Discover Saigon with free English-speaking tour guides

By Thao Vi, Thanh Nien News

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Two volunteer guides of Saigon Free Walking Tours and a couple of Canadian tourists pose for a photo in  downtown Ho Chi Minh City on September 5, 2015. Photo credit: Saigon Free Walking Tours Two volunteer guides of Saigon Free Walking Tours and a couple of Canadian tourists pose for a photo in downtown Ho Chi Minh City on September 5, 2015. Photo credit: Saigon Free Walking Tours

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Just have a couple of hours for a visit to Saigon?
Don’t worry! A group of university students are willing to help you make the most of your visit by taking you to the main attractions and introducing the city’s culture and food, all for free.
The students work for Saigon Free Walking Tours, a non-profit project launched in May last year by tourism management students at Hoa Sen University under the guidance of lecturer Tran Thi Tuong Vi.
Aimed at “creating a useful environment for students to improve their English and communication skills as well as introducing a memorable image of Saigon and of young people living in this city to international friends,” the project now has 90 volunteers.
Saigon Free Walking Tours offers four tours: a morning walking tour in the downtown area to the main sightseeing spots including Saigon Notre-Dame Basilica, Saigon Central Post Office, Reunification Palace, War Remnants Museum and Ben Thanh Market; a morning scooter tour to lesser-known sites like Cao Dai Temple and Museum of Traditional Vietnamese Medicine; a night scooter tour around downtown; and a night street food tour.
Each tour lasts four hours.
Tourists only need to pay VND50,000-VND70,000 (US$2.2-3.1) per person for gasoline in case of scooter tours. The tour guides will pay for their own entrance tickets.
On travel website TripAdvisor, nearly all the comments about these young tour guides are positive, many describing them as “excellent”, “friendly”, “informative” and “helpful”.
The site ranks Saigon Free Walking Tours fourth out of 85 top outdoor activities in Ho Chi Minh City.
Ho Ngoc Trang Dai, head of the project, said: “Volunteers, after being recruited, are trained by experienced tour guides. Trainees work as tour guides for about a month before we do a careful assessment of their ability through travelers’ feedback.”
Information about Saigon Free Walking Tours can be found at http://saigonfreewalkingtours.com/. Visitors can book tours on the site.

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