Tripwire’s Top 7 Adventure Backpacking Tours in Thailand, Cambodia & Vietnam

Hidden secrets and trip itinerary planner of the best backpacking adventure tours in South East Asia, ideal for independent travellers and backpackers travelling on a budget.

To be honest… 

I’ve always had a bit of a stigmatism when it came to pre-planned ‘Backpacker Tours’. To me, they just seemed like a rigidly fitted itinerary that is filled with organised fun.

Deep down you all know you’ve had that opinion at some point.

How massively wrong I was…

I’ve been marauding around South East Asia since October 2010, during which time I’ve been blessed with opportunity to pretty much experience everything this lovely part of the world has to offer.

A curveball was eventually unleashed…

Constantly I would cross paths with hoards of drunken backpackers who would annoyingly preach from sunrise till sunset about the amazing time they had on these Backpacker Tours, and that’s when it hit me…

 

The time had come, I finally had the urge to discover whether these backpackers are all deluded demons or whether I was being a rash Moaning Myrtle with regards to the tour companies.

I took off my travelling coat of ‘Pride’ armour as was ready for admitting that I was wrong about these backpacker tours.

For the last 20 months I have been backpacker touring the hell out of Thailand, Cambodia & Vietnam. I’ve made sure to try out as many different routes and companies as possible to see which, if any, are worthy of the traveller hype.

These last 20 months was probably the most fun and revelation-filled period of time I have spent travelling around South East Asia. What an experience!

Make no mistake about it…

I couldn’t have been more wrong about these backpacker tours. Unsurprisingly, there were of course some debatable tour experiences, but some of these companies put on a truly unforgettable show.

How times have changed…

Unknowingly, I’ve become one of the drunken backpackers at the hostel that rants and raves about these backpacker tours from sunrise till sunset.

The word ‘tour’ is something that seems outdated to me now. The most successful backpacker companies don’t just provide tours, they have gifted me some of the best ADVENTURES of my travelling life.

So what’s the magic formula to discovering the best backpacker tours…

 

Backpacker holding up Tripwire card on the beach during Adventure Backpacking Tour in South East Asia

In this article I’m going to sieve through the crap to bring to you the top 7 best backpacker adventure travel tours across Thailand, Vietnam & Cambodia.

Whether as part of a short holiday or as part of a fuller adventure, all these tours provide a perfect gateway to experience the most profound things these destinations have to offer with a group of other fun-loving and like-minded backpackers.

Having taken all tours into consideration, I came up with a formula to grant the worthy tours the prestige backpacker status they deserve…

When it came to choosing the best backpacker tours, I took 4 key factors into consideration:

ETHICAL RESPONSILITY

It is of utmost importance that the tours not only go above and beyond when it comes to making sure that each backpacker returns in one piece and has the time of their lives, but they must also be actively contributing the the evolution of the local economy and ecosystem.

This means readily helping out locals and small businesses grow and support their families. 

CULTURAL AUTHENTICITY 

Each tour must open the backpackers’ eyes to the most authentic local experiences that each destination has to offer. Making sure that they a provide a full flavour when it comes to local cuisine, sightseeing, nightlife, accommodation and culture 

SOCIAL EXPERIENCE

We travel not only to explore new cultures, but also to meet new people. The tours must have a very family oriented vibe where everyone is welcome and feels part of a backpacker family. This happens through both the tours being popular and through the expert guidance of the tour company hosts. 

FREEDOM 

The tour must have the perfect balance of pre-planned group activities and free time. This means the itinerary is incredibly relaxed and it doesn’t feel like you are tied to strict schedule and have someone breathing down your neck.

Also the tour company will take a lot of the everyday stresses and strains out of your hands. They will have sorted awesome accommodation, the most efficient means of transport and chuck in a load of free meals and booze as well.

There we have the magical formula – Ethical Responsibility x Cultural Authenticity x Social Experience x Freedom.

