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Vietnam Gap Year Program

Culture, community + wildlife

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Vietnam voluntering road trip

Community, wildlife and exploration

Welcome to Vietnam. When many think of Vietnam they are reminded of the tragic impact of the war, however there is so much more to be inspired by - this country dates to the 3rd century BC and culturally is a dynamic mix of its past ruling influences, with the best food in Asia.

We are so excited to open up in Vietnam and introduce you to the ancient and modern, rural and urban. You will see the contrast between tropical islands, busy metropolises, and mountains. Plenty to tick off your bucket list. Vietnam is super easy to get around and is a great springboard for the rest of Asia.

Through this dynamic journey of the north you will be taken off the beaten track, to volunteer in a wildlife sanctuary, discover the oh so pretty beaches, the rural communities and of course Ha Long Bay.

This is what we have planned...

If you are interested in this program - email zoe@theleap.co.uk

Vietnam Gap Year Program

A journey of culture, community, and conservation in one of the most fascinating places in the world.

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Vietnam Program Itinerary

During this dynamic 4 week program you will explore Northern Vietnam and its hidden gems as well as the classic must-see highlights.

The following is a sample itinerary.

5 nights

Hanoi Sight seeing + History

Hanoi

Your journey will start the French-colonial city of Hanoi, located on the banks of the Red River and home to a special combination of faded classical buildings and ancient pagodas. Here you will spend your first five days.

A vibrant place to explore markets, food stalls and museums before heading out to verdant landscapes, traditional villages, and the iconic Ha Long Bay.

Upon landing in Hanoi at Noi Bai International Airport, you will be met and transferred to your lovely friendly family run guest house in the city centre which will be your main base. From here you head off to explore the old town, sample some local delicacies and navigate the tuk tuks.

Vietnam Gap Year Program
5 nights

Mai Chau Community Work + Biking + Trekking

Mai Chau

For the second five days you will travel North to discover the small ethnic minority villages, set amongst stunning emerald-green rice paddy fields, that are cocooned by beautiful mountain landscapes.

Here you will stay in stilted homestay homes for a full cultural interaction, explore the area by bike and immerse yourself in the community contributing to the following projects.

- School construction projects; building a kitchen or toilet
- Painting and tiling the school yards and surrounding area
- Help setting up a library and fixing chairs and tables
- Teaching English to the children
- Teaching personal hygiene to the children
- Playing different sports and games


Accommodation

Stilt house home stay

Food

3 meals a day

Vietnam Gap Year Program
2 nights

Ha Long Bay Junk Boat Cruise

River cruise

After saying goodbye to your new friends and the incredible smiley and friendly local people that you have befriended, you will travel back to Hanoi and then onwards to the World Heritage area of outstanding natural beauty – the iconic Ha Long Bay. Known for its emerald waters and vast limestone islands topped with rainforests - straight out of a movie set.

Here you hop on board a local junk boat for 2 nights to explore the lagoons, secluded beaches, and floating villages.

Accommodation

Gorgeous cabins on oriental sails junk boat.

Food

3 meals per day from the set menu

Vietnam Gap Year Program
8 nights

Ninh Binh & Tam Coc Wildlife Volunteering

Protect the endangered primates

Next up is the Cuc Phuong National Park – one of the oldest national parks in Vietnam, established in 1962, famous for its cultural and

wildlife heritage and enchanting scenery.

The Endangered Primate Rescue Centre was established in 1993 and is a non-profit rehabilitation, breeding, research, and conservation centre of Vietnam’s endangered primate species. The centre is home to around 150 primates representing 15 species. Seven of these species are kept only at the EPRC, and at no other facility in the world.

For 7 nights you will live in the park to learn about primate conservation whilst supporting the wildlife keepers with their daily jobs such as:

  • Preparing the food, feeding, and cleaning enclosures
  • Repair and construction of cages
  • Giving tours to visitors to the EPRC
  • Gardening and upkeep of grounds
  • Updating animal records
  • Assisting in design and distribution of promotional materials
  • Assisting in data collection and collation

Accommodation

The EPRC is located inside Cuc Phuong National Park, and all accommodation is within walking distance. You will stay in an EPRC bungalow or a National Park room, depending on what is available at the time of booking. All accommodation is equipped with private bathrooms, air conditioning and Wi-Fi.

