Vietnam Questions

Jan 5th, 2004, 06:27 PM
  #1  
CFW
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Vietnam Questions

We're Planning a 3 wk trip to Vietnam (Hanoi, Hue, Hoi An & HCMC) and Thailand (Chang Mai, BKK, & a Southern Thai Beach) for next December or January. This is first time to both locations & I have lots of questions. We picked this time of year because we thought that overall the weather would be better (not as hot or rainy in most places).

Will it be too cold/rainy to travel in Hanoi area?
Should we do Halong Bay trip or Mai Chau (overnight in stilt house) or will it be too cold in Mai Chau?
We want to stay in a beach resort near Hoi An so that we can visit Hoi An, Hue, & also enjoy the beach. We'd like charm & someluxury. Should we stay at Victoria Hoi An or Furama? Will we be able to go to the beach in those locations at that time of year?

In Thailand, which is the best beach/resort?
We're not into night life, but we'd like a beautiful, relatively peaceful beach, good restaurants (Thai food), & opportunity for some sightseeing or boat trips. Are we better off in Phuket at the JW Marriott, the Meridian, the Dusit Laguna, or some place in Krabi, or the Holiday Inn on Phi Phi Island?

Sorry for this long message, but we don't know when we'll get to Asia again & we want this to be special. Any recommendations & help would be appreciated. Thanks!

CFW is offline  
Jan 5th, 2004, 07:17 PM
  #2  
 
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Skip HCMC unless you want to go to the Mekong Delta. Otherwise, there's very little to see. Hanoi is wonderful. I liked Hue, but it's a bit limited in terms of day trips. It didn't rain once in Hanoi when I was there for a week this December. Halong Bay was fine with a one day trip. Didn't visit Hoi An, so no advice there.
spearhead is offline  
Jan 5th, 2004, 07:21 PM
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My recommendation is to slow down. You have three weeks and you've listed 7 places you want to visit. the pace in slow in SE Asia, and you'll miss the experience if you move too fast. You could spend your full three weeks in either Thailand or Vietnam.

December and January are a good time to visit either Thailand or Vietnam. It won't be too cold for Hanoi - I was there recently and the temperatures were in the 70s.

Kathie is offline  
Jan 5th, 2004, 08:07 PM
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CFW: I seem to remember that someone recently posted a very similar message. If it wasn't you or your travel companion that did so, it's downright scary. You might try searching this forum for that post and the informative series of replies.
MikeBuckley is offline  
Jan 6th, 2004, 03:27 AM
  #5  
CFW
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If we concentrate on Vietnam, any specific recommendations? Mai Chau sounds intriguing. Especially the opportunity to spend time with the people in the village and overnight in a stilt hous. What are your opinions? Also any specific recommendations for the Hoi An area? Furama or Victoria Hoi An? How can I find out when the 14th on the lunar calendar is, which I understand is special in Hoi An?
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Jan 6th, 2004, 05:19 AM
  #6  
 
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if you concentrate on vietnam, i think you should see the central highland.. i did a 4 days tour from nha-trang, on a motorbike, and it was GREAT.. if you do the coastline, you will end up with doing the tourist stuff,(nothing wrong with that!!!!!), but the real vietnam, as i did see it,was the centralhighland. me and my guide did stay overnight in small villages,and you see how most of the people live, but i think you must have a guide, for i did not meet any people who did speak english,but it was 4 days i never forget. i think you also can do the old ho-chi-minh trail now, and that trip sounds great to me, but anyway i think you will like vietnam much...and buy a lot of clothes in hoian,great tailors, and the beach outside town is great.. i have never been to hanoi or hue, so i cant help you with that, but hcmc is not that bad, and there are some sights you should see like the war museum, former us embassy(you cant get in there) markeds,the former president palace,etc, and outside hcmc you have the cu-chi tunnels..
jannik is offline  
Jan 6th, 2004, 06:32 AM
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Re Phuket/Krabi you have chosen just the main hotel group places, except for the Meridien none would I personaly choose, if you search down the posts you will get plenty of Phuket info which I and others have posted recently and you will get some good ideas of the hotel choices. Phuket is different from Krabi and both are different from Phi Phi.

