Gone are the days when money is just spent on acquiring properties or buying expensive stuff. Nowadays, most probably a huge chunk of your money is allotted for traveling. Or perhaps, there might even be a separate percentage from your income that only goes to the envelope labeled “travel fund.” Times have changed a lot and our generation now has been more keen into exploring the world and experiencing different kinds of cultures in various countries rather than staying in one place.
Traveling is no longer just a luxurious pleasure. It has actually become a way of life. All thanks to budget airlines which offer promo fares and budget hotels and various types of accommodations that all aim to appease the wanderlust in us.
Because of this deep fascination of this generation to traveling, the term “backpacking” was coined. This refers to traveling from one place to another, carrying only one backpack where everything you need for the trip are there. Travelers who embark on this kind of journey are called “backpackers.” It’s easy to spot them in the airport.
Backpackers often carry a huge backpack and they never carry a luggage at all. Everything that they need for their entire trip, no matter how long it is, are inside that huge backpack. Some people who are used to traveling with their luggage may find it uncomfortable traveling with a huge bag at your back. However, for backpackers, it’s the most convenient and comfortable way of journeying to all corners of the earth.
Check out the pros and cons of backpacking Vietnam we’ve came up with to know if this type of traveling suits you:
1. It helps boost social skills
Something amazing when Vietnam backpacking is that people are always eager to talk to foreigners, especially the young people who want to improve their English skills. Vietnamese locals would almost always strike a ‘Hello’ to you and you should take this advantage as an ice-breaker and talk more with them. They’ll tell you all about the country that you can’t find in any travel guide book.
This goes especially when you are traveling alone. When you go on backpacking to a certain country, you can meet a lot of people. It can either be the locals of the place where you go or travelers and backpackers just like you.
Since you don’t have any guide to tell you where you should go or what you need to do, you would be prompted to talk to the locals or other travelers to ask them simple stuff such as directions or which is the best place to eat. You can even build a good friendship with the people you will meet along the way. Some backpackers even travel together and go from one place to another even if they’ve just met at the hostel where they’re both staying. It’s just a matter of not being afraid to talk to other people and be more friendly.
2. It helps you experience the places you visit
Ever Vietnam backpacking to the most rural parts in the central regions, where the only thing you see is trees and some cows walking randomly on the streets? Or ever been to a floating markets, home of the truest essence of Vietnam? Or went into the smallest alley in Ho Chi Minh city, where you can only fit a single motorbike? These are all experiences you will remember forever. And if you love nature, prefer the wonders to the bustling city life, Vietnam has some untapped beauties that will surely satisfy your wild hearts.
Not like going on a usual Ho Chi Minh city tour or Hanoi one-day trip where you usually just go to famous tourist spots, eat some local food and then go back to your room in the hotel after a long day of walking and sightseeing, backpacking makes you experience the place more. You can take the time to take in everything beautiful about a country. You don’t fit into 2-3 days the things you want to see and experience in a particular place since you have enough time to explore it.
3. It’s cheaper
There’s no doubt that backpacking is way cheaper than traveling on a guided tour. Don’t need to pay huge money to travel agencies since you will be the one to make your own itinerary. Book the room that you like according to your budget and even ride the transportation that you prefer. You just need to have a good research and planning skill so you know where to go and how to go there so you won’t be lost.
With little spent on the accommodation and other things that you find in suitcase travel, traveling to Vietnam backpacking style will cost you little to none, with the country’s price range is unimaginably low but the quality is beyond your imagination, especially the food! Instead of booking a Ho Chi Minh city tour, you on your own can get the best of things and services with just $10 travel budget in Vietnam. Really!
4. Everything you need is with you
You don’t have to worry about the stuff you left in the hotel room since all your stuff are inside your backpack which you carry everywhere you go. Whether you want to extend your stay in the countryside you have visited or immediately move to another place, it’s totally up to you and you don’t need to worry about your things since you’ll be carrying them all through out. Imagine exploring the streets of major cities in Vietnam with just you, without the usual sight of brochures on the hands of everyone on a Ho Chi Minh city tour, for example.
5. You own your schedule
Since you don’t have a tourist guide, you can follow your own schedule. You don’t have to force yourself to wake up early in the morning just to join a usual Ho Chi Minh city tour or Hanoi motorbike tour and finish the whole itinerary for the day even if you’re already so bored. Your schedule is totally yours. You can go wherever you go and go back to your room whenever you want to.
1. It entails a lot of research
You need to do a lot of research before embarking on this journey in order to not getting lost and it will be safe and hassle-free. Remember to check the places, how to get there with some safety precautions as well. You are on your own in this trip so plan it the way you want it but on a careful manner.
One advice is to explore the expat groups and ask for their suggestions of Vietnam. And when you have arrived, seek suggestions for places to visit and things to see and eat from the locals, especially the vendors and small shop owners along the streets. In Ho Chi Minh City, many people from different parts of Vietnam have come and reside here but their hearts still stay in their home towns: Hue, Da Nang, Ha Noi, or even the most rural parts of the country. They’ll tell you the best untouched locations for your Vietnam backpacking. Also, Vietnam has very fickle weather, so do extensive research the best time to visit. Otherwise, you’ll face some serious floods and downpours.
2. Not-so-posh accommodations
When you decide that you want to go backpacking, you have to be open that you won’t be staying in a luxurious hotel with awesome amenities. While enjoying your Vietnam backpacking, you’ll find that hostels are the most suitable accommodation types. You can also choose home-stays where you’ll be spending the night with the locals, and can truly explore the culture. Be open and be prepared to stay and sleep in a room with a number of strangers inside since most likely you will be staying in a hostel or guesthouse. And yes, they are really part of the experience.
3. Limited stuff
Since you will only be carrying one huge backpack with you, you can’t fit in there a lot of clothes or different shoes or even the different books you may want to read while traveling. Some backpackers would even just bring a number of clothes and just wash and wear them. When you go backpacking, keep in mind that you will only bring the basic essentials. Also, backpackers might miss out on the amazing souvenirs that the country has to offer, like the signature wooden clogs of Vietnam.
So, would you consider backpacking Vietnam?
Backpacking may or may not work for you. It depends on your travel preferences. While it can be convenient for some, it might be stressful for you. There’s always a b-side to every story. Backpacking usually works for solo travelers or those who prefer traveling in a small group. This is definitely not suitable for families since it might be inconvenient for them.
With all these said, it would still be best to give backpacking a shot in one of your future travels. You will see the differences and Vietnam has more than enough off-beaten path for your trip.
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