Suggested 15 day tour of Vietnam

Old Jul 29th, 2017, 04:55 AM
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Suggested 15 day tour of Vietnam

Greetings. My husband and I are looking into going to Vietnam in the fall of 2018 and because of tours suggested by fodorites, I reached out to Tonkin tours. I also looked into Rhodes Scholar. We are almost at retirement age but love adventure. Anyway,here is what they suggested. The price seems very reasonable at $3088 for two. One more thing, other travelers have highly suggested Siam Reep in Cambodia but that probably wouldn't fit into our 15 day itinerary. I was concerned that there are too much boat cruising but would love your feedback.
- Hanoi
- Mai Chau Valley: experience ethnic minority life, see the rice paddy at most beautiful season
- Ninh Binh : Beautiful rural area, experience rowing boat ride along the river
- Halong Bay: great trip on overnight boat, kayaking and lots of other activities.
- Hue: remnants of Hue Dynasty, rich in historical and architectural values.
- Hoi An: delightful ancient port town – most highlighted sites of all local and international tourists
- Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon)
- Mekong Delta (experience local Mekong life, see floating village)

Here are my questions and I appreciate all your help in advance.
They have suggested September, is this a good time to tour this area?
Does the tour above seem like a good one not too rushed?
Should we include Siam Reep Cambodia?
Do you still agree that Tonkins is a reliable tour company?

Thank you
stoweflake is offline  
Old Jul 29th, 2017, 05:20 AM
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We were in Hue 13 to 18 September 2015. We got caught in a Tropical Depression which practically washed us out for the duration. Amazing watching how the locals adapt in inclement weather.

Next stop was Hoi An for a week, and the weather was glorious.

How are you getting from Halong Bay to Hue.....could be time consuming?

Try to do Hue to Da Nang by train,it's an impressive 3 or 4 hour journey. From Da Nang it's less than an hour to Hoi An by taxi.

I think you're trying to fit too much in.....delayed flights are frequent.
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Old Jul 29th, 2017, 06:39 AM
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Have you laid this out on a calendar?

If you are going to Mai Chau and Ninh Binh I would skip Halong Bay. It is a long and boring drive both ways, and I hear that there is a lot of congestion on the bay these days.

You may have the wrong idea about floating villages in the Delta. They are not rustic and charming, they are industrial fish farming operations.

I consider three full days - i.e. four nights - the absolute minimum for Siem Reap, plus it would be a shame to visit Cambodia and see only one highly touristed area. Save it for another trip.

I have used Tonkin Travel, for a trip to Sapa, but Vietnam is very easy to DIY.
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Old Jul 29th, 2017, 06:44 AM
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September is not usual the best time to visit Vietnam. If you can push it back to November or December which is a great time for the north or south but not for central Vietnam (Hue and Hoi An). That is not too much of a problem as you don't have time for the central region anyway. At least, that is as far as anyone can predict in these days of global warming.

Are Tonkin any good? Not if they are suggesting all these destinations! That said it is a trait all too prevalent amongst Vietnamese tour operators who always seem to believe that more = better. In Asia, it really doesn't.

You need to take the lead and stress that you don't want to be moving around all the time. By my calculations you have less than two nights in each place. Which is only one full day. Every time you move, you can kiss goodbye to at least half a day. It does seem very rushed.

If it were me, I would split the time - half north and half south, maybe more for the south. Hanoi is a wonderful city and deserves 3 days. It is possible to travel from Mai Chau via various national parks to Ninh Binh - we did it in a week, but that included a lot of trekking through villages, you could take less time and the scenery is spectacular. Some info and photos on our blog https://accidentalnomads.com/category/vietnam/

Saigon is a buzzing, dynamic city but requires less time than Hanoi. A trip to the delta makes a great contrast - also some photos on our same blog.

Hope this helps a little. At the risk of complicating matter further Ethnic Travel are a good operator for the north as apparently are Custom Vietnam Travel.
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Old Jul 31st, 2017, 12:32 PM
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lancasterlad, thursdaysd crellston. Thank you all for your good advice. Even though Tonkins has a good rep on fodors they seem to be creating too rushed or busy of an itinerary and thank you for your suggestion to go later in the season. I tend to want to do too much myself and I have planned my own trip in China a few years back which worked out wonderfully except for the part I let my daughter plan. Thanks all
stoweflake is offline  
Old Jul 31st, 2017, 01:28 PM
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If you planned your own trip to China you can plan your own trip to Vietnam. No problem.

Consult some guidebooks and decide what you most want to see. Read what seat61.com has to say about train travel, and check booking.com and agoda.com for places to stay. And read the TRs here, of course.
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Old Aug 2nd, 2017, 12:38 PM
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We just planned our own trip to Vietnam for three weeks and it was no problem. I would do Bai Tu Long bay, 2 nights, instead of Halong Bay. Far less traffic and so relaxing. One of our highlights for sure. We used Indochina Junk

We arranged to be picked up at the harbour to go to Ninh BInh and Mai Chau. That was the only tour we booked, the rest we planned on our own.
All of your stops look great however, we loved all of them.

Vietnam is very inexpensive. The people are so friendly and wonderful.
my trip report is here if you are interested.
http://debbeanddougstravels.travellerspoint.com
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Old Aug 5th, 2017, 10:39 AM
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Live42day, I'm just reading your trip report. We're thinking of Vietnam in late February / early March. I may contact you for some advice.
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Old Aug 5th, 2017, 04:38 PM
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Susan, got your message and replied to you
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Old Aug 5th, 2017, 05:21 PM
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BTW, I think all travel agents try to cram too much into your time. The way I use local agents is to tell them exactly what I want. Local agents can often get you better pries on hotels than you can get yourself. But, IMO, you need to do your own planning.
Kathie is offline  
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