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The following post is sponsored content written by me and brought to you by Southeast Asia-based startup Withlocals. Partnerships like this help keep me on the road — thank you for your support!

I’ve been missing Southeast Asia something fierce, and a recent email to land in my inbox didn’t help! Withlocals is like an Airbnb for home dining and local-led tours and activities in Thailand, Vietnam, Sri Lanka, Singapore, Indonesia, Nepal, and Malaysia. The goal? To bring authentic travel to the masses while provided sustainable incomes to talented and hospitable locals.

With Locals

Why I Love It

There are a couple things about Withlocals that I adore and that made me say “yes!” to their email asking me to cover them here on Alex in Wanderland (in case you were wondering, the vast majority of those emails get the boot.)

• While the company’s founders are based in Europe, they share my obsessive love for all things Asia. I think specialization is key, and I love that this website has focused on just one region in the world.

• Personally, I struggle to connect with and befriend locals when I travel as I can get shy and flustered and not want to impose. Getting invited home for dinner is not as easy as some travel memoirs make it out to be. Withlocals allows all travelers to have an authentic, unique experience regardless of their travel experience or bravado.

• The offerings are varied and high quality — there are so many tours I’d sign up for this second! While I’m a picky eater and not much of a foodie, I swooned over listings for leather workshops, guided photography tours and batik painting lessons.

• Over 10,000 locals across Asia applied to be a part of Withlocals, who won’t charge them a dime. Screened applicants can publish their offers for free, and the site charges travelers a 20% commission. Founder Marijn Maas shares their mission — “Most importantly is the fact that we can make a difference for the people in this region. We want to use the principles of the sharing economy for those who can use it the most… Our mission is to enable people to earn a sustainable income by doing something they’re passionate about.” I love that WithLocals is providing Asian artists, chefs, and other specialists with a way to earn a sustainable income using their skills and passions!

Asia Scenictaking a cooking class in Thailand

Room For Improvement

The website is still in Beta, and I ran into a few bugs while playing around and searching for different tours. Overall the site navigation is clean and easy to use so I think this is a problem that will be easily resolved as time goes on.

I also wish some of the tour descriptions could be more, well, descriptive. Perhaps WithLocals could work with their submitters to help them develop more robust sales pages. I’d also love to see a search feature!

Giveaway

Today Withlocals and I are joining up to give one of you a $50 voucher for any experiences on the site. The best part? Fifty bucks goes a long way in Asia! Heading to Thailand? Here’s a roundup of four experiences you could buy with that $50 voucher:

Eat and Shop Tour of Chatuchak Market in Bangkok (one of my favorite markets ever) for $11.97
A Southern Thai Dinner Experience in Bangkok (right off the SkyTrain!) for $8.12
Create Your Own Lanna Lanterns Workshop in Chiang Mai for $10.26
Lessons in Muay Thai in Ao Nang for $25.00

Okay, technically those four tours add up to $55.37. But you get my point, no? Think of all the amazing experiences, interesting people, and hidden gems are awaiting the lucky winner! Readers from all countries are welcome to enter.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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39 Comments...
  • Silvia
    January 18 2014

    This looks like such a great initiative! I’m totally with you – some of my friends are so great at approaching locals and taking them up on invites to tea and things, but I always feel shy or like I’m imposing, which then in turn makes me feel like a boring traveler, bah.
    Silvia recently posted..Battle and Downs: The South of England

    • Alex
      January 18 2014

      Me too 🙁 I actually have a whole post coming up on that topic next week! But yeah, I can’t wait to try out this site myself when I return to Southeast Asia. Such a cool initiative.

  • Caity
    January 18 2014

    Hey Alex,
    I have recently started participating in tours during my travels and they are such a fantastic way to explore a city, particularly if you only have a short amount of time.
    I love that this company gives you a more unique experience! I am planning on going to Malaysia and Singapore this summer so I will be looking closely at what they have to offer!
    Fingers crossed I win! Thank you for the insight! Xxx

    • Alex
      January 18 2014

      I too have definitely become more tour-orientated in the past few years. While I still loved DIY and wandering on my own, I love chatting to tour guides and getting to know them and all the insight they provide. Happy travels!

  • Naomi
    January 18 2014

    What a great idea! I will (hopefully) be in Malaysia in April so I will have to look With Locals up.
    Naomi recently posted..Cusco

    • Alex
      January 18 2014

      Ah, happy travels Naomi! I loved Malaysia!

  • Heather
    January 18 2014

    I really like all of the suggestions for using the gift certificate, but the one that made me sqee with excitement was the Muay Thai lessons! Definitely in for that!
    Heather recently posted..Departing Zambia – 100 Words of Reflection – Part 4 of 5

    • Alex
      January 18 2014

      I’m SUCH a muay thai fan! The crazy thing is that with the $50 voucher you wouldn’t have to choose — you could literally do all those things! Such value!

