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When our Indochina expert, Tyler was put on the spot about his recommended top five alternative experiences in Vietnam, this is what he said….
Hue by motorbike: Hue has some great sights, but they are quite spread out. Have a local driver take you around by motorbike and the journey is likely to be your highlight. By staying off the main roads you truly get to see Hue like a local, passing through people’s front gardens, weaving through rice paddies, and taking back alley short cuts.
Explore the unknown in Hanoi: The sheer number of street stalls in Hanoi can be overwhelming and difficult to understand without a bit of background knowledge, but throw caution to the wind and pull up a plastic chair and you will rarely be disappointed. If you are feeling adventurous – and don’t have any common allergies! – then trying street food, even if you don’t know what you’re likely to get, is a perfect way to eat cheaply and experience something new. However, if this isn’t quite your style than just have a peek at what the people sitting down are eating and order by pointing at what looks good!
Stay with a local: There are plenty of options for home stays in Vietnam and every single one is unique. Sure, you might have to rough it but the trade-offs will always be in your favour. Whether it be sipping snake wine with a family in the Mekong Delta or learning a song from the locals in Mai Chau, home stays often become transcendent moments and make for the memories of a lifetime.
Take a hike: Vietnam’s hotspots are popular for a reason. There is so much to do and see in each and every one of Vietnam’s towns, villages, and cities. But much of the country is still covered in wilderness and agriculture, and taking a hiking/walking trip will let you experience this firsthand. Not only is Vietnam’s scenery phenomenal but people in the countryside are always moving at a slower pace, which means they probably have a bit more time to stop and have a chat.
Strand yourself on an island: I consider myself a traveller, so when I go overseas I move pretty fast and prefer not to waste a single moment. However, when you are in Vietnam, don’t forget that you’re on holiday. A trip to Phu Quoc, Cham, Whale Island or Con Dao will give you a very different feel than the throbbing streets of Saigon or Hanoi’s tightly packed Old Quarter. And if you really can’t justify a couple of days on the beach, try scuba diving or visit one of the local fishing villages to get a true traveller’s perspective on island life.
There you have it. More nuggets to come from him on Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos too…