Slow traveling in Vietnam

Slow traveling is becoming increasingly more popular as people are starting to get more time off and realizing the benefits of traveling in a slower pace. I was one of those people who were always so eager to see and do everything that I did burn myself out. I was hopping from place to place, I found myself sitting in buses more than lounging by the beach, I was constantly googling about the things I must see in my new tourist destination that I often forgot to just relax, unwind and take it all in. As I think back, I can’t even remember some of the places I went to because I’ve seen too much. I started thinking to myself – is it really worth it? What am I spending my money on?

So when I got the chance to go back to Vietnam, I knew I had to travel in a different way. I started doing some research and found the small grassroot movement that has quietly emerged as a solution to travelers who are completely burnt out. They called it ‘slow travel’ and it was exactly what I was looking for. Slow travel means exactly that; you travel in a slower pace so you can take the time to explore each destination thoroughly and experience the local culture. Instead of staying for just 3 days for example, you stay for at least 2 weeks. Of course, not every place you go to will make you feel like you want to stay there for a long time, so try to choose wisely.

When I came to Vietnam, I have to admit – I really didn’t like Ho Chi Minh City. It was the first city I flew in to and I knew it was just going to be “another big city”. But I was so wrong! As fate had it, I had to stay in the city for longer because my friends were late. It bothered me in the beginning because I wanted to hurry to the next destination, but I decided to make the most of it. I started to truly go explore the city. I went away from the tourist attractions, I walked around in beautiful neighborhoods, found my favorite cafés, went shopping in local boutiques and slowly became used to the pace of the city. And that’s when it hit me – I really like this city! That’s the benefit of traveling slow. You get to immerse yourself in a place and truly get to know it.

So after that, I realized how much I loved being in one place for a longer time so I practiced slow traveling in Vietnam. I made a plan and pinned a few places that were a must visit during my stay, such as Hoi An, Phong Nha Ke-Bang National Park and Phu Quoc. But other than that, I promised myself to truly take the time to relax and feel like I was on vacation. I noticed what a huge difference it made to my body and my mental health. I was finally feeling like I was enjoying it to the fullest. I wasn’t burned out anymore, I didn’t have to spend all my precious time on a bus and I was learning so much more about Vietnam. I felt like I was forming a much stronger connection to the places I was visiting and with the people I met. Slow travel also helped me travel for a longer time because it’s way better for your budget. When you travel fast, you’re going to be spending a lot of money on transportation for example. It’s also much better for the environment to not constantly be in transit. So skip it, stay in one place for longer, make meaningful connections and enjoy traveling in a slower pace! Trust me, you’re going to love it.

Before arriving to Vietnam, make sure to apply for a Vietnam visa so you can enter the country. Some nationalities can enter Vietnam visa-free for a certain amount of days, but if you wish to stay for longer then you must get a visa. There are three types of visas: Visa on Arrival, E-Visa or go to the Vietnamese Embassy or Consulate and apply with them. The two first visas are online visas and are highly recommended to get because it’s very easy to apply to and you can do it from wherever you want to in the world. However, they’re only valid if you’re arriving to Vietnam by air. If, for example, you’re going to cross the border from Cambodia to Vietnam and will arrive by land, you must’ve obtained a visa through the Embassy or Consulate. So before you apply, be sure about what type of visa you need and should apply for.