Give us a overall summary with low and high lights if your still around. Love to hear!
#2 qosmios has been a member since 23/9/2010. Posts: 10
Hi arrived Hanoi early June. Very hot time of year but upside is plenty of accommodation/less tourists. Stayed three times at the Hanoi Deluxe $30usd per night. Great friendly family hotel located on the café Hang st in the old quarter so close to most things. More your flashpacker range of Hotel.
Headed up to Sapa for four days which was unforgettable scenery and quiet little town. Stayed at the very popular Cat Cat View hotel. Staff wanted to steer us to the top floor $60usd rooms but the floor below for $30usd has a perfect view from your door so that was fine. Couldn,t fault the hotel apart from hot water not being turned on one night but that was quickly rectified with a smile. Organized a couple of treks through the Hotel and paid a little more to just have the guide and my wife and I. The upside of this was some very good relaxed conversations with our Black Hmong guide and walking at the pace we wanted. Food was an interesting mix there with an obvious slant towards spicier chinese style plus the usual western suspects.
Back to Hanoi for a couple of day sightseeing and booking our 3day 2 night Halong bay trip through the original Kangaroo café. Paid $130usd each which we thought was very good value considering the junk/cabins food quality of guide only 6 in our group who all got on well. This included one night on Cat Bay Island where all the fresh live seafood restaurants line the promenade. I know there are conflicting reports about Halong and this is definitely were you get what you pay for.
Back to Hanoi for 2 days then o/night train to Hue for two days which to us was more than enough. 40 degrees both days so opted for beach and seafood one day and a one day tour up to the Vinh Moc tunnels in the old DMZ. Organized at the Stop and Go café and arranged driver/ guide for the day tour of the tunnels another great seafood lunch at a local beach side restaurant for about $90usd. Then again this can also be done a lot cheaper if the tour is on bus picking up people as they go and eating at a western restaurant etc
Day train to Danang for one week in Hoi An primarily to relax do some diving spend some time down at Cua dai beach and wander the many great restaurants that Hoi An provides. As the weather was high 30’s for the week it was either do a couple of things in the morning and relax in the arvo or head the beach for a great cool swim in the south china sea.
Flight back to Hanoi for a return flight home via stopover in KL.
Highlights definitely outweighed the low lights so here goes.
Hanoi old quarter
Bia Hoi corners with the locals
Sapa stunning scenery and misty town at night
Halong Bay can’t be missed just to see once
Vinh Moc tunnels to understand the devastation of the American war.
Hoi An the place just grows on you and glad we allowed a week there at the end of trip.
Warmth and generosity of a large part of the population
The continual overcharging well above foreigner prices.
Aggressive touts well that’s nothing new.
Scams i.e hotel in Hanoi tells taxi driver to drop us on the side of Hanoi station for sapa train.Driver drops us other side guy takes us around to international departues on other side 40,000 dong for his trouble as we didn’t know what was what.
All round aggressive people if there was a dollar to be had. Some times got quite nasty and had never seen it this bad in 20 years travelling in s.e.asia
Would I go back yes probably to see the south. Would it be the first place I went back to probably not. Maybe that’s just me. An interesting statistic I had read before arriving was Thailand has about 40% return visitors. Vietnam has about 7%. Must be something in that.
Any questions ask away
Great report, swag!
Your highlights and lowlights sum up what I experienced perfectly. The constant aggressiveness of the touts nearly ruined the experience for me though. I travelled from Hanoi -> south, and although I had some great experiences along the way, I was ready to call is quits by the time I reached Nha Trang thanks to the constant pestering. I carried on to Dalat - and that was the turning point for me. It was the first time I felt that I could just walk around, relax and enjoy myself. We carried on through HCMC and through the Mekong on an Easy Rider tour, and had an amazing time.
My point? Do go back and see the Central Highlands and the Mekong area. It's very different down there, not as touristy and much more relaxed.
One question - how did you find the diving and Cua Dai beach. I didn't get to the beach in that area, and wished that I had.
Thanks for sharing, good detail and informative!
#6 qosmios has been a member since 23/9/2010. Posts: 10
Hi Lizzy the diving was pretty poor off Hoi An. I went with Rainbow divers and couldn't fault the day and lunch on Cham island or the quality of gear. The problem was there was bugger all to see. I don't know if this is down to overfishing/illegal fishing or whatever. So instead of diving quiet a bit I only did one day.
Really liked Cua Dai beach, big wide expanse of beach with shade with the locals under the trees or infront of the seafood restaurants on there loungers for 1 or 2 $aud a day.Water was really clean and quite cool. Grilled prawns and cold beers to die for.