Food

3 meals per day

Vietnam Gap Year Program
7 nights

Hoi An Sightseeing

Time to sight-see

Hoi An is a city on Vietnam’s central coast known for its well-preserved Ancient Town, cut through with canals.

The former port city’s melting-pot history is reflected in its architecture, a mix of eras and styles from wooden Chinese shop houses and temples to colorful French colonial buildings, ornate Vietnamese tube houses and the iconic Japanese Covered Bridge with its pagoda.

Embrace the history of this iconic destination then wind down on the beautiful beaches. The perfect combination.

Accommodation

Home Stay

Food

Breakfast only - giving you flexibility to explore.

Vietnam Gap Year Program
Vietnam Gap Year Program

Add on Independent Travel

Combine with Cambodia and Thailand

What we are finding is that our teams never want to come home post program and choose to add on a phase of independent travel with their new found friends - certainly making the most of their gap year. We can easily support this through our Leap VIP travel resource which every leaper has access to.

Vietnam is perfectly placed to add on Cambodia and soon to be open Thailand. Want to get the most out of your gap year? Call us and chat through your ideas.

A view of Ha Long Bay boat cruises in Vietnam.
Street scene in Vietnam with tuc tucs.
Palm Trees in sunset in Vietnam.
Famous hand sculpture with tourists on it in Vietnam.
Limestock rock and river with sculpture in Vietnam.

Options and costs

Taking bookings for 2023

Whats included?

Budget:

Spending Money: The currency of Vietnam is the Dong (VND). Lots of ATMS around to get the local currency out.

Vietnam is extremely good value for money and there will be many opportunities to buy souvenirs. Our top tip is to get some tailored clothes made in Hoi An at the end of the trip and we can help you with tailor recommendations.

Food Budget: $5/10 for meals out.
Socialising: $50 US dollars per week to cover drinks out, souvenirs etc.

River Cruise

Explore the infamous Ha Long Bay by sail boat

Social Life

Guaranteed. You will be part of a tight team of like minded volunteers, who come from all over the world.

Culture

The food, the people, the scenery - Vietnam has it all.

Hot spots

See all the hotspots as well as getting off the beaten track.

Working Hours and Time Out

You'll get up early, working all morning with a nice long break for lunch before cracking on in the afternoon. The volunteering is a key part of what you do and will directly benefit the community and the wildlife sanctuary.

Vietnam Gap Year Program
Vietnam Gap Year Program

Leaper's Highlights

Have a read of what our Leapers have been up to...

Watch our videos

Vietnam

Meet our team leader in Vietnam

"Insane!"

Hi to all at The Leap,

This is a bit late but a huge thank you to everyone who was involved in organising Herbie Purces Costa Rica trip. In his own words “it was insane”.

So wonderful they had a “normal” experience in abnormal times.

Our thanks again

- Gwen Purce

"I wish I could go back "

My experience in Ecuador was amazing. I have been home for two weeks and already want to go back to ecuador. My leader and my group was the best. Everyone instantly clicked and grew closer together everyday. All of the work was hard but we had fun while doing it. We brought speakers out to work with us so we had some music playing while we worked! I also liked the variety of work that we do in the communities. The adventure weeks were the best. Jumping off bridges, white water rafting, beaches, biking down volcanos, and so much more. You can't do anything better than that!

I wish I could go back now, with the same group, same leader, and do so many more things and make so many more memories. That trip is one I will never forget.

- Caroline Sides

"Helped my confidence so much"

Its helped so much with my confidence and I feel like I know myself better as a person. I’m leaving the trip in such a better place than when I arrived and I’m so grateful for that :)

- Isla

"Team were amazing"

Thanks so much for your kind email, I am sorry that I only have just seen it now! That evening was definitely a scary shock but it has now made me so much aware about going out at night.

