There is no better way to really get under the skin of Asia than interacting with local people during your stay. This can seem daunting at first, but if you follow some of the tips below we guarantee you’ll be haggling like a pro and ordering your favourite street-food dishes with confidence by the end of your trip!
Here are our top tips for interacting with locals while in Asia:
- Try a homestay
Staying with a local family is a fantastic way to interact with local people while travelling in Asia. Not only will you be contributing to the local economy, but you’ll gain an insight into local life few travellers will ever get to see. The accommodation standard might be a little more basic, but worth it for a unique and humbling experience.
- Order street-food
Sampling street-food is a great way to interact with local people. Rather than eat in large, characterless restaurants, give family-run local places a try and enjoy a tasty meal cooked fresh for a fraction of the cost. Delicious must-try dishes, such as ‘com ga’ (chicken rice) in Vietnam or delicious ‘Kao Soi Gai’ (deep-fried noodles) in Thailand are much more authentic from roadside stalls than restaurants, so fill up on these local dishes.
- Practise your haggling
Haggling is as much a social-experience as it is about actually making a purchase. Don’t be shy, vendors expect travellers to haggle and will appreciate you giving it a go. By the end of your trip, you’ll be buying everything from bananas to bamboo lanterns like a pro. Just remember to leave enough room in your suitcase!
- Book some immersive experiences
Booking a full or half day immersive experience is a great way to make sure you get the most out of your trip, and truly get involved in local life. From market tours to basket weaving, cycling adventures to boat rides, do your research and investigate the best immersive excursions so you can jump right in when you arrive. Plus, if you’re travelling solo, taking a class tour is a great way to meet fellow travellers.
- Learn the lingo
Getting by without knowing the local language is certainly possible, but making the effort with a few key phrases will pay dividends and you’ll get more out of your trip. Take a phrasebook with you, and keep it handy for impromptu purchases or ordering in a restaurant. Pictorial ones are best! If you learn nothing else, the word for ‘cheers’ will go down well when ordering drinks in a bar. In Vietnamese it’s “Mot, Hai, Ba, Yo!” which translates as ‘One, Two, Three, Cheers!’ and in Cambodia it’s simply “Jul mouy!” Give it a try!