 

Backpacker scuba diving holding the Tripwire card during his backpacking tour adventure of South East Asia

All of the 10 backpacker tours that I’m about to guide you through have aced the test when it comes down to these 4 attributes.

Combining all the best bits of these 4 factors will guarantee you’ll not only be part of awesome group that has the adventure of a lifetime together, but also gets exceptional value for money on the tour.

These are all a godsend for any independent travellers and backpackers travelling on a budget.…

On average, I did actually end up spending less living on backpacker tours than I did when I was whimsically weaving my way around South East Asia on my own. This ultimately meant I could stay out here for even longer.

If you haven’t got much time or money, the tour allows you to squeeze the most out of your trip, and if you have plenty of time, a tour as part of it is the perfect way to change up your backpacking experience. Variety being the spice of life and all.

Right, so with further ado…

Grab yourself a bucket of popcorn, a jug of mojito and the comfiest chair in the house…

Next stop, travel euphoria.

Coming to you live from Kampot in Cambodia, here are the top 7 best backpacker adventure tours across South East Asia:

13-DAY THAILAND ADVENTURE BACKPACKER TOUR

TruTravels have become one of my favourite tour companies in South East Asia, and this is certainly up there with one of the best adventure tours they have on offer.

For anyone backpacking through Thailand…

It would be a massively foolish manoeuvre to miss out on Koh Phangan’s full moon party anyway, but this tour experience took it to the next level.

It’s plain and simple…

TruTravels’ 13-day Full Moon Experience is the perfect cocktail of partying, culture and relaxation. This was genuinely one of the best travel decisions I’ve ever made.

As soon as I met with the tour group in Bangkok, I immediately felt part of a new backpacker family. There was a group of 20 of us from all over the world, who were hosted and guided by 3 of the most sensational souls you will ever have the pleasure to meet (shout out to TruTravel tour guides – Sammy, Drew & Andrew).

Imagine this…

A squad of 20 fresh and fun-loving backpackers taking on Thailand for two weeks, all culminating with an epic full moon party. Paradise has been found! I actually ended up carrying on to another tour with 4 of the other backpackers that I met on this adventure.

The best thing…

Not only do you get to have an unforgettable experience at the full moon party, but this tour itinerary gives you the opportunity to freely explore other areas of Thailand in the week leading up to Koh Phangan.

TruTravels guided us through the timeline of Thailand’s history and culture. On the first few days we turned Bangkok inside out; getting to have a private boat party on the Chao Phraya River, hop around the most famous temples in Bangkok and even get a traditional Thai massage. My muscles were literally singing afterwards.

From Bangkok our tour group was guided towards the untouched backpacking gem of Khao Sok National Park on an overnight train. The accommodation here was nuts, we got to stay in floating bungalows, before getting the adrenaline pumping throughout this Jurassic Park-esq wonderland the next day (some crazy cliff-jumping included!).

Then came the most fun part of the tour…

The legendary Koh Phangan. During our time on this tropical paradise we geared up for the full moon party with some elephant trekking, Muay Thai lessons and sunset pool parties. TruTravels had organised for us all to stay at Reggae Hostel, which comes with all the herbal goodness you can imagine. 5 stars all round.

The headline act…

The full moon party itself. We coated ourselves head to toe in UV paint and armed ourselves with a heavy artillery of alcohol fuelled buckets and partied as a family under the full moon until sunrise.

After the party, the tour guides made sure we had the ultimate chill out day; they had booked in more massages and organised for us to catch a movie at one of the local bars.

Epic scenes!

This was actually the first backpacker tour I went on and it was one of the best adventures I’ve had to date. I almost shed a tear when the group finally had to disperse on day 13.

Thank you TruTravels for that full moon magic and anyone looking to travel to Thailand, I could not more highly recommend scheduling these 13 days into your itinerary for this tour.

Hidden Gem of the Backpacker Tour: The afternoon spent at Koh Phangan’s secret Total Wipeout Course.

