Vietnam Favourites

Feb 6th, 2006, 07:25 AM
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Join Date: Sep 2004
Posts: 28
Vietnam Favourites

Hi all,

My girlfriend and I will be going to Vietnam this coming March and we'll be there for 11 days. Yes, I know, 11 days isn't much time to see the place, but it's all we've got. We'll be getting around via plane, first-class express train, and of course bus. Our goal is to see and enjoy as much of the country as possible, but without rushing -- we don't want to need a vacation after we get back from this vacation.

Right now here's what's under consideration:

Boat trip in the Mekong Delta
Mui Ne
Nha Trang
Hoi An
Halong Bay
Some sort of tour of the highland mountains

Given our time constraints we'll probably only be able to visit half of the above, if that.

So: Please let me know tell me what your "Must-see's" are in Vietnam!

Also keep in mind that while we have no problem sticking mostly to Vietnam's well-trod tourist trail, we're also certainly not averse to some degree of hardship and uncertainty if it means we'll find ourselves somewhere more mythically perfect and strange than what you see by following the guidebook. This sort of thing tends to happen by accident and can't be planned for, but in my experience it's generally more rewarding to avoid places where other tourists congregate in huge numbers. On that note -- where not to go? Or is tourism still so underdeveloped in Vietnam that it doesn't really matter?

JimVanMorrissey is offline  
Feb 6th, 2006, 08:05 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
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i found halong bay only moderately interesting and would not return or suggest anyone spend more than one day there---my opinion

hanoi is great and worthy of several days...
rhkkmk is offline  
Feb 6th, 2006, 10:09 AM
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Yeah, I'm leaning towards definitely going to Hanoi for at least three nights.

Re. Halong Bay: so it's only *moderately* interesting? Did you go for a boat ride? Day trip from Hanoi?
JimVanMorrissey is offline  
Feb 6th, 2006, 10:15 AM
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I'd suggest that with just 11 days you choose either north or south but not both. You could easily spend 11 days in Hanoi, Halong Bay (people seem to either love it or hate it) and north to Sapa or another hill tribes area.
Kathie is offline  
Feb 6th, 2006, 10:25 AM
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I've heard this suggestion before too -- pick one end of the country, and stick with it -- but wouldn't skilful use Vietnam Airlines make seeing both ends of the country much more feasible? That was my thinking, at any rate.

JimVanMorrissey is offline  
Feb 6th, 2006, 10:27 AM
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And sorry to double up on the posting -- can you tell me more about people either loving or hating Halong bay? What is it about the place that repels some people?
JimVanMorrissey is offline  
Feb 6th, 2006, 10:38 AM
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Jim I too was rather underwhelmed by Halong Bay. We spent a night up there and a day on a boat. The town is boring in my opinion. I had previously been to Guailin in China which is a similar area and loved that but HB did not inspire me in the same way.
The things that jump out when I think about Vietnam are Siagon interesting city and I found the trip out to the chu chi tunnels very interesting, Meknong Delta, spent a night down there in an old colonial style building very basic accom but I thought beautiful. Dalat is a nice town I thought. Hoi An I loved for the beautiful buildings and the way the town is lit up at night never even got out to the coast there but it is supposed to be nice. Hanoi is an easy place to explore. We had a couple of days hiking in the north and that was great. I liked the way by travelling the lenght of the country you see how it becomes more "Chinese" the further north you get.
I agree don't rush. I would not spend 1 night anywhere if I could help it as you say see less. (1 night in Delta & Dalat would be fine though)

Happy planning
jules39 is offline  
Feb 6th, 2006, 10:44 AM
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Great, thanks for this. Much obliged.

One thing that just occurred to me was the possibly of packing a small overnight bag, stashing our luggage, renting a scooter, and heading off on an overnight trip somewhere scenic and out-of-the-way. I have no idea where that could be, though. Just an idea!
JimVanMorrissey is offline  
Feb 6th, 2006, 11:36 AM
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Jim, the reason I (and many others) recommend chosing either north or south isn't so much how long a flight takes, but how much time your travel time (packing up and checking our of your hotel, being driven to the airport, early check-in, waiting for your flight, waiting for your delayed flight, flying, waiting for your baggage, being driven to your next hotel, checking in, unpacking...) takes. Really, I always consdier any travel days as not available for other things, and then can be pleasantly suprised when I have time for a long, lovely dinner or something. Every time you change locations you "waste" your vacation time. Whether you are flying, taking a train or a bus, you effectively lose your travel day.
Kathie is offline  
Feb 6th, 2006, 02:19 PM
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I nly have 11 days in I'm settling for Hanoi (and Halong Bay), Hoi An and Saigon. I am arriving in Saigon, and doing a 7 night cruise from Mekong Delta to Siem Reap, but them flying to Hanoi and travelling south.

