Vu Duy Hoan, 20, in February commenced a 100-day cross-nation walk. With only three pairs of clothes, one pair of walking shoes, and empty pockets, he has made ends meet by weeding gardens, catching fish, and harvesting crops, among others.
Sharing his bespoke experiences via YouTube, Hoan hoped to inspire young people in generating their own bold ideas and actions, while simultaneously raising funds for the poor.
Scottish female biker
Scottish biker Lourdes Gala Santos chose Vietnam for a long ride. Photo courtesy of The Culture Trip.
Lourdes Gala Santos, a 35-year-old Scottish tourist, in April 2020 began cycling across Vietnam after drawing inspiration from the travel book penned by author and British tour cyclist Anne Mustoe.
Over six weeks, she enjoyed many unique cultural experiences, including fishing from a small boat and chopping coconuts with a machete.
“There’s stunning scenery all over the world but it’s not everywhere that you’ll find such wonderful people. You can’t buy experiences like the ones I had with [Vietnamese] locals,” she commented.
Journey of rediscovery
Lan Nguyen Hue Trang traversed Vietnam by bicycle. Photo by Trang Aislinne.
Quitting her well-paid, stable job to travel across Vietnam, Lan Nguyen Hue Trang, a Hanoi girl, embarked on a 2,000-kilometer cross-country cycle in May 2020, from Hanoi to southernmost Ca Mau Province. She described her journey as a means back to nature and ultimately, herself.
To prepare for the journey, Trang spent six months learning about adventurous cycling, self-defense, and how to fix a bicycle.
For the trip, she only brought along VND3 million ($129) in cash, to be used for when she fell sick or when her bicycle broke down. Sometimes she would even camp beside the road or in the shade of a tree, subsisting on her canned food supply.
Trang has just reached Kon Tum Province in the Central Highlands, after spending a month stranded in Da Nang City due to flooding and storms. She plans to continue her journey to Ca Mau before returning to Hanoi and conquering the northern mountainous region on foot.
Journey foots classroom bill
Bui Ngoc Quy and kids he met on the way. Photo courtesy of Quy.
Bui Ngoc Quy’s 1,800-kilometer cross-Vietnam trek has raised VND130 million ($5,600) to build classrooms for children in Muong Te, a poverty-stricken mountainous district in Lai Chau Province.
Embarking in May 2020 with no money in his pocket, Quy, 23, departed from Sai Gon aiming to reach Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum in Hanoi, about 1,700 km away. In his backpack, he had five pairs of socks, two pairs of shoes, three sets of clothes, a hat, his phone, charger and extra power banks.
Unaccustomed to long journeys, his feet soon became severely blistered. Despite thefts, overheating, and harassments, a determined Quy completed his trip in two months, having mainly camped along the way.
Looking back on his journey, he said the decision of not bringing any money was the most difficult challenge. But Quy decided to go ahead for the totally new experience he was looking for and to feel the joy of receiving kindness from strangers.
Walking the seaside route
Le Quoc Vuong on his backpacking journey. Photo courtesy of Vuong.
In June 2020, Le Quoc Vuong, 37, (nicknamed Vuong Ba Lo, or Vuong Backpack), decided to walk across the country, choosing to explore Vietnam’s coastal beauty.
Towing a three-wheeled luggage cart, he has experienced many gem-like moments along the way, including morning fish markets on the shore and local hospitality. Vuong intends to complete the journey by the end of 2021.
In November 2020, stranded in Dong Ha Town of central Quang Tri Province, Vuong volunteered to help repare local houses damaged by storms and flooding.
Friends in 17-day cross-country adventure
Trang (left) and her best friend on their cross-Vietnam journey. Photo courtesy of Trang.
Nguyen Thuy Trang, a travel blogger from Hai Phong City, embarked on a cross-nation motorbike ride with her best friend, 17, in July 2020. This is not Trang’s first long trip, having explored 13 Southeast Asian countries despite her limited language ability.
On their 17-day journey, the pair decided to stop in 20 provinces from north to south, while writing detailed reviews of each destination, well-received by travelholics. Their budget, Trang said, reached nearly VND9 million ($388) per head, which proved more than enough thanks to local support.
Writing on her social media page, Trang stated long journeys require travelers to open themselves up, be ready for new experiences, and potential risks. Good preparation is a must, from health to first-aid.
One recommendation, Trang said, is to frequently update your itinerary on social media, so friends and family could be assured of your safety.
From motorbike breakdowns to getting lost, Trang and her friend have learned much about self-preservation and staying positive. Trang also gained a greater appreciation for her homeland given the support