Homestay in Vietnam


Vietnam is a long and scenic country, which differs greatly from North to South and East to West and in elevations from coastal white sand beaches to high mountains with scenic vistas. Many westerners would like to see more of this plus also to get off the beaten paths and either hike, mountain bike, trek in four wheel drive or other conveyance or maybe even try a kayak or canoe trip down one of the many rivers.

In the past, Vietnam didn’t offer much in the way of housing for those hardy souls who wanted to see more of Vietnam and get a chance to experience the culture, family life and enjoy its diverse cooking and ethnic mix. This is changing. Increasingly many sections of Vietnam from Sapa and Mai Chau in the North to Kontum and Pleiku in the Central Highlands to Vinh Long, Cai Be and many places in the Mekong Delta are developing a new option for foreign accommodations – homestay. For most of the first class travel set, this is not what they are seeking but for those with a taste for adventure and a desire to learn more about Vietnam – it’s people and it’s culture, homestay can be a very good choice.
homestay Mekong Delta, Vietnam
The author who has enjoyed staying with groups in Sapa, Mai Chau and also in the Mekong Delta notes that the standards of homestay accommodation is steadily improving. Years ago, conditions were Spartan, hygiene primitive and the fare served the most basic. That is no longer the case. Although in keeping with the home stay goal of allowing the guest to experience local living, air conditioning is usually not included, rooms now are now often clean, private and are supported by basic but quite adequate bathroom, washing and other facilities.

The caveat here is to deal with quality providers and to do your due diligence on the company arranging the home stays. Homestay in Vietnam require completion of registration papers with local authorities, which necessarily must be filled out and given to local officials. You need a local to do this. It really can’t be done by anyone who doesn’t do this regularly. Also, the better providers see this more as a long-term business and hopefully are fairer in sharing fees. This is one of the dangers of the whole home stay industry in Vietnam is in ensuring that the benefits in terms of increased income really get down to the families hosting the home stay which in many cases hasn’t happened in the past. Questioning your tour company on how they share fees, help ensure environmental protection and help give back to the community are all valid and encouraged questions you should ask.

The results of a well-run home stay are dramatic and can be life changing for many groups. Recently we assisted a fairly large group from the United Kingdom in a homestay in the Mekong Delta. Most of the guests loved the experience. They thought the food and drink provided was great; enjoyed the warmth of the home stay family and the chances we arranged to visit a village school and meet a local teacher and headmaster.

They also found the visit we arranged to a small village medical aid station fascinating and truly revealing of the status of medical care and need for additional change. Although sleep was limited due to the late turning in and the early rising of the village, the heat and mosquitoes were not as bad as expected. Despite the fact that all we had was an electric fan, very few of our group found the conditions oppressive or anywhere near their earlier fears although mosquito spray is a definite must.

Again, home stays are not for everyone but they can be an excellent short addition to a tour, an EMBA or MBA visit or of a trade mission or group visit to Vietnam. Although the conditions maybe Spartan, Vietnamese are welcoming and friendly and many a new friendship may sprout from a village homestay.

Homestay in Sapa

Sapa is in the northwest of Vietnam and is the hometown of many different colorful hilltribe groups. This remote area is highly recommended to adventure travelers especially for trekking and homestay. Quite different from homestay in Mekong Delta, a stay in a local house of one of the people in Sapa is more rustic. Everything seems to be very simple but what you really get from it is the diversity of the local culture, atmostphere, scenery and unique hospitality.

Homestay in the Mekong Delta

To the Vietnamese, the region is known as Cuu Long, "Nine Dragons", a reference to the nine tributaries of the Mekong River which dovetail across plains fashioned by millennia of flood-borne alluvial sediment.
A comma-shaped flatland stretching from Ho Chi Minh city limits southwest to the Gulf of Thailand, the delta is Vietnam's rice bowl, an agricultural miracle that pumps out 38 percent of the country's annual food crop from just ten percent of its total land mass. Rice may be the delta's staple crop, but coconut palms, fruit orchards and sugar-cane groves also thrive in its nutrient-rich soil, and the sight of conical-hatted farmers tending their land is one of Vietnam's most enduring images.
Experience a night at homestay, you will eat, sleep and learn about living activities at residents' homes. This activity is for those who like discovering, experiencing and learn about customs and practice of various cultures.


Homestay in Mai Chau

Mai Chau is located in Hoa Binh province, approximately 135 km from Hanoi and 60 km from Hoa Binh. From the top of Cun Mountain, one can admire the superb panorama of Mai Chau surrounded by a green valley and stilt houses. Many minorities, including the Thai ethnic group, live in Mai Chau. Mai Chau can be a base for some trekking tours to the villages around, this is with homestay overnight on the traditional houses of the H'Mong and the Thai. Worth a guided treking tour there.
Tourists especially enjoy the minority specialty dishes including rice cooked in bamboo and grilled meat. They also enjoy watching traditional dancing, music performances (bronze, drums, gongs), and Thai minority singing and dancing. The remote minority villages are attractive sites for tourists.

Homestay in Ba Be lakes

Road conditions in the North of Vietnam are not very good. The trip to Babe Lake, which is 150 miles (250 km) from Hanoi, will take you several hours. You will get to Babe Lake town in the afternoon. Most visitors sleep in a local house. If you are traveling with a guide, he will take care of everything. He will guide you to your homestay, and do all the paperwork. Remember that you need a permit to sleep in a private house. 
Local houses are made of wood. They are very simple. Beds are not very comfortable, and rooms can be rather noisy. But sleeping with locals in such a remote place is an experience I do recommend. Bring insect repellent and ear plugs.
Homestay accommodation in Ba Be is quite good and very reasonable. Tasty meals prepared with home grown vegetable, fresh fishes from the nearby river and home raised eggs.


Homestay in Central Highlands



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