 

4-DAY CAMBODIA ADVENTURE BACKPACKER TOUR

I’m writing article from Kampot (hands down my favourite destination in Cambodia by the way), having just done the 4-Day Kampot Kamikaze Run.

Words can only go some way to describing…

This backpacker tour blew my mind, and is undoubtedly the best way to squeeze all the best bits out of your stay in this coastal backpacker hotspot.

The tour is run by the one and only Mad Monkey Hostel, who are the biggest players in the Cambodia hostel game. Their local knowledge and attention to detail is stunning, let alone their contribution to the wellbeing of the local community.

The proof is always in the pudding…

10% of your Kampot Kamikaze Run booking fee goes directly towards the more than worthy, Cambodian Buddhism Association for Vulnerable Children, who install water filters across all of rural Cambodia to give locals access to water. So fresh and so clean.

Onto the the tour itself, as I mentioned before…

Across these 4-days I was guided through the most amazing backpacker experiences Kampot has to offer. Hopefully Brian will be running the tour for you, he is General Manager of the hostel and is a certified Danny McBride-like legend.

Day 1 was certainly kicked off on the right foot…

12 of us piled into what I can only describe as a tuk-tuk on steroids, and road tripped it all the way across to the chilled beachside town of Kep. Endless road beers supplied by the hostel throughout the course of the day and we got to sample some of the best seafood (especially the calamari) at Kep’s famous Crab Market.

The fun-filled cultural backpacker festivities spilled over into Day 2…

Today it was time for the tour group to ride wolf-pack style through the countryside to check out the world’s greatest pepper farms. We then left the extra spicy vibes in our dust and headed for the Vietnamese border to explore the mysterious caves and secret lakes. Again, there was a very strong appearance from hostel’s beer cooler throughout the day.

George of the jungling around on Day 3…

As a backpacker family, we left humanity behind and engulfed ourselves in the jungle of Bokor National Park. We trekked for about 6km through thick shrubbery and up rock faces, all capped off with a soothing dip in the pools below the waterfall.

Don’t even get me started on Day 4…

If a mountain top ghost town doesn’t get your backpacker juices flowing, I don’t know what will. Our tour group was guided on scooters to the top of Bokor Mountain into the haunted gauntlet of an abandoned old colonial village.

Mad Monkey were hugely relaxed and would let us, the tour group, dictate where we wanted to go and when. Freedom.

The best bit…

Accommodation at the legendary Mad Monkey Kampot Hostel is all included in the tour price. Just wait until you see their rooftop sunset bar. Hot damn!

Hidden Gem of the Backpacker Tour: Sneaking around the 100-year-old abandoned mountain top casino.

This Mad Monkey Kampot Kamikaze Run backpacker tour will open your eyes to all the secret wonders that lie beneath Kampot’s surface. Undeniably the best way to explore this little backpacker haven.

 

17-DAY VIETNAM ADVENTURE BACKPACKER TOUR

No one knows Vietnam like the legendary Vietnam Backpackers Hostel. They have been part of the country’s furniture for an age and are gagging to share its most jaw dropping hidden gems with all backpackers on this 17-Day tour.

Whilst gallivanting classic headless chicken-style around Hanoi, I was fortunate enough to bump into a group of lovely Swedes who were departing on this tour in a couple of days.

My hands were tied, and so was the knot in my greatest Vietnam backpacker experience yet. Buffalo Run here I came! This was definitely some of the best times I had in South East Asia (sponsored by Sweden).

And I’ll explain how these glowing memories were conjured…

The ultimate Vietnamese road trip.

I had hopped between Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh numerous times before, but this Buffalo Run backpacker tour really opened my eyes to the hidden cultural gems that link these two backpacker hotspots together.

The scenes were set perfectly on our first night in Hanoi, with a free Sunday BBQ and unlimited beer. It’s fair to say the group seamlessly merged into a family over this banquet.

