As Vietnam’s foremost urban explorer and star of YouTube series Challenge Me, Hoang Nam’s urbex exploits in Vietnam are unparalleled. Photo provided by Hoang Nam

 

The type of exploring I like best... is in abandoned buildings, off-limits ones that have lots of rumours about them. When I get access to them I study their structures and try to explain why they were abandoned. The weirder and more beautiful the structure, the more I want it for my video project.

 

The city with the best urbex in Vietnam is... probably Dalat — which is the place that people think has the most mysteries. Maybe it’s because of the chilly weather, or the old French villas hidden behind thick pine trees.

 

Hanoi and Saigon... have lost a lot of interest for me, although videos from these places get a lot of views because they’re close to the most people. I’m planning on doing more videos to introduce the cultures and people of the regions around. The human factor should make them feel both close and strange, and will get people wanting to visit.

 

I want to travel to... Hue and Con Dao, but haven’t been able to arrange the trips yet. My next videos are going to be me exploring buildings in Thailand and Singapore.

 

The best rooftop I’ve been on is... Thuan Kieu Plaza, because it’s right in the middle of District 5 in Saigon. We could still see the old brick roof houses — which in a few years you won’t be able to see much of.

 

At the start of every journey I think about... what to wear. Usually I wear comfortable sports clothes, with a light jacket and sports shoes. A backpack with batteries, torches, camera, GoPro and my phone on airplane mode to use only for filming. Other than that it’s protective gear — a multi-purpose knife, lighter, etc.

 

I’m always aware not to... move anything. I leave the place how it was when I came in. And take nothing but the footage.

 

When I get caught I say... that my purpose is to find out about the place and I need help getting information. I’ve never had any trouble with guards in Vietnam.

 

I know danger can happen anytime so... only when I know it’s safe will I do it. So far I have only good memories.

 

In the haunted houses I went to... I haven’t had the chance to meet a ghost yet. People say I didn’t see any because my group had too many people, I didn’t go at the ‘prime time’ or brought charms with me. The time in the haunted villa in Dalat, I went alone. To keep myself from my own imagination I was constantly mumbling that I’m not a bad person, I’ve never done anything bad and I didn’t go there with bad intentions [laughs].

 

The weirdest thing... is that in all the houses I’ve been to, there are some rooms which are sealed shut, which I couldn’t get into although they’re abandoned. I’m still curious about that.

 

When I think about the past lives of these buildings... I often think of how the things inside were used back in the day, how their owners used them. It gives me chills.

 

I’m the kind of person... who always wants to experience new things in my own way. No matter if it’s travel videos or exploring, I want to bring my own personality to it. I want to get different perspectives, and different experiences of myself. For now I’ll keep doing exploring videos, because they suit me best and get the most attention.

 

Check out Hoang Nam’s videos at youtube.com/user/NamChallengeMe

 

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