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First trip to Asia, help please!- Vietnam for 2 weeks.

First trip to Asia, help please!- Vietnam for 2 weeks.

Old Sep 4th, 2016, 12:11 PM
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First trip to Asia, help please!- Vietnam for 2 weeks.

Hi everyone!

Me and my friend (both females, in our 20's) are planning our first trip to Asia. We have 12 nights - we have bought our round trip flight from Ho Chi Minh, but desperately need help planning this trip!

We're thinking the following cities in this order - can you please help recommend hotels, restaurants, methods of transportation, any must see/do

Any comments or suggestions would be much appreciated!

Land in Ho Chi Minh
Nha Trang - 2 night
Hoi An - 2 nights (My son, bike tour, and a cooking class)
Da Nang - 1 night
Hue - 2 nights
Ninh Binh - 1 night
Hanoi - 1 night
Halong Bay - 1 night
Ho Chi Minh - 2 nights (mekong delta)

Thank you!!
Your fellow traveller
canuck101 is offline  
Old Sep 4th, 2016, 12:27 PM
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Any possibility of flying into Saigon and out of Hanoi or visa versa? That would save travel time. IMO, as you've planned, there are too many destinations for too little time. You will spend all your time traveling and you will see little.

I would cut out da nang, Nha Trang and probably Halong Bay (the bay, while quite scenic will eat up 1/2 day going and coming with a long and very boring drive. If it is your intent to do it all in one long day, it is definitely not worth it.) Hanoi is a fabulous city where you can easily spend 3 days minimum so I think spending more time there would be well worth it. Hue and hoi an were wonderful.
dgunbug is offline  
Old Sep 4th, 2016, 01:47 PM
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Yes, this trip as it stands is all travel, no being in places. Remember that it takes three nights somewhere just to get two full days. You don't have as much as three nights anywhere. One night somewhere is just that - one night - maybe a couple of hours in the evening, maybe a couple of hours in the morning, but not time to see/do/experience. You have to figure at least half a day each time you change locations - figure from the time you check out of one place until you are checked in in the the next place.

I don't know why you are spending a night in DaNang, but start by cutting that. And I agree that Halong Bay should be cut. Indeed. with two weeks you really want just three bases. VN lends itself well to three bases: Hanoi, central VN (Hoi An/Hue) and south HCMC/Delta.

VN has recently changed their visa costs. For people form the US, the visa is now quite expensive. I don't know if the rules and fees for Canadians have changed or not, but check into that right away. You have to pre-arrange the visa, there is no visa on arrival (thought the VN websites call their pre-arranged visa a VOA).

When is this trip? That will help us make better recommendations for you.
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Old Sep 4th, 2016, 02:19 PM
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Thank you so much for your reply!

We've booked a roundtrip from Saigon as it was a great deal so no chance of flying in and flying out the other.

Yes!I will start looking into the Visa details asap (thank you!). We leave on Sept 25th

Yes, I wasn't too sure about the travel time. We will need to cut things out for sure!

My friend really wants to see Halong bay - that was top on the list for her things to see, so I think cutting that out will be tough!

I've taken out Da Nang and Ninh Binh, adding those two nights to Hanoi. Would this be more practical?

Nha Trang - 2 night
Hoi An - 2 nights (My son, bike tour, and a cooking class)
Hue - 2 nights
Hanoi - 3 night
Halong Bay - 1 night
Ho Chi Minh - 2 nights (mekong delta)
canuck101 is offline  
Old Sep 4th, 2016, 02:44 PM
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Taking out DaNang and Ninh Binh helps, but you still have too much for your limited time. You won't like this, but I think you'll have to cut NhaTrang to make this work. Keeping Halong Bay in takes up a lot of time. Yes, it's only one night, but it takes most of two days just to get there and back.

