Based on the latest studies, tourists nowadays, both domestic and international, are willing to spend more money so that their trips are personalized and contain more authentic experience with the locals. Following this trend, there has been a demand for Vietnamese homestay. However, the reality of Vietnamese homestay can be quite different from what most visitors thought it would be.
It’s more worthwhile living in a homestay in less crowded regions like Mekong Delta and Northwest than in big cities like Hanoi or Ho Chi Minh City. Below are the places which many tourists usually choose to explore and the corresponding features of their homestays.
Mekong Delta is one of the most potential areas for development in Vietnamese homestay. New services are introduced and upgraded from time to time to make sure that tourists always get a refreshing experience when visiting this region.
Homestay can easily be found in most provinces of the Mekong Delta such as Can Tho, An Giang, Tien Giang, and Hau Giang.
Design: Idyllic. Walls and furniture made from wood or bamboo, roofs made from coconut leaves, and the house is surrounded by lush gardens. So in general, sharing the same characteristics with local houses, except the toilet. And we think you don’t really want to experience the “real local” toilet of Mekong Delta (can be a fish pond, that’s why)
Services/Activities: Be shown how to cook the regional dishes, harvest fresh fruits in luxuriant gardens, catch fish, and snails just like a genuine farmer. And must-try activities of the land of rivers like visiting floating markets, listening to Southern amateur music, and going on paddle boats. In the evening, make sure you get a mosquito net to cover your bed and bring insect repellent for your travel.
The outlook of the homestay in Mekong Delta is not so different from the houses of the residents here
If you are looking for a whole day tour of exploring charming Mekong Delta but not planning to stay overnight, check out our highly-rated Mekong Delta tour with interesting activities!
Favorite destinations for many tourists, especially in summer vacation. Cities in Central Coast are the ideal place to immerse in nature with picturesque beaches and mountains, as well as to learn about Vietnamese history and culture. Homestay has recently become a plus that attracts more visitors to this region.
Design: Unlike the ones in Mekong Delta, only a small number of homestay in Central Coast is built in the same architecture of rural Vietnamese houses. Most of them are well-decorated to deliver the best quality. The interior is delicately displayed to create a cozy atmosphere or a modern vibe depending on the taste of the owner, and several places also have some green spaces or small yards. Again, the comfortability and convenience can come at the expense of not living the real local lifestyle.
The opposite design between an ordinary style homestay…
and one that follows the modern trend
Activities: Many hosts, in Hoi An, for example, would enthusiastically introduce you to the local customs and treat you like new members of their families. They would show you some of their daily activities such as catching fish, buying food in local markets, cooking some specialties. You would also know some special Vietnamese customs like making a paan - a combination of betel leaf and areca nut, listening to stories about Vietnamese Gods, and celebrating for Vietnamese Tet (if you come around late January or February) by helping the hosts with their preparation and taking part in traditional activities. Another instance is homestay service in Ly Son Island, Quang Ngai, where you can visit vocational villages including Rau Que Vegetable Village, Rush Mat Waveny Village, etc.
Northwest is a mountainous area with rugged terrain. Except for a small number of provinces that have been concentrated in developing tourism for many years, the other areas are still unable to satisfy the need of visitors, especially in peak seasons.
Design: idyllic yet cozy vibe, totally fit in with the magnificent landscape. Those that honestly depict the life of the Vietnamese minorities living in this region may not be comfortable, like, there can be rats, insects, and stink.
A misty view of a homestay in Sapa, a township of Northwest
An idyllic homestay that is managed by an ethnic minority family
Activities: Apart from experiencing a day with your host families, there are not many activities to try out although you might receive some suggestions from the owners. They can introduce you to the gardens where you can handpick plums, or to trek and hike the splendid terrace rice fields. But at the end of the day, you might realize that the most precious gift that this land offer is the peaceful atmosphere and the true feeling of escaping from the hurried life in modern cities.
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There is a Vietnamese saying that goes “Nhap gia tuy tuc”, which essentially means “When in Rome, do as the Romans do”. You can follow the tips below to make both the hosts and yourself feel comfortable and make your trip more appealing:
1. Learn Chopsticks Etiquette: chopsticks appear in almost all Vietnamese meals and using them is the best way to enjoy your dishes.
2. Learn about Vietnam Do’s and Don'ts
3. Do not drink tap water: Water should be boiled before drinking. Water bottles are also available in many convenient stores in urban areas. To be environmentally conscious, bring your own bottle to refill.
4. Bring your flip-flop: While most hotels provide one or two pairs, you may not find them in homestays.
5. Do not forget about the bug spray: the humid weather in Vietnam is an ideal environment for many insects, so without bug spray, it might be unpleasant to sleep at night.
6. Stay connected with Mobile Data: Most homestay houses would provide free WiFi, but they might be in rural areas with an unstable connection when you travel around. It is quite easy to buy SIM Cards in Vietnam and to register for mobile data service in case you want to keep in touch with your friends and family.
7. Prepare to deal with the heat: some rooms in Vietnamese homestay might not have air conditioners and the temperature may change unexpectedly at night. During the daytime, it can be hot and humid. But when the night comes, it can be so chilly that you do not want to leave your blanket (if your room is designed to let the wind blow in). Most rooms do come with a ceiling fan.
8. If you want to have a true local lifestyle in a homestay, especially in the Mekong Delta region, hygiene can be a problem. Toilets or bathrooms may not be up to what you consider clean and clear, so prepare yourself mentally.
Look for homestays online to check for price and service before booking:
Vietnamese homestay still has many areas for improvement. Right now, not many of them are able to deliver both high-quality service and absolutely genuine experience at the same time. However, if you can cope with some minor obstacles in living standards, you would soon realize that your journey has been full of peaceful moments and unique knowledge about local life.
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© Written by Mai Bui for itourvn.com