So you’re planning a trip to South-East Asia and you want an unforgettable, well-rounded, genuine experience? Then why not try something different and instead of going down the beaten path of the tourist, try and live like a local, for a while? It’s an experience that will undoubtedly prove to be fascinating and unlike anything you’ve ever done before. Don’t be just another tourist – experience the real South-East Asia, like a local.
1. Eat like a local
First of all, as long as you’re in South-East Asia, make a point of eating within their specific cuisine. That means lots of rice, noodles and a generous variety of kinds of curry. Really, this is the only way to go, if you’re going to live like a local. Not only does it save you a lot of pennies – Western food is many times more expensive – but it guarantees you the most genuine South-East Asian experience.
2. Stay with a local
You have to stay with a local family or in a local guesthouse, in order to get the proper feel of what it’s like to live in South-East Asia, as a local. This way, you will be able to properly observe and learn about all the local customs, traditions and superstitions from a privileged “front row seat”, in the heart of an everyday South-East Asian family.
Your best bet is to become close and friendly with a few locals, maybe a local family. They will be your best source of information and help, as well as support. People here are known to be very warm, welcoming and generous and they will be more than happy to aid you with whatever you might need.
3. Work with a local
In order to completely immerse yourself in the typical lifestyle, you might consider asking someone to take you in as an apprentice and teach you their trade. This will allow you to better relate to your hosts and understand what being a local really implies, how the people here go about their lives and what they fill their days with. This is essential for your thorough understanding of their culture and heritage.
4. Talk like a local
You’ll also want to make an effort and learn some basic words, numbers and commonly-used phrases in a local language, in order to facilitate your everyday transactions in the market, in eateries and wherever you may find yourself in your travels. This will prove to be invaluable, because in this way, you effectively distinguish yourself from the foreign tourists who are maybe not always taken seriously or are taken advantage of.
By displaying at least an interest in their customs and making an effort to learn the language and the “rule of the land”, so to speak, you already make a significantly better impression and locals will respect you more and accept you more easily.
5. Celebrate like a local
Another useful tip is to make sure to engage in local traditions and festivities. Every city, larger or smaller towns and villages will have their own local celebrations, of the most colorful variety. They will provide fascinating insight into their culture and spiritual enrichment.