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Trouble in Paradise? Itinerary conundrum

Trouble in Paradise? Itinerary conundrum

Jan 19th, 2014, 11:29 AM
  #1  
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Trouble in Paradise? Itinerary conundrum

Hi everyone, I wrote earlier about a planned trip to Vietnam with my boyfriend in April. This will be my third trip to Asia, his first. I thought we had everything planned out, but now he's thrown a wrench into the works! He wants to add Siem Reap for a short side-trip. Actually, he initially wanted to add Siem Reap AND Phuket or Krabi... but he wants me to stay with basically the same budget and not take more than two weeks off work. He's given me quite the challenge. I've told him it's about picking and choosing, but we're now having a real dilemma.

Here's the new proposal, more rushed than I originally wanted but perhaps doable. What do you think:

Hanoi - 3 nights, fly to:
Hue - 2 nights
Hoi An - 3 nights, fly to:
Siem Reap 3 nights

We can fly (using United frequent flier miles) into Hanoi and home from Siem Reap. The flights will be brutal as we're going economy and the trips are very long (from Washington).

This cuts Halong Bay and Mai Chau. I keep reading about the trash in Halong Bay, and it's beginning to sound unappealing. Plus, we'll probably go to Thailand in a couple of years for a beach vacation, and I'm thinking we could see similar scenery there. Thoughts? I kind of hate missing Mai Chau, but if he really wants to see Siem Reap, I want to do that, although i know the heat will be bad.

Suggestions?

Thanks,
Karen
althom1122 is offline  
Jan 19th, 2014, 12:42 PM
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no problem, or if it is, dump him...

I would cut 1 day from hoi an and add it to siem reap... HA is nice but not a lot to do there really---have some clothes made
rhkkmk is offline  
Jan 19th, 2014, 12:44 PM
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I think this is workable. Hanoi, Hue and Hoi An are all different, so it's a good mix if you've never been to Vietnam. My husband and I went to Vietnam for 2 weeks in 2009 (my report is on here) and we visited those 3 cities plus Saigon and Bangkok in 16 nights.
We didn't visit Halong Bay (or Sapa) because I didn't think the travel time justified it and we were uncertain about the weather.

If you have 2 weeks, can you squeeze in another night or two? If so, I'd probably add it on to Hanoi just to give you more time to adjust to jet lag.

If I had to choose between Siem Reap and Phuket, I'd pick SR every time. Plus, you can get beach time in Hoi An if you want. Siem Reap is changing so fast, better to go now than later.
Kristina is offline  
Jan 19th, 2014, 02:13 PM
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I'd drop Hoi An altogether and add the time to Hanoi and Siem Reap. You only have two full days for SR, and I think three is the minimum. Alternatively, cut two nights from Hoi An and add one to Hanoi and one to SR. Hoi An was super touristy the first time I went in 2002...
thursdaysd is offline  
Jan 19th, 2014, 02:24 PM
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The pictures of Hoi An just look so cute. I know it will be touristy, but it's very appealing. Another thing I've wondered - if we add Siem Reap, could we skip Hue? It seems they may be somewhat similar. We were planning on doing the motorbike tour in Hue.

If we drop a day from Hue, maybe we could add back in Halong Bay or Mai Chau. Thoughts on that?

My first time in Siem Reap, I spent four full days. I know Tom, though, and he will get "templed out" after just a day! So I think two full days (three nights) will be a small sample, but enough to satisfy him.
althom1122 is offline  
Jan 19th, 2014, 02:34 PM
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I didn't think Hue was anything like SR. If you'd rather do cute, though, I suppose you could drop Hue. I really liked Halong Bay, but I did it in 2004. It is a long drive from Hanoi.
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Jan 19th, 2014, 02:51 PM
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What about Mai Chau - that would offer a rural experience in a scenic area (very different, of course, from Halong Bay...)
althom1122 is offline  
Jan 19th, 2014, 03:52 PM
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The problem is, I think you only have time for three locations. We might all chose slightly different locations, but I think more than three locations is a problem. As we've said to each other before, it's all about editing.
Kathie is offline  
Jan 19th, 2014, 04:13 PM
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I think that is doable, but perhaps a touch rushed, We are ones who didn't love SR as much as most seem to. It was unbearably hot and generally very crowded at many of the temples. We thought the town pretty charmless except for a couple blocks by the river. Hue and SR are not at all similar. I really enjoyed Hue. I agree that the karst formations one sees in HB are similar to the ones we saw out on the water around Anong. Hard to decide.
yestravel is offline  
Jan 19th, 2014, 04:20 PM
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I know, I know! It's so hard, but I'm getting really excited because... I JUST BOOKED THE FLIGHT!!!

Here's my latest itinerary attempt. We arrive in Hanoi on Monday morning and depart 13 days later at 11:20 at night from Siem Reap.

