When it comes to visiting a new region it can sometimes be difficult to meet and travel with locals. We all want a deeper connection to the places we travel, but there is no surer way to do so than with help from the people of the region.
Unfortunately, because of the growth of tourism in Southeast Asia, it’s sometimes hard to know if you’re signing up for an authentic “locals experience” or an unethical tourist scam.
I was recently introduced to Withlocals.com, which is a new online resource promoting sustainable tourism in Southeast Asia.
Serving as a type of peer-to-peer marketplace, locals can post activities, tours and cooking experiences they are passionate about and people like you and I can book those experiences for something truly unique and beyond the guidebook.
Exploring Local Cuisine
Part of the inspiration that encouraged the creation of the Withlocals.com is that many tourists are drawn into westernized and “touristy” restaurants for fear of the local food.
Seeing “street food” is unavoidable in Southeast Asia, but many visitors view it as such a foreign experience that they have no idea where to begin or what to try. What WithLocals.com does is make these experiences easier by giving locals an opportunity to host travelers in authentic eating tours.
For a small fee, locals will take you to their favorite spots to eat… something I see as priceless!
Dining With a Family in Their Home
Withlocals.com is also popular for locals to share cooking experiences inside their own homes. This can often be an even better way to explore the regional cuisine, as you also get a first-hand experience of everyday life with locals.
You get to learn how to prepare authentic international dishes, whether it’s Pad Thai in Thailand or spring rolls in Vietnam.
Meeting Real People
Having made a big effort to connect with local people while I was traveling in Southeast Asia, Withlocals.com really connects with my idea of travel.
Working with local people and making sure that they have a sustainable business while giving visitors an authentic experience gives everyone the best of both worlds. Countries like Thailand and Vietnam have suffered the negative consequences of irresponsible tourism.
By seeking experiences that support the real residents of these countries, it can really help to turn things around.
Taking A City Tour With The Locals
While Withlocals.com, has a big focus on enjoying cuisine with the locals, another experience it features is tours of a town or city with one of the area’s residents. Seeing the tourist areas of a city might provide one perspective on a destination, but exploring the areas that the locals themselves see on a daily basis can provide a very different view of the destination.
From cycling tours of Bangkok to a forest trek in Sri Lanka, there are some very special experiences on offer with the help of enthusiastic local people.
Enjoying An Activity With A Local
Along with taking tours and dining with locals, the third option that the website offers is the ability to enjoy an activity with a local guide. This involves a variety of different types of things you can do, from traditional handicrafts and tai-chi to more modern and quirky activities such as fruit carving and plucking tea leaves.
These are often activities that you won’t find in a traditional travel tour that offer an amazing experience with the residents of the area you’ll be visiting.
Withlocals.com helps provide a sustainable income for people who want to share their passion and gives travelers a unique and memorable experience.