Go Back  Fodor's Travel Talk Forums > Destinations > Asia
Reload this Page >

Vietnam AND Bali for 3 weeks in July? (Scuba, adventure, relaxation)

Vietnam AND Bali for 3 weeks in July? (Scuba, adventure, relaxation)

Mar 12th, 2013, 05:33 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Mar 2013
Posts: 82
Vietnam AND Bali for 3 weeks in July? (Scuba, adventure, relaxation)

Hi, thanks for reading!

My husband and I have almost four weeks for a vacation this summer, and we're debating between Vietnam and Bali. I've been to Thailand and Cambodia before in 2006 and I loved it, but he's never been to Asia at all. The flights we've been looking at include a 26-hour stopover in Tokyo on our way from Canada so we can have a brief taste of Japan, as neither of us have ever been there, and then down to Hanoi, potentially. This gives us about three weeks actually on the ground in Vietnam (or Bali??) before leaving from Ho Chi Minh City. As you can see, we've been leaning towards (pretty much decided on) Vietnam, but I just want to be sure before we go ahead.

My question is this - when I've already been to Thailand, will Vietnam seem too similar? I know Thailand and Cambodia were worlds apart in my experience, so I guess I don't know how Vietnam will fit in. Is it possible to do both Vietnam AND Bali in that amount of time? My husband desperately needs some time to chill and relax at a resort, so we don't want to be bouncing around everywhere, but I'd also like to see something new. We could
a) do two weeks in Vietnam and THEN go to a resort in Bali for the last week
b) just stay at a resort in Vietnam and forget Bali for this time
c) cut the Vietnam end a bit shorter and see more in Bali.

Which do you recommend??

We also want to get our PADI Open Water dive certification, so that will take 3-4 days, which can be wrapped up with our week at a resort in whichever country we end up at. (I did some diving in Thailand on Koh Tao and I LOVED it). Speaking of Koh Tao, it's a tiny little island near Koh Samui and Koh Phangan - way smaller and quieter than it's two bigger neighbours. I know Nha Trang is actually quite a large city (350,000), so while it's known as the "dive capital" of Vietnam, we don't want to stay and learn there. We want small, quiet, secluded-ish - we want relaxation, the beach, diving, and us (other people at the resort are fine, since we can't afford "ultra-exclusive"), but we don't care about or want nightlife, etc. For this kind of experience, do you think Bali or Vietnam would have better options?

I know that Bali is often said to be over-touristed and full of drunk Australians, especially in July (sorry Australians - nothing personal!). It just looks beautiful and I don't want to miss out when we're already going to be in the area (sort of - I know it's kind of like popping in a trip to Florida since I'm already in Boston...)

Other than the diving/relaxing, we also like to see cultural and historical sites (temples, floating markets, natural wonders), experience some local culture, etc. As mentioned, we're not into partying or nightlife.

(To explain the urgency, my husband and I have to officially book our flights within the next couple of days for work reasons. We can fill in the details on the ground later, but we need to know where specifically we're going, at least!)

THANK YOU SO MUCH in advance for your help and insight!!
caralin is offline  
Mar 12th, 2013, 06:02 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 28,942
thailand and vietnam are totally different... you will not experience any overlap..

2 weeks in VN would give you a good experience and a week in bali is enough for an initial visit..

i do not find bali to be over touristed... just stay away from kuta... i would center myself in ubud, although i don't know about the certification issue there (why don't you get your certification in canada and thus fully enjoy your vacation without having to attend classes?)..
rhkkmk is offline  
Mar 12th, 2013, 07:21 AM
Join Date: Jul 2005
Posts: 2,844
Agree that Thailand and VN are two very different places. There's a lot to see in VN, so two weeks there is probably good.

The best diving on Bali is along the still relatively undeveloped north shore, far away from the tourist madness and traffic jams of south Bali. If you want to finish your open water certification (seriously, Bob, diving *in Canada*?), then I would suggest you look to base yourself in Amed, where there are plenty of small resorts and dive shops. You might start out there for your diving, and then spend a few days decompressing before your flight out in Ubud, for a change of scenery.

If you decide on more time in Bali, then you might also take in the 'other end' of north Bali around Menjangan and Pemuteran, for an entirely different kind of diving.

FWIW, I think you're making the right decision about diving in VN. My friends in the dive business tell me the diving there is pretty bad, due to destructive practices like dynamite fishing, which destroys the reefs.
MichaelBKK is offline  
Mar 12th, 2013, 10:47 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Mar 2013
Posts: 82
Thank you so much for your help. We are thinking now that we will split the time, and do maybe 11-12 days in Vietnam and 8-9 days in Bali.

We are going to book our travel between those places nearer to the time, as we see what exactly we want to fit in, but at least we know we will be flying in to Hanoi and out from Denpasar, Bali.

Does this sound like it makes sense to you?

Thanks again!!
caralin is offline  
Mar 12th, 2013, 12:44 PM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 28,942
absolute sense... you can fly air asia from HCMC to bkk to bali...

