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Do I really need Tong as a tour guide in Bangkok?

Do I really need Tong as a tour guide in Bangkok?

Aug 22nd, 2007, 11:01 AM
  #1  
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Join Date: Jul 2007
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Do I really need Tong as a tour guide in Bangkok?

My friends consider me a planner extraordinaire (events, vacation, basically anything), but after reading many posts on TA, I am starting to wonder if Tong is necessary for the Bangkok portion of my trip (?).

My only concern is transportation from one sight to another and how easy/difficult that will be. I was originally planning on hiring a taxi driver all day to drive me and my boyfriend around. As far as learning about the history and culture of Bangkok, I feel I can research all of this beforehand and also learn on my own through observation when I actually get there. So I guess my question is:

Are the people who highly recommend Tong and have toured with her people who don't want to plan at all... they just want to be guided the whole time and not worry about how to get there and where to go?

Just wondering...

Thanks,
Erica
elimsico is offline  
Aug 22nd, 2007, 11:21 AM
  #2  
 
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People have different interests and needs when they travel. Many people have loved working with Tong, but not because they don't like planning. SOme people feel a guide rally enhances their trip, others prefer to tour on their own.

If you are concerned about transportation within Bangkok, I perosnally, would hire a taxi to take me around. I'd use public transport as much as possible (water taxi and Skytrain). Use taxis when needed. If you are going somewhere outside of Bangkok you may want to fire a car and driver.
Kathie is offline  
Aug 22nd, 2007, 11:53 AM
  #3  
 
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Yipes - I got interrupted before I edited the above message.

Replace the last paragraph with this:

If you are concerned about transportation within Bangkok, I personally, would NOT hire a taxi to take me around. I'd use public transport as much as possible (water taxi and Skytrain). Use taxis when needed. If you are going somewhere outside of Bangkok you may want to hire a car and driver.
Kathie is offline  
Aug 22nd, 2007, 11:55 AM
  #4  
 
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Yipes - I got interrupted before I edited the above message.

If you are concerned about transportation within Bangkok, I perosnally, would NOT hire a taxi to take me around. I'd use public transport as much as possible (water taxi and Skytrain). Use taxis when needed. If you are going somewhere outside of Bangkok you may want to hire a car and driver.
Kathie is offline  
Aug 22nd, 2007, 12:41 PM
  #5  
 
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I used to feel like you do, and also consider myself an accomplished trip planner.

I'm heading back to BKK for my 6th time and for the first time, I'm hiring Tong for at least 1 day. From all the reports, she sounds lovely and fun, and for me, will hopefully show me places to which I wouldn't ordinarily have access.

If it's your first time, and just want to do the standards like the Grand Palace, Wat Po, etc. then maybe you would be fine on your own.

For me, it's not about "need", but more about wanting to experience something different.
Kristina is offline  
Aug 22nd, 2007, 02:04 PM
  #6  
 
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I can't comment for everyone but in my case I don't think that being a good planner negates hiring an experienced private guide.......they're not mutually exclusive to me.

We had a great time with Tong for 2 days in Bangkok in January of this year during our month long independent journey to SE Asia - in addition to our own extensive research we learned a great deal.

You might be perfectly happy with a cab driver though - it's really a personal decision but to your original question............no I don't think people who recommend Tong "don't want to plan at all"....or "want to guided the whole time"......exactly the opposite in fact.........they are highly experienced travelers who value the expertise of a local expert.

Have a great trip.
Elizabeth_S is online now  
Aug 22nd, 2007, 03:40 PM
  #7  
 
Join Date: Mar 2003
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Hiring Tong will make the experience more rather than less personal. We've been many times and used her last time. It was delightful. You don't need her for the major sights, but it will enhance your sightseeing a great deal.
Gpanda is offline  
Aug 22nd, 2007, 03:56 PM
  #8  
 
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If you just want to see the "must sees", you are better off taking the river taxis and skytrain on your own. Touring withTong is like spending a day with a good friend who lives in Bangkok.

She'll give you great choices- shopping , eating, charity activities, visiting the "must sees", or way-off-the-loop sightseeing...

Tell her your idea of a good time, and trust that she'll make it happen. I think many of us here who have toured with her are return Bangkok visitors and hire Tong to get fresh experiences.

Expect to spend the day laughing!
lcuy is offline  
Aug 22nd, 2007, 05:06 PM
  #9  
 
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Get a map...nancychandler.net before you leave,study it, map out your route, and get on the skytrain. If the skytrain can't get you there then also use taxis and the river taxi. Taxis are plentiful. Just have your hotel write down the name of yur destination in Thai before getting in a taxi. If you're already out in the city and need a taxi, if it's a well-known place then the taxi driver should know it.
I've personally never hired a private guide for sightseeing in nearly a decade, but will hire Tong this Dec/Jan for one day as a Christmas present to a friend who'll meet me in Bangkok. You could hire Tong for one day and do the rest on your own. I'm just not for one to pay for a guide for Bangkok while I'm out shopping and eating along with seeing sites...when I can get there on the skytrain,taxi, and river boat for much cheaper.
I can understand a guide for areas outside of Bangkok or for folks who have very little time like a day or two or want to go somewhere really different in Bangkok. Bangkok is easy to get around in with a good map. Happy Travels!
Guenmai is offline  
Aug 22nd, 2007, 05:58 PM
  #10  
 
