Homestays & Local Immersion - Best Tours & Trips 2019
For a truly immersive experience, homestays are a tried and true method. You are welcomed into someone's home and learn how a typical family operates day-to-day. It's a truly unique way to experience a country. You come away with a deeper appreciation as cultural subtleties reveal themselves in a way that is simply not possible when staying in a hotel or hostel.
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Relaxed A lot of free time, with very few inclusions. Ideal for independent and/or low-key travelers and cruisers.
Full on For those looking to maximize their sight seeing time. You thrive on a packed day’s schedule from 8 am to 6pm, with some (but limited) free time. Most activities and meals included.
Mixed You will have solid amounts of both free time and structured time with some activities and meals included.
Group Tour Groups are between 25-60 people, typically ~30-40. Usually there will be many opportunities to split off and enjoy meals and excursions in smaller groups. This is the most economical way to travel, saving up to 40% versus booking the same itinerary yourself.
Small Group Tour Small groups are usually defined as between 10 and 24 travelers, often less. If you're the kind of person who enjoys more intimate experiences and personal service this is a good choice. All else being equal you will pay a premium for this style vs a larger group tour.
River Cruise These vessels are smaller than most ocean cruisers, limiting which amenties are available. Passenger counts can vary. One of the biggest advantages of a river cruise is the ability to dock at smaller ports and local villages.
Small Ship Cruise Small ship cruises usually have a max passenger count of 500. The primary purpose of these trips is to spend time off the vessel in local ports (e.g. Mediterranean) or experiencing nature (e.g Galapagos or Antarctica). Cabins can vary from budget to luxury.
Private Guided Private tours give you the undivided attention of a guide, and often involve special access to sites and unique experiences not available to larger groups. This is a great option for families, couples, and small friend groups. Expect to pay a bit more for the extra service.
Self Guided / Independent Tour A travel company plans your itinerary and arranges all the logistics including lodging, local activities, and transportantion. You have the flexibility of a solo trip while still getting the convience and time savings of expert planning. Get 90% of the benefits of a tour, without a guide.
Vacation / Holiday Package Similar to a self guided tour, this usually involves a home base, such as a hotel or resort, with packaged activities and day tours as a part of the stay.
Large Ship Cruise This is the "floating city" experience, with multiple ways to enjoy your vacation aboard the ship as much as on land. Ships are multiple floors, provide several activities, culinary, and shopping options. They often make fewer stops and have less time available for shore excursions.
Camping Typically involves most nights sleeping in tents (sometimes permanent tented sites) or in rustic cabins and lodges.
Basic - 2 star You'll stay in no-frills, but clean and comfortable, hotels or guesthouses. A 'Basic' trip might also involve a few nights of camping.
Value - 3 star Mid-range budget with accommodations ranging from comfortable lodges, guesthouses, and homestays to three star hotels.
Premium - 4 star 3 to 4 star western hotel equivalents. While not all lodging will be 'luxury' they will be quite comfortable by western standards.
Luxury - 5 star The highest level of comfort and service. All accomodations are in four or five star hotels, boutique lodges or high-end homestays.
Price Per Day
Very Easy Minimal walking - motor vehicles available for all major parts of trip.
Easy Normal generally flat walking in urban or suburban environments.
Moderate Walking or physical activity half to most of day - no carrying equipment.
Strenuous All or most of day hiking or biking, hills included.
Extreme Very challenging all day hiking and backpacking carrying significant equipment.
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Rivers & Seas
Cities & Attractions
Good for Singles Trips that specifically cater to travelers looking to meet other singles.
No Single Supplement Trips where single supplement is usually not required for solo travelers.
Flights & Transport
Continents & Regions
- Sleep in a traditional mongolian ger
- Ride a horse across the mongolian countryside
- Learn traditional crafts and skills from nomadic hosts
- Compete with mongolian nomads in archery
- Explore Bangkok
- Visit the Grand Palace
- Enjoy Grand Pearl Cruise boat on Chao Phra River to the Summer Palace
- Visit Khao Yai National Park and Mahawirawong National Museum
- Visit Sukhothai Historical Park
- Beijing has strong historic roots and Shanghai is a contemporary city on the move.
- Independent "locally hosted" vacation, has all the goods of an escorted vacation, but you can depart any day you like.
- You'll be able to climb a section of the famous Great Wall of China and walk along the Sacred Way
- Stay in beautifully modern 4- and 5-star hotels.
- Immerse yourself in the culture - by trying the different cuisines of each city and shopping for locally made goods.
