Vietnam and Cambodia in the Off season

Old Dec 1st, 2009, 11:08 PM
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Vietnam and Cambodia in the Off season

Thinking about doing a Mekong river cruise tour in September 2010- is this a good idea???? TOO hot / Too wet .. does it matter??? What is the best time to go?? Which boat - the new Jayavarman, MS La Marguerite or other ??? does anyone have any experience with any of these - I am an inexperienced Asian traveller - pretty lay back - but like my comfort.. cheers
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Old Dec 2nd, 2009, 06:09 AM
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no responses ... poor me ..
Is September a good month to travel to Cambodia / Vietnam.
It is a lot cheaper. I could possibly afford an upmarket suits (stateroom) on one of the Mekong River Cruise ships ... this would not be possible "high season" ... any comments

cheers Helen
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Old Dec 2nd, 2009, 06:46 AM
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First, be patient. It wasn't even 24 hours before you decided "poor me." We have posters around the world.

It will always be hot in this area. You can look at www.weatherbase.com to check each location.

I don't know of anyone who has been on the Jayavarman yet (have they even sailed?) and I've never heard of MS La Marguerite. The Pandaw is the longest-running cruise in the area and has gotten good reviews. Take a look at their website.

Frankly, I don't know that a suite will enhance you experience much on these cruises, as you won't be spending a lot of time in your stateroom. River cruises are very different from Ocean cruises in that way.
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Old Dec 2nd, 2009, 07:29 AM
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Kathie,

Can you say more about that last point? I am fantasizing about a Pandaw cruise at some point -- or like cruise, if there is a "like" -- so I am curious about what we need to know about time spent on board a river cruise and how that influences boat and cabin choice.

Hope you don't mind the question, Helencallie, since it builds on your post.
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Old Dec 2nd, 2009, 07:57 AM
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marya, I've been on a river cruise, not on an ocean cruise, so my comments about ocean cruises are second hand.

On a river cruise, much of the delight is observing life on the river banks. There is typically an area on the top deck where people congregate to watch the world go by. In my experience, I spent most of my waking time (when we weren't docked somewhere) on that deck. On an ocean cruise, there isn't that much to see from the deck, so people spend their time in other ways, and one might well want a suite.

River boats are small, so you won't have more than a couple dozen people on a cruise vs. hundreds or thousands on an ocean cruise.
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Old Dec 2nd, 2009, 12:02 PM
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I would definitely recommend the Jayavarman, which was recently launched in November. Compared to La Marguerite you can sit on the balcony, and the cabins are brighter and bigger. La Marguerite they have cut the balcony in half and put in the window seat so you can only stand outside. The Pandaw boats are nice, but they are the older style, where you have a running deck around the boat and then you go into your cabin. Sept/Oct is starting to get into the rainy season that is why the prices are lower, and it is typhoon season! Go to www.heritage-line.com and have a look at the Jayavarman.
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Old Dec 2nd, 2009, 12:10 PM
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Wattie, have you been on cruises on any of these boats or have you just toured them?
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Old Dec 2nd, 2009, 03:26 PM
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Thanks Kathie, Wattie and Marya - River cruises are wonderful - went with APT to Europe 18mths ago. A wonderful way to go .. unpack once and enjoy the scenery and visit a new destination every day .. that's why we are so interested in the Mekong River cruises.

Very happy with the cabin size etc then - only thinking of an upgrade this time because it is low season, short trip, relativly cheap???? - thought it might be our only chance to experience the life of the more affulent traveller. (just being greedy!!)

If it is the Typhoon season - how bad does it get??? How will it affect us in HCMC / on the Mekong / an in Siem Reap. I can travel any time really - just looking at our options.

Experienced a Typhoon in Hong Kong - where the city shut down for the day ..but was OK the next. We didn't let it worry us - just enjoyed the "new" experience and planned our day accordinly.
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Old Dec 8th, 2009, 06:45 PM
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If you have the option to travel in the good weather season, then you may prefer to do so for a number of reasons. First, while typhoons can occur, the main issue I think you will have is that you can often have days of heavy rain during the fall months (esp in south and central Vietnam), and this could spoil a holiday which involves a river trip for which viewing the scenery is the primary activity. You could also just have heavily overcast days which again may spoil the holiday feeling. See weatherbase.com and other weather websites to get an idea of the average rainfall during September and see if you are comfortable with it (compare it to high rainfall months where you live.) I was just in Nha Trang last week for work, and while it was still very pretty, it did rain for at least a part of every day and was overcast for most of the time, and if I had been there on holiday, I would not have been thrilled paying even discounted prices for a holiday in that weather. And December is the end of the rainy season there, not the beginning or middle like September would be.

Also, if you are down in the Delta and there is a typhoon and are on a boat, you may not find it to be fun an experience. Sitting in a rock solid building in Hong Kong during a typhoon is not really a gauge of what it would be like to be on a boat during one. A boat is going to be moving around quite a bit in the winds. In addition, all our power lines in Hong Kong are underground, so no one ever loses power during a typhoon; something which could happen at a hotel in Vietnam. Hong Kong also has an underground metro, many indoor activity options, and the subway and many buildings are linked to each other by underground or covered passageways, which means you can still get around fairly easily during heavy rainstorms and most typhoons, which is not going to be the case in cities and villages in Vietnam.

