Northern Vietnam - 6 days

Old Oct 1st, 2013, 07:28 AM
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Northern Vietnam - 6 days

I am planning to visit Hanoi and surroundings in late May 2014. I will only have 6 days in the area, so I am wondering how best to allocate my time? I'd like to explore Hanoi, Halong Bay, and possibly Sapa - but I am wondering if I should just pick 2? I anticipate I'll be back to the area again another time, so I don't feel compelled to squeeze everything in. Any suggestions greatly appreciated!
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Old Oct 1st, 2013, 08:01 AM
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Hanoi and Sapa definitely. I am not a fan of Halong but you just don't have enough time.
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Old Oct 1st, 2013, 08:03 AM
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It took us 11 days to do Hanoi, Halong Bay and Sapa. One night on Halong Bay requires 2 full days as there is a half day of travel each way from Hanoi. Going to Sapa requires 2 overnight train trips from Hanoi - we had 4 full days there and 5 more in Hanoi. Given your time constraints, I would skip Sapa...
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Old Oct 1st, 2013, 08:52 AM
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We spent a week in Hanoi and didn't run out of things to do. SO I'd say either just choose Hanoi or choose Hanoi plus an overnight to Halong Bay. You don't have time for Sapa.
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Old Oct 1st, 2013, 12:24 PM
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I am a big fan of both Hanoi and sapa. Do you actually have 6 full days for touring or are two if those days arrival and departure days? If you have 6 FULL days and if you sleep well on trains, then it is possible to do sapa. If you could time it by arriving it leaving on a Sunday, then you could visit the incredible bac ha market. You really do not lose touring time by traveling to sapa as you leave Hanoi after 9:00 pm (after a full day touring). You arrive at the train station between sapa and the market around 5:00 am. If arriving on a Sunday, head directly to the market and later that day, take the bus to sapa. If leaving on a Sunday, go to the market from sapa and have the driver drop you at the train station for an evening train ride which arrives in Hanoi around 5:00 am. You can easily spend 3 or more days in Hanoi which is a fabulous city.

I prefer this over halong bay as the ride to and from the bay is exhausting and boring. However, with less than 6 full days I would take the time to do an overnight boat ride. We did two nites on the bay, but do not think it necessary.
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Old Oct 1st, 2013, 12:51 PM
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So an even split between Halong and Sapa as my Hanoi add-on I've heard that the weather in June in Sapa may not be ideal, but that would be a good time for Halong Bay. I have 6 full days so I was looking at Hanoi plus a 3 day/2 night Halong cruise.

Any particular reasons why folks prefer Sapa over Halong?
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Old Oct 1st, 2013, 01:14 PM
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I prefer Sapa over Halong but I don't think you have time to do both Sapa and Hanoi justice. It's not worth the long train trips to go to and from there for a short period. Sapa has great hiking, colorful people and an interesting market (if you can be there on a Sunday). But sleeping on the train is less than ideal. You do arrive early in the morning and leave late afternoon/early evening so those can be full days. I think you are still better off soaking up Hanoi for a few days and breaking that up with a Halong overnight (or do it at the end).
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Old Oct 1st, 2013, 04:42 PM
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Craig is correct, you probably do not have enough time to visit Sapa and do Hanoi justice. Hanoi can easily take 4-5 days. Sapa has amazing scenery and some great hiking especially around the outlying villages. Halong bay has great scenery but it is a long boring journey to get there and it just did not impress me that much. To me it just was not worth the time and effort expended although I am sure others will disagree.

One other option for a change of scene may be to spend a day or two in the Mai CHau valley, about 4-5 hours from Hanoi. It is on a par with Sapa and a trip including an overnight in a homestay or even a hotel is easily arranged either before you go or on arrival in Hanoi.

There are some photos on our blog

http://blog.travelpod.com/travel-blo...ai/3/tpod.html

Entry 3 covers Mai Chau and 1 Sapa
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Old Oct 2nd, 2013, 12:26 AM
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Dear Zoomzoom,
I could easily spend the six days only in Hanoi, there is so much to do. You'll have a great time. Will you be able to get back to Vietnam again, then do Ha Long Bay and Sapa then?
If you find you want a day trip to Ha Long Bay, that would be easily arranged when your there.
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Old Oct 2nd, 2013, 06:42 AM
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Many helpful comments and suggestions. I will certainly be back to Vietnam again, so I don't feel the need to fit in both mountains and seas, and I also don't feel I need to do everything in Hanoi either. Most likely will do Hanoi and Mai Chau or Halong Bay, saving more extensive trekking through Sapa for another time. As the date of my travels gets closer, I'm sure I'll be on here for more advice.
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Old Oct 4th, 2013, 01:45 AM
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With 6 days, it's impossible to cover all 3 destinations, I mean "impossible" for a suitable and balance trip, dont count the rush case.
Sapa is also very beautiful but I myself think you would regret for missing Halong when you travel to Vietnam. And agree with Craig, Sapa needs more time to be explore while 6 days is perfectly match for a leisure trip to Hanoi and Halong only.
If you prefer visting somewhere near Hanoi, Mai Chau or Ninh Binh is good choice. Possible for day trip and beautiful landscape. Despite being not as famous as Sapa, they are both worthwhile to see.
Have fun
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Old Oct 4th, 2013, 08:21 AM
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After reading all these helpful comments and realizing just how much I want to see/do in Vietnam, I am wondering if I shouldn't "save" Vietnam for a longer trip another time and perhaps add another destination to my Hong Kong trip? I was thinking perhaps Bali, but any other thoughts? I know there is lots to see/do in Hong Kong as well, but my preference is to add a 5 or 6 day trip to another destination attached to my 4 day stay in hong kong. Thanks forum!
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Old Oct 4th, 2013, 08:44 AM
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Well, 5 or 6 days in Hanoi is fine. Yes, at another time you might want an all-VN trip.

Other options for 5 or 6 days: The Temples of Angkor, Cambodia, Thailand - either all Bangkok, or a beach location or northern Thailand. Georgetown, Penang Malaysia would be a fine 5 or 6 day trip.

Bali is a fine option, though the flight from Hong Kong is long.

I'm not sure where else you have been, so it's hard to make informed recommendations.

Might photos help? www.marlandc.com
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Old Oct 4th, 2013, 08:47 AM
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I think if you spend 5-6 days in Bali, you will want to return there as well . Our trip to Bali took 12 days...
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Old Oct 4th, 2013, 08:50 AM
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Thanks Katie - I've done Thailand, Laos, and Cambodia as well as Beijing/Shanghai and surroundings. Is Penang a closer flight than Bali?

Would Kunming/Yunnan be a practical option, considering the time I have?

Still very conflicted about where to go - I keep going back and forth about just concentrating on Hanoi or choosing another country altogether.
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Old Oct 4th, 2013, 12:16 PM
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We really got a lot out of our time in Hanoi, especially in terms of the history with both the French and the Americans. You will really need to hook up with the Hanoikids for at least one day to experience the city. Click on my name to access my trip report.
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Old Oct 4th, 2013, 12:29 PM
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Penang would be closer. I believe there are non-stop flights from Hong Kong, but you would need to check for sure. If it is in the budget, consider the E&O Hotel, ideally located right in Georgetown.

Like, Craig, I'd prefer to have longer for Bali, but if you went for 6 days, you would end up going back for more.
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