Mekong Delta Guiding Q&A (part 2)

Interacting with people you first meet is either very easy or very difficult, depending on group chemistry. But guiding is a special case: you meet people in a totally controlled context, where basically everything is set up. The things that trigger curiosity in customers are predictable. Yep, we will have FAQs for every area. Time to read customers’ mind.

What are FAQs for Mekong Delta?

Plantation & Agriculture


Customers can ask about ANY plant they see on the road and even though an honest “I don’t know” may gain points for authenticity, after several times it just becomes awkward, shows unprofessionalism and lack of preparation.

Below are plants of Mekong Delta we will encounter along the road. A purely linguistics matter. No need to collect those words ourselves. Let’s just do some searches

Source 1

Source 2

Aside from general plantation vocabulary, there are some plants that are typical for Mekong area which should be given more attention.

Looking from customers’ perspective, images that pop up in their mind about the area are: vast rice paddy fields, fruit gardens, floating villages. Our role is to go deeper and analize WHY the plantation landscape is like that, some typical plants in the area, HOW locals utilize the plantations (for different industries), HOW that even affect their personality and culture. In short, we analize the interdependent relation between nature/ plantation and people’s culture and daily lives in the area.

Same thing applies in other guiding areas.

  1. Agriculture in the area

Source: Viet Wikipedia


  • accounts for 30% of total Vietnam agriculture land.
  • 27% GDP of total Vietnam
  • 50% area of Viet rice plantation.
  • 30% of total Viet agriculture revenue.
  • 54% of Viet fishery.
  • Main rice exporting area of Vietnam.
  • Rices are planted mostly in An Giang, Long An, Dong Thap, Tien Giang.
  • Duck growing also develops in provinces of Dong Thap, Hau Giang, Bac Lieu, Soc Trang, Ca Mau.
  • Typical fuits: coconuts, rice, breast milk, watermelon, jack fruits, mangoes, durians, cacoa (used for chocolates)



1. Demographics

90% Viet, 6% Khmer, 2% Hoa, 2% Cham (Khmer) people. They live and work together in the same area, integrate and assimilate different characteristics to form a common Mekong Delta culture.

This forms the diversity of the area.

2. Personality

People here are mostly friendly, generous and brave. Why? When the first settlers come to Mekong area, the area is just vast wild jungle land. To conquer harsh nature conditions and live in harmony with nature, Mekong people need to adapt themselves, be resilient, generous and open.

The abundance of natural resources make Southern people in general and Mekong people in particular: easy going but short term thinking 7 unstrategic mindset (because there is no urgent need to save, things seem to be abundant all the time). People have a sense about season but do not really treasure time in general. To an extent, this is a drawback. The rate of education in this area ranks as one of the worst of Vietnam.

To be continued…















Mekong Delta Guiding Q&A (part 1)



Less than 100km away from Sai Gon, Mekong Delta is an interesting area with various things to discover. Whether informally taking friends around in their first time visit or being a professional tour leader for tour companies in the area, there are some common topics you can cover. The purpose is to blend general introduction with fascinating details along the road.

Know your audience’s expectations & knowledge


Putting experienced travelers who come to Mekong Delta many times before aside, most travelers just have a vague idea about Vietnam and Mekong in general. They tend to have a romantic visualization: abundant in vegetation, typical tropical land, heaps of fruit, interesting local guilds.

You can enrich your KYC (Know Your Customer) database by asking those questions:

  • Is this the first time you come to SEA/ Vietnam/ Mekong Delta?
  • How do you feel about the area (applied for return guests)?
  • Is there anything you find strange or irritating on your trip?
  • What other places have you been in Vietnam?
  • How long is your trip in total?

These questions can vary, aiming at knowing what customers already know, where they have been, their general impression as well as their concerns about the journey. It also helps you to set their expectations in an acceptable spectrum: not too low to still be excited & look forward, but not too high to be disappointed later.


A good briefing should put the destination in perspective. These information are general, covering: geography, history, population and some prominent facts. These facts and figures will help customers know why they should visit the area and not somewhere else.

Mekong pic

Some facts gotten from credited sites: Lonely planet, Wikipedia, Vietnamese history sites, guidebooks. Your customers may be very well-read and informed. Especially, some documentaries about Mekong area is a great source of knowledge.

