lives, this was our first experience with Friendly Planet and our first trip to Asia. We’ve barely been back in the states for 48 hours and we’ve already converted our families into Friendly Planet fans via our ‘Taste of China’ travel tales.

We must tell you that National Guide, David Bai, runs an absolutely excellent tour. David is personable,exceptionably knowledgeable and is careful to keep things lighthearted and fun, all of the essential ingredients for magnificent group travel.

He went above and beyond to ensure that we enjoyed a unique and memorable experience and for that, we are grateful. We’re already thinking about returning for the ‘Best of China’ tour and hope that David can be our guide. Local guides, Alan (Shanghai) and Susan (Xi’an) were wonderful as well, taking extra care to answer all of our questions and it was obvious that all three of our guides took extreme pride in introducing their country to us.

The hotels were fantastic(particularly the Grand Mercure in Xi’an)and the food was delicious and plentiful — no one ever left hungry. Every restaurant that our guides took us to was great and almost all were filled with locals, so we really felt like we were experiencing the “inside scoop” as far as cuisine was concerned.

We feel as though we received amazing value for our money and returned home with a deeper appreciation for travel, a greater understanding of another culture and new friends halfway around the world. What more could you ask for? Xie xie!” — Nicole Zuchelli and Zack Grahama, Los Angeles, Calif.

Thanks for your note Nicole and Zack! Drop us another e-mail if you decide to book the Best of China tour.

Post-Thanksgiving thanks to travel editors

Thanksgiving might be over, but I have a few more thank yous to give out. They go to the editors who featured Friendly Planet Travel tours in their publications this month, as well as Gadling for posting our air travel infographic on its website. Read on to see where Friendly Planet Travel landed in the media.

Gadling liked our air travel infographic so much that it put it front and center on its website.

Budget Travel tells readers how the Jewels of South America tour is one of the best deals around.

Frommer’s includes the Mediterranean Highlights by Sea as one of its five deals for the week of Nov. 3.

Rounding out this month’s coverage are Traveling Boy and TravelwithVal.com who highlight the Taste of China tour. Examiner.com brings the Jewels of South America to the attention of its readers. Lastly, Travel Age West features the Exotic Borneo and Bangkok tour.

Thanks again to all the editors who featured Friendly Planet Travel!

Friendly Planet Travel tours featured in The Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, and more

Take a break from assembling your Halloween costume and catch up on some of the tours that are catching the eyes of travel editors. Thanks to all for including Friendly Planet in your roundups!

The Taj Mahal Express answered The Washington Post’s question: “What’s the deal?”

Los Angeles Times was captivated by Costa Rica in its Travel section.

The Taj Mahal Express was the “Smart Deal of the Week” according to Frommer’s.

Budget Travel thought our Taste of China tour was a “Real Deal.”

Falling in love along the Nile

Steve and Kesa Sage in Cambodia

For some people, taking a vacation can be life changing. And I’m not talking about taking a break from the office and recharging your battery. I’m talking about finding your soul mate.

One of our reservationists recently discovered that a couple booking our Taste of China tour had first met on another one of our tours. Their relationship blossomed and they got married. Their love story is very sweet and I wanted to share it with you.

Let me set the scene.

It was November of 2007 and Steve Sage, a firefighter from Denver, was on Friendly Planet’s Pyramids and Nile Cruise program. The plane had just landed in Cairo and Steve was on his way to see the pyramids with his group tour members.

Kesa Young, from Casper, Wyo., was on that same tour traveling with her sister and niece. Kesa was jet-lagged when they landed, but she was still ready to marvel at one of Egypt’s masterpieces as the group rode the bus to the pyramids site.

Little did Steve and Kesa know that this trip was about to change their lives forever.

Steve was a seasoned traveler and experienced at taking solo trips. He had booked the tour with Friendly Planet because on a previous trip to Egypt, Steve barely had any time to experience the ancient wonders. He was eager to return and and spend time seeing the Sphinx, touring Cairo, and more.

A history buff, Kesa had always wanted to see Egypt. She often traveled alone, but this time she wanted to share this experience with family. Since none of them had visited Egypt before, Kesa’s sister wanted to book a group tour to make sure no one got lost in an unfamiliar country.

The group disembarked from the bus in front of Pyramids at Giza. Kesa, her sister, and niece explored the towering monuments that have stood for the last 46 centuries. Close by, Steve was doing the exact same thing. When they once again boarded the bus, Kesa noticed a handsome man sitting alone.

On the ride to the hotel, Kesa approached Steve and introduced herself to him. And as she describes it, she was “smitten” right away. Since Steve was alone, Kesa found it easy to keep him company at every opportunity they were given.

Kesa wasn’t the only one noticing things that first day in Egypt. Everyone in their group tour noticed the chemistry right away, and they all played an important part in kindling of their romance. Group members would suggest they sit next to each other at dinner, or encourage them to go on an excursion together. With the group’s help, Kesa and Steve spent a lot of time getting to know one another on the trip.

At the end of their nine days together, Steve was going on the Petra extension and Kesa was heading back to Casper. On the last morning of the Pyramids and Nile Cruise, Steve woke up early to have breakfast with Kesa and see her off.

They exchanged e-mails and phone numbers and went their separate ways. Kesa wasn’t sure what to expect of her new-found relationship with Steve. Would she hear from him again? Then a few days later, her phone rang.

On the other end was Steve. He had just returned to Denver and they picked up right where they left off in Egypt. Now that they were back in the U.S., Steve joked that he never thought he’d have to go to Cairo to meet a girl from Casper.

