Travel need not cost an arm and a leg

Travel need not cost an arm and a leg Travel need not cost an arm and a leg

Many people think that tourism is only for people with fat wallets, and that several hundred thousand dong is nor enough for a trip during the summer holidays.

But in fact, many students and workers on a budget still manage to organise interesting trips that are affordable.

My Hang, a student at Phuong Dong University in Ha Noi, says she often organises cheap tours for herself and close friends during the summer holidays.

Travel need not cost an arm and a leg

Many people think that tourism is only for people with fat wallets, and that several hundred thousand dong is nor enough for a trip during the summer holidays.

But in fact, many students and workers on a budget still manage to organise interesting trips that are affordable.

My Hang, a student at Phuong Dong University in Ha Noi, says she often organises cheap tours for herself and close friends during the summer holidays.

Each time she has a few days off, Hang travels to visits the home's of close friends, mostly in the countryside.

"I learn more about my friends' families on each trip, which in turn helps us to understand one another better. I can also save on food, drink and travelling costs. My parents support my travels, and allow me to go on these countryside tours," she says happily.

During the last National Anniversary for the Hung Kings, Ngoc Quyen, a young office worker from Gia Lam District and her group travelled to the central province of Thanh Hoa, with just VND200,000 (nearly US$10) each.

"We only had to pay for our transport," says Quyen. "My friend's home village is very beautiful, with green mountains, the Ma River and fresh air. She acted as tour guide and showed us around the local area where we took lots of photos in her garden and on the mountains and river. My friends will be jealous when I post them on Facebook," she says with a radiant smile.

For their next trip, the group plans to travel by bus from Ha Noi to the northern province of Vinh Phuc, where they will stay at a friend's home.

"My friend's parents are happy to welcome us. They promise to treat us to some local food, and help us to rent motorbikes to travel to Tam Dao resort town," she says.

Looking for something a bit more exciting, Phan Hung Phong, a student at the Stage and Cinematography University, chooses to go on more adventurous trips.

"I want to travel to the northern provinces to see the landscape and people in the mountainous regions. Living in Ha Noi is quite cramped, sometimes I want to liberate myself," Phong says.

Phong says he could visit the beautiful northernmost province of Ha Giang with just VND500,000 ($25). He has been preparing for the trip since last month, saving money, fixing his motorbike and inviting some friends.

"I've prepared dried food, instant noodles, and bottles to keep water and petrol. I've also hired tents and bought some medicine. We will have two people on each motorbike, and take turns to drive. For us, tourism simply means travelling."

Minh Long, a student at the Academy of Journalism and Communication, says the only necessary thing for a successful trip is for everyone to be enthusiastic and united, with a passion for discovery.

"Money is not a problem if we prepare in advance so we don't have to rent anything," he says.

Long says that their trips don't cost very much but still give them a chance to experience local life.

"We try to choose places where ethnic groups live with wild landscapes such as Quan Son Lake on the outskirts of Ha Noi or Thung Nai Valley in Hoa Binh Province. The food there is cheap and we still have the opportunity to study local culture. Our trips are even easier if we know people who live there who can offer us their local knowledge."

Long says to avoid trouble, they always take emergency funds, but they seldom have to use them. However, he also warns that the trips are not for the faint hearted.

Kieu Ngan and her class are final-year students at the Trade Union University, but are unable to affords trips to faraway destinations. This summer, she decided to organise a cheap holiday that everyone could afford.

"We decided our destination should be wild and beautiful, but close to Ha Noi," she says.

After asking for advice from other travellers, her class decided to visit Suoi Hai Lake in Ba Vi District on the outskirts of the capital.

"We have studied travel guides and plan to hire boats to visit the uninhabited island on the lake, where we will camp, play and cook."

There are many forums for young people who love travelling on social networks, particularly Facebook. A popular way for many groups is to go to the countryside and visit a friend's home village where they can enjoy traditional home-cooked food and explore the region. Others groups prefer to travel by motorbike, while some hire cars to avoid the hot summer sun and save money.

For Hong Quan, a first-year student at the Foreign Language University, last weekend was the first time he had been on holiday with his friends. His class travelled by bicycle along the Ho Chi Minh Highway to visit the Cuc Phuong National Park in Ninh Binh Province, nearly 100km from Ha Noi.

Quan says all his friends were eager, and they brought noodles, sweet potatoes, confectionery and beer. "We hired tents and sleeping bags, and one friend even took a puncture repair kit. We had a great time together!"

Each of them spent just VND200,000 for three days, much cheaper than the money that his parents pay for their annual holidays.

"It was the first time I have travelled so far by bicycles. Even though it was tough, the trip provided an opportunity for me to test myself, and for everyone in my class to get to know each other," says Quan. — VNS

by Trung Hieu - Phan Duong

http://vietnamnews.vnagency.com.vn