There is no better way to experience the local way of life than learning, living and laughing together with the host community. Participants have the chance to share homes in groups of 3 or 4 people and will have the chance to experience a simple, yet comfortable rural home.
Buffalo Educational Travel provides Village Stays at our community development projects in Vietnam, Cambodia, Lao and Thailand.
Bedding is arranged with fresh sheets, blankets, pillows and mosquito nets in a dormitory style set-up, sleeping side by side with your group. The bathroom facilities will be even more basic and all should expect a bucket shower and no hot water. But, after a long, hot and rewarding day working in the village, no one seems to care how they get clean! Also, get ready for very basic Asian-style squat toilet.
All meals are eaten together as a group and prepared in the village by well-trained local cooks. We are proud that the meals in our Village Stays are often one of the most memorable parts of the experience! We can cater various dietary requirements if we are informed in advance.
Village stays are not only the best way to experience true local lifestyles, they are also a significant economic benefit for the host community. In 2016 BET groups successfully supported Village Stay with total accommodation fees of $12,474 USD.
- Chan Sar, Cambodia – $1,899
- Seuang River, Lao PDR – $5,419
- Om Goi, Thailand – $3,873
- Mai Chau, Vietnam – $1,283
Meet Your Hosts
The families that open their homes are eager for visiting groups to experience their cultures, life styles and stories. Shyness and limited English mean many Village Stay hosts are reluctant to boldly interact with visitors. Yet, with smiles and simple gestures of friendship these barriers can be quickly overcome.
Here are two of our host, the Thoan family in Vietnam and Mon family in Cambodia, that have gained greatly from visiting educational travel groups.
Mr and Mrs Thoan were our first hosts at Na Chao Village in northern Vietnam.
They feel that since the Village Stay programme began in 2014, there have been many improvements in Na Chao and their family. The biggest change for the Thoan family is a new toilet. Before they did not have a toilet and followed the ancient practice of open-defecation. When they started Village Stays the Thoan’s built a basic bamboo toilet with support from BET team. Mr Thoan proudly states that
“…after 2 years of hosting we could afford to upgrade to a brick toilet and a new tiled bathing area for our guests, and the whole family! We now see how important it is to have a toilet in the house.”
Na Chao villagers find it difficult to find the words to express how happy and grateful they are to welcome the student groups.
“They bring fresh air to our community. They give us a chance to communicate with people from many countries. They also help us with lots of building projects for schools and farming which improve our community a lot.”
Mr and Mrs Mon together with their three children were very nervous when back in 2013 they decided to become Village Stay hosts in Knapor Commune in Cambodia. A relatively successful farming family their main income is from selling vegetables grown in the communities to the markets in town. The Mon’s have a strong reputation in the community and take part in the various decisions and leadership, yet the first time they welcomed foreigners into share their home was a momentous occasion. However, after a while the nervous feelings faded and Mr Mon looks back at that with a smile. Mr Mon strongly states the Village Stays have:
“tremendously transformed our family with income generation, meeting people of different cultures, learning to share with those in need, new job opportunities like cooking, and my kids can learn and speak good English through interaction and consistent practice.”
Village Stays can raise concerns for parents, school administrators and overseas travel agents. There are perceived risks to staying in a village home of a developing country. Missing out on the learning opportunities of a Village Stay due to risk avoidance though may limit opportunities of experience and growth. As Dr Malcolm Pritchard states:
“Through overemphasis on risk aversion, however, we run the greater risk of trapping learners in an artificial world of childish simplicity, ill-suited to developing the skills and understandings that are expected of adults managing the risks of the real world.”
Regardless, concerns are valid and taken seriously through BET risk management and standard operating procedures. BET has created voluntary documentation and declarations for each Village Stay in recognition of our desire to set industry-wide best practices. We train all our staff in Child Safe practices. We provide fire extinguishers and smoke detectors in all sleeping area. In addition to these BET standards we are fully licensed and covered by AUD $20,000,000 Public Liability, Product Liability and Professional Indemnity insurance.
Being a part of the Buffalo Tours family and Flight Centre Travel Group provides our clients with peace of mind while gaining experiential opportunities of Village Stays.