Ever since I started traveling I was afraid of doing it alone. “The world is a scary place” is something you’ve probably heard ever since you were a child. So when I really wanted to travel but didn’t have anyone to come with me, I decided that I either had to let go of my fear or just not travel and stay at home. The second option was not even an option because I knew I had to travel. So I did… I chose to go to Southeast Asia for my first ever solo trip. And I couldn’t have asked for a better place to go to.
Having Vietnamese roots helped me a bunch in Vietnam but it still doesn’t make things easier. I could communicate with locals and I had perhaps a little more knowledge than most others about Vietnam. But I was still doubting myself so much – what if this goes wrong or what if I get robbed? What if Vietnam is dangerous and this is all a big mistake?
I’m sure that these thoughts go through everyone’s mind no matter which country you are traveling to. But Vietnam really took me by surprise, especially when it came to solo traveling. Some say I have the benefit of looking Vietnamese and speaking, but my accent doesn’t fool anyone – they know I’m a foreigner. And bargaining never gets easier, whether you are a local or a tourist. But it’s all part of the traveling charm – things are never perfect, but they are worth it.
What I really appreciated about Vietnam is that the locals are very helpful to you. They are loud and sometimes even rude, but they will help you out. The Vietnamese are always eager to practice their English as well. Although it can take some time for them to feel comfortable, they will always try to give English a chance. This was a problem that occurred to me in many other places in the world actually. The locals didn’t even try to talk to you or understand you and this caused some frustration from my part (and I’m sure from theirs as well). Solo traveling can quite frankly be lonely at times and this is why I like to go to places where the locals will make you feel at home and where you can have conversations with them. Perhaps this is why I never felt lonely in Vietnam.
Another important factor for me is how safe the country feels like. Vietnam has never really had a bad reputation, but for a Swedish girl, it can feel like a scary place at first since it’s very different from Europe. Thankfully, Vietnam turned out to be one of the safest countries I’ve traveled around in – although traffic can get extremely hectic and you just have to learn how to cross the streets without getting a heart attack. I never got pick-pocketed, robbed, or even cat called on my trip. Of course, this is sometimes just thanks to pure luck, but in general Vietnam felt like a very safe country for me to travel around in and solo traveling became so much fun instead of a burden.
If you are thinking of traveling alone but you’ve never done it before, Southeast Asia in general is a great place to do so. Not only will you meet so many more solo travelers here, but it also feels safe. Everyone are used to seeing solo travelers here and people are so accommodating that if you feel lost or need help, locals, expats or other travelers will most certainly help you out. I’m so happy I went here and that I did it solo as well. Not only did I meet a lot of other travelers on this journey but I also got to interact with the locals. If I didn’t decide to take the leap, I would’ve been at home still, thinking of what could have been. Don’t do that. Because it is really worth it – whether you are traveling solo or with someone.
Don’t forget to apply for a Vietnam visa before you enter the country. Depending on where you’re from, you can apply for a Visa on Arrival, go to your local or nearest Vietnam Embassy or Consulate or you can opt for an E-Visa. But not all countries are eligible for an E-Visa so if you are uncertain if you can apply for this kind of visa, have a look at our website or contact your embassy first.