We noticed that you're using an unsupported browser. The TripAdvisor website may not display properly.
We support the following browsers:
Windows: Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome. Mac: Safari.

Why is a tour guide required?

Which Chiang Mai hotels are on sale?
dd/mm/yyyy dd/mm/yyyy
See hotels
Croydon, United...
Level Contributor
858 posts
83 reviews
Save Topic
Why is a tour guide required?

I have gone through the extensive list of guides on the FAQ and don't know which one to choose and what for? Is it something that many people do?

Are there certain parts that are best reached with the help of a guide?

We will be in CM for 5 full days, arriving in 3 weeks time, and havent booked any tours or guides in advance yet.

Many thanks for your advice/suggestions

UK
Level Contributor
736 posts
10 reviews
Save Reply
1. Re: Why is a tour guide required?

depends on budget and energy levels. We like to hire a guide for a day or two (especially if travelling with first timers) just to make things easier and to fit more into a day. The guide will also take you to nice places for lunch that you may not have found yourselves. it is also nice to have someone who can answer lots of questions about the region/culture/food etc etc. our will even do the bargaining for you if you wish to buy something, and last trip dropped my husband at the barber for a haircut, as well as phoning to make dinner reservations for us.

However, it is also possible to arrange things yourself, although you will want to have a car and driver for some things, or to join a group tour (which can also be fun)

Brisbane, Australia
Level Contributor
934 posts
66 reviews
Save Reply
2. Re: Why is a tour guide required?

Filthiestfish, We recently visited Chiang Mai for 5 days, this was our first visit to CM and decided to hire Ben from benstoursandtaxiservice, he took us to places we wanted to see, also shopping, drive out into the countryside, found places for us to purchase special gifts that we had been having trouble obtaining.

Ben is not a tour guide, but he has a vast knowledge of Chiang Mai and will pass this on to you during your tour, he took us to see temples, silk factory,umbrella factory,lacquerware factory as well as dropping us at the airport plaza mall to do some shopping, and an elephant camp, the drive in the countryside was lovely,looking at rice farmers working, the mist over the top of the mountains, very peaceful and serene.

Including a tip and fuel I paid baht3000 ($100aus.) per day for bens services which considering we had the use of him and his lovely SUV for 7-8hrs per day I considered very reasonable.

We are returning next July and have already contacted Ben for his services again, I think you should organise a guide to get the most out of your short stay in Chiang Mai, they are all very good and not expensive.

Enjoy Chiang Mai

Chiangmai
Level Contributor
706 posts
6 reviews
Save Reply
3. Re: Why is a tour guide required?

This is up to you and a guide is not needed if you can speak the language, read the signs, know who to talk to. A local guide will open up a new world for you that you cannot experience any other way. When picking a guide here is what I would do. Make sure you get a local guide from each area. A guide from Chiang Mai has an idea about lets say an area such as Chiang Dao or Doi Inthanon but no real in depth knowledge.

A local guide can introduce you to his or her family and friends, explain about their daily life, learn to prepare local food, help working in their fields, join in a local temple festival or wedding etc.

Local guides are easy to find if you know how and here on TA is not a place to find them. If you want a local guide at Doi Inthanon go to the Park Headquarters or ask a park ranger. They know all the local guides, there are many, and phone numbers and will get in touch with one and they can meet you in a matter of minutes.

In the small town on Thaton on the Myanmar border which is full of wonderful hill tribe villages again a local guide is easy to find. There is a tourist police office at the bridge on the river so just ask them and again they know the guides and will contact them for you.

These guides are not licensed with TAT however the tourist police and park rangers know their families well and are allowed to guide guests only in the area they live. This is because although they speak excellent Thai, English and hill tribe languages their English is not good enough to take the written test for a guide license. They are however registered with the local authorities and are trust worthy.

If you are traveling with a tour operator and Chiang Mai guide or just a driver make sure they provide a local guide from the area you will be traveling. it will make all the difference from just being a been there done that tourist to meeting wonderful people and enjoying unique experiences you will remember for a lifetime.

have fun,

Randy

Brisbane, Australia
Level Contributor
934 posts
66 reviews
Save Reply
4. Re: Why is a tour guide required?

Randy, I am sorry but people come on this forum seeking advice from fellow T/As re their experiences with the guides who are listed in FAQs, this information is of a great benefit to our fellow T/As and we can analyse these reports and make a decision on who to use.

You are a 674 post contributor and you say that this forum is not a place to find a local guide, well you have not said where you suggest to find one, all you say is they are easy to find if you know how, so your suggestion is to ignore all of your fellow T/As reports and go and hire someone off the street with no way of checking what his services are like beforehand.

All the places you say to hire local guides are serviced by the guides listed on T/A, they all speak good english, they all have good vehicles, they all pick you up and return you to your hotel, they are not expensive and you can read other T/As reports before booking, something you cannot do with your suggested guides.

