Not many travellers get the opportunity to stay in a remote village and get to know the local people in their own home. This is the real Southeast Asia, where you will experience authentic and genuine local hospitality from the moment you arrive.
To visit a homestay you need a local guide. Our guides help you get the most out of your visit with their personal knowledge of the local culture, and their enthusiasm to share it with travellers. And no need to worry about the language barrier - having a local guide means that you can always communicate!
"Stray took me to places I would not have known about if I was to travel it alone and the home stays were an amazing experience and probably the highlight of my trip!"
Experience a Stray Homestay in:
- Laos: Mekong River Homestay
- Cambodia: Battambang Village Stay
- Borneo: Slagon Homestay, Ranai
- Bhutan: Gangtey Valley Farmstay
Mekong River Homestay, Laos
Experience life in Laos as only Stray can show you at our exclusive Mekong River Homestay. Take a walk through the village and see how life is lived in this tiny, 400 year old settlement on the banks of the Mekong River. Here you'll have the chance to experience a traditional Laos Baci ceremony and try the local Laos whiskey.
THINGS YOU NEED TO KNOW
- Lao culture is very conservative. Female tourists should not wear bikinis, short dresses, shorts or halter necked tops around the village. It's considerate to cover shoulders and knees while you are in the village.
- It’s illegal in Laos for western men to fraternise with Lao women.
- You will need to pay if you order a beer or buy some food/drink from the local shop.
- If offered a shot of home brewed Lao Lao (rice whisky) you normally do not have to pay.
Outside of the historically important centre of Battambang our Stray groups spend the night in a village homestay where you'll see rural life up close and personal. With the village's daily tasks of fishing, farming, socialising and temple worshipping, this is a chance to learn about life in Cambodia's countryside directly from the people who live it.
THINGS YOU NEED TO KNOW
- Eating is typically done with the right hand; the left hand is reserved for toilet duties.
- Always allow the eldest to sit first and eat first, and remove your hat indoors.
- Be mindful of Cambodia’s past, be considerate when bringing up subjects like war, violence or the Khmer Rouge.
- Pointing is considered rude, always gesture with your right hand, palm up.
- Shaking hands with visitors is an accepted form of practice by many Cambodians. To avoid being rude always return whatever greeting you are given.
- Cambodians are a conservative culture and public displays of affection, such as just putting your arm around a local to pose for a photo, can be misinterpreted.
RANAU HOMESTAY, BORNEO
The Slagon Homestay, close to Mount Kinabalu is run by a local Malaysian family. Their son is a keen musician so they’ve set up a music and karaoke room that you’re more than welcome to try out. For those who would prefer a quieter experience, take a walk around the beautiful gardens, down by the stream to the turtle pond, or walk through the flowers and fruit trees. Your hosts will cook a delicious homemade, traditional Malaysian dinner that we’ll enjoy ‘family-style’.
GANGTEY FARMSTAY, BHUTAN
Gangtey Valley, is a broad valley with marshland through the middle, famous as the winter home of the endangered Black Necked Crane which migrates between Bhutan and Tibet every year. Some of the local farm land has been reclaimed to become protected habitat for the cranes. Several farmers in this valley have decided to open their homes up to tourists, to make up for the revenue lost from the land.
We stay in a traditional farmhouse with a local family where you can observe local traditions and way of life. Most houses have an old-fashioned stove/fireplace in the middle of the living room used for both cooking and heating. Take a walk around the small village, enjoy a delicious home cooked meal and relax and enjoy the family atmosphere. There are no showers here, instead take the opportunity to experience a traditional hot stone bath – this is a true, off-the-beat-track experience.
HOMESTAY AND VILLAGE STAY ETIQUETTE
A homestay is a unique cultural experience and the places we visit have had very little exposure to westerners and tourists. Each country has its own customs and ways of doing things.
At Stray we want to develop tourism in a sustainable manner, so that all parties benefit and it doesn’t become ‘tainted’. To avoid potentially embarrassing situations it best to follow a few simple guidelines.
- Don’t give gifts to kids, as it encourages begging. If you want to donate you can give notebooks and pencils to the village schools or ask your local guide to give money directly to the village chief or abbots of the temples. You can also bring some photos of your hometown, family etc. to leave with the villagers - most locals love to see and hear about where you are from!
- Southeast Asian culture is predominantly Buddhist and even though in many villages they have little to give, they are very warm, generous and polite people with a great sense of fun.
- Your hosts have been advised not to ask for a tip. If they do ask it is up to you whether you wish contribute. In some cultures tipping is common whereas with others it is not. If you do not wish to tip politely say so.
How you help the villages you visit
The monetary contribution that you provide to stay at the village goes into a Village Project Fund. The village decides how to spend the money to best benefit the village.
Read more about the ways our passengers have made a difference.