Meeting Locals With Showaround – A Review

showaround review

If there’s one thing that’s sure to give you a deeper insight into a new city, it’s exploring it through the eyes of a local. I love to chat to locals when I’m travelling and find out their favourite things to do in their hometown – it’s the perfect way to get great recommendations and see beyond the normal touristy things. But, finding locals to pester for tips can be really hard, so it’s great when a company comes along to help with that. Recently, I trialled the service from Showaround – a tour company which makes finding locals a doddle.

What is Showaround?

We aspire to change the concept of travelling by making it more authentic, more local.

Founded by Linas Sablovskis, Showaround was launched in June 2015 and has since taken off in a big way. Essentially, Showaround is a platform that connects travellers with locals, like Airbnb for tours. Currently, the site features over 2000 locals in about a thousand cities worldwide, and it’s growing fast – so finding a local for some insider knowledge has never been easier.

How Does it Work?

Locals can register and set up a profile, advertising their specialist knowledge or what kinds of tours they can offer. When you’re travelling, you can simply search for locals in the city or town you’re headed for and take your pick.

showaround review

Searching for locals in Bangkok

The local will set an hourly rate, and you simply book a tour for as many hours as you like. Booking is super easy – as I discovered when I trialled the process in Bangkok last week. Simply search for your city, select a local, and click “contact”. From there, you can select a date, preferred meeting time, and set the number of hours. You can also leave a comment outlining what sort of things you’d be interested in seeing.

Once you’ve sent the booking, you just need to wait for the local to accept. It’s worth sending a few requests out, in case the first one can’t accommodate your needs: many of the locals do this alongside full time jobs or whilst studying. Once your booking has been accepted, you make the payment and arrange all the details – such as when and where to meet – through the site’s easy to use messaging system.

Showaround review

Sending a Booking Request

My Tour Experience

I tried out Showaround whilst in Bangkok last week. Because the platform has only recently hit Thailand, most of the locals in the city were brand new and no one had any reviews yet – so I simply picked the local that looked friendliest in her profile picture.

Showaround review

Arranging my tour

Booking was so easy, and arranging the tour went really smoothly. My host, Jantakarn (aka Mind) responded quickly to all my messages making things really easy.

On the day of the tour, Mind arrived early and we headed out to see her city. As it was her first tour, she’d brought along a friend, which was really nice as we made a good group. Both girls were students at the university, and Mind is working as a local on Showaround until she starts her masters degree in September.

We spent three hours touring Bangkok together, and it was such a fantastic experience. Mind and Tan took me to their local market, Wang Lang Market near the university, where we bought fruit smoothies and some yummy Thai sweets made from soy bean paste and sugar and painted to look like miniature fruits. It was great having locals with me to buy everything, as I wasn’t overcharged – so this would be the perfect way to do some shopping or a foodie tour of the markets – plus I got to try some things that I wouldn’t normally have eaten.

showaround review

Sweets at Wang Lang Market in Bangkok

From the market, we crossed the river to head to some of the amazing temples in Bangkok. We climbed up the Golden Mount, a popular spot for tourists thanks to the amazing views of Bangkok from the top, but with locals I got to see another side of this spectacular place. Mind showed me how to take part in a Buddhist ritual, lighting a candle and some incense before placing a piece of gold leaf onto a statue of Buddha. It was so interesting exploring temples with two Buddhists, as they gave me some insight into how ordinary, modern Thai people practice Buddhism. I loved their sense of fun when it came to their religion – especially when it comes to ringing the prayer bells (“the louder we ring the bells, the more famous we are”). The girls also took me to a few of the less visited temples, including Wat Mahathat Yuwaratrangsarit, Wat Suthat – which we visited during the daily prayer service – and the Devasathan, a temple of the Brahmin religion.

