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Posts Tagged ‘Thailand’

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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.

Taste of Thailand wins over a Citizen-Times local

Recently, the only news you hear on Thailand is about the political protests that are unfolding. Thailand is normally a very peaceful country, and it saddens me that these protests are disrupting tourism.

When I found this article in the Citizen-Times, called “Amazing Thailand,” my sadness started to disappear. Dottie Trantham wrote a beautiful account of her Taste of Thailand tour for her local paper. It was simply wonderful.

Dottie captured the essence of travel in Thailand perfectly. Life in Thailand moves at a different pace, unless you’re trying to defy the raging river that is Bangkok traffic.

Otherwise, one could easily become addicted to the kind, smiling faces of the people. And let’s not leave out the lovely flowers everywhere (orchids galore), the delicious food, and the fascinating sights and sounds of this amazing country.

I wanted to thank her for taking the time to record her experiences. Read her full account, she doesn’t leave a detail out. Dottie, your article reminded me that I need to get back to Thailand A.S.A.P.

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.

Thailand remains calm, tourism to resume

This post has be updated here.

I received an update from the Thai Ministry of Tourism today. Here’s what they told me. Bangkok remains calm as the Thai government continues to work towards resolving the political situation. Popular tourist destinations outside of Bangkok have not been affected.

This past week, the Songkran, the Thai New Year holiday, brought a period of cooling off while many people celebrated the holiday. As a result, traffic has improved and protesters have moved from their traffic-stopping locations.

At this time, tourism to Thailand will continue as usual, unless something new occurs.

Here’s what Friendly Planet is doing for our travelers going to Thailand. We have asked our suppliers to help us with those travelers who, despite the calmer atmosphere, still do not feel comfortable traveling to Thailand.

For those traveling with Friendly Planet on April 28 (our next departure), anyone who feels unwilling to continue with the tour can postpone their trip without any penalties. They also have the option to book our Vietnam tour, which flies on the same airline.

I will post an update if there are any new developments in Thailand. Please write to me directly if you have any questions or concerns about your trip.

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.

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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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