Hanoian Launches Virtual Tours for International Guests

A local tour guide brainstormed to offer new interesting online tours during the pandemic.

0
259

Despite the temporary closure of Vietnam’s border to international visitors amid the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic since 2020, Le Hoang, a proficient 28-year-old tour guide based in Hanoi, continues to provide foreign travelers with the opportunity to explore the captivating capital city and other desirable destinations within Vietnam. Leveraging the power of modern technology, specifically mobile phone screens, Le Hoang ensures that tourists can embark on a virtual journey, uncovering the rich beauty and cultural marvels that Vietnam has to offer.

New form of touring

Starting with some online classes to teach foreigners to make Vietnamese coffee, the Hanoi tour guide builds them up into professional online tours themed Hanoi. Photo: Zing News  

After successfully completing his studies at Hanoi Open University, Hoang embarked on a successful career as a tour guide, catering to a steady stream of incoming travelers. However, his trajectory was abruptly disrupted by the outbreak of a disease. Reflecting on this unexpected turn of events, Hoang expressed his surprise at finding himself unemployed despite the thriving nature of his business at the time.

During the lockdown, Hoang experienced a significant change in his daily life. As someone who was accustomed to being out and active every day, the sudden shift to staying home was quite traumatic for him. Not only did he lose his job and regular source of income, but he also faced an uncertain future. However, luck was on his side as an old customer reached out to him and commissioned him for online tours. This opportunity provided a glimmer of hope and a way for Hoang to continue earning a livelihood despite the challenging circumstances.

Hoang has diversified his tourism services to cater to the needs of foreigners who are unable to visit Vietnam due to the pandemic. He now offers engaging and immersive online tours, leveraging professional equipment such as a noise-reduction microphone, tripod, and a high-quality camera phone. Moreover, he has meticulously researched and curated itineraries that provide an authentic and enriching virtual experience.

The Hoan Kiem Lake in an early Autumn. Photo: Khanh Huy

Join us on a cultural and historical tour of Hanoi, where we will visit some of the city’s most iconic tourist sites. Our knowledgeable guide will meet you at Ly Thai To Garden downtown at 7am to begin the tour.

During our 45-minute to one-hour walk around Hoan Kiem Lake, we will showcase the Turtle Tower and Red The Huc Bridge, two architectural gems that hold significant cultural value. Next, we will explore the historic Old Quarters, delving into the fascinating history of the trade streets and ancient houses. Our guide will regale you with stories that highlight the rich historical and cultural heritage of this ancient capital city.

Don’t miss this opportunity to discover the hidden treasures of Hanoi’s past. Join us today!

“International tourists are intrigued and filled with anticipation at the sight of Hanoi’s residents going about their lives in the narrow alleys, utility posts adorned with a tangle of electric wires, and street vendors bustling on either side of the road,” he explained.

The final stop on the tour is a charming coffee shop located on Nguyen Huu Huan Street. Here, our guide provides a firsthand experience of the local cafe culture, engaging in conversation and addressing any inquiries from our valued customers.

Le Hoang (Jude) makes a tour around Hanoi’s iconic Hoan Kiem Lake and surrounding area. Photo: Zing News

During another tour, our experienced guide will lead you to explore the enchanting “French Quarter,” where you will witness the exquisite French architecture buildings and colonial-era houses that have beautifully endured the test of time. Following this, our itinerary includes visits to esteemed landmarks such as the Temple of Literature, Hoa Lo Prison, and the iconic Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum.

We offer a diverse range of tours encompassing museums and pagodas, not only in Hanoi but also in other cities and provinces. Our online tours extend to destinations such as Danang City, Hoi An Ancient Town, Nha Trang Beach City, as well as Yen Bai province with its stunning rice terrace of Mu Cang Chai and Ha Giang Province.

“The underlying objective of my product is to showcase the exquisite landscapes of Vietnam, which is why I continuously strive to uncover destinations that feature distinctive scenery for my online tours,” Hoang expressed.

Prior to the onset of the fourth wave of the Covid-19 pandemic in Vietnam, Hoang conducted approximately ten tours per week. His clientele predominantly consisted of individuals from Europe, the United States, and Canada. Additionally, he provided personalized tours for organizations, training centers, and schools, tailoring the itinerary to their specific preferences, be it sightseeing, culinary exploration, or other activities.

Overcoming Difficulties

Inside Hoa Lo Prison Relic in Hanoi. Photo: An Khang

Pioneering a new form of tourism, Hoang faces various challenges in his line of work. Frequently, he encounters interruptions from police or passersby who are curious about his tours. Additionally, it took him several months to adapt to speaking in front of a camera without being self-conscious about the presence of others.

“It is quite amusing how many people become intrigued by my daily routine of walking in the same location while engaged in phone conversations. As a result, they often approach me with curiosity. However, my main priority is to stay focused on providing the best possible tour experience and minimize distractions from external communication,” he explained. “Fortunately, I have the support of my wife, who also works in the tourism industry, and often accompanies me on these tours.”

One challenge with conducting online tours is the need for Hoang to consistently speak for one to one-and-a-half hours without any breaks, unlike physical tours where breaks can be taken. Additionally, there is a significant income disparity between the two tourism methods, despite the workload being comparable.

Earnings from an online tour are significantly increased with a higher number of customers and tours per day, resulting in a more lucrative income. The individual expresses a strong work ethic and a proactive approach to their job, highlighting the positive impact it has on their earnings.

A French-style house in Hanoi’s Old Quarter Area. Photo: Xuan Son

Hoang further highlighted the convenience of online tours, citing their flexible time frames. Typically spanning few hours a day, they provide a stark contrast to the time-consuming whole-day or multi-day in-person tours.

“I consider myself fortunate to be able to continue working as a tour guide, all the while establishing meaningful connections with international clients and generating income. It is disheartening to witness the struggles faced by the tourism industry and the unfortunate downsizing of my colleagues. However, amidst these challenging times, the adoption of online tours has proven to be a valuable means of sustenance.”

Hoang empathizes with his colleagues who are facing the difficult decision of leaving their jobs to pursue careers in fields such as real estate or insurance sales. To help them retain their valuable skills and experiences, he encourages them to explore his innovative online tour model.

Online Tour Category Development Project Submission

Submitted by: Hoang

“I am hopeful that this model will gain widespread adoption and provide a livelihood for the countless tour guides who have been laid off. Online tours offer a valuable means of supporting the traditional tourism industry, which has been severely impacted by the pandemic,” he expressed.