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Help me plan our first trip to Southeast Asia!

Help me plan our first trip to Southeast Asia!

Nov 10th, 2019, 07:44 AM
  #41  
 
Join Date: Feb 2006
Posts: 25,408
It appears that the argumentative Larsay is having trouble with reading comprehension. crellston did indeed mention Mount Sam, and he explained that he was talking about three nights, not three days. Three nights gives you two days. It would also help if he would proof read his posts.

@yestravel - I agree that the night train between Hanoi and Sapa (I did it both ways) is terrible, but I think crellston was referring to the Reunification Express - the main line between Hanoi and Saigon. I have ridden that the whole way, plus sections, and while hard sleeper is certainly hard is was a lot better than the Sapa train.

I am not as enamored of the delta as crellston, but I didn't spend as long there. I did find the floating villages neither picturesque nor very interesting.

I would spend minimal time in Hoi An, which was already overrun back in 2004. I am also not a fan of Bangkok, which I find too hot and too crowded, although staying on the river and using river transport does help. On the other hand I found three nights for Siem Reap insufficient and had to go back for more, but people's appetite for temples does vary. Time on the river whether getting from Vietnam to Cambodia or to Luang Prabang is very worthwhile.

I would use crellston's itinerary in post 30 as the starting point.
thursdaysd is offline  
Nov 10th, 2019, 09:31 PM
  #42  
 
Join Date: Jun 2019
Posts: 56
Amazing that, since years, Hoi An is classified as the most pleasant town in the world to live in ! Yes, the Historic Center is crowded, but with superb houses, pagodas and temples, and you walk 100 m out of it and there is practically no tourists. Just bicycle alongside the river starting on the left of the big bridge and there are a lot of small hotels in a very quite environment; The excellent hotel Villa Loan is in the very peaceful countryside between Hoi An and An Bong Beach, and so are several others small ones like Osaka. Even better, 5 mn walk from the Center, across the small bridge one block behind the Esplanade, you have the 4-stars Emerald + several very good 2-stars such as the Ngo House Villa (with a pool !), void of crowds. Let's add bicycling in the countryside, An Bong Beach, the Cham ruins of My Son, delightful Cham Island + visits in and around Danang (Marble Mountain, Cham Museum and the ride to the top of Son Tra Peninsula (and/or Pass of the Clouds)

Last edited by Larsay; Nov 10th, 2019 at 10:03 PM.
Larsay is offline  
Nov 10th, 2019, 10:56 PM
  #43  
 
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Amazing that, since years, Hoi An is classified as the most pleasant town in the world to live in !
Nonsense.
thursdaysd is offline  
Nov 10th, 2019, 11:32 PM
  #44  
 
Join Date: Jun 2019
Posts: 56
Pity I cannot find the web site about it ! Anyway, you are kindly requested to remain COURTEOUS, one is enough !!!!
Larsay is offline  
Nov 11th, 2019, 03:43 AM
  #45  
 
Join Date: Jul 2003
Posts: 9,724
OP. Mr. Zoom got back to me and asked what he can do for you so if interested please email him.
jacketwatch is offline  
Nov 11th, 2019, 01:38 PM
  #46  
 
Join Date: Apr 2006
Posts: 10,275
Like all places opinions will be widely divergent on pretty much every place. We had 3 days in Siam Reap and that was fine for us. We're really not into seeing a ton of temples and I didn't care for the town itself. But it's a major tourist attraction so plenty of people love it.

I enjoyed Hoi An thoroughly. It was touristy but not particularly crowded and charming at night. Having the beach nearby can be a plus. We also spent a morning at the nearby My Son. Food was great there. It is completely different from Hue which I also enjoyed. The contract between the two is striking.

I thought the Delta just okay, but I did not see all that Crellston mentioned. Our 2 day 1-night boat trip between Luang Prabang and Chiang Rai (can't recall the name of the city the boat docks.) was a major disappointment for me. I expected to love it and found it mildly interesting and cold.

Anyway, your trip and you certainly have lots of opinions to help make your choices.
yestravel is offline  
Nov 18th, 2019, 07:28 AM
  #47  
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Posts: 486
Almost there--meaning having a plan!

I have chosen not to include Thailand for this trip. Hopefully we will be able to return one day and spend some time there. Instead I have selected: Laos ( Luang Prabang), Vietnam ( Hanoi, Halong, Hue, Hoi An, Nha Triang, Ho Chi Minh ), Cambodia Phnom Penh, Siem Reap! We will travel for a month and perhaps a few days more; depart from LAX and fly Cathay Pacific ( stopping off in Hong Kong) and fly round trip to Hanoi.