The leap team were also amazing and I cannot thank Chris and Meli enough for helping me both at the hospital and then the following morning when dealing with insurance. My mum is also very, very grateful that you guys have been there to help the entire time!


- Anonymous

"The leap is an awesome company who takes care of every aspect of your trip to make sure you can enjoy it to the fullest"

This trip was honestly amazing and I would highly recommend anyone to take the opportunity to do it.

I met amazing staff and locals over the 6 weeks and also amazing people who I still stay in contact with and I can’t wait to see during the rest of my travels.

The outreach was definitely a highlight as you get to explore more islands and do different activities. The locals are amazing and the sense of community and the appreciation for volunteers makes it so worth doing. I did forest conservation because I love animals and hiking but with the leap your programme is flexible and if you prefer to teach you can switch over as well which you don’t get with other company’s.

What you should know is GO THROUGH THE LEAP!

- Brooke

"One of my favorite memories from my trip to Costa Rica was the first time I released a baby turtle into the ocean"

I was immediately lucky because most baby turtles crawl out of their nests in the dead of night, so you don't get to enjoy the sight of seeing them walk to the water when it's so dark out.

When I saw my first baby turtle it was just before the sun went down, so it was still incredibly bright out! Watching all the babies push their little flippers against the sand as they fight to get to the water is something else. They are so excited to be alive! It's something so wonderfully inspiring that I will always remember.

- Madison

Vietnam Gap Year Program

"The most incredible experience"

This 10 week programme was truly the most incredible experience, where I have made amazing friends and immersed myself in getting to know a whole new place and culture.

The camp itself has members of all different volunteer programmes, allowing you to develop incredible relationships with people from all over the world in such a unique environment. I did a month of marine conservation and a month of teaching. The marine conservation was beautiful, and being able to get an advanced open water PADI in marine protected areas of Madagascar was very special.

As for the teaching, this was something which was so special to me, it allowed me to become so connected with the community, and I created bonds with people that I will truly never forget. Seeing students progress over time was so rewarding and allowed me to develop such close relationships. The staff members are super relaxed and it really feels like your own community! Honestly the best experience!!!

- Izzy Proud

"​Thank you guys SOOOO much"

Thank you guys SOOOO much for the whole experience I have LOVED it all and couldn’t thank you enough for all the effort you have put into the trip my heart is so full from everything you have helped us achieve!! Enjoy your well deserved break :)

"Don't even bother continuing to look for your Overseas Experience - this is the one you want"

If you love being outdoors, being with surrounded by like minded adventurers, and going on worldview changing experiences then THIS is the trip to go on!

There's nothing NOT to love about The Leap's Madagascar program and MRCI - the Malagasy organization you'll be volunteering for. When you arrive on Nosy Be, one of MRCI's charismatic staff members will meet you at the airport and take you across the small island to the port, where you'll hop on an incredibly scenic boat ride to your basecamp on Nosy Komba: Turtle Cove. The boat will drop you off at the beach where you'll get your first glimpse of paradise on Earth. As you walk up into the camp, which is built and blended into the rocky hillside, you'll be greeted by other (inevitably glowing and happy) volunteers who can help show you the ropes.

The worst part of this trip is that eventually, you have to leave. If it was up to me I'd still be enjoying the endless 80° weather and honing my fish identifying skills right now. So don't even bother continuing to look for your Overseas Experience - this is the one you want.

- Isaac

"​I had the most incredible time in Namibia "

I had the most incredible time in Namibia even though it flew by. We achieved so much in a short month. The conservation activities were fun and fascinating to be a part of.

A particular favourite of mine was invasive tree demolition and obviously white water rafting. Having limited WiFi made it much easier to click with other people and I’ve made some great friends. Red and Andrea are truly inspiring people and I wish them the best of luck and hope to visit soon to see the progress.

- Ivo

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With the covid travel experts

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We can help. We have sent lots of gappers away through the last 12 months and can confidently call ourselves Covid Travel Experts. Get in contact to start the ball rolling.


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