Vietnam - itinerary help

Sep 14th, 2007, 11:13 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Oct 2005
Posts: 118
Vietnam - itinerary help

This is our first trip to Vietnam. A couple of years ago we planned a trip to Thailand with Fodorites help (especially Kathie) and it was really memorable. So here we are back again and need some advise on what to see and do. We are planning to be in Vietnam between December 20 and departing Jan. 4 (about 15 days). We are a well traveled couple with our 9 year old son. A proposed itinerary from vietnamstay travel agency has us flying into Saigon
- Saigon for 3 days (one of which is to visit the Mekong Delta). Then onto
- Nha trang where we stay 2 days (how does this compare with Phu Quoc islands?)
- Hoi An where we stay 1 night
- Drive to Hue where we stay 2 nights
- Onto Hanoi where we see Hanoi one night and Halong Bay (on junk) a second night
- Train to Sapa stay one night and 2 days, overnight train to Hanoi one more day in Hanoi
- Depart from Hanoi

We need recommendation for an excellent hotel in Hanoi (5 star, atmospheric). Please give us your input on this preliminary itinerary and thanks.
monsoon99 is offline  
Sep 14th, 2007, 04:18 PM
Join Date: Jul 2007
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this is very rushed. you're basically packing and moving every day or every other day. i would skip Sapa this time, it's going to be COLD there in January. I would also skip the beach and instead ad a night to HoAn and a night to Hanoi. That way, it will still be rushed, but at least you will see something. Overnight trip to Halong Bay means that you leave at 8am one morning and come back the next day at 5pm. You won't see much of Hanoi that way.
smartcookie is offline  
Sep 14th, 2007, 04:33 PM
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Hi, monsoon, I'm so glad I was helpful to you on your previous trip.

I do have to agree with cookie on some things. Hanoi is a wonderful city - we spent a week there with just one day trip and loved it. You don't have enough time in Hanoi. If you omit Sapa, this would give you a few days in Hanoi. And she's right - it will be cold in Sapa in January (sometimes snow!). The best hotel in Hanoi is the Metropole. It's a Sofitel. Ask for a room in the historic section. Still, I should forewarn you, you won't find the level of service in VN that you find in Thailand. You will notice more "rough edges" in VN. This has it's own charm.

If you cut Sapa, your itinerary is still pretty packed, but do-able. If you decide on no beach, you could add a day to Hoi An and another to Hanoi and have a trip where you would get to see and experiencve more. Travel in VN is slowewr and subject to more delays than in Thailand, so expect to lose pretty much a full day each time you change locations.

I'm sure you'll have a wonderful time!
Kathie is online now  
Sep 14th, 2007, 06:03 PM
Join Date: Jan 2003
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i would cut sappa and halong bay and redistribute the days...
rhkkmk is offline  
Sep 15th, 2007, 02:08 PM
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Join Date: Oct 2005
Posts: 118
Thank you all. I think you are right about omitting Sapa and we certainly don't relish being in a very cold place mainly for packing reasons. We have also just been told by a travel agent that the hotel we wanted in Nha Trang (beach) has a 5 night minimum stay. So I am somewhat ambivalent about the beach too. Kathie, on our last visit to Thailand we stayed in Krabi in Koh Lanta. It was lovely. Have you visited the beaches in Nha Trang or Phu Quoc? Are they a similar experience? Should we omit this and if we did, should we include Sapa then or some other location. I have seen some amazing pictures of the valleys and rice paddies in or near Sapa. If we omitted Sapa would we see similar scenes elsewhere in VN on our current itinerary?

Also does anyone have a referral for a good travel agent or private guide that does other than regular tours and would show us a less touristy side of VN?

Thanks for the help.
monsoon99 is offline  
Sep 15th, 2007, 02:54 PM
Join Date: Feb 2006
Posts: 24,599
On this short an itinerary I'd be inclined to drop the beach time altogether. But you could look at Mui Ne instead of Nha Trang, although I believe it has undergone considerable development since I was there, I expect it still more laid back than Nha Trang.
thursdaysd is offline  
Sep 15th, 2007, 03:09 PM
Join Date: Jan 2003
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I'm sure you will see plenty of countryside without going to Sapa. Indeed, you can take a day trip from Hanoi and see beautiful countryside, including rice paddies and more wilderness areas.

I've not been to the VN beaches, You have plenty to do and see even if you cut both the beach and Sapa. You'll see some beach at Hoi An.

With 15 days on the ground, you could do

3 nights HCMC including the Delta*
2 nights Hoi An*
2 nights Hue
2 nights Hanoi
1 night Halong Bay*
3 nights Hanoi*

(I've starred places you might add an extra night to, depending on your interests since with the plan I've laid out you still have 2 nights)

You can use a VN booking agent to book, such as Everwhere in VN there are stire-front travel agents, any could arrange almost anything you want. There was a recent poster who has set up a trek/bicycling/homestay 5 day side trip from Hanoi with an agent. Look for his post, it may give you some ideas.

Do spend some time in Hanoi - it's a lovely city, with both remnants of the old Vietnamese culture and French colonial architecture.
Kathie is online now  
Sep 16th, 2007, 11:36 AM
Join Date: Jul 2007
Posts: 868
I agree about dropping the beach. You can go to the beach around HoAn as was mentioned.
smartcookie is offline  

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