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Advice for our Vietnam travel itinerary

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Hi everyone, myself and my girlfriend will be travelling to Vietnam from the 17th Dec - 5th or 6th January.
We're crazy excited about it as it will be our first trip to Vietnam and having moved to Thailand back in August are keen to make it as memorable as possible over the Christmas period. Its also my birthday on the 27th! It will be the first Christmas & New Years away from home in the UK so have no idea what to expect in regards to these Western holidays.
We've put together an itinerary using both this forum and other research over the past few weeks and are hoping for some feedback & advice about if its both manageable/places of interest/hotel recommendations from people that live there or have visited it themselves. We have a budget of about £1000 though as we both work in Thailand, saving money where possible would be great to!
The idea is for the familiar route of travelling from the North down to the South:

Fly into Hanoi from Thailand (probably Bangkok)
Move steadily south visiting several places along the way
Fly back to Thailand from Ho Chi Minh

Living on Koh Samui we've seen plenty of beaches lately and are keen to experience the more cultural and historically significant aspects to Vietnam but with a few relaxing beach days thrown in. That being said, we are realistic in understanding that you're only really scratching the surface in our timeframe! We'll be packing for the colder north and hoping from some sun too once we hit the south. Once again, thanks for taking the time to read my post, sorry if its a bit long but as you can imagine, we want to make the most of our first big adventure outside Thailand!
I'd really appreciate some advice on any overnight travelling options and tips for safety. Ive included our 'rough' dates places of interest. Each date however is open to change though we'd like to be in Hoi An for Christmas & DaLat for New Years flower festival (unless someone recommends differently!)

Arrive Hanoi – 17th evening - 20th
• Vietnamese women’s museum
• Ho Chi Minh mausoleum and museum
• One Pillar Pagoda
• Water puppet show
• Jazz club
• Tran Quoc Pagoda
• Hoa Lo prison
• SF Salon and spa
• Markets – Hang Da, Cho Ho, Dong Xuan, Old quarter night market
• Hanoi Old Town Hotel £12 a night (excellent reviews)

20th-22nd Halong Bay
• 2 day trip – book in Hanoi•
• Junk boat tour & overnight

22nd - 24th Hue (overnight train from Hanoi (Livitrans Express recommended))
• Imperial Citadel
• Tombs of the Emperor
• Blind massage
• Bike tour (top gear)
• Than Tan hot springs
• Ho Chi minh museum

24th Da Nang (possibly just stay the day and head to Hoi An on the evening) or skip altogether if can't fit in) 40km Taxi $25
• Cham museum
• Marble mountains


24th-26th Hoi An
• Old town – coupon to see 5 attractions
• Hoi An orphanage
• Gioan riverside restaurant cooking lessons
• Bicycle tour to Cam Kim
• Christmas eve meal????
• Hoi An Trails

gap here as do not know where to spend my birthday on the 27th... stay in Hoi An longer or travel down to Nha Trang and then move everything up a few days on the itinerary for a new place or stay longer in one of them? advice needed!


28th – 30th Nha Trang
• Beach
• Waterfalls
• Bicycle tour
• Surfing!

30th – 1st DaLat (five hr bus from Nha Trang)
• Monastery on top of mountain
• Markets
• Lake
• Lang Biang mountain
• Flower festival
• New Years eve!

1st – 3rd Phan Thiet (Mui Ne)
• Best beach!
• Hoang Kim Golden

3rd -5th Ho Chi Minh City
• Reunification Palace
• War remnants museum
• Thien Hau Pagoda
• Twenty three September Park (sports/social)

5th or 6th fly home to Thailand


Thanks for reading sorry its so long, take care and your advice is massively appreciated!!

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