Tour Companies in Thailand

Discussion in 'Thailand' started by Steven Schwartz, Sep 9, 2012.  |  Print Topic

  1. Steven Schwartz
    Original Member

    Steven Schwartz Gold Member

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    Hard to believe but our trip is only four months away! We people who book award flights plan very early and it seemed like it would never get here.

    Okay, slightly intimidated about Thailand - kind of like Russia last summer. A language I'm not familiar with (at least I could pronounce the Cyrillic signs!). I get a number of emails from Viator and they seem to have some very inexpensive tours of both Bangkok and Chiang Mai but I've never used them.

    At this point, we're not sure if it will be just the two of us or another couple - they may have to cancel at the last minute. Here goes:

    1. From airports to hotel - Viator offers inexpensive transfers. Do I need this or should I just grad a cab at the airport?

    2. Tours - everything seems so reasonable that I'm tempted to forego anything but a private tour. Make sense? If so, any recommendations for either good companies to deal with or good private guides someone has used?

    3. Packing - do I need to bring a sports jacket? My sense is it will be pretty hot but if there are some must-see restaurants on the more formal side, happy to do it. Just really have no idea how to pack for Thailand in January. Oh, and we stop for three nights in Hong Kong on the return.

    Anything else I'm too ignorant to ask?!

    Many thanks to all.
     
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  2. jfhscott
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    jfhscott Silver Member

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    Cabs from airport are easy. Try to bring a map with the hotel identified on it.

    Private tours are definitely the way to go - the price differential is low and you get to go at your own pace, be it fast or slow. I've used www.buffalotours.com in Saigon and been satisfied. Avoid Viator - the just use local contractors who you can find on the internet and add a surcharge.

    I've never had a sports jacket in BKK, but have never cared to do anything fancy. Please do note that shorts in temples are improper, and they have a huge thing about feet - never display the sole of your foot or the sole of a shoe.
     
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  3. marcwint55

    marcwint55 Gold Member

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    My brother lives in Bangkok and we have been to Thailand twice.

    1) I would take a cab from the airport, but make certain that they use the meter and do not try to charge you a flat fee. If they do, tell them you wil report them and that should end the discussion there.

    2) Our first trip included Bangkok, Chiang Mai and Phuket. We did not use a tour company and were able to see everything we wanted to. I would recommend waiting till you get there. You can find a private driver very cheaply who will take you anywhere and everywhere you want to go. In Bangkok you do not want to rent a car to drive on your own, but in Chiang Mai it may be a worthwhile option to you.

    3) Leave the jacket at home. It is not necessary.
     
  4. marcwint55

    marcwint55 Gold Member

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    One last comment is to ask the hotel for a reputable massage parlor if you are getting massages there. I highly recommend the massages as they are unbelievably cheap and we had some fantastic massages there.
     
  5. Steven Schwartz
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    Steven Schwartz Gold Member

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    As always, thank you all.
     
  6. Kalboz
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    Kalboz Gold Member

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    See more here: http://milepoint.com/forums/threads/bangkok-airport-transportation.2547/
    When clearing Immigration and customs at BKK and leaving the arrival hall, don't mind the airport taxi touts! These touts will charge rates that can be as much as 200-300% the normal metered taxi rates. Instead, follow the signs to "PUBLIC TAXI" and join the queue that normally forms just outside the building. All meter taxis leave from the first floor down one floor from your arrival level. Once you make you way to the taxi desk, tell the staff present which hotel, or where you want to go. *DO NOT ASK ANYONE "HOW MUCH?" - It's a metered taxi, the cost is dictated by the meter, you asking HOW MUCH is tacit approval to being charged a flat rate. They may give you a YELLOW slip of paper with your destination written on it. Take the paper to the line of drivers and hand it over to the supervisor. It will be exchanged for another larger WHITE slip of paper with your specific Taxis' details recorded on it and an explanation of the 50฿ airport fee which you will add on to the fare at journey's end.
    [​IMG]
    KEEP this slip of paper! There is NO information on this slip of paper that the driver needs, he's already been told where you are going - it's yours, put it in your pocket in case of any difficulties during the trip or when you find you've left some property in the taxi, or for any other issue that may arise. This slip of paper identifies the specific taxi and driver you are using. Remember Bangkok Taxi meters ALWAYS start at 35฿. Tell the driver to take the toll/express way although this is not always necessary especially in the late hours. If you elect to use the Tollway/Expressway, you will need to give the driver 70฿ for the tolls. If the driver pays, you add it to the meter fare at the end of the journey.

    If possible, get your hotel name written in Thai, Bangkok has thousands of hotels, and no driver can know them all by their English title. Most hotels in the Sukhumvit, Silom, Sathorn, Khao San road areas should cost 200-250฿ on the meter+ the 50฿ airport tax + any tolls paid by the driver (if the expressway was used usually 70฿ total). Your journey from airport to hotel should take around one hour or less depending on time of the day you arriving and the prevailing weather conditions.
    See more here: http://milepoint.com/forums/threads/bangkok-airport-transportation.2547/#post-326482
    Many here and on TOBB swear by the tour services provided by Khun Tong. Response to inquiries might be slow, warned the people that used her: TONG: (her team - Nui, Tom, Pook, Jerry, Kung, Lily, Nina, Charlie, Get) www.tourwithtong.com Email: tourwithtong@yahoo.com
    See more here: http://milepoint.com/forums/threads/thailand-dos-donts.820/
    Even if you visit Le Normandie for dinner they will lend you a jacket for free ... just make sure you are wearing long pants, dress shirt, and shoes.
    [​IMG]
    Ask and you shall receive ... :)
     
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  7. Steven Schwartz
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    Steven Schwartz Gold Member

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    One last favor, Kalboz. Can you clear your schedule and travel with us???!!! You're amazing.
     