Again, a general rule should be repeated: If the customers want to show what them know, go ahead, let them shine. Don’t try to force yourself and pretend to be a know-it-all.

Below are some facts gathered from Vietnamese and English Wikipedia.

Terminology (origin of Mekong name)

mekong river in Laos

Different countries name this river differently.

In China:  – Lan Cang Jiang – wavy river

In Laos & Thai: Menam Kong (by Laos & Thais people) as “mother river” – origin of the current international name.

In Cambodia: Either Mekongk (by Laos ethnic group here) or Tonle Thom (big river, Khmer language). In rainy season, the water flows back to Tonle Sap.

In Vietnam:

When Mekong flows to Viet area, it splits into 2 rivers called Tien Giang (former river) & Hau Giang (later river) & gather in Mekong Delta, after that it splits again into 9 smaller rivers. Therefore in Viet language it is called “Cuu Long” or “9 dragons”.

Myths (interesting stories)

Myths can be a great source of information, excellent for story telling.

(in research period he he)

General facts/ figures/ numbers

Only use numbers/ figures to illustrate a point. If not, it’s boring and not useful.


  • 12th worldly in length
  • Length: from 1200km to 1400km.
  • Half of the river flows in China territory. In Chinese territory it flows through very deep cliffs. When it flows out of China the water level is only 500m above sea level.
  • Flows changes in different seasons. (Disadvantage for waterway transportation but an advantage for rice planting)
  • Starting from Yunnan (China)
  • Crossing Myanmar, Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam.
  • Local name: Cuu Long (9 dragons)
  • Size: 39,000 square kilometres (the combined size of Texas and Arkansas- used for guests from US)
  • 36 bridges crossing the river built by different countries in the area.

History & culture timeline (if possible, turn it into a timeline infographic)

  • 1st century: Malaysian & Indian culture
  • 5th century: Khmer Kingdom
  • Due to difficulties in waterway transportation, different cultures along the river can not integrate.
  • 16th century: The influence/ discovery of the West: 1950 – The first Portugese explorer. (for religion spreading & trading)
  • 19th century: French influence ( after colonization of Saigon in 1861 & imposing Cambodia in 1863). In this period it becomes part of Indochina.
  • 1893: Indochina was set up. But during this period, expeditions by French made them realize that Mekong is too rough for waterway system.
  • After independence from France, the delta area officially becomes part of Vietnam.



To the West of HCMC.

Trinagular shape.

Comprising of Phu Quoc.

Physical landscape: lat flood plains in the south, a few hills in the north and west.

(caued by tectonic transformation 50 million years ago)

In the past (Holocene area) water flowing to both South China Sea & Gulf of Thailand. Now only to South China Sea.

Forest coverage: 7,7 %


A giant Mekong catfish caught by 2 Thai fishermen.

the world’s largest inland fishery

25 percent of the global freshwater catch and provides livelihoods for at least 60 million people.

second only to the Amazon River in terms of fish biodiversity

st 1,100 freshwater species

Many rare animals: Irrawaddy dolphin, giant freshwater stingray ( up to 1,300 pounds), the Mekong giant catfish.



Population: 17,33 million people (2011)

Majority: ethnic Viet.

Khmer area (due to history, formerly part of Khmer area)

Hoa (Chinese Vietnamese population) in Tra Vinh & Soc Trang.

Most children go to HCMC and other big cities for work, so the demographic rate is quite low.

Contemporary concerns, projects & Climate changes

A good presentation should not miss the contemporary sociology-politics big picture which is happenning.


Mekong river for survival


A river of conflict. 6 countries share the river with different needs & priorities for its people.

  • Population growth
  • Deforestation
  • Sewage discharge into water.
  • Pollution from agriculture and industrial sources.
  • The Mekong is a case study in hydro-politics and Asian water security.



  • xay-thuy-dien-tren-song-mekongviet-nam-anh-huong-nang-ne_2700166
  • Current situation: 15 dams in China and 15 dams in Laos, Thailand & Cambodia.
  • Affect the flow of fertile soil and the waterflow downstream, affecting the water level of Tonle Sap, agriculture and fishing industry.
  • Affect to Vietnamese community in Mekong Delta in particular: electric dams will turn 55% of water downstream into lakes, which changes the eco nature of the river, decrease of swamps, changing the immigration path and habitat of water animals.
  • What is Vietnam doing to cope with this situation: an estimated amount of 130 billion VND (nearly 6 million USD) is considered for research to present Mekong mutua organization. The plan was devised in December 2015.











