Vietnam in March 2019

Apr 9th, 2018, 10:00 AM
  #1  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Mar 2009
Posts: 212
Vietnam in March 2019

Hi All -
I know most of this info is on this site but I have a couple of quick questions. My birthday is Feb. 28th. I wanted to be at Angkor Wat for my birthday. Most of the VN trips seem to start in Hanoi. We are also thinking of going independently vs. a tour. So we want to see the temples as mentioned also Saigon, Hue, we thought Hoi An, but opinions seem to differ on this and Hanoi and Halong Bay.
If I start at Siem Reap, how do you recommend doing that? Fly to HCMC and then to Cambodia? Also will it get warmer in the north as we progress through March maybe into April.
Thanks for all comments. I'm sure I'll have more questions.
Tdiddy12
Tdiddy12 is offline  
Apr 9th, 2018, 12:52 PM
  #2  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 32,788
There are a number of airports that have non-stop flights to Siem Reap, including Bangkok, HCMC, Singapore, Seoul and Hong Kong.

There is no need for a tour to this part of the world, it's very easy to arrange on your own. While people do have different opinions of whether to visit Halong Bay, I've never seen anyone recommend that one not visit Hanoi. Hoi An has long been a popular spot in VN, which is why some people recommend to skip it - packed with tourists.

For weather, take a look at one of the weather sites. I use Travel Weather Averages (Weatherbase)

Happy planning!
Kathie is offline  
Apr 9th, 2018, 03:22 PM
  #3  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Mar 2009
Posts: 212
Hi Kathie,

Poorly worded sentence on my part. Should have read Saigon, Hue, Hanoi and HalongBay, not sure about HOi An. Is there any specific beach area you might recommend? We just finished off a month in New Zealand w/ 3 days in Tahiti, wondering if one could do something similar in VN?
Tdiddy12 is offline  
Apr 9th, 2018, 10:53 PM
  #4  
 
Join Date: May 2004
Posts: 7,338
By starting in Siem Reap you could either flying Direct to Saigon which is fairly straightforward or, if you want to see something of the MEKONG delta ( which I would recommend) go to Phnom Penh de a couple of days and then get the boat to Chau Doc. CD is one of my favourite places in the delta - loads to see!

From CD you could head to Can Tho for the floating markets and then on to Saigon.

After a few days in Saigon you could either fly or get the overnight train to Hue. Hoi An is jam packed with tourists these days but still quaint and very photogenic ( if you can dodge te crowds!) but can be done as side trip from Hue.

Hue has the Imperial Citadel and tombs and some amazing food. Worth a few days. From there I would head to Phong Nha Khe Be for the most amazing caves. The easiest way is either by train to Dong Ha or you could hire a driver and car and do a short tour via the DMZ.

From Phong Nha or indeed Hue you could either fly ( from Da Nang) or get the train again. If the train, I would stop off at Ninh Binh for a day or two before hitting Hanoi.

Personally, I wasn’t that impressed with Ha Long - too crowded and polluted in parts and it does take several hours to get there. Some people love it though.

If that doesn’t use up all your time then I would definitely consider some trekking in the mountains of the north. We did a 5 days from Mai Chau to Ninh Binh via the Black River Valley and Pu Long NP which we loved but there are lots of options including Ha Giang in the far north - we missed out that on our last trip due to floods in the area.

Some photos and details of recent travels in these places can be found in the Vietnamsection of our blog @ https://accidentalnomads.com/category/vietnam/ there is also a little about Cambodia too.

For train travel in country lots of info at
https://www.seat61.com/Vietnam.htm

The only problem going south to north is that the best beaches are in the south and centre of the country. The islands of Phu Quoc and Con Dao probably have the best. There are some halfway decent beaches near Hoi An and Quy Nhon has some but tha is quite out the way.

Happy travels!
crellston is offline  
Apr 9th, 2018, 11:59 PM
  #5  
 
Join Date: Jun 2008
Posts: 3,404
You can fly from Da Nang (near Hoi An ) to Siem Reap if that's any help .

