Among all my overseas family vacation, Hanoi has something special that engraved her on my family and my heart…no, it’s not the awesomely beautiful Halong Bay or the ever delicious national noodle dish , Pho…rather it’s our sojourn with the HanoiKids. I chanced upon HanoiKids from tripadvisor, where they enjoyed a 99.8% excellent rating! Unbelievable but true! and I am here to share my experience with you (^__^)//
HanoiKids (http://www.hanoikids.org)* is a non-profit organisation where university students function as “”travel mates” but personally, they are more like tour ambassadors to their country. They do not charge any service fee as their main objective is to gather English-speaking opportunities to hone their English language proficiency through bringing overseas visitors around their exotic city . The organisation holds 2 stringent selection annually to recruit members based on criteria like sincerity, enthusiasm, knowledge proficiency, personality etc. I understand they usually receive 400+ applications, of which only 70 are shortlisted. So those that eventually make it through the funneling, have that special quality that the organisation takes great pride in.
* please be advised not to search the internet under Hanoikids.com or Hanoikidstours.com as those are not the genuine websites.
We were so lucky to have the affable Ms. Hoang Anh (alias Susu) and Mr.Viet Anh (alias Oriole) accompanied us. In the emails to them, my wish list to Susu was that our 1/2day tour was to emphasise on Vietnam cuisine, street food…the real Vietnamese food..and we got more than we bargained for. It was an awesome experience…They certainly “buddied” us into Vietnam, in ways no run-of-the-mill packaged tours can, as there is constant interaction, just like “old friends” taking a trip together. The following are tips and info for easy read:
1) Email HanoiKids (email@example.com) in advance (1-2 month ahead would be nice) for better planning
2) If you are comfortable, do email them your Facebook timeline for their reference. Communicate your preference clearly so that they can assign the appropriate travel-mates. Contact info will given to you a few days prior your trip.
3) Please pay for HanoiKids travel-mates meals, drinks, transport, etc. They are university students and not working yet.
4) HanoiKids is a non profit organisation. They do not expect any service fee. Their objective is purely mutually beneficial – for the opportunity to practise their oratorical English and expose themselves to foreign cultures…But do buy them a momento or perhaps local snacks from your country as a token of appreciation. But do not mistaken that they are little children..as some visitors presented gifts like crayons, colour pencils and drawing kits ! lol
5) “Travel mates” who made it into the ranks of HanoiKids go through stringent selection process. Your expectation of them are likely to be met or exceeded most of the time. But do be extend your understanding and empathy as they are still young adults. They may not be able to accommodate requests especially during varsity examination periods.
6) Be patience…their pronunciation of some English may be misunderstood. They mentioned Singapore as “junk” country. When I verified, they meant “young” country. This also happened with our tour guide during our Halong Bay cruise. So be understanding and just correct them…that’s what they like.
7) My best advice now – ENGAGE HanoiKids ! Or regret. (^__^) . Have a great trip to Hanoi.
Susu (2nd from the right) and Oriole (extreme right) showing us The Temple of Literature
The bell was used as alarm bell every morning to wake up scholars residing in the compound.
We were brought to Cafe Qiang for it’s unique “egg coffee”…no one could have imagine a gem of a place behind that dark narrow alley..
That lovely unique “egg coffee”….
Check out the menu !!!!!
A plate of melon seeds is always served together…sort of a Vietnamese culture.
Cultural exchanges in session…..priceless moment !
Awesome local Vietnam fares….. it was a again…awesome !
Bonding over food – the universal medium….
Awesome food ! …
I could eat this meat patties every day and not get tired…..
I did not get to eat this salt & pepper pork ribs …cause my daughter wolved it down so quickly…. Sigh…
Streetside cafe and dessert shop….” to know Vietnam, is to know it’s street culture”… as advised by Oriole…certainly so…
Peeled melons seeds on the floors around the stools and tables….great company, great times…
Unique dessert…minced yam in jelly paste with coconut milk…
Deep fried banana with sago in coconut milk….
Best drink on a hot summer day in Hanoi ? Iced lemonade…superb !
Low stools and tables are the norms in streetside stalls…..adding to the unique charm of Hanoi.
Taking great care of my kids….Hanoi kids taking care of Singapore kids…lol
At the Hanoi wholesale market….. try not ask your Hanoi Kids travel mates to haggle prices…it does not usually go down well with the storekeepers…
Words and pictures can only say so much… one tour with Hanoi Kids will elevate your enjoyment and understanding of Hanoi…
….Cảm ơn bạn, Hanoi Kids !! See you again in the future !!!….