A new year trip in Lan Ha bay

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After a wonderful trip to start new year in Lan Ha bay, there are some things I want to remember

1. Prepare

A few hours for logistics, but it actually takes 12 years to learn language and 2,5 years to get some experiences. Such a long time to be comfortable and natural in this profession (or any kind of job I guess). I used to be burnt out by enthusiasm. Not anymore.

That’s why I am not very excited about interns. So eager about transforming into sb else, they r like “Can u give me some formulas, guidelines, etc?”

Time. Work. Constant work. That’s the “formula”.

The funny thing about experience spectrum: the more naive you are, the more eager you become. And with customer service jobs, sometimes it pays off. That’s why tour company like new blood. New blood or interns always go out of their way to deliver and prove. In return, employers motivate by lavish compliments. Why not? Lavish compliments don’t cost a thing.

And that’s exactly what new ppl crave for: appreciation.

They can TAKE ADVANTAGE of your enthusiasm if they can. That’s it in business. But eventually, If you are good, you stay. If not, you are out.

Sometimes it’s not about being good but being suitable. Another complicated story. Just because we are humans, unpredictable animals.

2. Expect nothing

Weather can be bad and guests can be demanding. And it’s fine.

Anytime there are some people you can’t handle, you learn st to approach next time.

3. Make the most of surprises.

Don’t promise surprises (what u can’t control or surely deliver). If it comes, cool, ride with it.

4. Know you role.

Things happen for a reason: cash from customers, teamwork. I am part of a chain and I don’t overrate my role.

However, in interactions, just be “there”. Forget about real drives behind things. Just be there as a person to listen, share and observe.

Give people space. Be there when it’s necessary. Stay away when it’s not.

5. Know your privileges and enjoy it

Sure work can be great. Because Why not? 😉



Even though  limited by working time and scope, I still sense food or culinary plays an important part in promoting local culture. From simply taking a foreign friend out and explain to him/her what the food is like to professionally be a “food ambassador” in a paid food tour with specific standards, food tourism knowledge benefit in various roles you play.

Obvious observations within our working context show us the rise of “cooking class”, “street food tour”. Travel documentaries and blogs put a strong emphasis on local cuisine. Some cooking shows use food as a medium to promote culture (such as Luke Nguyen’s Vietnam). What’s driving force behind this?

As professionals in travel industry, it pays off to dig deeper. In the short term, you get more hands-on knowledge to apply for work. In the long-term, those may inspire you to do something cool with food tourism. Who know?


A simple search with keyword “Food tour Vietnam” brings out more than 17,000 results. Clearly every company tries to add “Food tour” into their tour programs. If you are a tour guide only, you may miss this piece of the picture.


Food tour is simple to organize with a low cost and a high chance of customer satisfaction. Come on. Just eat, drink and talk. How can you ruin such a thing? Smart tour operators soon realize this and go further to make it more “authentic” by offering cooking class. Hoi An and Mekong Delta seem to be the winners in the list.


Tour guides are not expected to be food experts. We are “jack of all trades, master of none” after all ha ha. However, at least be a good Jack. In my opinion, knowledge of tour guide can be illustrated as the diagram below:

Untitled document

Food in the tour” should be minimum requirement. General cuisine knowledge is just the back-up. The more you know, the more vivid your presentation is, but not necessarily so.

From that perspective I think a guide must equip at least the things below:

  1. Food vocabulary

Names of dishes

Name of ingredients (seasonings/ sauces/ herbs/ side dishes)

Adjectives to describe about the food.

2. Basic food descriptions


How to eat it

How the food evolve over time

How it reflects the philosophy, climate, habits of local people.

3. Timing

How to give out knowledge just in time and not make it like a lecture. People are in their holiday for god’s sake.

4. Extra materials

Which articles, documentaries, cooking shows that you can use to get more important information for your tour?

I already wrote about a street food tour I did, but I believe there is much more to discuss. We can create handouts in pdf version and make some portable chunks of information. Let’s think about section III above and prepare something (vocabulary & extra materials) for our cafe hangouts. Make it practical, interactive and to-the-point 🙂

Forced consideration towards customers is better than none

I was sitting in a cafe in airport after saying goodbye to 2 customers from Myanmar. It was a frustrating tour: passive-agressive customers, unclear communication, and above all, lack of consideration from myself. After 2 years in tourism industry, I eventually realize that I should develop some skills and not just depend on being considerate by nature to make a tour succeed. It takes up energy. As other resources, mental energy is limited.

