vietnam itinerary help please!

Sep 30th, 2007, 07:47 AM
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vietnam itinerary help please!

We're traveling to Vietnam in early January for about two/2 1/2 weeks, and we need to cut out one or two of our stops to make it happen. The "musts" are a night or two in Hanoi, a 3-day/2 night kayak trip in Halong, a night or two in Saigon followed by a 3 day/two night bike trip in the Mekong. We'd then have about a week left to (a) get from from North to the South with a few stops along the way, or (b) visit Sapa and do a very quick trip between North and South.
- How bad is the rain in Sapa at that time, and is it still worth a visit? How many days is the minimum amount of time you think would be worth it?
- Will it be difficult to wing it between Hanoi and HCM in January (ie will hotels be booked up?)
- What are the must-sees on the way - if we had to cut out one stop, would it be Hue or Hoi Ann? Is one more different than the other stops we're making?
cleo329 is offline  
Sep 30th, 2007, 08:10 AM
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PS We're more interested in landscape, street life, hiking than we are in temples and museums. thanks!
cleo329 is offline  
Sep 30th, 2007, 10:17 PM
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Personally I would go for Hoi An rather than Hue but I'm not really a fan of the cities. One or two days in Hue would be fine, enough time to visit the forbidden city and take a ride up the river, possibly a day trip to the DMZ. Hoi An has hostoric appeal, in it's day it was a major maritime hub on a par with Melaka and Macau. Nearby is My Son, a relic of the Cham civilization. Sapa is certainly worth a look too.

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WeiLong is offline  
Oct 1st, 2007, 12:11 AM
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I agree. HoAn is a must-see. I would fly there (fly to Danang and then taxi for 45 mins) from either Hanoi or Saigon at least one-way as the flight is under $40-50.

Personally, I wouldn't enjoy hiking in cold wet weather in Sapa in January.

I would also spend at least 2 nights in Hanoi itself.
smartcookie is offline  
Oct 1st, 2007, 10:14 AM
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Great, thanks, so we'll definitely add Hoi An to the itineray.

In terms of seeing the mountainous area up North, I found some interesting trips through Buffalo tours to Mai Chau. Is this area similar to Sapa in terms of landscape? Seems like it may be a less touristy alternative to Sapa (and it's closer to Hanoi). thanks!
cleo329 is offline  
Oct 2nd, 2007, 04:24 AM
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We spent 3 weeks in Vietnam in Dec/Jan 2 years ago a. The highlights for me were the Mai Chau valley 1/2 day from Hanoi, beuatiful countryside and much more unspoilt than sapa, which, although spectacular is getting to be a bit of a circus. The highlight for us was to be invited to a party held by the Chairman of the Mai Chau communist party fro some political science students from hanoi uni. A night I will never forget but it seemed to be a regular occurence.

The weather in Sapa then was 75f and blues skies one day and freezing and foggy the next. i.e. extremely unpredictable. We got to sapa on the train from hanoi and returned via Dien Bien Phu, the scenry along teh route was amazing, butthere are few creature comforts.

Hoi An is quaint if very touristy. Some great food and lots of shopping but the weather was cold and wet in Jan.

We enjoyed Hue, but as you are not into temples this may not be for you (but there are some good cycle rides out to the tombs.

Hanoi definitely is worth at least a couple of full days as is Saigon. the delta is fascinating - try to do a home stay if you can.

It is possible to wing it from saigon to Hanoi but as you only have 21/2 weeks i would strogly recommend booking at least the flights.
crellston is offline  
Oct 2nd, 2007, 06:25 AM
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Wait until you get to Vietnam to book the flights. You've got time once you arrive and they will be cheaper booking them in country.
Bisbee is offline  
Oct 2nd, 2007, 10:19 PM
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In early January, you will probably be able to get flights there, but not necessarily your first choice of dates and times. So if you're on a schedule, I would pre-book. I just booked for early December and one of the flights was already booked on Vietnam Airlines. The price is not cheaper there really if you fly Vietnam Airlines. I contacted the airline itself and about 10 agencies in Hanoi, as well as checked many online sites. They were all the same, with agencies and sites charging $5-25 fee on top of what Vietnam Airlines quoted (but VA can't be booked online directly). I ended up booking the international fare to Siem Reap from Hanoi via which offers e-tickets and only charges $10 fee on top of the price directly through VA. Internal flights can be booked on for only a few dollars in fees as well.
smartcookie is offline  
Oct 2nd, 2007, 10:20 PM
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you can also book without fees for the internal routes that they fly.
smartcookie is offline  
Oct 3rd, 2007, 03:55 AM
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Great tips, thanks to al!
cleo329 is offline  
Oct 3rd, 2007, 07:02 PM
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update: got an email today from vayama that they had to issue paper tickets for the Vietnam Airlines flight. However, they're sending them to me free of charge via 2-day FedEx, while Expedia wants $20 for this service.
smartcookie is offline  
Oct 3rd, 2007, 07:30 PM
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must you be that long at halong bay? one day is plenty, imo
rhkkmk is offline  
Oct 9th, 2007, 09:21 AM
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Agree that an overnight trip to Halong Bay is sufficient. Three days is way too long.
northshoreauntie is offline  
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