Hoi An Vietnam: My First Solobackpacking Experience
I’ve always liked the idea of traveling alone because I get to explore a new place at my own pace. I was never the type who would stick to an itinerary anyway. There will always be some detours and hidden alleys somewhere that would catch my attention. And so earlier this year, I have decided to finally do it!
There wasn’t much planning really, the hardest part was deciding where to go. Which country would be safe for female solo backpackers and would be the most affordable/cost efficient one to explore for 5 days? (because you know your home girl here is a bit of a barat).
After reading a few articles online, I found Hoi An ancient town . What made me drawn to this place is the well preserved French, Vietnamese and Japanese structures that were built during 15th to 19th Century which was recognized by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site . Plus, I also found out that there are a few beaches that can be found near the ancient town so without any hesitations, I booked my flight and began my countdown to my very first solo backpacking trip.
I spent 5 days in Hoi An and I wish I could have stayed longer! There was still so much to see and try. Hopefully I can still go back there next year but for now here are the things that I have learned from my backpacking experience.
1. It’s fun to travel alone, you should do it often.
Traveling alone is fun because you get to do things at your own pace. You can always change your plans for the day and stay a little bit longer at a cafe to enjoy the scene. You don’t have to hurry up or wait up for your travel buddy/buddies. You also discover something new about yourself.
2. Survival skills will definitely be on fleek.
I gotta say I’m not really the person you can rely on when it comes to directions. I can’t even navigate my friend out of Mckinley Hill (Hello Cla haha!). But during my trip to Hoi An, my brain kind of switched to survival mode. I was able to navigate my way through Hoi An and Da Nang (with the help of the friendly locals of course hehe).
3. You will always meet new friends.
When you are planning on a solo trip, it’s better to stay in a backpackers hostel and hang out with other backpackers from all over the world.
I am glad I booked my accommodation in Under The Coconut Tree Homestay because that’s where I met the most wonderful bunch of wild spirits. I learned a bit of French, ate a scrumptious dinner cooked by one of the gang ( Afthab), danced by the beach under a blanket because we’re cool like that and a whole lot more!
4. You will believe in the kindness of strangers.
Don’t fret. There is still some good out there and it is surprising how much help I have received during my stay and how much the locals wanted me to have fun.
5. You will feel blessed and sad at the same time.
At the end of the journey you will look back at the wonderful memories that you’ve made and you will be grateful that you were able to see the places that you’ve walked, hiked, conquered, explored - whatever you may call it. You will thank yourself for braving the unknown. You will thank the people who supported you in your journey. You will also go home with a heavy heart because you don't want your trip to end just yet!
As Cinderella once said: Have courage and be kind. Have courage to travel the world alone and always be kind to the everyone.
How To Get To Hoi An:
Going to Da Nang Airport:
- There is no direct flight from Manila going to Da Nang Airport (huhu sorry my fellow countrymen) so you have to book a connecting flight from Manila to Ho Chih Minh to Da Nang or Manila to Hanoi to Da Nang. Whatever is cheaper and convenient for you. (Hello Skyscanner, TripAdvisor, etc!)
Da Nang Airport to Hoi An Ancient Town:
- Here’s the tricky part, I’ve read a lot of articles that you can ride a bus going to Hoi An but you still need to ride a cab going to the bus station. From my experience, I just rented a car from Just Gola (https://www.justgola.com/) - which is around 8USD- I know it’s not cheap but at least I was able to stop by Marble Mountain and arrive at my accommodation safely.
- You can also call your hotel/accommodation to pick you up at the airport which will cost you around 3-4USD.
Where To Stay:
Under The Coconut Tree Hoi An Homestay, Cam An, Hoi An
- 9USD/425 PHP per night for a single open air bunk bed with clean pillows and sheets, mosquito net, bamboo locker, shower with heater.
- Booked via www.booking.com (no downpayment needed! just pay upon arrival)
- Super laid back and chill place! There's a lot of hang out spots in here to socialize with other fellow backpackers, read a good book or challenge aSpanish genius guy to a game of chess ( of course I lost).
- This is about 10 km away from the Ancient Town which I didn’t mind because I get to wake up to the sound of the waves and swim whenever I want to. I just rented a bike for 30000 VND/ 60 PHP per day to go around Hoi An Ancient town. It takes about 30 minutes at least to reach Hoi An from this accommodation but I don't mind. Save money, sexy body! What a win-win situation here folks!
What To Eat:
Cao Lau Noodles, Pork BBQ (with lots and lots of leafy greens!), Vietnamese coffee, WHITE ROSE DUMPLINGS.
- I must say I ended up having a minty fresh breath during my stay thanks to the different plants I've devoured!
- Food is very cheap here, you can get a fresh bowl of Cao Lau for 1USD/25,000 VND/53 PHP
What To Do:
- Side trip to Da Nang and trek Marble Mountain (15,000 VND / 32 PHP entrance fee)
- Rent a bike (30,000 VND / 60 PHP per day)
- Explore Ancient town
- Watch some traditional performances in Ancient town
- Go to the Son Tra temples Unesco World Heritage Site -booked inJust Gola (https://www.justgola.com/)
- Light up some lanterns at night by the river
- Custom tailor your clothes and bag at Hai Ba Trung St.
- Drink some beer (La Rue)
- Night food trip!
- Go to Soul Kitchen! - walking distance from Under The Coconut Tree Homestay
- Socialize with the other backpackers and locals!
- 150 USD/ 3,354,355 VND/ 7000 PHP
- Inclusions: payment for accommodation, food, beer, tailored bag, bike rental, pasalubongs, what not's.
- Exclusions: airfare, airport transfer, Son Tra tour
I only planned everything the day before my flight and it was such a breeze thanks to Just Gola!
Hoi An, I am not done with you yet!