Editor’s Note: This post is part of the Viator Travel Awards, an annual awards competition where we – along with our readers, travelers, and fans – select the top things to do and see in each of the major regions we serve, the top things to do in our most popular tour categories, and more.
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Another big year has come and gone at Viator, and now, after months of accumulating traveler reviews and guide booking successes, we are able to present to you the Top 10 Private Guides of 2012!
Viator’s private tour guides work hard in order to save travelers stress, time, and even money when abroad or on quick weekend getaways. Booking a knowledgeable and friendly guide provides visitors with experiences only locals may know, while also helping them to bypass the fluff and get straight to what will interest them most. That said, all guides are flexible and wish only to please their clients; here we give you the best of the best!
Most Popular Guide: Mami Sorimachi (Tokyo)
As the most booked private guide of the year, Mami Sorimachi regularly impresses travelers to Tokyo and the nearby Fuji area with her brilliant local knowledge and guiding skills. Mami’s initial goal is to know your interests so she can then build the perfect tour to suit, and rave 5-star reviews on Viator prove that clients love both her insight and personality in general. Whether your final destination is Tokyo, Kamakura, Nara or Osaka, Mami is your guide in Japan.
Top Selling Guide: Diana Stefanou-Huttinga (Athens)
Producing the most revenue of any guide during 2012, Diana Stefanou-Huttinga of Athens has been perfecting her tours as a licensed Greek guide since 1987. While boasting of Athens’ many attractions – ancient sites, museums, boutique hotels – and how the city has become one of the most visited in the world, Diana also ensures potential clients that she loves all of Greece and would be happy to introduce them to Greek culture in destinations across the country. Her ability to speak fluent English, French, Greek and Italian is not too shabby either.
Read more about Diana
Top Rated Guide: Vivie Pan (Beijing)
Beijing private guide Vivie Pan just might be seeing stars. With more 5-star reviews in 2012 than any other, there is no questioning her achievement in this year’s awards as the Top Rated Guide. Speaking fluent English, Vivie also owns and operates her own tour car, giving her the competitive edge over local companies that have both a driver and a guide in the same vehicle. For a standard sightseeing tour of Beijing proper, or for a visit to the Great Wall of China, Vivie has all your travel needs covered – more than living up to her claim that you will not leave disappointed.
Read more about Vivie
Top Newcomer: Joke Kittiwititkun (Bangkok)
Receiving the most bookings out of new guides for 2012, Joke Kittiwititkun, or “Joker” as he often tells his clients, believes in providing tours with a lighthearted atmosphere – a humor that brings him top reviews. Joke brings a fresh perspective to the guiding industry with his four years of guiding service yet lifetime of living in Thailand. His specialty would be sharing the ins and outs of his home city, Bangkok, but he is also available for tours across the country.
Top Guide Video: Jitendra Kumar Sharma (New Delhi)
Playing more like a commercial for the charms of New Delhi and his guiding personality, the 2012 Top Guide Video is awarded to Jitendra Kumar “JK” Sharma. Not only is JK able to take you on the tour in the video clip, but once in New Delhi, he whisks visitors across the city to the World Heritage monuments, markets and restaurants of a city full of charm. With 33 years of experience, there is no doubt that JK will make an excellent guide, but you be the judge: watch his video above.
Read more about Jitendra
Top Multi-lingual Guide: Maricar Donato (Washington DC)
Generating the most multi-lingual bookings for the year, Maricar Donato is awarded as the Top Multi-lingual Guide for 2012. Based in Washington DC, one of the most popular tourist destinations in the United States, Maricar’s ability to speak an impressive 6 languages has proved both useful to travelers from all over the world and to her guiding business. Maricar’s exceptional professionalism and years of working in the tourism industry make her a delight to hire for a day or two in DC, no matter if you prefer to greet each other with ‘hello’, ‘hola’ or ‘ciao’.
Read more about Maricar
Top Cruise Port Guide: Sofia Lindh (Stockholm)
Pulling in the most cruise port bookings in 2012, Sofia Lindh of Stockholm has been running local tours for the past six years in this popular cruise destination. With many of those temporary stopovers, Sofia expertly arranges tours according to the specific needs of the client – especially when a tour needs to be squeezed into a smaller amount of time because of port restrictions. Or choose from sightseeing options of one day to several! Sofia has been quoted by some of her clients as being “very informative and flexible,” as well as, “a wonderful goodwill ambassador for Sweden”, and we think that is the perfect combination in a Stockholm guide.
Most Attentive Guide: Natt Opasanon (Bangkok)
Natt Opasanon wants to make sure her clients have all their questions answered, which is why she has the highest number of outgoing messages sent to them through the Viator system. Named the Most Attentive Guide for 2012, Natt uses a combination of her three years guiding experience and passion for her country to build the best customized tours across Bangkok and nearby Ayutthaya and Pattaya areas. In fact, Natt spent a good five months in 2012 crossing the country by bicycle in order to ensure she knows Thailand inside and out for the benefit of her clients. Now that’s a dedicated guide!
Most Popular Private Tour Designed by Tour Guide: ‘The Ancient Pompeii’
With the highest order count for a tour, ‘The Ancient Pompeii‘ as designed by Fabrizio Belleni is a perfect way to explore the well-preserved Roman city. Fabrizio leads the way through ancient streets with seven years of guiding experience and a Masters Degree in Art History in order to ensure clients see it in all lights and at all angles. Some major stops along the tour include the Forum, the thermal bath, and a 2000 year old amphitheatre. Fabrizio’s specialty is the Bay of Naples, which reaches from Naples to Pompeii and out to the picture perfect Isle of Capri.
Top Private Shore Excursion Designed by Tour Guide: ‘Kuala Lumpur Shore Excursion Ex Port Klang’
As the most booked shore excursion of 2012, the ‘Kuala Lumpur Shore Excursion Ex Port Klang‘ by Zach Hatta has been awarded at the top of the list of those designed by a tour guide. This tour is targeted to travelers coming in by cruise ship with a layover of at least 5 – 7 hours. Zach, a licensed guide and seasoned traveler, helps clients to get the highlights of the Kuala Lumpur region including the Batu Caves, the Petronas Towers and Chinatown, all within the stopover period. It’s the perfect tour to get a sense of the bustling city in a short time!
We would like to take this time to thank these outstanding guides for all their hard work and dedication. Without their contributions, Viator would not be the travelers’ resource that it is today. Congratulations to the Top 10 Private Guides of 2012, and be sure to look to this list if wishing to book a private guide in the near future!
- Viator Travel Team