After savouring Hanoi, our backpacker group headed south into the wilderness of Cuc Phuong National Park.

Big words, but potentially the best jungle I had ever adventured through.

We came face to face with some of the world’s rarest Gibbons and Langurs, underwent a cagey after dark jungle hike and dissected the tree-laden landscape on a canoe journey to a 10th century temple.

Little did I know, I was then about to be stepping into the longest dry cave in the world…

Phong Nha. This experience was by far my favourite of the Buffalo Run tour. The cave is fairytale-like, some of the arches beautifully illuminated with glowing lights as our tour group ducked and dived into every nook and cranny.

If that isn’t quite enough for you culture vultures yet…

Following the cave, we then got to visit Vinh Moc Tunnel, which was a crucial landmark for the Vietnamese during the Second Indochina War against the Americans.

Nature had taken its toll by this stage, I had done enough tree hugging and cave diving. I was ready for some urban action again.

Buffalo Run you crafty cats, they read my mind – Professor X-style…

The middle 5 days of this backpacker tour was idyllically spent exploring and chilling out in both coastal towns and backpacker hotspots, Hue and Hoi An.

We pinged between the two destinations on scooters, following in the tyre marks of Jeremy Clarkson and the top gear gang who made this route famous on their motor adventures.

From Hoi An, the Buffalo Run backpacker tour then hit the road down towards Ho Chi Minh.

On the way, the adventure was never-ending…

We sipped on a few cuppas in the Vietnamese coffee capital, helped out at the elephant conservation project (a day both I, and the elephants, certainly won’t be forgetting), took on the rapids with some white water rafting and pinged down 1,500 of altitude on mountain bikes.

Then came the magic of Ho Chi Minh! What an incredible city.

Hidden Gem of the Backpacker Tour: Exploring the depths and delights of Phong Nha cave – the longest cave in the world!

This was certainly one of the most culturally invigorating backpacker tours I’ve done to date and is ideal for any backpackers looking to experience the full potential that Vietnam has to offer.

All accommodation and pretty much all food was included (and awesome!), big shout out especially to the Vietnam Backpacker Hostels. They got a good thing going on there.

Get involved if you want to have the adventure of a lifetime.

If your short on time or have visited these destinations before…

Vietnam Backpackers also do shorter tours from just Hanoi to Hoi An and Hoi An to Ho Chi-Minh. Show them some love.

 

12-DAY CAMBODIA ADVENTURE BACKPACKER TOUR

What a lovely moment this was…

The coming together of two of the old faithful backpacker organisations in Cambodia, TruTravels and Mad Monkey Hostels.

They recently teamed up to deliver one of the freshest backpacker tours Cambodia has to offer and it certainly exceeded my expectations.

Why do I love these two backpacker clans so much…

Not only do they know Cambodia inside out, but both organisations have been set up by backpackers and cater perfectly for the whimsical and laid back backpacker mind-set. No strings and no stress attached.

I was incredibly intrigued when I booked myself in for the Monkey Ladder last March.

Across this 12-day backpacker tour, I got to visit 5 of my favourite Cambodian destinations and stay in all the Mad Monkey Hostels – again with a strong squad of 18 other backpackers.

Sidenote…

It still amazes me how seamlessly everyone integrates and befriends each other on these backpacker tours. Extremely tightly knitted crews throughout.

Back to the Monkey Ladder…

I coached it across the country from Battambang to meet all the new arrivals on Day 1 in Phnom Penh.

From there we cruised on down to Sihanoukville in a bus for two days chilling around the beaches and partying till sunrise.

Then came the crème de la crème of this 12-day backpacker tour…

The Monkey Ladder will take you over to Mad Monkey’s exclusive new backpacker resort on the tropical island of Koh Rong Samloem. The stuff that only dreams are made of; late night skinny dipping, beach bbq’s and fire shows!

We had two days and nights on this tropical paradise – it’s the closest thing a backpacker accommodation has come to creating a natural Leonardo Di’Caprio’s ‘The Beach’ vibe.

