Live Local With These Authentic Travel Experiences That Help The Community

Lesley Teoh

Discover another side of Asia and experience what it truly means to live local, while benefiting local communities.  

Go off the beaten path, connect with locals and uncover hidden gems with these five trips that give back.

Folkcharm Thailand offers sustainable travel experiences like learning weaving from local thai artisans



These short weekend tours offer a welcome respite from the hustle and bustle of Bangkok. Experience village life in in the Isaan region in Northeast Thailand, where you’ll learn the art of cotton making, handloom weaving, and bamboo weaving from local artisans.

During your stay, you’ll also be able to visit a local organic farm and enjoy traditional Thai-Loie delicacies while you interact with your local hosts. The tours are organised by Folkcharm, a social enterprise that partners with smallholder cotton farmers and local artisans to produce a range of fair-trade apparel. Folkcharm also offers interest free loans to its beneficiaries, as well as capacity building and design support.

Geylang Adventures offers tours of singapore's red light district.



Geylang Adventures is all about showing travellers a different side of Singapore and enable them to see Geylang in a whole new light. On these night-time walking tours, you’ll explore back alleys, discover where the locals go to eat and learn about the challenges facing the migrant communities who live there. Geylang Adventures hopes to break down social barriers and grow awareness of the issues facing Geylang’s residents.

The social venture also hopes to be a platform for bottom-up initiatives and works closely with migrant workers and disadvantaged communities. Some of their projects include Back Alley Barbers – where they offer free haircuts to migrant workers and the needy.



Explore Java, an enigmatic island with a rich culture, vibrant arts scene and a fascinating history. The four-day itinerary includes a street food tour of Jogja’s local-approved eateries, classes in traditional Javanese archery and a bicycle tour of the local market. During your trip, you’ll be staying with a local host and enjoying daily life (and homecooked meals) in a typical Javanese household. Photographer lovers will particularly appreciate the magnificent sunsets over Borobudur’s verdant rice paddies and Buddhist stupas that pepper the landscape.

The tours are operated by Backstreet Academy, a peer-to-peer impact travel platform that hopes to revive lost arts and offer new ways to experience a city. Backstreet Academy’s platform is inclusive in that their vast translator networks and SMS notification systems allow disadvantaged or technologically illiterate communities gain access to the tourism industry.

Sosabike tours



Let Sosabike take you on authentic, sustainable and educational bicycle tours of the scenic Cambodian countryside. You’ll learn the diversity of Cambodian culture, as well as its complex history. Sosabike offers three types of tours:  the local livelihood tour, the customs and culture tour, as well as countryside rides. Choose a half day or full day tour where you’ll be able to view French architecture, learn about Buddhist customs at a local temple or even enjoy a homecooked meal with local villagers. Some other highlights include learning to make traditional Khmer banana leather and visiting a memorial site for victims of the Khmer Rouge.  

Sosabike’s tours are designed to minimise negative impacts to the environment and the social enterprise aims to channel tourists to new areas that rarely receive tourists, so as to reduce overtourism and increase the number of local families who benefit from these tours. The tours also benefit the communities as Sosabike shares its profits with the communities and encourages the purchase of locally made products to support the cottage industry.



Go on a guided tour of old Delhi led by former street children and see the inner city through their eyes. These unique tours will give you a first-hand look of the back streets of the Paharganj and you’ll learn more about the culture and daily life of the residents of this area. Organised by the Salaam Baalak Trust, these tours not only empower former street children through employment, but also offer them an avenue to realise their creativity and grow their confidence. The Salaam Baalak Trust operates children’s homes and shelters for India’s street children and enrols them in education programmes. The organisation also provides medical support and on-ground health clinics to support the basic medical needs of these communities.

The tours are conducted in English and last about two hours. Read their TripAdvisor reviews and book your tours here.

Looking for more vacation inspiration? Check out our responsible traveller’s guide to Asia at


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