Need feedback on itinerary

Feb 2nd, 2019, 01:28 PM
  #1  
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Join Date: Jul 2003
Posts: 141
Need feedback on itinerary

Hello,
I know this is not a forum for cruises, but I was wondering if I can get a feedback on the following cruise (see below) from itinerary perspective.

It's our first time to Asia, we've been only to Japan before. We like the itinerary of this cruise. We like that it ends in Singapore. We are planning to stay longer after the cruise and possibly fly to Cambodia for Ankor Wat.

Does it give us enough time in every port to see at least the main attractions? Any feedback is appreciated.
1. Hong Kong, China------
2 Hong Kong, China---6:00 pm
3 At Sea------
4 Ha Long, Vietnam 8:00 am2:00 pm
5 Chan May, Vietnam 8:00 am7:00 pm
6 At Sea------
7 Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam 8:00 am---
8 Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam------
9 Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam---2:00 pm
10 At Sea------
11 Laem Chabang, Thailand 8:00 am---
12 Laem Chabang, Thailand---6:00 pm
13 At Sea------
14 Singapore,
15 Singapore6:
kiramoli is offline  
Feb 2nd, 2019, 05:11 PM
  #2  
 
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IMO, a cruise is not a good way to visit places in Asia. You need more time in each place than a cruise offers to get a sense of the place. Also, the cruise ship becomes a bubble that will prevent you from experiencing these destinations. You want to stay in a hotel, eat in local restaurants, be able to visit multiple sites. A cruise just doesn't allow for that. You could stay at the best hotels in each place and eat in the best restaurants for much less than the price of the cruise.

This is a very easy part of the world in which to travel. You can book everything yourselves on line. Decide which places you'd most like to visit and what you want you do/see/experience in each place. People here are very generous with information about these destinations and their experiences.
Kathie is offline  
Feb 3rd, 2019, 11:44 AM
  #3  
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hi Katie,
thank you for your reply. You definitely have a point of land tour vs cruise yet what we like about this itinerary that it allows us to stay several days in one port, cover several countries and yet unpack only once. I know people have different opinions about it but we are not big on packing/unpacking and flying in and out every 3-4 days.
From the itinerary perspective though - how does it sound?
kiramoli is offline  
Feb 3rd, 2019, 01:46 PM
  #4  
 
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Ok, let me start by saying that if you were to do a land-based trip, I wouldn't recommend that you move every 3-4 days. Instead, I would expect you to spend perhaps a week in several locations and explore the area with a car and driver. In some of these places, you would have the option of going to another location via train.

Let me address your specific questions about this itinerary. You are right that it is better than many cruise itineraries, as it gives you at least two days in most ports. But is that enough?

I've been to Hong Kong several times, spending a week there each time. Hong Kong is not just a huge city, there are islands that are known for their hiking opportunities, and of course, Macau is a short ferry ride away. Many people visiting Hong Kong like to take a day trip to Macau. We aren't gamblers, but enjoyed the historic sites. You won't really have time to visit Macau, and will only have time for a few sights in Hong Kong. That may be enough for you - wouldn't be enough for me. But you can arrive early for your cruise and spend a few days exploring Hong Kong.

Your cruise ship stops at Halong Bay. which is usually experienced by visitors on a small wooden boat cruising around the bay with its dramatic limestone karsts. Most visitors spend a night on one of these small boats. You won't have the opportunity to do that. That may or may not be important to you.

I note that your cruise does not give you the chance to visit Hanoi, a wonderful city with areas of French colonial buildings and some Chinese temples. Hanoi has a collection of amazing museums. I spent a week there a number of years ago and very much enjoyed it.

Chan May is the port used to give you access to Hue, Hoi An and DaNang. With your part of a day there, you will likely need to choose just one. DaNang has become an international beach resort, with a line of high rise hotels along the beach. Hue is the historic capital, so if you are interested in history, it would be your destination for the day. HoiAn used to be a charming town, but ti is now totally overrun by tourists, especially during the hours the cruise ships are in port.

You do have two plus days in HCMC, so you will have time to explore the city, but no real time for the outlying areas. Many people love the Mekong Delta area. You might have enough time for a drive to the delta, but no time to explore it.

