by Nicole Wilford, Merit Travel –
I recently went on a solo trip to Thailand and Vietnam. Thailand had been calling out to me for more than 25 years; however, as time went on and it become a more popular place, I felt that I wanted to experience it on a different level than the average traveller does. However, as I was travelling alone, I was a little hesitant to just be on my own. I decided to do a small group adventure tour of Thailand and then go solo for Vietnam. I also decided to do it in that order so that when I arrived in Vietnam I had already been in Asia for a couple of weeks and would feel more comfortable.
The tour I did in Thailand was with G Adventures – a hike, bike and kayak tour. I had so many amazing adventures on this tour. We biked around local towns and really got a more in-depth feel for the surrounding countryside. We hiked to a hill tribe village up in the northern part of the country, which was one of the most adventurous types of travel I have ever done where we slept on the floor of a bamboo hut on stilts. There was no furniture and all their cooking and eating was done on the floor in the hut we slept in. Then at the end of the tour, we spent a couple of nights camping on an island where it was busy during the day with visitors; however, around 4 p.m. we had the island to ourselves. During our stay there we did some kayaking as well. All in all, this type of tour was truly a great way to experience Thailand in a way many don’t.
There are a handful of great companies that are considered more “adventure travel” with a wide selection of style, group size and activity level. I would definitely recommend G Adventures due to their size of group (maximum 15) and the fact that they hire local guides for the different activities/locations.
Moving on to Vietnam where I was travelling completely solo. I had planned a few things in advance; however, I waited to book some of it when I got there. I used Agoda and Airbnb to book some of my accommodation as this allowed me to find some interesting places, such as staying with local families. I also checked out the top five things to do (online ie: Google) in certain places in Vietnam. That led me to make the decision to keep to just the northern part of the country due to only having 10 days there – I wanted to experience the different towns in a more in-depth way rather than try to see more of Vietnam with less time spent in each place. In a couple of locations, I hired a local person to take me around for a half- or full-day trip. In one a local took me by motorbike around the area of Ninh Binh – quite the experience!
If you are interested in hearing more about my trip, I am doing a travel talk on Adventure Travel on Wednesday, November 28. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org for details.