©2012; 2000 Connecting: Solo Travel Network & Sylvia Seschel. Information.
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Vietnam Trails – A Solo Travel Report

By Sylvia Seschel

Family and friends were not exactly thrilled when I told them I was going to Vietnam. They still held images of a war-torn country, even though tourists have been welcomed there for several years. On the other hand, my travel agent said, “Go now before tourism changes everything.” I’m glad I took her advice regardless of worrisome negative feelings.

Having read in a travel guidebook that crime is on the rise in Vietnam, I felt more secure going with a tour group than going alone. I decided on Vietnam Trails, (approximately US$1700), a 22-day tour by Peregrine, an Australian based company, established since 1977.

Although couples do travel with them as well, Peregrine is great for solo travelers. They pair up singles, and if no match is found there won’t be a supplement attached to the price. They take no more than 15 participants on any tour. I liked this aspect because I felt less rushed than I have before on a big bus of 30 or 40 people.

Ho Chi Minh City

Even the locals still call it Saigon. Here I met my tour guide and the other six members of my group – aged from 18 to 60-something. I shared my room with the youngest (I’m 39) and we got along fine. We all got acquainted at Restaurant 19 while our tour guide ordered a feast of chicken, pork, rice, soup, shrimp and spring rolls. I also had a Tiger Beer for a total cost of US$4.29.

After dinner we walked around. It was a warm Saturday night in February, during the Tet Festival (New Years), with a gentle rain falling. Young couples were out buzzing around on their motorcycles. Traffic flowed despite crowds of pedestrians ignoring lights and lines on the road – it was as if they were only for decoration.

The Peregrine rep warned us to watch our belongings, and noting my video camera, she said: “Great! Is it time to go home yet?” Already worried about getting robbed, this was no relief to hear, and frankly, during the first full and only day in Saigon, I hardly left my hotel. I felt stupid but later learned that others had felt the same. By the time I started to relax it was too late to see much of the city, and the next day we were off touring.

This fast-paced tour is rated “adventure” because it exposes you to all aspects of Vietnamese culture. It covers the country, first heading south to the Mekong Delta region then circling back to Saigon and north as far as Hanoi, usually spending only a day or two at each stopover. Lodging was in basic hotels or, occasionally, in communal style village longhouses. Bathroom stops were sometimes behind the nearest bush. We broke up travel time with beach stops and visits to temples, ruins, and markets.

Highlights

If You Go To Vietnam

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