I recently read an article titled “Date A Boy Who Travels”, which reminds me of the female version “Date A Girl Who Travels”. We have to admit, as we expose ourselves to situations during our travels that are out of our usual comfort zone, we tend to develop a deeper appreciation for the little things in life. And often such experiences will only come about when you truly immerse yourself in local experiences. Now, there’s a new startup dedicated to searching for such authentic travel: Indiescapes. The Singapore-based startup, in essence, is a curated marketplace dedicated to wanderlusts who seek out local, authentic travel experiences. From living like a Balinese villager to embarking on a Thailand street food crawl with the country’s top local food writer, travellers will be able to find experiences that are different from what normal travel packages from travel agencies can offer. And once a guest makes a booking request, the request will be sent to the host. The guest will only be able to make payment after the host accepts the booking. To ensure both parties’ interests are being protected, Indiescapes will hold payment and transfer it after the day-one experience has been delivered. Indiescapes then takes a percentage cut from each successful transaction. The curated travel marketplace also boasts best-quality listings for its customers, making sure that each host goes through its strict curation procedures which, for some, includes a face-to-face meeting. Co-founder and CEO Seetoh Zhi Min at Indiescapes elaborates on how the team curates content for its users:
We seek for these experiences through our local contacts and an extensive travel network of friends. We speak to the hosts, understand why they do and what they do, because we believe it is very important to find hosts who have a genuine desire to provide a unique journey for travellers. This way, we ensure customers get only the best, and help them save time crawling through the overcrowded internet.
There will be reviews, references, and social elements within the package to help users decide if the hosts can deliver a good experience for them. As for hosts, there are also cancellation policies in place to protect them, making sure that they receive bookings only from guests who are genuinely interested in the experience. Similarly, hosts would be able to write reviews and references on the users. Co-founders Heidi Shum and Zhi Min are currently working with a team of six members focusing on customer outreach, web development, and host community building. As to why the two ladies decided to embark on this journey, Zhi Min explains:
[...] I always had the chance to live like a local and have my friends share insights of their countries with me. Heidi too, [during] her stays and travels, also had the privilege of experiencing countries from very local perspectives. [And] when we finally returned to Singapore after years of wandering the world independently, many of our friends started asking us for tips on authentic experiences when they travel. [We then] realized that what is easily available on the market is usually the touristy and commercialized stuff. Driven by a common desire to make more prevalent the same kind of authentic experiences that have greatly influenced our world views, Heidi and I started Indiescapes.
This definitely sounds like a good option for an alternative travel experience, especially for wanderlusts like myself. I truly believe one of the best ways to expand your horizons, to show empathy, and to understand another’s culture is to see and experience matters from a local’s perspective. Indiescape currently focuses on countries within Southeast Asia, such as Vietnam, Thailand, and Indonesia. The experiences currently listed on the site range from $35 for a night life experience in Bangkok to $410 for a three day experience at Khao Sok Park. If you’re a traveler seeking out for local experiences, you might want to check out Indiescapes here.
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