Denver was only four hours away, but Kesa had just quit her job and was moving to Chicago to attend pastry school. For the next six months they flew back and forth to see each other, and it wasn’t uncommon for Steve to surprise her with a visit at school.

When Kesa finished pastry school, she moved to Denver to be closer to Steve. After almost two years of dating, Steve and Kesa decided to tie the knot in a style the suited them best — Las Vegas on Valentine’s Day 2009.

Before taking their vows, Kesa and Steve took the plunge together out of an airplane to skydive the morning of their wedding. It might have been in the desert, but they assured me that it wasn’t warm 15,000 feet up in the sky.

Today Steve and Kesa are happily married and living in Denver. They’re looking forward to touring China with us on an upcoming departure. And this time they’ll share the full experience together.

Thanks to Steve and Kesa for sharing such a personal story. I never knew that as a group tour operator I could also play cupid. 😉

Hot deals to ring in the new year from Friendly Planet Travel

I know it’s that time of the year when you’re picking pumpkins and deciding on a Halloween costume, but I’m thinking about the holidays. More specifically, where I should ring in 2011.

There’s no better way to ring in the new year than with an exotic vacation. I’m not talking about Atlantic City casinos, Caribbean cruises, or California beaches. I’m talking about China, Thailand, Morocco, Turkey, and Egypt.

And even better, to get you moving on booking a trip, I’m giving everyone $75 off on the departure dates below if you use the coupon code NY0910 and book by Oct. 6. Here are the six tours you can choose from.

Ten-day Taste of China, Dec. 28: Tour impressive modern achievements within an ancient and incredibly rich culture in Beijing, Xi’an, and Shanghai now for $1,524 (originally priced $1,599).

Nine-day Taste of Thailand, Dec. 27: Discover the highlights of this magnificent country, including the bustling capital city of Bangkok, the ancient city of Ayutthaya, and the historic River Kwai now for $1,924 (originally priced $1,999).

Nine-day Treasures of Morocco, Dec. 29: Stroll the streets of cosmopolitan Casablanca, roam the ancient ruins in Volubilis, and walk through Fez’s walled medina in one of Africa’s most popular travel destinations now for $2,124 (originally priced $2,199).

Fourteen-day Best of Turkey, Dec. 23: Whirling dervishes. Handspun rugs. Sweet baklava. Experience these hallmarks of Turkey while touring Istanbul, Cappadocia, Antalya, Pamukkale, and Ephesus now for $2,324 (originally priced $2,399).

Nine-day Pyramid and Nile Cruise, Dec. 25: Sail into the new year on an inspired exploration of the famous sphinx and pyramids at Giza, temples at Luxor and Edfu, King Tut’s tomb, old Cairo, and a four-night luxury cruise on the Nile now for $2,624 (originally priced $2,699).

Twelve-day Treasures of Egypt, Dec. 28: Be mesmerized by Egypt’s sweeping natural beauty on land, then board the M/S Tulip for a seven-night Nile River Cruise where you’ll dock at Edfu, Aswan, Kom Ombo, and more, now for $2,924 (originally priced $2,999).

So when you’ve chosen the destination where you’re going to sing “Auld Lang Syne” at the stroke of midnight, just enter the coupon code on the first booking screen when booking online or give the code to your agent when you call 1-800-555-5765.

However, if this is the first time you’re seeing this deal, then you’re not signed up for our Hot Deals newsletter. You can be the first to know about deals such as this one when you sign up for it now. Every week you’ll get discounted offers on Friendly Planet Travel tours sent your inbox.

What’s hot in September at Friendly Planet Travel

The unofficial end to summer is upon us, but we’re not about to close our doors early for the long Labor Day weekend at Friendly Planet Travel. We have several hot deals going on that I wanted to highlight for you. Right now we’re running a promotion where you get up to $70 off the departure dates below with a special coupon code by Sept. 6.

If you didn’t receive this promo in your e-mail then you’re not signed up for our Hot Deals newsletter. So sign up for it now to make sure you always get the discounted offers as soon as they come out. In the meantime, here are the deals that are burning up the last days of summer.

$50 off 15-day Best of India and Nepal, Nov. 22: Find out why India and Nepal continue to top the must-see lists of world travelers on this tour of Delhi, Kathmandu, Varanasi, Agra, and Jaipur now for $2,949 with coupon code IBI0910 (a $2,999 value).

$50 off 8-day Exotic Ecuador, Dec. 6: Discover the remarkable collection of landscapes, cultures, and wildlife on this tour of Quito, Otavalo, Banos, Cotopaxi, and the Amazon Rainforest now for $1,249 with coupon code ISE0910 (a $1,299 value).

$70 off 10-day Taste of China, Dec. 28: Tour impressive modern achievements within an ancient and incredibly rich culture in Beijing, Xi’an, and Shanghai now for $1,529 with coupon code ITC0910 ($1,599 value).

$70 off 8-day Pyramids and Petra, Dec. 4Embark on an inspired exploration of the pyramids of Egypt and the lost city of Petra in Jordan, one of the Seven New Ancient Wonders of the World now for $1,729 with coupon code IPP0910 (a $1,799 value).

$50 off 12-day Amazing Peru, Dec. 1: Get an unforgettable glimpse of the genius of the lost world of the Inca people and more when touring Lima, Nazca Lines, Cuzco, Sacred Valley, Machu Picchu, Lake Titicaca now for $2,229 with coupon code SAP0910 (a $2,299 value).

I know there’s a lot to choose from here, so pour yourself a cup of coffee or tea, find a quiet place to sit, and pick out your next destination. And once you do that, simply enter the coupon code on the first booking screen when booking online or give the code to your agent when you call 1-800-555-5765.

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