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Vietnam 20 Oct NOTHING PLANNED, Help Appreciated:)

Vietnam 20 Oct NOTHING PLANNED, Help Appreciated:)

Old Oct 6th, 2017, 06:58 AM
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Vietnam 20 Oct NOTHING PLANNED, Help Appreciated:)

Hi Everyone,

Due to the SHORT turnaround time, I thought I’d turn to the trusted experts here, as you’ve never steered me wrong

I have to be in Hong Kong early afternoon Nov. 3, so am working backwards from that and unfortunately can’t leave NYC before Oct. 20. I need desperate help whittling down and recommendations!

Here is my potential itinerary, and then I’ll tell you my concerns:
Saturday, October 21 - 9:45 AM arrive Hanoi/day in Hanoi
Sunday, October 22 – Hanoi
Monday, October 23 - Hanoi to Ninh Binh/full day Ninh Binh
Tuesday, October 24 - Ninh Binh to Hanoi/day in Hanoi
Wednesday, October 25 – Fly Hanoi to Hoi An (morning)/day in Hoi An
Thursday, October 26 – Hoi An
Friday, October 27 - Hoi An to Hue/day in Hue
Saturday, October 28 - Hue
Sunday, October 29 - Hue – DMZ – Phong Nha
Monday, October 30 - Phong Nha
Tuesday, October 31 - Phong Nha to HCMC/day in HCMC
Wednesday, November 1 - HCMC
Thursday, November 2 - Mekong Delta day tour
Friday, November 3 – Fly AM to HKG

Questions and concerns:
I find myself drawn to Hanoi and HCMC, so want to make sure I’m allotting enough time in both. I’m debating dropping the Mekong Delta visit (I know not every country is alike, but I’ve spent time in Thailand and Cambodia, and guessing it may be similar whereas the city may be different?).

Re: Phong Nha, I would like to visit several of the caves, and am wondering if I can do this in one day and if you have any tour recommendations? Not very active, so nothing hiking-intensive, but when searching, I've only really seen the row boats taking you to one cave or major trekking tours, nothing in between. This is a non-negotiable stop, as I really want to go!

I have a huge interest in history, and the Vietnam War. I know there are sites en route Hue to Phong Nha. But does anyone know if one day is enough? Or of any tour guides who specialize in this? I’ll also be sprinkling in the museums, etc. but any suggestions are welcome.

Ninh Binh – This looked really beautiful, and a short opportunity to relax a little. But, now I’m wondering if it should just be a day trip vs overnight to add time other places?

Culinary - I don't have any interest in food tours or cooking classes, etc.

I hate having a rushed itinerary, but obviously am not in-country that long, so I don’t have much of a choice (and will be driving/taking domestic flights). If you can suggest any ways to fit in some R&R (though I do find that in visiting temples, wandering around, etc.), or any major not-to-be missed ideas, I’m open!

THANK YOU MUCH!!
J1821 is offline  
Old Oct 6th, 2017, 08:57 AM
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Your itinerary and your stated interests and priorities are not in harmony. You want time in Hanoi and HCMC, but you have one full day in Hanoi and a couple of partial days - unclear, those partial days may be just a few hours or as much as half a day. Hanoi has lots of VN war history - the Museum of the Revolution is a likely candidate for a visit. And you have just one full day in HCMC.

You have more time in central VN that anywhere else, but late October will be very wet there, with likely flooding. I don't know how the flooding will impact your planned visit to Phong Nha.

Also, you really haven't figured in transit time - for instance
"Hanoi to Ninh Binh/full day Ninh Binh" No way you can go from one place to the other and still have a full day in Ninh Binh. Likewise "Fly Hanoi to Hoi An (morning)/day in Hoi An." Friends of mine had a similar plan, but the rains were so heavy, they never made it to Hoi An. Also "Phong Nha to HCMC/day in HCMC." So you have less time to see/do experience than you thought.

A couple of options: you can cut out things that you'd like to do/see but are not your highest priority, like the Mekong Delta. And if you are going to Ninh Binh to relax, you will not have much relaxation as your time is so closely scheduled.

Another option would be to design a very limited trip as a first trip to VN: Concentrate on the north or the south, but don't try to do both.

Good luck as you work on planning a VN trip that is right for you!
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Old Oct 6th, 2017, 09:33 AM
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Hi Kathie,

Thanks so much for responding so quickly. And you know what, you're totally right! I got so sucked into "quickly" planning, I realize I have focused a lot on the central area, which I had originally meant to somewhat avoid due to the weather. Based on the above though, I was going off some other itineraries and had some transfer/trip mornings starting at 7:30/8, or flights arriving around 10/11 am. But, again, excellent point about the rains, I hadn't thought about that in regards to flights! And, I saw that Hanoi - Ninh Banh is about 1.5-2 hours driving, is that not accurate?
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Old Oct 6th, 2017, 10:41 AM
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Re Phong Nha - we visited earlier this year and the caves are amazing. The surrounding area is pretty nice too. However, as suggested by Kathie the weather won’t be great, in fact it could be pretty bad. It is likely that some or all of the caves will closed. We stayed at http://www.phong-nha-cave.com who have aa array of Cave options and is by far the best place to stay in the area.

