We are a married couple, looking to travel to Vietnam for a couple of months. We are looking for genuine rural Vietnam "home stays" could any point us in the right direction.
If you are heading to the Mekong try Hungs Homestay. We were there in August and even though my Mrs was hesitant at first she absolutely loved the experience. You will glean plenty of info from this forum and even though you will be told that there is no such thing as a REAL homestay in VN you will find plenty of options.
You can do homestay in many provinces of Viet Nam. These places are what I have known of.
Rufus, as Mark suggests in post no. 1, there are very few real homestays in the sense of staying in the family home and joining in the daily life of the family, if only for breakfast.
One or two do exist here and there, but in general the ones offered by travel agents (post no. 2) are usually for accommodation separate from the family residence and purpose-built for tourists.
As you will be in Vietnam for a couple of months you will have time to get to know local people and track down the real thing, although matters can be complicated by householders being required by law to have the appropriate license for foreigners to stay in their homes. That said, I have stayed in the rural parental homes of Vietnamese friends without their parents having such a license and with no subterfuge or repercussions whatsoever. Therefore I guess that experiencing the 'real thing' will depend on your ability to make friends and the disposition of the local police.
To be honest its hard to find an real authentic homestay unless you have a Vietnamese friend who take you to stay with his/her family for few days.
But for tourists in general that want to experience the homestay to get some cultural taste they have to take one of these hometstay which set up for tourist.
Firstly, The farmesr in Vietnam who speak none of English and know nothing about tourism ofcourse they can not run a homestay, also if you don't have a western washroom and you will have also most 1% amount of people come to stay in your house for more than a night.Or authentic homestay would charge 5 usd per night and imagine how much business the farmer make for this little business.
So in order to provide a similar product for tourist who wants to feel the authetic but in comfort these homestay places around VietNam appearred to show tourists around the world our culture and still can supply the basic standard for westerner as They would not go to Mekong Delta or some other rural areas and happy to use the washroom on the" fish Pond" or sleep on hard bamboo bed with no fan in the heat and Vietnam is a country with high humidity. How many farmer family will gain this business if they keep it 100% authentic?
How many tourists would want to do this?
Because of the huge differrence in Culture and life style that VietNam is still backward in most of its rural area thats difficult to develop the tourism and so we do need the investment to attract tourists.
Its not like in the west when you even go camping in the middle of nowhere in the deep forest you still have plug in for RV or wash room with hot showe or basic clean water and toilet ,This s why the westerner still can not imagine how authentic it is in Vietnam where people barely earn their living and some places still like the western countries 200 years ago.
What I try to say here is a very small amount of tourists want to try the 100% Authentic homestay and so farmer don't have enough business to keep it alive.All we can do is some what you call tourist homestay for tourists which at least give you something about Vietnam people life style and culture and as what I have known that 95% of tourists like this kind homestay. For my idea who have been in this travel industry for 15 years that Vietnam is doing very well to introduce as well as trying to attract tourists.
There are many expats living in Vietnam and comment that we don't understand what authentic is,or don't know much about tourism or how to run it. Ofcourse we do, But we don't do this for fun as everybody gotta earn their living , same as most of westerners.
Viet Nam had a long time in the war and we need time to grow and now still trying to recover, and sadly, so many westerners who are living in Viet Nam demand so much from this country and criticize Vietnamese people who they say don't understand westerners.
So Creaking Bones you think you will have some great idea about homestay and make it in the real authentic way please teach us!
Extremely well said Nhung - what an excellent post!
agree with Creaky- very well explained Nhung
I think the key is that they need to drop the term 'homestay' - it's a real misnomer. It is giving people a false expectation. What to call it instead? I don't know - bed and breakfast? At least that removes the notion of staying in a 'traditional family home'.
The ones I have stayed in are quite large and there was little or no acccess to the family, so there was no real feeling at all that you were staying in anything other than commercial property.
And Nhung is absolutely 100% right - most of us would not cope well with a 'true' homestay. It's a case sometimes of being careful what you wish for!
But could they not just reduce the number of beds they provide, and ensure more interaction with the family? Obviously the cost would have to go up, but a lot of travellers would be fine with that.
For the nearest "homestay" do some research on Ha Giang and Ba Be
Well said Nhung.
I have just returned from an inspection trip just outside Dalat of a local family wanting to use their coffee plantation as a homestay. In this case it did not work out, however, I have been to homestays in the Mekong and other areas that are perfectly acceptable to western tastes and standards that are run by local families and not tour companies. In most cases you need to arrange with a tour company or guide that has some experience in the area.
As to what is authentic, I would say that any Vietnamese home that has been modified to comforatably host guests and is run by the family fits the descripion. I know of homestays where there is a foreigner married to the owner and together have developed a very nice place in the Mekong or up in Phong Nga. Those places have family of Vietnamese helpers looking after the guests, cooking meals and providing local information... Seems authentic to me. I think the "homestays" operated by tour companies are perfectly acceptible to many as a local stay, but I would rather they be called something different.
The requrement of Vietnamese familys having special permission and licences are long since gone (at least in the south) and as long as a foreigner is registered in a Family book and the administration fee paid at the local ward, there is really no issue, however, if running as a business, like any other business, tax must be paid and guests registered with the local athourities the same as a guest house. A homestay must meet fire safety codes and other requirements and then can obtain a business licence just like any other similar business.