Ever wondered what it is like as a Thailand tour leader? Spending your days travelling around Thailand, meeting new people, chilling on raft houses and cuddling monkeys? Now imagine what it would be like to get paid for doing it! But is being a tour leader in Thailand all fun and games? Read what Ultimate Thailand tour leaders, Hannah and Fiona have to say..
So what made you decide to travel to Thailand?
Hannah: I visited Koh Samui back in 2014 and immediately fell in love with what I saw. Thailand is so beautiful and I couldn’t wait to get back out here and see what else the country had in store.
Fiona: I grew up in Scotland and its such a small place I knew I wanted to get out and travel. I saved my money and went on a trip of a lifetime around Southeast Asia. Thailand was my favourite so after returning home for two months, I packed up and moved my life to Thailand. It’s been nearly 3 years and I’ve never looked back.
Has travelling/living abroad always been something you dreamt of doing?
Hannah: Since I travelled the East Coast of Australia at 18 I knew I wasn’t meant to live in the UK. I much prefer the lifestyle in a warm country. You don’t have to spend money to enjoy yourself because you can be outside and explore! I’ve always said I want to work to live, not live to work.
Fiona: I always knew I wanted to get out and explore the world but I never dreamed that I would be so lucky as to land this job and be paid to travel!
What inspired you to become a tour leader in Thailand?
Hannah: I had met a few tour guides whilst I was living in Koh Tao and, well, you’d be stupid not to feel a hint of jealousy! You get paid to travel, meet loads of cool people and get to know more about the country you work in and the locals. But above all I get to call paradise my home.
Fiona: I lived in Bangkok for two years and really enjoyed it. I met other tour guides and it seemed like such an amazing opportunity when I saw the job online I had to apply!
What are the best parts about your job working for Ultimate Thailand? And the worst parts?
Hannah: Best part is by far the people you meet. We work with amazing Thai partners who are some of the most helpful, kind and truly fantastic people I’ve ever met. And then on top of that we meet a bunch of nutters every 2 weeks! We dance, we laugh, we hurt ourselves, we face fears and we become genuine pals! If I have to point out my least favourite part of the job, it is living out of a bag but that’s only to be honest about the not so luxury aspects of the role. Yeah sometimes I wish I could stay in one place for a week or so but as soon as a new group arrives, I’m all excited to get to know them and see how they will interpret the tour.
Fiona: There are so many best parts I couldn’t list them all. We meet amazing people, go to beautiful places and enjoy amazing activities every day! There are very few bad aspects but like Hannah said, it can be tiring living out a bag.
What does a typical day at work look like to you?
Hannah: Depends what day of the week it is!? If it’s a Monday – Wednesday it either looks like Bangkok with enough buckets and Buddhas to sink a ship! Or the panoramic sunsets in the serenity of Koh Phangan. If it’s Thursday – Friday it’s the most impressive scenery I’ve ever seen in Khao Sok national park. If it’s Saturday – Sunday it’s the picturesque party island of Phi Phi with its infamous beaches. Every day is different and that’s what I love about my job.
Fiona: Every day is different! People always ask if we get bored but we go party in fun places, see amazing sights and do so many fun activities. We never stop!
As a tour leader you meet heaps of new people every month. How do you keep up the energy to interact with new travellers every day?
Hannah: Every group makes the tour a completely different experience. Each individual sees things so differently and we meet every personality under the sun, so as long as you enjoy meeting people and communication comes easy, what’s tiring about that?
Fiona: Hannah’s right. Its like hanging out with new friends all the time, having a laugh and enjoying Thailand.
What advice can you give someone thinking of travelling to Thailand solo?
Hannah: 1000000% absolutely do it! It will be the most self educating thing you’ll ever do. You can’t always wait for someone to hold your hand so cease the moment and get out there. You can be selfish about where and when you want to move or stay in any location. You’ll have dinner with people you would never normally acknowledge in the street and, not to sound too cheesy but, you’ll appreciate the little things so much more. It’s the best decision I ever made.
Fiona: Go for it. Best decision I ever made. It so scary flying out for the first time but the all new experiences, amazing new culture and the people you meet along the way make it so worth it.
What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learnt working and living in a foreign country?
Hannah: I’d say I’ve learnt 2 big lessons whilst living out here. 1: The importance of having a strong support system back home. I don’t mean financially but when times get hard you naturally turn to your family and friends. I’m very fortunate to get encouraged and picked up whenever I need it. 2: I never was materialistic but this lifestyle makes those kind of things matter even less. I’ve learned to appreciate experiences rather than belongings.
Fiona: I have learned so much from being out here. You have to rely on yourself for everything and learning how other cultures do things can be so strange. The biggest thing I’ve learned is to not sweat the small stuff. Look at the big picture and enjoy life!
What is your best travel tip?
Hannah: Always carry an eye mask, a hoodie and face wipes/baby wipes.
Fiona: Be prepared for anything and always say ‘yes’! Join in for everything and you’ll have the time of your life.
What are your plans for the foreseeable future? What’s next on your bucket list?
Hannah: My list of countries I want to visit gets longer and longer every day. Next though I’m heading to Bali and visiting family in the Philippines, then home to Manchester for a couple of months. With a few extra £s in my bank I’m looking to explore New Zealand and fingers crossed, work for Ultimate Travel when they start the tours there! 🙂
Fiona: I’m not sure what I’m going to do next. I’m loving working with Ultimate Thailand at the moment and hopefully move on to their Oz tour or Southeast Asia tour when that kicks off!