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A few Vietnam questions RE: Halong and weather

A few Vietnam questions RE: Halong and weather

Old May 7th, 2009, 05:04 AM
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Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 48
A few Vietnam questions RE: Halong and weather

Hi there,

My husband and I are finally taking our honeymoon and we've decided to go to Vietnam/Cambodia after our tix to NZ fell through. I think we have the Cambodia portion decently sorted out, but the Vietnam portion is still a bit up in the air. We are intending to fly from Siem Reap to Hanoi and then use Hanoi as the base for excursions. We have backpacked extensively throughout South America so we are hardy travelers, but on the other hand don't want to rough it too much this time around.
1) We were considering doing a junk tour of Halong but as we will be there pretty much on New Year's day, do you think the weather will be too cold to enjoy a 3day/2night tour? I have heard people mention that it is cold, but I'm not sure exactly how cold cold is.
2) Tonkin suggested Phoenix junk but I didn't seem to find any reviews of it so I was wondering about that. Another one they suggested was Hailong junk which they said was new ...
3) Also, does anyone have experience finding out that they were somewhat overcharged by the tour companies and could have arranged it themselves for much cheaper?
4) We have about 8 days to spend in Vietnam. We were thinking Hanoi, Sapa and Halong. Is that a good allotment of our time or should we hit somewhere else? We would enjoy some hiking opportunities, but again, as people have that Sapa will be cold, I'm not sure if that means we'll be prevented from trekking ...

Thanks for any and all advice!
gottabee is offline  
Old May 7th, 2009, 05:37 AM
Join Date: Feb 2006
Posts: 25,737
December is really not the best time for North Vietnam. You might get lucky, and have clear, warm days, but it's just as, if not more, likely to be cold and rainy. You might do better to just do Hanoi and then move south. I would not pre-plan for two nights on Halong Bay, I'd wait until I got there to see if the weather was good (and for me two nights would be one too many, but it might work better if you plan to kayak).

When I did Halong Bay I booked with Handspan in the Tamarind Cafe, for the Dragon Pearl, which I thought was fine, but I wasn't on a honeymoon.
thursdaysd is offline  
Old May 7th, 2009, 10:02 AM
Join Date: May 2004
Posts: 7,925
We spent a few weeks in North Vietnam in December a couple of years ago. As thursdaysd says the weathercan be extremely variable. We saw clear blue skies and 75f and freezing temps and fog all in the space of a few days. Personally, i was underwhelmed by halong and I think you will be really lucky to see good weather at this time of year.

we did the Dien Bien Phu loop which was a fantastic trip but the accoms. were basic which may not fiot in with your plans. I would however strongly recommend a couple of days in teh Mai Chau valley where both the people and the scenery were fantastic. We spent NYE at a local communist party "party" where we were treated as almost the guests of honour (even if I was forced to get up and partake in the drinking competition!!

Trekking in Sapa was fantastic but we were lucky with the weather on those days.
crellston is offline  
Old May 7th, 2009, 07:19 PM
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Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 48
Thursdaysd and Crellston, thanks for your recs. We only have slightly more than a week in Vietnam (i know i know. i would much rather travel at leisure and be there for a month or more, but graduate school doesn't seem to agree). With that in mind and knowing that we don't mind some discomfort regardless of our honeymoon status, what would be the "not to be missed" between Dien Bien Phu and Mai Chau? Perhaps we will only take a day trip to Halong. Spending two days in Hanoi and a day to Halong, we won't have much more than 5 days to devote to a trekking trip. Thanks!
gottabee is offline  
Old May 7th, 2009, 11:25 PM
Join Date: May 2004
Posts: 7,925
I would definitely go for the Mai Chau valley as it is closer to Ha noi and you could realistically do a couple of nights there. From recollection it is 3/4 hours by car, more by bus.

When we were there we stayed in a homestay which was comfortable but basic(think mattress on the floor). We were in a hut on stilts on the edge of a paddy field next to the family home whom we shared our meals with. I believe there are now more accomodations options including some eco type operations in the area which are quite luxurious.
This site should provide some inspiration

It is possible to trek from village to village through the valleys and, at least when there we saw no other travellers.
crellston is offline  
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