There is no better way to experience local culture than to see it up close and personal by staying with a local family in a homestay. It’s also especially perfect for travelling families, as they get to spend time with their local counterparts, and the kids will always have playmates wherever they stay.
A happy guest in a traditional homestay.
The best place for an authentic homestay experience in Vietnam is in the north. Ba Be National Park in particular has taken great care to preserve the local culture and way of life there. However, almost any village or town in the Northern Mountains will have a wide ion of great homestays, especially in the highlights of Mai Chau, Ha Giang and Sa Pa.
Hoi An as well is particularly suited to home staying, as it complements the authentic nature of the world heritage site perfectly.
Further south, the Mekong Delta is a great place to experience Viet culture, and this is only made better by staying in a homestay.
A traditional stilt-house homestay in Laos.
Homestays serve as common accommodation while visiting one of Laos’ many National Park, though they usually involve treks, so might not be suitable for families with very young children. A particular highlight for this kind of homestay is in Phou Xieng Thong National Park Area.
For an ingenious take on the homestay business, go to the village of Kiet Ngong in southern Laos. The village is actually a very successful eco-tourism project, where the locals have banded together to form a sort of “homestay-guild”, ensuring the survival of local culture and environment. Guests at the homestays can even spend some time in the morning trying their hand at some farm work, which is an integral part of the local lifestyle. Don’t do it for too long though, as you’re likely to slow the local farmers down!
Meanwhile, Salavan Province is famous for its coffee production, and what better way to hammer this home than to spend a few days staying at an actual coffee plantation. Should you wish, you can even follow the production of the coffee from beans to finished cup.
A homestay in Battambang.
Cambodia has a smaller homestay scene than its neighbours, but Battambang has a good ion of them. The city, despite being the second largest in Cambodia, has an amazing sleepy atmosphere, making for a great place to explore Cambodian culture after ruin gazing in Siem Reap or lounging on the southern beaches and islands.
In Thailand, families can enjoy some time spent at a lakeside homestay in Erawan National Park, or on Ko Kut Island for the more beach-inclined families.
Homestays provide a unique experience that is especially valuable to families hoping to introduce their children to the wider world and cultures therein. With standards ranging from budget to almost luxury, there’s a homestay in Southeast Asia for every kind of family itinerary.