ONE OF THE best ways to experience Thailand is to have a local show you around. TakeMeTour makes it possible with just a few clicks.
The first thing I always do when I travel to a new country or city, especially one where I don't speak the language, is to check on social media if I have any friends there. This is mainly because I want to make sure that I get a real feel for the city and experience it the way locals do. I suspect most travellers nowadays do the same thing, too.
While Thailand, and especially Bangkok, is always cited as one of the most visited cities in the world or places near the top of foreign travellers' wish list, visitors can find it quite challenging to explore the country like a local. Language, cultural understanding, and issues with transportation are among the top challenges keeping foreign travellers from exploring the city in more depth.
Many tourists do not understand why Thais use nasal inhalers (ya dom) on a tough day. And plenty of visitors believe that Thais cook and eat pad thai (stir-fried rice noodle) with tom yum koong (spicy prawn soup) every day at home, rather than the simple stir-fried chicken with basil leaves or Thai omelette with minced pork that we're more likely to regularly cook.
These are just small examples of what could be discovered if those visitors had a local to show them around. Our mission at TakeMeTour is completely aligned with the current campaign from the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) for "local experiences".
The people who live here are actually our best ambassadors when it comes to local experience, including knowledge and lifestyle.
TakeMeTour, an award-winning travel start-up based in Bangkok, offers a solution that connects foreign travellers with local Thai people through what we call the "local expert". Travellers can browse and book local tours in Thailand curated by local experts themselves. These one-day experiences range from "cafe-hopping with a Thai food blogger" in the heart of Bangkok and "cooking with grandma" at the local Lat Mayom floating market right through to "showering with elephants" in Chiang Mai. As a market leader and the largest marketplace of its kind in Thailand, TakeMeTour currently have more than 15,000 local experts from 50 cities ready to welcome visitors throughout Thailand.
All the experiences can be booked through the website with an instant confirmation just a day in advance. The online booking has two significant benefits: security and quality assurance. All payments are kept securely with TakeMeTour until the tour is completed and guests are fully satisfied with the experience. Travellers are also able to leave an unalterable review after the trip, which also serves as a quality control of the experience itself. On top of this, all the bookings are covered by accident insurance for our guests' full peace of mind.
Sometimes, questions arise about who the local experts are and how we establish a relationship of trust with them. Local experts are Thais who live in, or are very knowledgeable about, the area they are taking guests. All local experts have to pass rigorous background checks in line with international standards, including of national identification, bank accounts, criminal record, and social media verification.
Statistics show that the travel and tourism industry makes a huge contribution to world GDP - to the tune of 10.2 per cent. And it plays a crucial role in contributing to Thailand's GDP as well, especially from foreign visitors. At the moment, only a small portion of the total rewards of tourism gets to the people who deserve it the most, and those are the locals. TakeMeTour helps redistribute it to them in a fairer manner.
TakeMeTour aims not only to allow foreign travellers to discover real and authentic experiences in Thailand, but it also helps Thailand develop better tourism engagement with other cities outside of Bangkok or the Southern beach destinations. TakeMeTour expects to have all 77 provinces of Thailand covered in the near future.
As part of the dtac Accelerate program two years ago, TakeMeTour developed an extensive partnership with dtac, offering exclusive discounts to travellers who bought the tourist SIM cards during their time in Thailand. This is one amongst other partners that TakeMeTour have worked with in order to increase their brand awareness and strengthen the service provided.
I strongly believe that we change the way people travel through local experiences. Let's do it one country at a time.
Taro Amornched Jinda-apiraksa is CEO & Co-founder of TakeMeTour, dtac accelerate batch 3.