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Help me plan our first trip to Southeast Asia!

Help me plan our first trip to Southeast Asia!

Old Dec 10th, 2019, 10:35 AM
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Please stop typing in bold.

"I have us flying into Da Nang and staying there for 3 nights before traveling to Hue and then onto Hoi An. Would you say this is a good plan? "

Probably not. What, aside from visiting the museum, are you planning to do there?

Please consider helping the climate by dropping the flight from HCM to PP and taking the boat instead. It will be a lot more interesting, too. You might consider the train for Hanoi to Danang and/or Danang to HCM as well, maybe overnight,
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Old Dec 10th, 2019, 11:15 AM
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thursdaysd: I appreciate your suggestions, however, from what I have read and viewed I do see the value of spending a few days in Da Nang. With regard to " helping the climate by dropping the flight from HCM to PP", I have looked into taking the boat. At this time while realizing it will be a lot more interesting, I will be content in doing a day trip to the Mekong rather than a 2 day trip on several boats to PP. Also the idea of traveling and sleeping on a train for multiple hours overnight doesn't appeal to both my wife and myself.

My question regarding Da Nang was not whether or not to stay there but to help form a decision as to which locations to see/stay in the right order. For instance: After flying into Da Nang should we travel first to Hoi An and then to Hue and last Da Nang ( since we will fly from Da Nang to HCM).

Sorry about typing in bold!
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Old Dec 10th, 2019, 08:19 PM
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"I have us flying into Da Nang and staying there for 3 nights before traveling to Hue and then onto Hoi An. Would you say this is a good plan?"

No, not really. IMO Da Nang has little to commend it and little of interest for the tourist. But it is really down to what you want to do there. The main reason most go is to stay in one of the many, many mega hotels and apartment complexes strung out along the beach road 20 kms or so towards Hoi An. It really is a demonstration of the worst excesses of mass tourism.

As for sightseeing, there is the dragon bridge and a Cham Museum and I can think of little else. If you want som beach time in a lux hotel, fine. If not skip it and use the time elsewhere.

"Suggestions on where to stay in each location. Seaside or downtown in Da Nang? Same in Hoi An."

in Da Nang there is little point staying anywhere other than the beach. In Hoi An I would definitely stay in or close to, the Old Town. The beaches outside of the town are no great shakes.

if you do stick with Da Nang ( or evening if your dont) then I would suggest taking the train to Hue one way and a car via Hai Van Pass and the Marble Mountains the other. As to which way around you visit Hoi An and Hue, it really doesn’t matter. I suppose timing of your flights may have an influence in terms of convenience.
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Old Dec 10th, 2019, 09:28 PM
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Here's a tip. Please don't go cheap on hotels. Spend money and get a room in a good one. The cheap ones are very dirty. And the company is very disturbing.
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Old Dec 11th, 2019, 04:32 AM
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I agree with crellston and thursdaysd about DaNang - not much to it. We visited the museum there on our way from Hoi An to Hue. The beach with its ghastly highrises would be the best place to stay. Just out of curiosity what is your interest in DaNang?
Also second staying in town for HoiAn. We spent an afternoon checking out the beach but I wouldn't want to stay there. Which you see first Hue or Hoi An doesn't really matter.

allyboy, as I think I may have posted one of the most miserable nights on a trip was the train from Sapa back to Hanoi.
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Old Dec 11th, 2019, 07:01 AM
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Originally Posted by allyboy
After a long time I have booked our initial flights and hotel reservations in Hanoi!
We depart from JFK and fly into Hanoi with a stopover in Hong Kong via Cathay Pacific Airlines and fly back to LAX after a month from Hanoi as well.

The final itinerary was chosen so that we would stay in locations no less than 3 days giving us ample time to recover from the 5 internal flights we will be taking while visiting Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos.

