Vietnam Trip - Your Opinions, Please

Old May 6th, 2007, 12:30 PM
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Vietnam Trip - Your Opinions, Please

We have air arranged, and now must do the details. Some questions ... we'd very much like to have your views:

1. Private guides in Hanoi, Hue and HCMC.
2. Should we devote 3 or 4 days to Hanoi, and if we do one day outside, where?
3. In Hue, hotels: La Residence or Houng Giang?
4. Any advice about a small group tour for two days to Mekong Delta?
5. Caravelle in HCMC - old or new parts?

Thank you so much.
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Old May 6th, 2007, 08:11 PM
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ttt
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Old May 6th, 2007, 08:13 PM
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Surely there must be one "expert" on Vietnam who posts on Fodors. In advance, we thank you.
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Old May 6th, 2007, 08:24 PM
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I don't think Hanoi itself is particularly exciting. Most people head for Halong Bay (one or two nights) or Sapa.

http://www.travelsinasia.com/Vietnam/Vietnam.htm
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Old May 6th, 2007, 08:51 PM
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If you do a search on Hanoi, Halong Bay and Hue you will find quite a number of recent posts. I would say private guides are unnecessary in all three cities if you have a good guidebook, and that the more time you spend in Hanoi the better.
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Old May 7th, 2007, 01:13 AM
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The Caravelle is in D1, right in the heart of the shopping district. Nice hotel. Other options would be the Sheraton or Park Hyatt.

For me 3 days in Hanoi is plenty. Stay near Hoan Kiem Lake/Old Quarter if you can. The traffic is the craziest in Vietnam.
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Old May 7th, 2007, 04:36 AM
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I've been to Hanoi twice and loved it. I would stay 3 nights at least and do an overnight trip on Halong Bay on one of the nicer junk ships, like the dragon pearl. Do stay near the lake in Hanoi, it's easy to walk to everywhere you want to go.
In Hue I stayed at the Morin which was beautiful. Don't know the hotels you are considering.
I very much liked the Caravelle- its in a good location. You want to stay in District 1 for the best shops and restaurants, as well as hotels.
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Old May 7th, 2007, 06:29 AM
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Many thanks.
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Old May 7th, 2007, 10:16 AM
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definitely go see Halong Bay
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Old May 7th, 2007, 10:21 AM
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I really enjoyed Hanoi, and we spent a week there with just one day trip outside the city. People either love Halong Bay or feel it was a waste of time. It just depends on what you are interested in.

You really don't need guides in any of those places.

You didn't get a lot of immediate responses to your questions as many of the regulars were at a weekend get together in Pasadena.
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Old May 8th, 2007, 05:16 AM
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1. If you have never been before then guides are a good idea, althought you can see most places of interst in central Saigon withthe help of a good guide book.
2. I would devote 4 days to Hanoi there is lots to see and there are lots of great restaurants (can't understand the previous poster saying that Hanoi isnt that exciting - I guess it depends what you are into!) . for one day (and night) outside of Hanoi, I would suggest a visit to the Mai Chau valley. Spectacular scernery about 1/2 day north of Hanoi another option is Halong Bay which has been suggested but although picturesque, is IMO overtouristed.
3. I can't comment on Houng Giang as I haven't stayed there but I did stay at La Residence which is a great Art Deco style hotel (formerly the French Ambassadors residence. - go for a river facing room very spacious with large balconys overlooking the perfume river.
4. The delta is ok but my prefernce for teh twoo days would be to incorporate a train journey to Sapa and spend a night or two there.
5. I have styed in the Caravelle a couple of times but only in the new wing. I don't thik there s too much difference between the old and new. a very convenient location as is teh Hyatt which is accross teh road and also worth considering. The saigon Saigon bar at teh top of the Caravleele is my favourite bar in Asia and well worth a visit for sundowners.

Hope this helps a little
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Old May 8th, 2007, 08:30 PM
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That is very helpful. I do believe we will use guides for much of our trip.
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Old May 9th, 2007, 03:35 PM
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We found that in general we didn't need guides except to get to My Son from Hoi An and the Mekong Delta trip. We liked all of these places and also Halong Bay. We stayed at Huong Giang in Hue. It was very nice in a rather over the top way. Has a great spot on the river, although it was raining much of the time we were there, so we were not able to sit out on the terrace and watch boats. In December they were renovating part of the hotel, so you want to avoid rooms near the construction. And the view of the river was worth the extra $$. For Mekong Delta, we couldn't find a really small group tour, so we booked a private tour with Ann Tours for two days at $145 each person, staying over in Can Tho. We went to the usual tourist places, but we thought it was great just to see the landscape and the scene.
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Old May 10th, 2007, 12:44 AM
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I just got back from two weeks in Hanoi, Sapa and Halong Bay and had an incredible time. I would recommend 3 or 4 days in Hanoi to really see and experience all it has to offer. Lots of great restaurants and street food as well as good shopping and interesting art galleries. I bought two pieces from the Apricot Gallery, who represents about 40 vietnamese artists.

Sapa and the surrounding area offers a lot of trekking and is a nice mountain getaway. We climbed Mt Fansipan and saw some of the ethnic hill tribe villages. We took the overnight train from Hanoi to Lao Cai and would highly recommend the trip. We did 3 nights in Sapa, but if you aren't going to do extensive hiking, two nights would suffice.

We stayed at the Royal View hotel in Sapa and it was very nice. One of the newest hotels and has incredible views of the valley from the room balconies or the restaurant patio.
http://www.waytovietnam.com/Royal-Vi...Hotel-Sapa.asp

I think Halong Bay is a must see, but be careful who you book through. We had no problems and ended up on a brand new junk boat with a great staff. Only stayed one night, but did some kayaking and saw some cool hidden caves and inlets. But we did hear some horror stories from other travellers, so be aware you will likely get what you pay for. We booked through Handspan http://www.handspan.com/ and have nothing bad to say about them. Well organized, responsive and friendly staff.

In Hanoi we stayed at the brand new Anise Hotel, just north of the old quarter and would highly recommend. We also stayed at the Church hotel in the Old French quarter, which was also a very quaint boutique-style hotel. Excellent location as well.

We finshed our trip with one night at the Sofitel Metropole and loved the French colonial architecture of the old wing rooms.

All in all, two weeks was just barely enough to see and do all the things we wanted in northern vietnam. We used Handspan and Topas tour companies to book our trips to Sapa and Halong Bay. Both are excellent outfits.

Enjoy!
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Old May 10th, 2007, 11:14 AM
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Geart info - many thanks, I'm reading and using. I've been in touch with Tony/Ann Tours, and they are helpful. Also AllAsia. Again, many thanks, we appreciate the advice.
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