From the island, our backpacker tour family weaved its way across to Kampot for two days of frolicking in the riverside backpacker haven. Mad Monkey Hostel kindly introduced our tour group to their friends at Arcadia Backpackers Hostel.

Arcadia is like Disneyland for backpackers…

It’s right in the forest by the river, this hostel has built its own adults playground. They’ve got their own inflatable blob, rope swings, pool tables, darts boards, hammocks. Ideal for a day relaxing or tubing along the river.

Kampot – check! Next stop – Phnom Penh…

We arrived in Phnom Penh for a second time, and this time we hit the ground running. TruTravels took us on a raucous charity pub crawl around the city, touching down in some awesome bars I’d never visited before.

During the days in Phnom Penh, the Mad Monkey Hostel swimming pool was ideal to chill around, but we also got the opportunity to stuff some culture in…

We visited the Killing Fields and S21 (which all backpackers should take the time to do), and also went out for a unique Dine in the Dark experience. All funds put towards this dining experience go towards helping the visually disabled Khmer population (lovely news).

After circumnavigating Phnom Penh, our tour group all jumped in the Monkey Ladder mini-bus and headed to Siem Reap…

The city of the temples!

This was the perfect way to end the trip, it all got pretty emotional as all 18 of us huddled together for the sunrise at Angkor Wat. This was by far my best Angkor Wat backpacking experience.

Hidden Gem of the Backpacker Tour: Without a DOUBT. The secret Mad Monkey Hostel backpacker resort on Koh Rong Samloem. Heaven.

Kudos to TruTravels and Mad Monkey Hostel for conjuring this backpacker magic. For any backpackers that are thinking about exploring Cambodia, this 12-day Monkey Ladder tour is definitely for you.

 

10-DAY THAILAND ADVENTURE BACKPACKER TOUR

Ultimate by name and ultimate by nature.

This 10-Day backpacker tour through the ‘Land of Smiles’ certainly left me with a grin beaming from cheek to cheek.

Ultimate run tours throughout the whole of South East Asia and Australasia, but the 10-Day Thailand backpacker experience is definitely one of their prize winners.

Throughout these 10 days I felt the true hustle and bustle of Thai city life, the tranquil serenity of the surrounding rural areas and the tropical euphoria of the party island paradises.

I had a group of 10 backpackers running riot across Thailand with me on this tour, and two awesome Ultimate tour guides, Fiona and Hannah, who took us under their wing from the moment we touched down in Bangkok.

Our backpacker group shimmy’d straight into the action on Khao San Road. Never a shortage of buckets, laughter and heavy basslines. Ultimate knew where all the best backpacker bars were and duly stumbled around the city with us. Awesome first night.

The next two days of the Ultimate tour was spent exploring the cultural gems of Bangkok. We visited all the major temples and were gifted our own personal boat to cruise around the floating markets in. Safe to say, I was fully stocked on souvenirs and gifts by Day 3!

Where to next…

Our backpacker tour group then headed south for an intense backpacking session through the beautiful wilderness of Khao Sok National Park.

Ultimate had sorted us out some floating bungalows (yes, they are as cool as they sound) for the night, we chilled by the lake and caught some fresh fish for dinner. Robson Green eat your heart out.

The national park tour antics continued passed hoards of baby monkeys and ended up at the eclectic Thai Reggae Bar for the last supper before heading onwards to Koh Phi Phi.

Unfortunately, it wasn’t the right season, but if the water levels are high enough, the tour group will go tubing down the river through the jungle.

Now it was time to hit the party paradise islands…

First on the list was none other than Koh Phi Phi. Here Ultimate spent two days adventuring with us around the island and commandeered a mini ferry to escort our backpacker tour group to Maya Bay.

MAYA BAY!

This is one of the most idyllic spots mother earth has in her locker for the backpacking population. This vast sandy cove is the picturesque bay that was made famous by Hollywood blockbuster, ‘The Beach’.