We had 3 days in Mai Chau out of Hanoi which I highly recommend - homestay.
also home stay in Mekong Delta area - so much to see there .
we love traveling by train from HCM to Hanoi - took 3 days of train Tavel but stopped off at Na Dang, Na Trang (Hoi An) , Hue . Great way to see real life in Vietnam.
I was disappointed in the temples in Hue .
we were there in April - dry and humid in HCM and wet and humid in Hanoi
northie is offline  
Apr 10th, 2018, 05:32 AM
  #6  
 
Join Date: May 2004
Posts: 7,338
Originally Posted by lisa_nguyen View Post
Hi Tdiddy12,
You can travel like that:
Hanoi >Halong Bay> Hue >Hoi An >Nha Trang> Ho Chi Minh. It takes you 10 days.
With the aid of a time machine maybe!
crellston is offline  
Apr 10th, 2018, 03:03 PM
  #7  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Mar 2009
Posts: 212
Hi Crellston,
Thanks for your input, and everyone for that matter. We really don't know anything about Vietnam, we just got off the plane from a month in New Zealand last Friday and started planning next year! So after reading your post, it looks like we may want to spend time in the Mekong as you suggested. I see I can fly direct to Siem Reap, I looked up the boat to Chau Doc and then the bus from Chau Doc to HCMC. Can you take the bus to Can Tho, then on to HCMC? Also in a few sentences what is that you like about Chau Doc and the Mekong Delta for that matter.
Thanks
Tdiddy12 is offline  
Apr 11th, 2018, 01:06 AM
  #8  
 
Join Date: May 2004
Posts: 7,338
You can take the bus from Chau Doc to Can Tho - about three hours as I recall. About the same from Can Tho to Saigon.

I like the delta area mainly because so much to see. The damming of the Mekong by the Chinese further north in Laos probably means that it is a way of life that won’t exist for too much longer so see it while you can.

It is a laid back sort of place and Chau Doc, in particular, doesn’t see too many tourists passing through. The Cham fishing villages, the Submerged forests, and Sam Mountain are unique to this part of the delta which in turn is quite different to the area of the delta from Can Tho - Vinh Long - Ben Tre. Can Tho to Vinh Long is all about the mile wide Mekong, Ben Tre, the smaller, narrower sections and the cottage industries. Vietnamese friends highly recommend Tra Vinh and the far south tip of the delta at Mui Ca Mau but we haven’t made it that far yet
crellston is offline  
Apr 11th, 2018, 10:27 AM
  #9  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Mar 2009
Posts: 212
Crellston -
I saw some pictures of the Phuong Trang or Futabus and they look pretty comfortable. Have you taken a train between Chau Doc and Can Tho on then on to Saigon or do you like the bus?
Tdiddy12 is offline  
Apr 11th, 2018, 12:07 PM
  #10  
 
Join Date: May 2004
Posts: 7,338
There is no train between Chau Doc and Can Tho. Only Saigon to Hanoi and Hanoi to Sa Pa,

I would never take a night bus in Vietnam but have taken quite a few day buses. We used Futabus between Chau Doc and Saigon and it was comfortable enough but a little concerning that the driver was watching a movie on his iPad most of the way! I did ask him to stop but he misunderstood and just turned up the volume. Such is travel in Vietnam.. One of the reasons we go by train where possible.
crellston is offline  
Apr 15th, 2018, 04:12 PM
  #11  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Mar 2009
Posts: 212
So, if we flew directly to Siem Reap from Los Angeles, which looks like we can do, how do we get to Phnom Penh? We are really liking the boat from PP to Chau Doc idea. Bus or train? Is there a train?
Tdiddy12 is offline  
Apr 15th, 2018, 05:05 PM
  #12  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 32,788
No train on that route.
Kathie is offline  
Apr 15th, 2018, 07:48 PM
  #13  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Mar 2009
Posts: 212
Thanks Kathie
Have you taken the bus or a boat between the 2 cities, Siem Reap and Phnom Penh?

