Want to experience a place through a local’s eyes? Try embracing your next destination’s culture. Not only will it add depth to your journey, but it’ll leave you with memories to last a lifetime. Here are five great ways to do it in Asia.
Sample Local Dishes
Ah…food, glorious, food. Nothing connects people quite like sharing a meal, especially one made with love. Consider scoping out some independently-run spots on your next trip, so you can really indulge in the local cuisine. Living up to its melting pot and global food capital status, it’s no surprise that food is an art form in Singapore. Be sure to visit one of its many “hawker centres” (think food court) or grab some street food on-the-go to get a real taste of some regional favorites.
Attend a Special Event
Another way to jump into the spirit of your destination is to take in a sporting or cultural event or festival. What could be more fun than being a part of what gets the local pulse going? Hong Kong’s Chinese New Year and New Year’s Eve celebrations are not to be missed but neither is its famed horse racing scene. And the annual Dragon Boat Festival in June provides another exciting opportunity to join in the cheers and excitement.
Do as the Locals Do
Try finding activities that are practiced regularly by people who live in the country you’re visiting. In Japan, for example, bathhouses are an important part of the culture. Whether at a city spa or in a natural hot spring (also known as an onsen), communal bathing can be incredibly relaxing. Keep in mind, however, that you’ll need to shower fully before the bath and clothing is not allowed. If perhaps you happen to find yourself in Hanoi, Vietnam and would rather go for a fully-clothed authentic exercise, practice some Tai Chi before dawn on Hoan Kiem Lake.
Witness a Traditional Holiday Celebration
If you’re in Thailand—affectionately known as the Land of Smiles—during a local holiday, you’re in luck. With plenty of annual public holidays, some of which are religious observances, there’s a decent chance you might be able to partake in some festivities. In February, for instance, there’s Magha Puja, which translates to Full Moon Day. This Buddhist holiday honors the third lunar month. You might catch a candlelight procession at a local temple and experience how locals celebrate by purifying their minds.
Make an Effort to Learn the Language
A little goes a long way when you demonstrate respect for the local culture by attempting to speak with locals in their native language. You don’t have to stress about hitting the books too hard before you go—just some basic knowledge of phrases to help you get around will make a world of a difference. Trust us. It will not go unnoticed or unappreciated.
There you have it. Don’t just scratch the surface when you can dive right in! You won’t regret it. Ready to book? Contact your travel agent to plan your Asian vacation today.