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16 nights in Vietnam - let the planning begin!

16 nights in Vietnam - let the planning begin!

Nov 16th, 2018, 04:36 AM
  #21  
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Thank you again crellston!

Is Hahn Air Systems OK to use? It is the cheapest nonstop showing on expedia... Vietnam Air is half again as much (104 versus 160). I will have checked bags so if one charges (or loses) then it's a false economy...

Will check into the seaplane stuff, at least for a local spin, if I have time...

Thank you

Last edited by flygirl; Nov 16th, 2018 at 04:40 AM.
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Nov 17th, 2018, 04:53 AM
  #22  
 
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I could be wrong am pretty sure that Hanh Air is a consolidator rather than an actual airline ,so you could end up on any airline , but not theirs as aparently, they dont run any planes.

I generally use Kayak to source flights and buy direct for the airline site. If you are talk about domestic flights in Vietnam them Vietjet and Jetsar Pacific are alternatives to Vietnam Airways. Vietjet are good , Jetstar not so much IME.
If you are looking at regional flights then Air Asia are often the most economical. In all cases budget carriers, pay for checked bags in advance to avoid extortionate airport fees. Many offer package including seat selection, priority boarding onlicheck in Etc. all of which are worthwhile in SE Asia.
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Nov 18th, 2018, 04:52 AM
  #23  
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Thanks crellston!

I have the Saturday morning to Hue flight booked now. Vietjet. very cheap including good seats and checked bags - I am in the very first row. Plus travel insurance for 3 bucks, why not.

Trying to get my Thursday late afternoon flight to Saigon booked. Vietjet website not cooperating all of a sudden.

Nonetheless, this means a full week in Hanoi and around, and, Saturday lunch time to Thursday late afternoon in Hue/Hoi An, and, Thursday dinner time to Sunday late evening in Saigon. More or less three days in Saigon (or near it, if I do a day trip somewhere).

I think this is a good mix.


Thank you again, it is coming together!
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Nov 23rd, 2018, 05:27 AM
  #24  
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I got my Da Nang - Saigon tickets just fine. All set there.

I was wondering (and might start a new quick thread): Golden Bridge, the bridge with the hands - looks like it is between Hue and Hoi An. I plan to hire a driver to take me from Hue to Hoi An when it is time to switch towns.

Is that along the typical sightseeing route between cities? I read there is a very pretty sightseeing road but I would have to go back and see what the route was called, to go between cities. Is it fairly accessible or somewhat out of the way?

Thanks!
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Nov 25th, 2018, 06:47 PM
  #25  
 
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Our itinerary from June of this year said: "After breakfast, depart from Hue for Hoi An via the picturesque Hai Van Pass (Pass of the Ocean Clouds) moving through many pretty red-tiled villages and enjoying a spectacular view of the sea and the sky." Not sure about the Golden Bridge.

I'm sure you plan to visit the rice terraces outside Sapa. That was my favorite part.
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Nov 27th, 2018, 04:01 AM
  #26  
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Thanks Sundowner!

I don't think Sapa is in the cards this time. I only have a week in Hanoi and with Halong Bay taking two days and possibly Ninh Binh for one other, I would like to have the rest for Hanoi itself. but I agree, it looks marvelous and I wish I had more time.

I found the Hanoi Cooking Centre and plan to take either a street food/market tour with them, or, a cooking class. The tour is daily which would be easier to fit in, the cooking classes for my week seem to only have two options for a one off class.

I also found reference elsewhere for a NIGHT tour - or rather very very early morning, like, you meet the guide at 4 AM or something? I have to re-poke around and find that again but it sounded very interesting and I imagine I will be awake anyway haha!

I emailed Buffalo Tours and asked for their seaplane pricing for Halong Bay and will post that when they tell me. I heard they are a good option in general so that would be the tour I take even if I opt for the bus-only version.

for anyone who has visited Halong Bay, I keep seeing photos people have taken from what appears to be a cliff way up high - not a seaplane, this is actually a rocky outcropping with people standing on it, looking out. Is that normally part of a tour? My experience with tours is that you take what they give you unless it's small enough to ask to see something extra - that is a good vantage point for photos!

I hope this thread is useful for anyone else poking around doing some reading for their own trip...
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Nov 27th, 2018, 05:34 AM
  #27  
 
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FWIW Da Nang Airport isn't the most pleasant of Airports.
The Departure Lounge gets very hot and there's little shade.
The PA announcer is a pain in the butt.
Our flight to Saigon was over 4 hours late due to weather in the Saigon area.
While we were in the Airport 2 flights were cancelled completely without notice.
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Nov 27th, 2018, 05:46 AM
  #28  
 
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The earlier you book domestic flights the greater the chance that the Schedule will change, often by hours. So if you are time critical I'd leave the booking until at least 6 weeks before, but that also depends on the size of the aircraft, as a Turboprop will fill up quite quickly.

