Fodor's Travel Talk Forums

Fodor's Travel Talk Forums (
-   Asia (
-   -   Early planning stages for trip to Vietnam Christmas 2011. (

jgg Jun 9th, 2011 02:28 PM

Early planning stages for trip to Vietnam Christmas 2011.
Planning a trip to Vietnam for Christmas 2011. We are family of 4 - daughter will be 19 and son 16. We have traveled quite a bit including Thailand and Cambodia (Siem Reap). I have spent the last two weeks reading all about the weather in Vietnam during Christmastime, reading many people's trip reports and checking all kinds of weather/rain tables and we have decided we feel comfortable going. We have 13 nights. The way our FF program is we need to fly RT (no open jaws). Because, the weather in Hoi An at that time may not be beach weather there is some desire to stay at a more southern beach while we are there. As I mentioned, we have traveled a ton and I am fully aware of the dangers of trying to fit too much in, which is why I am asking your opinion on this itinerary.

Itinerary :
Arrive Saigon - spend the night near airport
Fly to Hanoi - 3 nights
Halong Bay - 1 night
Fly to Hoi An (Danang) - 3 nights Hoi An (would be Dec. 24,25,26)
Fly to Phu Quoc - 3 nights
Fly to Saigon - 2 nights

We have been to Tonle Sap outside of Siem Reap - and I have read form two people, that not necessarily a priority to go to Mekong Delta if you've been to Tonle Sap - do you agree?
Right now main thing I would like to do in Saigon is Cu Chi tunnels - which appears to take half a day, so could do with just the 2 nights.

So, my question is does the itinerary seemed too rushed? If I knew we could get beach weather in Hoi An then I would skip Phu Quoc - but definitely no guarantee. Ideally, would like another night in Hanoi. Is the above doable and stay sane or should we drop Hoi An and add a night to Hanoi and Saigon?
Thanks for any advice!

krgystn Jun 9th, 2011 03:09 PM

It is pretty rushed when you consider the time to get from one destination to another. When is your flight to Hanoi? it is pretty easy to get to the airport in Saigon, no need to stay at the airport unless the flight is very early. I love Saigon, but if you really only want to go to Cu Chi, might consider skipping it. You could just fly into/out of Hanoi.

rhkkmk Jun 9th, 2011 03:55 PM

i agree the cu chi is an easy skip (we did not go there)... a full day in saigon is enough to see the essentials or a day and 1/2... hanoi is far nicer...

personally i could skip halong bay too... if you have seen the rock formations off of phuket, krabi or those areas you have seen the same thing.

make sure you stay in or near hoi an town center, not at the beach.. we stayed at vinh hung resort and it has a nice pool for the kids.. we loved this town the best of any place we visited with the possible exception of hanoi...

a very nice central hotel in saigon is the Liberty Central.

jgg Jun 9th, 2011 04:24 PM

krgystn- Thanks for the help. I thought about RT Hanoi, unfortunately, while our FF miles can be used on any airline, the cost of the ticket needs to be less than $2000. I am having difficulty finding in that price range for RT Hanoi but easy to find for RT Saigon.

rhkmk - thanks for confirming that you can do Saigon in a day.
When we were in Thailand we never went to the beaches - just did Bangkok/Chiang Rai/Siem Reap so haven't seen the rock formations there - and everyone in the fam agrees they want to do one night on the junk in Halong Bay.

sf7307 Jun 9th, 2011 06:36 PM

We enjoyed HoiAn (we stayed at the beach), but if it weren't beach weather, I don't know what we would have done with ourselves for 3 days. We spent our days at the pool/beach, and our late afternoons/evenings in town.

Is it not possible to catch a flight to Hanoi right after you arrive in Saigon?

We spent 4 full days in Hanoi - we loved it, but could also see that 3 days would have been fine if that's all we had. I agree that a day or day and a half in Saigon is plenty. It's a nice city, but there aren't many "sights".

jgg Jun 9th, 2011 09:03 PM

sf7307 - it looks like our flight will likely arrive 11:00pm or so, that is why we would need to spend the night. There are some morning flights Saigon-Hanoi so should be able to arrive Hanoi mid-morning.

crellston Jun 10th, 2011 06:23 AM

We were in Hoi An over Christmas and new year a few years back and you may be lucky ith the weather but for us it was cool and wet, certainly not good for beach time. Even Saigon was a littleon the cools side but we did get sunshine and blues skies.

Unlike some others on this forum I find Saigon a fascinating city with some good sightseeing and plenty of recent history. there are a plethora of good restaurants and bars as well as local markets to explore particularly around Cholon. Lots to see other than Cu Chi - even the post office is worth a look as is the Reunification Palace, Ben Than market, war remnants museum, Jade Pagoda, Notre Dame etc. You really need around 3 days to make the most of your time there.

Hanoi is more picturesque than Saigon with some wonderful old architecture and again great food. The old quarter just north of Hoa Kiem Lake is a great place to wander around for half a day just exploring the quaint streets and sampling the superb food at the many local restaurants. Ho Chi Minh's mausoleum and house are definitely worth a visit to see how the great man lived. Mai Chau, a half days drive from Hanoi is worth a night or two in a homestay for a taste of rural Vietnam. I wasn't keen on Halong Bay and it certainly would not be high on my list but other really like it.

If you do head for Hoi An then check out the train journey from Da Nang to Hue (for Hoi An) some great scenery and a terrific experience.

Christmas in Saigon was something special, I can recall eating dinner in teh restarant at the Caravelle Hotel restarant and watching Swan Lake beinbg performed outside the Opera House - magical!

sf7307 Jun 10th, 2011 08:01 AM

<<<Lots to see other than Cu Chi - even the post office is worth a look as is the Reunification Palace, Ben Than market, war remnants museum, Jade Pagoda, Notre Dame etc. You really need around 3 days to make the most of your time there.>>>

I guess it depends how you travel -- we saw all those things and more, in just about a day and a half (and had some very good meals, too!) Don't get me wrong, it's a nice city, probably a great place to live, I just don't think it's all that interesting from a tourist's perspective. Obviously (:, others disagree.

dgunbug Jun 10th, 2011 09:42 AM

I concur...Saigon can easily be done in a day or a day and a half. We went to the tunnels, but truly could have skipped it. Your kids may enjoy crawling through them, but for us it was an easy pass. It's a shame you aren't going to Hue which is just fascinating - you could get a nice taste of it in 1 1/2 days. Are you really set on doing beaches? If the weather is nice, you will have beach time in Hoi An. There's not a lot to see there - the town takes several hours to stroll through, although it is a wonderful place to spend a few days. You will definitely have time though to spend on the beach while you are there. I agree with the recommendation regarding staying at the vinh hung resort as it is only a few minute stroll from town. While not a beach resort, it has a nice pool area and boat transportation into town. You can take a tuk tuk or taxi out to the beach.

All times are GMT -8. The time now is 01:46 PM.