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Back to BKK and Vietnam and need advice for Viet

Back to BKK and Vietnam and need advice for Viet

Nov 14th, 2019, 04:11 PM
  #1  
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Back to BKK and Vietnam and need advice for Vietnam

After about 13 years, DH and I are going back to Southeast Asia, my favorite region in the world, and a region we have traveled to over a dozen times between 1995 and 2006. We will be landing in Bangkok on March 28, 2020 and I have booked three nights at the Hilton Millennium for three nights in an Executive Panoramic Suite. We have always stayed at the Peninsula when in BKK but the Pen has become very expensive. We visited the Hilton right after it opened and were pretty impressed with it, especially the panoramic suite. It has been renovated since and is a bargain, including buffet breakfast, high tea and evening cocktails and food. The suite is 760+ sq feet, bigger than my apartment and has a panoramic view of the river and city. And, it is a whole lot cheaper than the Pen.

I decided we should fly into Saigon first (is it still referred to as Saigon south of the DMZ? It was when we were there in 2000) as the Formula One Grand Prix will be in Hanoi on or about April 5 and we wish to avoid that (at least I do, DH doesn't get a vote on this).

I'm thinking three nights in Saigon, with a day trip to the Mekong Delta, or would a night in the Mekong Delta be worth it?
Fly to Da Nang and spend 5 nights between Hoi An and Hue. Perhaps a night at a beach destination, just to relax?
Fly to Hanoi for three nights in the area, with one overnight in Halong Bay on a junk. I get seasick easily, will a night on a junk be fun or a nightmare for me?
Back to BKK for two nights before flying home.

What do you think? We have been to all of these places before except a beach place in central VN, and Halong Bay, but this was in 2000. I loved every place we were back then but felt we did not spend enough time in any one place, especially Hue and Hoi An, which we loved. Any suggestions are welcome. We have 16 nights on the ground and only the first three nights, in Bangkok, are arranged and cannot be changed. I also want to spend at least the last two nights back in BKK since we will be flying home from there and I hate flying somewhere and going home the next day. Thanks in advance for any suggestions you have.

Last edited by laurieco; Nov 14th, 2019 at 04:27 PM.
laurieco is offline  
Nov 14th, 2019, 07:02 PM
  #2  
 
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Originally Posted by laurieco View Post
After about 13 years, DH and I are going back to Southeast Asia, my favorite region in the world, and a region we have traveled to over a dozen times between 1995 and 2006. We will be landing in Bangkok on March 28, 2020 and I have booked three nights at the Hilton Millennium for three nights in an Executive Panoramic Suite. We have always stayed at the Peninsula when in BKK but the Pen has become very expensive. We visited the Hilton right after it opened and were pretty impressed with it, especially the panoramic suite. It has been renovated since and is a bargain, including buffet breakfast, high tea and evening cocktails and food. The suite is 760+ sq feet, bigger than my apartment and has a panoramic view of the river and city. And, it is a whole lot cheaper than the Pen.

I decided we should fly into Saigon first (is it still referred to as Saigon south of the DMZ? It was when we were there in 2000) as the Formula One Grand Prix will be in Hanoi on or about April 5 and we wish to avoid that (at least I do, DH doesn't get a vote on this).

I'm thinking three nights in Saigon, with a day trip to the Mekong Delta, or would a night in the Mekong Delta be worth it?
Fly to Da Nang and spend 5 nights between Hoi An and Hue. Perhaps a night at a beach destination, just to relax?
Fly to Hanoi for three nights in the area, with one overnight in Halong Bay on a junk. I get seasick easily, will a night on a junk be fun or a nightmare for me?
Back to BKK for two nights before flying home.

What do you think? We have been to all of these places before except a beach place in central VN, and Halong Bay, but this was in 2000. I loved every place we were back then but felt we did not spend enough time in any one place, especially Hue and Hoi An, which we loved. Any suggestions are welcome. We have 16 nights on the ground and only the first three nights, in Bangkok, are arranged and cannot be changed. I also want to spend at least the last two nights back in BKK since we will be flying home from there and I hate flying somewhere and going home the next day. Thanks in advance for any suggestions you have.
If you want a day trip to Mekong Delta, I suggest Ben Tre and Cai Be or Sadec, and you can spend a night there.
Halong Bay is very worth it, but as you get seasick, you should consider it carefully.
And, as you fly from Saigon to Danang and from Danang to Hanoi, why don't you stay in Danang and Hoi An/Hue for 5 nights? This place has many interesting things too.
Grace1010 is offline  
Nov 14th, 2019, 07:09 PM
  #3  
 
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Why would you fly inside Vietnam when the train is such a great alternative?

https://www.seat61.com/Vietnam.htm
BDKR is offline  
Nov 14th, 2019, 08:03 PM
  #4  
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Originally Posted by BDKR View Post
Why would you fly inside Vietnam when the train is such a great alternative?

https://www.seat61.com/Vietnam.htm
Because flying is cheap and faster.