Have you a problem with the guides listed here on Trip Advisor? because it appears to me you do.

Plenty of T/As have used the guides listed here on Trip Advisor and will continue to do so, the ones offering good service need to be rewarded and these ones can be found on this forum, If your guides were any good they would have found a way onto this forum.

Chiangmai
Level Contributor
706 posts
6 reviews
Save Reply
5. Re: Why is a tour guide required?

I posted this just so people can have an alternative to a list as these local guides will never be listed on TA. They cannot be listed because they have no email address or internet access so cannot be contacted by travelers. I am not saying the guides on TA are not worthy just offering a good alternative. Before TA they had a lot more work by word of mouth, lonely planet entries and from other guide books and operators who would hire them because they were popular. Today modern technology and the internet is pushing them out of work as they do not have access or know how to use the internet so now they are hurting.

Once people understand they can go to the park headquarters or tourist police and get a local guide they can then tell others to do the same here on TA. They can then recommend a guides name here so when visitors go to the park or tourist police they can ask for them.

I just isn't fair for them to be pushed out of work because of modern technology they do not have access to, please understand.

Randy

Paphos, Cyprus
Destination Expert
for Paphos
Level Contributor
4,529 posts
84 reviews
Save Reply
6. Re: Why is a tour guide required?

If you have 5 full days you can afford to wait till you're in CM and see how you feel in situ about needing a guide. If you are a confident independent traveller then it's easy to get around by yourself with a good map/guidebook. If you do decide you would benefit from the services of a guide you can find one locally. Of course you may not then get one of the most popular ones on this site, but I'm sure there are many more unsung fantastic guides out there.

Enjoy!

Trisha

Oregon
Level Contributor
1,092 posts
44 reviews
Save Reply
7. Re: Why is a tour guide required?

I agree with Trisha 100%. A guide is unnecessary (to answer the original question) unless you are doing something out of the ordinary and out of town. I have only used a guide once in many trips to CM, and, as Trisha says, I hired him in CM from a travel agency. Took a day trip to Doi Ithanon with a fairly long hike through poppy fields and in some rougher terrain to a waterfall and then to two hill tribe villages. For such as that, a guide can be a good idea, especially for the transportation part of the tour. For day-to-day activities in CM including seeing the wats, shopping, etc. a guide is simply not necessary. With good maps and guidebooks, CM is quite navigable on one's own. Filthiestfish, make that decision based upon your interests and after you arrive in CM.

Chiangmai
Level Contributor
706 posts
6 reviews
Save Reply
8. Re: Why is a tour guide required?

There is a class of Lanna History and Culture graduate students at Payap University that are now working on an apps where you will be able to use your mobile phone as a guide to Chiang Mai city attractions. It will include maps, voice guides, FAQ's and a call center. They are now recording the voices for the attractions such as temples, markets and area history such as the different gates. Talking with Acharn Somyut, the class professor, it will take another year before it will be ready and on line using your mobile phone. One of the problems they are having now is trying to find a provider for the service.

Sounds good to me,

Randy

Brisbane, Australia
Destination Expert
for Chiang Mai
Level Contributor
9,903 posts
46 reviews
Save Reply
9. Re: Why is a tour guide required?

I would normally agree with Trisha - but because you are going to be there in November, and a peak time of the year I would suggest you do book someone ahead if you think you need a guide.

Yes, there are lots of drivers - cabbies - unlicensed guides around. We often use these as well - however, it can be hit and miss. There are some very bad reports of people being given very low prices for tours and then put under enormous pressure to visit particular places to shop where the driver will earn commisson. Just recently a few of the drivers we used had very little English, and while this was ok because we were just going from A to B.... personally for a day trip I would rather use a registered guide with good English. I think it enhances the experience because you learn so much and you can trust the guide not to take you places you don't want to go.

For example our guide in CM knew we loved Khao Soi, so was able to take and show us the place where this dish was created.

I'm sure you will be ok without booking ahead and will find someone to guide or drive you - it just depends on how you want to roll.

Caroline.

Chiang Mai
4 posts
1 review
Save Reply
10. Re: Why is a tour guide required?

I think there is a common sense answer to the question of needing a tour guide or not: if you need language help, want information about what you are visiting, or are unsure where to go, then by all means get a tour guide. In Thailand, the term tour guide implies someone who has undergone training and has has been approved by the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT). No TAT tour guide badge? Then they are not a tour guide. Yes, taxi drivers, tuk-tuk drivers, private drivers can take you places and may even have great language skills, but if they do not have the TAT badge, they are not a tour guide. As Caroline so rightly pointed out, taking tourists "shopping" can be very lucrative for guides, due to the prevalence of commissions, so it is not surprising that many unofficial guides want in on the action.