Make Your Next Trip Extraordinary

Teen-friendly activities included food tours, kayaking, bathing and riding elephants, and mud skiing with the monkeys
Wendy Minocha | November 27, 2022

We unexpectedly found ourselves with several free weeks at the end of the summer and wanted to take advantage of the opportunity for a two-week vacation. We contacted Dan Fraser and his team to plan a trip in Thailand for my kids (16 & 18) and me. Unfortunately my husband was unable to join us for this trip, so I asked that the itinerary be geared to teenagers (minimize temple visits, etc.).

Dan and his planning team (Sidney in particular) were responsive and easy to deal with. They pulled together a memorable trip in less than 2 months. They were extremely accommodating when we arrived 24hrs late due to a series of flight delays (huge thank you to Cranky Concierge for helping us reach Thailand each time we hit an obstacle with our flights). Our guide in Bangkok even bought my son some basic clothes when his bag arrived 3 days after we did.

We wanted to see Thailand, not sit on a beach, so opted to skip Phuket and the islands. Instead we visited Bangkok, Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai with an amazing side trip to Cambodia to see Angkor Wat. We were incredibly lucky in that this area of the world is just re-opening from Covid and many typically very crowded sites (Grand Palace, Angkor Wat, etc.) were relatively empty and we were really able to explore. The lack of crowds was good for us, but these countries rely on tourism so hopefully things pick up with the lifting of restrictions. The teen-friendly activities included food tours, kayaking in Cambodia, bathing and riding elephants in Chiang Mai, and mud skiing with the monkeys outside of Bangkok. The kids would say that we still visited too many temples but will admit that the White Temple (Wat Rong Khun) in Chiang Rai is a fun one to see.

Logistically, I liked that we had the same guide and driver the entire time we were in each location and not someone new every day. And we could contact the home office over WhatsApp at any time. The hotels were amazing and the vehicles always had sanitizer, cool drinks and snacks, which really helped in the heat of summer.

Overall, we had a fantastic trip! We had a few activities that didn’t quite work out as they should, but that’s traveling. One of the most disappointing was the floating markets, which was a highlight of a previous tour of Thailand, but it was empty this time around. And I think the highlight of any trip to Thailand is the elephants in Chiang Mai—do not miss!

One of my favorite experiences was a hot pot lunch at a local’s home. We bonded with the local hosts, all the while drinking home-brewed plum wine
Amy Evers | November 11, 2022

We are extremely happy with our decision to go to Vietnam and Cambodia. We are lucky to have been able to see this part of the world before the masses of tourists come back. Our trip planner was excellent. We started off with a few emails back and forth. He asked me about previous trips we had done in southeast Asia. We then had a Zoom meeting for about an hour to discuss. After that we had many emails back and forth to solidify the plans. He listened to our goals, previous experiences, etc. and worked these ideas into our itinerary.

Our guides throughout the trip also got to know us and honed our days/tours to our specific likes. For example, we like to try all the foods. Our guides did not disappoint. Throughout the trip we went to various markets and even stopped randomly on the side of the road to try things. We had a lot of fun trying some very interesting things! We wanted to have some suits made for my husband, so for 3 days in a row, we made time to go to the tailor for fittings. We wanted to experience everything we could, so even when a torrential downpour interrupted the end of our street-food scooter tour (instead of taking a taxi back to the hotel in the rain), we rode through the streets of Saigon in the rain on the scooter…so much fun and we were soaked! When I said I really wanted to find mangosteens, we did, even though they’re out of season. Etc, etc. I could give so many more examples. Our guides really were at our disposal and were happy to modify. I decided last minute that I really wanted to see Angkor Wat at sunrise. No problem, done! One of our guides even took our laundry to get done while we were on our cruise in Ha Long Bay so we didn’t have to pay the exorbitant costs at the hotels.

We ate at wonderful restaurants, street food, market stalls, and in the homes of local villagers. One of my favorite experiences was a hot pot lunch at a local’s home near the Chinese border in Bac Ha. We bonded with the local hosts, chatting with facial expressions, hand movements and of course our guide translating, all the while drinking home-brewed plum wine. We also cooked food both at a local’s home and at a cooking class.

We learned so much more about the Vietnam war. We met a Vietnamese pilot who shot down 2 American planes during the war. What an interesting and moving interaction that was. We visited the Cu Chi tunnels, the War Remnants Museum, and a hidden weapons bunker.

We partook in the Vietnamese coffee culture on numerous occasions in every city. We stayed active, hiking, biking, and kayaking. We visited a couple schools, one planned ahead of time by our guide and one impromptu. We used multiple modes of transportation… trains, planes, automobiles, tuk-tuks, cyclos, rickshaws, motorcycles and scooters. We met locals in bars, eating street food, in locals’ homes, drinking coffee, etc. We saw beautiful landscapes, historic architecture, ancient ruins, modern architecture, etc. We learned about the Khmer Rouge and visited the S-21 prison. We awed at the ancient ruins of Angkor Wat. We did all of this and more with the help and knowledge of our incredible local guides or hosts, as Dan’s office calls them. Host really is a better description than guide. Our hotels were all wonderful. All of our transfers were meticulously timed. Even when our flight from Vietnam to Cambodia was canceled, we were booked on another flight before we even knew there was a problem.

