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Insider Secrets: Life as a Tour Guide in Vietnam

It’s not every day that you get to attend a Vietnamese cooking class, hitch a ride on a sea plane above Ha Long Bay and take a luxury cruise down the Mekong Delta. Unless you work for Buffalo Tours that is.

When we sent Julie Falconer from A Lady in London on one of our Vietnam Journeys, she chatted to her guide Ngo Tien Thanh, a Hanoi local who has worked as a Buffalo Tours guide for five years.

Hi Ngo, so what exactly is your amazing job?

I work as a tour guide for Buffalo Tours, and my main job is giving tours around Vietnam. I sometimes do trips from the north to the south of Vietnam, but I mostly stay in the north. Sometimes the trips last for two or three days, sometimes five days, and sometimes two weeks. It really depends on the trip.

Wow, you must never have a dull day. How did you become a guide?

I spent five years studying tourism at a university right here in Hanoi. I soon graduated and received my licence to become a tour guide in Vietnam.

You have an incredible job, but what do you love most about it?

I love to show people my country, especially its culture, customs, and history. Vietnam is a great destination for all kinds of tourists visiting, whether it’s for a couple of days or a couple of weeks. We are lucky to have different weather in the north and south of Vietnam which means that people have a huge range of options to choose from. Some tourists come to relax, some to sightsee, and some for history. We also have a lot of influences from a lot of countries, including China, France, and the US. Halong Bay is especially beautiful, but different parts of the country have different areas of interest which shouldn’t be missed.

You really know your country! Let’s get closer to home: what’s your favourite local food and where do you like to eat it?

Oh that’s hard, I eat a lot! I’d have to say that pho is a favourite of mine. The best way to try it is to go early to a street stall. It's fresh and very nice in the morning, but you have to get there early or you'll miss it. I’d recommend having the chicken or beef rice noodles.

So that’s breakfast sorted, where is your favourite place to spend a night out?

I love a lot of places in Hanoi, but the place I love to go out in most is Mai Chau, a rural area a couple of hours drive from the city. It's quiet and has lots of local culture and pure atmosphere.

What insider tips do you have for visitors to Vietnam?

There is so much to do here so it really depends on what you like. I often recommend restaurants like Wild Rice. I like telling people where to have authentic coffee in Hanoi too. I particularly recommend a place in the alley of 39 Nguyen Huu Huan. It's called Giang and it's been there since 1946. It has a great atmosphere.

Experience the best of Vietnam with the help of local Buffalo Tours guides on any of our Vietnam Journeys.

Written by Buffalo Tours

Buffalo Tours are Flight Centre’s partners on the ground in select countries throughout Asia. As part of a joint venture, when you book a Journey to Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam, Laos and Burma , Buffalo Tours will be on hand to welcome you at the airport, transfer you to your accommodation and operate any of your in-destination activities.

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