We're looking to find some home-stays where we can meet some friendly people and experience some more of the local way of life. Let me know of any good experiences that you may have had along the way.
Hi, I don't know whether you have your personal reasons for choosing home-stays, but if it's money saving that your thinking about, there's no need to worry. In vietnam average family hotels are a bargain. If you don't need air con and get well along with a ceiling fan, you can stay in small, neat and central hotels for about 10 dollars (double room). I woundn't bother about breakfast, as there is plenty of bars and family restaurant everywhere. Eating is one of the most popular activities in Asia. about 6 years ago
In Vietnam, I did a Home-stay trek out of Sapa and loved it (3 days, 2 nights). From memory, I booked it in Hanoi as they arranged the train tickets and a hotel in Sapa too. There were plenty of people making their way to Sapa first and then organising homestay treks when they arrived.
I also did a homestay trek in the North of Laos, from a tiny town Muang Sing, 2 hours north beyond Luang Nam Tha. One of the most amazing experiences of my life. We walked 6 hours up a mountain (there's no road to the village). Then stayed in a bamboo house, specially built for their guests. The village agreed that one visit a month was enough to bring in some much needed $$, but not too much to upset their way of life. There was no electricity, no toilet (use the bushes), amazing home cooked food and hilarious 'conversation' over dinner as we swapped stories. This is a photo the next morning before we walked back down the mountain: http://journals.worldnomads.com/crustyadventures/photo/2/39/Laos/Watching-the-community-start-their-day-at-sunrise-on-top-of-the-mountain .
We arrived in Mung Sing and then went to the local eco-tourism office, open 2 hours a day, to book a trek for the next day. The guide was awesome, spoke good enough English and had grown up locally and knew everyone up and down the track. almost 6 years ago