  • Yasemin
    January 18 2014

    I have my fingers crossed – I am hoping to travel to Vietnam later this year!

    • Alex
      January 18 2014

      Nice, Yasemin! Maybe this giveaway can make that trip even sweeter 🙂 Good luck!

  • Rachael
    January 18 2014

    Cool! Whether I win the giveaway or not, myself and my friend are planning a Thailand/Laos trip in August, so this website would be perfect to hunt for cool stuff to do along the way. Thanks! I will check it out now. (PS I accidentally entered the wrong instagram username for an entry. I forgot I changed it. I already do follow you on instagram though)

    • Alex
      January 18 2014

      Hope you find some hidden gems on Withlocals, Rachael! I’m looking forward to using it myself when I return to the region in August as well!

  • Melissa
    January 18 2014

    What a brilliant idea! Sadly, I have no plans to visit Asia in the near future, but I WILL keep this in mind for the eventual trip. I’d love to explore city markets with a local foodie!! The lantern-making how-to sounds pretty neat, as well!
    Melissa recently posted..2 Excellent Reasons to Visit Belize: Caye Caulker & Lobster Fest

    • Alex
      January 19 2014

      I’m sure it will only be bigger and better by the time you get to Asia, Melissa! Happy travels 🙂

  • Emily
    January 18 2014

    I really like the idea of getting a local flavour of things! I’m excited to check out their website and dream of all the neat things I could get up to.
    Emily recently posted..Where are the tourists in Mazatlan?

    • Alex
      January 19 2014

      Enjoy going down the rabbit hole, Emily! It’s an addictive site!

  • This is fantastic, what a great business idea. No one can say SE Asia is too touristy to have an authentic experience now, can they!
    Michelle | Lights Camera Travel recently posted..How to Get More out of Travel

    • Alex
      January 19 2014

      There are ALWAYS opportunities for adventure!

  • Caty
    January 19 2014

    What a great website and what an awesome give away. The part about Sri Lanka made my heart ache because it is such a beautiful country and I’m lucky that I had so any local encounters but since unfortunately I won’t go back there I would love to win the voucher for my trip to Bali at the end of this year.

    • Alex
      January 19 2014

      Good luck, Caty! I know it would make your Bali trip even more super special — and you deserve nothing less!

  • Laryssa
    January 19 2014

    This is fantastic! If I win, maybe it’ll finally give me the push I need to explore this region of the world that I’ve been DYING to visit for years…
    Laryssa recently posted..Traveler Threads: Living and Working in Antarctica at the South Pole

    • Alex
      January 19 2014

      You’ve got to get there, Laryssa! It’s magical!

  • Valerie
    January 19 2014

    What a great idea!! And I’m hoping to get back to Thailand later this year 🙂

    • Alex
      January 20 2014

      Me too! Maybe we will cross paths!

  • Joey
    January 19 2014

    Thank you for sharing yet another wonderful resource. I’m headed to Thailand in about a week and will be checking out first hand some of the gun.

    • Alex
      January 20 2014

      Hey Joey, I’m really glad you enjoyed it! Thailand is going to amaze you — lap it up!

  • Catherine
    January 20 2014

    Thanks for sharing this site! I am headed to Thailand in a few months and will definitely look this up (even if I don’t win this giveaway!)

    • Alex
      January 20 2014

      You are so welcome Catherine! Enjoy Thailand — it’s magical!

  • Shmruthi
    January 21 2014

    Hey! Totally loved reading about your adventures. I’m new to the blog world and would definitely take a lot of inspiration from you 🙂 and this is an excellent initiative.. I agree with you that it is not very easy striking up a conversation with the locals in a foreign land & without the local influence, a travel is incomplete!

    • Shmruthi
      January 21 2014

      And yes, I’m already looking at Withlocals and will use it for my travels in South East Asia in the next six months 🙂 Fingers crossed for winning the giveaway too 😉
      Shmruthi recently posted..3 Quirky habits of the Vietnamese that I love!

      • Alex
        January 21 2014

        Good luck with the giveaway and with your travels! Hope you’ll swing by again soon 🙂

  • Carla Turun
    January 22 2014

    I love this ! what an excellent idea

  • Daniel Rose
    March 8 2014

    A Great initiative, I may be giving this a go 🙂

    • Alex
      March 8 2014

      Let us know how it goes, Daniel! I can’t wait to give it a try!

  • Ryan
    May 9 2014

    WithLocals sounds like they’ve definitely found a nice niche to work in. I’ll have to check it out for sure.

    • Alex
      May 11 2014

      Let me know how it goes, Ryan!

  • Natalie
    September 5 2016

    Hi Alex! Love love love your site and am making my way to Thailand for the first time in a few weeks. Is this offer still valid/around? xoxo

    • Alex
      September 6 2016

      Hey Natalie — that’s a good question! I’m actually not sure… maybe give it a try and let me know 🙂

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