While I have already booked our hotel in Hanoi and our flight to Da Nang ( Vietnam Airlines), I still have to find hotels in: Da Nang, Hoi An, Hue, Ho Chi Minh City,Phnom Penh, Siem Reap and Luang Prabang. I also have to book our flights: Da Nang to HCM, HCM to Phnom Penh, Siem Reap to Luang Prabang, Luang.Prabang to Hanoi. So far I have reserved the La Siesta Premium Hang Be Hotel in Hanoi and booked the 3 day/2 night Ha Long Bay cruise on the Drago Legend. We will be celebrating both our wedding anniversary and my birthday during the time aboard the cruise!

Here is the itinerary:


1/24 Cathay Pacific JFK-HK-Hanoi arriving on 1/25

1/25-1/27 La Siesta Premium Hang Be Hotel (3 days))

1/28-1/30 Dragon Legend Cruise ( arriving back in Hanoi on 1/30

1/30 La Siesta Premium Hang Be Hotel (1 day)

1/31 Flight to Da Nang

1/31-2/2 Da Nang (3 days))

2/3-2/5 Hue (3 days)

2/6-2/9 Hoi An ( 4 days))

2/10 Flight Da Nang to HCM

2/10-2/13 HCM (4 days))

2/14 Flight HCM to Phnom Penh

2/14-2/16 PP ( 3 days)

2/172/19 Siem Reap (3 days))

2/20 Flight to Luang Prabang

2/20-23 Luang Prabang (4 days)

2/24 Flight LP back to Hanoi

2/24 Hanoi (1 day)

2/25 Flight to LAX




*** I am interested in the following:

Suggestions on where to stay in each location. Seaside or downtown in Da Nang? Same in Hoi An.

I have us flying into Da Nang and staying there for 3 nights before traveling to Hue and then onto Hoi An. Would you say this is a good plan?




Thanks!
I am sure you thought of this but for my own information what's the VN visa situation for reentering the country? Can you get a multi entry visa?
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Old Dec 11th, 2019, 09:58 AM
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Not that I have to justify where I choose to visit but I will share my thoughts on Danang.
Originally I was just going to use Danang as a hub flying into and immediately head for either Hue or Hoi An. Last Sunday an article in the New York Times in the Travel section caught my eye all about visiting Danang. It also mentioned that Danang is on this years' 52 Places to Go. The more I researched the area the more it appealed not only to me -because of the beaches, food and some iconic photo opportunities for my wife. Also rather than spend a rushed hour or so visiting Marble Mountain we could spend as much time as we wanted there ( we love to hike and explore), visit Ba Na Hill with its Golden Hand Bridge, Garden of Love at the end of the bridge, French Village. We also want to visit the Museum of Cham Sculpture and quite frankly with all of the travel we will have done and will continue to do it is nice to just relax for a bit!

jacketwatch. The hotel we are staying at in Hanoi is taking care of the documents needed for us. Since we will be entering twice during our stay in Vietnam at the start and end of the trip you need to have a multi entry visa. You pay extra for the document and rather than doing this online I chose to have them do it for me. We just need to bring 2 passport photos for each of us and the representative meeting us at the airport will take care of it and in a few days we will receive via email our initial entry visa.
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Old Dec 11th, 2019, 10:06 AM
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Sorry if I sounded as if I was asking you to defend your choices. That was not my intent. I figured perhaps you knew something that I didnt.
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Old Dec 11th, 2019, 11:36 AM
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Originally Posted by allyboy
Not that I have to justify where I choose to visit but I will share my thoughts on Danang.
Originally I was just going to use Danang as a hub flying into and immediately head for either Hue or Hoi An. Last Sunday an article in the New York Times in the Travel section caught my eye all about visiting Danang. It also mentioned that Danang is on this years' 52 Places to Go. The more I researched the area the more it appealed not only to me -because of the beaches, food and some iconic photo opportunities for my wife. Also rather than spend a rushed hour or so visiting Marble Mountain we could spend as much time as we wanted there ( we love to hike and explore), visit Ba Na Hill with its Golden Hand Bridge, Garden of Love at the end of the bridge, French Village. We also want to visit the Museum of Cham Sculpture and quite frankly with all of the travel we will have done and will continue to do it is nice to just relax for a bit!

