Touring with Hanoi's little Ambassadors

July 16, 2013 ASEAN Backpacking

There's a growing demand for learning English among young Hanoi students.  The Ministry of Education's goal is for all young people leaving school by 2020 to have good grasp of the language.

In 2006, Hanoikids was established to have a venue for kids to practice English. 
By voluntarily taking tourists to tours around Hanoi, they get to hone their English skills and tourists like us get to see Hanoi through the eyes of these little ambassadors.

Hanoikids rank first among various activities in Hanoi in Trip Advisor, which is where my friend Mervin discovered this great concept.

So, we booked a tour and we met Tong and Yen.

20-year-old Tong was the first to meet us. He was wearing a Hanoikids shirt, which we all liked and hoped we could get as a souvenir. He said his name means diamond or strong, which contrasts his mild mannered ways. 

Since there were 7 of us, Hanoikids sent us another guide.

Her name is Yen. Unlike Tong, who is a veteran at Hanoikids having done 23 tours already, Yen is somewhat new.  This is only her 3rd tour and first as an official member of Hanoikids. 

Yen is only 18 years old and is a 2nd year Tourism student.

It was also the first time they met each other. 

We decided to learn about Vietnam's culture and ritual practices of various ethic groups in Vietnam at the Museum of Ethnology. It focuses on the 54 officially recognized ethnic groups in Vietnam. 


Tong and Yen guided us through the museum. I think they enjoyed looking at the museum pieces as much as we did.  We explained to them that we see a lot of similarities in our culture.

I'm glad we didn't opt for a guided, often times boring and information overloaded museum tours.  Tong and Yen allowed us to go through the museum at our own pace but always ready to give insights and answer our questions.

Before we explored the open-air section of the museum, which exhibits houses of some ethnic groups, we decided to have some refreshments. 

The cafe is by Hoa Sua School, which trains and provides job placement for Vietnam's disadvantaged youth. This should not be missed.

We were lucky that we also got to watch Vietnam's famed water puppetry during our visit at the museum.

The open-air museum is very fascinating.  

There we found the communal house, the most important building in Bahnar Village. 

It's traditionally a meeting hall for men in the village.  According to our tour guides, the roof is purposely high so that men can easily find the village when they go out to the forest.

We find also the stairs both challenging the interesting.

The Giara Tomb should not be missed also. The first thing I noticed are the strikingly similar features of the wooden sculptures around the tomb with the Philippines' bulol or rice gods but upon close inspection, we find that these sculptures are sexually explicit. These are actually symbols of fertility and are meant to accompany the dead in the afterlife. The tomb's owner, by the way, is a woman.

Before leaving the museum, we dropped by the souvenir shop.  Museum souvenir shops, more often than not, are not the best places to find cheap buys but we decided to get something as it is for a good cause. It is non-profit and our money went to a good cause.

Overall, it was a good day spent with the Hanoikids.  I definitely recommend them.

Other Good Travels