Bangkok is a densely populated and vibrant city of over 10 million people. How do you set out to get the best out of this wonderful city and its charming people if you have only a limited time? How you you find your way around non-tourist areas and get to know the real Thailand, when you can`t even read street signs or understand menus, never mind speak the language. How do you know you are not breaking local laws or upsetting people by ignoring customs? What are the best sights and how do you get to them? Is the city safe for tourists?
All these questions can be answered at a stroke by taking one or more of the many very reasonable private tours which are available. You can book tours over the internet before you even set off, or through your hotel when you arrive, or perhaps through a local company recommended by your hotel. You can arrange a series of standard tours throughout your stay, or perhaps have a customised day by day itinerary for your whole trip. Research before you go does pay off, as most of the reliable companies have a web site and you can compare their offerings.
All tour guides in Thailand have to attend a training course and pass a series of tests before they are permitted to have a tour guide licence issued by the Tourist Authority of Thailand (TAT). The nature and length of the course depends on what the licence covers. All official tour guides must have a licence before they can work for a tour company or as a freelance guide. Guides who do not have a licence are not endorsed by the TAT and are therefore working illegally. So, make sure guides you use are licensed. On some tour companies` websites you can find all the details of their guides so that you know exactly who your guide will be and what their credentials are and can even contact them to discuss your requirements before you go.
Such reputable companies will provide local guides who will help you see below the surface of one of the most cosmopolitan and complex of Asian cities and get to know a little about the authentic culture of its people. While you can take a standard private tour, one customized to your own requirements has much to recommend it.
You can ask to have your chosen must-sees included together with lesser known off-the-beaten-track sights you might not even have heard of. You will be taken not to tourist restaurants, but to the authentic little restaurants known only to locals where you can try genuine Thai food. A really good tour provider will take time to understand you and your special interests and needs.
A good company will also provide guides with fluent English, who know a lot about their city. They can be more than just guides, acting almost as a personal assistant during your stay, sorting out any problems you encounter. They can also help with shopping and finding accommodation. Best of all, on a private tour it is just you and those you invite, doing the things you want to do, being escorted through all the complexities of Bangkok life simply and efficiently.
Finally if you are the sort of person who likes to be really independent and you want to drive yourself and your guide around Bangkok, then again you can research your options for this before you go through cheap car rental heathrow.