Tokyo-Based Voyagin Gives Travelers A More Up-Close And Offbeat Look At Asian Cities

For many travelers, their sense of adventure is only limited by language barriers. With its roster of offbeat activities, however, travel site Voyagin seeks to give visitors a more intimate look at five Asian countries-Japan, India, Indonesia, Thailand, and Vietnam. The Tokyo-based startup, which launched its site last December, plans to add more countries this year.

The company, which was originally called FindJPN, has raised $450,000 so far. It started as part of Open Network Lab, a Japanese incubator, and then raised seed funding from Digital Garage and other investors.

The Web site targets both backpackers and luxury travelers between the ages of 25 to 50 who prefer not to book packaged tours.

Voyagin Screenshot

“They’re mostly interested in food, cultural, and off the beaten track experiences,” says Tushar Khandelwal, Voyagin’s head of marketing and community .

Activities, or ‘experiences’ as Voyagin dubs them, are hosted by local residents, and currently include outings ranging from the kooky (such as getting your ears cleaned by a woman dressed in elaborate cosplay in Tokyo) to artistic (learning how to make silver jewelry in Chiang Mai). Experiences that can give tourists a sense of what daily life in a country is like include a yokocho night in Japan and a tour to meet the washermen and dabbawalas (lunch box deliverymen) of Mumbai.

Locals can apply to become hosts by submitting an application and chatting with a member of Voyagin’s team. Listings are free and Voyagin prides itself on having met with 90 percent of its hosts in person. There are currently about 400 listings and the site makes money by taking a 15 percent cut plus a $3 service fee when a booking is made.

In-depth information about each experience is available in English, along with the length of time each activity takes and its price. One of the startup’s goals is to expand its offerings as its team grows, says Khandelwal. He adds that Voyagin, which currently has about 8,000 unique visitors per month and sees several bookings per day, is on target to double its growth this month.