As you may know, I love traveling to places on my own or with friends on a DIY [Do-it-Yourself] trip. But don’t also get me wrong that joining trips on a tour package has it’s own benefits too that I sometimes book for myself even on a solo trip.
When I first came to Thailand on their Songkran Festival, I noticed massive kiosk on every street in Patong selling tours about different places to explore in the area. So I decided to visit these kiosks on my second day in town. I stopped every counter that I could pass through, receiving and checking their brochures, asking questions on what tour that best suits my needs. It took me two hours of juggling the busy streets in Patong before I finally got one tour company who shared heaps of ideas for the places to visit in Phuket so I could make my decision right. My decision to take this tour is not 100% right and you will know why later.
It was through that tour company that I was able to understand how these businesses situated in all kiosk or counters in town works and how they all are connected from one another. She shared to me this as I introduced myself as a tour guide from the Philippines and she wants a connection with me.
So I booked for a countryside and an island hopping tour that I scheduled on different dates.
Why did I book a tour package in Phuket? Because I wasn’t willing to drive a motorbike in a new country plus I do not have a driver’s license with me. Joining a tour like this is inexpensive too rather than continuously haggling rates with their TukTuk, it took me awhile to realize that Tuktuk drivers in Phuket ripped you off a lot, for instance their rate for just taking to the Weekend Market and Big Buddha cost Baht 1,200 whereas I only paid Baht 800.00 for this tour package with various spot to check on. Fair enough for me, right?
Come the next day, I involved myself in the afternoon countryside tour. There were numerous places we visited and I was also with few other travelers from UK and India in the group. My main goal was actually to have a look at the weekend market which was named locally as Talad Tai Rot and Chao Fa Market [highly recommended for everyone to experience] because I want to see their local food, this tour happens also on a Saturday afternoon.
Apart from the weekend Market, the Big Buddha was another site I want to check on. So these two were part of the package I availed. The rest are just nonsense to me, and whatever package I will take from the tour company, it is still mostly the same only that NO Weekend Market from the other choices.
Did I get disappointed that I booked a tour package? My ratio would be 50:50. Half of the tour made me happy for we were given a good amount of time to stay in the Weekend Market which was my main place to visit, plus our time in the Big Buddha was really enough for me. Why did I feel 50:50? Because the other activities that are included are out of my control.
For instance, riding an elephant was on every list of the packages in Phuket, in addition to that, the Monkey show was also always included. These two are, to be honest off limits for me. As a person who’s heart is for the animals, I honestly didn’t like this kind of activities. So, what did I do? I questioned the people around, obviously, they don’t speak English so they didn’t give me an accurate answer as to WHY they have this kind of excursion. I DIDN’T PARTICIPATE THE ELEPHANT RIDING and I DIDN’T WATCH THE WHOLE MONKEY SHOW, I only quickly went inside the monkey show took a photo and video as an evidence that it does exist in that country. But forgive me, it is also my fault why I joined myself on such event, I already knew from the start that the Monkey Show and elephant riding were included but I still pursue booking the tour as it was the only option I got that offered the cheapest rate to get me to the Weekend Market.
Another reason why this is a 50:50 satisfaction tour I did was the fact that we stopped to 4 different stores including the famous “Jewelry shop stories” I’ve heard. And since I knew about this kind of tactic, obviously I didn’t involve in the “shopping” tour. Have I nothing against this one as of course we also want to buy some presents or souvenirs right? What I don’t like was these stores are not even Thailand related souvenirs, how on earth should we want to buy jewelry on our tour? None of us in the group bought any of this by the way.
Am I disappointed that I joined a tour package in Phuket? Like I mentioned half of my heart would say NO and half of my feelings would say YES, it’s a 50:50 ratio. I am not discouraging everyone so you won’t join such tour, I am only citing how I felt about the whole tour. Thailand is a very beautiful country that one should visit, but just be very careful on what you must do and where you should go. If you want to help about Elephant Sanctuaries, I highly suggest the one in Chiang Mai.
Have you experienced joining a tour in Phuket? How was it?
Author: Ferna Mae
Ferna is a spontaneous traveler from the Philippines who had a great experience traveling her own country first before she embarked to other countries. She thrives to be more independent in her own skin. Connect with her at firstname.lastname@example.org