Traveling in Vietnam in my early 20s vs late 20s

When I was in my early 20s, I loved taking risks, I was craving adventure and I wanted to meet as many people as possible. So when I was deciding on where to travel when I was 20 years old, I looked at my options and found one region that attracted me a bit more than the others: Southeast Asia. But since I had heard that Thailand was starting to get overly touristy, I was turning my head somewhere else: Vietnam.

I booked my tickets, packed my bags and went to Vietnam for one month. The first thing I was looking for was the cheapest hostels where the reviews were good and it seemed to be a fun, young social atmosphere. Since I was traveling solo for the first time, it felt very important to me to meet as many people as possible. I was afraid of being alone, but I was also looking forward to getting to know other travelers. When I was traveling in Vietnam in my early 20s, I wasn’t as aware as I am today of safety risks. Instead, I wanted to everything. I slept on floors, hitch hiked, went to every pub crawl, volunteered at a bar and lived my life just the way I wanted to as an early 20 something girl.

That has changed. A lot. Over the years, I’ve realized that those risks I took could’ve been dangerous. Although I don’t regret anything, I do wish that I was more aware of the risks I took when I was young. I also wish I was more conscious about the way I was traveling and more responsible. Flash forward a few years and I’m in my late 20s, going back to Southeast Asia and Vietnam. This time, my traveling looked very different.

Instead of trying to find the cheapest hostels, I wanted to find the hostels with slightly better reviews, more comfort and less partying. I was tired of never being able to sleep because someone was always drunk in the room, making noise. I was also not going to sleep in sheets with weird stains anymore. Moreover, the whole social aspect really changed as I got older. I wasn’t afraid to be alone anymore – I was actually craving it! Although no solo traveler ever wants to be alone all the time, it still felt good to be exploring the cities of Vietnam without having to small talk with a complete stranger. I wasn’t afraid of eating out alone anymore or doing activities on my own. I just felt more… independent and free. As for the partying, I still allowed myself to enjoy a few nights out with some new found friends, but it never became a priority. Instead, I became more interested in doing cultural things and sitting at a hip café with a book in my hand. I wasn’t trying to rush my trip anymore either, trying to squeeze in every little thing in my schedule. Instead, I took each day as it came and if I felt like doing something, I did it.

I also became much more aware of the consequences tourism brings with it. I started opening up my eyes to the bad sides of it such as what alcohol and drugs can do to a country. I also became more aware of the waste I was producing and was eager to commit minimising my waste as much as possible. I was also more careful in general when it came to my own safety. No more doing things that didn’t feel safe or okay to do.

I think this happens to everyone who’s traveled most of their 20s. You start out as one person and you end as another – which is more than fine! I’m happy that I got to experience traveling in Vietnam in my early 20s vs late 20s because now I can see how much I’ve evolved and changed over the years.

What I’ve also learned is that Vietnam is truly a destination for all ages. I don’t have to be young and wanting to party every night in order to travel to Vietnam. I can also relax on a beach with a book in my hand, go hiking with friends, eat some delicious food in a local restaurant, go sightseeing on my own and go café hopping. That’s what I love about Vietnam, you have endless of options here. Even though my priorities has changed over the years, the enjoyment of traveling in Vietnam is still there. I look forward to seeing how it will be traveling in Vietnam in my 30s. Because I know I will be back.

If you’re also going to Vietnam and haven’t solved your visa yet, make sure to do it in good time before arriving to the country. Most nationalities are obligated to obtain a Vietnam visa in order to travel around the country. The process is very easy though and you can get your visa within just a few days. All you need to do is to apply for either a ‘Visa on Arrival’ or ‘E-Visa’ (only eligible for 81 countries). You can do this from wherever you are in the world. All you need is your computer, tablet or smartphone and stable internet connection. The third option is to go to the Vietnamese Embassy or Consulate and apply with them. You will have to book an appointment with them then.

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