While I was travelling alone through Vietnam, I almost felt like a kid in a candy store during my first few weeks. There was just so much to see in so little time, I was taking every opportunity to see as much as possible in this incredible country. This led to me staying in some cities and towns for just 1-3 short nights before hopping on a bus to the next town. After about 2 weeks, I had already been to six different locations, and I was getting exhausted. It was time to slow down.
While I was getting a sensory overload of all these awesome places, I wasn't getting enough time to fully appreciate where I was. It felt like an amusement park ride that I was whizzing through, just taking a quick look at the popular tourist spots. For my next stop, Phong Nha, I decided to hit the brakes a bit.
Phong Nha is a small town tucked within the mountains of Vietnam, sitting beside a giant river. It's best known for its massive, cathedral-like caves that tourists from all over the world come to explore. One of the best things about them? They get surprisingly cold the deeper you go inside, so it's a welcome relief from the sweltering Vietnamese heat.
When I arrived at my homestay, my host offered me a guide of the several different caves to explore. There was Paradise, Dark, Eight Lady, and Phong Nha caves to choose from. My choice? All of them. I spent the next four days relaxing at my homestay and joining tour groups to explore the famous caves. Some had warm pools to swim around in, others were mud baths that were said to be great for your skin.
The hikes within the caves never were too difficult, so it wasn't an intense workout either. And each night, I'd eat with my host family and their adorable dog named Chocolate, and would be fast asleep in bed by 9pm. It may not sound exactly like I "slowed down", but it was a great change of pace compared to the constant bus and bar hopping I was doing beforehand (those 50 cent Vietnamese beers are hard to resist).
When you go for a long travel adventure, don't be afraid to take your time in places. You'll learn more about the culture of where you're visiting, the history of the locals, and find appreciation for the little things.
Stay tuned for more travel stories!
- Fraser (Communications Coordinator at With Love Darling)