Vietnam Itinerary help!

Feb 6th, 2014, 02:57 AM
  #1  
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Join Date: Feb 2014
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Vietnam Itinerary help!

Hi all,

Please help! We want to visit Vietnam for the first time in April 2014 (couple traveling together). Did some research and really want to visit the North (Hanoi, Halong Bay and Sapa) as well as Hoi An. We like nature, being active (hiking and biking) as well as a few days in the city (fine dining and visiting sites). My problem is I can only find affordable flights to and from Saigon. We thought we might as well spend a few days there as well, but I am worried that the trip will be to rushed. Please view my itinerary and advise if I am being over ambitious time wise?

8 April - arrive Saigon at 19h00
9 - 12 April: Saigon (3 full days, 4 nights) with day trips to Mekong delta and Cu Chi tunnels
12 April: Fly Saigon to Hanoi (2 days, 1 night)
13 April: overnight train to Sapa
14 - 16 April: Sapa, catching overnight train back to Hanoi 16th.
17 April: Hanoi
18 April: Halong Bay (1 night, 2 days)
19 April: Fly Hanoi to Da Nang, train to Hoi An
19 - 22 April: Hoi An (3 nights, 2.5 days)
22 April: train to Da Nang, fly to Saigon for midnight flight back home.

Please advise if you think we will be too rushed or is the time in each location sufficient?
Milu is offline  
Feb 6th, 2014, 05:27 AM
  #2  
 
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You will want more time in Hanoi, so I'd cut a day from HCMC. Forget visiting the reconstructed (fantasy) ChuChi tunnels. It's a relatively short drive from Hoi An to DaNang, so I don't understand using the train there.

You have more time than most people do in Sapa.

It is a bit rushed, and you will be spending a lot of time in transit - two overnight trains, the drives to and from Halong Bay.
Kathie is offline  
Feb 6th, 2014, 08:21 AM
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I am not a fan of Hoi An, so I would cut a night there to add to Hanoi. You might check to see what the weather will be like in Sapa in April. People usually take a taxi from Danang to Hoi An, as the train doesn't go there. You could look at taking the night train from Hanoi to Danang, to save some day time (see http://www.seat61.com/Vietnam.htm )
thursdaysd is offline  
Feb 7th, 2014, 08:50 AM
  #4  
 
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Unless you are interested in the train travel per se, why not just fly? It's about the same price, and saves so much time. If you are there a relatively short time, I would say this is valuable. I am a fan of Hoi An, but would also just add time to the north or the south instead. If you add time to the south, consider making a 2-3 day trip to the Delta. If you are interested in time away from tourism, we enjoyed staying at Jardin du Mekong. It's in the middle of nowhere, but walking distance to a small village, and it's owner Vung will be happy to take you on motorcycle or biking tours. His mom cooks all the food, and it is outrageously good. The accommodation is traditional, but very comfortable, and the garden setting is beautiful. Don't do it through a booking agent though, as you will get it cheaper directly. However, it will be cash only if you pay on site. His website - http://gitesmekong.com - pages load really slowly. Check something like Agoda first and then email him. I think we got it for about 20% less. He will also arrange bus travel to Ben Tre and will pick you up there by motorbike. We did this at the end of our trip and found it a perfect finale. Just a thought.
girlwithanattitude is offline  
Feb 8th, 2014, 02:34 AM
  #5  
 
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Your itinerary is very well-arranged already. Only a few small advices:
It’s only about 30 km from Danang to Hoian so you can take a bus to get there.
You should cut one day in Sapa and one day in Hoian and add each to Hanoi and Saigon. It is definitely worth to spend more time to discover these cities, wander along the bustling streets, and enjoy delicious street foods.
April is the hottest month in Saigon, so you will be tired if you are too rushed. After exploring Cu Chi tunnels in the morning, you can directly transfer to one province in Mekong Delta, such as Cai Be or Can Tho. and so you can visit a floating market in the next morning as it will end soon at 10 a.m. (if you transfer from Saigon in that morning, you can miss it)
Cheers.
John_Ger is offline  
Feb 8th, 2014, 04:44 AM
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I don't think three days in sapa is too much at all. The biggest problem is that you should get to sapa on the 13th, leaving from Hanoi the night before, so you can go immediately to the bac ha market before heading for sapa. The market was one of the major highlights of our trip to sapa. I would also cut a day from hcmc and add time in Hanoi. We enjoyed hoi an, but you can definitely cut a night there too.
dgunbug is offline  
Feb 8th, 2014, 11:27 AM
  #7  
 
