VN-itinerary in March w/ tween & teen

Old Jan 24th, 2012, 02:16 PM
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VN-itinerary in March w/ tween & teen

Itinerary Help
Our family of 4 will be in Vietnam March 17-30. My husband & 13-yr.-old have not been before. We adopted our 11-year old from Vietnam. This will be her 1st trip back. My work used to take me to Vietnam (1995-2002); I am sure it's changed!

We fly into HCMC on 3/17 & out of Hanoi 3/30.
I was thinking a few days in HCMC, followed by either a few days in the Mekong delta or else the beach (Phu Quoc or Phan Thiet??);
Next up to HoiAn (or else beach Whale Island/Nha Trang?);
Next to Hanoi (plus either HaLong or Ky Son/Mai Chau homestay?)

Any advice on HCMC (staying at Sherwood) & Hanoi (not sure where staying) sights with 2 very energetic - non-museum-going kids

Regarding beaches, we'd like to be able to snorkel and swim. Do any of the beaches offer warm water & good visibility in late March?

Mekong Delta: feeling very uncertain. My husband and I have visited various floating markets; not sure how it would go for the kids -- is the Mekong low in March? My 13-yr old DD is a bit finicky these days, very attuned to the toilet situation .. squat toilets on a wharf might drive her (& therefore me) over the edge.

Also any restaurant recommendations most welcome.

Is HaLong as awesome as I hear? Is it overcrowded? I've heard there is another Bay just to the north - any input?

So little time!!
Thanks for any suggestions
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Old Jan 25th, 2012, 12:03 AM
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My first trip to Vietnam was in 1989 my last in 2008 and yes, it has changed - a lot!

Many love Ha long bay but for me, beautiful though it undoubtedly is it was too busy and spoiled by the touts everywhere. The other place youhave heard of is probably Bai Tu Long islands - some more info in this article (some other good stuff too!

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/travel/de...of-ghosts.html

Nha Trang is good for diving but ok (not great) for snorkelling. It has some nice beaches but has got very busy in recent years as the city has grown. There are some great trips into the countryide nearby for a taste of rural life. A problem with teh beaches in NT is the offshore wind which becomes quite strong eery afternoon which can make sitting on the beach uncomfortable.

Hoi An is very quaint but I noticve you have not included Hue (which I prefer). Both palces provide teh opportunity to get around by bike which the children may enjoy.

One of the best experiences for me in Vietnam was a homestay in the Mai Chau valley and i would definitely include that if you have the time. Others include trekking around Sapa, teh Dien Bien Phu loop (although probably not with kids!) and the Ba Be lakes area.
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Old Jan 25th, 2012, 06:46 AM
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Thanks! I'd love to hear more about Hue vis-avis Hoi An.
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Old Jan 25th, 2012, 09:39 AM
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Hoi An is a well preserved UNESCO World heritage site and is very quaint and picturesque around the centre and along teh river but it, understandably does get very crowded with tourists particularly during the day. We stayed at http://www.vinhhungresort.com/detail...-Hung-1-Hotel/ which is in the centre of town which is a really unusual place (a bit like staying in a museum. It was conveniet for the many excellent restaurants in town and for the markets and the Japanese bridge. great to hire bikes for a ride out into the countryside and the beaches.

Hue is a lot bigger and has a lot more history attached to it. The Imperial citadel is quite spectacular and it is good to hire bikes to visit some of the Imperial Tombs alongside the river. We had some of the best food in all of Vietnam in Hue which prides itself on a cuisine different from the rest of Vietnam.

Some of our photos of Hue http://blog.travelpod.com/travel-blo...3280/tpod.html

It is of course entirely possible to visit both Hoi An and Hue as they are comparatively close and teh drive has some good sights along the way.

One thought would be to fly into Danang, itself not very interesting, but it is the start of one of the worlds great train journeys along China Beach and through the Marble mountains. It takes a few hours but really is worth the effort (if you like that sort of thing!)

More info at http://www.seat61.com/Vietnam.htm
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Old Jan 25th, 2012, 09:40 AM
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Hue and HoiAn are two entirely different creatures!

HoiAn is a charming and historical town that happens to be on beautiful beaches so is also a "resort town" - great restaurants, shopping, some historical sights.

Hue is a city, and contains the remnants of Imperial Vietnam, many remnants of the "American war", fabulous pagodas and temples and others sights. In HoiAn, you can be charmed just by being there, even if you don't visit a single historical site. In Hue, it's the sights that will draw you in, not so much the city itself.
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Old Jan 26th, 2012, 07:26 PM
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Your kids are at an age where their most exciting event will be learning how to cross Hanoi streets clogged with motor scooters -- a thrill ride if there ever was one.
Although you do not indicate where you live, it is probable that the shops and peddlers will be so different from the hometown mall as to have them agog, at least for a day or two. Learning to negotiate for a cheap pair of sandels on the street corner could be as entertaing as planned activities. And a stroll to any small park in the tourist area of Hanoi may come across groups playing games they have never seen.
With your daughter, I am sure cultural issues are of major importance to you. The official war museums can be pretty gruesome for visitors of every age, but they are part of Vietnam life. At the same time the Vietnamese people I met have been extraordinarily welcoming to visitors. If your kids get homesick, there are plenty of Col. Sanders KFC shops to remind them of the West's culture. And the TV at your hotel will likely have shows from all over.
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Old Feb 1st, 2012, 11:01 PM
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You can travel either Phan Thiet (by coach) or Phu Quoc (by plane – Vietnam Airlines or Air Mekong) from Ho Chi Minh city. Phu Quoc is the largest island in Vietnam, and you can visit the North or South of island (within a day) or both where have very nice beaches http://discoverphuquoc.com/beaches.html

If you go to Phu Quoc already, then you can skip Nha Trang, directly to Hoian – Danang – Hue.

In the north, you should travel Halong bay or Bai Tu Long Bay (the Bay you heard). Only Indochina Junk can take tourists to Bai Tu Bay area.

About the hotels in Hanoi, you can choose the hotel belongs to Elegance group (in Old Quarter area) http://www.hanoielegancehotel.com/

About the restaurants, there are some posts with similar questions already, or you can read trip reports in the forum. Check it out.

Wish your family have a nice trip!
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Old Feb 2nd, 2012, 05:26 AM
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Thanks so much, your comments have helped me focus our trip. I'll provide an updated itinerary and post our trip too. This is the first time I've participated in a site like this. It's great. Thanks to all.
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