Gone are the days of experiencing a city only through a tour operator – the internet has now made it very easy for anyone to travel and create their own tours.
However, the secrets aren’t always all on the internet. We found four platforms that can help you get more authentic and off-the-beaten track experiences, that you otherwise may not find.
Check them out!
1. With Locals
What they do: Skip the tourist spots, or at least, visit the ones that really matter, according to the very people who live in the city. You’re not just hanging out with a tour guide from an agency who will give you the same speech they give to everyone else – you’re hanging with a person who knows the ins and outs and can take you to hidden gems and off-the-beaten track experiences. Since these locals aren’t a company with overheads to cover, the price point for their private and customised tour is generally very affordable.
Countries available: They serve a good number of countries in Asia (Indonesia, Malaysia, Sri Lanks, and etc.), Europe (Spain, the Netherlands, Czech Republic, and etc.) and the United Arab Emirates.
Activities you can expect to find: City tours, cooking sessions or dinners in hosts’ homes, food tours, bike or running tours, trekking or hiking in nature, craft workshops, outdoor adventure, and more.
What they do: This platform is well known for linking local homeowners with travellers, and they’ve introduced the Experiences platform to now include activities. Similar to With Local except with more focus on out-of-the-ordinary experiences and workshops you can attend, to take back something more than just another souvenir.
Countries available: Almost all over the world!
Activities you can expect to find: Truffle hunting in Provence (France), walking and bonding with (actual) wolves in Los Angeles (USA), drinking and dancing with drag queens in San Francisco (USA), learning samurai swordplay in Tokyo (Japan), foraging and feasting on wild foods in Cape Town (South Africa), and more!
3. Backstreet Academy
What they do: Backstreet Academy is a social enterprise that connects travellers with skilled artisans, craftsmen and tradesmen from rural areas in Asia. This is a win-win situation.
Travellers are able to live a day or experience something very different from their own, and gain new knowledge and skills. Backstreet Academy helps empower these skilled village folks who may otherwise not have access to the tourism industry due to poverty, lack of business acumen and even access to the internet.
They do this by providing hospitality and tourism training, as well as basic technical equipment to coordinate tours with travellers.
Countries available: Most Southeast Asian countries (Laos, Vietnam, Myanmar, Malaysia, and etc), India and Nepal.
Activities you can expect to find: Besides food and city tours, you can find leather carving in Phnom Penh (Cambodia), Muay Lao (Laos traditional martial art) in Vientiane (Laos), rice farming with a local family in Siem Reap (Cambodia), making a portable prayer wheel in Kathmandu (Nepal), learning Javanese archery in Yogyakarta (Indonesia), and more.
4. Local Alike
What they do: Similar to Backstreet Academy, Local Alike is a social enterprise based in Thailand. They prefer to link travellers with local communities and responsible tour operators – instead of single tour guides – to build community-based tourism.
This empowers local residents while adding to community development. When you choose to experience Thailand with a host from Local Alike, your tourism dollar will benefit more people!
Countries available: Thailand
Activities you can expect to find: River cruises, city and village tours, experiences living as villagers for a day, monk bowl making, food tours, homestay opportunities, and more.
Before you go…
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