The Best Travel Agents for Asia
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The Best Travel Agents for Asia

A List 2016
Darren Soh

Cambodia

Andy Booth

The Angkor Guidebook co-author knows Cambodia inside and out—which roads are drivable, how to avoid crowds at temples, who the best English speaking guides are— and can arrange trips with archaeologists and cartographers as well as lake cruises on traditional wooden boats.

Best for adventure, culture buffs, multigenerational families, sustainable travel 855-12-338-872; a.booth@aboutasiatravel.com

China

Stan Godwyn

Godwyn, who speaks Mandarin and has a master’s in anthropology with a focus on Chinese archaeology, can set up historyfocused itineraries along the Silk Road or through Beijing while nimbly managing common hiccups (unannounced flight changes, gridlock in Shanghai).

Best for last-minute trips, value-conscious travelers, culture buffs 916-830-5511; stan.g@travelstore.com

Guy Rubin

China’s top luxury tour operator has a little black book full of friends who can connect clients to art curators or table-tennis stars and arrange private dinners in popular restaurants—all while keeping a finger on the pulse of the best new hotels, like Chengdu’s Temple House.

Best for luxury seekers 86-10-8440-7162, ext. 218; guy@imperialtours.net

China and Tibet

Mei Zhang

Zhang, who is based in Beijing, excels at introducing travelers to less-visited destinations, whether urban (an under-the-radar gallery-hopping tour through Beijing, say) or far-flung (trekking between remote villages in Yunnan).

Best for adventure, multigenerational families, off-the-beatenpath itineraries 888-902-8808; mei.zhang@wildchina.com

Family Travel

Pat O’Connell

O’Connell has a go-to list of well-priced villas—hard to find in Asia—and hotels with adjoining rooms and pools. He also knows which activities will engage kids and teens (anime-studio tours, elephant treks) and can arrange volunteering at local schools in Laos or orphanages in Myanmar.

Best for multigenerational families, voluntourism 720-881-5563; pat@atj.com

Hong Kong

Laura Woo

Raised in Hong Kong, Woo has enough onthe-ground contacts to arrange experiences that are off-limits to other operators— like securing afterhours visits to museums or setting up day trips to peaceful Lamma Island.

Best for culture buffs, business trips 800-256-0640; woo@hal-pc.org

India

Jonny Bealby

In addition to Agra and Jaipur, this former travel journalist can take you far off India’s usual tourist track. He’s planned Zanskar Valley treks, days on a houseboat on the lakes of Kashmir, and visits to Shimla and rural Rajasthan, where guests stay with Rajput royalty.

Best for culture buffs, history lovers, adventure 44-20-7736-3968; jonny@wildfrontiers.co.uk

Pallavi Shah

Shah’s encyclopedic knowledge of new hotels, up-and-coming chefs, spa trends, and the history of each region helps her clients get to know India’s many layers. One of her trip highlights is witnessing priest-led rituals inside Tamil Nadu’s temples.

Best for culture buffs, multigenerational families, honeymooners 646-226-1334; opgny@ourpersonalguest.com

India and Sri Lanka

Carole A. Cambata

Cambata’s carefully crafted itineraries encourage travelers on any budget to get a deeper look at her native country, whether they’re having lunch at a membersonly club in Mumbai or visiting tea plantations and elephant parks in Sri Lanka.

Best for honeymooners, wellness, foodies, adventure, valueconscious travelers 800-318-7801; ccambata@greavestvl.com

Ashish Sanghrajka

Sanghrajka, who grew up visiting family in India each year, deliberately steers away from overcrowded tourist sites to show his clients parts of the country they might not otherwise see, like remote Jain pilgrimage sites or New Delhi’s flowers stalls in early morning.

Best for off-thebeaten-path itineraries, families with teens 800-244-3483, ext. 2216; ashish@bigfive.com

Indonesia

Jarrod Hobson

Called “the Indonesia guy” by his colleagues, Hobson is the go-to for planning trips both classic and current in Bali, Java, and beyond: private-yacht charters, daylong mountain drives, and honeymoons that string together stays at Bali’s best resorts.

Best for families, adventure, honeymooners, luxury seekers 720-881-5575; jarrod@asiatranspacific.com

Japan

Mark Lakin

Lakin’s itineraries focus on the preservation of Japan’s culture and tradition. A few highlights include making baskets with one of the country’s foremost bamboo weavers and attending lanternlighting ceremonies at temples typically closed to the public.

Best for cultural immersion, philanthropic travel 646-580-3026; ml@epicroad.com

Noriko Townsend

This Aomori native excels at working with different age groups. She’s arranged origami lessons for kids, entertained teens with J-pop concerts, set up flower-arranging classes for moms, and sent car-loving dads to the speedway at the foothills of Mount Fuji for a spin with professional drivers.

Best for culture buffs, multigenerational families 970-631-8621; noriko.townsend@altour.com

Duff Trimble

Trimble invests considerable time and resources in order to show travelers the “lost Japan.” A trip might include strolling the sandy streets of faraway islands, visiting monkeys on the unesco World Heritage–designated island of Yakushima, and uncovering stillhidden restaurants and shops in Tokyo and Kyoto.

Best for luxury seekers, off-the-beaten-path itineraries 647-477-1711; duff@wabi-sabijapan.com

Maldives

Justin Parkinson

Which of the 100-plus Maldivian resorts is right for you? Parkinson has stayed in scores of them, evaluating each property against a checklist of attributes (the quality of the spa therapists, the privacy of accommodations) so he can perfectly match clients with their dream stay.

Best for honeymooners, multigenerational families, luxury seekers 818-292-8738; justin@linaratravel.com

Myanmar

Rebecca Mazzaro

With Mazzaro, you’ll go beyond the usual sights and attractions of Bagan and Yangon with activities like a hot-airballoon ride over Inle Lake or a guided trek through scenic jungles and secluded villages between Inle and the interior town of Kalaw.

Best for adventure, culture buffs, off-the-beaten-path itineraries 720-881-5568; rebecca@asiatranspacific.com

Southeast Asia

Andrea Ross

Ross’s company, Journeys Within, runs about 200 trips per year to Southeast Asia, and she excels at itineraries that pair the region’s top guides, hotels, and behind-the-scenes experiences with philanthropic endeavors like volunteering at a local community center.

Best for voluntourism, eco-travel, adventure 877-454-3672; andrea@ journeys-within.com

Thailand

Holly Monahan

Annual trips keep Monahan up-to-date on Bangkok’s best emerging neighborhoods and which islands remain under the radar. A vegan herself, she’s also an expert at helping those with food allergies navigate Thailand’s diverse culinary scene.

Best for unusual experiences, honeymooners 212-627-1950; hmonahan@absolutetravel.com

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