The Plan ( so far and not yet made as I await your suggestions!

Jan. 31 LAX- Hanoi
Feb. 2 , 3, 4 Arrive in Hanoi ( 3 nights)
Feb. 5, 6 Halong Bay 2 day cruise
Feb. 7 -12 Return to Hanoi and flight to Da Nang on way to Hue and Hoi An for 6 nights. **Not sure if we should spend 3
nights in each or 4 in Hoi An and 2 in Hue.
Feb. 13, 14, 15 Flight to Nha Triang 3 nights
Feb 16 -19 Flight to Ho Chi Minh( 4 nights which will include day trip along Melkong Delta )
Feb. 20, 21,22 Flight to Phnom Pen (3 nights)
Feb. 23,24,25 Siem Reap
Feb. Feb. 26,27,28 Flight to Luang Prabang ( 3-4 nights) ** not sure
Feb. 29 or March 1 Flight back to Hanoi for flight back home!

Please let me know if this sounds right regarding the itinerary, number of days spent there. I wasn't sure whether or not to travel to Luang Prabang from Hanoi and depart from Siem Reap.
allyboy is offline  
Nov 18th, 2019, 11:09 AM
  #48  
 
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I would not plan to visit Hong Kong right now!

I found Nha Trang not very interesting, but I am not a beach person. I would want longer in Hanoi.
thursdaysd is offline  
Nov 18th, 2019, 12:37 PM
  #49  
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thursdaysd: Thanks for your input. We aren't planning on visiting Hong Kong--just to use as a stopover for a few hours. The idea of finding a nice place to just relax for a few days is very enticing and that is why the idea of going to Nha Trang!
allyboy is offline  
Nov 18th, 2019, 05:48 PM
  #50  
 
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Posts: 10,275
I haven't been to Nha Trang. From what I know, your plan sounds good. Is there any way you can avoid a stopover in HK? Airports haven't been closed of late, but you never know. I would avoid flying thru there if you can.
yestravel is offline  
Nov 18th, 2019, 09:00 PM
  #51  
 
Join Date: Jun 2019
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You fly first from Hanoi to HUE, not Danang whch is south of Hue. Take the day train to do Hue-Danang OR, much better, do by car with driver the superb programme Hue-Lang Co Lagoon-Pass of the Clouds (tell the driver you want the Pass, not the tunnel)-Danang Cham Museum-Marble Mountain-Hoi A,n ; around 60$ though
[email protected]

I would skip Nha Trang, a big Occidental-style beach resort full of noisy Russians and Chinese.

I would do in 3 days
Day 1 : Saigon-Can Tho
Day 2 : Cai Rang Floating Market + bus CT-CHAU DOC
Day 3 : Speed boat CD-Phnom Penh

2 full days in PP are enough. Better spend 1 more day in Siem reap
Definitely 4 nights in Luang Prabang
Larsay is offline  
Nov 19th, 2019, 08:52 PM
  #52  
 
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Nha Trang has some great beaches and excellent diving but it is very much a party town these days. If you are ok with that fine, if not I would skip it. Alternatively, choose an upmarket hotel and stay around the hotel where you can avoid some of the excesses. Maybe take a boat trip along the river. The beach is very nice but it does get very windy in the afternoons.

There are beaches outside of Hoi An but last time there, some were suffering from severe erosion. Maybe worth checking out options there rather than adding in another flight to NT.

Beach time notwithstanding, I would split HUE and HOI AN 3+3 which would give you two full days in each place. Time for the Citadel, Perfume river in Hue on one day and the tombs and markets on the other. Hoi An old town takes a day plus half a day for My Son and a wander in the countryside , maybe to some of the artisan villages.

If you did skip NT then I would still stick with my original recommendation re a slow wander through the delta.

Luang Prabang is a small town and only really needs the 3 nights, two full days. If you want to cover some of the outlying sights like Kuang Si, Pak Ou add the extra night. There used to be a few villages a few hours into the countryside that you could stay in. Not sure whether they are still there but may be worth investigating for a taste of rural Laos.
crellston is offline  
Nov 22nd, 2019, 11:31 AM
  #53  
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If we are to take the 3 d/2n boat trip from HCMC to PP--can anyone suggest a reputable company to use?
allyboy is offline  
Nov 27th, 2019, 09:31 AM
  #54  
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A few questions:
The flight I am interested in flies from LAX- Hong Kong (Cathay) for a stop over of 1:15 before the next flight to Hanoi. Will this be enough time? Do you have to go through customs once again?