And then, the surprise for me was our WOW Moment. We had a special tuk-tuk ride to the start of our boat ride. On the boat ride on the river we had cocktails, appetizers, entertainment with a traditional singer and a musician playing the Dan Tranh, (which we got to try our hand at), and even lit lanterns. All of that was followed by an incredible multi-course dinner at a beautiful restaurant where our musician was playing another instrument. Everyone involved was amazing. Even the weather cooperated and it didn’t rain! Thank you Wendy!

Dan’s team did a wonderful job. I would definitely use them again and recommend them to friends and family. If you’ve considered a trip to Southeast Asia, do it now!

When I chatted with friends who have been living in Bangkok for more than 20 years and told them about our experiences, they weren't even aware of a majority of the places we visited
Matthaeus Kala | December 15, 2021

PANDEMIC TRAVEL Dan did an absolutely incredible job of making our December 2021 trip to Thailand unique and unforgettable. As seasoned travellers with a healthy budget, we expect top service and want to be shown places/experiences off the beaten track. Thanks to Dan, we got routes, visited destinations and met locals that blew our minds. I even ended up buying great contemporary art pieces from a little art gallery we visited along the way (something I would not typically do). When I chatted with friends who have been living in Bangkok for more than 20 years and told them about our experiences, they weren’t even aware of a majority of the places we visited. My wife and I can’t stop talking about our incredible time with Dan’s team. Thanks again, Dan, you are the best. And, of course, a big thanks to Wendy and WendyPerrin.com. It will continue to be our go-to site for the best guides around the world.

My husband enjoyed some impromptu jam sessions with local pop music enthusiasts
Kathryn Barden | February 11, 2020

Kae on Dan’s team planned a wonderful adventure for my husband and I. We traveled through Thailand, including Bangkok, Chiang Mai and Yao Noi, and island near Phuket. The trip planning was so easy as right away the hotels and activities fit exactly what we asked for. I tried to give as much info as possible about us and what we like to do and this proved to work well and our expectations were exceeded. Each hotel was an oasis. Our guides were very engaging and so enthusiastic about showing us their cities.

Ms. Ann in Bangkok was a delight. Not only did we see all the major sites but she adjusted on the fly to help us find some intriguing contemporary art galleries. We had a very memorable food and dinner tour through the streets of Bangkok’s Chinatown.

In Chiang Mai, Mr. Ack was equally fun and took us on a bike tour through his village. We saw flower fields and tried our hand at rice planting. As well, he took us to a favorite place for coffee, lunch, foot massages and a super interesting fresh market tour tasting new foods and delicious exotic fruits. In both cities my husband enjoyed some impromptu jam sessions with local pop music enthusiasts. They were so happy to have a guitar-playing visitor. It’s those unexpected moments that make for such a memorable trip.

The Six Senses Yao Noi was a luxurious spot to finish our trip. We had an exciting day boating to the local islands, enjoyed wonderful massages and a cooking class where I was the sole student. The food was delicious and staff so kind.

Thank you Wendy, Dan and Kae!

We absolutely loved our trip
Haviva Levstein | January 15, 2020

We absolutely loved our trip designed by Kae in Dan’s office. We built the trip together. There is not one thing that we did not love about our trip. The guides, drives and excursions were all top-notch. Kae was available throughout our trip. We had no challenges at all. We HIGHLY recommend Dan and his team for trips to Thailand.

Did a wonderful job of bringing the culture to life
Laural Browman | December 2, 2019

The trip to Thailand was possibly our best family holiday ever because of the great things that we did as planned by Dan. The local guides, Pe and Noom, did a wonderful job of bringing the culture to life. From Temples to food markets to the elephants and kayaking down the Ping River. They asked a lot of questions while planning the trip and it showed because it was right for us. We felt very well taken car of when moving between cities which took any stress of travel out of the equation. I highly recommend using Dan Fraser.

He took us to the Sunday walking market and had us try all sorts of street food - it was all phenomenal.
Nicole Walworth | March 4, 2019

I worked with Stephanie, on Daniel’s team, to tailor a 2 week trip to Thailand for my husband & I, mindful of our budget, and she knocked it out of the park. We felt well taken care of and felt she really understood the types of hotels we wanted to stay at, places we wanted to visit (elephant sanctuary, Wat Rong Khun – white temple, etc.) and suggestions for places to eat. They even made reservations for us at Gaggan, voted the best restaurant in Asia. It was one of the best meals we’ve ever had!

Our guide in Chiang Mai & Chiang Rai, Berm, was very knowledgeable and so enthusiastic. When we told him we were foodies, he took us to the Sunday walking market and had us try all sorts of street food – it was all phenomenal.

Would highly recommend them and would not hesitate to use them again.

Gave us the local view we were hoping for
Bob Pfender | August 24, 2018

Daniel and his staff were extremely responsive through the entirety of our trip. We booked two hosts for the different areas we were visiting and they were well versed and gave us the local view we were hoping for.