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i am a planner....my times with guides/drivers have been more fun, more eventful, more interesting, more enlightening than when we have done things on our own....bkk takes some getting used to and it is not easy to get used to.....the public transportation is fantastic, but usually it does not go any where near to the sights....

taxi drivers, in general, speak little or no english...i don't even see that as an option....

getting a taxi near the major sites is a nitemare....not that they are not available...its just that they want to take you, for a flat fee, to places you do not want to go....its a waste of your time and energy...many of them are dishonest also...

having the driver makes all the difference in the world...moving about is slower than the skytrain and river boats but in the long run it will be more efficient for you and you will see more....

rhkkmk is offline  
Aug 22nd, 2007, 06:22 PM
  #11  
 
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I am a fan of Ratt, not necessarily others that she outsources to. She is not licensed but that matters little. She is Great having used her 3 times in 8 years. The last time was for 4 &1/2 days in 2006 and she was great. She gave us 10-11 hrs. for about 2500 Baht and if it was more than 20km out of BK she added 300-500Baht for petrol for the day.
StanKase is offline  
Aug 22nd, 2007, 06:58 PM
  #12  
 
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Yes, there are taxi drivers that don't speak/understand English which is why I try to have the place written down in Thai before attempting to go to some places. I do see taxis as an option. For the most part, I've been fine on public transportation combined with taxis. Plus, if I'm at a site and there's no skytrain nearby, then I simply get into the taxi and tell them to take me to the closest skytrain station which usually cost all of about 40 baht...a little over $1.00... and then I use the skytrain to get back to either where I'm staying or where I'm going next if it's on a skytrain route. Happy Travels!
Guenmai is offline  
Aug 22nd, 2007, 07:29 PM
  #13  
 
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We're all different. I've been to Bangkok 20+ times and have never used a guide. I've only used a driver once, to get to the Prasart. Otherwise, I use water taxis, the skytrain and taxicabs. I've also never really had problems with taxi drivers. Occassionally, one will turn me down because they don't know the place I'm going, and a couple of times I've refused taxis because they wanted to take me somewhere I didn't want to go. And a couple of times I've had driver that got lost and I had to show them the correct turn. But in 20+ visits - well, I've had more problems with cab drivers in the US than I have in Bangkok! If you want to do it on your own, don't let anyone discourage you.
Kathie is offline  
Aug 22nd, 2007, 07:54 PM
  #14  
 
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For me personally, I didn't want a guide anywhere, and this includes the ones at the Grand Palace, etc. I don't like going anywhere with guides because I like the flexibility of changing my mind about what I want to do at the drop of a hat, and I would hate to hire a guide for a day, get tired and either a) cancel on her or b) go along and be unhappy.

Maybe you might need her for only 1 day?
hoodlims is offline  
Aug 23rd, 2007, 03:23 AM
  #15  
 
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You definitely don't NEED a guide in Bangkok but a good one can give you insights into the culture and country that could add to the experience. I have been to thailand 18 times in the last 20 years and generally just use a driver (Ratt). Unlike Kathy I am a big fan of having an air conditioned car rather than dealing with the heat to use public transportation. Yes you might get caught in traffic but I'm never on a time schedule; I avoid peak traffic times and can learn a lot talking to Ratt while in the car.
Because of all the raves about Tong I have booked her for two days when I return in February with the express instruction that she take me someplace I have never been and show me something about the culture I wouldn't find on my own. She told me it would be a challenge. ;-)
glorialf is offline  
Aug 23rd, 2007, 05:22 AM
  #16  
 
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I have made 11 trips to Thailand and have never used Tong or any other guide. I did meet Tong, though, just this past July. She is delightful, I can assure you!

Carol
simpsonc510 is offline  
Aug 23rd, 2007, 05:28 AM
  #17  
 
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you do not NEED a guide in bangkok, it just simplifies things and helps you not wot waste time....the HUGE added bonus is the a/c car to cool down between stops....plus in the case of tong, she often takes you to places rarely visited, i.e. the secret place, orphanages, eating spots....

all of this can be done on your own but in many cases not easily without making mistakes that are frustrating and time consumming....

for those of us who have been to bkk many times and often stay for long periods, a guide is never necessary, but it is perceived by me to be a HUGE BENEFIT for a small cost.....plus its fun....
rhkkmk is offline  
Aug 23rd, 2007, 05:29 AM
  #18  
 
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i should add that you do not need tong necessarily.....ratt, cherry, and all the others provide wonderful service....
rhkkmk is offline  
Aug 23rd, 2007, 09:09 AM
  #19  
 
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I agree with Kathie. Happy Travels!
Guenmai is offline  
Aug 23rd, 2007, 10:05 AM
  #20  
 
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I agree with Bob...
Craig is offline  

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