- Rich in history, art, architecture, cuisine and nightlife, Budapest is a hot European destination. The Museum of Fine Arts offers free English tours that reveal the famous artwork of Monet, Manet and Goya, just to name a few
- A home-stay with a family in the Saxon village of Viscri in Romania offers insight into local life and the chance to sample some delicious home-cooked food
- This trip takes you to a mix of exciting capital cities and quaint mountain villages, allowing you to see the many sides of Eastern Europe
- Transylvania is drenched in history and myth. Discover the medieval city of Sighisoara, the birthplace of one of Romania's most infamous figures, Vlad the Impaler - better known as the inspiration for Count Dracula
- Journey deep into the forested valley of Rila to find the Monastery of Saint Ivan. Over 1,000 years old, this spectacular building is one of Bulgaria's most important cultural, historical and architectural monuments
- Jerusalem (West Bank) - explore the sacred sites of the Old City, including the Wailing Wall, the Church of the Holy Sepulchre and Via Dolorosa
- Petra - discover this spectacular UNESCO-listed Nabataean city, which is one of the New Seven Wonders of the World
- Cairo - marvel at the legendary Pyramids of Giza, explore the Necropolis of Saqqara and see King Tut's treasures at the Egyptian Museum
- Wadi Rum - explore this vast red desert with its rolling dunes and dramatic rock formations in a 4x4 and camp under a blanket of stars
- Luxor West Bank - discover exquisite tombs in the Valley of the Kings, the towering Colossi of Memnon and the beautiful Temple of Queen Hatshepsut
- The Dead Sea - spend a night at the Dead Sea, float in the famously buoyant, mineral-rich waters and smother yourself in Dead Sea mud
- Luxor - roam around the colossal Temple of Karnak and take an optional tour of the beautifully illuminated Luxor Temple at night
- Aswan - take leisurely boat trip to Agilika Island to explore the romantic Philae Temple and wander around the colourful souqs
- Nile felucca cruising - sail the River Nile on board a traditional felucca, visit islands and spend two nights sleeping under a blanket of stars
- Hurghada - relax at the Red Sea, swim and opt to snorkel or scuba dive in the clear coastal waters
- Kom Ombo - visit the Nile side Temple of Kom Ombo
- Edfu - explore Edfu Temple, dedicated to the falcon god Horus
- Wadi Mujib - go canyoning in the lowest nature reserve in the world (included on tours departing April to October)
- Jerusalem (West Bank) - admire incredible views of the Old City from the Mount of Olives and wander through the Armenian, Christian & Jewish Quarters
- Shobak - visit Shobak Crusader castle, perched dramatically on a hill top
- Bethlehem (West Bank) - visit the Shepherd’s Field, Church of the Nativity and Manger Square
- Haifa - walk through the beautiful terraces of the Bahai Gardens, set on the slopes of Mount Carmel, and see the UNESCO listed Bahai Shrine
- Caesarea – discover Roman and Crusader-era ruins
- Jaffa - stroll around the picturesque fortified old town
- Tel Aviv - independently explore Israel's "City That Never Sleeps", with its long stretch of beautiful beaches
- Explore ‘Garden City’, Bangalore, including Tipu Sultan’s Palace, The Botanical Garden and a drive past Vidhan Soudha.
- Explore Kerala
- Visit Cochin and enjoy canoe in narrow channels
- Visit Hyderabad
- Explore Hampi and its surroundings
- Discover Badami via Pattadakal And Aihole
- Explore Goa
- CITY TOUR of Barcelona, Santiago de Compostela, Salamanca and Madrid
- ORIENTATION of Pamplona, San Sebastián, Bilbao, Santander and Oviedo
- VISIT the Holy Cave of Covadonga, the fishing village of Luarca, St. James Cathedral in Santiago de Compostela and the Prado Museum in Madrid
- VIEW La Sagrada Família in Barcelona, the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, the Cathedral and University of Salamanca
- SCENIC DRIVE through the Picos de Europa
- Visit a local market and pick up cooking ingredients
- Learn about nepalese cuisine with an included cooking lesson
- Trek through tamang village
- Enjoy a meal with a local family as a group
- Visit Wenshu Yuan,
- Visit the Panda Breeding Center to see the adult and baby pandas.
- Visit the Norbulinka, once named Jewel Park and now Peoplems Park.
- Visit two of the most interesting ofthe Buddhist monasteries.
- Enjoy a 5-day trek to Everest Base Camp
- Explore Torres del Paine
- Exploring the Wine Region
- Visit the Atacama Desert is one of the world's driest, fifty times more arid than California's Death Valley,
- Discover Achuar Culture
- Connect with Andean Cultures
- Visiting Ecuador’s Amazon and Andes
- Travel the Avenue of the Volcanoes
- Explore Achuar Territory
- Visit Cleland Wildlife Park
- Visit to the Royal Flying Doctor Service
- Enjoy a casual dinner of Australian cuisine
- Explore an array of native plant, animal, and bird species
- Discover the deep spiritual and cultural connection the Aboriginal people have to the land.