MBkk--are you telling me that people do not become certified IN Canada??

a nice vn experience would be hanoi for 4 days, fly to hue for 2 days, fly to danang for transfer to hoi an for a couple of days and then 2-3 days in HCMC, an easy flt from danang...vietnam air is good and economical..

i had tonkin travel in hanoi assist me with the flts and 3* hotels
rhkkmk is offline  
Mar 12th, 2013, 04:24 PM
Join Date: Jun 2003
Posts: 2,760
I'd suggest you reverse the order. Go to Bali after Japan, get the diving certification part over in North Bali. Maybe stop first for a couple of days at one of the southern (non-Kuta) beaches to acclimate. Then after diving in North Bali, spend a week days in Ubud to relax with culture and nature.

This shortchanges your time in Vietnam I know, but it I think you have too many stops and too many flights for 2 weeks.

The only place I've dived in Bali has been at Menjangan and while the reefs are quite good, the environment above sea level is, to me, just okay. Also, both Amed and Pemuteran are a good 3 to 4 hours drive from the airport and Ubud so you have to factor that in too. Basically, I wouldn't go all the way to Bali just for diving. Diving in addition to culture, yes, but you would want more than 3-4 days for the Ubud portion of the trip.

Is Cambodia still an option for you? If yes, I think Siem Reap and Bali are a wonderful two week combination.
marmot is offline  
Mar 12th, 2013, 09:45 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Mar 2013
Posts: 82
Just to settle the debate, you definitely can get PADI certification in Canada (even right here in Toronto), and lots of people do dive in the area! It's a very different type of diving than you would experience in a more tropical locale, but interesting nonetheless. Dry suits are often used to go to depth for much of the year since the water can be quite chilly, but there are many fascinating shipwreck dive sites. Check out Fathom Five National Marine Park (about an hour from where I grew up) if you're curious! I haven't made the "plunge" (sorry for the terrible pun) to cold-water diving myself, but perhaps one day. On a more relevant note, as suggested, I think we will complete at least the in-class and pool portion here before we go to eliminate the classroom time from the vacation.

Thank you for the itinerary and travel agent suggestions, rhkkmk - I will look into that! Marmot, I have actually been considering Siem Reap... I was there as part of my Thailand trip in 2006, and I loved the country, the people, and of course the amazing Angkor Wat, but it is a significant distance from our current itinerary in Vietnam (it's really more up to my husband if he wants to see that, since I have already been. Of course I'd love to see it again, but there is only so much time!). Our flights are already in the process of being booked (through a travel agent via my husband's company), so I don't think I can change our inbound flight now from Japan to Hanoi, but where we go before we end up in Bali is still TBD.

While in Bali, I definitely would like to spend some time in Ubud, also. We are very interested in culture when we travel, but in this case we just want to do it in a bit more relaxed manner than we plan in Vietnam (and perhaps Cambodia?).

On that note, if we did include Angkor Wat, is Phnom Penh worth fitting into a trip of this length, or should we just fly direct to Siem Reap from Vietnam, do you think?
caralin is offline  
Mar 13th, 2013, 10:16 PM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 15,532
Would you be flying on a frequent flyer award? If so, what kind (i.e. which airline/program and economy or higher class)?
mrwunrfl is offline  
Mar 13th, 2013, 10:19 PM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 15,532
I see the answer is no. My thought was to book it all on one award after shortening the Tokyo stop by 2 hours.
mrwunrfl is offline  
Mar 14th, 2013, 07:15 AM
Join Date: Jul 2005
Posts: 2,844
For the record, I wasn't saying you couldn't get certified in Canada, merely that it didn't seem like a desirable thing to do. On my last dive trip (Pulau Weh) there was a guy who had been certified in the UK and only dived in cold water up until this trip. He had a difficult time adjusting. If you only ever plan to dive in warm water, you're better off learning there, IMO.
MichaelBKK is offline  
Mar 14th, 2013, 09:48 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Mar 2013
Posts: 82
MichaelBKK, you're probably right - that's really why I haven't been diving here at home since I got my own PADI certification in Thailand back in 2006. I know lots of people who just love the diving style here, but I think I'm a fair-weather diver, myself!

mrwunrfl, my husband does fly a lot with Air Canada, so he does have access to perks/potential upgrades. Can you arrange a 24-hour stop and have it count as a layover? I'll have to see if the flight bookings have gone through yet, and if not, maybe that will help lower the price. Thanks for the tip!
caralin is offline  
Mar 15th, 2013, 07:17 PM
Join Date: May 2008
Posts: 532
caralin-my husband got his open water and advanced open water PADI certification here in Buffalo, NY. I'm sure our weather reputation carries all the way to Canada!

Since then he has done all his diving in warmer climates-Caribbean, Mexico, Egypt, and will in our upcoming trip to SE Asia with a week in Phuket and a week in Khao Lak-both in Thailand. He had no trouble adjusting from the weather conditions in Buffalo to the warmer waters.

I think you're smart to get the classroom and pool stuff done in Canada and then do your final dives In Bali or wherever you decide to go. BTW my daughter and her family spent 2 weeks in Bali and loved Ubud.
chris45ny is offline  
Related Topics
Original Poster
Last Post
Nov 1st, 2015 02:38 AM
Jun 13th, 2014 11:36 PM
May 24th, 2012 02:34 AM
Sep 14th, 2009 05:36 PM
Aug 14th, 2006 11:18 AM

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are On

Thread Tools
Search this Thread

Contact Us - Archive - Advertising - Cookie Policy -


All times are GMT -8. The time now is 06:07 PM.