After turning to Kelsey Tonner for some advices,  it dawn on me that being considerate should not be something you have to try. It’s sad when you just don’t have any positive feeling towards your customers anymore and have to remind yourself “Come on, it’s my job to care about them. How?”. It’s sad to be so, yet when it happens, you gotta have some skill set. “Fake it till you make it”, so to speak.

“How to give amazing customer service” by Kelsey Tonner


So basically Kelsey wanted to remind us 3 rules of consideration.

1. Tackle your guests’ frustration before it happens

2. Using small acts of personal kindness to delight your guests

3. Taking care of your clients, even when they don’t know about it.

It all boils down to being considerate does it?  A freshman can do all of this even better than an experienced one since he gets genuine consideration and enthusiasm towards their customers. It will wear off over time. I am not surprised that most tour companies favor “new blood”. Considerate blood is just like milk with such a short expiry date.

It’s not rocket science, the hospitality thing. If you care about someone, you do all these things in an automatic, default mode. You will try to limit frustration, give them personal touch and go out of your way to make them happy. However the reality is we can’t suddenly care about someone we just met, many of whom are grumpy and frustrated or demanding, hence all the skill guidelines. So tiring #>#

Still, good examples in the video. Will be helpful when you can’t stand your customers :))

On the other hand, when you are forced to behave considerately, it will gradually become your habit and part of lifestyle. You will become considerate even before developing any sense of love or care towards others since you have been doing that repeatedly. It is definitely a great trait whether being genuine or not.

When artists bike in Hanoi

We met Hai Tre (Hai Bamboo the famed Vietnamese photographer) on a slightly rainy day in Hanoi. Upon this photograph is being captured, Hai is on the way to prepare for his photos shown in a Hanoi gallery. Busy he clearly was, Hai was still willing to spend with us a lot of time, just observing together.


Looking at these two men immersed in art without exchanging a word, I was silenced. Though in a commercial set up, the ambiance suddenly changed. Artists are not meant to be good salesmen. They are, most of the time, are not the best talkers about their own work.

“Let your work speak for itself”

In this era of aggressive sales and marketing, the quote above may not remain true, yet with photographs, it is still undeniable. The better your work is, the less you have to convince audience with flowery words.

Same for Michael, a digital artist and also hard-core biker from Austria. Been traveling all over different countries capturing the flow of big rivers, he doesn’t express the need to showcase his impressive work . Michael and Hai, both very confident without no need to verbally show off.

Accompanying this man for nearly a day, my deep-rooted stereotypes about sporty people and artists are challenged hard. What happened with sports guys – extrovert, loud, dominant and artists – weird, selfish, anti-social ???

No matter what, when bikers come to Hanoi and happen to be artists, those things immediately popped up in my mind. And beware, these are biker-artist stereotypes too 😉

Good coffee


All folks like places like this to chill. Secluded enough to get silence, yet vibrant enough for people watching, to get a big picture and observe via a panorama viewpoint.

Bikers indulge themselves in flow of life, just to reflect like that.

Locals’ art shows

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Nha san collective, a group of dynamic young artists in Hanoi

Art is not meant to be interpreted or judged, but to be felt. And the best way to feel and dive deeper into a local art landscape is coming to enjoy some shows of local people. Some choose traditional, some choose contemporary. To us, going to a contemporary art show is like inhaling the local current breath of life.

A good mechanic

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Artist-bikers are still bikers, after all 😉. What is better than talking with some mechanics who are locally savvy and take your bikes with love, tender care?

It is sensible to enjoy art while knowing good bike shops are there to back you up when needed.


