Vietnam: Ecology & Conservation

Sustainability and the Environment

Journey through diverse ecological systems and immerse yourself in Vietnamese culture. Float through mangrove forests and explore marine ecology while learning about current challenges to the conservation of Vietnam’s natural environments.


July 4, 2018





Community Service


Water Activity

Outdoor Activity


Program Description

Begin your environmental studies in Ho Chi Minh City, the country’s bustling capital, before traveling to mangrove forests, the Central Highlands, and the Mekong Delta to explore jungle and coastal areas. Acquire firsthand knowledge of Vietnam’s ecology while discovering the threats, including climate change and development pressures, impacting the country’s natural environments and indigenous communities.

During an excursion to the mangrove forests in Can Gio, you will canoe down the Dong Nai River for an intimate view of monkeys and birds in their natural habitats. You will visit an endangered primate rescue center and learn about conservation efforts and challenges at Cat Tien National Park, home to mammals such as elephants and sun bears. You will attend seminars on climate change, visit the floating markets on the Mekong River, discover marine ecology and bike, trek, and snorkel on the beautiful island of Phu Quoc, which boasts numerous coral reefs and seagrass beds.

Immerse yourself in the daily lives of two Vietnamese families during homestays in Ho Chi Minh City and Da Lat. During the pro­gram’s rural stay in Hoa An village, you will take Vietnamese language classes and participate in a community service project, such as building a biogas system or teaching English to children. Travel to the Central Highlands, learn about indigenous traditions, attend workshops on Vietnamese folk music, and practice Zen meditation. You will meet with local NGOs working to advance the quality of life of vulnerable people and communities. Continue learning about Vietnam’s history and culture through visits to historical sites such as the Cu Chi tunnels, one of the longest systems of underground tunnels from the Vietnam War. Your trip concludes with an overnight visit to the gorgeous white sand beaches of the Con Dao Islands while en route back to the capital for final exploration and reflection.







July 4, 2018 - August 2, 2018 (4 weeks)

Program Fee:


(does not include airfare)
Group Airfare Cost:


Depart/Return City:

Los Angeles


Ho Chi Minh City, 3 days


Ho Chi Minh City*, 6 days; Da Lat city (Central Highlands)*, 3 days

Other Accommodations:

University dormitory, educational institute, hotels

Sample Itinerary

    Days 1-3

    Orientation in Ho Chi Minh City

    • Learn about the history, culture, and environment of Vietnam from experts
    • Visit important sites throughout the city, such as historical monuments and the Reunification Palace
    • Get to know other members of your group during activities
    • Start learning some basic Vietnamese language

    During the orientation period, you and your group will stay in a centrally located hotel.

    Days 4-12

    Urban Homestay in Ho Chi Minh City

    • Become immersed in the daily lives of a Vietnamese family
    • Do activities with your host family and local volunteers
    • Attend Vietnamese language classes
    • Visit sites of historical interest, such as Cu Chi Tunnel, and local NGOs

    Outdoor Excursion (Thematic Focus)

    Can Gio Mangrove Forest 

    • Learn about mangrove forests and plant trees
    • Visit a crocodile farm and monkey and bird habitats

    During this period, you will stay in the home of a family.

    Days 13-16

    Homestay in the Central Highlands

    • Become immersed in the daily lives of a Vietnamese family
    • Do activities with your host family
    • Attend a seminar on Zen meditation
    • Visit sites of interest, such as Prenn Waterfall, Bao Dai Palace, and a silk weaving factory
    • See a gong performance by members of the Lat ethnic group
    • Hike Lang Bian Mountain

    Thematic Focus at Cat Tien National Park

    • Learn about conservation efforts and challenges at Cat Tien National Park
    • Trek through the primary forest to explore the flora and fauna there
    • Visit a gibbon primate center
    • Observe wildlife at night

    During this period, you will stay in the home of a family in Dalat and in guest houses.

