Founded in Denmark in 1973, we began working in Vietnam the early 90s.
After creating pioneering tours, Topas Ecolodge, Topas Riverside Lodge and Vietnam Trail Series, we began running education school trips in 2015.
Topas tailors education tours according to each group’s specific learning outcome and development goals.
The emphasis on community work/service, physical activity, farming and cultural education is tailored in terms of volume and level of difficulty.
We have a strong focus on sustainability, responsible travel experiences and on risk assessment.
Read on to learn about our locations, our activities and our team of education, activity and tour experts.
At Topas, we always respect the natural environment and the cultures where we work. We instil this ethos in all our education group trips for school and university groups.
We give back to local communities, for example via our Vietnam Trail Series, which has given over US$300,000 to charitable work since 2013. You can read more about our charitable work on our Charity and Principles page here.
We have years of experience working across the varied geography of our chosen regions.
We not only have expert knowledge of the landscapes and terrain, we also have the right local connections to ensure we conduct our school trip experiences at the very highest level. We have chosen the destinations in which we offer school experiences based on a combination of their outstanding natural beauty and the depth of our connection to these places.
With an office in the mountain town of Sapa since the 90s, we have a deep connection with and knowledge of this region.
In fact, the Topas story in Vietnam began in the mountains of Sapa, partnering with a local family in the 90s. This is also the area where we organise the Vietnam Mountain Marathon.
Our strong local connections stretch from the town of Sapa to much more remote areas such as that around our own Topas Ecolodge and further afield in Nam Cang, home of Topas Riverside Lodge.
Trekking, Community Service / Charity work, Farming: Rice, Corn, Cardamom, Vegetables, Cooking classes, Traditional fabric dying, Traditional paper making, Collecting traditional herbs and plants, Campfire BBQs, School engagement, Cycling, Traditional games, music and dance
The nature reserve of Pu Luong is home to the Topas organised Vietnam Jungle Marathon which we established in 2017.
We’ve been working with the local community and authorities here for many years.
Pu Luong is home to some of the most magical scenery in all of Vietnam, with quaint ethnic minority villages set in rice terraced valleys framed by limestone mountains. Service opportunities, superb trekking and cultural experiences await.
Pu Luong Activities
Trekking, Community Service / Charity work, Farming: Rice, Corn, Vegetables, Cooking classes, Traditional games and music, Campfire BBQs, School engagement activities – sports/game, Cycling, Team building
An area famed for its tea plantations and fruit orchards, Moc Chau is the location of the Topas organised Vietnam Trail Marathon, thus, just as like in Sapa and Pu Luong, our relationships here also go way beyond the tours we organise.
This area, just 4-5 hours from Hanoi, is new for our school tours. It provides ample opportunity to learn about farming, from fruits and tea to dairy cattle.
The area is also culturally rich with Hmong and Thai villages.
Moc Chau Activities
Trekking, Community Service / Charity work, Tea farming and production, Orchard visits, Dairy farming, Cooking classes, Campfire BBQs, School engagement opportunities, Traditional games, music and dance, Team building.
For a coastal school trip experience we work in Hoi An (Quang Nam) where we have team members permanently based and a network of trusted local partners.
An education trip in this region can be wonderfully rich. To get active, we can arrange walks, cycling, kayaking, surfing, beach games and more.
Educational experiences can also include organic farming, wildlife conservation tours, and even a visit to a plastic recycling enterprise.
Service opportunities can be discussed based on your school or university’s goals.
Hoi An Activities
Organic farm visits, Rice farming, Kayaking, Bamboo workshop, Cycling , Community Service / Charity work, Cooking classes, School engagement opportunities, Beach games, Surfing and more
DAVID LLOYD – DIRECTOR
David has been working with Topas on projects since 2013 and as a director since 2016. His experience overseeing operations, risk management and creating world class outdoor events is brought to our school groups.
“At Topas we greatly value the opportunity to grow young people’s passion for the natural environment alongside their knowledge of and respect for the local cultures of Vietnam,” David says.
“Our education project team has a wealth of experience spanning education, tourism, sport, project management, risk assessment, cultural anthropology and more. The team shares a common goal: to create and safely manage exceptional education experiences for young people.”
HENRIK – ACTIVITY LEAD
Prior to joining Topas, Henrik worked as a teacher for seven years at a boarding school teaching orienteering, sciences, math and some other outdoor activities. He has been an orienteering coach for 15 years. Henrik has run trips for children from 4 days up to 10 days, including a 10 day trip in Norway teaching cross country skiing, outdoor activities in the snow and digging snow caves with 60 teenagers.