Thank you for a wonderful honeymoon! We’d certainly recommend using for trips where you want your logistics, hosting experience sorted for you.

Not only gets the big things right but the details that take a trip from great to lifetime memories
JoEllen Shelden | July 25, 2018

Dan Fraser and his team knocked it out of the park. Last year we had to end our trip early to Thailand due to an injury. We were determined to go back and finish our trip. Throughout the planning stages, I could tell they had processed our likes, dislikes, style and preferences and that had been used to craft our new trip. We added Saigon, Hue, and Hoi An to the beginning of our trip for a 15-day adventure. We stayed at fabulous luxury hotels like the Park Hyatt Saigon where we were upgraded to a suite and the St. Regis Bangkok. We stayed at historic properties like La Residence in Hue and a swanky boutique hotel Rachamanka in Chiang Mai furnished with antiques. All of our private guides and drivers were knowledgeable, personable, and flexible. We seldom waited in line, so all the temples and sights without the crowds. Dan calls their guides hosts and they do just that. Go to the market? You get opportunities to try local drinks and fruits. At the temples, you get to participate in local customs and traditions. We are foodies and we had such amazing lunches at non-tourist places. Dan’s office team also helped us make reservations at two of the top restaurants in the world, Gaggan, and Nahm. And when we had a mini-crisis of food poisoning, our guide was there to make sure I got the treatment I needed and figured out how to reconfigure our next day so that we still got to see the main sights. The transfers between cities were seamless. One of my most favorite moments was at Ayuthayya when I dressed in traditional clothes and wandered amongst the temple ruins. Dan and his team not only gets the big things right but the details that take a trip from great to lifetime memories. Thank you, Wendy, for making this introduction.

Did an excellent job.
Avery Evans | March 4, 2018

Our trip to Thailand, Cambodia, and Vietnam was excellent. Daniel Fraser’s staff were all really good and helpful and did an excellent job planning the trip. Some of the guides were better than others but overall very well-planned. My only complaint was with the accommodations on the junk boat in Ha Long Bay. It was an old boat with a very tiny room. I did not realize that you could do a one-night stay on these boats or even take a speedboat to see the Bay. I was only given the choice of the two-night cruise and assumed that that was the necessary time to see the Bay and the only option. In hindsight, I’d rather pay more, take the speedboat everywhere, and save the other two days for a place that absolutely requires it.

Easy to contact and responsive
Yale Isaacs | February 19, 2018

My wife and I traveled to Thailand in January for our honeymoon and Daniel and his staff were amazing. We had many planning calls to discuss what we wanted to do on our trip. They were accommodating to any requests and changes we wanted to make. Their suggestions were spot on and all enjoyable. They were easy to contact and responsive. What went above and beyond was the fact that they put together a beautiful book which included our itinerary, some history of the country, helpful words and translations, food and attraction suggestions, contact info, and more. Overall really spectacular job!

Their help was invaluable.
JoEllen Shelden | July 10, 2017

My travel companion had an injury that required us to cut our trip short, but Dan Fraser and his team were with us at every step and their help was invaluable.  We had an amazing few days, pre-accident.  Their pre-trip planning was detailed, comprehensive, responsive, and well done.  We were offered several private experiences such as a private monk blessing and early access to Wat pho, a visit to a private collector’s antique collection, private boats through the canals, and more.  Our guide in Bangkok was beyond amazing and was so caring and accommodating.  We truly had a local experience.  They obtained reservations at two of the best restaurants on the Top 50 in the world list.  Dan Fraser made sure we had anything we needed.  We have experienced several trips in the past arranged by your WOW List travel specialists, and I can assure you that Dan is up to your caliber of travel specialist. We plan on completing our Thailand adventure with him in future.  Wendy, thank you for the recommendation.

The special experiences were so unique
Amy Glad | May 14, 2017

Daniel and Stephanie helped us create a completely individualized tour of Southeast Asia that included Thailand, Cambodia, and Vietnam. The pre-trip planning was highly collaborative, and their responses were informative and timely. The accommodations they booked were fabulous – real sanctuaries well located in the center of everything. The different guides and drivers were top notch and amenable to tweaks in the itinerary based on our desires. Some of the special experiences were so unique including the fabric workshop and elephant experience in Chiang Mai, bicycling and kayaking a few times and riding motorcycles in Hanoi. The assistance in our several airport arrivals and departures really helped us remain relaxed in what can be a stressful situation. I’d highly recommend Daniel and his team for their professionalism, knowledge and fun attitude.

The itinerary was fascinating
Gary Zieve | February 22, 2017

Thanks to Daniel Fraser and his team, we had a wonderful time in Thailand. Our guide Poy and our driver were excellent, and the itinerary was fascinating. Poy was knowledgeable and easy to understand. She was able to modify things to fit with our interests and was totally responsive to our needs. She was always early to our rendezvous and would spontaneously go out of her way to do nice things for us. She and the driver made our visit to Thailand a great time. We would recommend her to anyone. Having a guide and driver is the absolute best way to see a country.

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