Cultural differences can make homestays tricky – so follow these tips for a rewarding, enlightening experience
Don’t pat a Fijian on the head or point the soles of your feet at an Indonesian. Most homestay owners – especially those used to Westerners – are very forgiving of cultural gaffes, but learning “I’m sorry” in the local language is simple politeness. See our guide to South East Asia etiquette...
People won't trust you if they think you'll talk about them behind their backs. And don’t post gossip or judgements online – people in the remotest of places can be remarkably tech-savvy.
It’s a nice sentiment to want to distribute your tourist dollars, but if you move, everyone will have a theory about why you left the first place, which can lead to local tension.
Kiram Village Homestay, Malaysia (Shutterstock)
Not everyone wants to be the object of your photos. Ask your hosts if it’s appropriate to give a gift, such as a token sum of money, in exchange for a photo.
You'll learn a lot. People in remote villages get weary of hearing visitors advising them to stand up to the government / mining / logging companies. Keep your counsel and you’ll stay friends.
Most homestay operators barely make a profit; they do it mostly for the love of meeting new people. So don’t haggle too much over prices – it’s your trip, but their livelihood.
Want to have an authentic cultural experience and save money on accommodation? It sounds like homestays are for you! Browse our favourites at Homestay.com
Words: Sarah Hitchner, cultural anthropologist
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