Laem Chabang is the port nearest to Bangkok. It is a good hour away, Pattaya, a beach community is closer, but much of Pattaya is oriented toward European sex tourists. If you wanted time on a Thai beach, there are some nice hotels in areas not overrun by sex tourists. If it were me, I'd want to spend as much time as possible in Bangkok, a city filled with Buddhist temples. There is also great shopping in Bangkok and excellent restaurants. But I can't imagine spending your nights on the ship rather than in the city. You will waste a lot of time IMO going to and from Bangkok to avoid packing and unpacking. You would need much more time if you wanted to explore Bangkok, and you would likely want to visit some nearby places, like Ayutthaya, the old capital with some lovely ruins.

Singapore has lots to offer. You have much of two days there, but you can add on time after the cruise to explore more. It is a compact city-state and has great pubic transportation, so getting around is easy.

I hope the info I've offered is useful to you.

Last edited by Kathie; Feb 3rd, 2019 at 01:51 PM.
Kathie is offline  
Feb 3rd, 2019, 05:24 PM
  #5  
 
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I have to agree with Kathie's excellent analysis. I can't imagine going to Vietnam and not spending several days in Hanoi. Equally, you have far too little time for the Hoi An-Hue-Danang area. There is a wonderful museum in Danang, good ruins just outside Hoi An, and tombs and pagodas outside Hue. You don't need to overnight in Danang, but at least two nights in Hoi An and three in Hue would be my minimum.

If you think you want to visit Cambodia as well, I highly recommend visiting the Mekong Delta from Saigon and taking a boat to Phnom Penh and a bus to Siem Reap.

I think that avoiding unpacking is not worth the price of limited time. If you pack light it is not such a big deal, and travel is easy throughout SEA.
thursdaysd is offline  
Feb 4th, 2019, 02:59 PM
  #6  
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Thank you Kathie and thursdaysd for your honest opinion.
What is a good season to travel to Vietnam. Cambodia and Singapore? is November-December fine?
kiramoli is offline  
Feb 4th, 2019, 07:35 PM
  #7  
 
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November-December will likely be cold in northern Vietnam.
thursdaysd is offline  
Feb 5th, 2019, 10:38 AM
  #8  
 
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November and December is the optimum time to visit much of SE Asia. In Southern Vietnam and Cambodia you will see fine weather and temperatures will be pleasant and yet to hit their peaks. In northern Vietnam, again you should see fine weather, blue skies and lower temps than in the south as it cools down towards December. Temps are usually 20-25c. a good time for Cambodia and much of Vietnam, although central Vietnam may see a few storms.

I agree with the comments of Kathie and Thursdaysd that a land based option is preferable for this part of the world. Thursdaysd’s of visiting the delta and then a boat to Phnom Penh is an excellent one.

Some photos and detail of our time travelling from Saigon to Phnom Penh through the delta can be found in various posts in our blog @ https://accidentalnomads.com/category/vietnam/
We did it in sections but there are cruise operators that run the entire route. Pandaw and Mekong Eyes spring to mind but there are no doubt others.
crellston is offline  
Feb 6th, 2019, 03:00 AM
  #9  
 
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I haven't been to Vietnam yet, but have been to the other countries on your list and some of them many times around. I can't even imagine doing the above-mentioned countries/itinerary on a cruise. So much will be missed and not experienced. I would definitely stay in hotels over staying on a cruise ship and I personally don't stress out about unpacking and packing. It's very easy to travel within S.E. Asia. I'm female and have been doing it solo for 20 years now.

Yesterday, I just got back from my annual 6-6.5 week vacation to S.E. Asia and as usual the entire vacation was in hotels and one of my main, serviced apartments for 6 nights of the 21 nights in Bangkok. I hit a lot of places ; L.A.-Singapore-Bangkok,Thailand-Penang, Malaysia-Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia-Singapore-Jakarta, Indonesia-Singapore-L.A. However, personally I was fine with it as there are bellhops to deal with the luggage and I never totally unpacked my 2, large suitcases at any one location and the first 3 weeks of my vacation I spend 3, straight weeks in Bangkok and usually in 3 different accomoadations, before moving on to other countries.