I reckon Hanoi, Hoi An and Saigon is all I'll have time for - anything else will be a bonus.
Mitch04 is offline  
Feb 7th, 2006, 01:32 AM
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Yeah, more and more I'm seeing that my limited time is a good reason to be super-realistic about what I'll be able to see and do.

But back to my earlier question: does anybody have any experience with renting scooters/Minsk 125s and heading into the Vietnamese countryside for a day or two? I'm aware the roads can be quite horrible and the drivers are insane, but presumably these two things can be mitigated by choosing good roads and using a small and sleepy town as a starting point.

Any suggestions?

JimVanMorrissey is offline  
Feb 17th, 2006, 07:42 PM
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i drive bikes all the time over there....see my site: 11 days are not much...reading some of the post, they make a lot of sense, jumping around, before you know it your time is up and your best memories are of airport terminals...but people do as they gotta do...anyway, for bike riding, and a really fun time, in a area that is relatively uncrowded you might want to check out phu quoc island in the is an outstanding place as far as deserted beaches, a small town in the center and it fun to drive around...could easily spend 11 days there ...but in the north, a good day trip out of hanoi is to a place duong lam, about 40k out of hanoi, one of the very last villages that have 300 year old homes, mostly a agricultural community...little known and little visited, soon to change i imagine,...but it makes a fun ride out of hanoi, any ride out of any city soon finds you in the country side except for saigon..takes a bit longer to get to the country side....driving there is no big deal, lot of people are afraid to do it, but that comes from just looking at it from the outside as oppose to actually doing it....once you get involved, it's more fun then over here, stay off hyway 1 as much as possible, the aorta of vietnam...eleven days, ...i'd just pick one area...see more, learn more, enjoy more....time will fly..and if i just had 11 days, i go to the north, reason being, hanoi is what one might call a small big city, concentrated, it's a great walking city, one of the best in veitnam. good food, moderate prices, and lot of day trips to surrounding areas.... if you go to my site, you will see all of this is from personal experiences....enjoy your time there, a wonderful place to visit.

hope this helps ya.
ssayyah1 is offline  
Feb 17th, 2006, 08:51 PM
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There is a Hanoi Minsk Club

Here's the link to the website:

Highway 4, (a pub & bar) on 5 Pho Hang Tho, Hanoi is popular gathering point for members of Hanoi's Minsk Club per the Lonely Planet Guide.
IsisMnroe is offline  
May 22nd, 2006, 03:00 AM
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is hanoi still worth visiting if i'm not planning to go to halong bay? what other sights would you recommend in hanoi?
paulophonic is offline  
May 22nd, 2006, 03:18 AM
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I've not been to Vietnam (yet), but would suggest you look at the various itineraries that tour companies offer - and then tailor that (i.e., slow down just a bit). I've done some playing around with a Vietnam itinerary (we'd have longer), but with 11 days, I'd probably try to do both north and south (against the advice of everyone here!). I'd go with something like 3-4 nights Hanoi, 3-4 nights Hue/Hoi An area, and 3 nights Saigon. Remember, this is the advice of someone who's never been. Still, it sounds doable to me. Good luck. Will be eager to see what you decide (and how it goes)!
althom1122 is offline  
May 22nd, 2006, 04:55 AM
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Hi - seeing as this thread has been resurrected, and in case Jules passes by - Jules could you say more about the place you stayed in the Mekong delta - old colonial building/basic accommodation. Do you still have details, and did you just happen upon it, or did you booked in advance from home, or when you got to HCM city?

Sounds right up my street so any info you can offer would be much appreciated.

fuzzylogic is offline  
May 22nd, 2006, 06:30 AM
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Paul, Hanoi is a delightful city. I spent a week there, with a day trip to the Perfume Pagoda. That was the right amount of time for the things I wanted to do/see/experience in Hanoi. I certainly didn't exhaust the list of things to do in the area, and I didn't do the usual "must-sees" like Uncle Ho.

Pick up a good guidebook. I recommend Lonely Planet for VN. The old town area is interesting, I loved the area around the Temple of Literature - lots to see and do. There is an excellent Ethnographic Museum if you are interested in the local ethnic groups. Hanoi also has excellent food and there is wonderful shoppping for local crafts.
Kathie is offline  

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