A colleague and I will be travelling on business to Bangkok between May 2 and 13.
We will probably have some spare time on weekends to do some sightseeing. Do I need a tour guide to show me around? It seems we will have two weekends in the city. Thanks in advance for your suggestions! Sammy
Bangkok is a big city and like other big cities, there's a lot to see and do. It’s also rather difficult to get around, as the extensions to the main rapid transport systems - the BTS and MRT - have yet to be completed. However, a week in Bangkok is usually adequate to start learning the chaotic streets and getting around by taxi is easy. You may also enjoy travelling on one of express boats along the Chao Phraya River.
The decision to hire a tour guide really depends on how much you want to learn about the city. It’s a good idea to have a guide for a day to show you such main attractions as the Grand Palace, Wat Phra Kaew and Wat Pho. That way, you can ask questions directly rather than having to rely on guide books. You can also pick a themed tour and hire a guide for that specific purpose. For example, you might enjoy a food tour, where the guide will take you around Bangkok's food streets and explain Thai food. A good tour guide can also prepare a great tour programme to match your free time and your budget.
A number of private tour guides are available in Bangkok, and they are listed and recommended by visitors on many popular web sites like tripadvisor.com. There is also a handful of small tour operators specialising in private city tours with tailor-made itineraries. It’s best to book in advance. Many of them seem very popular among visitors, and receive high recommendation through word of mouth.
Have a great visit!
Could you please tell me if the Chatuchak market is closing for renovations soon? I heard about it from a friend of mine and would be very disappointed if that's the case, as I was planning to go there next month. Thanks for your reply, Liz
The Chatuchak Market is still open for business as usual. Fears about the market closing started last year when rental contracts from the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration or BMA expired, and the State Railway of Thailand or SRT took over operations. However, the existing vendors were able to renew their contracts, and everything is running as normal.
I think the rumour of closure started again in the wake of the announcement of a Bt234 million renovation project this year. In fact, the SRT has separated the renovation works on the Chatuchak Market into two phrases. Phase one will start this month and is scheduled to finish in September. During this first phrase, the SRT plans to refurbish the market's landscape, add new pave ways and gates and install new sign posts to every trading zone. The second phase will start in October and will concentrate on main infrastructure works, such as roof structures and the water drainage system. It's scheduled for completion in March 2014.
There are no plans for the market to close during either phase of the renovation works, so there's no problem listing it as a must-visit destination in Bangkok. Bon voyage!