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Vietnam - In Search of Accessible Nature

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Hi,

We just returned from a trip to Japan (will post a trip report soon -- you all were very helpful in crafting our itinerary) and are itching to get back to Asia. We've settled on 11 days in Vietnam for the first half of March -- we know it's not long, but it's the most we can get swing once our travel from New York is taken into account.

We've decided to spend the brunt of our time in Hanoi, Halong Bay, Hoi An and Da Nang (for some beach time.) I really wanted to get up to Sapa to see the terraced rice fields but it just doesn't look feasible with the amount of time we have. Are there other options for overnight or day trips close to the main cities we're planning to visit that would afford us some nature? For an idea of what we're into, I loved the vistas of rice paddies in Bali and Kamikochi in the Japanese Alps. We'd love to do a (relatively easy) bike ride or hike.

Here's the rough itinerary I just started crafting (I know it seems fast-paced, but we want to err on the side of moving quickly on this trip to see as much as possible. We found we didn't need as much time as we though in each place in Japan.)

Wednesday, March 4: Arrive evening

Thursday, March 5: Hanoi

Friday, March 6: Hanoi

Saturday, March 7: To Halong Bay, morning. Overnight in Halong Bay

Sunday, March 8: Halong Bay, back to Hanoi at night

Monday, March 9: Da Nang

Tuesday, March 10: Da Nang

Wednesday, March 11: Hoi An

Thursday, March 12: Hoi An

Friday, March 13: Day trip? [This can be moved if day trip is more accessible to another location.]

Saturday, March 14: Back to Hanoi

Sunday, March 15: Flight home in the evening

Also, any thoughts on Da Nang? It doesn't seem as nice as other beaches in Vietnam (I would have loved to have gone to Phu Quoc) but I think it will be worth it for us to stay there to minimize our travel time. (Plus we have some free hotel nights we can use for a nice place there.) But if it's really not nice, please let me know -- we really love beaches.

Thanks!
Rachel

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