Vietnam itinerary

Old Aug 18th, 2022, 02:42 PM
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Vietnam itinerary

At long last, we are ready to re-book the Vietnam trip we had to cancel in March 2020 due to Covid. So far, I have only our international flights booked. We fly from JFK to Saigon, with a layover in Singapore, and get to Saigon the afternoon of February 15. We fly home from Bangkok on March 8. I used miles to get business class seats and it's a good thing, as the non-stop from JFK to Singapore is 18 hours 40 minutes. I've read that it is the longest non-stop flight in the world. We have an 8 hour layover in Singapore. I chose the flight with the longer layover because it gets us to Saigon at 3:00 PM. The flight with the 4 hour layover would get us to Saigon at 11:00 PM. I would rather get there in the afternoon than late at night.

We were in Vietnam in September, 2000, and have wanted to go back ever since. On that trip we were in Hanoi, Hue, Hoi An and Saigon, as well as Phnom Penh and Siem Reap, Cambodia and Bangkok and Phuket, Thailand. We had been to Thailand a few times before that, and since then. We did not have a lot of time in Saigon, Hue or Hoi An but managed the big sights. I was especially taken with Hue and the royal tombs. In Saigon, we barely scratched the surface since the days were used to go to the Cu Chi Tunnels and to the Mekong Delta. We spent the longest time in Hanoi, but it was so long ago, and we never went to Halong Bay.

My rough itinerary is as follows (we will have 21 nights on the ground, including Bangkok):
-Saigon 4 nights, perhaps take another day trip to the Mekong Delta. I don't feel that we need to repeat the tunnels.
-Fly from Saigon to either Hue or Ph Quốc. If Hue, spend two nights and then fly from there to Ph Quốc. If Ph Quốc, spend three (maybe 4) nights and fly to Hue.
-next would be Hoi An, flying from either Ph Quốc to Da Nang, or going overland from Hue. 2 or 3 nights in Hoi An? We already drove through the Marble Mountains and spent a day exploring and do not feel that we need to stop for any length of time there this time around.
-From Hoi An, we would fly to Hanoi. Spend one night in Hanoi, and go with Indochina Junk to Halong Bay and Bai Tu Long Bay on an overnight junk. We would do a small wooden junk, either the 1 cabin or 5 cabin boat. They will pick us up at our hotel in Hanoi, and then bring us back.
-3 night Hanoi
-4 or 5 nights Bangkok.

We have a few days to play around with so I'm trying to determine how many nights we should spend in Hoi An,
Ph Quốc and Bangkok.

Does this make sense to you? What would you do different, and why? Thanks for any advice you have. Since I joined Fodor's in 2003, when we were going to Laos and Burma, I have found the Asia board to be the most helpful and welcoming.
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Old Aug 18th, 2022, 06:55 PM
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In my opinion, the order is HCMC- Hue- Danang (Hoian)- Phu Quoc island- Hanoi or HCMC- Phu Quoc island- Danang (Hoian)- Hue- Hanoi; 3 nights in Hoian is better.
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Old Aug 18th, 2022, 07:20 PM
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Originally Posted by DinHo View Post
In my opinion, the order is HCMC- Hue- Danang (Hoian)- Phu Quoc island- Hanoi or HCMC- Phu Quoc island- Danang (Hoian)- Hue- Hanoi; 3 nights in Hoian is better.
Can you tell me why that order? Just curious. Im sure that could work and maybe having the rest and relaxing break between the heavier sightseeing of Saigon, Hue, Hoi An and then Hanoi is a good idea.
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Old Aug 18th, 2022, 10:50 PM
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What you said (The rest and relaxing break).
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Old Aug 19th, 2022, 05:49 PM
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I would do Saigon-Phu Quoc-Danang/Hoi An--Hu-night train Hu-Ninh Binh for Tam Coc and day train TC-Hanoi
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Old Aug 20th, 2022, 07:22 PM
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Originally Posted by Larsay View Post
I would do Saigon-Phu Quoc-Danang/Hoi An--Hu-night train Hu-Ninh Binh for Tam Coc and day train TC-Hanoi
Can you expand on the night train? I don't know if we have the time to add in any more places.
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Old Aug 20th, 2022, 09:56 PM
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Night trains are used for long distance; it allows to save time for visits. The train leaves Ninh Binh around 23:00 and arrives in Danang around 8:00; you then take a taxi Danang-Hoi An.

If you nee one more day, spend one less in ugly boring Bangkok,a sea of concrete without ant interest except for exceptional food

Last edited by Moderator1; Aug 21st, 2022 at 06:54 AM. Reason: removed unnecessary comment
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Old Aug 21st, 2022, 04:42 AM
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For info on trains in Vietnam see: https://www.seat61.com/Vietnam.htm

I have traveled on night trains in Vietnam in both hard and soft sleeper. I see that there are now two-berth VIP soft sleepers, and some four-berth soft sleepers are newer than those I rode. If there are two of you I would probably spring for VIP, if the train times work. I (female) travel solo, but although the trains are a bit bare bones I had no trouble.
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Old Aug 21st, 2022, 06:42 AM
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Originally Posted by Larsay View Post
Night trains are used for long distance; it allows to save time for visits. The train leaves Ninh Binh around 23:00 and arrives in Danang around 8:00; you then take a taxi Danang-Hoi An.

If you nee one more day, spend one less in ugly boring Bangkok,a sea of concrete without ant interest except for exceptional food . . .
Bangkok happens to be our favorite city so we will not be spending less than 4 nights there.

Last edited by Moderator1; Aug 21st, 2022 at 06:55 AM. Reason: removed quote of a deleted comment
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Old Aug 21st, 2022, 07:03 PM
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Well, this is your second time in Vietnam. Why don't you skip Hue/Hoi An and explore other destinations such as far to the northern Mu Cang Chai/Sapa or Ha Giang? Or route to Central Highland Buon Me Thuot/Da Lat/Lam Dong. This is less tourist area.
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Old Aug 22nd, 2022, 11:22 AM
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Hi Laurico,

I think you have the bones of a good itinerary and, even if you have been to some of those places before, I am a great believer that you often get more out of s second time visit. We have been to Vietnam many, many times. Indeed we are off there in a couple of weeks en route to see family in Australia.

Just a few observations in terms of time allocated to those locations.

4 nights in Saigon is a good amount of time to explore the main sights of Districts 1 & 3 and Cholon. You will find it has changed a huge amount since your last visit. IMO a day trip to the delta is not really worth the effort. 3 nts would allow two full days which is much more reasonable. I would take a look at a home stay close to Can Tho for Cai Rang floating markets. Green Village and Nguyen Shack are good options.

If it were my trip, I would forget about Phu Quoc which has suffered from overdevelopment and there are issues with litter, construction etc. More info @ https://www.vietnamcoracle.com/phu-q...aches-a-guide/ . I feel there are much better beach options in Thailand, perhaps at the end of your trip?

Hue is definitely one of those places that benefits from a second visit. The tombs never fail to impress as does the citadel especially as it is now possible to visit at night ( on some nights). Imuch prefer it to Hoi An.

Hoi An only really needs two nights / one full day to see the town sights, more if you want to visit the countryside or My Son.

Never tire of Hanoi and feel you have about the right amount of time there. I am not a fan of Ha Long . Bai Tu Long is better but we left feeling impressed with the scenery but less with the overcrowding of the boats and the pollution.Ninh Binh is oft described as Halong on land and May be worth considering.

Finally Bangkok. We often use is as an entry point and hub for Asia. 4-5 nights there is a good amount of time. love the markets, life on the river and the temples are second to none in SEA. The city has changed a huge amount in recent years but is still a fantastic place to splash out on five star hotels and excellent food.


Many of these places we covered in our blog @ https://accidentalnomads.com/category/vietnam/

There is also some stuff on train travel in their. We have used the train many times up and down the country but only for trips of three months or so. A great way to meet Vietnamese people on their travels but think of it as an experience rather than an efficient or comfortable way to travel.




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Old Aug 23rd, 2022, 09:55 AM
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Hi crellston, thanks for your thoughts. I've given the train some thought and I think we will stick to flying due to time constraints. I will think about two nights instead of three in Hoi An. I remember feeling like we did not have nearly enough time in Hue and Hoi An. I remember one day was spent taking a boat up the river to a pagoda. I can't remember which one but I do remember loving the boat ride.

The reason I want to go to Ph Quốc is because a new Regent resort recently opened there and after reading about the hotel, I decided that we just have to stay there for a few nights. It looks so fabulous and right up our alley so we will be spending three, possibly four nights there just to relax. There seem to be a good number of flights from Saigon, Hue and Da Nang, and from Ph Quốc to Hanoi so that makes it easy as well.

I will think about the other suggestions. It's a ways off and we still have Italy in October first, but I certainly do not want to leave planning Vietnam for the last minute. The first thing I will do, after figuring out how long we want to stay in each place, and what order, is to book the flights and then when those are booked, the hotels. I look forward to the planning. I'll probably book pretty much the same hotels as I did for the 2020 trip, except for Hue, which seems to have had an influx of luxury hotels. Either that or they just became a lot more affordable.
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Old Aug 23rd, 2022, 10:46 PM
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You are welcome Laurico.

For accomodation in Hue, check out https://azerai.com/resorts/azerai-la-residence-hue/ we stayed there a while ago and loved it. Right on the Perfume River, it was built as the residence of the French Resident Superior back when they colonised the country. An amazing place!

The pagoda in question May have been Thien Mu Pagoda , some photos on our blog https://accidentalnomads.com/2015/01...o-tell-part-1/ usually combined with a boat ride to visit some of the riverside tombs. Love Hue!
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Old Aug 24th, 2022, 12:39 PM
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Yes crellston, I do believe that is the pagoda.

The hotel in Hue looks lovely. I'm also looking at Pilgrimage Village Boutique Resort & Spa. It will be difficult making a decision. All I know is that we won't be staying at the Saigon Morin, where I had us booked for the 2020 trip for lack of anyplace better.

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Old Aug 24th, 2022, 06:59 PM
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"Saigon Morin" Dreadful place! a classic example of a once wonderful grand hotel that should have been refurbished several times over during its existence but somehow missed out. We waked I and walked straight back out! Probably ripe for a purchase by a major hotel group but for some reason they don't seem to favour Hue. Accor used to own La Residence but pulled out. I guess there is too much competition for the majors along the road in Da Nang?
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Old Aug 28th, 2022, 07:34 PM
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I visited the Saigon-Morin a few months ago and it was impeccable !
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Old Aug 29th, 2022, 12:51 PM
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Originally Posted by Larsay View Post
I visited the Saigon-Morin a few months ago and it was impeccable !
Well I guess we all have different standards and opinions of what makes a good hotel..
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Old Aug 29th, 2022, 01:43 PM
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Originally Posted by Larsay View Post
I visited the Saigon-Morin a few months ago and it was impeccable !
Based on photos on their website, it doesnt appear that there have been any renovations. It looks very dated and not my idea of a luxury hotel, or even a nice one.
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Old Aug 29th, 2022, 07:05 PM
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Well, as far as I am concerned, ancient furniture has a great charm, more that the "chrome and glass" that you now find in too many hotels.and which makes those hotel lobbies and rooms look like hospital ones.
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Old Sep 3rd, 2022, 03:02 PM
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I finally have most of the trip booked, all flights (except Hanoi to Bangkok, trying to decide between the 9:15 AM flight on Thai Air Asia, or the 12:15 PM flight on VietJet. Price difference is negligible so it will come down to how early we want to get up in the morning). Also have many of the hotels booked. The itinerary is as follows:
February 15: arrive Saigon, four nights at Hotel des Arts Saigon https://mgallery.accor.com/hotels/9231.index.en.shtml
February 19: fly to DaNang, to Hoi An, three nights at Hotel Royal Hoi An https://hotelroyal-hoian.com/
February 22: overland to Hue, two nights at ? I'm leaning toward the Pilgrimage Village Pilgrimage Village Boutique Resort & Spa
February 24: fly to Ph Quốc, three nights at Regent Ph Quốc https://phuquoc.regenthotels.com/
February 27: fly to Hanoi, one night at Aira Boutique Hotel (was the O'Gallery when we booked it three years ago but it apparently changed hands) https://airaboutiquehanoi.com/

February 28: Halong and Bai Tu Long Bay overnight cruise with Indochina Junk https://www.indochina-junk.com/ either a one cabin or five cabin junk.
March 1: Hanoi for three nights at Aira Boutique Hotel
March 4: fly to Bangkok for 5 days, leave on March 9 but the flight is at 12:25 AM so we have the entire day of March 8 there. Will most likely stay at the Hilton Millennium https://www.hilton.com/en/hotels/bkk...PAC-TW-BKKHITW We stayed at the Peninsula the last three times (it wasn't built yet the first two times we were there) but we had reservations at the Hilton in their Executive Panoramic Suite for April 2020 but had to cancel that trip, and I really want to give this hotel a chance. I may miss the view from the Pen however. I also will miss the Pen's lovely pool but the suite at the Hilton looks fabulous, and has a panoramic view, and we have club access with breakfast, snacks, evening drinks and light food. The Pen lacks a club floor and we like staying on club floors where available, and will be doing so in several of the hotels in Vietnam. I guess you can tell that we are not exactly budget travelers. We paid our dues when young and deserve some luxury now that we can afford it. The Hilton suite is huge and we get several clothing items per day laundered too. Why not give it a try. If we don't like it as much as the Pen, we'll go back to the Pen next time. This will be our 6th trip to Bangkok and it will not be the last.

I think given the amount of time we have, and that it has been 22 years since we have been to Vietnam and about 16 or so since we were last in Bangkok, this will give us a good mix of areas, sites and relaxation. I am open to suggestions for day trips, and must sees in the various places, especially those that are off the beaten path. Of course we will be going back to the tombs in Hue, I could spend a long time there, I loved it, and the Imperial City, but welcome any and all suggestions for other sites in Hue and the other cities/areas. Also, I remember just loving the river cruises, so relaxing and colorful, and seeing how the people live on the river and shore was fascinating, so if you have suggestions for those, either from Hue, Hoi An or Saigon, and any guides you can recommend, I would be grateful. This trip has been a very long time coming and I was very depressed when we had to cancel due to Covid, and I am very excited to finally be going (and first, we're going to Italy on October 8 but there is nothing left to plan for that trip, other than spontaneous detours when there, and I really love planning trips). Thanks again!
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