Vietnam in October - 8 days

Old Aug 22nd, 2018, 07:20 PM
  #1  
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Vietnam in October - 8 days

Hi, we have a relatively last minute trip to Vietnam Oct. 12-20 arriving and leaving out of Hanoi - I'd like to see Halong bay and send a couple of days in Hanoi -but what else is doable in that time period? I'd love to see Hue or Sapa (or maybe a flight to Ho Chi Minh City and a short trip to Mekong Delta?) Or even a flight and a day or two in Bangkok? (husband loves Thai food)
nolarussell is offline  
Old Aug 22nd, 2018, 11:58 PM
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Based on the weather alone I would just stick to the north of the country where the weather will be best. Central Vietnam (Hue) is at its wettest and is prone to flooding. Storms etc..

Southern Vietnam is coming out of its wet season it could be ok but maybe not. Difficult to predict these days.with any degree of certainty.

There is a lot to see in Hanoi and I would suggest allowing a min of 3 nights ( i.e. two full day). Even then you would not really be doing it justice. Halong is an overnight trip and usually take around 4 hours each way by minibus.

Sapa really needs a min of two nights there plus the overnight train trip to get there. It is very touristy there these days so for that reason, I would avoid.

Alternatives might include Mai Chau, Ninh Binh and possibly Ba Be Lakes. MC does get a lot of visitors at weekend so avoid that and try to get out from the main town into the valley where there are some amazing Homestays and lodges.

Some photos and detail of our time in the region on our blog.https://accidentalnomads.com/category/vietnam/

It is a cliche I know but in Vietnam "Less really is more" . Travel can take a long time in the country so picking fewer destinations will save a lot of time travelling and allow more time to enjoy the places you do visit.
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Old Aug 23rd, 2018, 01:51 AM
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If all the development in Sapa, dawn to dusk construction noise, and the way that tourists are hounded is correct, then I'd give the place a wide berth.

Crellston is your man, listen to him.
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Old Aug 23rd, 2018, 04:53 AM
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Thanks Crellston- those look like amazing options. Would you do Halong bay? it looks like Ninh Binh would offer similar vistas and more to see/do.
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Old Aug 23rd, 2018, 07:56 AM
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You could spend all of your time in Hanoi and not run out of things to do/see.

Halong Bay - people either love it or not. It takes a lot of time - half day drive each way to/from Halong Bay. Many people complain that there are so many boats on the Bay and so much trash in the water that they felt like they didn't get the experience they were hoping for. On the other hand, some people feel it was the highlight of their trip. Read lots of trip reports here before you decide,
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Old Aug 23rd, 2018, 08:44 AM
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Kathie is right about the the amount of time you could spend in Hanoi. On our last trip there we ended up staying for two weeks!

She is also spot on regarding Halong Bay. I fall into the not loving it category. Not so much the trash in the water but more the fact that it was incredibly crowded last time we went. Some of the caves we visited were overrun with tourists to the point of be quite unbearable at least for me. Bai Tu Long Bay is quieter and there’re one or two operators like Ethnic Travel who combine a boat trip with a stay on land.

Ninh Binh is often described as “Halong Bay on land”, most likely because it has the same type of limestone karst landscape. That too can get quiet busy in certain parts but it is very easy to escape the crowds with a decent guide and not visiting at weekends.

In terms of planning your time I would try and make sure that you stay in Hanoi over the weekend as many Hanoians will be heading out to the countryside. Hanoi is so hectic you will barely notice what day of the week it is!

A break from the city would be nice and the Mai Chau Valley would be very nice as long as you avoid the town itself and head out to a homestay in the valley or one of the more upmarket eco lodges - I think the most popular one is called Mai Chau Lodge or something similar.

Although not the best time of year for the south and if you don’t mind rushing a bit, then say 3 nights Hanoi, 3 nights Mai Chau or Ninh Binh 2 nights and Saigon for the rest of your time would have you visiting my two favourite cities in Asia and seeing a little of the countryside.
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Old Aug 23rd, 2018, 07:09 PM
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IMO, you should focus on only Northern VN within 8 days at that time.
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Old Aug 23rd, 2018, 07:42 PM
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I think we'll probably do Hanoi and one other site, possibly two. Maybe Halong and Mai Chau. I don't think it would be worth the hassle to get to Saigon, as much I would like to.
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Old Aug 23rd, 2018, 11:27 PM
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Hi Nola.

Wise to limit to Hanoi and max two other destinations in your eight day trip.

If you decide on Halong Bay or Bai Tu Long Bay (which essentially I think of as an area within the large Ha Long Bay--don't know if that is geographically correct though)--do not do it as a day trip. Take an overnight boat trip. At the time I visited almost three yrs ago, the few boats to Bai Tu Long Bay were operated by the Indochina Junk Company, which apparently had a legal monopoly on the "rights" to sail there. But things I've read here since name other companies. Btw, i loved the trip, not just for the scenery, but for the fun of the boat, its staff, and other passengers.

I loved Mai Chau. It is beautiful in a quite different way from Ninh Binh. Parts of it reminded me of deep lush valleys in Switzerland!

Have a great trip!
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Old Aug 24th, 2018, 12:22 AM
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Hoan Kem Lake is the focal point of Hanoi Old Quarter. At weekend it's traffic free, making for a much more pleasant experience.

Fwiw we stayed for a week on the northern perimeter of the Old Quarter in a lovely little place called 3B Homestay. Very inexpensive, lovely buffet breakfast included. Lily who runs the travel desk there is a lovely girl who'll sort out any tours you want with a smile and a wealth of local experience. Only a few minutes walk from the Lake, and the crazy Old Quarter.

The northern perimeter is ideal for a quick getaway to and from Hanoi Airport.
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Old Aug 24th, 2018, 12:28 AM
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Hanoi International Airport is a very easy place to navigate. Modern, clean and efficient.

If you want to change money, the kiosks are just prior to leaving the Arrival Building, as soon as you've cleared Customs. The rate you'l get is only slightly less than in town.

The Domestic Terminal is nowhere near as efficient, possible because Vietnamese travellers seem to be pretty clueless about what an airport is all about., and so create delays.
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Old Aug 24th, 2018, 04:45 AM
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Hi Cali - definitely look at the Indocine tour- did you take the older "junk" boat or the newer legend? And how did you get to Mai Chau?
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Old Aug 24th, 2018, 05:49 PM
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Hi agan, Nola/Pam. I went on the Dragon Legend. I think there are now two of them. Beautiful boats, framed with metal rather than wood, which is a big plus in terms of fire prevention.

I had a car/driver waiting at the pier after leaving the boat, then a direct ride to Ninh Ninh for a few days, then to Mai Chau for a couple days, then back to Hanoi. This was easily arranged by a local travel agent.
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