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Hire a Tour Guide or not

London
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Hire a Tour Guide or not

Guys,

What’s your view on hiring tour guide in Bangkok? I am sure that the opinion will be divided but still….

I have done a bit of research on Hiring tour guide and I read the clear recommendation from Bangkok tourists office advising tourists to only hire official guide with TAT license. I also checked some of the guides website and it appears they charge $90 per day which seems a bit steep.

What I have also learnt that some of these guides also do double booking which is very disappointing.

The question is; do we really need guide? Are majority of Temples and Palaces close to each other and within walking distance?

Our hotel is close to Saphan Taksin BTS station. Do we need to take a water taxi to arrive at the palaces & temples?

What are the Pros & Cons of hiring tour guide?

Brooklyn, NY
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1. Re: Hire a Tour Guide or not

I never felt the need to have a guide in Bangkok. It is very easy to get from A to B via BTS, MRT, walking, taxi, etc.

You are staying steps from one of the main river taxi stops. Easy access to temples, etc.

The only tour/guide I ever had in Bangkok was for the Damnoen Saduak floating market.

London
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2. Re: Hire a Tour Guide or not

Thanks ter1413

What was the reason for needing a guide for floating market?

London
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3. Re: Hire a Tour Guide or not

Thanks ter1413

What was the reason for needing a guide for floating market?

Brooklyn, NY
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4. Re: Hire a Tour Guide or not

Because it was further out from where I was staying. Appr 1+ hour drive from my hotel on Soi 15/Sukhumvit.

Very easy to arrange. I walked into a travel agency(there are hundreds in Bangkok.) Set it up. I was picked up from my hotel the next morning at appr 6:30am. I was dropped back at my hotel at appr 6:30pm.

Ogden, Utah
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5. Re: Hire a Tour Guide or not

If your just sightseeing in Bnagkok proper, you can get around by yourself with a little research and preparation ahead of time. Locations of your hotel, the various attractions that interest you, selecting hotel near public transport can make a big difference, i.e., the BTS skytrain and MRT subway really help in getting around.

The best reason for a tour guide is basically two-fold: If you want to know the history, culture, etc of the various sites you'll be visiting vs just walking around and snapping pictures, then a knowledgeable guide is very valuable. They are much better IMO than using some tourist book and reading about it. The guide can also help you make the best use of your day and limited time you may have. Yes, you can go around on your own, but you will be hesitant, get lost maybe on occasion, etc. A good tour company and guide can plan your day to best utilize the time, will have transport immediately at hand, will know good places to stop for meals, and can add insights to what your seeing and experiencing. All that in consideration makes a good guide a worthwhile investment, especially for first time visitors.

If you should still be considering this; I can recommend he following company and their guides. They are highly rated here on TA, I've used them on three different trips to show first-timer friends around Thailand, and in Bangkok, Chiangmai, and Phuket. They have reasonable prices, good drivers, great vehicles, and many different tours to pick from. You can join a group tour (cheaper) or do a private tour. They will also customize your tours. They have airport pickup/drop off of desired. I've been very happy with them.

www.orientalescape.com

Bangkok, Thailand
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6. Re: Hire a Tour Guide or not

Going onto a guided tour is not the same as hiring a tour guide.

Tours are handy if you are going to a specific somewhat remote location. They sort out the transportation and you share the cost with many other people.

I have found group tours with multiple stops disappointing. Usually the itinerary is not exactly what you want and you end up spending too little time in interesting places and too much in irrelevant ones. In Thailand such tours seem to include a stop in a 'gem factory' or something similar that gives a kickback to the tour operator and is pushy with trying to get you buy stuff.

Personal tour guides are there just for you, all day. They will help ypu to choose the best transportation options and may be able to use their contacts to skip ticket queues. A good one will find out what you are interested in and take you also to places that are not part of a boilerplate itinerary. A good guide also can tell about the things you are seeing from a local perspective.

I did once a personal guided tour in Bangkok way back when the Skytrain was not yet operating. We got a car and driver in addition to the guide which was handy especially since back then the traffic was not less congested. The guide was a disappointment, though. In retrospect we were clearly following a boilerplate itinerary and the guide was clearly annoyed that I kept asking questions which she could not answer.

On the other hand, in Siem Reap we had an excellent guide who took us also to very atmospheric sights that were not overrun with busloads of other tourists and adjusted the itinerary on the fly according to our wishes.

It is all in the luck of the draw unless you have reviews ofguides from friends or on the Internet and ask for a specific guide.

You seem to find the daily rates of guides expensive. However, your questions show that you have found that your own valuable time is better spent on something else than finding the answers that really are out there. Some people find the research to be engrossing and fun but it can use up the time equivalent to several working days. You may be able to make in that time hundred times more money than a guide charges for his/her day.

London
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7. Re: Hire a Tour Guide or not

ravenret & the_goodsoil_family

Thank you both for your really interesting response.

We are not in favour of guided tours where a guide takes a large group of people from one place to another.

If we do decide to hire a guide then it would be a personal tour guide who will plan the day for us to see what we would like to see and experience local culture.

Quite often tour guides have their own agenda and take people shopping where they receive commission. We don’t want to get into such trap.

Yes $90 per day seems a little steep. We will be hiring guide when we visit Siem Reap (prior to arriving Bangkok) where a guide cost around $30. May be that’s why I thought $90 is steep. Not sure if they include the transportation included in the price.

Need to read about TA members recommended guides.

On the right hand side of this forum there is a list of Bangkok guides. I am not sure if any TA members have used any of them.

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8. Re: Hire a Tour Guide or not

Sidwhite: You can't compare the cost of living and daily wages between Bangkok,which is a big cosmopolitan city with a small area like Siem Reap. They are just two completely different worlds, please don't make the mistake of thinking just because they are both in SEA that they are the same.

For another Siem Reap is crawling with private tour guides where that is one of the best jobs around, and there is huge competitiion, driving prices and wages down. Bangkok is really more like a first world city.

I personally feel you do't need a tour guide, Bangkok is well marked out for tourists and in places where you might need extra information like the Grand Palace, there are individual tour guides that are available right inside the gates. And if budget is a severe limitation for you then you will save money doing it yourself for sure.

London
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9. Re: Hire a Tour Guide or not

Thanks MangoMunky

Nice to read your view point.

Ogden, Utah
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10. Re: Hire a Tour Guide or not

sidwhite and goodsoil;

I never join group tours. In my post I indicated that the tour company I recommended offers private tours and tailored tours. They are highly recommended here on TA (see FAQs), so this isn't a single review of them. They are reputable meaning they don't do the side trips and gem gallery detours your talking about. That's why their highly recommended.

Again, you can do your own tours, hire a guide in some location just for that location as mangomonkey said in his post, or if you want to get all the services then do a private tour with a licensed and recommended company. Up to you.

As for prices, you get what you pay for of course. Check out the website and their prices for private tours. If it's unreasonable, then you can just do it yourself. No problem.