One of the best experiences on our trip to Southeast Asia was a village homestay in Vietnam with Indochina Junk. This ended up being a highlight of our Vietnam experience as it offered wonderful insight into the culture and local life of many in this country. One of our goals of travel is to find educational and transformative activities that give hands-on opportunities for learning and this fit the bill perfectly.
A visit to Yen Duc village can be added on to your overnight Halong Bay cruise or possibly as a stand alone option. We did it as part of our Halong Bay trip and it worked out well as it’s located between Halong Bay and Hanoi. If you have time, we would highly recommend making a visit to Yen Duc village with Indochina Junk as it really was a great way to experience this fascinating country and to experience life in a local village.
Experience the Best Hands-On Homestay in Vietnam
Yen Duc Village Homestay with Indochina Junk
Yen Duc Village is a decent sized village of around 5000 people. The village is located between Halong Bay and Hanoi making it an easy stop between the two.
The main source of income for this village revolves around rice production. As soon as you enter the area you will see rice fields in all directions. This makes Yen Duc a great place to learn about rice.
The village is quite a bit larger than we had anticipated with much higher quality homes than we imagined. It does not feel like a feel a poor area, even though it has definitely felt the effects of younger generations leaving for the cities.
Indochina Junk offers visits to this village in conjunction with their Halong Bay cruises as well as a trip on it’s own.
Accommodation at Viet House Homestay in Vietnam
Accommodation in Yen Duc is at Viet House, which is a small 4 room property at the entrance of the village surrounded by fish ponds and rice fields. It is the most picturesque homestay in Vietnam. Technically it’s not quite a homestay, as it’s not an individual person’s home, but Indochina Junk have established the rooms in the house as they are in traditional Vietnamese homes giving guests the feel of a real homestay with all the comforts of a hotel.
The rooms can be provided with two twin beds or one large king size bed. Otherwise all 4 of the rooms are identical and beautiful. We loved the details with the use of the traditional flat wooden bed frames seen in Vietnamese homes with the addition of the mattress on top. All rooms come with hot water showers, AC/heaters, a mini fridge as well as hair dryers.
Each building also has a small living area between the two rooms for relaxing between activities which was a nice place to relax in our downtime.
This hotel was such a treat and one we highly recommend to visitors! Also note, I believe there are other options for staying in homes while in Yen Duc as well. You can email with Indochina Junk directly for all the other options.
Activities Included on the Homestay Village Visit
Apart from the gorgeous rooms, the main reason for visiting Yen Duc village is to learn about the local culture through a variety of hands on activities. This fit perfectly into our family travel goals of educational and transformative travel.
During our 1 night, 2 day visit, we packed in several great activities that allowed us opportunities to ask questions and delve deeper into the Vietnamese culture. Without the tremendous insight into the community that we gained from this homestay in Vietnam, our trip would have been much less enjoyable.
Ride Bikes Around the Village
During your visit your mode of transportation will be on bicycle, just like the locals. While there are a few motorbikes and the occasional car passing through the village, it is mostly occupied by walkers and bicycle riders. The village itself is not too large, however it is helpful riding a bicycle as it allows you to move between the large rice fields to different sections of the village more easily.
Indochina Junk has bikes available for kids as well as adult bikes with baby seats in the back. Unfortunately they did not have one with training wheels for my son, who is just teetering on riding solo, but perhaps if advance notice is given they may be able to organize this as we did see many kids in the village with training wheels.
Regardless, kids can easily ride on the back of the bikes like locals if they don’t know how to ride! My son actually preferred this as he felt he would have been nervous on some of the roads on his own bike.
Family Home Visit
One of the first things visitors will do upon arrival is grab a bike to head to a local villagers home to learn more about how the people in this community live. During our visit, we visited the oldest home in Yen Duc, which is currently occupied by only the matriarch of the family. We found it quite interesting to see the traditional home and hear more about how her life has been. We also loved looking at their family ancestry chart which provided insight into how marriage and families have operated here through the years.
Indochina Junk works with several families in the village, so you never know which house you will end up with, but they are all interesting and have plenty of stories to share!
Learn About Rice Making
The next stop on our first afternoon was to a small workshop area that displays the traditional methods of rice husking. Today most villagers take their rice to homes that can husk the rice by machine. However, I am sure there are still people who do this by hand, but not quite as many as in the olden days.