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  8. LarryInNYC

    LarryInNYC Gold Member

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    Kalboz gave very exact details for the cab. I would advise you (if you have baht, which are available at ATMs in the airport) to pay the tolls as you go through them. That means that the cab fare when you arrive is meter + 50 baht airport surcharge. I let the driver add it all up for me, including tolls, and I think somehow a few "extra" tolls got slipped in there.

    Total (not including tolls) should be about 300 baht, or $10.

    Returning to the airport you don't pay the 50 baht surcharge, so it's just meter + tolls.

    Cab fares (when the meter is in use) are a bargain in Bangkok -- for our family of four, generally less than using the Skytrain. Don't sit down in the cab unless the driver agrees to use the meter -- generally only cabs you hail rather than ones you find parked at stands will use the meter. For trips around town, you should also agree whether the cabby will use the highway. If he does, you pay the toll (25 to 45 baht per toll). If he doesn't he may not agree to take you, or you may wind up spending your entire vacation in traffic!

    Finally, the metered cabs are a bargain because regulated rates have not really kept pace with increased costs in Bangkok. So please remember to tip!
     
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  9. Kalboz
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    Kalboz Gold Member

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    You are too awesome ... thanks for the kind words! :) We are actually going to Thailand next week for a month ... and if all goes according to plan, we will be back to Thailand in January/February next year before the little girl turns 2 - that's when we have to get her her own seat :)

    When I first visited Bangkok, I used the services of a tour company that had a desk at the JW Marriott's lobby. Excellent guide (Khun Moo) and very clean private tour vans (Mercedes Benz) with AC, beverages, towels etc. They are very steep for Bangkok prices but very much worth every penny (or baht!) Khun Moo, a Chiang Mai native, spoke several languages and wrote books about Thailand history, Arts, and architecture. This company is highly recommended albeit pricey:
    BANGMAKOK EXPRESS TOURS CO., LTD. (B.E. TOURS)
    JW Marriott Bangkok lobby
    E-MAIL ADDRESS : bet@betours.net
    [​IMG]
    Khun Moo (in the blue cap) at Wat Phra Kaew (the Grand Palace)​
    We did the following tours with him:​
    • Damnern Saduak Floating Market & Maeklong Railway Market
    • Bangkok City, Solid Gold Buddha & other temples Tour
    • Grand palace, Emerald Temple, Wat Ben (Marble temple) and Wat Pho Tour
    • Chaophraya River, Canal, Wat Arun & Royal Barges Museum Tour
    • Samphran Elephant & Crocodile Park plus Rose Garden Resort Cultural village
    • Wat Suan Plu & the Old Farang Quarter
    [​IMG]
    Royal Barges Museum​
    [​IMG]
    Wat Suan Phlu​
    [​IMG]
    Wat Trimitr (Solid Gold Buddha)​
    [​IMG]
    Afternoon prayers with chanting Monks at the Marble Temple (Wat Ben)​
     
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  10. Kalboz
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    Kalboz Gold Member

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    Nothing to worry about ... Bangkok is one of the safest cities of the world. Use common safety sense and be cautious (not overly) as you might do in any large city. Remember that this is the Land of Smiles (LOS) and you will find everything goes much better when you have a smile on your face - whatever the situation. Most people here are friendly and helpful and many speak English but their pronunciation of English or their English sentence formation is a totally different story ;)

    Don't know about your food preference, but if you do enjoy Thai food, you might want to try Bangkok Food Tours which is run by young and friendly staff. We used their services last January and will do it again during our next trip ... highly recommended. Now they offer trips to surrounding cities to sample culinary food. My review of their services is here: http://milepoint.com/forums/threads...ants-recommendations.3001/page-4#post-1143404
    [​IMG]
    Yum Rod Sab "Restaurant" - one of the stops on the food tour. Their Facebook page is: https://www.facebook.com/thailandfoodtours
     
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  11. Flyer1976
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    Flyer1976 Gold Member

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    Be sure to also check out the weekend market ;).

    Posted via a Russian Lektor in the hands of SPECTRE.
     
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  12. gleff
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    gleff Co-founder

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  13. TRAVELSIG
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    TRAVELSIG Gold Member

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    For airport transfer- AOT is good.
    Just make sure to ask for the "Nissan/Toyota" unless you really want to pay double just to ride in a series 7 into town :).
    The roundtrip package is excellent value as you save 25% on the return. I have never had a problem with AOT and they have never been late for a pickup.

    Thailand is one of the easiest countries for FIT (Fully Independent Travel)- everything somehow works out in the end.

    Most of the tour operators just piece together various independent operations anyway (i.e. the majority don't have their own vehicles etc).
     
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  14. CrankyScott
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    CrankyScott Silver Member

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    Great advice from all above - a few other thoughts:

    For airport transport you can go with AOT round-trip for 1900 THB. You can book right in baggage claim. Easy and good.

    For a higher class experience, as @gleff mentions Image Limo. They are awesome, but expensive. They meet you at the airplane and fast track you through immigration and walk you right to the car.

    For tours, I have had great success with www.bkktours.com. They offer private tours that are very well done. Last week I rented a car at the hotel for 150 THB/hour as I knew where I wanted to go and that worked out nicely.
     
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