Smiling Albino celebrates fifteen years designing luxury custom adventures throughout Southeast Asia. Canadian expatriate-come local Thai celebrity Daniel Fraser founded the bespoke tour operator in 1999 with little more than a deep knowledge of Thailand and a knack for befriending the destination’s movers and shakers. Today the company is the region’s most revered upscale travel planner offering individually crafted adventures in Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam, Laos, Myanmar and Nepal.
In the past fifteen years, Smiling Albino has designed 2,680 unique itineraries in six countries, supported 1,550 rural school children through non-profit efforts, guided 88,250 kilometres by bike, ate 1,780 bowls of Bua Loy Nam Khing and 28 grilled scorpions, and among so much more, welcomed 375 repeat guests.
Smiling Albino continues to dig even deeper into their craft, refining each experience they provide their guests, and adding more ways to explore Southeast Asia. “This year alone we have created new active, conservation-focused trips by kayak and bicycle into lesser known Cambodia, and unique art and food experiences with insiders in Vietnam,” said Fraser. “We’re also planning to expand our operations to other countries in SE Asia, and will release those details soon!”
The Making of Smiling Albino
In 1995 Fraser moved to Thailand at the invitation of the Thai royal family to teach at Chitralada Palace under the direction of HRH Princess Sirindhorn. Fraser founded Smiling Albino in 1999 recognizing the need for travel experiences that go beyond the backpacking tradition the region was known for. The name is a tribute to Fraser’s early Thai beginnings when he was occasionally offered the chance to feed the royal family’s sacred albino elephants. A natural host, his energy, fluency in the Thai language, local friendships and in-depth destination knowledge have since made Daniel into one of Thailand’s most well-recognized travel authorities and personalities. He is the host of a popular national TV show called Longrukyim, a Thai-language series investigating unique sides of Thailand and its culture through the eyes of an expat. He is also a guest host on a new television show called Long Stay, another Thai-language show focused on promoting sustainable tourism projects in remote areas of Thailand. With Fraser at the helm, Smiling Albino’s strong local ties provide the backbone for their behind-the-scenes travel experiences.
Today travellers can enjoy Bangkok's most luxurious hotels one night and then travel to rustic mountain lodges the next, food-stall hop by tuk-tuk on busy city streets, meditate in a local community and hike to remote hilltribe villages (or drop in by helicopter) all during one seamless trip.
Because of Smiling Albino’s tremendous growth in the last year, they needed to move into larger offices in central Bangkok. To commemorate the milestone, Fraser invited nine monks into the new space to chant prayers and sprinkle holy water for a Tamboon Keun Baan Mai, an important buddhist ceremony that coincides with building a new house or moving into a new office. The monks also blessed Smiling Albino’s new fleet of mountain bikes used for their Bangkok cycling adventures.
For more information about Smiling Albino, visit smilingalbino.com