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suggestions for 2nd time to Vietnam itinerary

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I have award tickets for a second visit to Vietnam, first trip was in 2004. We did the typical 2 week tour: Hanoi, Halong Bay, Hue, Hoi An, HCMC. We had a private tour with Griswalds Vietnamese Vacations and they made all the arrangements.

We will arrive Hanoi Feb. 21 @ 10:55pm and depart Hanoi March 8 @12:25AM. We have 14 full days in country. We will stay in the north and center this trip. The one thing I definitely want to do is visit the caves at Phong Na-Ke Bang, stay 2 nights here. We will fly to Dong Hoi from Hanoi to save time.

I am looking at itineraries that include the following:
option 1: train to Sapa, Bai Tu Long Bay cruise 2 nights, Ninh Binh/Mai Chau area 2-3 nights, Phong Na 2 nights, return to Hanoi for flight home.
option 2: train or drive to Sapa, 3-4 nights Ninh Binh/Mai Chau, 2 nights Phong Na, 2 -3 nights between Hue and Hoi An, return to Hanoi for flight home.

Not sure I want to take the overnight train to Sapa or whether February is even a good month to visit this area at all. Also am not sure about the Halong/Bai Tu Long Bay cruise as we did it last time. It looks to be very crowded and not such a good experience anymore. I will make some of the arrangements myself and will use one of the local agencies for short modules. I have been in touch with Ethnic travels, Griswalds, and Indochina Odyssey Tours and all have been responsive with good ideas.

So what do all of you who have been to Vietnam recently advise? I do have plenty of time to plan this all out and fine tune a plan as to the order of visiting the different locales.

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