Ratt vs Tong

Old Apr 5th, 2006, 04:03 PM
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Ratt vs Tong

We'll be hiring a guide for at least 2 days while in Bangkok...and I've read wonderful things about both Ratt and Tong. Just wondering if there's any real difference in quality.

Thus far, I am very impressed by Tong's local cuisine expertise--the recent trip report (sorry I forget his name, but his wife had asthma problems in BKK) is right along the lines of what we would enjoy. Tong seems to be a little more expensive, but it's nominal.

Also, does it make a difference if you get Ratt vs. one of her assistants/employees or her?

Thanks...again!
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Old Apr 6th, 2006, 07:19 AM
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lovesadventure..
Ratt is a knowledgeable driver and Tong is an excellent licensed guide & driver. Some places require licensed guide. You have to pay more to hire a guide if you have only a driver.
I have been emailing with Tong and heard that she has a brand-new Minivan . So their cars are now different too. I'm not sure for their english skills, since I've never met Ratt. But Tong's skill is fab.
Apart from that, it's easy to find famous restaurants, but it's hard to find some good local ones.
Well, Tong is a freelancer. She also works for Ratt. So you can contact her through Ratt.
Some of Ratt's employees are good...but some fodorites had bad experiences with them.. read the former threads..and you will find the answer.
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Old Apr 6th, 2006, 07:28 AM
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Personally I think Tong is geared more toward the tourist that wants to dig down a layer.

Also she is a licensed guide which as KClaudia mentioned means she can take you through any site without having to involve anyone else.

I think Tong knows better places to eat.
I think Tong speaks excellent English.

Tong is also just starting her business as a freelancer and so gives better personal attention (just my opinion) She won't leave you hanging.

Click on my name for another report on our stay with Tong. I think she's the bomb.

Contact her at [email protected]
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Old Apr 6th, 2006, 09:41 AM
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hi there - it was my trip report (still in process) that you are referring to.. if you are really interested in local food (Tong will ask you if you have a "strong stomach") then Tong is definitely a great person to have... she knows so many great places and knows just what to have in each place...

Yes, she has a brand new minivan - she was very excited to pick it up the week after we left BKK.

I actually hired her through Ratt, but I recommend contacting her directly so that she can ask you questions about what you like to do, eat, etc.

As far as price goes, I thought she was well worth more than she charged... I would have gladly paid double for the experiences we had.

We had only briefly met Ratt - we wound up being at the Jim Thompson house at the same time... Ratt's english is good - in the 10 minutes talking to her, it seemed not as good as Tong's but I couldn't say that that's a fair assessment due to the only brief encounter... I can say that Tong's english is just fine and she got a real kick out of teaching me some Thai! (I knew some already before we left, but she really helped outwith a lot more, and with more local phrases).

Tong is also great if you want to learn more about Buddhism, and if you'd like to make merit (there are many ways - you should definitely let her know beforehand so she can prepare)... we were goign to make merit several ways on our second day with her, which, unfortunately, got cut short due to the asthma...

I definitely agree with offwego - you should click on her name and read her fantastic trip report - it was her report that drove me to want to use Tong rather than Ratt, and I'm soooo glad I did!

Ken
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Old Apr 6th, 2006, 10:07 AM
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may i also suggest [email protected]
to you....cherry is also a licensed guide with years of guiding experience in bangkok and around thailand... she also is licensed and has perfect english...
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Old Apr 6th, 2006, 11:15 AM
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Offwego, just read your report and am more convinced than before that we want to go with Tong. BTW, you post a lot! Ha ha, but it did take me a bit to get to your review!

Can I ask what you did to prep your stomach? Husband and I have eaten street food in HK, Taipei and NYC without issue, so I'm not too concerned, but I'm not above doing a little something to better prepare myself.

I've been in contact with Tong and it seems we may have to jostle our plan around a bit to make it work, but I'm very much looking forward to it and don't doubt it will be worthwhile!
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Old Apr 6th, 2006, 12:19 PM
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Oh Lord I hope Bob is not reading this.

There are three keys I think to eating street food.

1. Have a sturdy constituion anyway (which you do if you're eating street food in NYC!)

2. Have someone who is a local direct you to the "tried and true" places. This is key.

3. Go to a health food store about a month before your trip and start taking some GOOD acidophulus. It should be something refrigerated. I personally think it's good to keep these healthy critters in your intestines at all times, but if you don't do this regularly, it can't hurt to beef them up before going to a foreign environment.

I'm glad you are hooking up with Tong. She will not rest until you are having a good time!

Where else are you going on your trip?
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Old Apr 6th, 2006, 12:57 PM
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The recent trip reports have also convinced me to arrange a day with Tong in mid May. I am particulary interested in food and Buddhism, so Tong sounds like she will be a perfect match for my interests. She seems very chamring from her emails.

As for street eating, I am really looking forward to this with Tong (and also with a chef's walking tour in Hanoi) and plan to take offwego's advice to prepare. I eat "street meat" in NYC regularly and plan to start the (fresh)acdidopholus this weekend. I hope we will be ok tummy wise....
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Old Apr 6th, 2006, 01:04 PM
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Tong is fab - we are planning our wedding in Ko Samui and I am getting my dress made in Bangkok. She has been so helpful with everything and is full of fantastic and unique ideas for our wedding as well as the time we are spending in Bangkok with her. To top it all - she sends me soothing sayings when I am getting stressed and turning into a Bridezilla. Lovely lovely lady.
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Old Apr 6th, 2006, 01:05 PM
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If you start to veer toward something that looks yummy to you and Tong smiles, grabs your shirt sleeve and yanks you back, trust her.

