16 days in Vietnam... HELP!!!

Old Jan 30th, 2008, 03:06 AM
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16 days in Vietnam... HELP!!!

Myself and my good friend James are landing in HCM city on Thursday 28th Feb and are flying back home to Australia on Saturday 15th March.

This is the first time to Vietnam for both of us and really want to maximise our time, without rushing around too much.

We want to see around HCM area, Mekong Delta, Nha Trang, Hoi An, Hanoi, Halong Bay and maybe even Sapa (recommended by friends)... or any other sights &/or places that we simply must see.

Any help & itinerary suggestions by experienced travellers to Vietnam would be greatly appreciated and most welcomed.

Just letting you know... we have also budgeted $100 AUD per day (each), with a little bit extra if needed. We are also in our mid 30s and early 40s respectively

Thank you,
Robb (& James)
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Old Jan 30th, 2008, 06:15 AM
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Wow, a lot of travel you are planning to do in a very limited time!
Maybe you are not recognizing how big Vietnam really is.
Saigon to the Chinese border (Sapa) could be roughly 1500 miles.
So I think you have to decide if you wanna see beaches, culture or people. Or concentrate on a few parts of Vietnam.
My proposal would look like
2 days Saigon
2-3 days Mekong delta
taking train no 1 to Hanoi with stop-over in Nha Trang and Danang (with transit to Hoi An)
in all maybe 6-8 days
2 days Hanoi and Halong each
flying out of Hanoi.
This should be the maximum you can do in a lil bit more than a fortnight.
And be prepared that Saigon as well as Nha Trang and Danang is having tropical climate in February/March.
Hanoi and Halong vice versa can be freezing cold during that time of the year.
I think bisbee is still coming in. He can tell you more.

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Old Jan 30th, 2008, 09:09 AM
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As wolf says, don't have the idea that you can do it all in 16 days.

I'd suggest choosing three areas, center yourself in each for about 5 days and explore the surrounding areas. I'd choose HCMC (Mekong Delta, etc from there), Hue/HoiAn. and Hanoi.
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Old Jan 31st, 2008, 12:21 AM
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Thanks for the tips to date. Yes... I too think it is a good idea to choose maybe 3 areas and spend 5 days in each of them. Sapa really sounds good and like it would be an interesting place to visit, but maybe next time... we will see
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Old Jan 31st, 2008, 04:55 AM
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I'm going to take a disenting view from the others. You can do a lot in Vietnam in 16 days.

Unlike India where you need to leave lots of time for delays and confusion, Vietnam is very efficient. Things run on time and you can do a lot in a relatively short period of time. The airports and flights are terrific. All flights are "one hour"

I think you can do what you originally planned in 16 days if, what you are looking for, is a "tasting menu" of Vietnam. I did Luang Prabang, Hanoi, Vietnam, Hue, Hoi An (drove over the Hai Van pass with a stop in Danang and China Beach), Saigon and Angkor in 16 days.

Would I have preferred a longer time in some places? Of course. Did I get a "This is tuesday, it must be Hoi An feeling on some days? Yes. However, it was great fun and my next trip will be much more laid back. I had an absolutely wonderful time. I was with a small group from Wilderness Travel, so all the arrangements were made for me and I simply followed the instructions. If you are well organized and plan in advance, you can do your original trip. However, many hate traveling this way and find trying to do so much pedestrian. I've travelled in Asia completely on my own and slowly, I've now travelled with a group and moving through a lot of places in a short time. They both have their charms and their headaches.