Grace, I dont understand your question. I am considering 5 nights in Hoi An and Hue.
laurieco is offline  
Nov 14th, 2019, 09:03 PM
  #5  
 
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Three nights in Saigon is a decent amount of time. Two full days would provide enough time to see the main sights in Districts 1 and 3 plus maybe a visit to the markets of Cholon.

Although the official name is Ho Chi Minh City, the city is still often referred to as Saigon especially by the older Vietnamese and the main centre in District 1 is nearly always referred to as Saigon. Basically no one is going to care what you call it. Whatever you decide to call it, you will notice a LOT of changes since your last visit!

I don’t think a day trip to the delta is worth it. It takes a couple of hours each way even to My Tho. Ben Tre is a little further on and makes a nice overnight stop as you could do a half day boat trip into the smaller canals and rivers of the delta. Some photos and detail of one of our trips there @ https://accidentalnomads.com/2015/02...delta-ben-tre/
You could easily arrange private transport to take you directly to the airport for your onward flight.

Fewer changes in Hue, still one of my favourite cities in the country. I would choose 3 nights there to allow two full days to explore the citadel , the river, the tombs and markets. Hoi An is a lot more crowded these days so I would use two of your nights there, allowing one full day exploration. Alternatively, spend an extra night there and take an early morning trip to My Son - some photos https://accidentalnomads.com/2017/06...ins-of-my-son/

I would think you could organise private transport to take you there and then on to Hue via the Hai Van Pass & Marble Mountains and still be in Hue by late pm. A busy day but you would see a lot.
Personally, trying to fit in a night in a beach location would make your trip too rushed. Not a fan of one night stays.

I don’t get seasick but don’t recall seeing anyone else suffering on board a junk. The sea is pretty clam as the bay is sheltered. However, if it is the gentle swell rather than choppy seas that affects you, then perhaps avoid. There is a always Ninh Binh which is often described as Halong on land because of the very similar karst scenery. You travel the water ways by rowing boat which should be fine.

I too would want a couple of nights in Bangkok at the end but perhaps in a different location. We like both the Peninsula and the Hilton but agree that the former has become overpriced. Maybe stay in a different location? We enjoyed our stay at https://hotelmusebangkok.com/ very different and very stylish. The penthouse suite is massive!
crellston is offline  
Nov 15th, 2019, 10:48 AM
  #6  
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Thank you crellston. Much to think about. We did drive through the Marble Mountains last time so it's not on my must do list. I wish we had more time in VN. The last time we were there, we were there for only a week but saw so much. And since it was almost 20 years ago, going back to some of the same places will almost be like being there for the first time, especially Saigon since it has changed so much. We did a day trip to the Mekong Delta then and we both enjoyed it. Will weigh all of our options. We will also look at your photos and that should help as well.
laurieco is offline  
Nov 16th, 2019, 10:42 PM
  #7  
 
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Bangkok restaurant recommendation: Biscotti inside of the Anantara Siam Hotel is still excellent after all of these years.
https://www.biscottibangkok.com

If you haven’t already eaten there, it’s a few steps from the Rajadamri BTS station.

Speaking of the Peninsula, I’m surprised that the price has gone up so much. I stayed there for one night in Jan 2017. I had also stayed there a couple of nights about 15 years ago.

The hotel building that the Anantara Siam Hotel is in was built as the Peninsula Hotel in 1978. Then, in 1982, The Regents Hotel took over and I started staying there regularly when it was The Regents Hotel. Then, in 1992, the Four Seasons Hotel took over that space and I was there up until the month before it closed in Feb 2015. The Four Seasons is building a new hotel on the river and from the ground up. It’s to open around Feb 2020.

The restaurants inside of the Anantara Hotel hotel structure stayed the same, during the hotel takeovers as there are some excellent restaurants in there and Biscotti is packed at lunch as I eat lunch there about 4 days a week. But then again, I stay at the hotel for up to 2 weeks straight both after other hotel stays and before moving on to other hotels in Bangkok. I was reading the recent Conde Nast readers’ choice list and the hotel has been voted #1 by readers. It’s one of the few, low-rise hotels left in Bangkok.

