As I’m sure many of you know now I am a travelling instagrammer working full time in the tourism industry to promote destinations and travel brands.
Often, there are places that I would love to go to for work but I struggle to secure relationships with the tourism boards.
That’s where working with brands like Helloworld Australia can help. I can collaborate with them to promote – not just the destination – but the travel experience as well. As someone that has often used travel agents in the past, I was more than excited to learn more about how Helloworld packages holidays.
My bucket list destinations were a fun place to start. Bucket list destination number one – Vietnam.
Vietnam bucket list
I can tell you exactly how long I’ve wanted to go to Vietnam for – eight years!
My first trip overseas was to Thailand and I remember wishing I had tacked a few other countries on. A lot of travellers that I met in Thailand had also been to Vietnam and it was regularly flagged as a very cool place to visit.
Unfortunately the years passed and I just never got the chance to go. So, when Helloworld approached me with ideas, we decided that ticking off some of my bucket list would be a fun concept.
Experts in Everywhere
In order to get the most out of the Helloworld experience it was decided that they would put together an itinerary based on their expertise on the area and with a tagline like “Experts in Everywhere” I wanted to see what they could come up with.
I shared a few insights on my interests and what I like to shoot and left the rest up to them.
A week before leaving for my trip, I received a shiny itinerary and was thrilled to see that Insider Journeys would be onboard with ground logistics too.
Hanoi with Helloworld
I arrived into Hanoi and didn’t have much to do except meet my amazing travel companion Simone McDermid, from Helloworld, and my local guide from Insider Journeys for a walking tour and introduction to street food. Now that’s definitely my kind of welcome.
I’d heard from a lot of sources that Vietnamese food is better than Thai food and I needed to discover that for myself, as I am passionate about Thai food and even spent five years of my chef career specialising in it.
I still think Thai is better but Vietnamese is pretty damn good. The highlight for me from the street food was a thin rice pancake served with a fish dipping sauce, hot chilies, sour limes and bowls of fresh herbs.
Dream travel moments
The next day we hit the road for Mai Chau, a local village that is set up for tourism but not overrun with tourists.
On the way there we stopped for a road side snack and I had one of my famous “pinch me” travel moments.
I was sitting on a low chair in the dirt munching on purple corn and fiery Birdseye chilies when it came over me. I always react strongly to moments that are so different to my life in Australia.
Arriving in Mai Chau, I was faced with every Vietnamese stereotype you can imagine – rice paddies as far as the eye can see, happy kids running and cycling down narrow roads, locals wearing triangle straw hats (what ARE those things called?) and market stalls with exotic fruit.
Yep, I was already in heaven.
Special moments in Ninh Binh
After a night in Mai Chau at the Mai Chau Eco lodge, an Insider Journeys preferred property, I was off to Ninh Binh via the Trang An Eco Region where we had a paddle boat ride.
My itinerary was super relaxed and loose to make time for personal discoveries . I had a doozy in Ninh Binh. It was sunset on day two and I had ventured out alone for an afternoon walk. I meandered down to the river and was sitting enjoying the solitude when I heard a distant call. It was a mother and daughter herding water buffalo by boat! Not only did I get a few shots off but I convinced the two to pose for me as well, difficult without a common language.
Hanoi flower markets
After departing Ninh Binh, I headed back to Hanoi for one last experience, a sunrise bicycle tour to the Hanoi flower markets.
This is another Insider Journeys specialty and it was super fun!
We set out early before the day got too hot and saw the markets in full swing. On our way back we swung by the lake to catch the locals doing their morning exercises, so cute.
I have to say I was super impressed with my trip, it absolutely ticked all my boxes for a productive week of shooting and genuine travel moments.
Although my trip was not a holiday, I can trust in the Helloworld crew enough to highly recommend their services. Until next time Helloworld … XXX
Lauren Bath travelled to Vietnam on a work assignment for Helloworld and Insider Journeys.