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Central Highlands versus Ha Giang Viet Nam

Central Highlands versus Ha Giang Viet Nam

Nov 28th, 2017, 04:38 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Nov 2017
Posts: 3
Central Highlands versus Ha Giang Viet Nam

My brother and I are planning a 5-6 week trip to Viet Nam to include the north and south. Our main goal is to revisit places where he served during the American war, DMZ/south. We hope to get to Ha Giang, Quan Ba, Dong Van, Meo Vac, Sapa but we are also wondering if we will have enough time to do all on our wish list. I am interested in comments about Ha Giang area versus the central highlands in case we have to cut back some.
We plan to start in HCMC, going mid to late February 2018 and through early April travelling south to north. Any comments are welcomed.
MichaelAtHome is offline  
Nov 28th, 2017, 10:08 PM
Join Date: May 2004
Posts: 7,415
Firstly you have chosen a great time to visit the country. Good weather throughout the length of te country which doesn’t happen for most of the rest of the country.

5-6 weeks should be enough to cover all you would like to see at a reasonable pace. Flights are reasonably priced and will save time. Train may be an option for some sections but avoid the buses, particularly night buses, wherever possible.

We were due to visit the Ha Giang area in October, but a combination of severe flooding and a bad back put paid to that! However, we have travelled extensively in the rest of the north - Sapa, Ninh Binh, Ba Be, Dien Bien Phu etc. Over a period of many year. The scenery is spectacular, the minority peoples wonderful. It is a fascinating place to spend some time.

The Central Highlands are different. They still have the minority peoples villages, but the scenery is less impressive and many of the towns like Pleiku, Buon Ma Thot are not especially interesting, although clearly there is much more there relating to the American/Viatenam war than in the north which seems to have much more relating to the French occupation.

Starting in the south and moving north seems like the best option to me. Do make sure to allow a few days for the Mekong Delta before heading north though.

Some of these places are covered in our blog of our recent travels in the country in the last few years https://accidentalnomads.com/category/vietnam/ I am in the process of updating with our photos from years ago so there is a lot missing but you may find something of interest.

In your other post you mentioned going on a DMZ tour. It is a very long way from either Da Nang or Hue (although Hue is more usual). Dong Ha is closer and maybe a better option. The Phong Na Khe Be Cave’s are there and are definitely worth including in your plans. Sorry but I don’t know of any private guides but this article in Travelfish may be helpful https://www.travelfish.org/sight_pro...i/dong_ha/3221
crellston is offline  
Nov 29th, 2017, 11:23 AM
Join Date: May 2004
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Hi Michael. How wonderful and special that you and your brother want to do this trip!!!
I was in Ha Giang two years ago. The scenery is truly spectacular, but the drives are long and winding between the few towns. You don't say how you plan to get around, but if you go to this province, you will definitely need a guide (as well as driver) if you want to understand/be understood when you communicate, or get some info on the area. Local people there speak their own dialects, not standard Vietnamese. You would need four- five full days to cover the area, without feeling like all you do is sit in a van.
I found Ha Giang people quite shy, curious but wary of foreigners (also confirmed by the guide) which is understandable given the area's relative remoteness, very few tourists (at least , when I was there) and the physical closeness to China, which invaded the province in 1979.
You don't specifically mention Hanoi, but of course there's much related to what is in Vietnam called the "American War"--the lake where Joh McCain was shot down, the "Hanoi Hilton" prison, etc. If you stay in the city's French Quarter at the Sofitel Metropole, you can see the hotel's excavated underground bunker. The tour and personal story of the guide were worth the stay at this beautiful hotel. Here's a link:
CaliNurse is offline  
Nov 29th, 2017, 03:28 PM
Join Date: Aug 2008
Posts: 2,549
Anthony Bourdain, chef turned travel philosopher, has presented several shows about Vietnam, most recently taking President Obama to lunch and talking pretty openly over the food. A previous episode led him back to Hue with his former guide, who they both knew was a government informer, to show that under the surface old enmities still brew. Bourdain's attitudes will not be to everyone's tastes (pun definitely intended) but he and his producers constantly turn up different angles on their destinations. He's on CNN now; a previous series ran on National Geographic.
Southam is offline  
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