If I obtain a 30 day Visa for Vietnam but actually end up staying 32 days what do I need to do?

Thanks!
allyboy is offline  
Nov 27th, 2019, 08:07 PM
  #55  
 
Join Date: Jun 2019
Posts: 56
DO NOT play with staying longer than the duration of the visa ; you could end up with a large fine. If you plan 32 days, then take a 3-month visa
Larsay is offline  
Nov 27th, 2019, 11:04 PM
  #56  
 
Join Date: May 2004
Posts: 7,706
Originally Posted by allyboy View Post
If we are to take the 3 d/2n boat trip from HCMC to PP--can anyone suggest a reputable company to use?
i think I already did in a previous post in this thread. Mekong Eyes are good, as are Luangsay. I would check with both whether they still go all the way to PP or whether you have to switch to one of the fast boats like Blue Cruise or Hang Chau.

Vietnamese visa rules change regularly so check the current situation. I think it is still possible to overstay a 30 day visa by up to 3 days and then just pay a fine ( 500k dong) at the airport. Whether this applies to the Evisa as well as the "normal" VOA I am not sure. Any more than three days and you have to go to an immigration office - dealing with Vietnamese bureaucracy is no fun! It is also possible ( or at least it used to be) to extend a normal visa in country. If leaving via a land border, it may be more difficult. I certainly would not attempt it at the border crossing on the river near Chau Doc.

A three month, multi entry VOA letter may be the best option but not sure if that still just works for major airports or whether it is now ok for land borders too.

Quite frankly, I donít think it is worth the hassle for a couple of days and would adjust your itinerary to spend less that the allowed 30 days in country. NB the 30 days includes the day of arrival and departure.

You are likely to get more current info on the Vietnam forum of TripAdvisor.

crellston is offline  
Nov 28th, 2019, 07:40 PM
  #57  
 
Join Date: Jun 2019
Posts: 56
You can extend a visa once in Vitenam, but it costs a loit, 200$

NO VOA visa is valid for land crossings
Larsay is offline  
Nov 29th, 2019, 02:59 PM
  #58  
 
Join Date: Apr 2013
Posts: 23,963
Originally Posted by jacketwatch View Post
"Airlines - we usually prefer an Asian airline that isn't Chinese (to be frank)."
That is true unfortunately though two Chinese airlines do rate well. Per Skytrax Hainan is in the top ten as a 5* rated carrier and China Southern has improved a great deal now rating 4*s. EVA is actually a 5* rated carrier as well as is Thai.

https://www.worldairlineawards.com/w...airlines-2019/
I'm familiar with Eva and would use them again. They're not on par with Cathay or Singapore but they got the job done comfortably and at a good price from the US to Bangkok. I just didn't think of them as a (mainland) Chinese airline being based in Taipei. Thai airlines are even better

I appreciate the info on Hainan airlines and even on China Southern. Thanks for that. Since we relocated to Melbourne from the states, I've been seeing both of those come up on search results as they both fly here. but have been skimming past them. I'll have to re-think that!
CounterClifton is offline  
Nov 29th, 2019, 03:06 PM
  #59  
 
Join Date: Apr 2013
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Originally Posted by allyboy View Post
A few questions:
The flight I am interested in flies from LAX- Hong Kong (Cathay) for a stop over of 1:15 before the next flight to Hanoi. Will this be enough time? Do you have to go through customs once again?

If I obtain a 30 day Visa for Vietnam but actually end up staying 32 days what do I need to do?

Thanks!

The question first is - is it all on one ticket or are you thinking of buying one ticket to Hong Kong and another to Hanoi?

I've connected through HK to Hanoi in a similar amount of time and it was fine. You're just transiting, so no border control. And the HK airport is very efficient for the most part. However, that was on one ticket via a single company (Cathay to Dragonair, which is the local commuter branch of Cathay). So if something happened to delay the flight into HK, it would be on them to get us on to Hanoi.

If it's two separate tickets, I wouldn't do it, personally. Late due to weather or something and miss flight number 2 and you eat the cost of the 2nd leg.

Oh and yeah.... don't overstay that visa. That's not good.
CounterClifton is offline  
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