Photo Credit: HooLengSion, Flickr
The homestay programme in Malaysia was first launched in 1995 and has come a long way since then. It was created by the Ministry of Tourism to promote the better understanding of various aspects of rural life that makes Malaysian kampung (village) culture unique. This programme gives locals and foreign tourists the chance to witness socio-cultural and artistic customs, taste sumptuous home-cooked food, and to discover the simple lifestyle in the countryside. These experiences differ from village to village, as they each offer something special for tourists, such as jungle trekking, fishing, rubber tapping, fruit picking, and handicraft making, to name a few.
The programme has been increasing in popularity during the past year, even winning an award from the United Nations World Tourism Organization for innovation in public policy and governance. According to Tourism Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ng Yen Yen, 213,263 thousand tourists (local and foreign) participated in the homestay programme across the nation between January and August 2012. During that time, she notes that a total number of 159 villages with 3,424 homes have taken part in the programme. These villages are spread throughout 16 locations in the nation, including popular tourist destinations like Sabah, Sarawak, Selangor, Melaka, Johor, Penang, Langkawi, and many more.
Tourists that take part in the government homestay programme will also be glad to know that the Tourism and Culture Ministry will constantly monitor the home operators that are certified by them. They will further ensure that liveability standards will always be kept among homestay homes to provide a safe environment for visitors.
Besides getting the chance to learn about new cultures, tasting delicacies foreign to them, and having new experiences, homestay guests will also have the option to witness the surroundings around that area to drink in the various natural splendours that Malaysia has to offer. Opting to stay in Langkawi, for example, will allow tourists to experience duty-free shopping throughout the island, mingle with various other tourists, or even frolic on the island’s popular beaches.
That being said, not every tourist wants to spend their time on beaches. Due to the government homestay project being targeted towards the rural community, certified homestay homes can’t be found in Malaysia’s busiest city – Kuala Lumpur. However, those who would like to get a taste of a Malaysian family’s hospitality, but would still like to visit the big city, will have to settle for homes in the city’s outskirts. There are some located in the Bouganvilles, Batu Caves area, which happens to be the nearest certified homes to KL, according to the government’s homestay website.
Those interested in staying in KL city or any other popular area through means of homestay can also do so by finding various non-governmental homestay advertisers on the net. Be warned that these uncertified homestay owners, while legal, are not subject to government standards and thus experiences may vary accordingly. It would be best to firstly get to know the area you would be staying in, as well as the family that you choose to stay with. This undoubtedly goes for both certified and non-certified homestay homes. It wouldn’t hurt to learn some basics of the local language as well for clearer line of communication with your host family.
Homepage Highlight Photo Credit: riza, Flickr
Additional information on the government’s homestay programme can be found here: go2homestay
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