by Stephen Price
Running and travelling is my life. It’s who I am, it’s what I’m passionate about and it’s how I make my living. That said, I’m not a professional runner nor a professional traveler. I’ve never once been paid to lace up, but I’ve found a way to marry my two biggest passions and scratch out a humble living. I’ll never get rich in the traditional sense, nor even come close while living my life like this, and that’s okay as I feel extremely rich where it matters most to me.
I’ve spent the last fifteen years travelling the world and running everywhere I can, from the Netherlands to Nepal, from Jordan to Japan and from Antigua to Azerbaijan. I’ve run the cobblestone streets of Paris as the sun slowly sets on the Seine River, around the base of Mt. Kilimanjaro with local Masai children, over the sunbaked roads of Dubai, while dodging cows in the hectic city of Delhi and crocodiles on the beautiful beaches of Costa Rica, at 3 am in the morning to beat the heat of Laos, along the stunning Great Wall of China and over the picturesque Inca Trail in Peru.
During my travels I’ve met many people from all walks of life. And, regardless of where I am when running, or when speaking with people abroad or back in Canada, one inevitable question always comes up: Where is my favorite place to run?
In response, here is the first installment of my current Five Favorite Places to Run Abroad list –since narrowing it down to just one is quite impossible–that incorporates safety, relative ease to get to, English spoken, mostly recognizable food and ease of getting to and around.
In no particular order:
Vietnam has more than 3200K of coastline with many cities and villages dotted along it providing some fantastic places to run. That being the case, I recently chose to spend three months in Vietnam in order to complete the bulk of my training for my last marathon. Of course, Vietnam is very warm along the coast so most of my runs there took place between 3 and 6 am, but well worth it considering everything else that this country offers.
Two of my absolute favorite places to run are in Northern Vietnam. Da Lat and Sapa, both of which are up in the mountains, are much cooler and both have lakes in the center of the village to run around. Da Lat has a perfect 5K paved walking/running/cycling loop around the lake and Sapa has a perfect 1K loop, also paved. Not only is the scenery absolutely amazing, but the night markets and cheap eats are sure to please (try the avocado smoothie)!
Both places feel fairly safe overall as there are plenty of people using the sidewalks around the lakes, but not so many that it becomes difficult to run. And, as both lakes are in the center of each town, they’re walking distance from all of the hotels and restaurants.
Why Vietnam? Many reasons, but for me it came down to the ability to run virtually anywhere, the beaches and the cost of food and lodging ($1 for a large smoothie, $0.40 for a sandwich and $30 a night to rent a new, fully furnished apartment). It felt quite safe, despite the early mornings, and for about $3 a day you can rent a scooter to take you to the best places to run and eat.