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20 Day Cambodia and Vietnam trip in August -what do you think?

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Dec 14th, 2011, 06:23 AM
  #1
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20 Day Cambodia and Vietnam trip in August -what do you think?

We have changed our minds and have decided we should really go to Siem Reap and also Vietnam (originally we were just going to visit only Vietnam). We will be traveling with 2 kids (ages 8 and 11). Here is what I have tentatively planned. What do you think? Wondering if it is too many flights!

Thinking of going from August 12-August 31 (20 days ground time)

Fly from NYC to Siem Reap (Cambodia) - 4 nights.

Fly from Cambodia to Hanoi (3 nights in Hanoi)

Hanoi to Halong Bay (2 nights on Halong Bay)- drive to Halong Bay is about 3 hours.

Go back to Hanoi - spend 2 more nights

Fly from Hanoi to Hue (1 hour 10 mins flight) -(spend 3 nights)

Train ride from Hue to Danang/Hoi An (3 hour train ride) -spend 3 nights

Fly Hoi An to Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon) -1 hour 10 min flight -spend 3 nights.

Fly from Saigon to NYC.

Thanks for all of your help!

Sue
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Dec 14th, 2011, 07:39 AM
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I like your itinerary, although you miss out on Sapa which was our favorite place and one the kids would love. However, that being said...the weather in August is less than ideal for Vietnam and Cambodia and the trip will be extremely draining. Sapa that time of year is probably not a great idea as it is the rainy season and roads and trails could be quite muddy and hazardous. Is it possible to schedule this trip another time of year?
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Dec 14th, 2011, 08:42 AM
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Hi Dgunbug,

Thanks for feedback!

Our kids are on summer vacation in August so this is really our only chance to go for a longer period of time. We are willing to take the chance of having rainy weather. And I think we will reverse the itinerary so going from southern Vietnam and ending up in Hanoi. Plus, I think we will not go to Hue and spend 1 day longer in Cambodia, and 2 days longer in HCMC. I don't want to spend too much time either flying or via train.
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Dec 14th, 2011, 10:05 AM
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I absolutely would NOT add two more days to HCMC -- there just isn't that much to do or see (it's a nice, bordering-on-international city, but in terms of sights to see, not nearly as many as other places in Vietnam, including Hue).

I would add at least a day to Siem Reap because your first day is likely to be lost to jet lag. I would keep Hue in the mix and shorten my time in HCMC.

We had 17 days in the area last March (plus 4 in Hong Kong), and did this, which worked out well:

Fly San Francisco to Hanoi - arrive late at night and spend 5 days and nights (one day of which was spent on a day trip to Halong Bay, not overnight). So, we had 4 full days in Hanoi and 1 full day to Halong Bay and back.

On the evening of the 5th full day (around 8 p.m.), fly to Hue - arrive late at night and spend 2 nights. We had 1-1/2 days of sightseeing in Hue.

Mid-day on the 2nd full day in Hue, drive to HoiAn for 3 nights. We had planned for 3 full days in HoiAn in addition to the day of arrival. We ended up leaving earlier on the 3rd day than planned because the weather turned bad. So, 2-1/2 day in HoiAn.

On the evening of the 3rd full day in HoiAn, fly to HCMC for 2 nights. Total of 1-1/2 days.

On the mornign of the 3d day in HCMC, fly to Siem Reap for 4 nights. Total of 3-1/2 days, of which 1/2 was spent poking around town, two were spent visiting the temples and one was spent at the pool!

It wasn't too much for us (of course we weren't traveling with children) and we had the right amount of time in the places we visited. We would like to go back and visit some of the hill country that we were not able to get to on this trip.
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Dec 15th, 2011, 06:46 AM
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I agree with the above poster - do not add more time to Saigon and try to keep Hue in your itinerary. It was one of our favorite destinations, perhaps more so than Hoi An which is lovely. 1 1/2 days are fine in Hue. I think that is what we had. Hoi An can be seen in a day, but I think the kids would enjoy some down time on the beach. If you want to shop or have clothes made, you will need more than 1 day in Hoi An. We spent five days in Siem Reap, three for touring the ruins, 1/2 day out at Tonle Sap Lake and one exploring the city of Siem Reap, wandering along the river, etc. I could have explored more temples, but my husband was templed out. Be sure to get a hotel with a pool. It will be very hot and you will need to rest during the mid day.
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Dec 15th, 2011, 11:12 AM
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My view, tho' tastes differ, is that with this revision you have it exactly right. We had three days in Hue and four in Hoi An, and Hoi An is the place I'd return to and Hue is the one I'd skip. The extra time in HCMC could be used visiting the Mekong Delta for a day or two. We spent six nights in Siem Reap on a different trip, and if you're travelling straight through from NYC then an extra day of recovery time would be good in the hot weather.
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Dec 15th, 2011, 11:49 AM
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<<>>

Which leads me to....everyone has different likes and dislikes. My DS and his GF went on a boat trip in the Mekong Delta (we skipped it) and found it excruciatingly boring.
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Dec 15th, 2011, 12:30 PM
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www.weather2travel.com climate guides lots of rain himid then.
the angkorguide.netgood temples too crammed for me Bali www.komaneka.com or China for me in August in cooler drier climes.Pare back to enjoy and save.
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Dec 15th, 2011, 05:45 PM
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Thanks all for your responses. I really appreciate all the feedback. I am now thinking we may go from the south to the north of Vietnam. Does it really matter? I am thinking that Saigon will be more rainy so start there and work our way north where it will be less rainy?

