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the online guide to...: Hitchhiking in Vietnam

Vietnam is the sort of place people plan a hitchhiking break to, in the same way that they set out to steal a policeman's hat in China or roll a spliff in Singapore. Which is exactly why an young American called Karin decided to do it. The results are displayed on her web page, entitled, aptly enough, Hitchhiking Vietnam.

She ignored the dark warnings of one countryman ("You'll be raped," he hissed. "The place's still littered with bombs. Malaria'll eat your guts. Snakes and Commies, snakes and Commies in the grass. You'll disappear and no one'll ever find you.")

It's a beautifully written and presented page, packed with anecdotes, tips and tricks, such as a list of ten reasons you can be arrested:

1. Spending the night in a sugarcane field.

2. Taking a picture of a bridge.

3. Owning a Western video.

4. Owning a motorbike

5. Not having a local driver's licence.

6. Having a local driver's licence.

7. Looking like a wealthy foreigner.

8. Blundering into a restricted area.

9. Being in the wrong place at the wrong time (like the Central Highlands at any time).

10. Breathing ... (ie looking like a wealthy Westerner and bumping into a policeman who needs a few extra bucks to pay for his daughter's wedding).

Essentially, she says, travelling around the country is a game. The rule being that every brush with the authorities is likely to leave you with a slightly emptier wallet. Just how much emptier depends on how well you play.

For basic advice about travelling in Vietnam, try Excite's travel page on the country, which also includes a number of useful links.

l www.pbs.org/hitchhikingvietnam/index.html

The Hitchhiking Vietnam page

l city.net/countries/vietnam/

Excite's Vietnam travel page