This journey includes many opportunities to meet local people and learn about their lives in this diverse country.
- In the Vinh Long area of the Mekong Delta our local guides introduce us to the daily life, floating markets and cottage industries of the Delta's rich waterways. Our homestay host family welcome us with a dinner of local specialties and the opportunity to ask questions and gain insight into customs schooling and religion in this area.
- Since 1996, we have supported the Saigon Children's Charity and their work in educating the poorest children in Vietnam. We visit the Bau Ham School in Bien Hoa town, which was established by the SCC with support from us and our travellers. To minimise disruption, our visit signifies a short interactive break from lessons for the children. With advice from SCC, we also assist with teaching equipment, uniforms, sports equipment and general school maintenance.
- In the outskirts of Nhatrang, two of our long time friends offer those interested the opportunity to explore rural life - visiting farming families who welcome us into their homes and show us such things as rice paper making, bronze casting and bed-mat weaving. A visit at the local kindergarten, the village communal house and a traditional home, give insight into the Vietnamese culture and way of life.
- In Qui Nhon, a remarkable lady called Nguyen Nga has established a centre for orphans and people with disabilities. The trainees at the centre delight in having foreign visitors and showing us around and possibly even give us a musical performance. You may help the centre with a purchase of the high quality and very inexpensive handicrafts they produce.
- In Hoi An we can recommend attending the delightful local 'Cultural performance' held nightly and which helps keep traditional local dance and music traditions alive. A visit to the Hoi An orphanage can be very rewarding for both the children and those who are prepared to spend some time to assist at meal times, or with the children's general chores.
- Hue is famous for its imposing Citadel and the Tombs of the last ruling Dynasty of Vietnam. It was also the Buddhist capital of Vietnam, a fact, which is less lauded. Our local guide takes us through the back roads of Hue, where we are lunch guests at a Buddhist nunnery or monastery. We also visit local homes and learn some traditional handicrafts.
- On arrival in Hanoi, we will have breakfast at KOTO Restaurant. KOTO is a restaurant and training school, which provides 18 months of hospitality and life skills training to former street children. This project was established by Jimmy Pham - a former leader of ours and is enthusiastically supported by all food lovers.
- Vietnam has 54 ethnic minority groups making up 13% of the population and each group has it's own distinctive cultural traditions and handicrafts. A great place for shopping is CRAFT LINK, a non-profit organization, which supports the production and sale of handicrafts from poor and marginalised ethnic groups.
- As we travel to Halong Bay we may visit the Hong Ngoc Humanity Centre in Sao Do town. This is a wholly Vietnamese run NGO, which enables disabled children and young adults from the local area, to receive vocational training in the manufacturing and marketing of handicrafts.