Sau street food tour đầu tiên khá thú vị nhàn nhã, mình quyết định viết post này để lưu lại và chia sẻ cho các bạn guide dẫn tour này.
Theo mình, dẫn tour kiểu này không thể có chuyện “vỡ trận”. Lúc mình mới nhận tour, khi nghe anh điều hành bảo “Không cần feedback đâu em, khách vui là được”, mình đã rất ngạc nhiên. Tuy nhiên sau khi đi tour thì mình đã hiểu:
– Những khách đã đặt street food tour thường là khách muốn thể nghiệm sâu vào văn hóa địa phương, trẻ và thoải mái. Nếu là các cụ thì cũng rất bộ đội, tếu táo 🙂
– Khách thường là “walk-in”, họ thậm chí không nhớ đại lý và công ty tour là ai. Mình có hỏi khách “Làm sao bạn biết tour này mà đặt” thì khách cũng bảo “Tao chỉ đi ra đại lý gần nhất cho tiện”, trong đầu họ chỉ có từ “street food tour” làm dấu ấn.
Nếu tạm thời quên đi vai trò người cung cấp dịch vụ, sự thực là người ta đang trả tiền cho bạn ăn uống café và nói chuyện tán phét. Thỉnh thoảng đi thay đổi không khí, ổn phết chứ nhỉ?
Theo mình đây là kiểu tour rất thú vị, một dạng “Hanoi by night” thu nhỏ. Bạn có thể có nhiều cách thể hiện khác nhau nhưng cần đáp ứng những yêu cầu cơ bản đối với các bên liên quan.

                                                                  ĐẠI LÝ

Rất đơn giản, đại lý cần bạn:

– Có mặt ở văn phòng 15 phút trước khi đi tour.
– Nhận tiền ứng (thường là 200k/pax)
– Hiểu sơ quy trình đi tour.
– Hoàn thành tour đúng sau 3 tiếng. Đi lâu hơn chứng tỏ bạn không biết quản lý thời gian.
– Thu tiền của khách.

Tiền công trả theo chuẩn hiện nay là 350k/3 tiếng. Cộng với tiền tip trung bình là 100k (chúc mừng nếu bạn được hơn k eke). 450k, khỏi ăn tối café.

                                                                 KHÁCH HÀNG
Khách hàng đặt street food tour chỉ vì họ muốn có người giới thiệu cho họ về nền ẩm thực văn hóa và có người chụp ảnh hộ. Họ tự đi ăn được, trên mạng cũng đầy rẫy những bài giới thiệu về ẩm thực Việt Nam nên việc tương tác để tạo ra trải nghiệm cá nhân là điểm làm tour đáng nhớ. Bạn nên nhớ 2 vai trò chính này của mình.
Nếu khách hàng có mang theo máy quay phim thì đây cũng là dịp tốt để bạn PR luôn cho bản thân (nếu là freelancer).
Street Food Tour cơ bản thường có 4 đến 5 món chính. Mình xin lấy tour vừa rồi của mình làm ví dụ:
Do khách mình ở phố hàng Trống nên mình bắt đầu street food tour ở khu vực này.

– Starters (Khai vị): bánh cuốn 14 Bảo Khánh, bánh gối Lý Quốc Sư
– Main Course (Món chính): nhà hàng món Việt ở 39 Lý Quốc Sư (Tour chọn ở đây vì nhiều món đa dạng hơn)
– Dessert (Tráng miệng) café Đinh. Mình gọi đủ cả 3 loại café ở đây cho khách thưởng thức.
Khách ăn không chỉ ăn no mà mục đích chính là thưởng thức và biết càng nhiều món càng tốt. Bạn nên hỏi xem khách đã ăn món gì rồi để tránh bị trùng lặp.
Khách của mình bụng hơi yếu nên mình đưa vào 39 Lý Quốc Sư nhưng nếu không thì mình đã chọn food street Tống Duy Tân. Không gian ở đó nhìn địa phương hơn hẳn.

                  (Báo trước là rất dài, các bạn chuẩn bị tinh thần nhé he he)

<Lần này mình đi với 2 bạn Đức vốn có nền ẩm thực khác xa Việt Nam nên dễ nói chuyện hơn. Mình sẽ viết lại bằng tiếng Anh cho các bạn dễ hình dung. Thực ra là dịch ra tiếng Việt mệt lắm ha ha>

