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Ho Chi Minh or Hanoi for 8 days in January or February?

Ho Chi Minh or Hanoi for 8 days in January or February?

Old Nov 8th, 2016, 04:11 AM
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Join Date: Jun 2008
Posts: 28
Ho Chi Minh or Hanoi for 8 days in January or February?

Hi - my eldest daughter (23) is on a 6 month backpacking trek through southeast Asia and I have just decided to join her for 8 days when she in Vietnam. This will be our first trip to Vietnam. I am trying to decide between joining her in Ho Chi Minh for January 17-24 or in Hanoi for February 6-13, 2016. Weather seems to be warmer in Ho Chi Minh at that time of year, but we're Canadian so I'm not afraid of Hanoi's cooler weather. How likely is it that it will rain and/or sleet at that time of the year in the north? I'm attracted to Hanoi because we could combine it with a boat trip on Halong Bay (or one of the less busy areas around Halong Bay) and maybe an overnight trip to Sapa. However, I am also interested in Ho Chi Minh and a side trip to the Mekong Delta, especially to see the floating markets.

I have just read about the full moon festivals in Hoi An though and am wondering whether to fly in to Hoi An Feb 6, stay until Feb 11 for the festival and then fly to Hanoi for a few days before flying back to Canada. That seems like packing too much travel time in to a short trip though...

We are not big resort/tour bus type travellers - we prefer small well-located local hotels or inns that have some charm and are clean and comfortable, as well as independent travel (although maybe with the language barrier we will hire a private guide for the Mekong Delta or Sapa trip). We love cities, museums and food. Any suggestions you may have would be most appreciated!
Thanks very much.
lizcdn2 is offline  
Old Nov 8th, 2016, 05:09 AM
Join Date: Aug 2008
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Both cities have a variety of cooking schools with half-day sessions. Food is a large part of Vietnamese culture so working at a stove (and then eating the results) can open a window on how the locals live. In Hanoi I took a street-food tour that was extremely interesting even though I didn't know sometimes what I was putting in my mouth. HCM is generally considered a more sophisticated city while Hanoi has more of the official museums and is the jumping-off point for tours to Halong Bay and the hill country to the north (maybe cold when you are there.) Tours leave HCM for the river delta to the south. You can't go wrong with either of the biggest cities.
Southam is offline  
Old Nov 8th, 2016, 07:08 AM
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Do check the dates for Tet before you choose. Going during the new year's celebrations is problematic in terms of getting transport and because many places are closed during the celebrations. I have't checked the dates, but Tet is usually in February.

Since you only have a week, you are best advised to choose one location so you don't spend too much of your time in transit. You'll already be spending a lot of time in transit just getting from Canada to VN and back.

For weather info, I use

Enjoy your trip.
Kathie is offline  
Old Nov 8th, 2016, 11:05 PM
Join Date: May 2004
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Get is on the 29 Jan, bang in the middle of your two options so you should be OK with either dates. Transport and accommodation with be busier than normal and the cities quieter ( Hanoi especially). I would be inclined to book any airfares sooner than later justbin case.

I would forget about Hoi An as you don't really have enough time.

Hanoi is arguably the more traditional of the two cities and has a lot to see within the city, great food and culture. Halong Bay would not be high on my list for a short visit as it takes at least 4-5 hours to get there, plus it is likely misty/foggy at that time of year ( I also find it a little too crowded). Sapa needs three days min. Stunning scenery. It will be cold but usually dry and clear skies bu sometimes foggy. Alternatives to consider would be The Mai Chau valley and Ninh Binh - both have stunning scenery and Mai Chau especially provides a taste of rural Vietnam.

Saigon is much more modern than Hanoi. Again it has some fascinating sights, many of which relate to the American war but there are also more traditional sights. The weather is great at that time of year. The delta Relatively close by. You can get a tour/guide there but it is pretty straightforward to DIY. For floating markets Cai Rang close to the city of Can Tho is pretty special and one of the largest. You could consider splitting your time equally between Saigon and the delta, maybe a homestay or even going further afield to Chau Doc, knife my favouritebplaces in the south.

Some photos and a little more detail on some of these places are on the Vietnam section of our blog @

There are a lot of options for the type of accomodation you seek. For Saigon, I would recommend Ms Yang's Homestay. Clean, comfortable and a great location in District 3, wonderful people who have become our friends over the last couple of years.
crellston is offline  
Old Nov 10th, 2016, 05:30 PM
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Thanks very much everyone for all of the great information and advice. Turns out my daughter's plans are changing so our only option is to meet up in Ho Chi Minh after all. Thanks for the weather site - very helpful. Also appreciate the foodie information and the suggestions for travel in the Mekong Delta. I'll post a few more questions once we're farther along in the planning.
lizcdn2 is offline  
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