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Staying with local families allows you to live like a local
When visiting northern Vietnam, you most probably will pass through Hanoi at some point. But to get an insight on how local people really live you should visit the small but lively town of Yen Phu with its local markets, narrow alleys and school kids running around.
If you are heading to Sa Pa from Hanoi, we recommend you to stop in the countryside village of Huong Non on the way, where life is very self-sustained and most of the food comes from the surrounding fields, fish ponds and yards.
If you are going to the South, to Hué for example, you should stop for a stay in the village of Quynh Ngoc. While this village makes you feel like you’ve been dropped in the middle of nowhere, in fact you’re only a few kilometres away from a beach where many locals as well as foreigners go swim on warm days.
How to get there?
our villages are off the beaten path but not impossible to reach
As Yen Phu is located just next to Hanoi, the bus from the city takes only one hour, or just take a taxi which will be even faster. If you’re coming straight from the airport the ride will only take half an hour.
For Huong Non Take a bus from Hanoi, it only takes two hours, and even less by taxi.
A bus from Hanoi to Quynh Ngoc takes about 5 hours, or from the city of Tanh Hoa you can reach the village 1,5 hours.
Good to know about Vietnam
The Tet Festival, Lunar New Year, takes place in January – February and is definitely the biggest festival of the year. Note that in small villages everything will be closed but it’s a good occasion to participate on the celebrations with the families who usually get together for the party.
Buddha’s Birthday is celebrated throughout Vietnam in May. Many temples are beautifully decorated and locals are offering fruits, flower garlands, and various Vietnamese dishes!
Wandering Souls Day is celebrated in the whole country in early September. Locals believe it is the day when spirits of their ancestors are able to visit their homes.
Whilst Vietnam is typically warm and humid, the weather can vary from one region to another.
During summer period, from May to August the temperatures can reach +40 C. Heavy rains are usual and it’s the most wet period of the year.
The best time to visit northern Vietnam is fall from September to November and spring from March to April, when weather is dryer than in the mid-summer but temperatures are up compared to winter, which can be very cold in the Hanoi area.
Typhoon season on the coast is from August to November.
Vietnamese people are extremely friendly and helpful. They will do everything they can to see you enjoy your time in the village. Here are a couple of tips to make the most out of it.
Try to use chopsticks for eating! You can ask for a spoon, but it tastes much better like this, trust us!
Most Vietnamese people sleep on beds without mattresses in the summertime - because it’s cooler! Feel free to ask for a mattress if you’re not ready to test your limits. Most families have them in store for the winter.
Use your both hands for passing or receiving items.
How is it like?
This is what our travellers say
"We worked on a rice field, went fishing, drove around with motorcycles, attended a local wedding, drank snake wine, sang karaoke, fed the animals, made amazing food and took care of the farm. We had the most amazing time, and five days went by way faster than I expected.
I recommend this experience for everyone who wants to make the most out of traveling, and not only do the touristy stuff abroad. I learned so much about Vietnamese culture and also some basic Vietnamese which came in handy when bargaining later on.
For anyone going to Huong Non or other Duara villages: Keep an open mind, attend EVERY activity you are invited in, have loads of fun and download the local language on Google Translate. You will have an unforgettable experience."
Juuso, Finland, visited Huong Non, Tam Non province
"Spending five days alone with a local family in Yen Phu village was definitely the most memorable traveling experience for me so far.
You have men driving old motorbikes and tractors leisurely, old ladies wearing Vietnamese hats riding run-down bicycles and groups of kids playing in every corner. Getting to a village like this for five days was a relief for a Finn who sometimes just needs his own, quiet space.
The best part of the whole experience was absolutely meeting the local people. You often hear stories from other travellers how they met people from different cultures and what they were like but being able to experience it all yourself is what affects you in an unforgettable way. Seeing is believing. Thanks Duara Travels for making my stay in the village possible, I genuinely recommend the experience to anyone interested in exploring new cultures in a new way. You won’t regret it!
Joni, Finland, visited Yen Phu, near Hanoi Airport
“When I arrived to Huong Non I thought I had arrived to the wrong place. In my head I was expecting a remote village in the countryside with a green landscape, but in reality the weather was grey and the surroundings were dirty and quite urban.
“Now you probably think that I hated the experience. But I absolutely loved it! I have never met people this friendly in my entire life, and although I didn’t even learn the names of everyone in my host family, I miss them like crazy.”
Susan, Finland, visited Huong Non village
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