Regardless, it was quite interesting to see how much work goes into preparing what many would think of as a simple rice dish!
Not only do you get to see these old techniques, you get to also try it yourself. I will say, it is much harder than it looks and much more time consuming than I ever imagined. Learning about this stayed with us throughout our Southeast Asia visit and helped us gain deeper understanding into how the different areas do things as well as let us understand what all the woven baskets we saw actually were!
Fishing with a Bamboo Basket
My son’s favorite activity of the day was learning how to fish with a bamboo basket. We arrived to a small murky pond behind a family home where we were supplied with waterproof pants to pull over our clothes, given one glove and a bamboo fish trap.
Off we entered into the muddy pond to try our hand at catching fish for dinner! It again looks quite easy, but is extremely tiring as you are constantly bending over.
Within a few minutes we had managed to catch a few. And after about 45 minutes all we came out with was 5, although a 6th was caught but escaped my son’s hands as he transferred it to the bowl!
This was so fun and such a unique opportunity. We later learned that an Australian family managed to catch 66 fish in their allotted time. I feel like we need a do over to compete properly!
Market Visit in Yen Duc Village
On day two, the morning begins with a visit to the local market. This is a daily market where locals buy all their products as well as come to chat and hang out. We had a great time exploring with our guide Gi who gave us loads of information on all the different types of items for sale. We tasted tamarind, watched a fish seller prepare her fish and chatted with a tiny lady who was turning 81 in a few days. Again, having a guide to lead you through a simple market makes such a world of difference!
Next on our hands-on activities list was a visit to a local broom maker’s home to learn this traditional art. One, it’s fascinating to visit the local homes to get a peek into how they live. Two, it was so fun to see how something so essential can be made from dried rice plants. Again this is something that stuck with us throughout our trip as we began noticing all the different types of brooms around and could understand exactly how they were made.
This was my son’s highlight for day 2. He couldn’t stop looking at his very own broom that he made from scratch. We really felt like this was a great hands-on activity that lends itself so well to family travelers.
Water Puppet Show
Our final activity on the agenda was a visit to the local water puppet show. This is something that is on most visitors list of things to do in Hanoi. It was great to have it included here.
The show itself is only about 30 minutes long, but is cute and quite entertaining. My son loved trying to figure out how each of the characters worked and how it was being operated behind the scene.
The show has a series of stories focusing on life in Vietnam from rice harvesting to fishing and marriage and family life. A great end to our two days in the village.
Food at the Homestay in Vietnam
Indochina Junk does a lot of things wonderfully, and the food they provide is no exception. The food is always above and beyond. During the village homestay, you will get dinner, breakfast and lunch. These are all multi-courses providing ample opportunities to sample many dishes and fill up.
Our dinner and lunch both had 7 courses which were all delicious. Breakfast started off with a bowl of pho followed by eggs as you wish and a soft baguette.
Note that drinks are not included in your stay, except 1 cup of tea/coffee with breakfast.
Why We Loved Our Homestay in Vietnam Village Experience
One of the aspects that I’ve continued to be impressed with in regards to Indochina Junk is their focus on giving back to the local communities. They work hard to create opportunities for local villagers to share their world and culture with visitors.
The company has spent a great deal of time searching for the best village to offer a homestay in Vietnam. Their first aim was to find a village that was friendly and welcoming. Perhaps it’s not as picturesque as some traditional villages, but the most important are the people. They have succeeded on that mark here at Yen Duc. Everyone we met was so friendly and welcoming. It really felt very homey.
We also love that Indochina Junk works with a variety of villagers on all fronts. Nothing on this tour is manufactured just for the guests. The rice fields are filled with local people going about their daily lives. The fish ponds are used by actual families to feed themselves. The broom makers do this work as a means to survive. It really is a peek into Vietnamese culture in a way that can’t always be found elsewhere.
We loved our experience here. I hope that by sharing our story, we can encourage others to add a homestay in Vietnam to their trip to gain a deeper understanding of life in rural Vietnam.
Have you ever considered a village Visit in Vietnam?
Are you headed to Vietnam? Check out our other posts to help plan your trip!
An Unforgettable Overnight Halong Bay Cruise
Get Messy at Hoi An’s pottery village
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