I’ve long been dreaming to have my first ever solo travel. I just feel that exploring a new country independently before I reach my mid-20’s is a should be bucket item list for a budget traveler like me.
Originally, I’ve planned to do this in Japan– but I just can’t imagine myself alone in this super fun anime paradise..and so I went there with my favorite people… (plus-of course, I ought to have lots of pictures right? So I need to bring a photographer!haha!)
So, one of the first choices I made before going on this trip is deciding on which country to explore alone. Japan? Thailand? Vietnam? Malaysia? Suddenly, the choice came right to me one morning, for an unexplainable reason that I woke up at 5 am ( my usual day starts at 8am), and just booked a promo fare of Manila to Hanoi for 1 person for around 7000 pesos. Exactly 1 month to prepare.
But why Hanoi? Based from my research and interview with friends, Hanoi is a carefree city. The environment is very laid back ( setting aside the motorcycles), it has one of the lowest crime rates in Asia, and most of the tourist spots can be visited via walking around the Old Quarter. Plus consider the fact that cost of living is quite low, so no need to spend lots of money for soul searching.
Fast forwarding to the day of my flight, I just can’t contain my excitement. For the past 2 weeks, I’ve been researching for the best photo walk spots, coffee shops, and must try adventures in Hanoi. I also booked a very big deluxe room just for myself. I simply want to relax, and have an “Eat.Pray.Love moment” in Vietnam. So I bid goodbye to my parents, and walked towards my first ever big adventure.
So, here I am, sharing with you the learnings and experiences that I gained in my first ever solo travel in Hanoi.
Waking up early in the morning, going anywhere you want without having to consider what your travelmates’ opinions are is just super relaxing. When you stay in Old Quarter, you can reach majority of the spots by foot. Just in case you get lost, just enjoy it. If you really can’t find your way back, then just take the taxi.
For me, one of the best relaxing experience I’ve tried in Hanoi is Coffee Shop Hopping. By far, it’s one of the best coffee experiences in my life. You can read more about it here >> Coffee Shop Hopping in Hanoi.
You are the boss of your travel itinerary. Go forth and enjoy.
2. Time to Gain New Friends
Hanoi has a lot of tourists, mostly Westerners. Don’t be afraid to start a small talk with them. Learn about their culture, and travel passion! Know their story!
On the other hand, the locals- Hanoians are kind-hearted too! Though most of the elders can’t speak in English, they can still smile back. Most Hanoian teens know how to speak English so in case you are lost or you simply want to say Hello, try it with them!
3. Hanoikids Club is a SUPER duper must try free tour!
Being alone for few days might be quite lonely. So just in case you want a local companion, go and book a free tour with Hanoikids. It is a student-run organization that offers free tours for tourists, in exchange, you just need to talk with your student tour guide in English.Its main goal is to improve the English skills of Hanoian kids. The good thing is that their services are completely free! I’ve personally tried this and I’m just super satisfied. My tour guide, pretty and friendly Thuong, toured me around Hanoi, gave me key information about the famous places, and brought me to secret and must try food choices in Hanoi where most locals eat!
Just make sure that you book in advance (2-3 months before your trip), since they are usually fully booked because of the great demand of various tourists around the world.
4. Be thankful for the inventor of Monopod!
One of the noticeable downsides I can think of when traveling alone is taking pictures. It’s hard to take profile picture and cover photo type of shots when you don’t have a friend with you. Thankfully, the rise of the monopod in year 2014 gave me the opportunity to still keep some memorabilia pictures in my archive! And by the way, the monopod is not well known in Vietnam and some other Asian countries, so prepare to see surprised faces when you try to brag about it while taking a selfie!
5. Be a millionaire for a few days!
Vietnam’s currency is Vietnamese Dong, and the conversion rate is 1 peso is equal to around 500 Vietnamese Dong. This means that every 2000 pesos is nearly equal to 1,000,000 vietnamese dong! Aside from this cool money denomination, most of the food, drinks,and treats in Hanoi is very affordable- (you can have a decent meal for 100-150 pesos). So, you can definitely enjoy and have a great vacation while spending less! Definitely a win-win situation right?
This is my first solo travel in a nutshell (or novel?). For travel addicts out there, go and try it as well! It’s definitely an awesome (in Barney Stinson’s voice), and fulfilling experience of a lifetime!