06 Nov Vietnam, Where Less is More
Some people are content to lounge on the nearest beach possible when they reach their destination. Vietnam could almost be no different to holidays on the Costa del Sol, if that’s how you want to roll. Think of it this way, do you know anyone who has been to Orlando to go to all the big theme parks and come back with a million photos, going through each one saying, ‘here’s me about to go on the biggest rollercoaster in the park, and here I am with Mickey Mouse, here’s everyone standing by the new…’ and by the time they’re done your head might as well have fallen off? Or perhaps you’ve known people who travel across the entire planet and return with a bunch of photos where all you can see is them wide eyed and jumping up and down with a slightly burnt face on a non-descript beach, covered in paint that says something like ‘Westcountry and up for it.’ They could be in the UK for all you know. This isn’t a lesson in the art of photography or anything, and it’s not like thousands of images of mountains are any more exciting, it’s just a reminder that in a lot of beach destinations, living it up on the beach isn’t the only thing you can enjoy on your holiday.
A lot of people headed to South East Asia will be seeing more than one country. Often it’ll be Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam and sometimes Laos too. Burma is less frequented because of ongoing human rights issues, with the United Nations reporting incidences of child labour, human trafficking and limited freedom of speech with great frequency. As such, many backpackers boycott the country, although the more up-market trips to Burma seem less affected by politics.
Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam are all at different stages of development. Thailand has long been the most developed of the three countries, with the other two looking up to it. The slight drawback of Thailand doing so well, is that once unspoiled beaches are now hideously over-developed, and not the images of paradise they once were.
Patong Beach on Phuket is a perfect example of this. Here you will find thousands of tourists milling around the vast number of themed bars with Thai lady boys attempting to lure them in with a flutter of their beautiful eyelashes. And Ko Pha Ngan has become overcrowded with the number of backpackers, seemingly increasing each year as more and more kids take gap years after school.
At home, loads of travel agents put up beautiful images of Phuket in their shop windows. It is the number one destination in Thailand. But as an alternative to Phuket for your holiday, or Ko Pha Ngan, why not go to Phu Quoc Island in Vietnam? Here you can sit on the beach as much as you like and take breaks to do really cool things like motorbiking on the open dirt track roads, or sea kayaking or scuba diving. Photos of you doing all three will beat close-ups of your face any day.
John Hutchinson has enjoyed travelling since he was a young boy when his parents first took him to visit family overseas. Since leaving home, John has tracked down family all over the world and regularly jets off to faraway lands to see distant relatives.