And I will make sure all of the hotels we reserve will have a pool!

So here is the revised itinerary:

Siem Reap -5 nights

Ho Chi Minh City -4 nights (we can decide if we want to tour MeKong Delta when we get there). Wondering if we should skip HCMC altogether and go to Hue instead? I am trying to cut back travel time as much as possible. I realize we won't be able to do it all!

Hoi An -4 nights (we would like some beach down time)

Hanoi -3 nights

Halong Bay -2 nights

Hanoi -2 nights

We will fly from place to place with the exception of going from Hanoi to Halong Bay (taking a car or bus?)
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Dec 15th, 2011, 07:15 PM
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Actually, sf7307, our Mekong Delta day trip from Saigon to Ben Tre Island was one of the highlights of our four weeks in Vietnam. Tonkin Tours arranged it for us. A 90-minute drive south with a private car and driver, then by boat to Ben Tre. On the island we saw a candy factory, had a pony cart ride, went to a restaurant for a break and observed a performance of VN music, and had a lunch at another location, then by sampan down the river and return to the mainland (the boat was maybe 20 minutes each way). Visited a big temple, and then by car back to Saigon. I can't think that anyone would find that day-trip at all boring. Which goes to show, that not only do tastes differ, but the quality of the tour offered can really determine your degree of enjoyment..
What was it that your "DS and his GF ... found excruciatingly boring?" Who was the tour with and what did they take in? Did they have a private guide for the duration as we did? Like many others on this board, I give high recommendations to Tonkin.
We probably would have taken a longer Mekong trip except that we had been, on other trips, to Tonle Sap in Cambodia and to the Floating Market near Bangkok, and thought it might be repetitive of those experiences.
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Dec 15th, 2011, 08:23 PM
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WJ, I actually don't know the details, but they'll be home on Monday, so I'll ask!
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Dec 16th, 2011, 06:53 AM
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As sf7307 says, ...everyone has different likes and dislikes. The Mekong Delta and Saigon portions of our trip were my least favorite of our 3 1/2 weeks in VN. If you intend to visit Tonle Sap Lake just outside of Siem Reap, which I recommend, then you will see the same Vietnamese floating villages that you will see in the Delta. I actually enjoyed the floating village in SR better, but perhaps that was because I saw them first. While Tonle Sap Lake is in Cambodia, the people living in the floating villages are from Vietnam, having fled there during and after the Vietnamese War.
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Dec 16th, 2011, 07:25 AM
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On our Vietnam trip, I loved our day down on the delta. I've been to Tonle Sap and I thought the day on the delta was more interesting and scenic, not to mention informative than what we saw/did at Tonle Sap. I don't think you should skip seeing this part of Vietnam.
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Dec 16th, 2011, 08:23 AM
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Keilor18, though we are normally DIY types when it comes to travel, in Vietnam it is advantageous to have a travel company make the arrangements. You don't have to make separate deposits for six hotels and four different plane tickets, etc. Now that you have a skeletal itinerary, ask Tonkin or some other agency to give you a quote for the whole 20 days. You can fine-tune and alter things to your heart's content for the next 8 months, but get them to book your flights, arrange airport transfers, suggest hotels, and put on city tours.
One big advantage is that you will have a private pickup to and from the airports with a car big enough for all four of you and your luggage--and thereby avoid the absolutely worst aspect of travel in Vietnam, the dreaded taxi scam.
They will find you hotels with pools--or you can find the ones you want and request them. Check their hotel suggestions on the TA reviews and ask for an alternative if you want. This can go on endlessly. There are inveterate DIYers who will tell you that you can do it more cheaply yourself--Don't believe them! Or challenge them to go head-to-head with an agency's quote (as I did).
Anyway, do look into this possibility even if you discard it at the end. Or get several competing quotes and pick-and-choose or get them to price match.
One additional point: If you wait until arrival in Hanoi or Saigon to book your Halong Bay junk or delta tour, you'll pay the same and get less. It is advisable to nail down what you can in advance.
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Dec 16th, 2011, 01:44 PM
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We used Tonkin to book our train tickets but booked our hotels on our own.
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Dec 17th, 2011, 08:19 PM
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Hi WillJame and dgunbug

I truly appreciate your suggestions. I have literally spent hours doing research on this trip but I love doing it. I have taken up your suggestion and emailed Tonkin Travel. I already worked out how much accommodation and internal flights would cost so I would be curious if Tonkin Travel could come up with more inexpensive plan and at the same time, fulfill our needs/requirements.

Thanks again!
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