This woman did it alone. She shares her experiences and some tips so you can do it too. You might fall in love with this country if you do.
Coming from the west, one might portray the far east as a daunting place to travel alone, especially for a Vietnam journey. The country has a rough history and reputation from multiple wars on colonialism and communism. But the mysticism reels you in.
It moves forward and grows from the hard times. And Vietnam is not a country to hold a grudge. In fact, it welcomes foreigners without hesitation, encouraging tourism as well as sticking around and finding work and residency.
In addition, more and more Vietnamese are making solo trips to explore their country as it becomes a hub for international business and trade in Southeast Asia. So what are you waiting for?
Getting here is the only thing that will cost you
It’s not the business that should excite you. It’s the land outside of the cities. (Locals, you already know this!)
Vietnam, like most of Southeast Asia, is cheap. As in inexpensive. Dining, transportation, accommodations, shopping, it’s all more than doable whether you have a college bank account or you’re well to do.
Every step you take you will find a stall or food cart hustling delightful dishes, and the markets are filled with endless inexpensive gizmos and gadgets. Material aspects aside, it’s a very exciting place to be and to see.
Ways to do it
Depending on what works better for you, start in one of the major cities, Hanoi or Saigon, and work your way to the opposite end of the country.
Train, bus, plane, motorbike, bicycle, they’re all viable options and are all ways that are frequently used, it just depends on how comfortable you want to be.
Wherever you land, there will always be a motorbike for you to rent to get around, look for tourist offices. Look at your options, but don’t worry about booking too far in advance because plans can change. The cost of tickets doesn’t change too much, especially for buses and motorbikes.
Plane hopping around the country is a good option flying with Jetstar, Vietjet and Vietnam Airlines. You can fly from city to city for about $30 USD with each flight being an hour maximum (unless you’re flying directly between Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City, which usually costs more). Then you can rent a driver or motorbike once you arrive in each town and explore.
The train is the most comfortable option for a Vietnam journey, but is the most costly and takes longer than it would on a bus. A ticket from Ho Chi Minh City to Hanoi can be a minimum of $70 USD, and unless you get your own cabin, you could be stuck with some undesirable cabin-mates. Travel time is a minimum of 30 hours on the Vietnam Railway system.
By bus, you have more freedom to get dropped off directly in smaller towns and major cities alike. I like to take Futa Bus Lines because they always have English-speaking employees and their bus locations are EVERYWHERE.
Although they have a website, you’re better off to book a ticket at an actual bus station, so locate the one nearest you. Depending on the distance you’re traveling between towns, tickets can range from $5 USD to $20 USD and the bus line will often drop you directly at the location of your accommodations.
The final option is to take a motorbike or bicycle. These are your cheapest, but most exhausting options. However, it does allow you to stop off and take detours wherever you please. So if you’re looking for a great adventure during your Vietnam journey, go by motorbike. Download Google Maps, plug in your headphones, and you’re off.
Book your accommodation a day in advance so you have key driving destination points. As for stopping along the way, there are plenty of cafes down any route you take, as well as pho restaurants and banh mi carts so you won’t go starving or without petrol. Wherever you stay they will have options for bike renting. Note: it should never cost more than $12 USD a day to rent a motorbike.
Accommodation along the way
One of the best things about traveling solo is it allows you to meet so many new people who are doing exactly the same thing as you. Often when you travel in groups you stick with your friends and don’t get to meet new people.
The best way to do this, and least expensive, is to stay in a hostel or homestay. They are great ways to meet locals and travelers who are like minded. Often times both offer shared or private rooms, but have shared common and kitchen areas.
Hostel bunk beds in Vietnam are typically priced under $10 USD and privates are typically under $20. Booking is easy through Hostelworld and Agoda. Both are trusting booking companies that allow you to easily edit and change your arrangements or cancel if need be.
Is it safe for females to travel alone?
Absolutely. Women are respected and looked after in Vietnam. The Vietnamese can attest. But like any other place, be aware of your surroundings and don’t put yourself in situations that seem dangerous. As for accommodation, most hostels offer female-only dorms.
Take a leap of faith, you’re in safe hands during your Vietnam journey. Locals and travelers alike are very helpful in whatever way they can be. Don’t hesitate to have the solo travel experience of a lifetime!