    Days 17-20

    Excursion to Can Tho and Hoa An

    • Participate in a community service project — such as building a house, repairing a road, building a biogas system, or teaching English to children — in Hoa An
    • Meet with Vietnamese youth and participate in cultural exchanges in Hoa An
    • Attend seminars on the environment and climate change and on culture and folk music in Can Tho
    • Visit the floating markets on the Mekong River and a club for orphaned children in Can Tho

    During this period, you and your group will stay in an educational institute and a centrally located hotel.

    Days 21-25

    Excursion to Phu Quoc Island (Thematic Focus)

    • Learn about fishing and fish sauce making at a fishing village
    • Spend time at the beach and go snorkeling and squid fishing in the ocean

    During this period, you and your group will stay in a guest house.

    Days 26-27

    Return to Ho Chi Minh City

    • Visit sites of interest such as Suoi Tien Park and Dam Sen Park

    During this period, you and your group will stay in a centrally located hotel.

    Day 28

    Program Reflection and Wrap-up in Ho Chi Minh City

    • Reflect with your group on your experiences during the program

    During the reflection period, you and your group will stay at a nearby hotel.

    Day 29


    Please note: This itinerary is only a sample and is subject to change. Because of factors such as group size and availability of in-country offerings such as festivals, your experience — including sites visited and the number of days spent in each location — may differ somewhat from the one presented above.

Itinerary is subject to change.

Past Group Leaders

  • Jacob Reckford

    Originally from Portland, Oregon, Jake spent two years in Thailand teaching English and coordinating a teach abroad program for an international education organization. A graduate of the University of Colorado Boulder with a BA in film studies, Jake first caught the travel bug when he studied abroad with Semester at Sea, and has lived in, studied in, and explored 23 different countries since!

    Prior to living in Thailand, Jake worked as the teen programs coordinator for a residential camp in Oregon and as a unit leader for a camp in Colorado. Jake is scuba certified, TESL (Teaching English as a Second Language) certified, and he is an active community volunteer. In his free time, Jake enjoys film, basketball, playing music, skiing, and backpacking.

  • Sarita Upadhyay

    A native of upstate New York, Sarita Upadhyay graduated from Cornell University with a BS in natural and environmental systems. While in college, she spent seven months living and studying in Melbourne, Australia. She also co-founded Big Red Bikes, Cornell’s first bike-share program, and raised $50,000 to ensure the program could be funded and continue to operate past her own graduation. After college, Sarita followed her love of the outdoors to the Amazon in Ecuador, where she coordinated a teaching program, and then to Cuzco, Peru, where she managed logistics and tours for a travel company.

    Sarita worked on developing green infrastructure projects in Chicago, Illinois, at an urban sustainability-themed think tank before leading The Experiment’s summer 2014 Costa Rica: Biodiversity, Ecology, and Sustainability program. She has traveled extensively in Asia, with highlights including living on a farm in Laos, taking a motorcycle trip in Vietnam from Hanoi to Ho Chi Minh City, and visiting family in Delhi, Mathura and Mumbai, India. Currently, Sarita lives in San Francisco where she studies psychology and works on research in health-related psychological interventions at the University of California, San Francisco. Sarita is a PADI-certified Advanced Open Water Diver and former lifeguard. In her free time, she is an avid cyclist and hiker.


Pre-departure Documents

Summer 2018

Congratulations on your upcoming Experiment summer on the Vietnam: Ecology & Conservation program. Visit our pre-departure page for information about our expectations, communications, and travel planning. In early 2018, our summer international information will be published in a secure page, found in the Parent Portal.

In early spring 2018, the following program-specific documents will be linked to this page:

  • Participant Handbook
  • Parent Handbook
  • Health Guidelines
  • Personal Funds Abroad
  • Accident and Sickness Insurance
  • Packing List

Many questions can be answered by reviewing these materials, but please do not hesitate to contact us if further information is required. To submit or update your domestic travel and emergency contact information, please login in to the Parent Portal.

Important Passport and Medical Information

If you do not yet have a passport, or if you have not applied for one, you should do so immediately.

If you have not had a physical with your doctor since June 2017, make an appointment as quickly as possible, as your health form must be filled out based on a current physical.

Please bookmark this web page for easy use in the future.