Things to Know About Homestay

Homestay is commonly understood as “staying with locals” and is a form of accommodation where travelers can stay in the homes of local people and have the closest experience with the local culture.

In 1949, Bob Luitweiler founded “Servas International,” a non-profit international organization run by volunteers, supporting international peace and understanding among races. Members of the organization have the right and obligation to host and provide free accommodation to other members within the international network. This is also the precursor to the concept of homestay.

Therefore, homestay is a form of free accommodation, sometimes exchanged with gifts or support in providing accommodation for each other. Travelers will come to live and get acquainted with the cultural activities in the local people’s homes.

This form has been present in Vietnam since the 1990s, mainly in the form of staying with locals, especially in culturally rich tourist destinations such as the Northwest, Central Highlands, or the Southwestern region. Currently in Vietnam, homestay has surpassed its initial concept and has become a business form that is heavily invested in and developed in various ways.

Khách du lịch nước ngoài lưu trú và sinh hoạt tại nhà dân. Ảnh: blogspot


The Essence of Homestay

It is not by chance that foreign tourists come to Vietnam and praise it as a hospitable country. The act of sharing accommodations with foreign tourists to experience culturally rich regions has long been familiar to the local people.

When entering a true homestay, travelers need to familiarize themselves first with the family culture and then with the local culture. Living with the host family gives travelers the clearest insight into the customs, way of life, cuisine, people, language, and everything that makes up the local culture.

Unlike hotels, personal household items for guests are not readily available, or during the time when homestay was not well-developed, there were no convenient amenities such as air conditioning or heating devices. This reduces waste and the environmental impact from household equipment.

Moreover, living like a local allows tourists to experience farming and animal husbandry. This is a type of eco-tourism that is currently receiving much attention

Khách du lịch thu hoạch nấm khi đến ở tại homestay Neverland, Sa Đéc. Ảnh: Phong Võ

Tourists harvesting mushrooms while staying at Neverland homestay, Sa Dec. Photo: Phong Vo.

Homestay Boom

As tourism in Vietnam is on the rise, accompanying services, especially accommodation services, are gaining significant attention. Hotels and resorts are continuously being introduced in key tourist destinations, offering diverse forms and prices.

Homestay is also not left out of this race. Homestay owners not only increase the number of rooms but also invest more in design, additional amenities, and numerous competitive programs to attract tourists.

According to a market survey report by the research company AirDNA in 2019, during the time unaffected by the pandemic, in famous cities and tourist destinations, the number of homestays flourished. For example, Da Lat now has over 500 operating homestay establishments with various models. In Khanh Hoa, Vung Tau, Da Nang, the number of homestays is also high, ranging from 1,000 to nearly 3,000 units.

This addresses the issue of accommodation for tourists during peak travel periods. However, the concept of “homestay” no longer holds its original essence.

Don Taylor, an expert from the Tourism Capacity Development Program responsible for environmental and social issues funded by the European Union, believes that this boom will gradually erode the unique features of homestay. Many places have become more like guesthouses, with meals served on tables in the communal area rather than at the family dining table.

Homestay hiện tại có hình thức không thua kém phòng khách sạn. Ảnh: Booking

Homestays nowadays are not inferior to hotel rooms in terms of quality. Photo: Booking

The widespread proliferation of homestays has also caused many problems. A typical example is that even though the homestay owners have transferred or closed their businesses, the previous managers or staff still retain the old contact channels to receive room reservation requests and embezzle customers’ deposits.

In the situation where many homestays have not undergone proper evaluation or have not met the evaluation standards, questions regarding disputes arising from incidents such as food poisoning or fires are still unresolved for the accommodation providers, relevant authorities, and service users.

Things to know when choosing a homestay:

Despite still being in a sensitive period due to the pandemic, the travel demand of Vietnamese people has not decreased. Famous tourist destinations like Mai Chau, Da Lat, and Phu Quoc still attract a large number of visitors, resulting in overloaded accommodation during peak times.

If your trip requires an intimate experience with nature and easy access to local culture, homestays are an ideal choice. Besides accommodation, travelers can also participate in local activities and experience services with a strong cultural flavor.

Choosing a homestay is a way to save costs. The prices at local homestays range from 200,000 to 500,000 Vietnamese dong per guest per night. For upscale homestays with beautiful views, attractive designs, and full amenities, the average price can range from 800,000 to just under 2 million Vietnamese dong per night. For extremely cheap homestays priced around 30,000 to 50,000 Vietnamese dong per guest per night, it is advisable to inquire about the quality.

Travelers should thoroughly research the chosen accommodation to avoid being deceived or having their property misused.

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