Last edited by Tdiddy12; Apr 15th, 2018 at 07:52 PM.
Tdiddy12 is offline  
Apr 16th, 2018, 04:18 AM
  #14  
 
Join Date: May 2004
Posts: 7,338
There are buses and minibuses between PP and SR and there is the option of a boat for some of the year when river levels allow. It is a long trip either way although you can break the trip with a stay in Battambang where there is quite a lot to see and do in the surrounding area. Mekong Express and Giant Ibis are two of the better companies.
crellston is offline  
Apr 16th, 2018, 07:02 AM
  #15  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Mar 2009
Posts: 212
This is still a work in progress but so far this is what we are thinking. We are going to fly direct from Los Angeles to Siem Reap at the end of Feb. and then go to PP, probably on a bus and then take the boat to Chau Doc, based on your recommendation, Crellston. So first of March for the boat, generally is the water high enough, beginning of March? One question, where do you put your luggage on the boat? I read a brief review on Seat61, where someone said you have to be careful that your luggage doesn't end up in the river?
Tdiddy12 is offline  
Apr 16th, 2018, 11:03 AM
  #16  
 
Join Date: May 2004
Posts: 7,338
I think we travelled that route in late may or early April and the water levels were fine on the Bassac river between PP and CD. it is really the Tonle Sap between SR and PP where the problems arise from late march onwards.

We went with Hang Chau a couple of times and our bags were in the cabin with us so no problems. The other operators is Blue Cruiser, run by an American guy I think, which is more expensive but both are ok.

There have been issues with boats from SR to PP where they have lost a few bags (and passengers!) overboard and it is not uncommon for passengers to be sitting on the roof. Safety standards are not high on the fast boats on that route for some operators. Perhaps that as what seat 61 was referencing?
crellston is offline  
Apr 30th, 2018, 06:43 PM
  #17  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Mar 2009
Posts: 212
Hi All -
Is anyone familiar w/ the Victoria Nui Sam Lodge in Chau Doc? This is the one by Sam Mountain, not the Victoria downtown. It doesn't appear to be too far out of town, but it looks interesting. Also I read the name Xuan Mai as a tour guide in the Lonely Planet book. When I Google her, she seems out of the area. Has anybody worked with her?
Thanks
Tdiddy12 is offline  
May 2nd, 2018, 08:58 AM
  #18  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Mar 2009
Posts: 212
Hi All -
I read about a tour, which we aren't going to take, but it goes to Phu Quoc Island and then you fly to HCMC from the island. The tour was from PP - Chau Doc - Phu Quoc, but it seemed like most of the trip was traveling. We plan on going to Chau Doc from PP ourselves, my question is, after Chau Doc, where we are staying for two nights, is it worth it to go to Phu Quoc from Chau Doc for two nights and then fly to HCMC? Or..Chau Doc, bus to Can Tho, bus to HCMC?
Tdiddy12 is offline  
May 2nd, 2018, 09:28 AM
  #19  
 
Join Date: May 2004
Posts: 7,338
Firstly I would much prefer to stay in Chau Doc itself rather than out at Sam Mountain. It isn’t far out of the town, we cycled there, but there is much more to see and do in the town. Out by Sam there is really only the mountain and the famous Bun Mam stalls. The mountain temples are fascinating The hotel is very pleasant I’m sure but so is the Victoria in town. Great location right on the river. Superb restaurant which we enjoyed and you can eat on the terrace (if you can bear the heat!).

Having said that it really depends on what else you plan to do. Staying at Sam would allow you to see the mountain on your own. You could then organised a combined tour to Tra Su forest and then the river villages , markets and fish farms on your one full day.

We used a lady guide called Ms San, it could be the same person, I never saw her name written, but it would sound like you have spelt it. We hired her from Murray Guesthousewhere we were staying. She was very good, if a little too fond of chatting on her cellphone with other clients. From memory, I think we paid about $50 for a day trip out to the Submerged forest and around $15 for a boat trip on the Bassac river.

I don’t think it is worth going to Phu Quoc for two days but then, unless I am diving I don’t spend much time at the beach anyway. I am not a great fan of spending two days anywhere as it really only ever gives you one full day and that is compounded by the issues of travelling around the delta region. Also by going to Phu Quoc you would presumably miss Can Tho/ Cai Rang or any of the other floating markets.

Hope this helps
crellston is offline  
May 3rd, 2018, 01:33 AM
  #20  
 
Join Date: May 2018
Posts: 2
Hi,
You should fly from home to Siem Reap or other airports in the world to Siem reap firstly.
Then, Fly from Siem Reap to Sai Gon
Sai Gon to Hue/ Da Nang
Da Nang to Ha Noi
And from Hanoi back home.
Good luck!
santonieric1 is offline  

Thread Tools
Search this Thread

Contact Us - Archive - Advertising - Cookie Policy -

FODOR'S VIDEO

All times are GMT -8. The time now is 08:57 AM.