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The charming Vietnamese capital of Hanoi has aged well, preserving the Old Quarters, monuments, and colonial architecture while making room for modern developments. Hanoi's lakes, parks, shady boulevards, and more than 600 temples and pagodas add to the appeal of this city.

Local cuisine specialties, exotic street food, and numerous dance and music clubs liven up the scene.

Image by Elliot Andrews

Hanoi, Vietnam

History at your fingertips in Vietnam

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Civilization in Vietnam has its own unique style, forged through years of resistance to threats from larger and more powerful nations. This determination to remain independent has created a culture of self-reliance, discipline, and solidarity still visible in public life today.


Conversations with ordinary Vietnamese people about the past and future of their nation permit IPSL students to understand this culture and people in a deeper, more meaningful way. All we can say is, "Go now!"

As the capital of Vietnam for almost a thousand years, Hanoi is considered one of the main cultural centers of Vietnam. The city, like most of the country, is in the throes of fast and furious development driven by a young population of energetic and creative Vietnamese. It is a place where the history is colliding with the future and exciting things are happening!

Meet the IPSL Program Director,
Mr.  Don Tuan Phuong

Phuong was born in 1976 in a rural part of Hanoi Capital. He moved to study in Hanoi when he was 15.

Previously a lecturer in Hanoi National University, he has also worked for several international NGOs in Vietnam in different fields including agro-forestry, rural development, hunger elimination and poverty reduction, children and education, public health, and the environment. 

Phuong founded Volunteers for Peace Vietnam in 2005 with the mission to promote international volunteer exchange. Later he also founded the Center for Sustainable Development Studies (CSDS), which promotes education for sustainable development. CSDS supports disadvantaged communities and offers opportunities for youth engagement and service learning. CSDS received the National Volunteers Award and the UN’s Award for Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in 2015. 

Phuong has extensive experience in international volunteer exchange and intercultural learning. He has visited almost 40 different countries around the world and he likes meeting people from different backgrounds.

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Program Director


Academic Studies
Academic immersion focused on real cultural understanding

IPSL students learn first-hand about Sustainable Development and Global Political Systems while in Vietnam. Extensive excursions are both integrated into the courses as well as offered outside of class time. Our program treats fascinating Vietnam as your living classroom!

On the IPSL Hanoi program you will take courses at CSDS (The Center for Sustainable Development Services) with local Vietnamese university professors. An official  transcript for all courses is issued at the completion of your program.

Program Highlights
  •  COSA in Vietnam (Community Organizing and Social Activism)

  • Vietnamese Language (taken as "Language Across the Curriculum")

  • Environmental Science and Sustainable Development

  • Sustainable Tourism 

  • Global Health and the Environment 

  • Advocacy Research Independent Study


Students live in modern dorm/student housing at the Center for Sustainable Development Studies (CSDS). The dorms accommodate both international and Vietnamese students and volunteers.


All meals (breakfast, lunch and dinner, seven (7) days per week) are included and served at the CSDS center. Self-serve Western-style breakfast and Vietnamese lunch and dinner are offered.


Alternatively, you may arrange for an apartment near CSDS.         

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International volunteers and IPSL students celebrate a Birthday!



​​​​​​​​​​​​​Service Opportunities

  • Opportunities for substantive service (12 - 15 hours per week) are generally available in the following areas:

  • Services to disadvantaged children, orphans and street children

  • English language consulting and/or tutoring

  • Volunteer and youth development

  • Environmental/conservation programs

  • Eco-tourism program development

  • Poverty alleviation

  • Women's empowerment programs

  • Micro-finance programs

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Volunteering in a local elementary school

COSA Dates and Fees

What's Included

  • Tuition and academic fees

  • Academic transcript

  • Administrative fees

  • Books and materials

  • International student dorm housing

  • Partial board in dorm only

  • On-site and online orientation and pre-departure materials

  • Service placement and supervision

  • Some local transportation

  • Academic excursions

  • Health insurance

  • Room and full board

What's NOT Included

  • Passport; visa fees (secured in country upon arrival with assistance from onsite program staff)

  • Vaccination fees

  • International airfare

  • Some meals

  • Books

  • Spending money

  • Additional local personal transportation

  • Local cell phone

  • Independent travel

Please inquire!

We can customize to most any schedule, budget and interests.

Travel and Excursions that Broaden Your Perspective

Travel is an essential part of studying abroad. Taking knowledge from the classroom and applying it through direct observation allows for greater classroom comprehension and cultural understanding.

Excursions MAY include SOME of the following options. IPSL students in Vietnam may also work with program staff on-site to arrange for independent travel to other areas of Vietnam.

Travel Broadens Perspective

Hanoi City Tour

The IPSL Hanoi program normally includes a city tour of Hanoi included in the arrival orientation. t may include a visit to Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum in Hanoi - the final resting place of the leader's body. Ho Chi Minh is the most popular leader of Vietnam and known to his people as ‘Uncle Ho’.

Bai Dinh Pagoda


Located near the top of a quiet forested area, it includes a Buddhist cave, the temple of God Cao Son, and the temple of Nguyen. The pagoda is a significant Vietnamese historical, cultural and religious site.


The Tam Coc (“three caves”) portion is a three-hour excursion by small boat along the river,  by rice fields and karst towers. The route includes floating through three natural caves.


Duong Lam Village & Ba Vi National Park

This traditional village preserves various cultural and historical vestiges in Duong Lam such as: the worship-house, Mong Phu communal house, the Princess Mia Palace and Temple, the Mia pagoda, and others. Pass by the village and enjoy local products such as rice wine and rice cakes before heading to Ba Vi National Park.

Ba Vi National Park

This is one of Vietnam’s most famous areas of outstanding natural beauty, and is centered around a three-peaked mountain jutting steeply out of the landscape. 

Bai-Dinh and Tam Coc

A visit to Bai Dinh opens a window into the multi-faceted history of religion in Vietnam. The Bai Dinh pagoda region includes the ancient pagoda area and a new pagoda area. New pagoda has monumental but traditionally designed architecture which is symbolic of the blend of old and new which is Vietnam today. 

Additional academic excursions may include:


The Imperial Citadel of Thang Long - named a UNESCO World Heritage Site  The ancient site was the political center of the country for 13 consecutive centuries and its capital for eight centuries.

Ha Long Bay  - A stunning natural wonder in northern Vietnam near the Chinese border. The Bay is dotted with 1,600 limestone islands and islets. Best explored by boat this is another UNESCO World Heritage.

Ethical Service and Service Placements
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