Private Driver Bangkok - where to?

Aug 11th, 2004, 12:16 AM
  #1  
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Private Driver Bangkok - where to?

Hello, this is our first trip to Thailand, and weve booked 4 nights at the Marriot Resort before checking out to go to Hellfire pass overnight and stopping at Bridge over the River Kwai the following day on the way to the airport for our departure.
We will hire Ratt for this trip, but Im wondering how we should prioritise our first 3 days in Bangkok.
We wont be doing any shopping as we are going on to India and Kathmandu so cant carry anything (and we have 2 days on the weekend coming back for the market and shops)
Should we hire Ratt for floating market and? what else? - for a day and have 2 full days Bangkok itself??
- If that sounds the best idea, what should be our must sees without running ourselves ragged in the heat? And should we use Ratt around town or stick to the river and skytrain?
Anyone used Ratt lately to give me an idea or hourly and daily charge. Also, do all her cars have aircon?
thanks for any feedback and help
Cosmo is offline  
Aug 11th, 2004, 12:39 AM
  #2  
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Sorry, was thinking we arrived at 6.30pm but its actually 6.30am. So we have 4 full days in Bangkok counting the day we arrive, prior to driving to Hellfire pass and then departing to India.
thanks again
Cosmo is offline  
Aug 11th, 2004, 04:48 AM
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We used Ratt in April.
She charges I believe 225 Baht/hour and a surcharge for gas if you go out of the city. Yes her car is air conditioned and she provides towels and cold bottled water for you at no charge.
She is reliable and I believe you will be happy with her service.
BillT is offline  
Aug 11th, 2004, 05:12 AM
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If you go to the floating market, leave at 6:30 or 7 and leave to come back by around 11:00 before the hordes of tour buses get there. It will be more interesting and you will still have the afternoon to do other things.
glorialf is offline  
Aug 11th, 2004, 05:23 AM
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I never hire drivers for getting around Bangkok. I use a combination of water taxis and metered taxis. I plan where I want to go each day clustering together nearby places if possible.

Since you've never been to Bangkok, I'm sure you'll want to see the Temple of the Emerald Buddha and the Grand Palace (one complex) and the Reclining Buddha (Wat Po) nearby. You can do those easily by taking a water taxi from your hotel. I think the Jim Thompson House is also a "don't miss." There are lots of other things to choose from, Wat Arun, Wat Ben at dawn to watch the alms-giving, the Erawan Shrine, several old residences that are now museums. It depends on what your interests are.

I have a slender little book by Insight guides that gives something like twenty trips within Bangkok and another half dozen or so day trips from Bangkok. They have an interesting variety of suggestions, and it may give you some ideas. It also comes with an excellent map of Bangkok.
Kathie is online now  
Aug 11th, 2004, 09:26 AM
  #6  
 
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The biggest benefit for hiring a driver is that you are not walking in the oppressive heat and humidity- yes you can get around by water taxi, taxis, trains etc- but you will expend energy in just getting to these modes of transportation. We found that by using Ratt- we saved so much energy that we did more each day than on those days that we used the trains and taxis. If you are not used to the heat/humidity- you might find yourself wearing out and not being able to do much.
BillT is offline  
Aug 11th, 2004, 10:18 AM
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It also saves time. You only have a few days and you've never been to bangkok before so a driver will enable you to see more in a more comfortable way. If you had been there before or had a lot of time it would be different. But I agree with Bill in thinking a driver would be an excellent idea for you.
glorialf is offline  
Aug 11th, 2004, 11:15 AM
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I'd like to get the contact information for Ratt. Is this the person's first name? Forgive my naiveness, but we are also planning a 1st time trip to Thailand next Aug ( I have posted earlier abbout this) and now I am sifting through other's postings to get some pieces together as we figure out our logistics of the entire trip.

We are also very much in favor of hiring drivers/guides so we can see more.

Is Ratt just a driver or is she a driver/guide?

any prices available?

With a 5-6 day stay in Bangkok, how many trips with her would be recommended and what? We may be interested in going outside of Bangkok for a day, but returning at night.

Thanks!!!
tripgirl is offline  
Aug 11th, 2004, 11:22 AM
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She has a web site at www.ratservice.com
Her email is vimonrat kantapiyo [[email protected]]
Her name is Vimonrat- but goes by Ratt.