jacketwatch. The hotel we are staying at in Hanoi is taking care of the documents needed for us. Since we will be entering twice during our stay in Vietnam at the start and end of the trip you need to have a multi entry visa. You pay extra for the document and rather than doing this online I chose to have them do it for me. We just need to bring 2 passport photos for each of us and the representative meeting us at the airport will take care of it and in a few days we will receive via email our initial entry visa.
Ccol. I too would pay for the convenience!
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Old Dec 14th, 2019, 11:52 AM
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Here's the latest updates: Reservations at the following hotels/locations:
Da Nang Brilliant Hotel
Hue- Holiday Diamond Hotel
Hoi An- Anantara Hotel
Luang Prabang- Satri House


Flights: Hanoi to Da Nang, Da Nang to Ho Chi Minh City, Luang Prabang to Hanoi

****Need suggestions for places to stay in : Ho Chi Minh City, Phnom Penh and Siem Reap
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Old Dec 14th, 2019, 07:27 PM
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Staying in Danang to see what ?

Saigon : Continental Hotel
Phnom Penh : Villa Samnang
Siem Reap : Pavillon Indochine (garden and pool)
They are all 4 stars. If you want less expensive in excellent 3 stars, just ask
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Old Dec 15th, 2019, 01:50 AM
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Not sure if you are looking for validation or not, but nice choices for LP and Hoi An - both nice hotels. Don’t know the Hue place, but certainly a good location close to lots of decent restaurants.

In Ho Chi Minh pick your location carefully. I like the Continental but there is a lot of building work re the subway going on in District 1 and that area was quite noisy and saw a lot of disruption when I was last there ( I doubt it is all finished) . The Majestic down by the river is a bit quieter and is very nice. I have fond memories of My first stay there some 25 years ago - a lot has changed! Along with the Continental, The Rex is another historic Saigon hotel but is in the same area.

For something a little different , have a look at the Hotel Des Arts Saigon McGallery Collection. I really like the Mc Gallery hotels and have stayed at quite a few now, all have been excellent.

in Phonm Penh and Siem Reap, the Foreign Correspondents Clubs are great places to stay. Siem Reap has a massive number of hotels, many catering to the Chinese tour groups and are strung out along the main road to Angkor. I would avoid those and try to stay somewhere closer to, but not right in, the centre. Not five star but run in a good cause by the Ponheary Ly foundation is Seven Candles Guesthouse. Also great for organising trips to the temples and elsewhere
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Old Dec 16th, 2019, 08:25 AM
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Crellston: Thanks for your recommendations for both the Hotel Des Artes Saigon and the Foreign Correspondents Club in Siem Reap! I have booked both of these hotels and now need a recommendation for transportation from PP to Siem Reap. I think we prefer to travel by a taxi/private car rather than by air or bus.
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Old Dec 16th, 2019, 12:00 PM
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You are welcome allboy. As far as transport is concerned, last time we went that way we used Mekong Express Limobus. They were very good but it wasn’t a private car but a six of us in a luxury minibus. If you really don’t want to fly (& personally I would) then your best bet is to source a private driver either through your PP accommodation or, preferably via FCC in Siem Reap - they are very good and do have a vested interest in making sure you have decent car and driver. Be aware that it is a long drive, maybe 6-7 hours. Not the worst roads in Cambodia but still not up to western standards, nor indeed are the driving skills in the country!
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Old Jan 9th, 2020, 09:59 AM
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All our reservations have been made regarding hotels, flights and transportation . I am now looking for suggestions on restaurants in Hanoi, Da Nang, Hue, Hoi An, Ho Chi Minh city, Phnom Penh, Siem Reap and Luang Prabang. My wife is a vegetarian ( no meat, chicken or shell fish) so she will need places with options.

How do we NOT get sick while here? I know about the water, eating raw vegetables, ice cubes in drinks. Any other suggestions? We want to eat street food , however, we are a bit nervous. Also: has anyone experienced any trouble riding in Grab vehicles? Listened to a NPR segment about individuals attacking Grab cars with passengers inside. Apparently not happy with Grab taking away business from TukTuk drivers.
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Old Jan 10th, 2020, 10:53 AM
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Originally Posted by allyboy
All our reservations have been made regarding hotels, flights and transportation . I am now looking for suggestions on restaurants in Hanoi, Da Nang, Hue, Hoi An, Ho Chi Minh city, Phnom Penh, Siem Reap and Luang Prabang. My wife is a vegetarian ( no meat, chicken or shell fish) so she will need places with options.