I'd probably still be in ICU if I'd eaten all the things I thought "looked good"!
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Old Apr 6th, 2006, 02:21 PM
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I can feel Bob frowning at me now! I rarely meet a meal I don't like, and I meet many meals!

Thanks so much offwego. I'm very excited! We'll also be heading down to Phuket and Phi Phi on this trip. It's only 2 weeks in Thailand, and I prefer to get to know a place a little. Just didn't want to spend the whole time enroute. I'm sure I'll be back!

We'll round off the trip by jetting over to Taiwan to see family. You know, since we're in the hemisphere!
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Old Apr 6th, 2006, 06:08 PM
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I heard so many accolades about Ratt last year and this Jan-Feb. that I booked her, with the assurance she (not a substitute) would be my driver/guide. Then Ms. Tong's raves makes me feel I may have made less than an ideal choice. I have Ratt for 4 days including 2 day trips outside Bangkok and 2 days in city and immediate suburbs.I will report back after our month in Thailand and Malaysia.
While I do not plan to change I am confused. I expected with the raves her English would be very good and her knowlege would be reasonably sound considering she has served as a driver/guide for 7-8 years or more.
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Old Apr 6th, 2006, 07:16 PM
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Ok, I know there are lots of people who don't want to hear this but I feel compelled to add a few things about food and GI upsets.

While one does have to consider the spread of Hep A and Typhoid, both are spread through the fecal-oral route and are mostly diseases of inadequate handwashing (though can come from contaminated seafood as well), as well as bacterial contamination of foods kept at improper temeratures, many GI upsets are due to unfamilar spices or unfamilar bacterial flora and fauna in food. Thus, something that Tong or any other native might eat with impunity might cause you considerable intestinal distress. No amount of taking acidophulus will change this. Some people do have a "cast iron" stomach and will do fine as long as the food is not contaminated. Others will have problems with the least change in diet.
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Old Apr 6th, 2006, 08:35 PM
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SEE YOU IN THE EMERGENCY ROOM....I WILL BE THE ONE WITH THE SMILE...

stan. you will be very happy with ratt....what she lacks in credentials, she makes up for in personality and common sense....her english is not fabulous, but it is workable....

i personally see no reason for a licensed guide, at least for seeing the general sites...i do not object to them and like the depth they bring to a day's touring, however....
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Old Apr 7th, 2006, 06:06 AM
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I agree with Kathie, but what I would like to point out something about Tong's personality is..
She will let you try the local food only upon request. I was asked by her as well about my stomach condition. If you dont insist, she won't let you try at all. If you do, she will bring you to some clean local restaurants or foodstalls.
Local foods for her means the real flavour, not street food.
I have many Thai friends in Thailand and yes, local foods never hurt me even once. Thai people wont go to expensive restaurants if they aren't rich. They would go to the real flavoured ones.
Sometimes you can't get used to Thai herbs, it doesnt mean the food is not clean enough.
Also I wonder why someone here was too pessimistic. If you think a licensed guide is not neccessary, why you're trying to sell Cherry as a licensed guide? Just wonder.
I think it depends on what travellers want.. convenience, deep knowledge or both. They have right to agree or disagree with any posters here.
Stan, you will be very happy with Ratt. Tong personally respected Ratt very much and raved Ratt everytime I emailed her and asked about Ratt. She said she's not as great as Ratt. So dont be confused.
They are in the same party.. you might meet them both on your trip!
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Old Apr 7th, 2006, 06:36 AM
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kclaudia & others; Thanks. I think I am in good hands with Ratt. A new car is less important than a reliable, responsible and pleasant person and good air conditioning in a comfortable sedan. As it turns out, we will eat very limitedly at local vendors. I sometimes get sick in New Jersey.
I plan to use Ratt about 12 hours a day including visits to evening markets so I will really be able to provide a comprehensive report. I hope Poon, her sister,who we are using for 3 days is 2/3rds as good as Ratt. We know our guide/driver for our 11 days touring Malaysia so that should work fine.He is traveling and staying with us.
I did have 1 more question. We would give Ratt a gratuity of $75-$100 for the 4 days. Does that make sense?
By the way we are also going to Koh Samui and we will relax at Sala Samui Resort for 5 nights and take 2 snorkel trips. One for sure will be to Koh Tao.
So a guide will not be necessaey except for a 1/2 day island tour that the resort can arrange. I doubt they will use someone not up to their standards.
Thanks again!!!
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Old Apr 7th, 2006, 07:01 AM
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Does anyone know what Tong's rates are
?
Lloyd
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Old Apr 7th, 2006, 07:04 AM
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Tongs rates:
Full day tour = 3,000 baht/day. Half day tour = 2,400 baht. (5 hours). Over than 10 hours = 300 baht/an additional hour
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Old Apr 7th, 2006, 07:06 AM
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Yes..it makes sense..you can also give her more if you want!
Have a great time Stan!
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Old Apr 7th, 2006, 08:14 AM
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claudia----just to clarify for you... like you i am a contributor to this site...we all try to make others aware of potential helpers in certain areas whether it is a guide or a restaurant or what ever....so when i learn of someone new i like to mention them here on the forum, especially when they offer something special, which in this case i think cherry offers a premier service situation over and above what ratt and tong and julie offer, and one that is completely reliable with no service flaws or breakdowns....sorry if you have taken offense to this...i have nothing to gain from her service other than knowing that she provides for some fodorite just the service they are looking for...

i personally do not like my tours loaded with facts and numbers and info....for this reason i personally would prefer just a driver, one, of course, that has english skills...so that is why you may read into my thoughts some confusion....at the time i wrote it i thought someone might wonder....
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