So you’ve decided to go to South East Asia for a change – good for you! Be it a way of testing the unknown or a well planned trip to continue what you’ve started in your previous traveling, now it’s time to look into what you should be doing in amazing Vietnam!
I bet you’ve scanned Tripadvisor and Lonely planet and even asked your Facebook friends what they recommend. After all, news like heading to Vietnam definitely deserves a status update, right? Well, I have 5 different challenges for you, how about you approach this trip differently?
1. Skip the standard tours and accommodation. Allow yourself to do more than the must-see list in your travel guide and enjoy more than your usual 3 star-hotel. Choose a local host with a small group of travelers instead of your 30-40 people group that’s rushed through the main touristic attractions. Look for a homestay located on a further away alley instead of staying in the city center. Companies like Withlocals offer great number of authentic tours in Vietnam hosted by local hosts. Not only will you explore the hidden gems of Vietnam, which are usually missed by regular tours, but also get a glimpse of a local lifestyle and culture.
2. Be a traveler, not a tourist. Look for the places where locals drink their coffee, eat what you see on their plates, and simply smile when you have no idea what they’re saying. Write down a hello and goodbye phrase and test it out. Don’t be afraid to get lost and embrace the excitement of the unknown. Don’t worry, your social media updates can wait until the end of the day.
3. Try a different way of traveling. Slow down, don’t plan everything so intensely, leave some buffer time in your schedule for the unexpected. Take that cooking class even if it’s 5 hours long or invest a full day to experience life like a Vietnamese farmer. It might not be in the guides, but you are the creator of your own memories, why not make them unforgettable?
4. Invest in the local economy. Sure, it’s always easier to stick with what you know: hotel chains, familiar brands, favorite drinks or dishes. But think about the bigger perspective and spend your money wisely: the handcrafted piece of jewelry you’re thinking of buying impacts the local seller’s life in many different ways.
5. Build up relationships. When you’re all about crossing off checklists, you’ll miss out on what makes every place beautiful: the people. Take some time to talk (as hard as it might be to communicate) and get a glimpse of what is important for Vietnamese people. Have your lunch in a public square and watch the daily bustle, inquire about different habits or gestures, activate your curiosity and learn as much as possible.
Test it out, give it an honest chance, you’ll thank me later. And that bucket list you’ve made for this trip? Trust me, it will cross itself off without you even noticing it. Better yet, you’d better take some notes on how your experiences are going so you won’t forget a thing.
Happy traveling, share your stories when you come, I’d love to hear how it went!
Madalina Buzdugan is a Snapshot lover, intense experience seeker, traveler at heart. Communication professional with a soft spot for social media, I’m on a mission to give 110% no matter what