We often say it’s the people we meet who make all the difference to an experience. Traveling with your own private tour guide certainly meets that criteria.
Building bridges of understanding across cultures and countries, travel guides play a vital ambassadorial role. Essentially working as ambassadors for their country, integral to their work is an understanding that everything they do is a reflection of them as individuals, the tour company they work for, and their country.
They’re the welcome party on arrival to a new country.
They’re the cheery face that greets you at the start of a day’s adventure.
They’re the guiding hand as you haggle at the markets for a unique travel memento.
They’re the knowing advisor who laughs as you gamely try an unusual dish that even turns the heads and stomachs of locals.
So why else would you travel with a guide?
Check out the reasons below and think twice before you decide to travel solo through Cambodia, Laos, and Vietnam – or anywhere else in Indochina.
Certification provides peace of mind
Apart from being a ready source of local knowledge, a properly licensed tour guide has a deep understanding of their professional role in cultivating healthy international relations. Where those at the most senior levels of politics may struggle at times, a local guide can be more personal and friendly, and leave put aside differences.
As tourism continues to flourish across the Indochina region, those in the industry have recognized the need for regulation that protects the people and assets of their country, while also providing a unique and memorable experience for visitors.
In Vietnam, an International Tour Guide License is granted by VNAT (Vietnam National Tourism Administration). Travel guides in Cambodia receive certification through the Cambodia Tourism Industry, while certified travel guides in Laos receive training and credentials from the Laos Ministry of Tourism.
While travel guide certification is no guarantee you’ll end up with the perfect guide, it does provide provides peace of mind they’ve met expectations around quality standards. It also means they have some understanding of their important role as communicators, educators, and connectors.
If you’re booking an Indochina tour, be sure to ask your travel consultant about their tour guides for Indochina, including whether they’re certified and have received positive reviews.
A local guide is your eyes and ears on the ground
Anyone who’s ever lost something while traveling will know how easy it is to become flustered. You can probably also relate to missing a connection or needing help to find the right train platform or departure gate. In countries where you don’t speak the language, the challenges can be compounded. That’s where a local guide can step in and be your eyes and ears on the ground.
With experience and insider tips travel with a tour guide can smooth the way, leaving you to truly enjoy all aspects of your trip in the knowledge that every detail is taken care of. Some tour guides are even available to their tour group via telephone contact 24/7, providing an added level of comfort should anything unexpected arise.
Throughout Southeast Asia, many tour guides operate as freelancers but check with your tour company anyway about whether they work regularly with the same guides. Not only is this a good indicator of their proficiency as a guide, but it also says something about the tour company. Because tourism is a burgeoning industry in Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam – and just about anywhere in Indochina – it’s heartening to know travel companies who engage tour guides are treating them well.
The whole country, local experts
Discovering a country for yourself can be an adventure. However, depending on the type of tour you take and the length of your vacation, a guide with knowledge of their local region, city or village is one way to enjoy an authentic experience of a country.
In many cases, a tour guide might be the only local person a traveler gets to engage with on a deeper level while in the country, and this can be hugely insightful. Providing firsthand knowledge of what life is really like, in addition to sharing their history, culture, and cuisine, a guide truly is that bridge between travelers and locals, the past and present. Historical events which you may only know through history books or media can be relayed by people who’ve had direct experience of them.
Bilingual tour guides are better!
Your tour guide is much more than the person who counts the heads, waves the flag, and organizes entry to sites. With a remit to maintain the highest standards of service and integrity, dealing with western travelers from the USA, UK, Canada, and Australia, means being fluent English speakers.
As travelers from the west, we often take for granted that ‘everyone’ speaks English, conveniently forgetting that our trusty tour guides must learn to speak English and communicate in ways that are engaging and entertaining. And that’s no small feat.
Keep in mind on your next tour, especially if it’s to one of the beautiful countries in Indochina, that your bilingual tour guide has gone to considerable lengths to be that bridge between your world and theirs!
Travel with a guide is an enriching experience – and one that makes for beautiful travel memories. Maybe now is the perfect time to adventure into Indochina and walk that bridge of understanding between you and them.
As a tour operator throughout Indochina, IndochinaEscapes.com – owned by Asia tour specialist ChinaTours.com – recognizes and values the experience and knowledge of our tour guides. We also value them as people, appreciating the contribution they make to opening up Indochina to the world.
Our small group, private and custom or tailor-made Indochina tours are ideal for western travelers seeking an authentic travel experience – and want to do it comfortably and enjoyably. Our small group Indochina tours include no more than 12 travelers, while our private and custom tours offer maximum flexibility. Single country exploration or multi-country tours are available all year round.
We know that travel with a guide is an enriching experience and that’s why we take care of every detail, so you don’t need to. For more information about how we can serve you, connect with us via our contact form. We’d love to take you on your next guided tour adventure.