Ten years ago Rustic Pathways brought its first student group to Vietnam. Our focus primarily revolves around photography and touring the country’s many historic landmarks. However, cultural immersion and cross-cultural exchange play a big part in our programs. Over the years, our connections across Vietnam have deepened and we have made many lifelong friends in small but beautiful places.
We custom design our Journeys to meet your school’s requirements, so please contact us to discuss the type of experience you are looking for. As a general guide, here are some of the potential elements of your Journey through Vietnam:
Rustic Pathways has developed various long-term partnerships with communities and local organisations in Vietnam.
Some of our service projects that you could support include:
Primary Schools: Supporting children with their English literacy and numeracy, and improving the grounds/facilities at the school.
Vietnam’s turbulent past has left a country that is rich in history yet disadvantaged in many other ways.
Travelling with our local staff will provide students with first-hand insights into life in this country.
You may like to incorporate some of the following experiences into your Journey:
Ho Chi Minh’s Mausoleum: Visit Ho Chi Minh’s mausoleum where the old leader of the communist party still lays in state. Explore the mausoleum with a private honor guard as we present a wreathe on the tomb of Ho Chi Minh in a specially arranged ceremony.
Confucius’ Temple: Visit Confucius’ Temple of Literature where you will learn about the magical powers of the giant turtles. Rub their heads and you may improve your chances of getting into your top-choice university. The temple also hosts the “Imperial Academy”, Vietnam’s first national university.
Hanoi Hilton: A legendary and quite frightening prison that was used first to incarcerate local Vietnamese who agitated against the French Colonial Leaders, and later to hold American fighters who were shot down during the Vietnam War. Spending a few minutes in the cells here is a chilling lesson in history.
Sapa: Sapa is the picturesque mountain city nestled in the misty “Tonkinese Alps.” The cool alpine breezes and pine trees are not what one expects in tropical SE Asia, but that is part of what makes this area so special. It is a biological hotspot with many rare wild animals and unique flora found nowhere else in the world. The remote mountain valleys have also fostered a rich cultural diversity with many different hill tribes inhabiting the area. We will journey into the countryside to visit some of these villages and stay overnight, and work on a couple of service projects.
Hanoi: Visit old colonial streets lined with various shops selling everything from Buddhas to bamboo. Walk around the charming Hoan Kiem Lake where the locals go to relax and drink the very strong Vietnamese “weasel” coffee.
Photography Workshops: Learn how to capture the sights of Vietnam through a travelling photo workshop. Tour the cities, countryside and its surrounding villages all while practicing your skills with our professional photographers.
Adventure and challenge is inherent to every Journey, however, if you are looking to physically challenge your students through a specific activity, you may opt to include:
Old Quarter of Hanoi: A maze of crazy streets that forms one of the strangest and most exotic shopping environments you’ll probably ever see. Each street has it’s own special product, so you can wander down streets where everyone is selling firecrackers, then connect to a street where the vendors are all selling Vietnamese clothing, and then wander down an alley packed with ducks for sale. You’ll have time in the Old Quarter to shop on your own, and this is a great time to grab cool art, funky clothing, wartime propaganda posters, or inexpensive jewellery.
Karaoke Club: Renting a VIP karaoke room, we spend a night showing off our singing talents in a classic Vietnamese karaoke club. Those who can’t sing can just come and laugh! It’s a great group bonding experience, as well as being an interesting insight into Vietnamese culture.
Halong Bay: Jump on a private yacht as we cruise past traditional fishing villages, kayak, swim, snorkel and explore the beautiful islands that dot Halong Bay, considered not only to be the most beautiful place in Southeast Asia but is also listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Area.
Cooking Classes: Led by traditional Vietnamese cooks, students get the opportunity to learn how to make some of Vietnam’s most famous dishes. With delicious curries, succulent spring rolls and much more on the menu, you will be able to take your newfound knowledge of Vietnamese cooking home with you to impress your friends!
There are various accommodation options that we can offer in Vietnam; it depends on how “rustic” you would like your Journey to be.
Hotels: A variety of 3, 4 & 5 star hotels in cities and towns
Homestays: Students can homestay with local families in local villages.
Trek through northern Vietnam and learn about culture through village life and meaningful service.
Arrive in Vietnam’s capital city and meet your Rustic Pathways Program Leaders, who will give you a brief orientation of what to expect during your trip. Drop off your bags and hit the streets. Learn about the country’s 54 ethnic groups at the Museum of Ethnology, visit the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum, and take a stroll around Hoàn Kiếm Lake.
Marvel at the landscape on the three-hour drive through the mountains. Arrive at a hill tribe village off the beaten path inside Ngoc Son-Ngo Luong Nature Reserve. Enjoy lunch with a local family before hiking the remaining four miles to your home for the next few nights.
Head to your service site to assist with an ongoing project designed to support the protection of the area’s natural resources, provide alternative income opportunities, or improve infrastructure of the surrounding villages. Spend your afternoons and evenings exploring the surrounding rice fields and interacting with your homestay family. Conclude your homestay experience with a community celebration showcasing traditional Muong song and dance.
Say goodbye to the host families and trek to the village where you’ll board the bus and return to Hanoi for an evening in the city.
Drive to Ha Long Bay and climb aboard a traditional Chinese junk boat for a cruise among the jagged limestone karsts. Explore Sung Sot Cave and swim in the waters off Ti Top Island. Settle in for a night under the stars on the deck of the boat.
Continue your loop around Ha Long Bay, kayaking in Luon Cave and stopping by Bai Tu Long Bay and Fire Island to see the exotic birds, monkeys, and antelope. Return to Hanoi for dinner.
Head to the airport and prepare for your flight home. We hope your time spent here, the experiences you’ve shared, and the things you’ve reflected on will stay with you for a lifetime.
Please chat to us if you have any special requests that you would like included in your Journey.
There is nothing too big, small, or out-of-the-box that we can’t handle.
Please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org to start designing your Journey!
We would be delighted to partner with your school to support the global education of your students.