I personally just use packing cubes for about everything which gives me very easy access to my clothing and other items and my two suitcases were each weighing 23-26 kilos and I'm one person and handled the situation fine. I just e-mail my hotels, before arrival, and asks for 2-4 luggage racks to be set up in my room. If they are small luggage racks, then I put one suitcase on two luggage racks so that I can open the suitcase like a book and have easy access to my items. If it's the big, wooden-style luggage rack then I can get one big suitcase on one luggage rack. I arrive with a lot of fabric and also leave with quite a bit of fabric as that fabric has been turned into clothing. I also have other items, acquired along my journey, as friends there also give me presents and I have to get all those presents home. This time I arrived home with a big, ceramic Perankan pot and lid and thank goodness it didn't break. It was a gift from friends. I had a lot of gifts. So, the packing lightly theory doesn't work for us all. I know how to pack lightly as I've done it many times, but it totally depends on the destination to which I'm traveling and the situation of the trip.

Bascially, I'm regularly dealing with one suitcase out of two and easily living out of packing cubes in which I have my items arranged in a very organized and easily accessible manner. It's quick.

As for weather, S.E. Asia is really good in Nov/Dec/Jan/ parts of Feb as those are the main months that I have traveled there for 20 years although I've also been there in March and August. I prefer the winter months. It was recently quite cool in Singapore as I spent my last 9 nights there. I was in and out of Singapore 3 times on route to other places. I landed there in December, from L.A., and then slept there for some hours and then flew on to Bangkok.

As for Hong Kong, I added it onto my S.E. Asia itinerary, back in Jan 2016, although it's not S.E. Asia. I flew round trip from Singapore. It was cold in Hong Kong on that trip which created the situation of having to pack both hot-weather clothing and cold-weather clothing. The same happened in Jan 2018 when I threw in 5 nights to Taipei, round-trip from Singapore, and it was 9C/48F in Taipei compared to weather in Thailand, Malaysia, and Singapore at between 29C/84F and 33C/91F. On this trip, I didn't need to pack two types of (weather) clothing. Thank goodness.

If I were you, I'd plan the trip on land and especially with just 15 days. I would then narrow down the itinerary and personally only select 3 main places to visit.

Happy Travels!
Guenmai is offline  
Feb 6th, 2019, 08:04 AM
  #10  
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Thanks again for the feedback. 6 weeks in SE sounds fantastic. Unfortunately we have about 18-20 days for travel and would like to visit HK, Singapore, Vietnam and Angkor Wat. What would be the recommendations for the itinerary.
kiramoli is offline  
Feb 6th, 2019, 07:25 PM
  #11  
 
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Originally Posted by kiramoli View Post
Thanks again for the feedback. 6 weeks in SE sounds fantastic. Unfortunately we have about 18-20 days for travel and would like to visit HK, Singapore, Vietnam and Angkor Wat. What would be the recommendations for the itinerary.

look at sample Vietnam itineraries online
Justbecool is offline  
Feb 10th, 2019, 03:43 PM
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With 18-20 days (I assume that Includes your flights from home to SEA and the return) so I expect maybe 18 nights on the ground in SE Asia. You have 4 destinations on your wish list, three specific locations: 2 cities and Angkor. Your fourth destination is an entire country. 18 days would likely be enough to visit VN and get a real feel for the country, but in combination with your other destinations, you just don't have enough time. I'd start with a good guidebook for VN (Lonely Planet, for instance). Spend enough time so you have sense of what you most want to see/do/experience in VN.

November/December would be a fine time for this trip except for central VN. Hong Kong will be a bit cold. Hanoi will be a nice temperature, (but I would not go to Sapa then) check out Travel Weather Averages (Weatherbase) for data on historic weather patterns. Nov/Dec is VERY wet in DaNang, HoiAn and Hue. Indeed, at that time of year, I'd skip them. Angkor and Singapore are hot year around. So if that is the time of year you have to work with, I'd suggest you do it, maybe 3 nights in Hong Kong, 4 nights in Hanoi, 3 nights in HCMC and 4 nights at Angkor, 3 nights in Singapore. The trip would be better if you could eliminate one other destination, as it would allow you more time in each place. Remember that it takes 4 nights in a place to get three full days to do/see/experience.

Happy planning!
Kathie is offline  
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