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17-Day Itinerary

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Any thoughts on these 5 destinations for a 17-day itinerary in Vietnam?

--HCMC (3 nights) (get over jet lag, visit a friend, we like big cities and think we will really like HCMC)

--Can Tho (1 night) (see the Cai Rang floating martket), fly Can Tho to Da Nang

--Hoi An (3 nights) (not shoppers but like to window shop, looking forward to the relaxing evening time), private driver to Hue

--Hue (3 nights) (we are very much looking forward to Hue), fly to Hanoi

--Hanoi (7 nights) (what an awesome-looking city, we will do museums and Old Quarter. Likely stay in Old Quarter, though Sofitel Metropole looks neat, yet that is in French Quarter not Old Quarter. May do an excursion to Halong Bay for 1 night cruise, or Mai Chau for 1 night but that a lot of driving. If we go to Halong Bay, may splurge take the seaplane from Hanoi. Sapa looks fascinating but that robs minimum 3 nights from Hanoi.). Return flight to Houston.

As for interestes, we like cities, culture, history, food including street food, nice hotels, wifi, strolling around, scenery when not too hard to get to, alot of walking or some easy trekking are fine, but not into difficult trekking or hiking. May try a bicycle when and if that made sense.

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    We loved Sapa and the beautiful scenery. IMO I would go there rather than to Halong bay. The thing I like about going to Sapa as opposed to Halong bay (besides enjoying the locale better), is that you travel at night on each end (hopefully sleeping) and therefore do not waste time in traveling. A lot will depend though on when you go and how the weather will be. There are plenty of easy hikes that you can take. While I think Hanoi has much to offer, you can cut out two days from there and one from any of the other cities. I was not a great fan of Saigon, but there are others who prefer it to Hanoi. You can easily see most of the sites in two days and you can do Can Tho on the third day. We visited Can Tho and stayed overnight, but I was not greatly impressed by it. If you intend to see the markets on the water, then you will have to be there early in the morning. If you have traveled to Siem Reap and have toured tonal sap (sp?) lake there, you will find that life on the lake (markets, homes, schools, etc) are very similar to that in the Mekong Delta. Whatever you do though, will be great. We love our trip to Vietnam.

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    I think your plan looks pretty good, but like dgunbug, I am with dgunbug in not a being fan of Halong Bay and in the context of the time you have available, I would probably spend the time elsewhere ( although the seaplane does sound great!). If you are intent on seeing the karst scenery then consider Bai Tu Long, the next bay along from Ha Long which is much quieter. Or maybe Ninh Binh, an inland version of Ha Long.

    There is a huge amount to see and do in Hanoi and the food is wonderful but I think you can afford to lose a couple of days to fit somewhere else in.

    I love Saigon! Again the food is wonderful, you can probably do the main sights in a very rushed day but better to take your time and three days is perfect.

    I love the delta region and spent a few weeks exploring there earlier this year and loved it but Cantho is really just a big city with not much going for it apart from Cai Rang market which is magical in the early morning (I.e.5.00 am). A long way to go just for that - I would add a night and stay at http://nguyenshack.com

    Hoi An is great for shopping but if buying clothes beware of the many scams operating. It is no longer the quiet relaxing place it once was. We saw more tourists there than anywhere else's during our three months in the country.

    Hue is wonderful. Take a cruise on the river and do make time to get out to the Imperial Tombs either by car or bike if feeling energetic.in fact if you want to do some cycling Hue is definitely the place to do it.

    There is a lot more info and photos of our recent time in Vietnam on our blog @

    http://accidentalnomads.com/category/vietnam/

    You will have a great time. Vietnam is my favourite country in SE Asia by far.

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