Spend some time really combing the guidebooks to help you with planning this trip.
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Old Sep 4th, 2016, 06:03 PM
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We spent two nights on a boat in Halong Bay. While it was beautiful, the drive to and from was exhausting and it was extremely hot aboard the boat in the common areas. If you do choose to go on the boat, be sure that in addition to air conditioned cabins, the dining room and sitting areas inside are air conditioned. It will be extremely hot in September. If it were me, I'd consider taking out Nha trang. On arrival at Saigon, fly directly to Hanoi if there is a good connection and then work your way southward. Add the time on to Hanoi as you will lose time there on the days you go back and forth to Halong bay. If you have extra time in Hanoi, you can take a day trip to the perfume pagoda or to nihm bihm.
dgunbug is offline  
Old Sep 5th, 2016, 12:09 AM
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From your revised itinerary I'd drop Nha Trang and Hue. Nha Trang because it'll eat up time that you haven't really got, and Hue becaue you might find yourself virtually in lock-down like we did last September, due to a tropical depression.

Internal flights while short can eat up a lot of time getting to and from airports, and hanging around. Delays are frequent [mainly weather related], and cancellations happen.

I'd fly Saigon to Danang [for Hoi An]. Danang to Hanoi. And Hanoi to Saigon. Three flights should be fine, anymore is too much imo.
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Old Sep 5th, 2016, 01:30 AM
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PS. Don't have an internal flight on the same day as your international flight back home, as you might miss the latter. So spend your last overnight in Saigon.
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Old Sep 5th, 2016, 05:42 AM
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What a pity to miss Hue, one of the most interesting places historically! Lancaster - wouldn't the monsoon rains affect hoi an in the same manner as hue? Imo, you will need a bit of flexibility. I agree that you should not schedule your international flight on the same day as your internal flight. Saigon was the least interesting city for us and a tour to the Mekong, which we did, will be rushed with two days. If you are delayed at all due to weather, you can factor in that you may miss time in Saigon. You can easily see the main sights in Saigon in a day and it will be easier to return there on a future trip than to get to hue. (I.e. You can easily pair Cambodia, the Mekong delta and Saigon). If there are better connections, you may want to fly into Saigon and go directly to either the Danang airport to hoi an, or the hue airport, then go to Hanoi and return to Saigon after Halong bay.
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Old Sep 5th, 2016, 06:26 AM
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@dgunbug>>

I think the area between Hue and Danang called Hai Van Pass has a lot to do with the weather in that part of Central Vietnam. North of Hai Van is often a lot different to south of it.

Being precise on the dates we were there...

- We stayed in DANANG town from 9-12 September, and it was very hot and humid, but every night late on the heavens opened with torrential storms, but by dawn all was peaceful.

- Then we moved on north by train from Danang to HUE [great journey], and stayed 13-17 September. On our first full day we were walking to the Citadel, on our way the clouds suddenly appeared, and a woman on her bike stopped and told us to take shelter quickly as there was a storm imminent. She also tried to sell us plastic ponchos! The storm began almost without warning, and it was vicious. There was precious little respite for the next 4 days, apart from short periods of calm. We still enjoyed our stay, but spent most of it under cover people watching, and seeing how the locals just get on with it irrespective of the weather conditions.

- Then we headed back south by bus to HOI AN 18-25 September, and enjoyed absolutely gorgeous weather with hardly a cloud in sight. Stayed on the edge of the Old Town, which was very convenient for everything [apart from the beach].

We enjoyed Saigon, walked everywhere we could, often taking the side streets rather than the main roads. Spent a lot of weekend time in the big park in District 1 talking to university students eager to practice their English.
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Old Sep 5th, 2016, 10:42 PM
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Halong Bay may take 2 days but my husband and I loved our trip. It was one of the highlights of our time in Vietnam. We based ourselves in Hanoi mostly with trips from there to Halong & Sapa. Then had a few days in Saigon. We will return to the centre on another trip. But would definitely return to Halong Bay. Magical
SusannahT is offline  
Old Sep 6th, 2016, 03:18 AM
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Lancaster - thanks for the clarification. I hope you have the opportunity to get back to hue one day to see the citidel, pagoda and especially the various emperor's tombs.
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