Splitting Time between Hue and HCMC

Old Jan 29th, 2011, 05:54 AM
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Splitting Time between Hue and HCMC


I’ve been doing a good amount of research on an upcoming Thailand, Vietnam, Angkor Wat trip and these forums have been invaluable. I had a few questions about Hue / Ho Chi Minh and splitting time between the two. I know people here generally have a strong preference for more time in Hue over HCMC (and are generally lukewarm on HCMC). We generally like history (me more than my wife; and although I like both, and I particularly am interested in the Vietnam war) but we also enjoy the sights/sounds/buzz of cities. I am trying to decide between 2 potential itineraries for part of the trip (realizing that both are rushed and not optimal):
Option 1:

June 29: Arrive Hue at night
June 30th: sightsee Hue (we will have car /driver) and see Citadel, Perfume River, Thien Mu Pagoda, Tu Duc and / or Khai Dinh tombs (time permitting):
Leave Hue ~7-8pm(?) and arrive late in HCMC
July 1st: HCMC - Mekong Delta?
July 2nd: HCMC (Cu Chi tunnels and city sightseeing) until ~730pm flight

Option 2:

June 29: Arrive Hue at night
June 30th: sightsee Hue (we will have car /driver) and see same sight above overnight in Hue
July 1st: 8am flight to HCMC, arrive ~930am (Cu Chi tunnels and city sightseeing)
July 2nd: HCMC (city sightseeing) until ~730pm flight

I know Option 1 doesn’t leave much time in Hue. In HCMC, I’m trying to decide to do some or all of 1) city sightseeing (war remnant museum, post office, cholon, etc); 2) Cu Chi tunnels, which I understand is ~half day trip; and 3) Mekong Delta, which I understand takes most of the day. The ability to do some of all of the HCMC options obviously depends on the time in HCMC vs. Hue.

So in addition to my question about which option I should choose, I guess my questions implicitly are 1) can you see most of Hue from 9am – 6pm (understanding its very rushed); 2) is the Mekong Delta worthwhile given its a fully day – I’ve heard very mixed delta reviews; 3) views on Cu Chi tunnels. Ideally we’d have more time to spend, or wait for another trip to Vietnam, but realistically we probably won’t be back for a very long time, if ever.

Sorry for the long post. Any thoughts would be much appreciated. Thanks
mscott2010 is offline  
Old Jan 29th, 2011, 06:35 AM
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Yipes! I hope the rest of your itinerary doesn't look like this. Travel in SE Asia is best taken at a slow pace. If you move too fast, you'll miss it all. You might check off certain sights you saw, but you will have had no experience of the place, of the people.

You also have to allow for things like delayed or cancelled flights. One of our regular posters, on a much longer trip in VN, had to cut Hue entirely from the itinerary because of cancelled flights.

With the limited amount of time you have, my frank opinion is that you need to choose either HCMC or Hue.

In my long experience of travel to SE Asia, the best itineraries are those that have been most heavily edited.
Kathie is offline  
Old Jan 29th, 2011, 12:50 PM
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I happen to love Saigon, so not everyone here gives that city short shrift. I wonder if some people who did not like it merely did not spend enough time there. If you count yourselves among the people charmed by the buzz of cities, as you say, I would urge you to spend your time there and skip Hue on this trip.

I agree that you do not have enough time to see both cities.
ekscrunchy is online now  
Old Jan 29th, 2011, 04:16 PM
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Yes, Mekong delta is worth seeing. If you are still wondering then check it out at : http://www.flickr.com/photos/nhanfoto/ you can see more how mekong delta is. There are 13 provinces in Mekong delta. I can suggest you to visit some nice places:
Bentre - CanTho (floating markets).....
Have a nice trip.
Lane_n is offline  
Old Jan 29th, 2011, 11:49 PM
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I have been to both Hue and HCMC several times and both are great places to visit. However, given the comparatively limited amount of time you have, I would choose HCMC without hesitation, like ekscrunchy, I love teh city there is just so mauch to see and do and lots of great restaurants, foodstalls etc. The place has a real buzz about it whereas Hue is very laid back (an usually very wet!).

I would include the Mekong Delta but take care on your choice of tour as many will just take you to very touristy sites in the delta including a usually average lunch along the way. You really need a couple of nights there to really see the delta area. I went to Cu Chi tunnels 20+ years ago and it was just OK and certainly not worth a 1/2 a day out of a tight itinerary (but maybe it has changed).

Your planned places to visit in both locations are great but 4 days is a good amount of time to spend in one place without rushing. so I would choose one or the other but not both.

One thing I did like about Hue was the ability to get around the sights by bicycle. Great if you like to incorporate some physical activity in your tour.
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Old Jan 30th, 2011, 05:00 AM
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Option 1 is more efficient because you can have a full day in HCM City the next day and make use of the night flight from Hue.

One day in Hue is OK if your driver/guide is efficient. Start the day early at 9 am, you can see all the sites you listed but with limited time at each site. Just don't take a boat cruise on the Perfume River, always move by car. May be have a quick snack for lunch and dinner not some elaborate meals. Have your luggage with you in the car and go straight to the airport after the excursion.

Have fun.
HappyMom32 is offline  
Old Jan 30th, 2011, 05:24 PM
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Thanks for the replies. We would definitely like to spend more time in each city, but coming from NYC and given job constraints, its tough for us to make trips abroad more than once every few years. We are taking a more leisurely pace in Bangkok, Hanoi and Siem Reap. And I did read a couple trip reports where people had flights to Hue cancelled - I'm keeping my fingers crossed for our flights.

I'm still torn about the Delta, and Lane_n your photos look great. Thanks for the advice Crellston - my guess is the people I've spoken with who didn't think much of the delta were on tours you described. Given we probably only could do a day trip on the delta, it sounds like it may not be worth it. I'll do some more reading/thinking about the delta and tunnels and the rest of activities/sights in HCMC and hopefully decide soon. Thanks again to everyone
mscott2010 is offline  
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