5 myths about Vietnam I managed to bust
1. Vietnam is not safe for solo women travellersBelieve me when I say this, and I mean every single word of it - Vietnam is the one of the safest countries I have ever visited! Having travelled to a handful of other Asian countries, I felt the safest while traveling in Vietnam - be it on the solitary roads of Ninh Bin, the hilly villages of Sa pa valley, or the maze-like alleys of Hanoi City! No molestation, groping, or roving eyes/bad stares witnessed - something that is a nightmare for every solo female traveller. Vietnam was a breeze, in that regard. Having said that, I’m a strong believer of the fact that the key to safety, till quite an extent, lies in your own hands - follow your gut instinct, always be aware and have a good understanding of your surroundings, always dress according to the place you’re visiting, steer clear from deserted areas/streets, take care of your belongings, and you’re good to go!
2. Hanoi’s traffic is dangerousHanoi’s traffic is insane! You’re going to need some crazy survival skills to make it on foot, in Hanoi! These are some of the lines that were hurled at me, while I was planning my itinerary for Hanoi. The picture in Hanoi, turned out to be pretty alright! I won’t deny - there was traffic, but perhaps, the city needs to be spared all that exaggeration! Although the traffic was slightly chaotic in the Old Quarter area, the roads elsewhere seemed quite broad and well-laid and the traffic wasn’t so bad either!
3. The locals will try to con/rob youThis was something I was repeatedly advised about, before leaving for my solo trip to Vietnam. Almost every person who knew about my travel, seemed to be dead sure that I would not leave Vietnamese soil without being conned or robbed at least once! One well-wisher also happened to be sure that I was probably going to be kidnapped! Much to my amazement, I met some of the sweetest souls in Vietnam. From having a total stranger offering to repair my rented motorbike while I was stranded in the middle of nowhere, to my super-kind hostel owner in Sa pa, who went out of his way to make sure I was safe and sound when I returned late one evening. Not even once was I mugged or conned - be it by hostel owners, travel agents, cab/tuk-tuk drivers, or shop keepers. Also, I lived to write this blog, so no, I wasn’t kidnapped in Vietnam.
4. Vietnam buses are not safe to travel inMajority of the forums I read online, they all seemed to get the notion of Vietnam buses totally wrong. As against everything that I had read, I found the buses in Vietnam to be not only safe, but also unbelievably comfortable, convenient, clean, and classy! All sleeper buses in Vietnam have a no-shoes policy, which means, the moment you enter the bus, you’re requested to remove your shoes, and you’re provided with a plastic bag for the same. I had never seen this happening in any other country, and I bet you haven’t either! For my journey from Hanoi to Sa pa, I travelled in a luxurious sleeper bus, that gave me a private, curtained cabin all to myself, equipped with a TV, wi-fi, charging points, pillows and blankets, wet tissues, bottled water - what more could one ask for!
5. Vietnam is poor, dirty, and backwardNo, it is not. Period. Vietnam is one of the cleanest Asian countries I’ve visited. Economically, it might not be at par with the biggies, but the country is steadily making its presence felt as a rising middle-income nation. As I travelled, I couldn’t help but be in utter awe of Vietnam’s huge highways, spotless highway infrastructure, world-class transport system, towering sky-scrapers in the cities, posh restaurants, impeccable wi-fi availability, and so much more!
Book Now: Incredible Vietnam Holiday Packages
How to plan a solo trip to VietnamPlanning a solo trip to Vietnam is relatively simple, as compared to its counterparts. Since it’s a massive country, what to see and visit in Vietnam will entirely depend on the amount of days you have at hand. Since I had just 10 days to spare, I decided to focus on just North Vietnam. If you want to enjoy a relaxed trip to Vietnam, here are some tips you can follow:
- Try booking flights at least 2 months in advance - for cheap airfare.
- Make sure you know what the best time to visit Vietnam is! Travel during the months of February-April and September-November, for the best experiences!
- Make a rough itinerary of the places you want to see.
- Decide beforehand, how many days you want to spend at each destination, so that you don’t waste time while you’re traveling.
- Always travel with an open mind. Be accepting and accommodating.
- Try booking accommodation in advance. Vietnam being a paradise for backpackers, there are literally trillions of hostels and budget stay places all across the country, and most of these are listed on major travel booking sites.
- Always keep someone back home informed about your travel plans - day-wise.
- Keep a mix of Vietnamese Dong and USD at hand - some places in Vietnam, especially the rural areas, don’t accept USD. Likewise, majority of places in the cities, don’t accept the local currency.