Travel hacks using dating apps
When it comes to travel whether solo or with others, it’s always great to have some inside knowledge to the area you’re visiting. This is even more apparent when you’re in a busy city and time is limited, the travel guides are all well and good, but nothing can beat a local when it comes to getting unbiased (and unsponsored) info. Not so long ago on my travels through China I decided to take a chance on Tinder to connect with a local and get the lowdown on what’s hot and not so hot on the busy streets of Hong Kong. To avoid confusion, I updated my profile to state that not only was I briefly visiting the city with a friend, but also that I was looking for a guide as opposed to romance. A few swipes later I ventured out to give Tinder time to work it’s magic, to return to a select few matches including a girl named Barbara who seemed friendly and on the level, a Chinese-Canadian whose English was thankfully better than my Cantonese. We arranged to meet later that day, and all seemed to be working out well.
A few hours later myself and my friend Steve went to meet Barbara in the busy harbour area for the start of what turned out to be a very unusual tour of Hong Kong. As a sign of goodwill and to attempt some bonding we first went to a steak-house she recommended and shared a great meal and a few glasses of local wine, we then went on a tour around the local night markets and ended up in Kowloon Bay for the “Symphony of Lights”, which is a light show on the buildings the other side of the river set to the sounds of the Hong Kong Philharmonic Orchestra which is broadcast where we stood. All in all, a great start to our Tinder sightseeing!
The next day we arranged to meet again and with a little more confidence having bonded the night before we dived into Hong Kong’s slightly more ominous underbelly, both myself and my travel buddy Steve are into our tech, so our first stop was the infamous Chungking Mansions. A vivid melting pot of cultures, with a pungent smell of various cuisines dominated by an Indian and Pakistani spice aroma. Barbara quickly ushered us through showing us the various places to buy questionably cheap iPhones and assorted electronic goods. With a keen eye for photography equipment, I noted a large range of Canon, Nikon and Sony parts that looked fresh from the factories in boxes piled on boxes. After a browse and some brisk walk around, it should be noted that there is a reputation for a seedy underbelly to this odd market, we left to tour the back streets of Hong Kong and get off the main tourist tracks. We sampled various street food, some of which is still a concerning mystery to us both, and I snapped away trying to soak up as much of the atmosphere and culture as I could. At the end of the tour, we said farewell to our Tinder tour guide, and went our separate ways.
To sum up, a pretty good experience from taking a chance on a dating app abroad, however this isn’t strictly a recommendation to do as we did… more an option to be considered. It goes without saying that we lucked out with Barbara but I’m sure there would be many others that could have been far more dubious in their motivation for showing two foreigners around a busy city.
There are of course other apps for both iOS and Android that are popular overseas including Bumble, OkCupid, Hinge, Happn along with Grindr and Her. So next time you’re on holiday and want to connect with the locals maybe consider a dating app to extend that olive branch and see if there are any friendly locals willing to impart their wisdom. As always with meetings strangers, be safe, ask plenty of questions first, and meet in a public place.