Thailand vs. Vietnam


Jan 9th, 2010, 03:50 PM
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Thailand vs. Vietnam

I have two weeks to travel in mid-March and have narrowed it down to Thailand or Vietnam. The only place I've been in Asia is China. Any suggestions? I'm active and like a fair amount of variety, but don't plan to spend a lot of time hanging out at the beach. Thanks!
pinabeach is offline  
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Jan 9th, 2010, 04:43 PM
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You could really do either one. Personally, I'd start with Thailand as it has better infrastructure, but both countries are good value for your money and are easy to do on your own.
Kathie is online now  
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Jan 9th, 2010, 11:41 PM
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Read up on the countries and see which one interests you the most. I have been to both (just came back from VN) and i liked them both very much. TH has a better tourist infrastructure (thats a plus and a minus i guess if you don't want to follow the tourist trail) VN is WAY cheaper than Thailand, but that is a HUGE generalisation both countries are so much more than that.
Let us know a bit more about what you and your travel companions like to do and we may be able to help a bit more.
Smeagol is offline  
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Jan 10th, 2010, 09:08 AM
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i find thailand more interesting and generally easier to get around in and to communicate
rhkkmk is offline  
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Jan 10th, 2010, 10:49 AM
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Food is fabulous in Thailand. We are going to Vietnam this year, so I can't comment on the differences, however, Vietnam is still in the early stages of developing their tourism infra structure and if you want to see it while it's very authentic, you may want to get there sooner than later.
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Jan 11th, 2010, 05:10 AM
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If you can do what we are doing keep the other one for next time it doesn't really matter which one you do.We did Thailand last year which included 1 night Bk. start of trip followed by 4 nights cruise up the River Kwai back to BK, 1 night, flight to Chang Mai and then organised tour of 6-7 days to Hill tribes people and then Golden Triangle back to Chang Rai and then Flight back to BK. for 2 nights. This March we are doing Saigon & Mekong River cruise Siem Reap and Phnom Penh in Cambodia. We are then keeping north Vietnam for next year.
Whichever one you do you will enjoy
It would always help for us to help if we knew were you were coming from--Age group--back packing , up market accommodation,etc. Since I've joined this site I'm amazed that very few subscribers put anything on their profile.
What do you other Foderites think.
jamesexton_1 is offline  
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Jan 11th, 2010, 07:44 AM
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james, you are right it is very helpful if people give a bit of info about themselves when they ask for advice or information. Whether they put it in their profile or in their post doesn't matter to me, but without that information it's hard to know what info to offer.
Kathie is online now  
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Jan 11th, 2010, 03:29 PM
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Pinabeach, my vote goes to Vietnam. There is so much to explore and see and the country is full of culture. If you do choose Vietnam, I would concentrate on the cities of Ho Chi Minh, Hoi An, Hue and Halong Bay. Be sure not to miss the Old City, a UNESCO World Heritage site, in Hoi An, and the Old Imperial City in Hue, modeled after the Forbidden City in Beijing. Happy travels!
Gate1Travel is offline  
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Jan 11th, 2010, 08:02 PM
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I recommend Vietnam! I've been to both Vietnam and Thailand and although I enjoyed both trips immensely, I found Vietnam to be far less touristy and much more interesting than Thailand. There is A LOT to do there and it's absolutely beautiful. If you're active and enjoy activity, there's a lot to do there. I was there for two weeks in 2004. Spent a few days in Ho Chi Minh City (did a Mekong Delta tour day - should've done the tunnels, but I am claustrophobic!). Then we went to Da Lat, which is about an eight hour bus ride away. It's the honeymoon capital of Vietnam. While there, we did waterfall rappelling and then did a bike ride from Da Lat to Nha Trang, a beautiful beach town (about 90 km riding and part of it was driving in the van...). We then flew to Hanoi, which was gorgeous (but tougher to travel in - many more people lying about where they were taking you, etc.). From Hanoi, we did a two day trip to the Halong Bay, which was absolutely GORGEOUS!! Spent a night on a boat in the middle of the bay, explored caves, etc. The best part is we didn't make any of these plans until we got there. Thailand was awesome, as well, but it's MUCH more touristy. I did a three-day hike in Chiang Mai (in the north - took an overnight train to get there) and really enjoyed that. We stayed at a tribal village one night and camped the next night. Otherwise, I just toured in Bangkok and did the beach thing in Koh Samui. Both were great trips, but my vote would be Vietnam, hands down. Also, from Hanoi, there's a train/hiking trip you can do to Sapa, which is near the Chinese border. That looked phenomenal, but we didn't have enough time. Good luck!
Tracy_G is offline  
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Jan 12th, 2010, 07:35 AM
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I like both countries, but recommend you start with Thailand.
gingsa is offline  
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Jan 12th, 2010, 10:14 AM
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Go to Thailand- doing the touristy things is not a negative!
BillT is offline  
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Dec 3rd, 2015, 10:03 PM
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My family and I were originally planning a trip to Thailand in april of this upcoming year but are now considering Vietnam. We would like to avoid too much touristy activity and influence and would rather experience some first hand authentic culture. However this would be our first time traveling to SE Asia so we don't want to get to in over our heads. We are very adventurous people who enjoy the mountains, rush of the city, beautiful beaches and rich culture. We were hoping to gear this upcoming vacation more towards touring temples, exploring cities and beaches (specifically with limestone cliffs). We were thinking about Bangkok, Khao Sok National Park, Ayuthaya, Ko Phi Phi and Krabi but these places seem very touristy. We are now looking into Hanoi, Sa pa, Ho Chi Minh, and Ha long Bay in Vietnam. We are also looking to avoid rain and enjoy some warm sunny weather! Any recommendations on where to spend our vacation in early April would be very appreciated! Thanks!
graceeo is offline  
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Dec 4th, 2015, 01:39 AM
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Hi graceeo, from you description of your requirements I feel you would be better off with Vietnam. Being a long thin country with mountains its topography means that it's weather patterns vary tremendously from place to place but April is one of the better times overall.