After I regained consciousness after the two day out of body experience I savoured whilst dancing around Koh Phi Phi, the tour group moved on as a smiling unit towards the final destination.

Last, but not least…

Good morning Koh Phangan, the shimmering hub for backpackers from all over the world. Time your Ultimate Thailand tour to perfection and you’ll be touching down on this celebrated island for the full moon party.

It was a whirlwind 10-day backpacking experience, but I came away completely in touch with why Thailand was known as the Land of Smiles.

I departed feeling physically and spiritually cleansed, and with 12 new lifelong buddies. One of which (much love Harvey) is sipping on a beer beside me, right here right now in Kampot.

 

Backpacker sipping on a beer at the roof terrace bar at Mad Monkey Hostel in Kampot

Hidden Gem of the Backpacker Tour: Getting serious cuddles from baby monkeys whilst meandering through Khao Sok National Park.

A thousand blessings to the Ultimate travel tour team for all the amazing experiences you shared with me on this backpacker tour. What an adventure! Definitely check this out if you’re heading to South East Asia.

 

3-DAY VIETNAM ADVENTURE BACKPACKER TOUR

If you’re on a backpacking adventure through Vietnam, you have to go to Hanoi. Once you’re in Hanoi, you must go and visit Halong Bay. Now we’re agreed that you’re travelling to Halong Bay, there’s only one way to experience this backpacker wonderland…

Vietnam Backpackers Castaway Islands Experience!

It’s only a 3-day backpacker tour, that runs very regularly, so it is oh so easy to slip it in to your travel itinerary.

So, why go with Vietnam Backpackers…

These hostel wizards were the first to start running the Castaway Islands Experience in 2004. Many other hostels and tour operators have tried to mimic this backpacker tour, but deliver a poor experience.

No one knows how to conjure the true magic of Halong Bay like Vietnam Backpackers.

Unsurprisingly…

This backpacker tour has surged in popularity over the last couple of years. I booked myself onto the tour in early February and was blessed with a group of over 50 other awesome backpackers to share to experience with.

We all met at the hostel very early on Day 1 and were cruised down through Cat Ba National Park on the bus before boarding the boat across the Castaways Island. What a beauty she is.

I felt completely shut off from the world outside. We had our own little community of backpackers that were blessed with a travel galaxy of sand, sea, sunshine and glorious floating mountains, all just for us.

During the days we had some awesome adventures; including a morning booze cruise around the off the beaten track mountain range of Lan Ha Bay, kayaking tours of untouched ancient caves and lagoons, coming face to face with the endangered Langur monkey and an extra special activity I will talk you through later.

The nights then took the backpacker tour festivities to the next level…

As the sun sets, the bonfires are lit, music starts pumping and the heavy drinking commences. No neighbours to piss off with the noise and endless supply of drinks available. These were some of the most epic parties I had in South East Asia.

Loads of other tour companies bring backpackers to Castaways Island everyday, so there are loads of freshies waiting to get initiated into the party.

This was a truly incredible 3 days and a backpacker tour you would be foolish not to experience!

Undoubtedly bang for your buck…

All transportation, entrance fees, meals, accommodation, crusies, kayaking and that one extra special backpacking adrenaline activity are all included in this backpacker tour price.

Sooooo, which one extra special activity will you choose for your tour…

There are three options to choose from:

  • TUBING. Partner up with 3 other backpackers and get hauled around the bay on an inflatable tube at ridiculous speeds on a motor boat. Last one standing on the tube wins! 
  • WAKEBOARDING. If snowboarding and water-skiing had sex, they would give birth to the beautiful sport of wakeboarding. Get dragged through the bay of speeds of up to 40km/h. Yup.
  • ROCK CLIMBING. This activity takes place on the other side of the island and you’ll be hooked up with a professional tour guide who will take up the cliff face to gaze down upon the beautiful Halong Bay scenery.