Khách: Toby, Miriam. Mình: May (nickname, tất nhiên ha ha)
Toby, Miriam: Hi.
May: Nice to meet you. My name is May, we’re gonna have a street food tour today.
It’s raining outside. Do you have umbrella with you?
Toby, Miriam: Yes we do.
May: Okay cool.
What’s your name?
Miriam: My name is Miriam. This is Toby.
May: Are you from Germany?
Miriam: Yes. How do you know?
May: I guess from the way you speak.
By the way, how do you know about this tour?
Miriam: We heard about street food tour a long time ago but didn’t know where to book. Then we just go to the nearest agency.
(Mình nghĩ việc đoán đến từ đâu này cũng là con dao 2 lưỡi. Đoán đúng thì okie nhưng đoán sai thì í ẹ, kiểu tỏ ra tinh tướng nhưng thất bại ^^. Nhiều khách cũng không thích guide chỉ ra là họ có một accent rõ rệt. Tuy nhiên khách này thoải mái nên mình không nghĩ nhiều lắm)
May: I am glad it’s raining today. The weather is cooler, great for us to try some hot dishes.
Toby, William: Great!
May: Did you have a big lunch today?
Toby: No we didn’t have lunch.
May: Great. You know what? As soon as I got the notice about the tour today, I decided to skip my lunch.
Mariam, Toby: Ha ha, good idea.
May: The first place we’re gonna go is very close. Oops. Sorry, it’s this way.
Thỉnh thoảng mình đi lạc trong tour nhưng mình cũng chẳng lo. Điều quan trọng nhất là một tâm thế tự tin thoải mái.
                                    STARTERS – BÁNH CUỐN & BÁNH GỐI

Các bạn nên nhớ dẫn tour lượng thông tin cần san đều trong suốt 3 tiếng nên không cần rót vào tai khách ngay lập tức nhiều kiến thức. Thông tin đúng thời điểm và cô đọng thôi.
Chị gái bán bánh cuốn ở 14 Bảo Khánh quen với khách street food nên tương tác rất mau lẹ nhưng không vồn vã.
May: Please take a seat. Do you need fan?
Miriam: No we are okay, thank you.
May: The first dish we’re gonna eat is a starter. It’s called “Banh cuon” or “Vietnamese pan cake”.
Do you like pan cakes?
Miriam, Toby: Yes we do.
May: You will see that this version is very different. Do you want to have a look (at) how they make it?
Miriam, Toby: Sure.
May: Let’s go.

Đáng lẽ về bất cứ món ăn nào mình cũng nên đi theo trình tự:
– giới thiệu chung về món ăn đó.
– giới thiệu nguyên liệu làm món ăn đó.
– giới thiệu đúng thời điểm. Còn phải đợi bánh ra rồi giới thiệu tiếp.
May: You see, this is a pot full of rice powder. They boiled it and then put a spoonful on this steamer. This will create a hot thin layer.
Toby: Nice.
May: Do you wanna try it?
Toby: Sure
Miriam: Haha, he is so clumsy.
Toby: Okay I got it.
But it gets some holes.
May: It’s fine.
Miriam, you wana try?
Miriam: Yes!
nhân bánh cuốn
May: This is a mixture of what we put inside banh cuon. This is from minced pork mixed with a special kind of mushroom. We call that “nam tai meo” or “cat ear mushroom”
Toby: Sorry, what kind of mushroom did you say?
May: “cat ear mushroom” (chỉ vào 2 tai). It looks like ears of a cat. Doesn’t have much flavor but has a very crunchy texture. You know sometimes we put things together just because it gives the dish a nice texture.
(Cái diễn đạt về “balance” với “texture” này mình học mót từ video của anh đầu bếp việt kiều úc nổi tiếng Luke Nguyễn)
Okay let’s come inside. The food is coming.
(Khi nhìn thấy khách dùng đũa lóng ngóng mình không cảm thấy gì sất. Do khi dẫn quá nhiều tour nên cảm xúc mình bị đơ khi nhìn thấy những cảnh quá quen thuộc này, tuy nhiên vì yêu cầu nghề nghiệp mình vẫn hỏi)
May: Is this the first time you use chopsticks?
Miriam, Toby: Yes. It’s so difficult.
May: Yeah it takes time. Practice makes perfect (Nghe sến nhỉ, bạn nào có câu gì đỡ sến không?)
Miriam, Toby: So, how do we eat it?

