Update: Hibernating in Bangkok

Written by Team Expique
Published: July 16, 2021

As of April 2021 we are hibernating our tours business until tourism comes back. We are currently accepting bookings for January 2022 onwards. We are constantly reviewing the situation and it is possible the we may resume our Bangkok Tuk Tuk Tours and Food Tours earlier.

Winter is usually a time when many make a visit to Thailand to escape the cold dark winters in Europe and North America. With warm weather and little rain, it is a perfect escape.

This year was different, and it was a bleak winter all over the world. People can not escape to the warmth of Bangkok, and in many respects, it is also a bleak winter in Bangkok. For those reliant on tourism it is the coldest and sleepiest year on record, and the winter has continued into the summer!

In 2020 Thailand had been lucky that within its borders the threat of COVID-19 has been limited when compared to other countries around the world. For those who wanted to escape for a long winter it is actually the perfect country to come to hibernate!

However 2021 was been different, and with the most recent COVID outbreak and as of July 2021 there have been increased restrictions in Bangkok and throughout the country. For us it added level of uncertainty has further threatened our ability to survive.

Whilst places like Phuket and Samui have now officially re-opened to international tourism, the restrictions in place and the constant threat that further outbreaks could ultimately jeopardize those re-opening. We hope for a successful re-opening but ultimately the conditions in place still really limit the number of visitors we expect to reach Bangkok this year.

To this extent, at Expique decided to: Hibernate in Bangkok

It’s Time to Hibernate in an Uncertain and Promotion Driven Bangkok

When COVID-19 first hit we were determined to try and keep as many staff as possible. In hindsight we underestimated how long it would take to recover and how hard it would be to attract locals to tours.

We were not fast enough at re-inventing our business. We have tried many things but have been unable to reach a volume to justify our efforts. During the same time the Thai domestic tourism market has turn into a bargain and discount driven market (compared to international tourists).

In June 2020, when we reopened after the first wave of COVID, we offered free walking tours with the main aim to get work for our guides, and guests were happy to give a good tip to guides in return. We had good success over the first month as people were really keen to get out, but still hesitant to travel around Thailand.

However, gradually more and more tour companies started to offer discounted tours and hotels across Thailand started offering amazing staycation packages. B2B luxury tour operators switched to day tours at a similar price to freelance guides, whom without work set up their own tours for the local market. 5-star hotels started offering deals that made the average hotels look expensive. This is great news for customers, but with price wars going on, it creates further challenges for tourism companies – hotels at least benefit from the governments “We Travel Together” scheme. We offered free walks very soon after COVID, so maybe we ourselves poured fuel on the fire, but the reality is domestic tourism in Thailand (both Expats and Thais) is so much more price sensitive than international tourism.

We have had some fun and some success with pop up tours for Halloween, Loy Krathong and Christmas. However, with the effort we put into each of them, even with 25+ guests for each one, it ain’t enough to survive.

Xmas tuk tuk tours 2020

However, there is still just so much uncertainty. Vaccinations may be underway in many countries (including Thailand – all be it slowly), but tourism will still be slow to return.

To this extent we have decided not to focus on running tours for the moment and to completely close down The Market Experience, our workshop space in The Flower Market.

Instead, we will devote more time to focus on other things and also writing content.

We Will Still Be Creating Content

Over the last 7 years we have always consistently added new articles and built up quite a library or articles about exploring Bangkok.

Now is time to update these and expand our content to help people plan trips across the whole of Thailand and beyond. We have ambitious plans and soon will also start publishing content on neighboring countries too. Let’s see how far around the world we can go!  

For now, it is content in the form of articles but there are a few more things in the works.

You can check out all our latest articles at www.expique.com/blog and follow us on Facebook or Twitter to get updates of all new ones.

We will be working with several content creators over the next few months, so if you have an interest in writing for us or creative multimedia content, let us know.

Farewell to The Market Experience

For anyone who have visited our base in The Flower Market, you may understand why we love it so much. It has been a really tough decision and probably one we should have made a year ago! However, it is time to say bye bye to The Market Experience and move on to focus our efforts elsewhere.

Are We Running Any Tours?

The simple answer is no.

However, we will consider groups of 10 people or more but this will depend on date and our own availability and other projects. The point of hibernation is so we can focus on other things so it does need to be worth it for us to run a tour.

Will We Return to Focusing on Tours?

We are accepting bookings for tours from January 2022, so assuming there are enough bookings we will return to running tours. It may be sooner.

Our Greatest Achievement is Our Only Regret

Unfortunately, this does mean that for the foreseeable future we can not support the team that we built pre-COVID. In December 2019 we had 10 full time staff (across our office and cooking school) and about 60 freelance members (including guides, driver, support team). As the owner of a company, our greatest achievement was the team we built and the income we were able to provide, and it is that fact that kept us going and trying in 2020.

We made some cuts last June and now have had to make further cuts. Soon it will just be 2 of us full time at Expique.

However, we have no doubt that a break will be good for us and maybe even open up new opportunities.

Let’s Finish on a Positive

Out of the 6 office staff we had to make redundant last year, 3 have new jobs and the other 2 have opened their own business (yes massive to Hamad and Nui for opening a Charoen Krung branch of Gu Roti). The other is “finding herself” 😉

There are still opportunities out there!

Until we see you again, please stay safe and healthy.

Best regards,

Simon and Perasa (Owners of Expique)

P.S. Final Note on Current Situation in Bangkok

To be updated.

As of July 12 in Bangkok: curfew, recommendations to work from home, shopping malls close, no dine-in in restaurants. Inter-provincial travel is advised against.

P.P.S. Our Bangkok Night Lights Tour is still The Number 1 Experience in Thailand

So the number one experience is not simply going to stop this tour!

Number 1 experience in Thailand

You can find out more about this award here

Categories: Expique News

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2 thoughts on “Update: Hibernating in Bangkok

  1. Really enjoy your website and I long to return to Thailand. But, here I sit in New Mexico waiting for my vaccine which will happen soon I hope. What a crazy time this is. Businesses like yours are suffering world wide and I wish I could support all the good things you do. Your website/blog is great and I will continue to follow it as best I can. Tourism will rebound
    eventually and I look forward to arriving in Bangkok and taking the train to Nong Khai. Do you have any travel information on Laos? I suspect not much is happening at this time. So I wish you well and will try to support you even in a small way.

    1. Thanks David for your kind words and support. We are looking forward to when tourism and the world return to normal.

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Expique is an award-winning food and tuk tuk tour operator and content creator based in Bangkok and content creator.

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