Win-win-win. Personally, I’d recommend the rock climbing. It was one hell of a victory smoke when I reached the peak.

Once again, I would advise all travellers passing through Hanoi to sort yourselves out a spot on the Vietnam Backpackers Castaway Islands Experience. It’s one for the memoirs.

Hidden Gem of the Backpacker Tour: Kayaking through the ancient caves and lagoons of Ha Long (and getting very wavey on the booze cruise before hand of course!).

 

3-DAY VIETNAM ADVENTURE BACKPACKER TOUR

As mentioned earlier…

During my 6 years in South East Asia, I have had the pleasure to experience nearly all of the backpacking adventure gems that are on offer.

The reason that the Sapa Trekking Extravaganza backpacker tour has taken its honourable position amongst the Top 10 Tours in South East Asia…

This was the one of the only tours to open up a few of the amazing places and experiences that hadn’t been on my radar.

Most backpackers will spend their time in Vietnam jumping along the Eastern coastline between Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh, little do they know that there’s an untouched backpacking hotspot that is tucked away in the heavens of the North-West…

Behold Sapa, the mountain top Vietnamese destination that is renowned for tantalising trekkers.

On this tour, my backpacker clan and I were exposed to the the true sights, smells, sounds and tastes of rural Vietnamese culture.

The tour is only 3 days (departing from and returning to Hanoi), so is very easily slotted into any Vietnamese backpacking itineraries.

On the first day, early backpacking birds definitely catch the best worms…

Our group departed the Vietnam Backpackers Hostel at 6:30am and pinged into the abyss of the North West in the tour shuttle bus.

We arrived at the lovely Sapa in time for lunch and were given the freedom to go explore the local scenery for the rest of the afternoon. I would highly recommend going to check out the local market, visiting Cat Cat Village (the village so good, they named it twice!) and preparing for the next day’s trek with a couple beers on the hotels rooftop.

Magnifique!

Sapa was a colonial Hill Station established by the French in 1922 and has evolved to become the premier backpacker trekking destination in Vietnam.

I couldn’t wait to hit the travel trails that wind off into the rolling hills and rice paddies on the horizon.

After stuffing ourselves with the buffet breakfast on Day 2, our backpacker tour group was picked up in a mini van and dropped in the lower end of the valley. We were dropped in the middle of the rural wilderness with the aim of reaching Ban Ho by the end of Day 3.

What an adventure it was…

It was so off the beaten track that we saw no other backpacker tour groups venturing along this travel trail. We began our adventure through meandering through thick bamboo forests and passing by tiny Hmong villages.

The most culturally enriching experience came at the end of Day 2…

We each were assigned to a host family in the small village of Seo Trung Ho. It’s undeniable, the location of this village is insane! Beautifully situated between the dense cloud forest and huge limestone cliffs on the opposite side.

The family welcomed me in as one of their own and cooked me an authentic rice and vegetable dish. Délicieux! As the sun set beyond the glorious mountains, I traded stories with them about their life in Vietnam. It was a hugely humbling experience.

What’s the story morning glory…

The family then sorted me out a very tasty breakfast the next morning before our backpacker group re-formed to mission it together through the national park to reach Ban Ho. Victory! A shuttle bus met us there and cruised us all the way back to Hanoi.

The visions of the rice paddies and rolling hills still stand as some of the most beautiful scenery I have uncovered backpacking through South East Asia. Not only that, but it was a hell of a workout. Calves that Iron Man would be proud by the end of Day-3.

Hidden Gem of the Backpacker Tour: Spending the night in the mountains and under the untouched starry sky exchanging stories with a lovely local Vietnamese family. Cheers Hoàngs!

Anyone looking to go properly off the grid for a backpacking adventure, definitely get involved on the Sapa Trekking Extravaganza. It will be one of the best decisions you’ll ever make. I’m going back to do it again in February, so hopefully catch you there.

 

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