bánh cuốn 14 bảo khánh
May: You can see that on the dish we have some shrimps powder and dry onions.
This is sauce. Plain fish sauce. You can put fresh chilli inside if you like.
And please don’t forget the herbs. Vietnamese people love herbs.
Can you guess what kind of herb is this?
<Nên giải thích về nước mắm thật cẩn thận vì mỗi món có 1 loại mắm riêng>
Toby: I have no idea.
May: The little green herb is very common. Let me give you a hint. It starts with letter C.
Toby, Miriam: Uhm hmm.
May: This is coriander, he he.
This one is Vietnamese basil. There are a lot of herbs in our country.
< sau đó mình ăn thôi, chỉ có nói với ăn ha ha>
Bước tiếp theo để câu chuyện không bị nhàm chán là xoay chuyển sang khai thác thông tin từ khách. Theo mình có 3 cách mở rộng câu chuyện.
1. Hỏi về những hoạt động trước và sau tour của họ. Cái này giúp mình biết khách đã biết gì và đang cần gì.
2. Hỏi về nghề nghiệp của họ. (Từ đó có thể chia sẻ một số thông tin họ có thể quan tâm về những lĩnh vực này ở VN)
3. Chủ động chia sẻ thông tin về bản thân. Bạn cần cởi mở trước thì khách mới có thể thoải mái.

Sau đó tùy hướng câu chuyện mà tập trung sâu hơn vào cái gì. Nếu mình đang thiếu tour thì mình tập trung vào cái 1 để hôm sau họ đi tour mình luôn (nhưng phải chú ý tránh động chạm quyền lợi với đại lý, nếu mối quan hệ với đại lý quan trọng hơn thì tốt nhất không nên chăn)

Nếu không thiếu tour thì mình tập trung vào cái 2. Đang ngán ngẩm khi tiếp các “bạn tây Ngố”, hình ảnh của khách trở nên khác biệt hẳn sau khi bạn biết được gốc gác nghề nghiệp của họ. Một dịp rất tốt để học hỏi.

Xong phần 1. Phần 2 sẽ được update sau nhé 😉

THE TAO OF TOUR LEADING – Tour guide TV transcript


Hello to another episode of Tour Guide TV and You are hosted with the mosted, Kelsey Tonner.

So today we are gonna talk about that scary, paralyzing moment when a guest is upset and yelling in your face.

Not very fun.

Unfortunately, a lot of tour leaders can panic, do or say things that actually make the situation worse.

So here is where the Taoism comes in. Very famous man named Lao Tzu, the founder of Taoism and generally regarded as a pretty smart dude said

Do not resist for that create sorrow

Let things flow naturally forward in whatever way they choose

Oh it probably didn’t say it quite like that but it did have a pretty sweet beard, this is known.

We as tour guide should not confront or resist somebody who is upset. The most important thing to do is to listen, let them vent and speak their mind completely. And there is no better way to acknowledge somebody’s frustration by saying these two magic words

You’re right

That’s it. That’s all you need to say to somebody who is upset with you. Not only are you acknowledging their pain but you’re also completely disarming the situation. That means who can disagree with somebody who just said that they are right?

But just to hit this home, after saying something like “You are right”, you know that you really do have to mean them. So great follow up phrases that could work after “You’re right”, something like these

“Gosh, it must be frustrating for you”

“I totally get how this could be frustrating you”

“I get it. I really see how this is making you upset”

Now I hear you out already. Oh oh you want me stand there and that take abuse from somebody and just take that and say “You are right”, uncle friend?

No, definitely not.

You are gonna know, I mean, you are the best person to know if somebody has been upset with you, their yelling has crossed the line into verbal or emotional abuse, physical, anything like that. And if you find yourself in that situation, you need to speak up right away and let that person know that they should stop immediately, that they’ve crossed the line, that you will not be treated this way. Make that very clear.

But you still want me to tell somebody that they are right when they are wrong, huh?

They just gasped on my face and they are wrong, and dumb, and also, they smell.

Not quite.

Here is the secret source.

Just because you said somebody was right doesn’t mean that you are wrong. All you are doing is acknowledging their point of view. Right, let’s face it. If you put yourself in their shoes and you had their expectations and maybe their knowledge or lack of knowledge, you would be just as upset as them.

So there you have it.

By following the wise words of Lao Tzu, we are going to, when faced with an oncoming angry guest, listen very carefully and closely and those are two magic words.

You’re right

To diffuse the situation

Reduce the stress

Reduce the conflict

And only then will we move on to offer solutions or other points of view. So in the comments below, let me know your experiences with the technique or other ways that you have to diffuse angry customers.