The more domestic flights you have the greater the chance of your itinerary being messed about, that's one reason why in Vietnam Less = More.
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Dec 3rd, 2018, 03:25 AM
  #29  
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For anyone who has taken Buffalo Tours to Ha Long Bay: do the nice boats actually fill up fast and early?

I have been emailing someone in their ordering department this past week to find out about seaplane rides. I do have the cost, I will post that below.

Anyway this morning his email said that ALL of their boats are filling up fast and are almost full although I am not sure if that is just the sample days he picked (right in the middle of my week) or all week long. They have a brand new boat, l"Azalee Cruise. He urges that I decide my plans soon because he can only hold the spot on the boat a few more days.

Would you take him at his word and just book the boat? Or wait until you got there? I suppose at the end of the day I only have THAT week, and I certainly would prefer a few days in Hanoi to acclimate and get some sleep before heading out - the date he set up is Wednesday-Thursday which would give me Sat-Tues to do my stuff in town and get rid of jet lag. I was merely hoping to be on the ground and watch the weather and then book a boat live.

But I also don't want to be caught out and have to take a crappy boat with a substandard tour company because I waited too long.

The just-boat option is 299 dollars. The bus and boat, and sea plane while you are there, is under 600 bucks... and the seaplane ride TO the bay and a sightseeing ride over the bay before landing and then going to the boat, is under 800 dollars.

Thank you

PS Thank you Lancaster Lad!

Last edited by flygirl; Dec 3rd, 2018 at 03:32 AM.
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Dec 3rd, 2018, 06:38 AM
  #30  
 
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The problem with waiting until you get there to se what the weather is like, is that you aren’t going to know. Whatever is a happening in Hanoi, it there is no real way of telling if it be the same in Halong. Hanoi will likely be dry cool and clear and Halong will like be the same BUT, it can get very misty at that time of year. I would maybe question the advisability of a seaplane trip in misty weather in Halong,

The easiest way to source a cruise is to just ask your Hanoi hotel to sort it out. They will of course take a commission but it saves you the time of trawling the tour agencies in the city and they do have a best interest in making sure you have a reliable operator.

As far as I know buffalo tours are a decent operator and seem to have good reviews but they do seem very expensive and it does sound as though they are perhaps pressuring you into making a decision.

If the HB trip is v. Important to you then book it at a time to suit you, not them. There will always be another operator and few of the boats, except the very cheapest will be "crappy"

The timing of the trip, for me would not so much be about getting over jet lag but the changing of hotels in the least disruptive way - maybe do Hanoi and then head straight to the airport
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Dec 8th, 2018, 03:53 AM
  #31  
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Thank you crellston. I decided to wait. I am sure there will be others if this doesn't work out. and you're right and precisely the reason I did not want to book now - who books a sightseeing flight a month out? I've done several before and you always wait until the day before / day of. Sure, you could get left out, but why book anything when you don't have any idea if it will be a go. and the boat and flight go together, if I do that...

also, I know this sounds frivolous, but I am unlikely to check out of my hotel room. I would just leave my stuff there, advise the staff I am away one night, and take a small bag with me for the overnight. I am eight nights in Hanoi and I have no idea which night I am going to do this.
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Dec 18th, 2018, 03:04 AM
  #32  
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Hi again!

what kind of plug adaptor do I need to buy? I have several for Europe and the UK, and, Australia. That is it... thanks!
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Dec 18th, 2018, 03:53 AM
  #33  
 
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In Vietnam they use Type A - two flat pin plugs and type C two round pin plugs. If you are from the US I think Type A is the same as you have there. You may also find Type F - two flat and one round pin but Type A always seems to work fine in those.
NB the voltage is 220 - check that your equipment is ok for that. Most modern appliances are dual voltage.
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Dec 19th, 2018, 03:06 AM
  #34  
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Thank you! Sounds like I can take my European adaptors, then. Either my own plug will work, or the European is two-pin.

Yeah my iPhone and Mac Air are both fine. Batteries for camera, fine.

I am debating what camera to bring. I've gotten to where I only take my iPhone on trips because the camera is so heavy. Even Japan - first time - iPhone only. Somehow I feel like I might want to take some more challenging photos - the iPhone is good for decent light and minimal motion. So I have to decide - my big carbuncle 7D (which takes fabulous photos and I have really excellent lenses) or my smaller G1X Mark II which is better than an iPhone but just a high quality point and shoot. hmmmm
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Dec 19th, 2018, 04:52 AM
  #35  
 
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Years ago I used to take DLSR but gave up and started using compact cameras as it was just too much hassle and, travelling carryon only, just not enough space. I now uses a Panasonic TZ 60 ( now superseded several time). Takes great photos and does everything I need inc a 30x optical zoom) and slips into a pocket.

