Vietnamese Model Chau Bui Looks Back on Her Most Salient Travel Memories

The model and adventurer shares her most memorable trips, top fashion-forward destinations and how travel has shaped her perspective on life.


For Vietnamese model Chau Bui, there are many parallels between her profession and traveling. “Travel brings a lot of meaning to my life,” she says. “Like modeling, it broadens my horizons, exposes me to new environments and nourishes my creativity. It also gives me joy and inspiration, and allows me to connect with my family and friends.”

Childhood trips with the family

Chau first fell in love with traveling through the myriad of trips she took with her family as a child. They often headed to places in Vietnam with great natural splendor, including the gorgeous remote island of Phu Quoc; Da Nang, which is known for its dramatic and craggy mountainous attractions; and the coastal city of Nha Trang. For Chau, getting to escape the hustle of Hanoi, her hometown, and venture out into nature was a truly eye-opening experience – one that made her feel “balanced and happy”.

She also recounts taking a particularly memorable trip to the United States. “My dad made a promise to my family that he would take us there as the last trip of his life,” Chau recalls. “He worked so hard, saved up and kept that promise. While we were there, he taught me many lessons about living out our purpose in life – and it remains one of my most cherished travel memories to this day.”

A model’s life in motion

Before COVID-19 hit, Chau was criss-crossing the globe regularly to attend events and fashion shows. The ability to visit far-flung destinations that she may not otherwise have had a chance to experience is a perk of the job that she’s extremely thankful for. “If possible, I try to extend these trips by about a week, so that I can check out the city and even tour the neighboring regions once I’ve fulfilled my work commitments,” Chau says, adding that this grants her the luxury to explore things at her own pace.


One of her most memorable work trips to date has been to Cannes in France to attend the Louis Vuitton fashion show. “It was the first time I was taking part in a global fashion event, and it honestly felt like an absolute dream come true,” she recalls. “I remember having tears in my eyes at the show when I thought about all the hurdles and doubts I had to overcome to get to that point in my career. Needless to say, it was a very poetic and beautiful moment.”

Out of all the cities she visited for fashion week, Chau’s favorite is Paris – the City of Lights. To her, it’s a place that’s filled with so much ancient beauty. She enjoys simply wandering through the city while taking in the awe-inspiring architecture and immersing herself in the atmosphere. Chau also rates its street fashion as some of the world’s best, alongside Los Angeles and Tokyo, and tips her hat to Parisiennes for their “chic, elegant and minimalist” style.

Falling in love with the world

When Chau is traveling, she adopts one of two modes: leisure or adventure. “If I’m in leisure mode, I like taking my time to truly soak up the destination and get to know it on an intimate level, “Chau explains. “But if I’m in adventure mode, I become an explorer: always on the go and ticking items off my list of things to do and see.”

“You’ll find things here that you simply can’t experience anywhere else in the world” - Chau

Japan is one of Chau’s favorite travel destinations, and is where she’s made some of her greatest memories. “Besides enduring cultures, stunning landscapes, delicious food and friendly people, it’s also very unique. “You’ll find things here that you simply can’t experience anywhere else in the world,” she says.

Chau cites Japan’s ability to surprise visitors with its contrasting environments as one of its main allures. “There are bustling metropolises like Tokyo that are packed with people and embody a great sense of energy. Then there are the quieter, rural prefectures where you can soak up the silence and immerse yourself in the country’s breathtaking nature,” she says. “The natural beauty that I saw in Japan – particularly in Kyoto – was beyond my wildest imagination.”


Some of Chau’s best recollections of her trips to Japan include sampling many different bowls of udon from food stalls offering their own unique takes on the dish. She also loves the convenience of riding the subway, especially if she’s rushing around. For those looking to pick up fashion-forward buys, Chau recommends checking out the glitzy Ginza district. “Japan also has a strong thrifting culture,” she adds. “People are open to trying new things, and there is no judgment or limit when it comes to style.”

Another remarkable place that Chau’s seen on her travels is Sedona in the US. Although she was just passing through the area on her way to an event, the sprawling, serene desert landscapes that she glimpsed through the car window left such an impression on her – and she hopes to return to explore them someday.

The meaning of travel

As someone whose job keeps her busy, Chau cherishes traveling as a chance for her to take a breather from the daily grind. “When I’m working, I’m usually on a tight schedule, so it can feel quite pressured,” Chau says. Travelling allows her to hit pause, so that she can take the time to recharge her batteries. These little breaks ensure that she maintains balance in her life and motivate her to work even harder.

“Our world is enormous, and we are just tiny little creatures living in it,” she says, when asked about her travel philosophy. “There’s always something new for us to learn, and I feel like traveling is a great way to do that. I want to keep exploring as much as I can, so that I can continue to deepen my knowledge about the world around me.”

