Program & Schedule
“Fill your heart……and their plate!”
You will be contributing your efforts at The Smile Food Shop, where your task may include food preparation, serving and clean-up, as you bring smiles and affordable hot meals for all who need it.
Established in 2012, The Smile Food shop was opened to help people by providing low cost lunches for only 2000 VND per meal (about 10 cents). The shop is run by a NGO together with passionate locals and your efforts will be greatly appreciated as well.
In this program you will help to prepare lunches and serve these meals to a group of around 500 people (elderly, local workers, person with disabilities, students and children) who come for low cost, good quality and well prepared meals each day!
This program is likely to be one of the most challenging, engaging and, at times, one of the most exhausting things you have ever done, where you loved every minute of it!
Please be advised that the Food Shop program continues to function even when the NGO run facility is closed (including a month long closure around the Tet Holiday). During those periods, Food Shop participants will prepare food on-site at our accommodation kitchen and those free meals will be distributed at a local hospital to patients and local workers.
Aims & Objectives
- Generate income so that the people of Ho Chi Minh can continue to be provided with hygienic, healthy food at a low cost
- Give you practical experience in the kitchen and an insight into food preparation
- Assist the local staff with extra hands at the food shop
Monday to Friday
- Depart for the food shop
- Assist in the preparation of food, working in the kitchen, cleaning the area and serving food, etc.
- Lunch at the foodshop
- Head back to the accommodation
- Free time during the afternoon
***This program is relocated during periods/holidays when the NGO facility is closed and meals prepared by participants are then distributed at a local hospital***This schedule can be changed and/or amended depending on weather conditions, local conditions and unforeseen circumstances.
Participant Criteria & Requirements
Minimum age: -
Maximum age: -
Minimum English level: Basic
CRB required: On Arrival
Passport copy required: No
Resume copy required: No
Required qualification: None
There are no further requirements for this program.
Living & Location
Ho Chi Minh City, commonly known as Saigon, is located in the southeastern region of Vietnam and is the country’s largest city. During your stay, you will be living in a dorm on college campus right in the center of the city.
The accommodation is located on a campus in a college dorm. As such, it follows certain campus rules such as a night curfew.
We also have a room reserved as an “office”, where you can go to if you want some peace and quiet. We have books and magazines available here for you to borrow.
There is the nice local café next to our dorm. A beautiful and peaceful place where you can enjoy fresh juices, snacks etc..
Basic Vietnamese meals are provided on campus. Food include some western dishes such as sandwiches, spaghetti and bread.
There are many taxis around our campus. You can easily catch one from the main road to reach your destination of choice in Ho Chi Minh.
There are several ATMs in the area where we stay. The nearest one is about 10 minutes walking distance from our campus.
All necessary amenities can be found in the city, remember we are located in the country’s capital after all!
Activities & Events
No scheduled activities outside the program.
Sights & Surroundings
Here are some interesting places to visit in your free time/weekends!
Within Ho Chi Minh
As a large city, Ho Chi Minh has a lot to offer from shops to Vietnamese water puppet shows. Here are a few suggestions:
For those who fancy some retail therapy.
Dam Sen Water Park
No explanation really needed here!
Jade Emperor Pagoda
Built in the 1900s by Taoists and Buddhists, this is one of the most impressive and atmospheric temples that Ho Chi Minh has to offer.
This is a lively and character filled stretch of shops and bars.
Can Gio Mangrove Biosphere Reserve
Located 40km from Ho Chi Minh City, is a listed biosphere reserve by UNESCO and is an important wildlife sanctuary in Vietnam.
Mui Ne/ Vung Tao beaches
Lay back and relax on these beautiful white sand beaches.
As an ancient capital of Vietnam it is now considered to be the country’s cultural capital.
Ba Den Mountain
Popular for its beautiful temples and theme park, this mountain is found in the Tay Ninh province of Vietnam.
Here you will find the iconic rice terraces set amidst rolling hills.
As the capital of Vietnam, although smaller than Ho Chi Minh, it has a lot of cultural history.
From this location we provide free transport to your next program at the following location(s):
- Mekong Delta
- Phan Thiet
Name: Socialist Republic of Vietnam
Population: 92 million
Currency: Vietnamese dong (VND)
Time zone: UTC +7
Vietnam is currently the world’s 13th most populous country and occupies 331,211 square kilometers. Today, although scarred by its past, Vietnam is a fast-growing economy helped by tourism that its interesting history and beautiful sights draw in.
One frequent thing to hear is that it has not yet been subjected to the western influence that Thailand and, to an extent, Cambodia have been. The Vietnamese still tend to prefer their traditional cuisine to the fast food chains that seem to be taking over the world.
Aside from the beautiful countryside of the north, rice fields and beaches, Vietnam is a country that is very much on the move. Roads are being upgraded, new hotels are opening everywhere and its cities are fastly developing.
Due to the country’s land mass, its climate varies from region to region. On average, temperatures range from 22-27°C year-round with a generally warm and humid climate. Although temperatures don’t vary much in the southern parts of Vietnam, the northern areas can get quite cold during the winter.
Tropical monsoons can be expected between October and April in the centre of Vietnam and from May to September in the north and south. Outside of these rainy seasons it remains almost completely dry.
Although Vietnamese culture is rooted in the ancient indigenous Dong Son culture with wet rice agriculture as its economic foundation, certain aspects of its culture have Chinese influence. In more recent times, the country has been exposed to Southeast Asian, European and American culture as well as their media.
Having said this, it is safe to say that Vietnam has not yet absorbed as much western culture when compared to some of its neighbours.
Vietnamese cuisine is heavily influenced by the Asian principle of 5 elements which correspond to the five elements: wood (sour), fire (bitter), earth (sweet), metal (spicy) and water (salty). This yin and yang principle is an art of balance to make food beneficial to the body.
Traditional Vietnamese cooking is known for its fresh ingredients, minimal use of oil, plentiful use of herbs and vegetables and what’s more, it is considered one of the healthiest cuisines worldwide.
Typical dishes might include rice vermicelli noodles, jasmine rice, dried shrimp, fish sauce, hoisin sauce, sesame seeds, and bean sprouts to name a few!