If you basically want beach, offshore islands and scenary go for krabi, if you want 1 island then Phi Phi, if you want a tourist island with lots of tours excursions, shopping and nightlife then Phuket, and choose your beach well, unless you want remote then I would not suggest Marriott of and Lugana area place, though I hear the Marriott is selling off rooms from $45 a night. If you want a busy beach the Patong, not so busy with howver still restaurants, bars and some shopping Kata beach or maybe Karon.
JamesA is offline  
Jan 6th, 2004, 01:36 PM
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May I confirm what the other writers said - you are trying to do too much. Concentrate on Vietnam. We just returned last week from a month in Vietnam - Hanoi, Sapa, Halong Bay, Hue (rained for two days), Hoi An and Nha Trang. And it wasnt long enough.
Hoi An - this is a clothing shopping paradise. Take an empty suitcase, or buy one. Nothing off the rack, everything is made to measure. Take measurements of all your family. Men's shirts $9; ladies jackets, silk and lined for $16, ladies silk blouses $7, and I could go on. Do find a tailor near your hotel as you will return for several fittings, and even though they say "Noon", the garment may not be ready for that time. Take pictures of clothing you like, they can copy; take the front of patterns. Shop til you drop.
twoaussies is offline  
Jan 6th, 2004, 07:52 PM
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Hi CFW- let me say that if you fly between destinations it is possible to do what you want to do. Plan for 3-4 days in Hanoi (great weather Dec 1-4 2003)(day trip to Halong Bay) then Hanoi fly to Hue USD 60 for 2 days, bus to Hoi An USD4 pp for 4 days (boring if you're not a shopper but see My Son)fly Danang USD 65 to HCMC (2-3 days) fly to BKK USD110 for 3 days then fly to Chiang Mai USD 75 for 3 days then back to BKK airport for a flight to Krabi 4 days (don't know price) or wherever else you want to go. Adds to 23 days I think. It is possible to spend too much time in one place-it bores the hell out of me once I've captured the essence of a place. You will lose a bit of time at airports and travelling so maybe you should allow 25 days but IT IS POSSIBLE and who knows after a taste of the places you like you can return!! You can relax when you get home!!!
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Jan 7th, 2004, 06:45 AM
  #10  
LJH
 
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In one week we are leaving for our second trip to SE Asia, and this time will spend four weeks in Vietnam - needless to say, we loved it! We thoroughly enjoyed our trip to Mai Chau in February 2002 - it was not cold, and the experience of staying in the stilt house was great. It was just my husband and I on the tour, so we had the guide's undivided attention. The setting there is so peaceful and serene - we just enjoyed gazing over the rice paddies and listening to the sound of the bells on the water buffalos, people singing as they rode their bicycles to the fields, etc. etc. - we felt like we had stepped back in time!
Hoi An - we were there for the "Legendary Night" which takes place at the time of the full moon - it was one of the highlights of our trip. There was so much going on that evening, and it was one of those times we wished we had owned a camcorder. I just checked the lunar calendar on the internet, and the full moon is Jan.25 & Feb.24/05. Although I've heard good reports of the Victoria Hoi An, we stayed in the town and will do that again this time - we really liked being able to walk or ride bikes everywhere.
I agree that you would be best to focus on either Vietnam or Thailand - we had three weeks in Thailand and wouldn't have wanted less than that. Tough choice!
Linda
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Jan 7th, 2004, 04:27 PM
  #11  
CFW
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Thank you all for the suggestions & tips, particularly on Vietnam. LJH, Mai Chau sounds like just what we are looking for. Did you use a tour guide to get there? If so, who did you use & would you recommend them? Lyndie, did you spend time in Hue? Since we are limited in time, I am thinking of cutting out Hue, flying from Hanoi to Danang & then bus (or is there a better/quicker method of transportation?) from Danang to Hoi An. Will we be sorry if we miss Hue? Also, how did you book airlines for flights within Vietnam & from Vietnam to Thailand? Thanks for your advice!
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Jan 7th, 2004, 05:22 PM
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Hi CFW - We spent 2 nts at Saigon Morin and loved Hue for its wonderful monuments, tombs, citadel but if you don't have time to see them, you don't. We bought all our tickets internally at travel agents or offices of Vietnam airlines along the way. These agents were very near to everywhere we stayed. You could try vietnamstay.com-they are very good but you pay a little more than just walking in to a Vietnam airlines office or a travel agent close to your hotel. We had no problem booking for the next day flight. Taxi from Danang to Hoi An USD8-10 from airport-careful of taxi touts-just walk out and go to any taxi-ignore touts!!
Lyndie is offline  
Jan 7th, 2004, 06:28 PM
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I visited Vietnam in January 2003. The weather in Hanoi should be fine. We could wear short sleeves during the day and only needed a light windbreaker or sweater at night. We did an overnight to Mai Chau and spent the night in a stilt house. It wasn't too cold, they had a lot of blankets for us. I slept in my pants and sweater and was fine. It was one of the highlights of our trip. We used Buffalo Tours for the trip. The three of us had a private guide and driver.

http://www.buffalotours.com/
anna_k is offline  
Jan 8th, 2004, 03:10 AM
  #14  
CFW
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Lyndie, Anna -- Did either of you go to Halong Bay? If we have to choose between Halong Bay & Mai Chau, which would you recommend.

