So you've decided on the trip of a lifetime. You're going to Asia to see the sights, take in the intoxicating smells and probably eat a lot of fantastic food!
So how do you burn some serious calories whilst on your trip?
Well, forget about the hotel gym (if you're lucky enough to be staying in a place with one) and combine your experience of seeing the country with some burning calories exercise! That's right, in time to get out of the city, and see the countryside by trekking in Vietnam!
So where is the best place to go trekking in Vietnam? Well in our experience, the views and treks on offer in Northern Vietnam, near Sapa are some of the best available! But beware of some of the pitfalls of trekking here.
First things first, you've decided to go trekking in Sapa, but you need to get there first! Your best method is to take an overnight train from Hanoi, which will take all night but you save a nights accommodation and a days travelling! Its pretty comfortable, with a bed and you'll probably share a room with 3 others.
You'll also want to consider going with a tour agency if you're unsure of where to go and how to do it. They can organise your train and trek with homestays all for a reasonable cost.
Now the bad part about trekking in Sapa.
When you arrive in Sapa, a small town near the border with China, you will be inundated with groups of local women who will approach you wanting to talk and chat with you. This is a ploy they use to latch onto you as you wander around Sapa. This is the key point: if you do not get rid of these women now, they will continue to stay with you all day. They will walk alongside with you as you go, talk to you as you try to take in the scenery, and generally be overly helpful as you trek in Vietnam. Sounds good doesn't it? Well, the novelty soon wears off, particularly when at the end of the day they ask you for money for the pleasure.
This is why it is important you are honest with them from the very beginning. We told the women in very strong tones that we did not want to walk with them that day. They were confused and a little upset, but we didn't want them to waste their time all day with us before we didn't give them any money. We thought that was fairer than leading them on all day. Other people in our group didn't say anything, and ended up in arguments at the end of the day. It was a sad situation.
If you do pay them, they will come back the next day and walk with you again!
So when you go trekking in Sapa, just make sure you prepare yourself for the groups, and be polite and firm when you say you don't want any help. It's only fair for you and the groups of eager women waiting.