Smiling Albino

Smiling Albino Founder Named Condé Nast Traveler’s Top Travel Specialist

21 april 2020

Since founding Smiling Albino in 1999, Dan has lived in Bangkok and roves between his teams in Thailand, Cambodia, and Vietnam non-stop. But, Dan is so much more than our founder and CEO at Smiling Albino.

Dan also hosts his own TV show in Thailand (in Thai!), is an active adventurer who has taken celebrities motorcycling, billionaires for street-side noodles, connected top name artists and designers to curious travelers, and arranged a private rocket festival in a remote Burmese Village for locals to celebrate.

He’s our chief travel mahout, a make-anything-happen magician and so much more!

Click here to see the full list of 2020 Travel Specialists.

A One-On-One Q&A with Dan Fraser

What’s your favorite Thailand travel experience?

Cycling (or motorcycling) the stunning roads along the Mekong River in Loei, Chiang Rai, or Ubon Ratchathani and seeing the colourful riverside communities and lives of local people. It can cure any ill and bring lasting smiles and memories to the most seasoned traveler.

smilingalbino-bio-dan-crai-biking

What’s the greatest misconception about Southeast Asia travel?

The notion that “everything has been done”, or that there are no more authentic experiences or undiscovered locations left. On the contrary, we are continually discovering new, less explored places and experiences – sometimes in the middle of the region’s capital cities. We connect locals and travelers who’ve never before had the chance to interact, and illuminate out of the way hidden gems for our curious guests. The best parts of Southeast Asia are absolutely not overcrowded!

 

lahu village

What’s your Smiling Albino must-do experience for all guests to Thailand?

Wandering the small communities and canal-side villages in the old Thonburi side of Bangkok. A food and drink night out on the town with Smiling Albino, and of course getting off the grid into the colourful villages and stunning countryside of the far north. Nature heals us like nothing else can.

thailand food street night

What’s the most memorable travel experience you and the Smiling Albino team have ever delivered?

Hard to pick with 20 years of memories! Once for a group trip we choreographed an absolutely epic (and surprise) pilgrimage walk through an ancient riverside town in Vietnam, complete with traditional drummers, torches, dancers, and local pilgrims appearing out of doorways, alleys, side streets and shops, and joining us to walk through town to a 17th Century Hokkien Shrine, which opened to an amazing dragon dance and a catered meal featuring dozens of dishes reflecting the 300-year history of the ethnic groups in the area. The whole town took part. We planned every second of it. It was the ultimate 360 degree benefit for everyone. Lifetime memory and organizational coup d’etat.

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What is the most unique travel experience you’ve had in Thailand?

Wow – 20 years of memories! Attending a community ceremony in remote Si Saket (Isaan) near the Cambodian border where the elders and shamen of the village went into a colourful trance, then a rhythmic dance, followed by one supreme old-time village party – all to encourage the spirits to cure a sick villager and ensure a bountiful rice harvest. It had it all: music, food, traditional beliefs, ceremony, dance, and small town fun that only Thais can do.

A close second would be helicoptering up the forested mountain pass along the Thai-Myanmar border, landing on a ping-pong table slab of turf, and hiking with Akha villagers to their forest dwelling for blessing with elders.

SA Helicopter

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