Craig and I met Bowling late one night on our arrival to Bangkok. He immediately put us at ease with his friendliness, great language skills and wicked sense of humor. During the time we spent in Thailand we learnt more about him, had lots of fun and were granted a very real insight into his culture and people. As he says below, tours with G Adventures are great because you travel in a small group with a local guide. Instead of arriving at every listed and hackneyed hotspot on a coach with forty other homogenous tourists toting cameras and maps, you really become a group of friends traveling around a new country with some local people. Bowling’s easy hospitality, fun nature and local knowledge has ensured his continuing success as a guide, not only in Thailand, but in his European and North American travels as well.
Tell us a bit about yourself and your work as a guide for G Adventures:
I’m Bowling, and I’ve been working as tour guide and tour leader for more than 5 years. Now I’ve worked with G Adventures for more than 2 years, which is a really, really cool company! G Adventures really differs from others. I can say that because I worked with the other companies before. I love the style of G Adventures tours. Small groups, flexible, real experiences everywhere. Imagine traveling with your friend who is a local, walking together like a group of mates on the street and he can take you to good places to eat local food, recommend trying something that you will never forget and your life will totally change! This is G Adventures.
I live in Bangkok but am originally from Chiangmai (Northern Thailand). Bangkok is the capital city where you can do so many activities and experiences. If you have seen the “Hangover 2” movie you will know of Bangkok.
It is the place where you can see the Biggest Buddha image called “Wat Pho” and according to Lonely Planet, the street food in Chinatown is the best in the world!
The Grand Palace is the highlight of a visit to Thailand, where there is a place to pay respect to the Emerald Buddha, the most sacred Buddha image in Thailand. You can also go on a tuk tuk journey around the city to see many temples with the Golden Buddha image.
What should we pack?
Well you don’t need to pack too much. Thailand is warm country, with around 30+ degree Celsius. T-shirts are the best or vests are good as well. Prepare your hat, sunscreen and mozzy spray. And spare some space in your suitcase for shopping for sure!
What is the best way to get around the city?
To go around the city, I would take the metro or sky train. But in the Old Quarter you better use taxis. Make sure to go by meter.
Where do you like to shop?
If you want to buy brand name stuff you can go to MBK Shopping Center or Siam Paragon. You will wonder how cheap our stuff is – real ones, not copies!
What things do you think a visitor MUST experience?
I think that visitors coming to Thailand should do elephant riding or bamboo rafting along the river. If you are adventure people, you better try to do a trekking tour. They are my favorite – it is a cool time, you can see hill-tribe people. Or if you come to relax, of course a beach stay in Koh Tao (a Thai island) is an amazing time for you and you can dive or snorkel.
And what things (especially regarding safety) should someone not do?
Dos and don’ts in Thailand: First do not drink water from the tap. Second, do not raise your voice when you talk to Thai people. Thai people are polite, or as some say, too polite, so please be polite and keep a big smile all the time because this is the Land of the Smile. And open your mind, if you open your mind you might want to live here forever.
Where are the best places to eat?
Actually, everywhere is a good place to eat but I would say street food in China town is the best!
What are your favorite spots for…
A romantic date:
Come in November when we have the Loy Kratong festival in Chiangmai. Check the schedule it is run according to the lunar calendar. People launch fire balloons or lanterns. Imagine more than 10,000 lanterns on the sky, it’s beautiful.
Watching sport and having a drink:
I like to take the tour group to Khaosan Road (called ‘Backpacker Street’). There are plenty of bars, night clubs, restaurants and night markets and you can also watch sport matches here.
The weekend market in Bangkok is the best for shopping, it’s a huge market and cheap!