My wife uses her iPhone which does take excellent photos but is limited on wide angle and telephoto.

I got to know a lot of world renown photographers years ago when Reuter’s , the news agency were clients. I used to ask their advice all the time and their mantra was that the best camera in the world is the one you have with you...
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Jan 1st, 2019, 05:16 PM
  #36  
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Why is there such a huge difference in price between what appear to be very nice hotels, such as Art Trendy Hotel and Hotel Elegance Diamond, and, the Sofitel?

Is the Sofitel just that much better or just crazy expensive compared to the others?

The price is not bad for a luxury hotel if that hotel were in say NYC, but, in poking around the other places I see on the "best hotels in old quarter" thread all look quite nice and literally less than half what the Soiftel wants to charge - and in one case, only 15%! Fifteen percent??
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Jan 2nd, 2019, 03:39 AM
  #37  
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If you are not yet bored of my musings... of these hotels, any reason to go with one over the other? Apart from price. I was gobsmacked to see how much more expensive the Sofitel is than many others - yes I know it is luxurious and historic, But a very large disparity in price! Mind you the Sofitel at 375USD a night for a luxury hotel is quite good coming from a western perspective - I've paid as much in NYC for not remotely as nice of a place or as well located! But if I can find something very nice for a third of that, why not.

Sofitel versus the other Accor Hotel, L'Opera - which is barely one third of the price! It seems to be steps away from each other. Thank you crellston!

Hotel de l'Opera Hanoi, MGallery by Sofitel - Hotel Overview

Or the below, also look very nice:

Hanoi La Siesta Hotel & Spa | Hotel in Hanoi | Hanoi Hotel

http://essencehanoihotel.com

http://www.hanoitrendyhotel.com

They all seem well located and the photos certainly look very nice. Much cheaper. One of them is barely 15% of the price of the Sofitel which boggles my mind.

Last edited by flygirl; Jan 2nd, 2019 at 03:43 AM.
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Jan 2nd, 2019, 05:29 AM
  #38  
 
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You pay for the 5*****, ie. all the amenities, whether you use them or not. For this Brit, I'm visiting the country and I stay in the accommodation as little as possible. I don't need a gym, or a smart lounge....if I want a nice meal I'll find a nice busy restaurant somewhere in a vibrant part of town.

There are some super small hotels for less than US$ 50 a night, with a nice breakfast thrown in too.
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Jan 2nd, 2019, 07:55 AM
  #39  
 
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You are welcome flygirl. I forgot mention in my PM that with Accor hotels, if you join and book via Accor Club you get a 5-10% discount plus points.

As LL says there are many perfectly adequate sub $50 US Hotels in Hanoi, but they won’t bear comparison with Hotel de L’Opera. The McGallery brand is one of my favourite 5*s a bit different from the usual.

Of the others you mention, I think we have stayed in the Trendy and the Essence ( but there a lot of copy cat hotel names in Hanoi!) and they were fine. As far as location is concerned , the Opera is south of Hoan Kiem Lake in the French Quarter the more upmarket and quieter part of that area of the city. The others, I think are north or east of the OQ and closer to the markets and the buzzing streets etc.

One thing to beware of is that some of the smaller old quarter hotels are in long, thin buildings and some have little or no natural light. If like LL you won’t spend much time in the room, then it won’t be a problem. We stayed in a couple of such places, The Silk Path Boutique and The Meratus 2. Both close to Hoan Kiem Lake and both decent $50_60 hotels. Another 5* Place right on the lake is The Apricot.

So many choices!!!
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Jan 2nd, 2019, 03:45 PM
  #40  
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crellston, you are right, so many choices! thank you again!

For my next move - I will be spending 2 nights in Hue and 3 nights in Hoi An.

Would there be a reason to prefer one over the other for a weekend stay? I am flying into Hue and then five days later out of Da Nang to Saigon, and I had planned to stay Hue first and Hoi An next, but if Hoi An is more charming for a weekend stay I could move that around.

And now to find the hotels for both those places - yeah I wait, don't I? LOL

Right now in Hue the ones that look appealing are

https://www.imperial-hotel.com.vn

Eldora Hotel

.: INDOCHINE PALACE .:. 5 star hotel, Hue City, Vietnam :.

Guess I should remember my swimsuit!

Waiting on the visa.. will be a big whoop when it comes through!
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