Find out how to enjoy authentic travel in Vietnam
More and more people are discovering the joy that is Vietnam – its beautiful landscapes and even more charming people really make it stand out of the Southeast Asia crowd. The tourist trail is pretty well trodden at this stage but that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy authentic travel in Vietnam. Tracy, one of our Travelmood Travel Experts, is just back from a trip to this exotic destination. Here are just some of her tips to ensure you make the most of your adventure.
Follow the locals
Don’t be tempted to hide out in your hotel, only eat familiar food and restrict yourself to tours – do as the locals do in each destination. This means that even if you are staying in tourist hotspots you can still enjoy an authentic slice of Vietnamese life. Pull up a stool at a tasty street food joint, indulge your inner yogi in the mornings, go on a trek through the lush countryside and catch the local bus instead of a cab. Make the effort and you’ll be rewarded with enriched travel experiences – ones that are not carbon copies of those in your guidebook.
Shop ‘til you drop
Authentic travel in Vietnam wouldn’t be complete without some shopping! Hit up Vietnam’s vibrant markets and get amazing deals on handicrafts, clothing, art, jewellery and other souvenirs. It’s common knowledge that tourists are often charged more than locals so don’t be afraid to barter – this is all part of the culture. Remain friendly and you won’t be offending anyone by trying to get a lower price. Ben Thanh market in Ho Chi Minh City is just fantastic for nabbing gifts for loved ones back home. It’s also worthwhile checking out the amazing tailor shops in Hoi An. Get a beautiful custom-made suit or dress created in exquisite fabrics for a very reasonable price.
Beware of the traffic
You may have seen Jeremy Clarkson tackle Vietnam’s hectic streets and highways in Top Gear but that doesn’t mean you should too! Even walking on the pavements of Hanoi’s Old Quarter can be a daunting task thanks to the hordes of colourful motorbikes that whizz past at lightning speed. If you’re determined to get the thrill of a bike, hop on with an experienced local driver through a reputable tour company. This will allow you to sit back and enjoy the scenery without fearing for your life!
Head to Cambodia
Southeast Asia is wonderfully compact, meaning it’s easy to pack in several countries in one whirlwind visit. If you’re heading on holidays to Vietnam I’d definitely recommend a stint in Cambodia, even if it’s just for a few days to take in the majestic wonder that is Angkor Wat. The Cambodian visa is a bargain at only $35 and flights to Siam Reap are always very reasonable. Get another stamp on your passport and take in even more stunning sights – it’s a no-brainer really!
Vietnam is becoming increasingly popular but that isn’t affecting its gorgeous landscapes and hospitable locals in any way, authentic travel in Vietnam is still very possible. Tracy is keen to return as soon as possible and soak up even more intoxicating Vietnamese culture. Don’t you think it’s time you did too?