Siem Reap is too far inland to get the winds of a typhoon, but it can get a good bit of rain in September. Whether that would interfere with your enjoyment of seeing a placed like Ankor Wat is up to you.
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Old Dec 8th, 2009, 07:30 PM
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Thanks Cicerone .. you have given me a lot to think about and discuss with my travelling colleagues..
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Old Apr 19th, 2010, 04:49 PM
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Planning to visit Vietnam - Hanoi, Hue, Hoi An, Saigon & Mekong - in either December, January, or February. I realize the weather in the north is very different than central & south, but overall, which month do you think we will have the lowest chance of rain, the possibility of some beach time in Hoi An area, and not shiver in Hanoi? Have checked weatherbase, but it is hard to tell the difference bwtween those 3 months. Thanks for any help
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Old Apr 19th, 2010, 08:00 PM
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Well, the Lunar New Year in Vietnam (i.e., Tet) is going to be celebrated starting February 3 in 2011, so that may also affect when you want to go. The celebrations start on the afternoon of Feb 2 and last for up to a week. (If your trip is in 2012, check the calendar, Tet is either in late Jan or early to mid Feb.) Some people like to be in Vietnam at that time for food, fireworks and temple observances, some people like to avoid it because things like restaurants and shops can be closed and travel can be a little chaotic with people returning home for the holidays both from overseas and within Vietnam (e.g. train travel). So bear that in mind.

Otherwise, gazing into my crystal ball….really I think in those three months its going to be a matter of luck. The north is going to be cool/cold in all of them, and you may get a warm spell or a cold snap that will either make things better or worse. Generally, I think temps are fairly consistent in all three months within the various regions, so I don’t think it makes a whole lot of difference which you choose from that standpoint. (An average temp of 60 F in December in Hanoi versus 57 in Feb would not seem to really make a big difference.) It appears to me that December is rainier in HCM, but February is rainier in Hanoi. I think you are going to have rain in Hue in all those months (not heavy but probably rain/clouds more days than not).

For Hoi An, I think that if you really want sunshine, you have to go in February. I think the chance of having rain or just overcast days are much greater in January and especially December. (Typhoon season is through December in fact.) Temps are in the 70s F generally in those months, and if you get days of rain or overcast skies, you probably won’t want to sit on a beach (but Hoi An has other charms of course). But bear in mind that you may then run into Tet. But perhaps the end of February would be a good compromise. Of course, it might be interesting to spend Christmas in Vietnam as they have a fair-sized Catholic populace.
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Old Apr 20th, 2010, 06:06 PM
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Thanks Cicerone. We just booked for February 6 and will spend a few days in HK before heading to Vietnam for two weeks -- first time for both places, so we're quite excited about it. Now the planning begins! Savoring all the wonderful trip reports & posts on fodors.
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Old Apr 20th, 2010, 07:08 PM
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Well that’s good, because Lunar New Year starts here in Hong Kong on the same dates, so if you work it right you could be here for the fireworks in the harbour which will be the evening of February 4. Consider getting a harbour view room or book a harbour view restaurant (although there are options to watch them from outdoors as well.) Most shops and some restaurants will be closed on Feb 3, but all tourist sites (and museums) are open and you should not notice any difference. (February 3 is actually a good day to go to the Peak or the Big Buddha on Lantau as most local people stay home and/or visit family on that day and won’t be at sights. They will be on the 4th and 5th.) Most larger shops and many restaurants reopen on the 4th. Public transport is running on holiday schedule from Feb 3-5 which means more often than usual, which is a good thing, and you can get out to outlying islands or country parks more easily at that time.
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Old Apr 21st, 2010, 04:07 AM
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We're not leaving the US until Feb 6, so unfortunately we'll miss the festivities in HK, but we couldn't get FF tickets until then. I'm sure we'll enjoy it all anyway.
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Old May 1st, 2010, 08:04 AM
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I am thinking of going with collegues to Viet Nam and probably stopping first in HK before: Considering landing Feb 5th. How would a three night stay at a hotel at the harbour be in terms of availability and increased rates? Thank you
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Old May 2nd, 2010, 07:30 PM
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Sorry, I really couldn't predict what you would find in terms of rates, you can do some checking now and see. The Lunar New Year period is not a major business or convention time period here, as it is such a major family/religious holiday that little business travel and conventions occur during that time. So I would think you would be pretty good on rates as you are not competing with business travellers. I would also say that Hong Kong is not hugely popular as a place for vacationing people over that holiday, as the weather is not warm, and it's not summer break time in the US or Europe. This again should help with rates.

If there is any way you could arrive in time for the fireworks on the 4th, you might want to consider it. To miss them by only a day, esp if you get a harbour view room, seems like a shame.
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