You probably won’t recognize Bangkok when you get back as there are so many tall buildings and that monstrosity of a hotel, The Waldorf Astoria, was completed around a year and a half ago. I watched it being built over the many years. I’ll take my last 2 nights there to try it out, but requested a room on a low floor as I hate being high up. It’s less than a 5-minute walk down the street from the Anantara Siam Hotel where I’ll be for 2 weeks.

I didn’t realize that it has been so long since you were last in Bangkok. Have a great time. It’s still my favorite city in the world and next month will be year 21 of going there. I was thinking of possibly zipping to Saigon as I keep putting Vietnam off. I might do a few days from Singapore as I’ll be in Singapore for 2 weeks. I just don’t feel like going through the visa stuff and visa expense and for only to be there a few days. I hope you post back about Vietnam.

Happy Travels!
Guenmai is offline  
Nov 17th, 2019, 11:18 AM
  #8  
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Thanks Guenmai. I may check out the Four Seasons since it's on the river and if it is just opening, may have some special pricing.

It has been 13 years since we were last in Bangkok. We had been going to SE Asia/Japan, sometimes twice a year for 11-12 years. It's time to go back. Besides, I have some jewelry that needs repairs! Much less expensive to have it done over there.
laurieco is offline  
Nov 17th, 2019, 12:35 PM
  #9  
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Forget the Four Seasons. More expensive than the Peninsula and that is for a room without a river view! At least all the rooms at the Pen have a river view. So much for a soft opening.
laurieco is offline  
Nov 17th, 2019, 04:04 PM
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I realize that my one night Halong Bay and two nights Hanoi is not going to work. We will never get an early enough flight from Da Nang to Hanoi for the Halong Bay cruise, and spending one night Hanoi, one night on the cruise and one more night Hanoi will give us very little time in Hanoi. Spending the last two nights in Bangkok is non-negotiable so, would you cut one night off of Saigon and have two nights there, or one off Hue for two nights there? The last time, we did not spend much time in Saigon, going on a Mekong River cruise and to the cu chi tunnels. We only spent one night in Hue, or maybe two, I can't remember, but we did see a lot. I appreciate any suggestions, insight etc.
laurieco is offline  
Nov 17th, 2019, 09:38 PM
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Laurico: I just looked up the Four Seasons price for when it opens in Feb 2020 and the price is double of what I paid the month before it closed at its Rajadamri location in Feb 2015. I stayed there in January 2015 and at $227.14 a night, breakfast buffet included. I just pulled it up on my Expedia account. Glad you mentioned the FS pricing in your post.

I knew that the prices would hike up at the new Four Seasons due to it now being on the river. I’m not a stay-on-the-river person although I’ve stayed at The Pen, The Oriental, The Shangri-la, and the Royal Orchid Sheraton. But, it was only to try them out to give friends, here at home, my opinion of them when they ask about river hotels and also many other hotels around Bangkok.

When I was at the Anantara Siam Hotel in Dec 2018/Jan 2019, the staff asked if I would continue to stay with them or if I’d go back to the Four Seasons as many have been there, in that hotel structure, for decades and some were with the Four Seasons and might be going back to it. I’ll probably end up splitting my time between the two, but will most likely put the Four Seasons at the end of my 3-week Bangkok stays as, for me, it will be in an inconvenient location to what I do in Bangkok which is why I stay in either Rajadamri BTS station area or right at Promphong BTS station area in Sukhumvit as I like to be in the heart of the action.

Happy Travels!
Guenmai is offline  
Nov 18th, 2019, 11:26 AM
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Laurie... we are using Peony Cruises in Halong Bay Area in Jan. Gets great reviews.

We are staying at the Anantara in Hoi An— at far end of town...nice hotel and location.

We will be trying the new Sheraton Grand at Danang beach for a few beach days. Have also stayed at Hyatt before—good.

Another beach idea, is to fly to Phu Quoc and spend a couple of nites, or more at the fab JW Marriott... Very expensive, but beyond belief and worth every $$. On your way to BKK really, with good air service.

This year we will stay in BKK at:the anantara riverside, the ROS, Marriott on soi 57 and JW Marriott.... a few days in each...

