Traveling is exciting and brings out a desire for you to explore the secrets of your destination. Wherever you may be headed, you must not let your guards down. Make sure you are fully informed and that you know who to trust. Remember, you are a visitor and even if you have packed 6 travel books and guides with you, local knowledge helps.
We’ve put together a few things you should know when choosing a tour operator or excursion in Koh Samui. In a pool of brochures and beautiful photos, which one should you pick and what should you be looking for.
1.License to operate
To operate a tourism related business in Thailand, it is a pre-requisite that a business secure a license. You should look for this logo and a number corresponding to it. It guarantees that you are going with a company recognized by the Tourism Authority of Thailand. It is against the law for operators to sell and organise tours without this license.
TAT license number: 34/01575
2. Insurance – Read on the brochure or ask the seller if the tours are fully insured. We all know how important it is to be covered in case of unforeseen situations. Legitimate tour operators in Thailand are required to purchase insurance for all tours and excursions. All insurance covers the guests’ welfare but any damage to vehicles like jet skis or quad bikes, may not be covered and are often charged to guests. Talk to the operator and make sure you know your coverage.
3. Reviews and recognition – You finally held the brochure that caught your eyes. Now that it’s easy to connect online, it won’t hurt if you check what others think about them. Travelers help fellow travelers and there are sites like Trip Advisor which may help confirm you have made the right choice. And if you are already online, why not look further and see the website of the operator, you’ll be surprised what you can learn more.
4. Your itinerary – Do take the time to understand how your day will pan out. Get to know your destination and make sure you are prepared for the activities. If it involves hiking, you may have to consider the right footwear as a pair of flip flops may not be enough. Ask if you need to bring towels and other gears that you may need.
5. Mode of transport – Check the vehicles that will be used during the tour and make sure you know your limits. Remember that Samui’s average temperature is 30°C (85°F), so if you will be out all day, it can get really warm. Perhaps have a bottle of water handy may help. In Samui, one of the safest mode of land transportation for tourists is the air conditioned minibuses. Most of these buses have a maximum capacity of 10 passengers. It is more comfortable in comparison to the 4*4 jeeps. Although there is probably more adrenaline rush sitting in the trucks.
6. Dietary requirements – If you are one of these travelers who has strict dietary requirements, we suggest you avoid joint trips unless you are willing to pack your own food. The lunch or snacks are catered to the general public and due to the number of guests, they can’t be customised.
7. Traveling with children – Most kids love the outdoor but sometimes the heat gets to them and they can easily get irritated. If you are traveling with kids, you will find that having your own space helps. Joint trips give parents an added pressure when they join group tours, especially when kids start to get antsy. However, if you choose a trip that involves some swimming or light activities, more often than not, they are asleep on the ride back to your resort. Also, choose itineraries that are more suitable for kids. Often a full day trip can be too much. Take a trip that offers a not so early start so they and you can have breakfast.
8. Special occasion – So you are on research to find an excursion that will host a special celebration like birthday, anniversary or a proposal and it just feels so overwhelming. There’s so many options out there! We suggest that you take the time to talk to the operator and get their idea. If the operator has done a similar set up before, then most likely you are in good hands. You would want to book someone with knowledge, experience and that they can take instructions! After all, they execute the plan that you make.
These are only a few tips but ultimately when you are on holiday, enjoy and make the most of it without neglecting your own safety.
You can ask us for more tips about Samui and we are happy to share our thoughts, firstname.lastname@example.org
An insight by Lorraine Marsh of Island Gem Tours | www.islandgemtours.com