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Posts Tagged ‘Treasures of Thailand’

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! (more…)

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.

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.

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.

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

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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.

Customer Testimonial: True love on Treasures of Thailand

Our Treasures of Thailand vacation includes 12 days of beautiful beaches and islands, exotic architecture, fascinating culture, and ancient ruins. And, as many of our travelers have attested, the country provides the perfect backdrop for an absolutely unforgettable honeymoon experience.
I was combing through our customer testimonials recently, when I came across two that particularly struck me because they were from happy Friendly Planeteers who had just returned from their honeymoons with us. At first thought, people might not consider a group tour the ideal way to spend a honeymoon, but if you’re looking for the perfect combination of fun, culture, nightlife, and once-in-a-lifetime experiences, a knowledgeable guide is the perfect person to show you the way. Plus, there is still ample time for couples to explore on their own and spend time with only each other.
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Have a look at what these two couples thought.
“We booked this trip instead of going to Hawaii for our honeymoon. It was less expensive to fly half way around the world and stay for 3 extra days than what it would have cost to go to Hawaii. As for the trip, it was by far the best trip of my life. Lek, our guide, is a wonderful person; very accommodating, friendly and seemed to genuinely care about making our experience enjoyable. Thailand is an amazing country that combines beautiful scenery, a unique culture, friendly people, a good nightlife, and is very inexpensive. What more could you ask for? We are looking to book our next trip (Africa) and are definitely looking at Friendly Planet.
– Wade Honeyfield, Denver, CO”

“Thank you for a wonderful honeymoon experience! The Treasures of Thailand tour was very well organized. Our tour guide Matthew was a delight. He was very knowledgeable and enthusiastically helpful. We had a wonderful time getting to know our fellow tour participants. We’re definitely very happy we chose the Friendly Planet Tours as our honeymoon vacation. And as you can see from the pictures, we had quite an adventurous time! P.S. Thank you, Friendly Planet, for the extra-special treatment, for us honeymooners, at all of the beautiful hotels we stayed at.
– Kunal & Leena Bhojawala, Jersey City, NJ”

Thailand’s tourism troubles (and deals)

The New York Times’ Practical Traveler published an article today about the state of Thailand’s tourism (and the subsequent deals you can now find) amidst some of the recent unrest in Bangkok. The Tourism Authority of Thailand predicts the number of tourists will drop this year, in part because of the anti-government protests that have recently taken place.FP_NYTThailand.jpg
As a result, Thailand has become an even more ideal destination for finding great deals. Thailand is already established as the place to find affordable luxury, and now prices for "five star treatment" is dropping even lower than "three star prices."
When writing the article, Practical Traveler reporter Michelle Higgins asked what I thought about touring in Thailand, since our travel agency frequently books tour throughout the country.
As I said to her, we haven’t had a single cancellation to the Treasures of Thailand tour as a result of the protests (even to the tour that was over there in the middle of the action earlier this month), and we don’t have any concerns about sending tourists today. In fact, I’m heading out for my first trip to Thailand in a few weeks, and I can’t wait!
If you have an interest in international travel (as I assume you do, since you’re here), and especially if you have an interest in Thailand and Asia, the article is definitely a worthwhile read. So have a look!

Tickled reviews for Treasures of Thailand

A group of Friendly Planeteers recently returned from our Treasure of Thailand trip. The Thailand vacation includes 12 days of beautiful beaches and islands, exotic architecture, fascinating culture, and ancient ruins.
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And it looks like the author of this customer testimonial found the Friendly Planet Travel Thailand adventure as marvelous as we do. Here’s the e-mail, completely unedited:
"Dear Friendly Planet, I just returned from your Treasures of Thailand tour. I wanted to let you know that I was so impressed with every aspect of this trip! When I booked this tour I was honestly apprehensive. The price was so good it seemed too good to be true. I really expected to have problems along the way, but there were none! Our tour guide, Ms. Atchara, was outstanding! She took a personal interest in everyone on the tour. There were many times she stopped and bought small presents for our group, like local food to sample or tiger balm for sore feet. The one thing that I really felt was over and above was the fact that she personally picked me up from the airport on my return from Phuket! I expected a private car for a transfer, but she came along just to see me again and to make sure I had a good time in Phuket! I feel like I’ve left a friend behind in Thailand, and I wanted to make sure you know what outstanding people you have working for you there! I can definitely say after this wonderful experience that I would highly recommend Friendly Planet Travel to anyone looking to see the world at a great price. I will absolutely be traveling with you in the future! Thank you again!
– Jenny Gontz, Chambersburg, PA"

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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