It is all in the experience you are looking for.
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Old Jan 31st, 2008, 06:46 AM
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Robb, Do read Boston Harbor's trip report. It's an excellent report, and I think captures the sense of this very fast-paced trip. If after you read it, you think "Wow, this is exactly what I want to do!" then stick with your original plan. If, however, you read it and think "How awful!" then go for a slower pace that allows you to get a better sense of each of the fewer places you visit.
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Old Jan 31st, 2008, 10:52 AM
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Hello robbkat,
sure you can do it all in your short time.
But if I read your post right, you are not planning >rushing around too much< and your budget is around 100 A$ per day, being not the world.
BostonHarbor certainly didnt do his trip to Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia for 1500 A$ all included.
Just to mention that, several years ago I made Frankfurt/Bangkok/Auckland/Honolulu/Los Angeles/Mexico City/Sao Paulo and back to Europe in 3 weeks or so.
But needed 1 week recreation afterwards. And cost me somewhat around 10000 US in all.
So better take Kathies advice, which more or less cover mine.
Needing more informations, be so frank to post it.
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Old Feb 2nd, 2008, 11:53 AM
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Wolfmisc, you are correct. The trip cost a significantly more than $1500. As I said, it is all in what you are looking for. I've done both fast and leisurely. I like both equally. It is all in what you are looking for. However, Kathie, there is no way the trip I took could be considered "awful" by anyone--regardless of how much travel one has done. Most of this people in our group had hiked to the base camp on Everest or camped in Mongolia. One had just hiked in Chile for the previous month by himself. Sometimes even adventurers want a trip where someone else does the thinking.

The same person can like both at different times and for different reasons. Regardless, Vietnam is a very easy, very friendly place that does not have the issues that countries like India have. That was my initial point. If I were in my 20's or 30's and backpacking without prearranged tickets, I would just wing it. Start out someplace, start moving, and then stay as long as you want when you find an interesting place. I did Europe like that for six weeks without one hotel reservation and just a Eurail pass when I was in my late 20's and it was the best trip of my life. Ah, yes....what a trip
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Old Feb 2nd, 2008, 02:14 PM
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Boston, I'm sorry if you were offended by my characterization of your trip as seeming awful to some people. Indeed, to me it seems awful - not for you, you loved it - because it's not how I like to travel. Seven places in 16 days is my idea of hell - not heaven. I would feel like I saw everything and experienced nothing. We're all different. That's the point of my post.
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Old Feb 2nd, 2008, 04:36 PM
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I know what you mean. I couldn't stand Bangkok and everyone here on the board seems so enamored by it. I must have missed something.
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Old Feb 3rd, 2008, 12:11 AM
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Hi robbkat,

Flying in on Thu and out on Sat? Jetstar by any chance? Me too. You have exactly the same number of days I had in Nov 2007. I didn't keep a strict watch but my budget probably was c.100aud a day - cheap n cheerful but I did splash out on a couple of internal flights, and if you want to go to Hanoi you may find it worthwhile too.

In case it's of any assistance here's what I did.

Stayed Thu-Sat in HCMC. Sun went to Mekong for a 2 day 1 night tour. Stayed Mon again in HCMC then took a very early flight to Hue. That wasn't part of the original plan and neither was spending 2 full days in Saigon, but having done that I decided to fly to make going to Hue worthwhile. Before leaving Saigon I bought a train ticket to travel from Hoi An to Hanoi.

Then another change of plan. Weather in Hoi An was not looking good so instead of heading off on the bus (I planned on spending 4 days there) I skipped it and went to Hanoi by train from Hue, arriving Hanoi early Friday morning.

So at this point I still had 9 days of my holiday left - but you can't really count the last Saturday if you are in Hanoi and flying out of HCMC! Still 8 days is enough to visit both Sapa and Halong Bay and have a good look round in Hanoi. For reasons I won't go into I only went to Halong Bay (2 days 1 night). I flew from Hanoi back to HCMC at midday (didn't want to cut it too fine) and as the plane was only a little late I had time to take the bus into HCMC, do some shopping, eat and get back to the airport in time for that Jetstar flight.

You don't have Hue on your list but you do have Nha Trang. You probably could do it all (but it would be a bit manic especially if you are making it up as you go along and buying train and other tix in Vietnam). Remember, every time you move you lose a day arriving generally too late to hook into tours leaving that day. Having said that there were three Australian girls on my Halong bay trip who had got back from Sapa the morning they left for Halong Bay!

Happy trails.




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