I enlist the help of Tonkin travel in Hanoi... very reasonable airport runs, cheap van for a day in the city and acceptable internal air flights.
rhkkmk is offline  
Nov 18th, 2019, 03:54 PM
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Hi Bob, thanks for the info. We had to cut the beach idea, not enough time. We're flying from BKK to Saigon and spending 3 nights there, then getting an early morning flight to Hue and will have two nights there. We will have two full days since the flight gets in at about 7:30 AM. From Hue we will get a driver to take us to Hoi An and will spend two nights there. I'll look into that hotel. From Hanoi, we will fly (from Da Nang) for one night in Hanoi, the next night on the Halong Bay cruise (I did look at Peony cruises and they look good, as do a couple of others) and then back to Hanoi for two more nights. Then fly back to BKK for two more nights. So far we have our airfare from NY-BKK, flight from BKK to Saigon and flight from Saigon to Hue. We also have our hotel for the first three nights in BKK, the three in Saigon at the Hotel Des Arts, and for Hue at the Saigon Morin. It's a good location on the river. I remember seeing it when we were there 19 years ago and it looked nice. It gets good reviews. The Hue and Saigon hotels are refundable, the Hilton Millennium in BKK is not but we got a great deal for their best suite (other than the 3100 sq foot suite on the 35 floor!) with executive lounge access. Not sure yet where we will stay for the last two nights in BKK yet or in Hanoi. I need to book the flight from Da Nang, Hoi An and BKK hotels and the cruise. It's coming together!

I'll check Tonkin Travel too. Too bad our trips aren't overlapping. I'm hoping to see Hanuman while in BKK. I also have jewelry that needs repair. Do you still use the same jeweler you sent me to in BKK? Can I get his name and address again please (unless you found someone better).
laurieco is offline  
Nov 18th, 2019, 08:29 PM
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For Mekong Delta, pick Ben Tre for a day trip or Can Tho for an overnight stay (Can Tho fly to Danang).
DinHo is offline  
Nov 24th, 2019, 01:08 PM
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Hi Fodorites,

We will be vising Saigon as part of the cruise. We will have one and a half day in Saigon, we are doing an overland independent tour.
Does it make sense to go to Mekong delta for a day (some tour operators are suggesting it) and then spend half a day in Saigon for sightseeing? Or it'll be too rushed?
What are the places to see in Saigon if we choose to spend there both days (apart from the obvious)?
kiramoli is offline  
Nov 25th, 2019, 07:10 PM
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Don't miss Phong Nha!!

Hey!

I think that's a wonderful plan! I would highly recommend visiting Phong Nha for at least 2 days, though. The full name is Phong Nha - Ke Bang National Park. It's a gorgeous UNESCO World Heritage Site in Central Vietnam and has some of the world's largest caves like Son Doong Cave - World's biggest cave, Hang En - Third Largest cave and much more!. I recently found out that you can even camp inside the caves with complete convenience. Check that out, I'd say. You can easily make your way to Hue and Hoi An from here. I truly believe that Phong Nha is worth a visit, if you're in Vietnam and the cave tours here are something beyond the ordinary.

That being said, do enjoy your time in Vietnam!
rorowrites is offline  
Nov 25th, 2019, 08:02 PM
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"We also have our hotel for the first three nights in BKK, the three in Saigon at the Hotel Des Arts, and for Hue at the Saigon Morin. It's a good location on the river. I remember seeing it when we were there 19 years ago and it looked nice."

The Hotel Des Arts is a wonderful hotel. A "McGallery" property by Accor it is very different from many 5*, very stylish and a bit different. Have stayed in a few McGallery and will often choose them when possible. They used to manage La Residence in Hue which used to be the French ambassadors residence in the 1930, an amazing Art Deco style building and a really nice hotel right on the river a little way out of the centre, but still walkable. It appears now to be under new management - https://www.azerai.com/la-residence-hue . Not quite as good a location as the Saigon Morin but we much preferred it as a hotel. Found the SM a bit dark and stuffy.
crellston is offline  
Nov 27th, 2019, 05:21 AM
  #18  
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Im afraid were not going to get to Phong Nha, not enough time. Maybe next time. All of our flights are now booked and most hotels. Since the Saigon Morin can be cancelled Ill look again at La Residence. I did look at it before but you cannot reserve a room on their website past February 1. On Expedia it can be booked. A river view room is quite a bit more expensive than the Saigon Morin. I really do prefer the river view. Location is also important considering our limited time there.

In Hoi An I think were going for Hotel Royal Hoi An

https://sofitel.accorhotels.com/gb/h...ry/index.shtml

In Hanoi were staying at OGallery Majestic Hotel and Spa. Were there April 7-8 and the 8-9th were booked on a 1 night Halong Bay cruise with Indochina Junk and then back to Hanoi for 2 more nights at the same hotel.
O?Gallery Majestic Hotel & Spa - a member of OHG

we are probably going to spend the last two nights in Bangkok back at the Hilton Millennium in the same suite. Its too good a deal to turn down and we really love being on the river. That Muse Hotel certainly looks tempting though.
laurieco is offline  
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