I'm planning my first trip to Vietnam next February and I'd like to do this kind of itinerary:
Hanoi, the North (Lao Cai and Sapa), Halong Bay, Ninh Binh, Huè, Hoi Han, HCMC, Mekong Delta and maybe add a few days in Phu Quoc.Do u think it could be done in 2 weeks? (we'll do the sea only if we stay for 3 weeks).
Also, I'm Italian, any idea on how can I rent a motorbike? I read international driving licences are not accepted there.
Thanks!!! and apologize for my bad english!
#1 stefanya has been a member since 9/8/2010. Posts: 3
Normally that would be too many places in too little time. Depends off course on your style of travel. It basically is the average 3-4 week itinerary for Vietnam for most tourists and you want to do that in 2 weeks. Most places require at least two nights stay to enjoy and some of them are better enjoyed when staying 3 nights or more. Since you listed 10 places it would be better to scrap a few.
You've now listed 3 regions (north, central and southern) and I would advise to scrap 1 region. I assume you're flying between regions. Otherwise it's madness.
I don't know your interests so advising on which place to scrap is difficult. Every place/region you want to visit has a distinct character so you'll have to tell more for people to advise you on that. Do you like historical culture (pagodas, colonial buildings), farms and beautiful scenery, nature, local culture (streetfood, busy vietnamese life), hill tribes?
Once you answer those questions and read your guidebook (or ask here) you can make a better plan.
I completely agree with last post. When I first came to Vietnam a long time ago I had about two and a half weeks and managed Hanoi, Halong, Hue, Hoi An , Nha Trang and HCMC with a daytrip to the Mekong and that was do-able without feeling completely shattered, but of course I didn't spend long anywhere. So if you take Nha Trang out of my itinerary you could just about do it in 2 weeks.
But Sapa needs at least 2 and ideally 3 days, you're looking at another day in Ninh Binh plus the extra travelling and recovery time. So review what you really want to do and see and cut a few places out or extend your time. Then look at flying from Hoi An to HCMC.
Thanks to everyone for the infos. Ok, since I'll be travelling in February, I think it's better to skip the North side (just see Hanoi and the Halong Bay, then flight directly to Huè or Danang). We'll be probably able to have 2 and a half weeks to travel and this would be our plan:
Hanoi (our flight landed here), Halong Bay, then from Hanoi take an internal flight to Danang. Once here I'd like to rent a motorbike and drive to Hoi An. After a few days here, another internal flight to HCMC to see the city and the Mekong Delta. Then we probably must flight back to Hanoi. Do you have any infos about renting a moto there?
#5 stefanya has been a member since 9/8/2010. Posts: 3
Danang to Hoi An is no distance at all so you wouldn't get much out of hiring a bike unless you're going to keep it for a few days for riding around Hoi An and then take it back to Danang for your onward flight. An alternative is to get the train from Hanoi to Hue (overnight so you won't waste anymore time than you would if flying) then take a bike from there to Hoi An. Of course, normal bike rental places will want the bike back i.e. no one-way rental, but I know Hue Backpackers do an organised biking trip on that route so might be worth checking out. Then you can head back to Danang for your onward flight.
Your new itinerary looks a lot shorter than 2.5 weeks though - you'd probably be able to incorporate a bit of beach time if you want to, the weather in Hoi An or further south is likely to be OK at that time of year.
There are loads of bike rental places in Hanoi, particularly around Ta Hien / Ly Ngoc Quyen and they are unlikely to ask for a license. You will pay around $5 a day, maybe a bit more.
Thanks for your tips Sarah. Yes, itinerary now seems shorter, but I guess I could spend more time in central Vietnam now. Also, sorry to bother you again, are you sure there won't be problem with my driving license there? As it seems this kind of license is invalid...
#7 stefanya has been a member since 9/8/2010. Posts: 3
In general you need a local license and that will take far too long for you to obtain since you only want to rent for a short time and will be on the move without time to wait for that permit.
I think it will be no problem for you if you rent a motor locally and stay within that town (or immediate surroundings) where you rent it. If you want to ride from Hue/Danang to Hoi An you might run into more problems however since you'll have to deal with traffic police and that could be unpleasant if you don't have the right papers.
I have rented recently a bike for short local trips (without permit) and that was never a problem. For longer distances I haven't done that recently so other might be able to help.
Hi. Have you made any more decisions on your trip? We are going in November and we are only doing two cities: HCMC and Hanoi, and besides the orientations in the cities themselves which we've allocated time for, we are doing Cu Chi Tunnels, would like to do Mekong Delta homestay, Sapa homestay and Halong Bay overnight. And we're going there for two weeks!