The DMZ is between Hue and Phong Nha but most tours operate from Hue. It would be really easy to organise a tour of some of the military sites en route to Phong Nha, but again the weather will be pretty wet in Hue and the centre.

If it helps, we are returning to Vietnam on our way back to England from New Zealand and will be spending a month there around the same time as you. We were going to return for a second look at Phong Nha but decided against there and te central region for the above reasons.

If it helps, our plan is to spend a few days in Hanoi, either side of a weeks trekking in Ha Giang before flying south to Saigon and a few days there, either side of a week in the delta.

Some info and photos of our previous visits to te country can be found on our blog which may provide a few ideas.

Hanoi and Saigon are fascinating cities 3-4 days in each would be enough to cover the highlights at a relaxed pace, although I would sugge more time in Hanoi.

Ninh Binh is around 3 hours from Hanoi so really does require an overnight. Any hotels will arranged car and driver/tour. Alternatively, the train goes there but I am not sure if te times are good.

The Mekong Delta is nothing like Thailand although parts of it are inhabited by the Khmer people from Cambodia.

Cantho, Ben Tre, Vinh Long and Tra Vinh are all worth exploring and all are different. We are planning on spending 4-5 days there this time. It is very relaxing! If you want more r&r it is easy enough to get to the beaches of Phu Quoc Island from Saigon or the delta. Should be great weather but before the high season. Good luck! Fortunately, Vietnam is te sort of place where you can plan stuff on the hoof!

Who knows we may see you there.
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Old Oct 6th, 2017, 05:32 PM
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Oct is not a good time for a visit to Central VN. If you still work with the itinerary above, you should do train from Ninh Binh to Dong Hoi (Phong Nha), train again Dong Hoi to Hue, bus/ car to Danang (Hoian)...
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Old Oct 7th, 2017, 05:18 PM
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DinHo - Thank you very much for the recommendations!

crellston - This was very helpful, thank you!!

I'm quite stubborn (haha), and a bit overwhelmed planning this since the opportunity cropped up in such a short amount of time, and so much looks amazing.

I made some changes - I'm still stuck on Hue (stubborn), primarily as a means to get some DMZ/military sites in. I don't think I'll be returning to Vietnam, and I'd be disappointed if I didn't just try. I'll pack my wellies! I dropped a few things/moved others around in the itineraries below, and added some R&R in the South to avoid some Central weather and keep some natural beauty. What do you all think?

Option B
Sat. Oct. 21 - 9:45 AM arrive Hanoi/day in Hanoi
Sun. Oct. 22. – Hanoi
Mon. Oct. 23 - Hanoi
Tues. Oct. 24 – Hanoi to Ninh Binh/day in Ninh Binh
Wed. Oct. 25 - Ninh Binh to Hanoi
Thurs. Oct. 26 – Hanoi to Hue (morning)
Fri. Oct. 27 – Hue (countryside tour)
Sat. Oct. 28 – DMZ day tour
Sun. Oct. 29 – Hue to Island (Con Dao or Phu Quoc??)
Mon. Oct. 30 – Island
Tues. Oct. 31 - Island to HCMC/afternoon in HCMC
Wed. Nov. 1 - HCMC
Thurs. Nov. 2 - Mekong Delta day tour(?) or HCMC
Fri. Nov. 3 - Fly AM to HKG

Option C:
Sat. Oct. 21 - 9:45 AM arrive Hanoi/day in Hanoi
Sun. Oct. 22 – Hanoi
Mon. Oct. 23 - Hanoi
Tues. Oct. 24 - Fly Hanoi to Hoi An (morning)/day in Hoi An
Wed. Oct. 25 - Hoi An
Thurs. Oct. 26 - Hoi An to Hue/day in Hue
Fri. Oct. 27 - Hue (countryside)
Sat. Oct. 28 - DMZ day trip
Sun. Oct. 29 - Fly Hue to Island (Con Dao or Phu Quoc??)
Mon. Oct. 30 - Island
Tues. Oct. 31 - Island to HCMC/afternoon in HCMC
Wed. Nov. 1- HCMC
Thurs. Nov. 2 - Mekong Delta day tour(?) or HCMC
Fri. Nov. 3 - Fly AM to HKG

Option D:
Drop Ninhh Binh and Hoi An either way, and tack on an extra day in HCMC (and include the Mekong Delta tour).

Thank you for bearing with me!!
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Old Oct 7th, 2017, 07:05 PM
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The weather in Phu Quoc is better than the other beaches at that time. Train from Ninh Binh to Hue/ Hoian; Halong Bay - Hai Phong aiport fly to Hoian instead of back Hanoi for a flight; Phu Quoc island fly to Mekong Delta (Can Tho) bus to HCMC. Replan your itinerary!
DinHo is offline  
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