possible January 2016 Vietnam Itinerary

Old May 14th, 2015, 03:59 PM
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possible January 2016 Vietnam Itinerary

Based on recommendations from Fodor's Forum, I have been in contact with Tonkin Travels. We, two couples, were asking about a 17 day stay in Vietnam and a 7 to 10 stay in Burma. Following is the suggested itinerary.
Day 1: Arrival in Hanoi
Day 2 Hanoi city tour
Day 3 Hanoi-Street food tour
Day 4- Hanoi/Halong Bay
Day 5- Halong Bay/Hanoi/Flight to Hue
Day 6- Hue City
Day 7 Hue/free time at Vendana Lagoon
Day 8- Hue/Danang/ Hoi An
Day 9 Ho An/Walking tour
Day 10 Hoi An/cooking class
Day 11- Hoi An/ free day
Day 12 Hoi An/Hanoi/flight to Yangoon
Day 13 Yangoon
Day 14 Yangoon/Bagan
Day 15 Bagan
Day 16 Bagan/Yangoon
Day 17 Yangoon / Departure
In reviewing the itinerary, I wonder if there is enough time to fully explore Hanoi. Also, I have read a number of comments about whether or not Halong Bay is worth the trip. Instead some have recommended Nimh Binh or Luang Prabang. Any comments on this would be greatly appreciated.
We also wanted to go to Sapa, but Tonkin Travel recommended against this because of the cold weather. We do like small towns and countrysides over touristy cities and would like a similar experience in a warmer place. Any thoughts?
We are two healthy, active couples, both in our early 70s, who have done extensive, independent travel in the past. We are not sure that we want our itinerary as regimented as outlined. Any comments?
We have just begun to explore Burma and would appreciate any feedback on the time framework as mentioned above. All thoughts and suggestions would be greatly appreciated.
Would it perhaps be better to go a little later in the year than January/early February?
marinbo is offline  
Old May 14th, 2015, 06:23 PM
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I am a little confused. You mention 17 days Vietnam and 7-10 Burma but your itinerary show 17 days in total??

Anyway, in common with most TA intineries where "more means better" the opposite is true in Vietnam where "less really is more"

We were in Vietnam last Dec and Jan and whilst we had a great time, the weather in the north and central regions was not great. Cold and damp mostly, although we did have some very nice days. We were planning to visit the far north Sapa, Ha Giang, Doen Bien Phu but the weather was just not good so we headed south to ten sun.
Not a fan of Ha Long Bay but if you do want to go, go to Bai Tu Long instead, far fewer tourists. Even then, I would prefer Ninh Binh for a couple of days. Easier to get to and spectacular scenery.

Some np more detail and photos of our time in Vietnam on our blog http://accidentalnomads.com/category/vietnam/

If you like smaller towns and less touristy places, consider the Mekong Delta. Or, in the north get a tour out to some of the northern villages. You don't necessarily need to do lots of hiking or stay in basic accommodation as there are some more comfortable options available ( or so I am told ��).

Luang Prabang would be a nice add on but will be busy at that time of year. If you do only have 17 days, it probably makes more sense than Burma.
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Old May 14th, 2015, 06:49 PM
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You are correct. We told Tonkin Travel we were interested in 17 days in Vietnam and for some reason we received a total itinerary for 17 days for both countries. Since we are coming from California, we want to take advantage of an extended period of time there, approximately 24 days or so.
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Old May 15th, 2015, 12:33 AM
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I think I'd want a bit of down-time towards the end of the trip. Tramping round the Temples of Bagan is v.tiring.
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Old May 15th, 2015, 08:21 AM
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I'm glad to hear you have a longer trip than the itinerary shows. I'll let others comment on VN, but do go back to Tonkin and ask them to put together a 17-day VN only trip for you.

In Burma, I wouldn't have Tonkin organize my trip - you really need a local (Yangon) agent for Burma. For a first trip to Burma, I recommend Bagan, Inle Lake and Yangon. I like 4 nights in each Bagan and Inle which will give you three full days in each place. (But people who are less interested in the temples may find two full days, three nights to be enough for them.) The traditional way to visit the temples in Bagan is via horsecart, You go out at dawn, visit temples until noon, go back to your hotel for lunch and a rest and to stay out of the heat of the day, then go back out to the temples about 3 or so. This has you at the temples at the best times of the day for photography and allows you to rest during the hottest time of the day.

Note that travel agents will often schedule you to have a guide all of the time. You really don't need it. You'll hire a horsecart in Bagan, and a boatman at Inle to take you places. If you go to Sankar (southern Inle Lake) you will be given a Pa-O guide. Don't have the agent hire either a boatman or a horsecart for you - you'll pay twice as much.

There are lots of excellent local agents in Yangon. We used Santa Maria for both of our trips, but there are lots of others as well. One regular poster here likes One Stop, a number of people here have used Shalom, and there are a number of others you will read about here.
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Old May 15th, 2015, 03:38 PM
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Thanks so much for your responses. I definitely agree about the slower pace and a local travel agent for Burma. After doing a little more research, I'm now thinking of going to Burma first, primarily because of the weather.
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Old May 16th, 2015, 05:53 AM
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Look at anantara hotel for Hoi an... We, in our 70's will stay there in November.....I did not like Halong bay, btw...
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