When visiting a new city I am always looking for delicious food, since each city uses different ingredients, has favorite flavors, and makes even unique dishes. But in Nepal, the most popular dish is by far Dal Bhat—steamed rice, lentil soup, and roti. This dish can be found in every restaurant, so I tried it in several places, but it wasn’t my taste. So I wondered, how is it possible that the locals eat Dal Bhat every breakfast, lunch, and dinner?
For tourists, it’s hard to find the real authentic food. There are a lot of restaurants in Thamel that say they do, but you end up in a restaurant full of tourists, which is often not the best sign for real Nepali food. It would be awesome to know a local who gives you advice and even invites you at his home for an authentic home-dinner where you can try out the real home-made Dal Bhat! Because in the end, mothers are the best cooks in the world!
While looking for alternative dinner experiences in Nepal, I came across the website Withlocals.com. This Dutch start-up is created based on the idea to connect locals and tourists worldwide through tours, activities, and home dinners. They want to enable people to earn a sustainable income by doing something they are passionate about. Everybody is good at something and this is exactly what tourism in the 21st century should be about. Co-founder Willem Maas mentions that every time he travels abroad, the best tips, insights, and dinners are provided by local hosts he meets on his journey. Strikingly, these hosts barely make a living and most of the profit go to massive tour operators. This initiated the thought to create Withlocals, facilitating direct contact between local hosts in Asia and tourists worldwide.
I would like to highlight two hosts. The first one is Suganda, who offers a food party! He serves not only Dal Bhat but momos as well. These are meat and vegetable momos with several delicious sauces. Daring enough to try out the hot sauce? Another host, Ramesh, offers a sailing experience in a wooden local boat in the Narayani river!
Nowadays, over more than 10,000 Asian hosts have registered. Launching countries include Nepal, Thailand, Singapore, Vietnam, Malaysia, Sri Lanka, and Indonesia. Next to home dinners, they are also offering plenty of activities and tours in Nepal!
This platform could really be the next best thing to change the future of travelling. I am interested in trying it out when go back to Nepal in September!
Kaiz is a stay-at-home mom and currently works as an Operations Specialist for a software engineering company based in the US.