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Milu, like you, we are visiting VN, though in March. I'm interested in what everyone has to say. I'd like to ask a question of Kathie and the comment about the ChuChi tunnels. All I've read is the travel books, so I'm interested in the 'reality' and truth of this site. I'm on the fence about visiting, and sounds like it may not be what it's all cracked up to be 'reconstructed (fantasy)' - please elaborate. Thanks so much from anyone who has comments.
Faloola is offline  
Feb 8th, 2014, 12:32 PM
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I visited the tunnels only because they were part of a tour with the Cao Dai temple. I did not enter the tunnels, as I have a touch of claustrophobia. I don't know whether the visit would be worthwhile if you do go down, if you don't I think it is not worthwhile.
thursdaysd is offline  
Feb 8th, 2014, 05:17 PM
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I concur with Thursdaysd. We also did a tour of both the temple and tunnels, but did not go down the tunnel and we weren't sure it was worthwhile.
dgunbug is offline  
Feb 9th, 2014, 12:35 AM
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I went into the tunnels on my first trip to Saigon some 25 year ago. They were quite interesting then although VERY cramped and not the place to go if you suffer from claustrophobia. There were some recreations of camp kitchens and hospitals in the tunnels which were a little bit contrived ( mannequins dressed in uniform etc.. Since then, I think the tunnels have been excavated to accommodate western sized tourists so may well be a little less claustrophobic. Some friends who visited a couple of years ago said that it was now a bit time a theme park..

Returning to the original question re itinerary. If the OP is really interest mostly in the north then I would fly into HCMC spend a coupe, of days there exploring. District 1 and Cholon before flying to Hanoi and use that a s a base. Hanoi needs 5 days and Sapa and the surrounding areas 3, possibly more given the interest in hiking. I am not a fan of Halong Bay but a side trip there and also to Mai Chau wiuld be my preferred use of time, or, perhaps somewhere a little more out of the way like Ba Be.

A further thought would be to take the train to Sapa and then return to Hanoi around tHe Dien Bien Phu loop. Amazing scenery.
crellston is offline  
Feb 12th, 2014, 12:09 AM
  #11  
 
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Hi Milu,
A few ideas I think will help you get a more reasonable journey:
8 April: HCM arrival
9 April: Ho Chi Minh City Tour - Cu Chi Tunnel
10 April: Mekong Delta
11 April: The afternoon flight to Danang, then drive to Hoi An
12 – 14 April: Explore Hoi An: Cu Lao Cham, My Son Sanctuary, the Cantonese Communal House, Thien Hau temple, Japanese Bridge and Tan Ky ancient commercial house.
15 April: Drive to Da Nang, flight to Hanoi
16 April: Visit the famous sights of Ha Noi as Ho Chi Minh mausoleum, Imperial Citadel of Thang Long, the Temple of Literature, Ngoc Son temple, Hoan Kiem Lake, or cyclo ride through the Old Quarter’s 36 streets, etc.
17 April: Hanoi – Halong Bay
At Ha Long Bay: explore caves ( Dau Go cave, Thien Cung cave), kayak, swim, sunbathe and feast on fresh Vietnamese seafood. Overnight on board.
18 April: Halong Bay – Hanoi – Overnight train to Lao Cai.
19 – 21 April: At Sapa, you can visit: trekking to the villages of the Red Dao, H’mong and Tay ethnic groups (Cat Cat, Ta Phin), Ham Rong mountain, conquer Fansipan, Bac waterfall or the markets of minor ethnics are weekly held such as Can Cau (Saturday), Muong Hum (Sunday).
Overnight train come back to Hanoi.
22 April: Hanoi - flight to the departure point, or a flight to Ho Chi Minh City and for your next trip.
Good luck,
minhminh is offline  
Feb 13th, 2014, 04:29 AM
  #12  
 
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If you take the advice of the above poster you will barely get 1 1/2 days in Hanoi, which IMO was one of the highlights of our vn trip. If you do choose this option, I would cut out two days fom hcmc (spend one day seeing sites in the city) and fly out to give yourself more time in Hanoi at he end. I also think you have too much time in hoi an. While it is scenic and enjoyable to stroll around for a day or two, we found hue far more interesting, not sure that you have time to do both though.
dgunbug is offline  
Feb 13th, 2014, 01:19 PM
  #13  
 
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3 nights in Hoi An is too long. Cut it down to 2. Check SinhTourist website to see if they run a bus from Danang to HoiAn. We took their bus from Hue to HoiAn. Interesting and excellent bus--like airline business class seats -- reclining. Very comfortable and clean and super cheap -- less than $5 USD.
JC98 is offline  
Feb 13th, 2014, 01:46 PM
  #14  
 
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minhminh is almost certainly a travel agent, putting up a standard (and undesirable) TA itinerary. Ignore it.
thursdaysd is offline  

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