5 Incredible Reasons To Travel And Volunteer In Vietnam
While Vietnam is known the world-over as a foodie's paradise, any traveller to Vietnam will quickly discover that this incredible destination offers so much more than delicious deep fried spring rolls - although I wouldn't recommend a trip without them! I was fortunate enough to travel through Vietnam during one of my university breaks, and now I am here to pass on 5 incredible reasons why you should consider Vietnam for your next volunteer trip.
- Kirsty (Polish volunteer)
Receiving tourists and having the opportunity to interact with international travelers is still somewhat a novelty for locals in Vietnam, so you will find that you are guaranteed a warm reception from the locals. The people of Vietnam are kind-hearted and genuinely want you to enjoy your time in their country - and those volunteers who have traveled to Vietnam with VVCD will be the first to tell you so. VVCDers here provide support in local NGOs, childcare centers, teaching placements or in a medical capacity, and the appreciation and gratitude from the staff and residents at these placements is greatly felt by volunteers.
"During my time volunteering it was the most appreciated I've every felt. I loved seeing the students before every class, so excited and motivated to learn! They always had questions and a thirst for knowledge about English that was inspiring."
If you have not yet tried Vietnamese food, it goes without saying that you are seriously missing out. I’m not simply talking about deep-fried spring rolls, but fresh spring rolls, bun cha, pho and banh bo and of course, Vietnamese coffee! The best part about ordering food in Vietnam is that everything on the menu tastes great, provided you are the adventurous type. Think fresh vegetables, herbs, noodles... I was surprised by the fact that after a few weeks in Vietnam, I had not gained any weight (a rare thing for me when traveling, as I like to sample EVERYTHING). When volunteering with VVCD in Hanoi, you have the opportunity to sample traditional Vietnamese meals made by a local chef (which beats the local Vietnamese take-out back home hands down). You'll also have the chance in your free time to purchase some food from a local vendor, or to take part in a cooking lesson.
From a volunteer and travel perspective, there is so much to give and experience in Vietnam that I recommend you go for as long as you can. If you are a little pushed for time, VVCD offers a special 1-week project in Hanoi City. During this week, you will spend the first 3 days participating in orientation, visiting different sites around Hanoi and receiving a cultural insight into Vietnam. This initial 3-day orientation is followed up by a 2-day volunteer experience, where you will be involved in providing help at placements supported by VVCDers in Vietnam. If you have a bit longer than a week, then here are a few of my favourite personal activities in Vietnam:
Eating mud crab from the Mekong Delta
Cruising in a Chinese Junk in Ha Long bay
Purchasing far too many lanterns in Hoi An
Cycling around the hectic streets of Ho Chi Minh City
Exploring and squeezing through the Cu Chi Tunnels
INCREDIBLE EXCHANGE RATE!
You'll become a millionaire overnight! With the exchange rate in Vietnam, you'll soon feel like you’ve won the lottery! Traveling is relatively cheap in Vietnam and you will find that your money goes a lot further than it does at home (I was spending approximately US$3 for a dinner dish, so I was able to branch out and try a few extras). VVCD also offers highly affordable program fees for volunteer travelers in Vietnam and with the fees starting as low as US$50 for 1 week, you will find that you have plenty of money left over for tours and activities.
ALL ROUND INCREDIBLE DESTINATION!
Whether you are mid-way through planning an epic trip around South East Asia, or if you are looking for a destination on its own, Vietnam is where you should be considering. With an eclectic mix of Asian and European influence, Vietnam has a culture unlike any other in Asia and being a relatively developed country, Vietnam is also a safe destination for solo travelers. With international airports in both Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi, flights are plentiful and your pick-up is very easy when you volunteer in either destination.
"I loved every minute of my volunteering experience! The orientation gave me an opportunity to explore the country and the culture, as well as meet the other volunteers. I was able to interact with kids of all ages, from 4 days old to 18 years old. I feel like the program and the coordinators really appreciated my time and help. Meeting all the other volunteers from all over the world was just as exciting as exploring a new country. This was honestly one of the most rewarding things I've ever done!"
Pretty incredible, eh? You'll have no regrets visiting Vietnam, even more so if you also volunteer during your visit. It's simply a destination that'll turn a great trip, into an incredible one!