A 20-year-old student, Nghiem Ngoc Anh, eagerly escorted a group of foreigners to visit Sword Lake in Hanoi. She proudly showed them Turtle Tower, an intriguing structure located in the middle of the lake, and narrated the story behind its name.

As a second-year student at the Diplomatic Academy of Vietnam, Nghiem Ngoc Anh believes that she represents not only the Hanoi Free Private Tour Guides (HNFTGs) but also serves as a cultural and tourism ambassador for Hanoi.

In 2015, a group of Hanoi students established HNFTGs with the aim of improving their English communication skills, deepening their historical knowledge, and acting as goodwill ambassadors for Vietnamese culture and history to tourists from all corners of the world. Operating under the slogan “Hanoi’s Little Ambassadors,” the club now boasts over 2,000 active members after nearly 8 years.

Members of the club conduct tours of Hanoi’s famous tourist attractions, sharing the historical significance of each site.

The uniqueness of HNFTGs lies in their strict policy of only accepting small groups of tourists, ensuring high-quality tours with maximum interaction between visitors and volunteers. This policy also guarantees privacy for the visitors.

Catering to the specific preferences of each tourist, the members of HNFTGs are ready to accompany them on an unforgettable journey through the lively streets of Hanoi. Here, tourists get a taste of the genuine lifestyle of the city’s inhabitants and indulge in its rich street food culture.

To ensure a high level of professionalism, club members undergo an extensive 5 to 7-month training program. The training includes approximately 15 hands-on practical sessions, enabling members to gain valuable knowledge and insights into Vietnam’s cultural history and the city of Hanoi’s popular tourist destinations. The ultimate goal is to showcase this knowledge to tourists, providing them with a deeper understanding and appreciation of the country and its rich history.

During the training, new members are divided into small groups to practice simulating leading foreign tourists to famous locations. At the end of each session, the new members make reports for assessment.

Tran Van Khoi, 28, has already led more than 30 tours and acquired English skills and positive insights from tourists. Khoi now possesses a better understanding of tourists’ lives, making cultural and historical exchanges easier than ever.

“HNFTGs assists young English enthusiasts in learning about different cultures and becoming more confident in connecting Vietnam with international friends,” said Khoi.

HNFTGs has excelled in its role as the capital’s ambassadors, bringing the knowledge of Hanoi’s culture and history closer to foreign tourists with a spirit of charity and hospitality.

As a member of the club for 6 months, Nghiem Ngoc Anh is confident that she contributes to promoting the beautiful image of Hanoi to international tourists.

“We’ve had personal experiences that allow us to serve as a bridge, bringing Vietnam’s culture, history, and beauty closer to tourists from other countries. Furthermore, during each trip, we strive to establish camaraderie with our fellow travelers, enabling us to exchange thoughts on life and create an intimate atmosphere for our visitors,” expressed Nghiem Ngoc Anh.

HNFTGs has received numerous excellent reviews on travel websites like Lonely Planet and TripAdvisor, attracting more international tourists to use their services. The Hanoi guides are known for their friendliness, extensive knowledge of history, culture, and landscapes, and for sharing their own experiences with visitors.

“Even though they weren’t paid, the students were still enthusiastic and friendly instructors who provided me with a lot of useful knowledge,” said Shannyn Nasser, a foreign tourist. She added that it is admirable to see students spending their free time teaching others about the history of Vietnam.

“I’m very grateful for this 0-dollar trip because I learned things I couldn’t have found on my own. It’s wonderful to meet dynamic young people who offer their perspectives on Hanoi,” shared Shannyn Nasser.

Yaprak Gulessonmez, a German tourist who has traveled to many countries worldwide, was greatly impressed by her visit to Hanoi. She learned about Vietnamese culture, history, and people through the activities of the HNFTGs Club.

“After visiting famous sites, I have a better understanding of the history and culture of Vietnam. I particularly enjoyed visiting The Temple of Literature due to its ancient ambiance, which made me feel like I was transported back in time. It helped me appreciate the significance of education and learning in the past. I felt the flow of history there,” said Yaprak.

With the guidance of tour guides Shiokawa Takahiro and Takumu Hosoya, Japanese travelers were fully immersed in Vietnam’s captivating culture and history.

“After our visit, we were completely immersed in Vietnam’s history and nature. Vietnam has unique offerings like egg coffee and sticky rice nuggets, which are not found in Japan. We were truly impressed by these culinary delights,” they shared.