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Advice on Itinerary- 7 days travel Saigon to Hanoi

Posted by raineong on 26/3/2013 at 01:20

Hi all!

This is my first post here on travel fish :) My friend and I (both girls) will be travelling up from Saigon to Hanoi in May (Yay! Can't wait) and this will be kind of our first 'backpacking' trip. I've read through some of the threads (there are too many!) of advice provided to other travellers and got a little confused and kind of worried. I think our timeline is really tight, considering we only have 7 days to generically cover the places we would like to. Please find the very brief itinerary planned and would appreciate your advice on it! Thus far we've only planned the first 2 days + booked all the tickets required.


Day 1
- Arrived in Saigon at 8.30am, travelled around the city.
- Arranged a tour with Saigon Hotpot (free city tour services with vietnam students)
- Arranged a paid night tour with XO tour group

Day 2
- Private cuchi tunnel (early at 6am)
- Flight to Danang at 1pm, Arrive at 4pm
- Travel to Hoi An

Day 3
- Check out in the morning and head to Hue Train station
- If there's time, would like to do some sight seeing around Hue
- Train ride to Hanoi (We've checked from the train webpage that train arrives at 5pm? Is it accurate?)

Day 4-7
- Reach Hanoi at 5am
- Halong Bay Junk Boat 2 day 1 night
- Hanoi 2 day 1 night
- Flight back from Hanoi at 1pm


Our key concern is we have yet to research much on Hoi An, Hue, Halong Bay and Hanoi. Would like to seek other traveller's advise if it's possible to cover these 4 places in 5 days?

Will you guys be able to advise if the itinerary is okay or some of the places would be better if we skip? I've also read some of the threads regarding 'Easy Riders'. Do they cover rides from Hoi An to Hanoi? (The ones I read was covering Dalat to Hoi An).

Really appreciate your help! and sorry if I kind of duplicate the questions which are already found in some of the threads.

Thanks! :)

Cheers,
Raine Ong.

#1 raineong has been a member since 3/3/2013. Posts: 6
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Posted by caseyprich on 26/3/2013 at 04:33

Okay - I don't think it is a good idea to do tunnels outside of Saigon and check out Hoi'an all in one day - and then leave Hoi'an the next morning for Hue . Sounds terrible - you're basically carrying bags around all the time. With seven days I'd skip Hanoi all together as you've already got your flight booked to Da Nang . Just go to Hoi'an for a couple of days, take a morning train ride up to Hue (love that stretch of rail) and spend a couple of days around Hue - then fly back from Hue to Saigon . . unless you've already booked that flight home from Hanoi . . . then cancel the Da Nang flight and spend more time around Saigon, maybe a one night trip to Can Tho, and then fly direct to Hanoi to explore.

For example: I flew into Hanoi and spent a night there, caught a train to Hue and spent two nights there (meeting a friend), we took the train to Da Nang and hung out around Da Nang/Hoi'an for four nights before I flew back to Hanoi for one last night. Even that seemed rushed and I didn't do anything in Hanoi but hang out in old town.

#2 caseyprich has been a member since 3/3/2010. Location: China. Posts: 1,281
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Posted by raineong on 26/3/2013 at 04:49

Hi Caseyprich,

Thanks for your reply.

Yeah, we already booked all the flights include the returned flight. Let's say I want to extend the number of days, would it be more feasible?

#3 raineong has been a member since 3/3/2013. Posts: 6
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Posted by caseyprich on 26/3/2013 at 05:27

More days would always be better . . . but not sure how to do that if all flights are already booked.

So if you're locked into Saigon-DaNang and fly out of Hanoi . . in 7 days I'd recommend then you skip Hue and try to relax an extra day in Hoi'an, a nice beach a town that you need more than one night to explore, then fly from Da Nang to Hanoi to save time. It seems like you are spending a lot of money already anyway (and Da Nang airport is right downtown, not too far from Hoi'an).

#4 caseyprich has been a member since 3/3/2010. Location: China. Posts: 1,281
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Posted by chinarocks on 26/3/2013 at 06:01

Good advice from Casey. In 7 days your absolute maximum aim should be Saig-Hoi'An-Hanoi, and even that is a bit of a stretch.

One tip for Hanoi, don't rush around to all the sights in the time you've got. Instead just relax and soak up the stmosphere in the old town and make sure you wander around and sample as much bia hoi and street food as you can manage.

#5 chinarocks has been a member since 17/6/2011. Posts: 740

Posted by raineong on 26/3/2013 at 06:17

Hi all, thanks for the advice. Oh dear, just checked but there's no flight from Danang to Hanoi on the days that I was there. Guess have to take the train... But still thanks! :) next time will have to plan even more carefully cause it's our first trip of crossing states.

#6 raineong has been a member since 3/3/2013. Posts: 6
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Posted by caseyprich on 26/3/2013 at 08:08

Make the best of what you've got - you'll still be enjoying plenty of good food, sights and people.

#7 caseyprich has been a member since 3/3/2010. Location: China. Posts: 1,281
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Posted by raineong on 4/4/2013 at 05:30

Hi all! I managed to extend my trip for another 2 days for now. The rebooking fee for the return flight from Hanoi is pretty affordable. However, our flight from Saigon to Danang got delayed to 4pm :(

Just a few questions to check with you guys out there:

1) Should I buy my train ticket from Hue to Hanoi on the day itself or online?
2) We will be reaching Hanoi at 5am in the morning, should we directly take and head for the Halong Bay Junk Boat stay straight?
3) Any recommended Halong Bay Junk Boats to take on? (I've read the forums that's trending here but it does not seem to have a 'actual' answer to what we are looking for.)

Thanks people for the helpful insights and advice :)

#8 raineong has been a member since 3/3/2013. Posts: 6
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