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Just back from Vietnam, Cambodia -- any questions?

Just back from Vietnam, Cambodia -- any questions?

Sep 9th, 2001, 04:35 AM
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Just back from Vietnam, Cambodia -- any questions?

It was one of the most amazing trips of my life, and I would be happy to answer any questions. We predominantly spent our time in Hanoi, Halong Bay, Hoa Lu, Hue, Danang, Hoi An, Saigon, the Mekong Delta and Siem Reap.
Sep 9th, 2001, 05:52 AM
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I am going to be Nha Trang for a day and Siagon for a day this Novemer. Given the limited time would you suggest the city of Siagon or the Mekong Delta.

Any other hints would also be appreciated.
Sep 9th, 2001, 06:54 AM
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Can you provide any information on the recent flooding in the Mekong Delta region? We read in the press that 49 or more persons have drowned but no reports on travel conditions. Thanks.
Sep 9th, 2001, 01:12 PM
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Welcome back, and glad to hear you had such a great trip _ we are just now planning a similar trip for early january, and I can't wait! I have some pretty basic questions right off the bat:
_ Where did you go in the Mekong Delta, and how did you arrange that trip? Did you visit the floating markets?
_ I want to do Hoi An and Hue, but think we will skip Danang except possibly as a point of transit, as I have read that it not a particularly pretty or interesting town. Was there anything in Danang that would make it worth a longer stop? We're planning to fly between Saigon and Danang and then take local transport to hit the other towns _ how did you arrange all that?
_ How did you find the local transport _ did you take the bus, train or hire a driver?
_ Finally, what was your favorite sight//site? I'd love to hear more about what you liked!
Sep 10th, 2001, 06:40 AM
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To answer your questions:

Mickey: Are you only going to be in Nha Trang and Saigon? I have not been to Nha Trang, but it is a question of contrasts. Saigon is a city where Communism is clearly straining against the throes of capitalism, and is fascinating to see. The Mekong Delta gives you a sense of the difficulty of fighting the Vietnam War in a way that nothing else can. It is a question of your priorities.

Al : While Siem Reap was not particularly affected by the flooding of the Mekong, we saw tremendous devastation on our flight from Saigon to Siem Reap on a propeller plane. It was unlike anything I had ever seen before; I actually turned to my husband and said, "Why are we flying over the ocean?" The footage of the damage that I saw on television was horrible. We were supposed to go to Phnom Penh and dropped it from our plans as a result.

Jacky: We arranged most of our trip through Japan & Orient Tours, www.jot.com, which I would really recommend; guides met us in each place and took us to sites, as well as giving us time to see things independently. They coordinated most things, although the Mekong Delta tour was one where boats frequently left from piers and should be easy to arrange by yourself. Danang would have been more interesting, I think, had we had a guide who was more savvy about Vietnam War (or, as they call it there, "the American War") history. The Cham Museum and Marble Mountain are the main attractions in Danang proper, and compared to what else we saw, I thought both were not significant. Hoi An was lovely; an old town restored for tourists architecturally, my husband and I called it the Vietnamese Burano/Murano equivalent (islands off Venice, Italy). I would have liked to have spent more time there.

In Vietnam, I thought that the highlights were:
*Side trip to the Perfume Pagoda -- a ride on sampans through the limestone karsts to a 2 hour hike up a mountain to the pagoda in a tremendous cave. The hike was very difficult, but worth it.
*Halong Bay -- just lovely.
*Hoi An
*Just riding through the streets of Hanoi, seeing everyone on bikes(5 to 6 people, sometimes, per motorcycle), traffic chaos, French architecture, just a dynamic city.

Vietnam has the feeling of a place "Before The Tourists Really Come," particularly in the North. It was an incredible trip and I would be happy to help with anything else. I thoroughly recommend Japan & Orient, as they were very accommodating and with one exception provided us with knowledgeable, kind and helpful guides who gave us insight into Vietnam that we would not have had otherwise.
Sep 11th, 2001, 05:17 AM
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JHM: thanks for the great report. We got a good deal on flights into Ho Chi Minh city so we've already set that up; I will look at jot for flights in between areas. Usually we like to show up and wing it but it seems that transport is a bit more difficult in Vietnam, with infrequent flights and slow buses and trains, so we may book ahead, especially since we have a little less than two weeks in country. Did you find that to be true?
A few more questions, if you don't mind:
_ With the tour guides, was it a small group or just you two or a big honking bus?
_ What were hotels like? We usually stay in budget-type hotels that are a step above backpackers hotels and hostels but will spend a little more for something unusual or historic. (guesthouses not sheratons) My initial research shows there are lots of these in saigon, not as many in hoi an and hue. What did you find?
Again, many thanks for the helpful information _ reading your posts makes me look forward to this trip even more!
Sep 16th, 2001, 07:59 AM
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Where did you stay in Siem Reap? Any
great guides? Any advise?
Sep 19th, 2001, 06:09 PM
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I would love to know about Siam Reap - just how do you pronounce it exactly? Where did you stay?

Did you travel by train in Vietnam? We are looking into a package that flies us from Bangkok to Saigon, then overland to Hanoi, flying to Vientiane then returning to Bangkok. Any specific places you would recommend stopping and/or staying?
Sep 20th, 2001, 07:36 PM
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Jacky --
In terms of "showing up and winging it," I think many people do do it that way. I was concerned about time -- we only had a set amount of time off (and I cannot believe that we got back here to NY only 3 days before September 11), and didn't want to find out that a certain flight we needed on a Wednesday only left on Fridays...you get the picture. I prefer to do more improv-kind of travel, but we decided that time would be a crucial factor, so we had others help us out. I'd recommend flights, if possible -- the roads in Vietnam are not all that great, and it takes a very long time to get anywhere on the ground as a result. Again, though, this is if time is a factor; if not, I am sure you would see fascinating things by going on land.

With the tours, it was just myself, my husband and the guide. That's it (and for a morning, just me and the guide = moral of that story being, don't drink the water on the Mekong Delta!). I really prefer not to travel with a busload of people.

Hotels are amazing -- you can stay in VERY nice places for around $50-70 a night. Not the swankiest of the swank, but places that here in the US would cost much more. Guesthouses proliferate and are much less expensive.

In Siem Reap (which translates to "Thailand Defeated," so named after a grisly battle with the Thais), I would recommend Narum Van as a guide. You can connect with him through Indochina Travels. He is a great guy, early 30s, who speaks fluent English and German. Like everyone in Cambodia of that age, he has lived through an unbelievable history. He is extremely flexible and will accommodate your interests.
Sep 22nd, 2001, 04:57 PM
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Dear Jhm: I'm maybe thinking od going to Angkor Wat ( siem reap?) for 3 days from Bkk, any special place (nice,safe& clean.. $50) to stay for a woman traveling solo that you could recommend??... I'm leaving around Oct. 8
thanks... janine
Sep 23rd, 2001, 11:31 AM
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I think Ta Prohm (the hotel, not the temple) is supposed to be a great place.
Dec 10th, 2001, 05:16 AM
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Any restaurant recommended in Hoi An & Danang? Many Thanks.

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