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Need help with 1 month itinerary for Vietnam

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Need help with 1 month itinerary for Vietnam

Old Jan 6th, 2015, 08:07 AM
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Need help with 1 month itinerary for Vietnam

My husband and I will be in Vietnam from Feb. 23 -March 26. We will fly in and out of Hanoi. We would like to do a Northwest loop: Dien Bien Phu - Sapa- Bac Ha- Ha Giang. We hope to do some trekking, but I have some knee issues so nothing too long or arduous. How much time should we allot to this part of the trip? How best to travel? We do love trains and buses, but can hire a driver for some legs if necessary.

Other than that, we want to see Hoi, Hue An, Bai Tu Long Bay, and Dalat. We do not anticipate going south of Dalat. We appreciate any advice you can give us.
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Old Jan 6th, 2015, 03:28 PM
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We are currently coming to the end of a two month stay in Vietnam and have visited most of the places you mention on this and previous trips with the exception of Ha Giang. We had planned to visit but the weather had been so bad we decided to give it a miss i until later. By all accounts it is one of the most scenic areas of Vietnam and gets few tourists because it is so remote. You will need a driver and guide to get the best out of Ha Giang

Years ago we did the Dien Bien Phu Loop, getting the train to Sapa, doing a few treks there before retuning to Hanoi via DBP (very interesting in you are interested in the history of the country). From there we drove down through unsploilt countryside and fantastic scenery to Son La and Mai Chau. We revisited Mai Chau this time but we're shocked by how much it had changed, and not for the better!

We were going to revisit Sapa this time but we're warned by many people , including a lady whose parents live there, not to bother as it had become overrun. It is possible to get away from the crowds I amd sure but may not be easy. Stil a stunning location though.

Bai Tu Long Bay is preferable to Ha Long. The same scenery but fewer boats and people. Some nice homestays can be arranged on the Islands as well as staying on the boat.

We spent a week trekking from Mai Chau to Ninh Binh through Pu Long NP and loved it! We didn't meet any other tourists and staying mostly in village home-stays provided a great opportunity to experience the life of the people in rural vietnam, if only for a short while. Very basic, sleeping on thin mattresses on the floor with the family is not everyone's idea of a great accomodation, butt we enjoyed it and the food was superb! Amazing what can be created on an open fire!

Ninh Binh was spectacular a little like a Ha long bay on land. Boatmen will take you along waterways through the karst scenery and through caves to "secret " lakes.
March is a good time to visit the North so I would allow the majority of your time there. We met with Ethnic Travel and Tonkin in Hanoi both were good but we decided that Ethnic Travel had the edge so we went with them. Both will tailor any trip to your requirements so could adjust the amount and difficulty of treks to suit you. Our varied from 4 kms and a couple of hours a day to 35 kms and 7 hours ( but we love walking)

Hue and Hoi An are worth a couple of days apiece. We are off to Dalat in a few days. I would suggest you think about including Saigon for a couple of days with a few days in the Mekong Delta. It is really beautiful down here.

We are in the process of finishing of entries for our blog which will have some photos and more detail so will post a link here when finished. Have fun planning!
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Old Jan 8th, 2015, 06:16 PM
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Thank you so much. You mention Ethnic Travel. Did you use them for the week long trek from Mai Chau? You are on your way to Dalat. Where were you before heading to Dalat? How might you get there from Hue or Hoi An? I may write again with more questions. I hope that is okay.
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Old Jan 9th, 2015, 12:23 AM
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You are very welcome. Yes we did use Ethnic for the trek from Mai Chau to Ninh Binh. They came up with suggestions which we modified and found them very helpful.

We were indeed on our way to Dalat but changed our minds dues mainly to the weather!. A long held ambition was to travel the length of the Reunification Express so we did that stopping off at hue and Da Nang before continuing on to Saigon which is where we are now. Dalat is easy to get to by air from Hanoi Da Nang or Hue or by bus from Saigon (7 hours) or Nha Trang 3 hours. The train from Hue to Da Nang followed by a flight to Dalat would be a good way to go. The train ride from Hue to Da Nang is excellent. Details can be found @
http://seat61.com/Vietnam.htm#.VK-dHoFXerU

Feel free to ask as many questions as you like!
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Old Jan 9th, 2015, 05:25 AM
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Crellston has very good advice for Vietnam travelers, such as helping us survive crossing the street recently in Saigon. We enjoyed staying in an bang beach and driving motorbikes into hoi an. If that sounds like fun, here's a nice place to rent:

Anbangbeachhouse.com
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