Day 1 - arrive Hanoi, relax
Day 2 - Hanoi
Day 3 - Hanoi
Day 4 - Hanoi
Day 5 - Hanoi
Day 6 - Morning flight to Hue
Day 7 - Hue (motorbike tour)
Day 8 - Drive to Hoi An
Day 9 - Hoi An
Day 10 -Afternoon flight to Siem Reap
Day 11 - Siem Reap
Day 12 -Siem Reap
Day 13 -Siem Reap; leave for airport at 9 p.m. for 11:20 p.m. flight

It's four locations instead of three, but I think it's doable and not overly rushed. What do you think?
althom1122 is offline  
Jan 19th, 2014, 04:23 PM
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I added a night, plus our flight home leaves late, so I think it can count as a day.
althom1122 is offline  
Jan 19th, 2014, 04:23 PM
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Agreed, Hue is nothing like Siem Reap. Check out my blog if you want to see what we did with 2 days in Hue. http://www.wired2theworld.com/our-tr...-bangkok-2009/
BTW, it was crazy hot in Hue. We hired a car and driver and I was so thankful to have the AC between stops (same as in Siem Reap between temples).
I think 3 nights is fine in Hoi An. We did 4 because we wanted a day or two of nothing but relaxing at the beach (we stayed out there rather than in town).
Kristina is offline  
Jan 19th, 2014, 04:28 PM
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Congratulations on booking the tickets!!!

That looks fine.
thursdaysd is offline  
Jan 19th, 2014, 04:34 PM
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Adding a day does make a difference. It will be "hell hot" in April, but I hope it won't interfere too much with your activities.

Yes, booking the tickets makes it real, doesn't it?
Kathie is offline  
Jan 19th, 2014, 04:51 PM
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Congrats! I think it's perfect!

BTW, I've been in contact with Percy in Peru and I think we are going to hire him for the airport pick up, 2 days in the Sacred Valley and then to take us to Cuzco with stops along the way. Thanks for the tip!
Kristina is offline  
Jan 19th, 2014, 06:07 PM
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Yes, Kathie, something about having the flight booked changes everything. We are REALLY GOING!

Kristina, I just finished reading your blog. It's wonderful. The tour in Hue in an air-conditioned Camry sounds really nice. We've wanted to do the motorbike tour, but maybe we'll rethink.

Also, given that we're not going to Thailand for any beach time, we may stay where you did in Hoi An. That would give us at least a sample.
althom1122 is offline  
Jan 19th, 2014, 11:47 PM
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Looking like a well balanced trip. With the IME you have available I would still add in even just an overnight in the Mai Chau valley either a homestay or a hotel just to get a flavour of rural Vietnam . The scenery is stunning and the people so friendly. As I recall we went straight from Mai Chau to the airport as I think they are both on the same side of town so MC on day 5 cloud work out well for you.
crellston is offline  
Jan 20th, 2014, 01:21 AM
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I second crellston on his suggestion re mai chau. It's really very lovely and so different from everywhere else you will be.
yestravel is offline  
Jan 20th, 2014, 06:38 AM
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Thanks - i think we will do a side-trip to Mai Chau. I really want that rural flavor, and yes it's very different from anything else we're doing.

Ok, now to contact Tonkin and start nailing down specifics.

(Kristina - glad to hear you're going to use Percy. I feel sure you'll really like him.)
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Feb 8th, 2014, 09:29 AM
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We have been working with Tonkin and they have recommended the following two options, making things more rushed in some places. Tom definitely wants to do Halong Bay, although I was fine with skipping it. He thinks the boat ride will be very romantic (so how can I refuse?)


What do you all think:

Options 1:

1. Hanoi (arrival in morning)
2. Hanoi - we've already booked Hanoi kids for half day
3. Halong Bay overnight
4. Back to Hanoi
5. Mai Chau overnight
6. Back to Hanoi and fly to Hue
7. Hue
8. Drive to Hoi An
9 Hoi An
10. Late afternoon flight to Siem Reap
11. Siem Reap
12 Siem Reap

Option 2:
1. Hanoi (arrive early)
2. Hanoi
3. Mai Chau
4. Ninh Binh
5. Drive directly from Ninh Binh to Halong Bay
6. Back to Hanoi and fly to Hue
7. Hue
8. Hoi An
9 Hoi An
10. Late afternoon flight to Siem Reap
11. Siem Reap
12. Siem Reap

Tom wanted to add the short stop in Siem Reap. I know it's not much time, but he'll definitely be templed out after a day or two, so I think it's worth it. We fly home on day 12, but not until 11:30 at night so we have the entire day.

At Ninh Binh, if we do that, I'd like to visit the Trang an Grottoes, not Tam Coc.
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