Hanoi Free Tour Guides: Little Ambassadors of Hanoi

Phuong Khanh
Chia sẻ

(VOVWORLD) - When you visit a new country, you might consider taking an informative tour from a local guide. Imagine a tour in Hanoi that’s absolutely free, where a friendly guide leads you through the city, answers your questions, and shows you the best local cuisine spots. That’s the unique experience offered by Hanoi Free Tour Guides (HFTGs) located in the heart of the capital of Vietnam.

 Since 2010, Hanoi Free Tour Guides, a non-profit organization founded by students and alumni in Hanoi, has worked to showcase Vietnam’s rich cultural heritage and the beauty of the capital city to visitors. Staffed by university students, the organization aims to give international tourists memorable interactions with locals, while sharing their knowledge of Vietnamese culture and daily life. Ta Thi Van Chung, a recent graduate from Hanoi University of Pharmacy, has been a key member of HFTGs for the past four years.
Hanoi Free Tour Guides: Little Ambassadors of Hanoi - ảnh 1Huong Giang and a group of foreign visitors at  Hoa Lo Prison (Hanoi Maison Centrale)
(Photo: HFTGs)

Chung said that the vision of Hanoi Free Tour Guides is to introduce an increasingly developing Vietnam on the basis of an age-old culture and unique traditions and customs to the world. Each member is desired to become a Little Ambassador of Hanoi, she said, adding that, "We strongly believe that our best efforts have made a little contribution to preserving Vietnam’s beauty and bringing it to the world, as well as to the process of national construction.”

According to the Hanoi Department of Tourism, Hanoi welcomed 22.6 million tourists so far this year, an increase of 32% year on year. Among the arrivals, international tourists accounted for 4.1 million, a rate 3 times higher than the same period last year.

During the busy tourism season from August to December, HFTGs conducts 100 tours per month with a team of 50 guides. Among the prominent sites covered in their tours are the Temple of Literature, the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum, Ba Dinh Square, the Thang Long Imperial Citadel, and the Vietnam Military Museum. With a team of passionate guides, HFTGs provides tours in nine languages: English, French, German, Italian, Spanish, Chinese, Japanese, Korean, and Russian.

Van Chung said, "HFTGs provides private voluntary guides for our customers, so it means whatever you want to go, what activities or what kinds of foods you want to try, we will design the experiences for you based on your interest."

"The tour could be customized regarding your demand, your health or the weather on that day. Or sometimes, it is just like having a local friend to chat with you and share with you some daily culture and trends in Vietnam,” Chung added.

Hanoi Free Tour Guides: Little Ambassadors of Hanoi - ảnh 2HFTGs members and visitors build friendship after each tour (Photo: HFTGs)

University students opt to join Hanoi Free Tour Guides for various advantages. Apart from improving their language skills, the role helps them get a better grasp of Hanoi’s attractions, history, and culture. Serving as a guide transforms students into local experts, acquainting them with the details and stories behind each landmark. However, for Pham Huong Giang, a student from the Academy of Journalism and Communication, the significance of being a guide transcends these benefit.

Giang said, “I enhance my question-answering skills. Foreigners come to Vietnam and are curious about many things just like when they travel to another place. There was a tour where I led two Danish brothers and sisters and the sister asked me if I was satisfied with the political regime in Vietnam."
She continued saying, "On another Taiwan tour, guests asked me a lot about the China-Vietnam relationship. In general, after three months of leading tours at HFTGs, I learned how to answer questions from historical, geographical, cultural, social, and economic aspects." She also said that becoming a tour guide volunteer here also helps her have better physical health, positive thinking, and courage. "The oldies in HFTGs helped me a lot through training sessions and conversations," Giang added. 
Hanoi Free Tour Guides: Little Ambassadors of Hanoi - ảnh 3Temple of Literature is often included in a tour by HFTGs (Photo: HFTGs)

HFTG depends on individuals, organizations, and anonymous donors for funds. Its Facebook fanpage regularly receives positive reviews from tourists worldwide, especially those who visit Hanoi annually, which highlight the dedication and enthusiasm of the volunteer team. A visitor from Japan said that she's delighted to meet the guides at HFTGs again.

"Chatting with my friends in Japanese and exploring Hanoi’s scenic spots made me feel very comfortable. The guides are knowledgeable and always make an effort to answer my questions. I feel completely secure when touring with them,” she added. 

Lee His Lin, a visitor from China’s Taiwan, said, "I’m a volunteer tour guide in Taiwan, so I appreciate tours led by volunteers. They bring youth, passion, and enthusiasm that not every professional guide has. After reading about HFTGs in a tourism book, I booked them right away, and they didn’t disappoint. My friends and I really enjoyed the tour.”

Hanoi Free Tour Guides: Little Ambassadors of Hanoi - ảnh 4(Photo: HFTGs)

HFTGs offers a win-win situation: student guides develop their skills in language proficiency, communication, and cultural knowledge. Tourists enjoy cost-free tours and gain deeper insights into Hanoi’s culture. The experience often forms lasting friendships, with shared photographs capturing memorable moments for both guides and tourists.

According to Van Chung, the organization doesn’t stop at offering free tours. She said, “Later this month or maybe next month, when the Lunar New Year is coming, we will launch a project to provide information on the traditional ways of celebrating the most important holidays in Vietnam and how it has changed these years. We are seeking partners or collaborators who are interested in preserving Vietnamese culture.”