Boarding a plane for Southeast Asia is an adventure in itself, but in our experience, time at a homestay beyond well-trodden tourist trails remain a treasured highlight.
Curious but not sold? Here are 5 top reasons to spend a night or two at a homestay.
1. Get to know the locals
From letting their hair down and relaxing in the evening as scents of dinner waft through the air, to hearing the pitter patter of kids playing in the morning as everything wakes up, homestays are an opportunity to get to know the locals, rather than simply “visit” them.
2. Eat the freshest food
“Farm-to-plate” dinners in the West are often the preserve of gastropubs. But whether you’re in the countryside making friends with your dinner before its demise (at least you know where it came from) or staying in a city where sprawling markets with fresh produce line every street, food doesn’t come much fresher than at a homestay.
Get hands-on (and feet in) at rice paddies or join local fisherman to try your hand at throwing nets for your very own catch of the day; you may look at food a little differently when you return home.
3. Give back to the community
There should always be a fair exchange when travelling; you’ve come a long way to appreciate a country, and its residents are happy to share it with you. Keep this relationship a sustainable one by supporting small communities rather than large corporations.
As well as income for the people or community you stay with, help with daily tasks is not only a valuable contribution, but promises to be a memorable experience.
4. Escape modern life
Many of us spend our lives behind a screen, and while Wi-Fi in Southeast Asia is unlikely to meet speeds you’re used to at home, you will be able to upload the odd photograph to social media while staying in cities. Homestays in rural areas offer a break from the trappings of modern life; feel your shoulders relax as you set aside your phone and tourist tick-list to join the gentle rhythm of life in the village.
5. See more of the countryside
A village can be a small dot against staggering mountains or brilliant green rice paddies. A night or two at a homestay gives you the opportunity to spend quality time in these beautiful surroundings beyond the constraints of a day trip. Your homestay hosts or a local guide may even show you to some hidden highlights.
A homestay experience might feel like an adventurous leap, but once you’ve settled in to your new room, eaten a fresh meal and had a sip or two of local rice wine, it might be a struggle to leave!