Fashion-Forward Tips and Tricks from Vietnamese Model Chau Bui

The budding fashion maven reveals her top advice for traveling in style – plus her insider recommendations for exploring Vietnam and where she hopes to head to when the world opens up again.


When it comes to seeking out new styles, Chau Bui cites travel as a huge source of creative inspiration. “Fashion is all about creativity, and traveling really helps nurture my sense of style by exposing me to different destinations, sights and cultures,” she says. The more places that I visit, things that I see and people that I meet, the more inspired I feel.”

Packing a stylish suitcase

Before embarking on a trip, Chau likes to spend some time researching the style culture of that destination. To do this, she’ll get on Instagram – her personal account boasts over three million followers – and checks out a few local style influencers to get a sense of the general aesthetic. “This helps me with choosing what to bring along in my suitcase, so I can make sure that my outfits will suit the vibe of the city,” Chau reveals. “It certainly makes for better pictures!”

Chau tends to pack colors and silhouettes that go well together, so that it’s easy to mix and match. Versatility is also key when it comes to accessories. And rather than bring along tight or finicky items, Chau sticks to soft, oversized fabrics that are stylish without being uncomfortable. “After all, it’s easier to focus on exploring a city, soaking up the atmosphere and making memories when you don’t have to fuss too much over what you’re wearing,” she quips.

Musings about traveling

It’s also important for Chau to be a conscious and responsible traveler. Besides always being mindful of the cultural norms of each destination, she’s recently made greater effort to be more sustainable by packing fewer things and purchasing locally sourced items wherever possible. For instance, if she needs some new clothes, she’ll try to find a second-hand market to shop for unique, pre-loved fashion finds.

Due to the pandemic, Chau hasn’t traveled abroad for over a year and a half – and she misses it dearly. “I didn’t realize how much I miss traveling until one day I found myself looking through old photos and videos taken during previous trips: travel memories that I cherish so much,” she reminisces. “I miss that moment when I first step out of an aircraft and into a foreign country, and the excitement that bubbles up when I’m about to explore a new locale. I miss experiencing different climates, walking on streets with names that I’ve never seen before and sprawling out at the beach and watching the clouds go by.”

Rediscovering her home country

Chau loves exploring more of her beloved home country, and has been able to do some domestic traveling within Vietnam during the pandemic. “Vietnam is a wonderful place with diverse cultures, beautiful landscapes, delicious food and welcoming people,” Chau gushes. “Regardless of your traveling style – whether you prefer to relax or want an action-packed holiday – you’ll find something that suits you.”

“I think that everyone will soon have a newfound appreciation for travel” - Chau

Chau’s favorite things to do when exploring Vietnam are discovering different cultures and sampling amazing dishes. During the past year and a half, she’s visited Phu Quoc, Da Nang, Nha Trang and Da Lat. She’s also made regular trips to her hometown of Hanoi from her current residence of Ho Chi Minh City.

“I loved visiting Da Lat in particular, as it reminded me of Hanoi,” Chau reveals. “The street food that I tried was so scrumptious, and the people are very warm and friendly. I also enjoyed exploring Tuyen Lam Lake, which has cool weather and a tranquil atmosphere.”


Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City are two cities that she’d recommend to any traveler visiting Vietnam. “They have very different style identities: Hanoi is chicer and more reserved, while Ho Chi Minh City is bolder and more open,” Chau says. Her personal list of must-do activities in Hanoi includes checking out the beautiful Hanoi Opera House, going for a stroll around the Old Quarter and experiencing golden hour at the picturesque West Lake.

If you find yourself in Ho Chi Minh City, Chau recommends visiting its many cultural attractions: such as Ben Thanh Market and the Saigon Central Post Office, which boasts charming architecture. “You can also browse the local shops along Nguyen Trai Street, or hunt for quirky finds at Chung Cu 42 Ton That Thiep, which houses many funky boutique shops,” she says. “For a good meal, I recommend Quan Bui Garden, Hum Vegetarian, The Deck Saigon and Au Parc Saigon.”


An eye on the future

When Chau can finally take to the skies again, she’ll be sure to take along all her requisite travel essentials. She always packs a pair of sunglasses, a bucket hat, mosquito spray, sunscreen, a small camera to capture the memories and a water bottle so that she can stay hydrated. In her carry-on luggage, she’ll have face masks, a book, shoes and vitamins.

As for her packing advice? “Some tips I have are to roll your clothing items instead of folding them to maximize luggage space; to nestle fragile things in between your clothes rather than cram them altogether; and to put your cosmetics in waterproof bags in case they leak in transit,” she reveals.

The top two places on Chau’s post-pandemic travel bucket list are return trips to Japan and Paris. “I think that everyone will soon have a newfound appreciation for travel,” Chau says, when asked how Covid-19 will change how people explore the world. “We’ll walk a little slower, laugh a bit harder and enjoy ourselves more. And we won’t ever take it for granted again.”

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