In the company of 24 other students from her secondary school, Guest Traveller Enya Broadley travelled along the east coast of Vietnam for 15 days. At the time, she had few expectations and little knowledge of Vietnam. This didn’t stop her falling “quickly in love with the beauty and rich culture” of the Asian country. Let’s join Enya on her very special journey through Vietnam…
Our first stop in Vietnam was Ho Chi Minh City, a bustling metropolis filled with motorbikes. This is where we experienced our first taste of Vietnam and the French colonial influences scattered throughout the city, such as the Notre-Dame Cathedral. We also visited the War Remnants Museum, exposing us to the confronting history of the Vietnam War.
On our third day in Ho Chi Minh City, we went to an orphanage and played with children affected by agent orange, with disabilities. This highlighted to us just how much of an impact the war has on Vietnam today, with hundreds of people still inheriting debilitating disabilities.
The key purpose of the trip was to build houses in the Mekong Delta. Whilst there, we stayed in a beautiful homestay and rode our bikes into the village where we would build for the day. Laying bricks was the extent of our house-building skills, and we did this for three days straight. In hindsight, I view this as one of the most eye-opening experiences I have ever taken part in. Whilst we only helped to build part of the house, it was very fulfilling to play a part in providing a home for a family.
The rest of the trip included the usual travel destinations in Vietnam. We stayed in Hoi An for a few days, which is, arguably, one of the most beautiful places in the world. It is a popular tourist spot known for its beautiful French buildings, lovely weather, food and shopping. We also visited Ha Long Bay where we kayaked through the limestone islands. This was an absolutely breathtaking experience and I was completely overwhelmed by the natural beauty of the bay.
Vietnam was one of the best tours I have ever been fortunate enough to experience. I more than appreciate the country for its beautiful sights, delicious food, friendly people, lovely weather and rich history. When travelling here, you must be willing to completely immerse yourself in its culture. Get outside of the big cities and experience the beautiful sights that Nature has to offer. When looking back on the trip, the fondest memories come from the experiences in the more rural parts of the country. Step out of your comfort zone and find alternatives to hotel stays and beach days because you definitely will not regret it.
Enya’s Top Five Tips for Getting the Most Out of Vietnam:
- Vietnam is largely conservative and skin exposure should be avoided as much as possible.
- All food is worth trying but I tended to avoid buying food on streets and from street carts.
- Be wary of whether the places you go to safely handle food.
- We only went on a half day cruise in Ha Long Bay but I would highly recommend doing full-day or even overnight cruise to go further out to the more beautiful/untouched areas of the Bay.
- Look into visiting orphanages or the Agent Orange Centre in Da Nang. It gives you a sense of the effects of Vietnam war and is a great way to play part in healing a country scarred by war.