“Vietnam is a wonderful place for young people to enjoy nature while learning life skills and having a good time – Topas strives to make this possible in a safe environment,” says Henrik. Henrik’s experience is used for feasibility assessments alongside ensuring we offer engaging outdoor activities at an age-appropriate level.
KIEN – PROJECT MANAGER
Kien has managed school groups with Topas for five years. His experience is used to develop engaging experiences and ensure they are managed rigorously.
He has strong risk assessment and risk management experience. Kien works with each of our school partners to ensure all aspects of our experiences comply with their standards and policies.
“I enjoy designing inspiring experiences for our school groups and gain great satisfaction from seeing young people develop individually while having fun participating in them,” says Kien.
Kien began his career with Topas as a tour guide, leading tourists from overseas on adventures in the mountains of Sapa. He now trains our guides, manages projects and designs experiences for travelers and school groups. Kien has also played an important role in establishing and running the Vietnam Trail Series events in Moc Chau, Pu Luong and Nam Cang.
DR ASHLEY CARRUTHERS – CULTURAL LEAD
Ashley is a lecturer in cultural anthropology, specialising in Vietnam. Fluent in Vietnamese, he has experience leading educational field trips focusing on cultural understanding in various regions of Vietnam. He has been researching the country since the 90s.
Ashley’s deep knowledge and breadth of experience is used to guide the inclusion of cultural aspects of our experiences for young people.
He has a network of Vietnamese academics and is able to invite experts to join individually designed education experiences.
“Vietnam is a fascinating country and opening the eyes of young people to its varied culture is a powerful way for them to gain a better understanding of it,” says Ashley.
We have a large team of professional, certified guides that have worked with us for many years.
Alongside working as tour and mountain guides leading tourism groups and education groups, they are also part of our team at our Vietnam Trail Series events.
LOGISTICS, OPERATIONS AND ADMINISTRATIVE SUPPORT
The Topas office team includes logistics staff, operations and administrative support, to ensure every Topas group runs smoothly.
Collectively the team has decades of experience working with Topas providing the very highest level of service.
Every school we work with is different and comes with specific learning outcome aims and development goals. At Topas we therefore tailor school trips according to the needs of each school and each year group.
The emphasis on community work/engagement, physical activity, farming, cultural education and more can be tailored in terms of volume and level of difficulty.
Below are some of the aspects we can incorporate into your education trip experience with us.
We have been creating and leading treks since the 90s, so our team has a clear understanding of what trek length and difficulty level works for each level of participant. Each of our trekking routes is thoroughly risk assessed.
We are able to add a trekking element to each day of a school trip if an emphasis on physical activity and adventure is required.
Service / Charitable work
Projects we have undertaken with school groups in the past include helping to build and repair local schools and boarding houses, adding upgrades such as playgrounds and gardens.
Our volunteering programs are overseen by Kien. Kien has managed a number of major construction projects for Topas, including completely re-building schools and the bridge construction.
Smaller scale projects we have involved schools with include clean ups, fixing village paths and mending irrigation systems together with locals.
Mini ‘Vietnam Mountain Marathons’
For schools who would like to add something different and exciting to the program, we can build small ‘Vietnam Mountain Marathon’ style experiences, complete with medals for all participants.
We use our experience of organising events to ensure these activities are popular with the young people. Using this as a ‘grand finale’ to a school trip is a good way to close the trip with great memories and a sense of achievement.
The level of difficulty can be tailored to each group and of course risk assessment and safety are the foremost priority.
For schools interested in orienteering activities or challenges we can also build these at an age appropriate level.
One of the best ways to engage with local communities in a natural way is through sport and games. We organise football, volleyball, team building or traditional games with local communities. Other options for engagement with older participants can include teaching English for local school kids.
For school groups interested in learning more about the ethnic minority cultures where we work, we can produce materials and also learning activities to engage the pupils and meet learning outcome goals.
Dr Ashley Carruthers, lecturer in Cultural Anthropology, oversees this aspect of our work.
In our experience, students – especially those from the city – like to have a chance to get their hands dirty and work the land. We can help young people take part in planting and harvesting rice, corn, tea, cardamon, and other crops.
We focus wherever possible on using fully organic methods. Other activities can include foraging for herbs used in traditional medicinal baths and herbal medicine.
We have a range of age appropriate cycling options available. Schools interested in building a cycling element into their experience can speak to us to tailor the activity to their individual needs.
Much more can be arranged depending on where you choose to run your school trip. Options can include: yoga, kayaking, surfing, caving and more.
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Hanoi: No 3, Alley 12/70 Dang Thai Mai, Quang An, Tay Ho district, Hanoi
Sapa: 15 Le Van Tam Street
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