Lonely Planet Writer

This new app will let you text locals for travel advice in Korea and Japan

Travelling abroad can be tricky if you don’t read or speak the language, but a new app that works via your favourite chat app will let you text locals for travel advice in Korea and Japan.

A girl looking at her phone in Korea
A new app that works via chat apps will let you text locals for travel advice in Korea and Japan. Image: Sidekick

Sidekick has been launched by Scott Barrow and Jungwon Yang, two former Samsung colleagues, after years of travel between the US and Korea. They grew to appreciate how much easier the travel experience was when help from a local colleague was just a quick text away. This included advice on suggested itineraries and transportation, shopping assistance, directions to restaurant recommendations and reservations, translation needs and questions about culture and etiquette.

A screenshot of the Sidekick app in action
Sidekick offers customised help and recommendations in real-time. Image: Sidekick

“Travellers can spend more time searching for things on their phone than enjoying their time travelling, and still miss out on the most authentic, local and personalised experiences,” they say. “This is where Sidekick comes in. We take the endless search and uncertainty out of a traveller’s day with customised help and recommendations in real-time. Think of us as a concierge in your pocket.”

A screenshot of the Sidekick app in action
The service is currently available in Korea and will soon be available in Japan and other countries. Image: Sidekick

Guests purchase a Sidekick Day Pass for as many days as they’d like to use the service. On the start day, a local guide will connect with them via their preferred chat app and immediately start providing real-time assistance for any travel-related needs. The service is currently available in Korea and will soon be available in Japan and other countries. Sidekick’s guides are fluent in English, Korean and Japanese, with additional language support coming soon. The chat apps supported are Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, WeChat and Line.

A screenshot of the Sidekick app in action
Sidekick’s guides are fluent in English, Korean, and Japanese. Image: Sidekick

Sidekick can be purchased for $20 (€17.73) for a one-day pass, with three- and five-day passes available at discounted rates. For further information, please see here.