I paid £6.44 for my Mekong Delta Tour in Saigon. My friend and I had a full day tour with transfers, three separate boat trips, lunch, snacks and a visit to a reptile farm. Oh, and a bee sanctuary, and a cotton candy factory – all for the same price as a large wine in London town.

I couldn’t get over what great value the trip was, particularly as it was the first day of my two-week Vietnam trip, and my first time in Asia. I was not used to those prices.

Going local in Greece

I chose the tour because it was recommended through the hotel when I booked that online. A quick look around and I could see that the same tour was a lot more with other companies, but I decided that if the hotel was recommending it, it must be good. And I was right.

Some big Western tour companies charge more than 10 times this price for exactly the same trip. Once you’re actually on the Mekong Delta there’s not actually much more you can do to make the value of a trip go up though, you just charge more. And for me, being with a desperate-to-please local made the trip all the more fascinating.

Support the local economy

Wherever I travel to I’d always try and book with locals rather than worldwide companies, both because of a traveller’s duty to responsible tourism and because of my own pocket.

Recently my parents went to Paj in Croatia. They were keen on going on a day trip across to Venice, but it was showing as too expensive online. They decided to have a look when they got there and it turns out it was half the price. Same for me on my recent crossing from Rhodes in Greece to Marmaris in Turkey – I was quoted €60 online and it was €28 when we got there and booked with a local company.

Going local in Turkey

Pay more and you’re just lining the pockets of corporations, rather than them giving any more to the workers directly involved. What’s the point?

Supporting locals – the Davids against the Goliaths – is a great idea and one you can support on withlocals.com. The food tours, activities and cultural trips are all provided by entrepreneurial locals so tourists can get a taste of the real local life and history.

Withlocals.com currently operates in Thailand, Vietnam, Sri Lanka, Singapore, Indonesia, Nepal and Malaysia. Click on over to take a look at the tours on the site and I can guarantee you’re in for a good hour of entertainment, at least. I’ve already planned my imaginary trip to Sri Lanka…

Oh, and there are plenty of Mekong Delta trips on there too!

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