If you are into adventure, Vietnam has it in abundance and at cheaper rates than Thailand. In fact Vietnam generally will provide more for your money than Thailand.

There are less temples than in Thailand but those that are there are just as interesting. The beaches in Thailand are better but those in Vietnam are generally less crowded ( with some notable exceptions)

Hanoi and Saigon are very different. Many people seem to prefer Hanoi but having spent considerable amount of time in both, I love both cities and both deserve a few days apiece.

As you are adventurous, consider travelling between the two by train. See for info.

Sapa is getting very touristy these days so you may have to work hard to avoid being in long lines of hikers tramping through the same village, but it can be done. Alternatively look at the alternatives. Maybe Ha Giang, Ba Be or, as we did Mai Cahu to Ninh Binh via Cu Phuong NP.

Central Vietnam will probably be better for beaches. Halong Bay stunning, but over crowded and the 5 hour drive each way to get there wasn't worth it IMO. Ninh Binh is karsts on land and was much better imho.

More info and photos of our recent travel in the country which may spark a few ideas @
crellston is offline  
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Dec 4th, 2015, 02:12 AM
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Wherever you go there'll be tourists. But if you have your own car/driver/guide then you've go the flexibility and control of how fast or slow you move along, and be able to get off the main beaten tourist tracks.

It's easy enough to select your accommodation as you're travelling. Avoid hotels that take Chinese or Korean tour groups.

Put Dalat on your Vietnam radar. Easy to reach, well away from the madness of Hanoi and Saigon, and because it's in the Central Highlands it's cooler. If you're adventurous you could consider employing the Dalat Easyriders for a day or two.

Where best to go in April? This link gives a good overview...
LancasterLad is offline  
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Dec 4th, 2015, 08:19 AM
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I've been to both and am returning to both in Jan. My personal preference is Vietnam for many of the reasons given above. Also, Thailand would be too hot for me to navigate during April. Whatever you chose, I'm sure you'll have a wonderful time.
shelleyk is offline  
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Dec 6th, 2015, 11:15 AM
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Graceo, how long will you be there?

I can't comment on Thailand, as have not been. And my experience in VN a couple months ago is limited to the northern part of the country for only 2.5 weeks.

I second Crellston's recommendations for Ninh Binh and Mai Chau loop (from Hanoi). I particularly liked Mai Chau and wish I'd have had more time there--lush mts and hills and people far friendlier than I found in the little-traveled far north (Ha Giang/Dong Van) where Westerners are still a rarity, and shy reserve (or perhaps indifference) seems more the norm. Sometimes "more touristy" is not a bad t hing!!

Ha Long Bay is gorgeous, and the boat cruise (minimum overnight!) is fun. Some companies go to quieter adjacent areaa, like Bai Tu Long Bay. Same limestone karsts rising out of water, turquoise water, but fewer boats. Check Indochina Junk Company.

Ba Be Lake is beautiful. You can take a small boat to nearby villages, eat lunch along the water. There are welcoming (and rustic) homestays, and there is a great cave to take boat to, if that interests you.

I asked about time because some excursions are longggg distances from Hanoi . I don't recommend Ha Giang province unless you have lots of time--five full days minimum. Even with that amount, I spent hours every day traveling through spectacular scenery, interesting remote towns,markets,, but later wondered if all those hours in a van were worth it vs spending my limited time in other places in VN. IMHO, IF you have limited vacay time (as I did) you can see spectacular beauty and interesting villages , towns, and market--and more welcoming people--closer to Hanoi.

Finally, check the weather. There are other tips from far more experienced post-ers here on the Asia Forum. See Lancaster Lad's post , above, for example. I found the heat and humidity a definite activity enjoyment-wrecker in some areas, and longed for ac in most places that didn't have it. For example, I love to walk for hours, but not in 95 F humid weather! Supposedly, the temps were to cool down in autumn. If that was "cooler" i wouldnt want to be there in "hot"! So accurately and realistically assess the outside temp tolerance of you and your parents.

This thread's topic is a timeless question, and I've no problems continuing a thread that was started in 2010! (My fav travel site for India--Indiamike--continues some threads for far longer, and it is fascinating to see the myriad responses and even changes through the yrs.)

Have fun planning and researching!!!
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