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27 days in Vietnam: Final Itinerary (maybe)

27 days in Vietnam: Final Itinerary (maybe)

Old Dec 31st, 2010, 10:02 AM
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27 days in Vietnam: Final Itinerary (maybe)

Here, at last, is our updated, and maybe final, itinerary for 27 days in Vietnam in March. V’Explore Travel has been helpful in meeting our requests.
Some of you will remember that this has gone through a few renditions. We ended up combining south, north, and central, trying to include key locations, but without making it a whistle-stopper. The itinerary includes private tours in each place, but is mostly designed to be relatively relaxed with lots of free days.
Thanks to those who assisted with advice and comments.
Happy New Year to all!

Arr HCMC
Saigon 3 nts (Blue Diamond Hotel);
Can Tho 1 nt (Kim Tho Hotel);
[Flight to Hanoi]
Hanoi 2 wks (Elegance 4). including trips to Halong Bay (2 nts, Dragon Pearl) and Sapa via Fanxipan Express (2 nts, Topas Ecolodge);
[Flight to Hue]
Hue 4 nts (Orchid Hotel); [to Danang and Hoi An by car]
Hoi An 4 nts (Vinh Hung Resort)
[Flight to HCMC]
Lv from HCMC
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Old Dec 31st, 2010, 02:01 PM
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Have a wonderful time. Sounds like you are following in our footsteps. Just curious, will you be in Hoi An for the lantern festival?
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Old Dec 31st, 2010, 02:42 PM
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Yes, dgunbug, following in your footsteps for sure, even into some of the same hotels! I'm thinking I could even just edit your trip report afterwards and pass it off as my own. Unfortunately, our planning did not take the Hoi An Lantern Festival into account, and we'll miss it by almost a week.
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Old Dec 31st, 2010, 03:31 PM
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This sounds perfect. We're doing basically the same trip in February (different hotels) with only 5 days in Hanoi and skipping Can Tho since we don't have as much time as you do --you're lucky to have the extra time!
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Old Dec 31st, 2010, 03:52 PM
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It sounds awesome to me! I wish I'd had that much time there. My only comment would be that (for me) 4 nights in Hue might be a bit much. I had two, with an early morning arrival, so 2 full days, and that was plenty for me to see the Citadel, three of the tombs, and the Thien Mu pagoda (try to be there around 4 pm... the light was great for photos, and you'll catch the monks doing their chants), plus a couple of hours tooling around the countryside on the back of a moto. The city itself isn't all that interesting. I'd have run out of things to do on a third day, but again that's just me. I'd add the extra night to Sapa, which I absolutely loved. Also, keep in mind that the weather in Sapa is pretty unpredictable, and it's very possible that fog will roll in and screw up a trekking day-- because you won't be able to see anything! That happened to me when I was there and essentially knocked out half of my last day.
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Old Dec 31st, 2010, 10:29 PM
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tong is available for guiding in sapa if you need her...
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Old Jan 1st, 2011, 07:09 AM
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I concur with Jen - I think if possible, I would take one day off Hue and add it to Sapa. We were in Hue two days and saw three of the tombs. I would have been pleased to see more - so I think an extra day is fine, but that's just me.

Bob - is that a joke? Or is it true? What's this about Tong being available to guide in Sapa?
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Old Jan 1st, 2011, 10:27 AM
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Interesting comments and suggestions. I'm inclined to leave Hue as it is: we arrive late the first day and leave early the last, so it's only 3 full days. We have a full-day tour the first day. There are also villages specializing in bronze, pottery, and conical hats to be seen. But just walking around, lounging, and reading are fine with us.
As for an extra day in Sapa, we could probably add that on once in Hanoi if it seemed like a good idea.
Dgunbug, Tong is expanding her guiding business throughout the whole of SE Asia, with the help of Fodor's regulars to handle most of her promotion, scheduling, and bookings, as she will not be hiring extra staff. <All of this, including rhkkmk's comment, is a (very bad) joke and totally false. It relates to another thread that I began, "Issues with Tong?">
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Old Jan 1st, 2011, 12:39 PM
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sadly it is true.... tong has plenty to do in bangkok for now..

willjame---was just testing you and i see for sure that you have zero humor.
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Old Jan 1st, 2011, 02:15 PM
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Geez, Bob, I totally got it, but flunked anyway because I tried to save dgunbug from a 45-hr return to Sapa?
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Old Jan 2nd, 2011, 08:55 AM
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Back to the itinerary. Bob, in your report from Nov you had problems with cancelled and delayed flights. Was this Vietnam Airlines, and what was the reason? I'm a bit concerned about connections, especially the unsecured one at the end when we fly from Hoi An to Saigon, arriving at the airport 2 hours before our international departure by Asiana. Everything I read otherwise indicates a good on-time record for VN.
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Old Jan 2nd, 2011, 09:21 AM
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I think your itinerary looks good. What a luxury to have all that time!
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Old Jan 2nd, 2011, 09:30 AM
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Yes, Kathie, it is wonderful when a person has the time and money and health to enjoy their travels. At various periods of my life I've been short on one or other of these three inelastic commodities so I would wish them in abundance for other Fodorites in 2011.
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Old Jan 4th, 2011, 01:06 PM
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Will, note my comments re airports on the other thread.

It's impossible to find the gaps in your itin without seeing the documentation the tour company has sent you. You get what you pay for, of course.

