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.
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!
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!
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.