My adventures in Nha Trang is one of the fondest memories I have in this beautiful country. It was the summer of last year when my Vietnamese friends and I ventured on a trip to this coastal city in central Vietnam. The excursion was fun, daring and full of excitement! But there was something more to the escapade that makes it stand out in my memory lane. The experience was raw and authentic!

nha-trang-church

I blend in. If you don’t know me, you probably won’t be able to tell where I am on this photo.

 

Traveling with the locals in Vietnam was probably the best thing I did in this foreign country. My Vietnamese friends know the language, the customs and, above all, the best places to go to make the most of our trip. All I needed to do was to follow the lead of those who knew the ropes! Not only had I had local insights on everything Vietnamese; but, I also had opened myself to a more intimate and genuine experience in Vietnam.

How to roll like a local in Vietnam

1. Use. A. Motorbike. It’s a must!

bikes

Obviously, it is hard to talk about Vietnam without ever mentioning motorbikes! Vietnamese people know that with the country’s still developing public transport network, two wheels are the only and cheapest way to go. So once we arrived in Nha Trang via overnight sleeper bus and settled ourselves in my friend’s house, we rented motorbikes right away. It was as if we never left our scooters in Saigon at all!

With our bizarre mummified getups, we covered hundreds of miles on this 3day-2night trip. I can’t imagine how much it would have cost us if we hired a taxi from one place to another; or how much time we would have wasted if we took the public bus. Driving a motorbike was and is indeed the most practical way to go!

wilderness

We drove so much I thought were lost at some points in our journey.

 

2. Don’t plan. Be spontaneous!

jumpshot

Our failed attempt at jump shot.

We (or more like they) planned most of the things to do after we arrived and left ourselves the option of figuring things out after we saw how things really were. The best thing about our schedule was that we had plenty of room for exploration! I often caught my friends discussing what to do or where to go next without over-relying on online reviews or apps.

Booking.com

spa

One time, the group suddenly decided to have a mud bath! I was so reluctant at first but it turned out to be one of the highlights of our trip. We had an unexpected blast in the mud spa!

 

nha-trang-strip

Just when I thought we were ready to rest after a full day of driving, someone suggested that we go out again. I totally didn’t see this picnic coming! At night!

 

The spontaneity of it all was something that I greatly embraced. Sometimes, a solid plan doesn’t always work. My Vietnamese friends taught me that having no definite plans or tossing our schedule once in a while by being flexible is not really that bad for a trip! In fact, the spontaneous things were the ones that we had so much fun doing!

3. Ditch the main strip. Go somewhere else!

camping

The moment I saw Nha Trang strip, I wasn’t really impressed. For one, it was so touristy! It just wasn’t my kind of place. Luckily, my friends didn’t let me down! On the second day of our trip, we drove for four hours to a secluded beach way outside of crowded Nha Trang!

sunrise

I would never have seen this relaxing view if I had gone to Nha Trang all by myself!

 

The long drive to this place called Vịnh Vân Phong was definitely worth it! There were literally no other people on the beach except our group. The water was so much clearer and the view was nicer! We were able to do anything we wanted without having to think about the throng of tourists!

stone

Getting off the tourist circuit gave us real opportunity to enjoy each other’s company and the beauty that Vietnam has to offer!

4. Live in the moment. Have fun!

swimmer

My Vietnamese friends were some of the happiest people I’ve ever met. They knew how to have fun in the very sense of the word. They didn’t let small setbacks ruin the mood or the trip. We had encountered problems and minor accidents during the trip but we didn’t let them get in the way.

accident

The journey wasn’t all euphoric. Unfortunately, the motorbike accident involved me and another friend while we were driving uphill. But accidents do happen. Lessons were learned and we moved on.

 

phat

Travel encourages people to live in the present or to seize the day, so to speak, and my Vietnamese friends showed me how.

 

Most travelers say that often times the travel memories we end up cherishing the most were the ones when we connected with the locals. It is very true, at least for me.

groupie

What are your best memories from your travels? Let’s hear them in the comments!