She is not a professional guide but does know a lot about the sites. You can tailor you plans and she will work with you. Just give her dates and general time needs (mornings/afternoons/allday as far in advance as you can. You can change your plans as you approach your trip-but just check with her on her availability .
Tell her Bill T sent you!!!
We used her mostly in the mornings, some at night- she is flexible.
BillT is offline  
Aug 11th, 2004, 05:50 PM
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i used ratt in june...she charges 225B per hour plus 1B per Kilometer outside of bkk...there are about 40 B to the u.s. $...she is very reasonable...she has a toyota carolla which is very comfortable and well air conditioned...she also has a min van which is more expensive for larger groups...the corolla is perfect for 2 or 3 people, but no more...

she charges 400B for airport runs..

you will love the marriott --it is our favorite hotel in bkk...we stayed there twice on this last trip...

the bridge over river quai is only of casual interest...its a long way to go for not too much

i had ratt for 13 hours one day...we started at 6:30AM from bkk....first we went to the floating market...parked right next to it...next a pottery production factory (interesting and good buys), next the royal thai handi-crafts---i would skip this--, next the river quai bridge and a good restaurant just next to it, the cemetary is there too....there is a nice small museum about the WWII history--worthwhile, ...she then took us up towards the myanmar border....we saw the death railway from another angle above the river...from there through the forest to see monkeys and to a pre-historic museum, and to some khmer ruins...then 2 hours back to bkk...a very long but good day...

i would use her in bkk as well...she will wisk you from one site to another letting you off very near to the door and picking you up there too....this saves tons of time and keeps you out of the heat....she will take you anyplace you want from the weekend market to the girly-boy show....do your homework and tell her what you want to do in advance and she will put it in order for you...prioritize items to make it easy...

the skytrain and taxis are my usual mode of transport but that is because i know bkk pretty well and prefer to go faster that way...but for you she is the answer...
rhkkmk is offline  
Aug 13th, 2004, 04:00 PM
  #11  
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Thank you everyone for your wonderful replies - I actually had a bit of a brainwaive and have just emailed rat as she has confirmed our airport pickup for 6.30am - duh - Ive emailed her back and said lets go somewhere direct from the airport instead of wasting time going to the hotel - so I suggested floating market and just waiting on her reply.
rhkkmk - can you remember what it cost you on the River Kwai day?
thanks again everyone - Im back into planning mode - 6 weeks to go...yippee
Cosmo is offline  
Aug 13th, 2004, 07:57 PM
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i paid ratt about 3100B for the 13 hours plus a sizable tip....
she was great...i did not like the way we started out and i told her no to a couple of things which cost lots of extra money and she went along with it and after that things were just great...she took us to a boat which would take us into the floating market...it was 1000B...i siad no and they came down to 650B and i said no that i just wanted to be driven there so we did...driving right to the sight is the best...hire a boat there for a short ride if you wish to be amongst the boats, which is fun your first time...it is such a long day that i did not need the extra stuff or costs....

you aksed at another post about getting a klong tour boat....the last time we did it i asked the bellman (conceige) to get me one and they did (small tip of course)...i think i paid a bit more but to be able to leave from the marriott pier is a real benefit and also to return there...make sure that the bellman explains to him exactly what it is that you intend to do and for how long you have hired him...one boat man slowed down on our return and then tried to charge me for another hour...i paid but gave him no tip...he knew i was mad and knew what he was doing...it was raining too....the boats have a cover...you can share the boat with some other people that you might meet at the hotel to reduce the price???
its a blast...god is it noisy and fast...ask him to open it up for a short time on the river...
rhkkmk is offline  
Aug 13th, 2004, 11:10 PM
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Thank you rhkkmk! Will keep in mind that I must be specific with Rat - and the Klong suggestion is fantastic. I would never have suggested starting from the Marriott - how easy will that make it!
How long did you hire it for? I assume wed need maybe an additional hour to allow getting down and back from the usual starting point? I read that most rent it for 2 hours so would 3 still be enjoyable? (sounds good to me if there is plenty to see and relaxing as a bonus) Did you stop at all or get off during the boat ride?
thanks again - great tip.
Cosmo is offline  
Aug 14th, 2004, 08:22 AM
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i remember the rides as being 3 hours...you do not need to tack on any time for starting from the marriott as the entrance to the klongs is not far from the marriott on that side of the river and ends up at the naval base near to wat arun...in the long tail boat the end is only 15 minutes at most from the marriott...

