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Hong Kong and/or Singapore - private guide recommendations

If you have been to Hong Kong or Singapore and can recommend private guides (or even small group tours), we'd appreciate it. I've checked Trip Advisor, but would appreciate any first-hand recommendations from the Forum.

We'd love to get a glimpse of how the typical person in Hong Kong lives, in addition to some of the popular sights.

A cousin tells me a private guide is almost essential in Hong Kong, since it is easy to get disoriented with all the tall buildings. He tells me Singapore is easier to navigate on foot.

Posted by
2674 posts

Maggie, can't help you with Hong Kong but we lived in Singapore for several years and can recommend these guys for small, casual, and economical group tours: Depending on your interests their tours cover everything from the founding of the British colony to WWII history and a little of everything in between. We wound up going on most of them during our time there and they were all good - small groups and very knowledgeable guides.
If your heart is set on something more private and personalized, your hotel can likely connect you with someone who can escort you around. The country is very compact and public transportation is excellent. Only detractor is that it's always very hot and humid which can make an extended walk an exercise in survival.

Posted by
8293 posts

We went on a tour booked through the HK tourist office. It wasn't a private tour but we were only about 8 people in a minibus. I well remember because the bus had a flat on a busy highway and we had to wait for the repair guy to turn up.

Posted by
2085 posts

i didn't even think to check with a Tourism office, so good idea. I'll Google.
I hope you didn't have to wait long on the highway :o But, things happen.
Hope you are doing well. We had some nice Canada-like weather here this morning w/ temps in the low-mid 50sF.......that's not at all typical for our summers, but we will take those glorious days when they happen :)

Posted by
388 posts

A cousin tells me a private guide is almost essential in Hong Kong, since it is easy to get disoriented with all the tall buildings.

In my book, Hong Kong is the most tourist friendly city. Unmatched public transportation that will take you anywhere in a hurry. English is widely spoken, and is on every street sign. Making it extremely easy and speedy to travel between locations, and walking on the streets.

If tall buildings can cause disorientation, does the cousin also think that "a private guide is almost essential" in NYC, Chicago, etc.?

Posted by
2085 posts

I don't know...I won't ask him, because that would likely come across rude on my part. But, he is a very well-traveled, exceptionally well-educated guy, and when he was there, he was actually there as a guest of the government with all sorts of planned activities, and he actually stayed at an official his trip was way cooler than I can even begin to think my little humble visit will be. He rattled off all sorts of things to see, beyond what I found on Trip Advisor.

But, thank you for your encouragement on ease of getting around, and it is good to know signage is also in English. I won't attempt to learn the local language, as I don't have enough brain cells to master it best a word or two of greetings, etc.

Posted by
275 posts

I have to disagree with your cousin. I have relatives in both Hong Kong and Singapore, and I found that having them drive me around actually prevented me from learning how to find my own way. It was not the tall buildings that was the problem, it was having a guide and mentally switching off from navigating myself that was the problem.

In more recent trips to Hong Kong, my relatives have been too busy to drive me around, so I have had to find my own way. It is only in these more recent trips that I have learned to find my way around Hong Kong. As for Singapore, I have not been back for some time, but I still do not know my way around there, precisely because I did not have to learn.

Posted by
2085 posts

Ted, I think the point you make applies to any town or city. Being "taken by the hand" is different from navigating. Different approaches work for different situations.

I'll have just just 1.5-2 days in both locations, so a guide (or small group tour) is what I'm after, just to maximize our time and increase our ease/enjoyment. We understand it is possible (with certain guides) in Hong Kong to see a typical residence and also one of the business hotels (small pod type sleeping arrangements), but we would likely not be able to have those experiences poking around on our own. We have a list of things we'd like to see, so we would share that in advance with a guide and find out what is do-able/reasonable for the time we have, then prioritize.