high season in VN and advance bookings

Sep 3rd, 2004, 06:59 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Mar 2003
Posts: 183
high season in VN and advance bookings


The more I plan my trip to SE Asia, the more questions I have. Thanks in advance for helping me and your patience in answering. Anyway, here's where it stands:

1. I understand that I will be in VN, and SEA during high season, 2nd week in Nov to 2nd week in Dec.

2. Everything I've read on just about every forum says to "wing it" when you get there, to wait to book country and region airline tkts (and I need quite a few) and wait to books rooms. Everyone says it's cheaper that way. (I wouldn't mind spending a bit more money if I can book in advance, but I would mind spending a lot more money!)

3. I've been dealing with an agent in Hanoi for a few things. She's been really helpful and upfront, and thinks I should definitely book airline tkts in advance, and says she is also concerned with hotel availablity.

So, here is the question: Should I trust this agent? Should I wait, or will it be too much of a hassle? I must admit that I have a totally booked (maybe overbooked) itinerary, and don't want to waste a bunch of my travel time in agent's offices and waiting in line to buy tkts, and searching for hotel rooms.

Anyway, I can't wait to hear your thoughts, experiences, and advice.

As always, thank you Fodorites.

happy trails, Ellen
elr is offline  
Sep 3rd, 2004, 07:22 AM
Join Date: Jul 2004
Posts: 4,282
Personally, I'd book in advance. That way you know you will get what you want in terms of hotel and flights and don't have to worry. Equally important, you won't have to waste precious time while there doing these things. Yes, it might cost a bit more but, in my opinion, it's money worth spending. There are all kinds of hotel websites where you can get very good prices right now for the time you want.
glorialf is offline  
Sep 3rd, 2004, 09:01 AM
Join Date: Aug 2004
Posts: 671
I agree with the previous poster. I, too, will be in VT next month, and found my first choice for hotel was booked. I tried the hotel throught 3 different websites, and the hotel's website, just in case. Went with another hotel (Metropole) instead. Make your plans now so you won't be disappointed or waste time.
dperry is offline  
Sep 3rd, 2004, 10:37 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 6,751
The few times I have traveled to a place and then tried to sort a hotel I had wished I had at least booked the first night somewhere, there 'are' some exceptions to this, but they of course entail putting yourself at the mercy of an airport hotel desk or relying on a local taxi driver !
To me it makes simple sense that if you can find accommodation which is within your budget, has the location you want, then book it. Though I must say that my experience is that 'travel agents' don't often have as good deals as you can get from hotel booking services who 'in general' seem to manage very good rates. I recently flew into Singapore and as usual went to the hotel counter, but I quickly realised that every place was at least SGD 20 over what I would have paid if I had booked, and also I couldn't get into any of my 'usual' hotels. I think the bottom line is after a long flight you want to get straight to a hotel room, shower, change, relax, getting off a long haul and then negotiating with a hotel counter or going door to door to a taxi driver's "recommended" hotels is a waste of time.
Vietnam is getting 'busy' and certainly with the new direct UA flights from the end of the year there will be more and more people going to Vietnam, the new flights will bring a higher profile.
There is of course the argument for waiting until you arrive, but that has it's downside if you can't get the flights you want. I think several hours searching you will come up with what are the ball-park rates and air fares so it's not too difficult to judge if you have a decent deal. As far as trusting an agent, check their website, see who they are agents for etc, ask here for suggestions for agents other people have used.
JamesA is offline  
Sep 17th, 2004, 02:59 AM
Join Date: Sep 2004
Posts: 6
I am trying to figure what 'high season' other than another money grabber by the airlines.

The 'high seasons' are TET 92005FEB09, a slight busy period around Christmas and university semesters.

Believe the 'wing it' bit - if you reserve you will pay more and suddenly discover that distance/time doesn't have the same relationship and lost resrvations will cost you.

You say SE Asia which covers quite a bit of territory. You have to pick an 'insertion' point such as Bangkok or HongKong.

You then buy a ticket to HKG and then have an OPENJAW ticket allowing a return from another airport.

Either: Buy your tickets on the same carrier at the same time (which is hard unless you have a very fixed itinerary)


Buy your tickets 'in destination'


Buy passes that allow a flight from North America or Europe and then allow you to take multiple trips from a given base such as Kuala Lumpur (MAS) Bangkok (Thai, etc) or HongKong (Cathay).

Any Agent would "thinks I should definitely book airline tkts in advance, and says she is also concerned with hotel availablity" because of C-O-M-M-I-S-S-I-O-N $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$

Take it from me, a 10 year resident of VietNam, the ONLY time you have a hard time of getting a room is at Tet.

You will ALWAYS get a room and save money doing it.

Think about using the sleepr rail express to save hotel money & time.

Check out www.wompom.ca/vietnam/index.htm for other info.

Waiting in Agent's offices? - Phone them (if you live in Europe or Australia take your GSM cell phone and sign up for Vina Fone PREPAID - gives you complete freedom and allows others to call/text you at your leisure.

If you need more info < [email protected] >

Chatterly is offline  
Sep 17th, 2004, 08:00 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Mar 2003
Posts: 183
Thanks for the responses everyone. I was going to do this all myself, and use this agent, Haivenu, that was recommended on another forum just for supplements like Mekong Delta and Sapa.

It turns out that I found putting everything together so frustrating (esp with airline schedules), that I just went ahead and told them what I wanted, and they put together a great, competitively priced 18-day tour for me. (It took a total of 4 drafts.) I picked the hotels I wanted, and even booked my own in Hanoi. I understand that this a a few $100 more per person than if I did the entire thing myself, but I figured that having a smoothly run trip was well worth it. (if it turns out that way.) I also agree with Gloria that my time is worth something. I've had plenty of trips (in Europe) waiting in line at ticket counters for trains, etc., sometimes taking up to half a day.

And, Chatterly, in addition to 18 days VN, we're going to Siem Reap, Veentiane (for a day), Luang Prabang, and BKK (all in about another week and a half.)

Thanks again, everyone.
elr is offline  
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