as i remember we only stopped at the barge shed, which is a must although you cannot get very close to them unfortunately...

they also offered snake farm, orchid farm, restaurant stops as i remember...i declined all of them...some also can stop at wat arun, but i suggest that you go there seperately....we went by taxi on this last trip and we have been by boat also in the past...

you will love the marriott...make sure you give us a fodors report on your return...

bob
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Aug 14th, 2004, 02:14 PM
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Thanks once again Bob, I will definitely post a report on our return.. it was mainly on your recommendations that I often read that made me choose the Marriott - looks wonderful on its site.
Now to one more problem, or question and its one that most Australians have travelling anywhere... we are not a tipping society and usually just round up cab fares and give "whatever" at restaurants... so its always a great dilema for me.... can you help me out with what is appropriate to give the concierge for organising the boat and what a good tip is if we are happy with Ratt on a half day or full day? (and tip her each time or at the end of the trip)?
thanks for this - its a lot of wasted energy on holidays having no idea on the tipping game.
Gayle
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Aug 14th, 2004, 03:05 PM
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gayle---all the time i thought you were a man---cosmo....

anyways to tips...it is always a personal choice...in usa tips are the norm....it used to be 15% nor 20% is more normal...

thailand is not that way...they do not expect tips except in the usual tourist haunts...10% would be generous...taxis just round it up to nearest round number or add 50B...
i give the bellman about 50B a bag, especially on arrival or if they do something for you...

for getting the boat and escorting you to the pier i would probably give the guy 100....many would give nothing...

remember at the marriott you are already paying 10% for everything added to your bill....

we tend to over tip and find that it pays off for us....

i gave ratt a huge tip because she pleased me so much and went out of her way for us....she was very surprised and pleased with the tip...i think it was about 800B...that's more than 20%...i know we should not do it but when people perform so well you want to recognize them....thats what tipping is all about...

i would give the boatman 10% but only if he acts normally and doesn't try to cheat you in any way...more if he does special things...

in the hotel i like it to be known that we appreciate service so i start off early with decent tips and lots of smiles and hellos, etc...

do what suits you and what you think appropriate....

in the usa most service people make peanuts...waiters make about $2.50 per hour and the tips are what makes up 90% of their pay so this is how we compensate..

bob
rhkkmk is offline  
Aug 14th, 2004, 04:02 PM
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sorry...that's now 20% is more normal
rhkkmk is offline  
Aug 14th, 2004, 04:41 PM
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Thanks Bob - geat help!!! - We actually did a week in Hawaii in June and because we understood about the wage rate it was easier to tip and happy to give whatever when happy. (although must admit the first day or so still had me calculating until I got used to it and then no probs)
Asia is more difficut because the cost of living is so much lower, so when you hear big tip, small tip then I have no idea whatsoever where to start...(I suppose its a good Aussie problem to have as it means we arnt doing it at home ha ha)
Yep, cosmo is actually our Jack Russel's and named after Cosmo Krammer from Seinfeld of course ha ha - huge hit here as well - real cult following...
back to the planning - its really coming together now
thanks again
Gayle
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Aug 14th, 2004, 05:28 PM
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i'm sure i have read it but waht exactly are you doing on this trip??

bob
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Aug 14th, 2004, 05:37 PM
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Do you mean the Tiger Temple? Ive found a web page but it gives the address but not the location or what its near - could be anywhere in Kanchanaburi...
This trip is our 9 week "Long Service Leave" which in Australia private company workers after 10 years service (my husband) get 8 weeks paid leave and public service workers (myself) get 17 1/2 weeks paid leave - this is addition to our annual 4 weeks holdiay leave... !!
so we are going Bangkok 5 nights then to Delhi 3 nights and then overland to Kathmandu for 5 weeks in Nepal - fly back to Bangkok for 3 nights for the weekend market and any shopping that we may want (think I might be shopped out - not a big shopper on most trips -takes too much energy ha)
and then home end of November.... planning has me glued to the computer as you could imagine.
had enough for today..
thanks
Cosmo is offline  

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