What are your favorite places and things to do in Vietnam?
I am planning a 23 day trip to SEA this summer, and I was originally planning on doing North Vietnam, Laos, then to Bangkok, but I am reconsidering now due to the limited time and considering doing my whole trip in Vietnam.
I will be starting in Hanoi/Ha Long and then to Sapa, but I know nothing about South Vietnam. I will probably need to end in HCMC for my flight, but do you recommend I stay there long? I have heard both good and bad things. Where else should I stop by on my route? I hear Hoi An is nice? What's a good place to do a long trek? Also where are the best beaches?
I am just starting my research of S. Vietnam, so please point me in the right direction. A rough itinerary/ routing information would be really appreciated!
#1 sacer has been a member since 16/3/2012. Posts: 4
I think it's a good choice to stay the full time in Vietnam.
As for the south it depends on what you're looking for. You asked about beaches and they are certainly the best in the south. The north has no serious beach to speak of. Trekking should be done around Sapa.
If you just want a mix of everything you can divide your time in 3 parts:
1 week north: Hanoi, Sapa, Halong (culture & nature)
1 week middle: Hoi An, Hue, Danang (culture)
1 week south: Nha Trang, Saigon, Mui Ne, Phu Quoc, Con Dao, Mekong Delta
The places I named in the south can not all be visited in 1 week but you should do some reading to see which place appeals most to you.
1 week in each region is just an estimate of course. If you want to do trekking you may want to extend the north to 8-9 days.
I would recommend HCMC. Many people go there with the wrong expectations about what type of city it is. It is basically a mad scramble to make a living. This may be why people say there is much to so (opinion).
I like it because it is very walkable especially compared to cities such as Bangkok (can't compare to Hanoi because I haven't been there) and while traffic looks like a nightmare you can get around district 1 pretty quickly in taxis. At the very least I would check out the war remnants museum which is the best museum I have ever been to.
#3 stefanw has been a member since 10/12/2010. Posts: 50
Really enjoyed the Hue -Danang-Hoi'an leg of my trip, very nice beaches in Da Nang, but a city beach, no bungalow right on the water. A must is the train from Hue to Danang, only a few hours and very pretty scenery.
Great beach location is also Phu Quoc island, they call it the Phuket of yesteryear, island is not very developed and has a great vibe.
HCMC is my favorit city as well and indeed most people go with the wrong expectations. If you're interested in contemporary asian culture there are few places better than HCMC.
On the other side of the spectrum is Con Dao islands which is for me heaven as well with absolutely nothing to do and great scenery. Also not for everyone because when I say there's nothing to do, I really mean there's nothing to do.
I think the answer to this quesiton depends on whether or not you are a city guy. Saigon is huge, sprawling... busy place. People looking for the quiet, sedate, are unlikely to like cities like that. People who enjoy what cities bring will enjoy it. As Eastwest says, for contemporary urban culture in Vietnam, Saigon is the apex of that.
#6 MADMAC has been a member since 6/6/2009. Posts: 6,957
Very good move to spend the entire trip in Vietnam - it's bigger than it looks, and those 3 weeks will go by in a flash. The north has more places of interest for the average traveler IMHO. #1 for me is Hanoi, #2 Sapa/NW Highlands, #3 Hoi An, #4 Dalat/Central Highlands and #5 Mai Chau.
I have also been in the south, but my experiences in the Delta and in Saigon were not especially good. The places with the most crime against tourists are Saigon and Nha Trang at present (those are also the party towns).
Everyone will have differing tastes and differing favorite places in Vietnam. I advise you to take it slow, don't crowd your itinerary with too many stops, and avoid road travel as much as possible (roads are quite dangerous in this country). Better than even the most interesting place in Vietnam are the Vietnamese people - go out and meet a few that do not work in the hotel or travel business.
#7 daawgon has been a member since 17/4/2007. Posts: 1,083
I agree with Caseyprich.
Danang has a great beach but also some of the finest and cheapest seafood I've ever had.Everything kept in tanks so you know it couldn't be fresher.Take a walk by the river at night near the Cham museum-it reminds you of Paris.
Also Hue to Danang on the train is a must.
and Phu Quoc especially the northern end you can only get to by motorbike is gorgeous.
p.s. I think that's the first time I've agreed with someone on all points
#8 sayadian has been a member since 15/1/2008. Posts: 1,557
I love Hoi An (known more for culture but the beaches are pretty good too, not all that different from Nha Trang's beaches except not as crowded).
Also had a good experience with Sapa; definitely the place to trek.
And I think the ruins in and around Hue are some of the best historical sites in the whole region, if you're into history.
Hi How about Dalat to Nha Trang on a motorbike? There are daily motorbike tours or even 3 daytours with a rider. You can check the photographs and info from this blog post. You will also have the chance to visit the'Crazy House' as the locals call it! Looks great fun to me. Next time!
Nobody mentioned Phong Nha! The national park and caves there are very much worth factoring in, Hoi An has won the best beach in Vietnam for me (An Bang Beach) and it even has little fisherman's houses that you can stay in 50 meters from the sand. Dalat is stunning, Nha Trang my idea of hell and Saigon I love - but only after several visits to find the best bits. I guess if beaches are important to you, you might want to tell us when you are heading this way, the weather in the north and south are completely opposite from each other, so factor that one in.
And for spending the whole 23 days in one country.. I take my hat off to you, too many holidays are spoilt by rushing around (travelling from A to B in S.E Asia takes much longer than in more developed countries). Its perfect.
#11 LolaNguyen has been a member since 28/8/2012. Posts: 94