guided tours vs. "do it yourself"

crowded Floating Market an hour outside of Bangkok

Guided tour or do-it-yourself? There's a lot to recommend each way of exploring a new destination. Frankly, I've been spoiled by my experience as a Virtuoso travel consultant. Having experienced guided tours on Educational Trips, it's hard for me to go back, especially in a place where traveling is difficult.

There is a huge advantage to hiring a private guide. You don't waste time figuring out logistics, buying tickets, and determining the best use of your precious vacation time. An expert local guide is working for you, to help you make the most of every day. We had an Abercrombie and Kent guide (Sue) and driver in Bangkok.

An experienced guide makes sure everything goes smoothly. One day we visited the Mae Klong Market whose claim to fame is that a railroad track runs right through it. Whenever the local train comes through, all of the merchants using the (free) stall space next to the tracks have to move their merchandise. Our next stop, the Amphawa Floating Market (pictured above) is crowded with both merchants and shoppers. We saw both, without a moment's worry about how to get there or what to do once we did.

And if things do go wrong, a great guide can fix them in a hurry. On our way back to Bangkok, the transmission on our car broke down… but not to worry. Sue got out of the car, flagged down a taxi, and got us to our next destination (lunch at The Siam) without our having to break a sweat. By the time we had finished lunch, a new car and driver were waiting to take us back to the Four Seasons.

There's much to be said about wandering, getting lost, and making new discoveries on your own. This is my preferred way to travel in lots of places, from Paris to New York to Venice. But if you want to just sit back, experience the destination, and travel in style, there's nothing better than a private guide.

copyright (c) 2014 by David Ourisman LLC. All rights reserved. We provide Virtuoso and other Preferred Partner amenities as an affiliate of Brownell Travel. If you have comments on this column, or questions about booking travel, email me or visit my website.

No comments: