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Help with Itinerary

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First time traveler and backpacker here -

Just booked a spontaneous trip to Vietnam and Thailand for three weeks in August - September. The following are my flight schedules.

Flying into Ho Chi Minh City - August 19 at 5:30 AM ( 5 nights)
Flying to Hanoi - August 23rd at 10:55 AM (5 nights)
Flying to Bangkok - August 28 at 9:00 AM (5 nights)
Flying to Chiang Mai - September 2 at 2:40 PM (5 nights)
Flying to Phuket - September 7 at 11:35 AM (3 nights)
Flying to Bankgkok - Sepember 10 at 11:55 AM
Flying out of Bangkok on September 10 at 5:05 PM

Yes, I know. It looks kind of crazy and overzealous for me to plan such a rigorous schedule but I think it is completely doable. That being said - I would love your inputs in what interesting activities and food vendors I should get into while on this 3-week journey.

I also have not booked my accommodations yet so recommendations regarding that would be welcome as well, plus that gives me a little bit more leeway in where I can go while in these major hubs.

Thank you for your input!

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    Actually, I think it is a pretty good itinerary if you want to sample Thailand and VN. You have a reasonable amount of time in each city plus a brief beach stay. Knowing nothing of your interests, it's hard to recommend activities. As for food, I think you will be able to find that on your own. And some vendor who was there on my last trip or someone else's may no longer be there.

    Since you are planning to eat street food, let me highly recommend that you get the Hepatitis vaccine and also the typhoid vaccine. Both are spread by contaminated food and water. Do take along medications in case you get GI symptoms.

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    Flying into Ho Chi Minh City - August 19 at 5:30 AM ( 5 nights)
    Flying to Hanoi - August 23rd at 10:55 AM (5 nights)
    Flying to Bangkok - August 28 at 9:00 AM (5 nights)
    Flying to Chiang Mai - September 2 at 2:40 PM (5 nights)
    Flying to Phuket - September 7 at 11:35 AM (3 nights)
    Flying to Bankgkok - Sepember 10 at 11:55 AM
    Flying out of Bangkok on September 10 at 5:05 PM

    I reckon it's easily doable, but you need to get out of those big towns a bit, or you'll be chocking on poor air and traffic fumes.

    You really should be spending your final overnight in Bangkok too, it'd cut out any stress if your Phuket-Bangkok flight is delayed or cancelled.

    You haven't booked any accommodation, but you haven't given a daily budget for your accommodation.....but you have mentioned 'backpacker'. How does up to US$40 a night sound?

    What nationality are you?

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    Yeah, I was thinking of changing my flight pattern to HCM -> HN -> Phuket/Chiang Mai -> Chiang Mai / Phuket -> Bangkok

    For accommodation - $40/night sounds pretty expensive but that depends on where I'll be staying. I'm technically backpacking but I'm not SUPER budget conscious. That being said, I'm travelling for the experience and willing for most things.

    I'm an American and Korean ethnically.

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    Are you flying long distance on a one way flight to Vietnam and on a one way flight home from Thailand?

    Round trip to Bangkok and a discount airline to and from Vietnam might be cheaper. Depends on where you start from, you have to do the math! There are many flights between Bangkok and Vietnam. (Bangkok has 2 airports, they are not that close together.) Suvarnabhumi BKK is the bigger and newer airport. Don Muang DMK is the older airport.

    Phuket is more expensive for me than Bangkok. Bangkok has good cheap city transportation.

    September weather for Phuket might be a little iffy.
    http://www.phuket.com/island/weather-september.htm

    I agree with previous post, a final night in Bangkok can be helpful and you don't have to worry about your connecting flight being cancelled or late because of weather or mechanical problems. (Replacing a missed flight home can be expensive.)

    From the major cities you can take side trips to nearby tourist sites. Don't know if your budget allows for signing on to shared tours. You can sign on to some tours in person in major cites. Shared tours are usually in vans with 6 or 8 other tourists.


    Don't worry about finding places to eat at. You won't starve. You can always do a Google search for where to east if needed. In Bangkok there are lots of Seven Eleven type stores, supermarkets, food courts in malls, street vendors, McDonalds,Burger Kings, etc.

    For Bangkok some younger tourists often choose Khao San Road location (Google it up) for cheap hotels and to be around other younger tourists. For me, an old fart, I prefer hotels where I can use city rail services. (Skytrain, subway and Airport Rail Link. For me Bangkok I prefer Nana-Asoke area of Sukhumvit.)

    Flying from the US or from Korea or something else?

    Bangkok has quite a few Korean expats by the way.

    September is low season for hotel prices and availability. I would have a hotel booked for first night or two in arrival cities and final night in departure city but leave the middle for "spur of the moment" decisions.

    Good luck.

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    I assume that you do know that it is likely to be wet in most of those places in Aug/Sept? Buy an umbrella on arrival. For that reason I would probably leave out Phuket esp. for just 3 days. If you really want beach time head to Hua Hin on the opposite coast. 3 hours by train from Bangkok and better weather. We will be there for a few days in August. Not the greatest place in Thailand for beaches but at least you stand a reasonable chance of seeing sun and sand at the same time!

    5 days in a good time for Hanoi, you could easily spend all that time there and still want for more sightseeing. However, as LL suggests, do get of the cities to see rural Vietnam. The Mai Chau valley is beautiful if you get away from the main gateway town into the countryside. Two hours by bus and worth a night or two. Stay in a home stay. Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum complex, his house, etc. is a must see. Temple of literature, one Pillar Pagoda - essentially by a guide nook or research on Lin etc see what interests you. Some good stuff on the destination guide this very website that peopl often ignore. Accomodation- we stayed at Splendid Star Boutique Hotel. Great location just next to St Josephs cathedral. Great value at $30 pn. You can get cheaper though. Booking.com is your friend!

    I have spent weeks in Saigon but that is too much for most people. Five days is possible 2 too many in the context of your trip. Either reduce the time there or maybe consider the Mekong Delta for an overnight. Main D1 sights can be seen in a long day. NOtre Dame, Post Office, Le Lou area, Ben Than, Reunification Palace, War Remnants Museum etc. Cholon. Excellent food is all around and IMO is better than that found in Hanoi. You will find some info and photos of our time in Vietnam on our blog @ https://accidentalnomads.com just click on the destination tab for Vietnam and the food tab for a food guide.
    Ms Yangs Homestay is our home from home in Saigon. Can be found on booking.com or contact her via Facebook (tell her "Bun Mam" sent you and she will look after you :-) some of our favourite small restaurants are close by including Pho Le, one of the best places for Pho in the city.

    I haven't got time now but if you do want more specific recs for eating in Hanoi or Saigon let me know and I will see if I can dig a few out. Good luck with you planning.

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