- See the effects of millions of years of erosion by rain and wind.
- Explore Kathmandu
- Visit Swayambunath and Pashupatinath temple
- Visit Patan and Bhaktapur
- Explore Pokhara
- Visit Lumbini temple
- Visit Royal Chitwan National Park
- Explore Janakpur
- Story of Berlin Tour
- Optional Potsdam Tour
- Nuremberg City Tour
- Rothenburg ob der Tauber
- Danube River Boat Excursion
- Munich City Tour
- Optional Visit to Dachau Concentration Camp Memorial Site
- Neuschwanstein Castle
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Top Homestays & Local Immersion Experiences
Enjoying an authentic homemade meal made from farm fresh ingredients in Romania
Learning to make pasta from scratch in an Italian home
Studying abroad in Hungary and walking to school along the Danube every day.
Chatting with a Moroccan family in a Kasbah over a spread of olives and mint tea.
Waking up to the sights, smells, and sounds at a traditional farmhouse along the Mekong River in Vietnam
Helping out at a Yak farm in Nepal
Staying at a family farmhouse in the Himalayan Syangja district of Nepal, and enjoying the incredible views and the warm Nepali welcome.
Living with a Lepcha family in northeast India, and learning about a culture and way of life that are thousands of years old.
Staying with a friendly local in Cordoba, Argentina, and enjoying a taste of the Argentine nightlife.
Homestays & Local Immersion Trip Reviews
6,279 Homestays & Local Immersion Tour Reviews - Summary 95% Recommend
Homestays & Local Immersion Tours and Travel Guide
Homestays & Local Immersion Attractions & Landmarks Guide
For a truly immersive experience, homestays are a tried and true method. You are welcomed into a local's home and learn how a typical family operates day-to-day. It's a truly unique way to experience a country. You come away with a deeper appreciation as cultural subtleties reveal themselves in a way that is simply not possible when staying in a hotel or hostel. Some tour companies frequently offer a night or two accommodation in the home of a local family as part of the overall tour experience. Most homes are quite authentic, which in some countries, may mean modest accommodations. If you go in with an open mind and a thirst for immersion, you will likely emerge with rich, unique memories.
What is a Homestay?
A homestay is, simply put, staying at someone's home. But there are different types of home stay, and the experience varies according to where in the world you are, and how you go about organizing it.
Typical homestays involve staying in a local family's house, and living how they live. You may be expected to pay for accommodation and food (even if you are not directly asked to do so). These homestays can be arranged through a tour, or you may be lucky enough to meet someone while traveling who invites you to stay with them.
Some homestays are businesses that are established for the purpose of tourist accommodation. The family will live in the building, but there will be fixed prices, dedicated rooms for tourists, and perhaps even a menu. There may be a sign outside advertising it as a "homestay". These types of homestays can still give a more immersive experience than staying at a hotel, but you may feel cheated if you were expecting to live as the locals do.
House sitting, that is, staying in someone's house while they're away, can be arranged through various websites. These arrangements are usually good value; some are cheap, while others are free, and some people will even pay you to stay in their house rather than leaving it empty. While some may not see house sitting as a homestay (that is, the residents of the house are not there during your stay), it is a useful option for people who would rather have their own space to cook and relax, rather than just having a hotel room.
Benefits of a Homestay
The main benefit of a homestay is that it offers an immerse experience. You are surrounded by a new culture and get to learn more about it than if you were staying in a hotel. You also get to spend your time with new and interesting people and gain insight into how they live.
Home tays also allow you to offer insights into your culture. Your host will likely be just as interested in learning how you live, whether it's by looking at pictures of your home or listening to some of your favorite music.
Living with people who speak a different language to you is also an ideal way to immerse yourself in the language and to pick it up quickly. Not to mention you'll have native speakers on hand willing to help you with any language problems you encounter.
Things to Remember
Follow local customs when you're living with your hosts. They may be too polite to tell you what you're doing wrong, so the easiest way to avoid a faux pas is to do as they do. For example, do they take their shoes off when entering the house? Do they avoid using their left hand? And remember, what is considered polite in your culture may not be so in theirs. Even if your mother taught you to always clean up after yourself, if your host insists on taking your dirty plate, it may be impolite to insist on washing it yourself.
Spend time with your host family and live as they live. If you spend your evenings alone in your room, or go out to eat at restaurants instead of eating with the family, then not only will you be missing out on the experiences that make a home stay so wonderful, you'll also likely be seen as rude by your hosts.
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