You also get what's coming to you. lol lol lol. Arrive wide-eyed and innocent, trusting that everything will be lovely, trusting your TA to guide you and advise you is a recipe for disaster. You've just read what can happen. Horrible.

But I think you're smarter than that and I'm assuming you've done your tripadvisor homework. If you have a guide and they are letting you be mobbed - that's not a good guide. If you just want to buy everything in sight - 'to leave some money behind for the poor people' you'll be exploited.

You may not care. You probably won't know. Rose-coloured glasses are an asset, as you see from Linwood's report. Just don't think what you see thru them is real. It's a construct that you, your guide and your attitudes create.

I'd have to agree with Jen about the last 8 days. Hue is pretty damn boring after you've done the obvious things, Hoi An is just Disneyland. It's about as authentic as my left boot, and bloody tiny. Of course, everybody thinks it's wonderful. They can shop and guzzle and pretend it's real.

Me? I'd be stripping them back, big time, shaving a day or so off Hanoi the top and flying to Siem Reap and back for four days, from HCMC. But that's me, not you.
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Old Jan 4th, 2011, 03:16 PM
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Trouble is, I tend to find a little something bad even in the best of things (Tong?) and rose-coloured glasses, well, don't fit me well. But points well taken.
Vietnam has got to be it, one country, all 27 days of it. We were in Siem Reap and Luang Prabang 2 years ago, as well as Thailand, and don't want the hassles of more international travel and visas.
Qu: Is Hoi An more Disneyland than Luang Prabang (which I liked)?
We're arriving in Japan from Canada, staying three days, leaving our luggage and then off to Vietnam. Our house in Japan isn't available until the end of March, when we return, staying there through to the end of July.
With side trips to Sapa and Halong Bay, it's actually 8 nights in Hanoi. While there we have to do our visas at the Japan Embassy. But more day trips from Hanoi can be arranged if things lag.
I'll ponder these ideas, but a bit of boredom before return to Japan just might suit us.
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Old Jan 4th, 2011, 04:06 PM
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Hanoi is a no-brainer. You can occupy yourself there for weeks. It's interesting you think of Sapa & Halong Bay as part of Hanoi, but no matter. I assume you know they are err.. kinda outta town.

No comparison btwn Hoi An which is minute and L.P.

Unless there's a secret Hoi An that I missed, you can knock it off in a day - and that's with a very long lunch and several shopping stops. A lot of the enthusiasm for Hoi An [the town], apart from having crap clothes made and shopping for dreadful souvenirs, is the fact that travelers have never seen anything much villagey and Asian before in their lives so it's all wonderful. They are on the seven day, all of Vietnam tour.

I think you're more sophisticated than that, and after weeks in the country, it'll be a bit same same. However, I'm sure there are many overpriced spas and restaurants you'll feel 'comfortable' eating in...

But that's me and I'm an evil curmudgeon. Read trip reports for an entirely different take. Of course, you have to read them and guess the level of sophistication of the author.

Remember this memorable line about Dragon Pearl...
They put the napkins in your lap...

But there's relaxation aplenty, good food. You'll more than survive.
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Old Jan 5th, 2011, 10:16 AM
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I agree with dogster - no comparison between Hoi An and Luang Prabang (although I'm a bit out of date on the current state of both). However, do go see My Son while you're in Hoi An - go early in the morning with your own transport so you beat the tour groups. Otherwise Hoi An is basically one big shopping op - one big CLOTHES shopping op...

I did Halong bay on the original Dragon Pearl and I don't remember any fuss with napkins. Maybe this one is more upmarket, but I really liked the original.
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Old Jan 5th, 2011, 12:12 PM
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You are evil, Dogster, as well as curmudgeonly, tempting me with a return to Angkor Wat, which I kept pondering last evening. But I've resisted that, I think, so far. I'll try to get a photo of the napkin being placed in the lap, and I hope it happens during the banquet in the cave amidst the carven fruit. Ah, memories are made of that, are they not?
I did manage to work it out that Sapa and Halong Bay are not suburbs of Hanoi. It's more that I thought of Hanoi, and the hotel, as a place to leave luggage and to depart from and return to. Must look into My Son too as a trip from Hoi An.
Crap clothes and dreadful souvenirs in Hoi An? Sounds just excellent, as we'll need lots of both for the next 4 months in Japan.
The idea of shaving a day off each of Hue and Hoi An might have other benefits though. We could get 2 last days in Saigon, and thereby be sure not to miss that unsecured Asiana connection to Japan. Otherwise, I'm going to stew about that, after reading what happened to Linawood and Rhkkmk, even though it's not a season for bad weather. Unfortunate memories of 1999 transiting through Bangkok when Thai Air and Bangkok Air screwed our connections badly with changing flight times.
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Old Jan 5th, 2011, 01:04 PM
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I'd certainly go for the 'get to Saigon early' plan, if nothing else. That's one risk I wouldn't take in Vietnam - or anywhere else, really, with an international flight to catch..

If you like dreadful souvenirs, you'll particularly like the compulsory stop between Hanoi and Halong Bay. It's a warehouse of horror. Everybody loves it. Rhkk bought over 3,000 separate items. Make sure you buy lots of those conical hats.
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Old Jan 5th, 2011, 01:17 PM
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>>

Do I get to skip it if I opt for a private car service between Hanoi and Halong Bay?
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