posted by Colm Hanratty | 0 Comments
How many Parisians do you think start the day with a trip up the Eiffel Tower? Not a whole lot is the answer. Do you think a lot of New Yorkers visit the Statue of Liberty at the weekend? No is the answer to that question. Instead, they're experiencing their cities the way locals do. If you want to do the same (which we advise you do), here are ten tips...
1. Leave the attractions for a day
You can't go to London without going on the London Eye. Similarly, it would be a crime to go to Rio de Janeiro and not take the cable car to see 'Christ the Redeemer' up close. At the same time, when doing out your itinerary, make sure to leave a day for doing nothing in particular. Then use this day to have breakfast in a local cafe with outdoor seating so you can watch the world go by. Then go for a wander, exploring the different neighbourhoods. If the weather is nice, relax in the local park (locals always chill out in them). Then that night find out where the locals go for nightlife (more about that later) and end the day there.
2. Explore the neighbourhoods
Whether you call it 'downtown' the 'CBD' (central business district) or the plain old city centre, the hub of the city is where you're going to find most of the main attractions. But the neighbourhoods are attractions in their own right. They're also where you'll find the city's inhabitants going about their daily lives. If you're in Amsterdam make sure to walk around the '9 Streets' neighbourhood and in Buenos Aires you have to spend a few hours in Palermo. In Hong Kong forget about Tsim Sha Tsui where you'll find Nathan Road which is famous for its electronic shops - Mong Kok is where the locals buy them. So do your research on neighbourhoods before you go.
3. Ask the hostel staff for recommendations
There are many great things about hostels. Free WiFi and the fact that they're great places to meet people from all over the world being just two. Another one is that the staff are more helpful than in other types of accommodation. So if you're looking for tips on how to get around, what are the best restaurants or other things, just ask the staff at the reception in your hostel.
4. Get your head around local transport
It's easy to jump in tuk-tuk after tuk-tuk in Bangkok, but you won't see too many locals using them. Instead they're on the Skytrain. Likewise in London - instead of taking cabs home at night the locals use the night buses. If you want to do similar, and save yourself a lot of money in the process, figure out the public transport system before heading out on your travels.
5. Try the local delicacies
A sandwich filled with the fourth and final stomach of a cow might not sound very appealing, but you have to try it when in Florence because it's what the locals do. They've been eating them there for years (if you're interested they're called 'Lampredottos'). You also can't go to Tokyo without having some sushi and you can't go to Cusco without trying a roast guinea pig (I kid you not). These are local specialties. Sure, tourists always eat them, but locals do too. So find out what the local specialties are in a city then try them before you go.
6. Turn to social media
Chances are some of your 300 or so friends on facebook or Twitter have been to a city you're about to visit. Chances are they've picked up a few tips. So before you head off, simply update your status or post a tweet with a simple question - "Going to __________ for 3 nights - anybody got any tips?" You'll definitely learn a thing or two.
7. Socialise where the locals do
Temple Bar in Dublin is great fun, but you won't find any Dubliners there. You can't beat a night in the West End in London, but you'll soon discover the locals spend their weekends in bars and clubs around Shoreditch and Hoxton in the East End. We're not saying don't have a night out in either of these places in these cities - they're quintessential experiences. Just make sure to have a more local experience at night. To find out where to go, ask the staff in your hostel.
8. Learn enough lingo to get you by
'Please' and 'thank you' go a long way - in any language. They go even further when ordering food and drink or buying tickets in cities around the world. Learn a few simple phrases and you might actually pass for a local in a city. If not, at least you'll order similarly to one.
9. Shop in markets
Looking for bargains? Let's face it - who isn't. They'll be found at markets. Whether it's toothpaste, fruit and vegetables, clothes or second hand records, the local markets are where to go shopping. They're also great places to get good photographs so make sure you're camera's charged up and you've enough space on your memory card before going.
10. Use 'locals' sites
I'm not the only person in the world who recognises there are many people out there who really want to live like a local. In fact, there are websites dedicated to it. Here are just some:
And if you want to pick up a few vouchers before you leave check out Savelikelocals.com
What's your top tip for experiencing cities like a local?
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