How do we NOT get sick while here? I know about the water, eating raw vegetables, ice cubes in drinks. Any other suggestions? We want to eat street food , however, we are a bit nervous. Also: has anyone experienced any trouble riding in Grab vehicles? Listened to a NPR segment about individuals attacking Grab cars with passengers inside. Apparently not happy with Grab taking away business from TukTuk drivers.
We consulted an advisor at a travel clinic recently. I think you have a basically good idea about preventions of food borne illnesses. I would add carrying hand sanitizers. The value of a travel clinic is getting meds appropriate to treat travelers diarrhea should you become ill. Itís best to have it with you and in addition to that she prescribed a medication to use before eating that can attach to diarrhea causing organisms should you injest any. Itís called travelan. Again always consult your health care professional first.
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Old Jan 10th, 2020, 06:43 PM
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The main taxi companies like Vinasun and Mai Linh are very reasonable in Vietnam and we have always had good experiences so I have never felt the need or desire to use Grab or similar. Such incidences of cars being attacked are likely rare occurrences.

Despite travelling extensively throughout SE Asia, I have rarely experienced food borne illness despite eating in markets and small local restaurants. Street stalls are becoming less common these days. Our usual choice is to eat in small local restaurants usually specialising in a single dish or variations thereof. Anywhere that is busy and full of locals is usually going to be ok. All the usual provisos apply - freshly cooked piping hot food, clean looking restaurants, don’t eat unpeeled fruit. Ice is usually ok these days.

Much of SE Asia is Buddhist so you would think finding veggie food would be easy and it is getting easier, but the diet is still heavy on meat and the Vietnamese definition of vegetarian is likely different to your wife’s! E.g fish sauces is used in just about everything and Vietnamese friends tell me they consider fish, vegetarian! A good Vietnamese word to learn is Chay = vegetarian.

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Old Jan 11th, 2020, 06:12 AM
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Thank you both jacketwatch and Crellston for your very helpful information!

I have just encountered a problem that I created for myself. Anticipating needing a visa for both my wife and I entering Cambodia I wanted to be proactive and apply online for our visas. Thinking I was dealing with the Cambodia Government I filled out a form, paid $99 and sent it to the Cambodia E Visa site. I didn't complete it as I needed passport photos. After corresponding with them I find they are NOT the government but an independent site and have charged a service fee. So here's my dilemma: I believe I have paid the $ 99 just for my visa and not my wife so that I will have to pay an additional $99. Should I do this or just cut my loss and get the visas upon arrival in Phnom Penh?
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Old Jan 11th, 2020, 08:18 AM
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Easily done both for Cambodia and Vietnam! I would just cut your losses and get the visas on arrival in PP, there may be a bit of a queue but on the occasions I have done it, it wasn’t too long. Alternatively, here is the link to the official Cambodian Government site https://www.evisa.gov.kh

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Old Jan 12th, 2020, 01:33 AM
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1. We are planning to spend the month in February in the region. Is this a good time to be there?
End of the cool dry in Thailand - the temp will be creeping over 30 C


4. Is it too ambitious for us to see all 4 locations in a month and if so which one would you cut out - 4 seems a lot - you will be spending so much time in Taxis to and from airports and check-in before every flight about 2 hours tc etc

6. Will we need specific Visas and/or vaccines before entering these locations?
Moist people e.g. US passport holders don't require visas for Thailand if the stay is under 30 days.


7. Would you suggest a Tour company, local guides and if so offer any suggestions?
​​​​​​​Thaiuland is quite a "soft" destination and you will find hotels etc will set you up with tours etc. You'll find this avoids being caught up in a schedule that you may not want when you and look around.arrive.

​​​​​​​laos is my favourite country in th region......still a bit behind the times but you'll be able to find drivers / tours etc when you ae there. Just do some advance research so you know a bit on arrival.
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