Solo Travel: A Group Adventure in Vietnam and Cambodia
Ali Cairns heads to Southeast Asia for a much-needed break from reality...
I have always loved travelling. But since backpacking in my twenties, I’ve been pretty much working non-stop. In February last year I was made redundant and my first plan was to instantly get another job. Then I thought, “Wait a moment!” For the first time in more than a decade I was time-rich.
Meeting the group
I already had a holiday planned to Thailand in April for my sister’s birthday, so I almost immediately booked a six-week solo adventure to Vietnam, Cambodia and then Thailand, to meet up with everyone. In March I set off on my trip. I started with a couple of days in Dubai to see friends who live there, then I arrived in Vietnam alone. It felt great. I have always wanted to go there and the scenery was simply stunning. The food was amazing too and I spent some quality me-time sightseeing in Hanoi. After four days I met up with the group tour I’d booked.
Planned to perfection
I’d never done a tour before and the day I went to meet everyone I was a little nervous – I didn’t know what, or who, to expect. I chose the tour not only because of the itinerary but because I wanted to take some time out to properly relax and not have to plan everything. I loved that all the details were taken care of. All I needed to do was enjoy the experience.
Sunrise at Angkor Wat
Everyone was lovely. Guests were a mix of couples, friends and other solo travellers, and the vibe was very relaxed – you could do as much alone or with the group as you wanted. We travelled down the coast from Halong Bay to Hue, where we rode motorbikes through the red dust. It was incredible! In Cambodia we saw the sunrise at Angkor Wat and that evening ended up quad biking alongside water buffalo. I made so many memories. It was heart-wrenching visiting the Killing Fields in Cambodia, but it’s something that will always stay with me.
Experiencing new places
One of the great things about the tour was that we spent a lot of time in small towns, visiting authentic restaurants and experiencing local customs, so it didn’t feel like the usual tourist trail. I loved the way of life – nothing makes me happier than being in my flip flops and experiencing new places, local food and different cultures. I felt so happy, relaxed and empowered, and I would absolutely do it all over again!