I'm still trying to cut something out to allow enough time in the North. What if we went to Hue & skipped HCMC?
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Jan 8th, 2004, 05:56 AM
  #15  
LJH
 
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We used the Kangaroo Cafe to book our Mai Chau trip - I would recommend them -the guide and driver were very professional and informative.
Do NOT miss Halong Bay - we also went there, and it is a must see!

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Jan 8th, 2004, 04:22 PM
  #16  
CFW
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LJH, Did you also go to Halong Bay through Kangaroo cafe? Did you stay overnight on the boat? If we have to choose between Mai Chau & Halong Bay because of time constraints, which would you choose?
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Jan 8th, 2004, 04:34 PM
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We didn't go to Halong Bay since we had been to the Li River in China and to Krabi, Thailand and thought it might be somewhat similar with the limestone karsts. We will do Halong Bay when we return to Vietnam.

I haven't been to Hue, we went to Hoi An and HCMC. I liked HCMC a lot, we went to the Cu Chi Tunnels and the Mekong Delta on day trips with Ann Tours.
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Jan 8th, 2004, 05:43 PM
  #18  
CFW
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Anna K, We are also considering Krabi. Where did you stay there?
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Jan 8th, 2004, 08:35 PM
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We've stayed on Railay Beach near Krabi. In January 2002, we rented Wolfgang's house at the Railei Beach Club. You can see some pictures of it and the surrounding area at our web site. Look under our 2002 Thailand photos. My husband hasn't uploaded the photos from last year's trip yet. Wolfgang's house was really neat. The only negative was we had electricity in the evenings from 5-midnight or something like that. The only time I missed the electricity was at night when it would have been nice to have the ceiling fan on. We ended up leaving the windows and doors open to stay cool. One night my husband made the mistake of throwing a pineapple away in our garbage, which attracted some animal during the middle of the night. I think it was a monkey, we look back and laugh now, but it wasn't too funny at the time! We opted for a place with 24 hour electricity and AC in February 2003, so we stayed at the Sand and Sea Resort because we liked their breakfast buffet from the year before. I would stay there again, we had a deluxe AC bungalow. Railay is on of my favorite places, I highly recommend it. The beaches are beautiful and it is fun to hire a boat to take you to the surrounding islands.

http://www.sandsearesort.com/index.html

http://kerstentraveler.tripod.com/
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Jan 9th, 2004, 04:26 AM
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Do not miss Halong Bay. It can be booked through Ann Tours in Hanoi.The trip through the contry is so interesting to see how the country people live. See the water Puppet show-so cute. I stayed at the De Syloia Hotel-a small one where the staff is so helpful. Also a good restaurant in it.
I have traveled Vietnam 3 times and everytime I enjoy it more. The people are wonderful.
I would not miss Hue. The trip down the Perfume River where you will see old Chinese tombs is memorable.
Hoi An is a smaller place that you will enjoy wandering the street. The silk clothes you can have made there are worth the trip.
Dalat is a cooler more mountainous climate than the rest of Vietnam-alot of French influence there.
Another part of Vietnam few tourist go to that was very meaningful to me was up in Northern Vietnam to the Du Moc tunnels where the people lived during the war. This would be a very guided tour-not one to do on your own.
Saigon I would not miss. Cantho about 2-3 hours away depending on traffic is great for a river trip to see how the people live on that river. The Victoria Hotel there is good for a night's stay.
I have stayed in the Majestic Hotel in Saigon-an old colonial one,but a very helpful staff.
The Le Meridien-the Au Chalong on Phuket one would be a good choice. I have stayed several times in The Phuket Palace right out of Patong which has been a good choice. The J W Marriott is beautiful,but far from the rest of the island-nearer the airport. Do not miss a daytrip to Phi Phi Island.
The temples in Bangkok are not to be missed. Stay on the river. Many good hotels on it.
Please email if I can help further.You cna see how much I love and enjoy Vietnam and Thailand. Also have been to Cambodia and Laos on these trips.
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