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New Online Services are Changing the Face of Tourism

Over the last decade, the tourism industry has been learning how to better leverage the internet to provide unique services for customers. First came online reviews and bookings, allowing us to gather information and search for the best available deals. Recently, a number of websites have taken things a step further, throwing traditional models by the wayside, instead relying on locals to guide tours. This not only allows for a more personal experience but ensures that profits go directly to your guide instead of a large company. One such site is WithLocals.com which just recently launched and offers tours across SE Asia.

Through WithLocals, guides can offer tourists unique experiences, such as a fruit carving class, a badminton class, a food market tour, a visit to a local school or a lesson on how to drive a Tuk-Tuk through busy traffic. They can also invite travelers for a dinner at their family’s home and teach them how to prepare local dishes. Wouldn’t it be awesome if we could just knock on the door of a local to join his family for an authentic dinner? After all, the best cooks in the world are our moms, right?

The site offers 3 types of experiences – eating, tours and activities. For foodies, the eating tours offer the chance to taste a home cooked meal while learning how to cook the dish. Restaurants may serve up equally good food, but you’ll miss out on the personal touch, the stories and the love that goes into the dishes.

The tour experiences are pretty straight-forward, but with a personal guide, you can avoid tourist traps, overcharging and other common pitfalls.

If you’re looking for something a little more unique, many guides offer activities normally off-limits to tourists.

WithLocals is smartly focusing on SE Asia as a platform to launch their service and offers tours in: Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, Nepal and Sri Lanka. So if you’re looking to get out of Saigon for a while, there are plenty of places close by to experience.

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