Story telling in a tour

There comes a period I become so skeptical and turn to doubt my career. It’s when I realize that information a tour guide provide is not necessarily exact. Nobody cares if this king died in 1845 instead of, say, 1900. In a real business world, providing wrong information means you are a fraud. Not in a tour though.

However, in the end everybody has a specific role and I am quite satisfied with the conclusion that a guide carries with him or her various roles, one of which being an entertainer, a storyteller. In other words, your stories may not be exact, but they should be captivating. A great tour guide is also a great story teller.

Regarding this, Kelsey Tonner, an acclaimed tour leader from Canada shared some insights with us:


Let’s listen to him and see what we can filter out of it:

“Hi there, it’s just be 30 degree Celsius where I am right now. Just pretty warm for me. And I realize in this video I don’t need to wear pants. So this week, just shorts.

Hi it’s Kelsey from and very exciting to welcome to ….edition for a community Q&A. This is a …to ….from Chicago area. She leads tour there and reached out last week asking about story telling and actually sharing some of her tips and how she uses story telling on her tour. And I thought this is a great chance to weigh in on how important story telling is to being a great guide.

So stories are so important and central to human experiences. Before we had writing, we passed our most important knowledge through stories. Great speakers, if you think of any great speakers, they use stories, they get across a point, and say bare bone facts or things like this. And many schools, business schools for example, like Harvard or John Hopkins business school use case studies. Centrally story telling helps make their lessons more sticky. In this way you are business owner with your protagonist through struggles or challenges in a business world and then there is a resolution or outcome and students learn and tease out the morals and lessons from that story. So stories are extremely, extremely powerful and you definitely wanna use them on your tour. Let’s take a look at 4 important things you can use to tell better stories.

What is the message?

What is the most important information or message that you wanna get across to your group? You are obviously choosing to share some information with some people on your tour. But what is the most important message? We think of this sometimes as the morals, maybe some insights or lessons to be drawn from that. Maybe it’s for humor. Whatever that main message is, it’s gotta be clear. Because wait a second that will allow you to cut out the fat out of your stories. Anything that doesn’t contribute to that main message can be cut out, you can be a much more effective story teller. Quick example, I was leading a tour in France and we started our days on a hilltop where …. defeated United army of the……This is a very very important battle. So of course there is a ton of facts that I can share about that battles, the details. But they key message that I wanna get across was a few points:

  1. How important this battle was for the future of Europe.
  2. How victories for the Romans wasn’t certain. This is a kind of tension we take for granted now but actually wasn’t certain.

and lastly was the affects of that, the consequences of that battle echo until this day. So these were three big things that were my message.

Who is your audience?

Every story telling exercise should begin with: Who is in the group that I am telling the story to because if I am talking about a building, I am gonna tell very different stories to groups of children and people from general public. Maybe a group of architects or something like that.

You always want common reference points for your audience. You want to be able to relate to the protagonist in some ways or relate to the struggle. So back to my example of the biking trip in France. So I knew right away that these weren’t history bugs or this isn’t an archeology tour or anything like that. So I tried to keep the tour short and I keep the focus on Julia Cease, someone who most of the groups probably heard of. And I am really focused on the human struggles between these battles that Julia Ceaser was facing in that battle.

Show. Don’t tell

Always show. Don’t tell. So a great story teller will use a visual language and sensory language to really get people immersed in that setting where stories are taking places. So, for example we are talking about the… I had to imagine that they were rising on that camp on top of the hill. They looked down on the mist and see that romance and campaign. And the smell of campfires and shoots. And… of horses. And you’re looking down and you see the glint of the medal of the Roman ….Little details like this, visual language will set the setting much better than a simple day or description or anything that wasn’t in this…So always use visual language as much as possible.


And practice. That’s one of the most important thing, honestly. If going onto your stories or facts or information you get on tour might tease out some characters, some tension, and plot. And plots show the short stories over and over until they are comfortable. Practice with your friends, your videos until you are comfortable with. Because story telling issuch a huge subject, I want to pop out a few more “do” and “don’t” for story telling. So let’s take a look:

Screenshot Screenshot001

So in your comments below, let me know your best story telling tips.

How do you tell great stories on tour?

Share this video if you are inspired!

So what do you think about Kelsey’s tips?

Written on 14/7/2015

Medium blog version: