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Vietnam Itinerary - Comments appreciated

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Dec 23rd, 2009, 04:08 PM
  #1
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Vietnam Itinerary - Comments appreciated

After extensive reading, we are trying to fine tune our itinerary and would appreciate any suggestions:
2 days/2nights HCM
4 days/4 nights Mekong Delta
1/2 day Hanoi (Fly 10 AM from Can Tho to Hanoi - arrives 12:10 - Night train to Sapa - (This puts us in Sapa for weekend markets)
3 days Sapa/2 nights - Night train to Hanoi
1 night Halong Bay
1 night Cat Ba
1/2 day Hanoi (Cat Ba to Hanoi)
3 days/3nights Hanoi
2 days/1 nights Nimh Bihn - return to Hanoi & fly to Danang
arrive at 18:15 and drive to Hoi An
2 days/3 nights Hoi An (arranged to be there for full moon festival)
1/2 day/night - Hue - Drive to Hue through pass - visit Marble Mountain - arrive mid to late afternoon
2 days Hue - Depart Hue to Danang to Hanoi at 17:35, arriving 18:45 for flight to USA 23:35

We understand that we are taking an extra flight by traveling first to Hanoi before Hoi An & Hue, but we are trying to be in Hoi An for the Full Moon Festival.

Opinions regarding time frame would be greatly appreciated. Are we spending too much or too little time in any particular place?

June
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Dec 23rd, 2009, 05:01 PM
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it looks fantastic, but there is very little breathing room or room for problems that do arise...??
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Dec 23rd, 2009, 05:20 PM
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Thanks Bob. It is pretty packed, but we are fairly flexible if problems arise. Do you think we are cutting the flight from Hue to Hanoi too short for a transfer to USA flight?
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Dec 24th, 2009, 01:49 AM
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Personally i would NEVER have an unconnected flight (i am assuming here its unconnected) on my day home flight. You have howevere got plenty of time at Hanoi airport. Its not actually that big (and there isn't much going on either..bring a book) I actually think 2 nights in HCM is too short as its doesnt really give you a chance to properly see the city. However, i am a shopper so that helps but we spent 2 days sightseeing in HCM (which you will discover when i eventually finish my report)
Am envious of yoir trip as you have included some of the plaes we had to avoid due to the rain.
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Dec 24th, 2009, 11:31 AM
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Smeagol - Is there any place in particular that you would take away days? Omit 1 day from Hanoi and add to HCM? What are your thoughts of spending so much time in the Delta area? Thanks in advance for your suggestions. Can't wait to read the rest of your report!
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Dec 26th, 2009, 06:08 AM
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Any other suggestions?
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Dec 26th, 2009, 07:53 AM
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Dgung - i really dont know as you have a packed itinerary and are going to places we didn't, I love cities but i know for sure i would definately not deduct anything from the lovely Hanoi 3 nights is a minimum in my (humble) opinion.
What do you plan to do for 4 nights on the Mekong?
BTW i used 2 really good agents when in VN and the one in HCMC specialised in "off the beaten track trips on the mekong", maybe you should contact them if you havent got that sorted Tim @ www.comeandvietnam.com There was one of their trips i really fancied but we just didnt have time.
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Dec 26th, 2009, 07:53 AM
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that should be comeandgovietnam.com
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Dec 26th, 2009, 07:55 AM
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Should also add we used them for transfers in HCM and to Mui Ne we also used them to go to Cu Chi and their guide and driver was EXCELLENT. Highly recommed. Tim is a British expat living in HCMC.
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Dec 26th, 2009, 09:09 AM
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Hi dgunbug, I was recently looking at your old thread on biking thru Angkor Wat. So funny.

I too would love to know what you'll be doing in the Mekong Delta for 4 days and nights. Do you have a cruise lined up? Your own little boat? where will you be going? A lot of the so-called 'attractions' are pretty hellish and geared for the lowest common denominator tourist - of which there are many. It seems like a really, really long time to me - but I bet you have a cool plan... I bet there are ways to avoid all horror and focus on whatever it you want to focus on.

I suppose your eager husband wants to hire a row boat and paddle the distance himself. lol lol lol.
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Dec 26th, 2009, 10:15 AM
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Dogster - I am wondering too! This is my husband's idea (bet you couldn't figure that one out). I have seen many wonderful pictures from the Mekong, and so I thought I'd put it out here and see what folks on Fodors have to say. The guided tours do sound good to me though. Perhaps we should go to Nimh Bihn first so my DH can learn the art of rowing with his feet! I know bicycling was part of the plan. Since you have done the river cruise, I was seeking your expertise and advise on what there is to do in the Mekong.
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Dec 26th, 2009, 07:41 PM
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lol. Your fantastic husband again - give him my best wishes. What time of the year are you going? Choose high water over low if there's a choice.

Now, I don't know how to do this but maybe someone else does: I did observe a number of great looking little boats, just for you and your crazy husband. Single cabin, a coupla crew, a cook - I guess - that seemed to potter around from place to place. Google Search might find them.

Low water the Delta can resemble a picturesque rubbish dump. The danger is that there is an assumption that all tourists WILL go on a pre-arranged circuit of tourist hell-holes, snake farms, fish-farms, odd demonstrations of peculiar things surrounded by shops - there is very little left of 'Old Vietnam' but the water life, as in the locals, is fascinating - for a while. The markets and the like are great, particularly if you haven't done much of that.

A first time Asia traveler may disagree with me on much of the above. I'll see if I can find some mini-cruises for dgunbuggers - the best is to wander from A-B on the water. Let's not talk about bicycling. Why not just chop one of hubby's legs off before you go - it'll be easier for all of us. lol lol lol.
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Dec 26th, 2009, 07:52 PM
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Dogster - I thank you and my husband thanks you for the great laugh we had after reading your post. I previously tried finding out what the water levels will be, but haven't been able to do that. We will be in the Delta region May 10-??? I know it is the beginning of the rainy season, but don't know how high the water levels will be at that point. I'm hoping that there will be lush rice fields - if not in Southern Vietnam, then in the Sapa region. Unfortunately, we were not able to travel earlier when it would be a bit cooler. You take what you can get sometimes.

What did you do on your Delta cruise? I'm sure I read a report previously about you taking one.
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Dec 26th, 2009, 07:59 PM
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Here's what Pandaw does in the Delta:

Day 1: Saigon / My Tho / Cai Be
Transfer from the Hotel to the port of My Tho bo coach to embark cruise.

Day 2: Cai Be / Sa Dec / Cu Lao Gien

In the morning passengers will take an exciting Sampan boat excursion to Sa Dec via Vinh Long, along canals and backwaters. [300 of you crammed into a boat with hard seats for an ETERNITY] Passengers will visit Cai Be and its colorful floating market [quick zoom past the market taking pictures like its a zoo] and Sa De to see the local market and the ancient house of Mr, Huyn Thuy Le, the 'lover' of Marguerite Duras, a famous french novelist. [nice house, converted into a tourist trap] In the afternoon, we visit Cu Lao Gien island and a Catholic monastery called 'La Providence'.[no memory - which says it all - we never stopped once at the monastery but I recall a brick factory...]

Day 3: Chau Doc / Border Crossing
Visit a Cham tribal village, [horrible retail opportunity] a cat fish farm, [over-excited cat-fish, over-excited tourists] and enjoy a trishaw ride round Chau Doc [the trishaw Grand Prix with a hustle at the end].

then they continue on to Phnom Penh. [4 days all up]

I'm not suggesting you do Pandaw necessarily, but it's always good to see their itinerary. In essence, it's one tourist trap after another - some a bit good, some a big bit bad.

Here's a big list of other Delta cruises; can't advise on any of them - but it'll show you where to explore. Exercise caution.

http://www.greentrail-indochina.com/...ise_delta.html

One [Le Cochinchine] has this itinerary:
Itinerary in brief
Day 1: Ho Chi Minh City - Mytho – Cai Be
Day 2: Cai Be – Binh Hoa Phuoc – Sa Dec
Day 3: Sa Dec - Vinhlong – Mang Thit – Tra On
Day 4: Tra On – Cai Rang – Rach Ngong - Cantho

But all this is real 'caveat emptor' stuff. Try to get some actual travelers reports. It's all $$$. How much do you want to spend, how free do you want to be, how packaged...?

There is a thread in here on Jayarvarman. Search it.
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Dec 26th, 2009, 08:07 PM
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In essence, if you can, find a boat you can sleep on and do it that way. Hurtling in and out of different Delta hotels each night won't be a lotta fun - but might be an great adventure. Dunno. Unless you're on the water, the Mekong Delta is, well, kinda like anywhere.

Again, thousands may and doubtless will, disagree. I don't care, as you've probably noticed.
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Dec 27th, 2009, 05:43 PM
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So much helpful information on this thread! We're developing our own itinerary for next year and find dgunbug's post to be very useful.
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Dec 27th, 2009, 07:29 PM
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Dogster - Thanks for the info. We will continue our research and let you know what we decided to do. Perhaps we will do on the fly and make our decisions as we go. We are fairly flexible.
Scomars - so glad this is helpful to you. When are you traveling to Vietnam?
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Dec 28th, 2009, 02:14 AM
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Hi Dgunbug,

Basically your itinerary looks good. I personally think you're spending too much time in the Mekong delta. I'd cut out one day in favor of Hoi an or Hue. Hope this helps.
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Dec 28th, 2009, 05:37 AM
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Thanks for your imput Scheps. I'm inclined to think along the same lines as you.
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Dec 29th, 2009, 05:55 PM
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Dgunbug - me and my wife are starting our trip in Feb. Hopefully we can meet in Vietnam!
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