My three hour tour with the lovely locals ended with lunch. Mind and Tan ordered a huge selection of dishes at Krua Apsorn – a simple but hugely popular restaurant right by the university. So far in Thailand, I’ve mostly ordered things I already know, like pad thai or green curry, so it was great to have someone to introduce me to the best local dishes. We had a few things that I would never have ordered myself without a local suggesting it, but all of them turned out to be delicious – especially the crispy fried tofu and the crab omelette. Eating with locals is always a good idea!

showaround review

Crab Omelette at Krua Apsorn in Bangkok

Overall, my experience with Showaround was a fantastic one. I got to meet two really lovely local girls and spend the day discovering their local neighbourhood in Bangkok, gaining insight into how real people practice Buddhism in Thailand, and exploring the city through the eyes of two passionate, friendly locals. The perfect way to explore – and a bargain at just 10 euros an hour including lunch.

About Emily Luxton

An award-winning writer and travel blogger on a mission to explore the world through deeper, more intelligent travel. Seeking out adventure, cultural exchanges, food experiences and more as she attempts to get to know the world. Lover of the great outdoors, sunsets, good food, and the odd bit of luxury!

19 Comments

  1. what a wonderful concept! I will be giving this a try!

    • It’s SUCH a great idea and there are a few companies like this one about. I’m going to do another post about the best companies out there for tours with locals so keep your eyes peeled 🙂

  2. This is a brilliant idea! I’ll definitely keep it in mind for next time I travel.

  3. Katherine Joy D. Coo

    Good to hear that! Just incase you might wanna visit and expore Puerto Princesa City and El Nido, Palawan, Philippines kindly visit my profile https://www.showaround.com/locals/9583952 I would love to guide you 🙂

  4. Glad to hear that you had such a great experience! I am planning to try this soon and I have a question: did you pay (or are you expected to) for the eating out for example? I couldn’t find anything about this online and it’s good to know when setting up the budget.

    • I didn’t, it was included in the cost of the tour. But I think it depends on the tour guide and what they offer. You can always discuss that with them via message before you go on the tour 🙂

  5. Question – and sorry to bring in negativity to the discussion… but what safeguards does Showaround have in place to ensure that you get entrapped by someone who may be dangerous? I’ve read about some unpleasant experiences with Airbnb and it seems that this type of platform could result in similar situations.

    • No problem Buck, it’s a good question. There is always an element of trust with anything like this – since you are arranging to meet a stranger via the internet. It’s the same as online dating I suppose so I’d say to employ the same kind of safety precautions as you would with something like that!

      They have some safety suggestions on the Showaround site: https://www.showaround.com/info/security which might help. There’s a review system too and reviews can only be left by people that have paid for the tour, so you can check those to make sure that you’re getting someone “real”.

  6. When I went to Marbella, Spain, I also booked a guide through Showaround. I am so happy I did it and completely agree with you that it was a fantastic experience!

  7. My wife and I recently tried Showaround and booked several locals as we arrived in ports. Three people simply didn’t turn up. We gave an international number, carefully set up arrangements, etc. One local cancelled but never clearly communicated with us and we found out later in the day. So our success rate was 33%. While the concept is great, Showaround personnel were good, the locals didn’t seem to follow through. I wouldn’t use the service again because it’s unreliable.

    • Ah, that’s such a shame – especially after I had such a good experience. I wonder – did the locals you booked have good reviews already? I have a feeling that the only way to guarantee a good experience is via the review system. These things are always based on trust – such a shame you had so much bad luck.

      After my tour, I’ll definitely be using the service again next time I’m travelling in a location they cover. But I’m thinking I’ll have to be wary!

  8. Any tips on guest etiquette?

    • What sort of thing do you mean? I would say – be polite, listen etc. There doesn’t seem to be any expectation to tip but if you enjoyed the tour I would also tip at the local standard rate!

  9. I love the idea and really would like to start using the site for my future trips. However, I found the procedure of contacting your potential guide pretty obscure. By clicking on “contact” I was asked to sign in or sign up, either with Facebook or email. And when I tried to sign up, I automatically got signed up as a local, which I don’t want to. There doesn’t seem to be other way to book locals except becoming a local yourself. Also, no FAQ section.

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