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4 weeks itinerary for Vietnam

  • Harry05

    Joined Travelfish
    9th September, 2007
    Posts: 59

    In march 2008 I will be travelling in Vietnam for about 4 weeks, after about 3 months Thailand/Laos/Cambodia (maybe good to know if you want to give me some advice). I am a quite experienced traveller but it’s my first time in SE Asia so it’s always good to get some good and actual advice. I don’t care about luxury (and prefer atmosphere above that): a private, clean and basic room (with fan) will be fine for me.

    Here’s my global itinerary for Vietnam:
    Entering Vietnam by a tour in the Mekong Delta, coming from Phnom Pehn (day 1-2-3), Ho Chi Mhin City (4-5), Mui Ne (6-7), Nha Trang (8-9), Hoi An (10-11-12-13), Hue (14-15), Hanoi (16-17)
    from Hanoi visiting: Halong Bay (18-19-20), Ninh Binh (Tam Coc/Hoa Lu) (22-23), Sapa/Bac Ha (25-26-27-28), I can change the following of the last 3 destinations depending on available transport/tours. Leaving Hanoi (day 29).

    Some questions about my itinerary (detailled questions will follow later):
    1. I read the weather can be quite bad in North Vietnam is this time of the year?, I suppose it’s still worth visiting or should I spend more time in south/central Vietnam?
    2. Is the Bai Tu Long Bay a good alternative for the (busy) Halong Bay?
    3. In this time of the year it will be necessary to make reservations for transport, accomodation or tours? If yes, where?
    4. The route is logical? I know the places are more or less standard but are there any places which I should insert or maybe skip?

    Thanks in advance for you answers,

    Harry.

    #1 Posted: 23/9/2007 - 03:03

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  • vietguide

    Joined Travelfish
    23rd September, 2007
    Posts: 5

    Posted from within Vietnam.

    Hi Harry,

    Please find some information as below:

    1. I read the weather can be quite bad in North Vietnam is this time of the year?, I suppose it’s still worth visiting or should I spend more time in south/central Vietnam?
    - The weather in March is not so bad as you think. As it's Spring in Vietnam, the weather is cool (18-25 celcius), but it's some time rainy (small rain). In the north of vietnam, and the nuture is very beautiful of the spring and this is the high season for tourism in Vietnam too. This absolutely is not one of your concern.

    2. Is the Bai Tu Long Bay a good alternative for the (busy) Halong Bay?
    - Bai Tu Long Bay is a small bay of Halong Bay, when you visit Halong Bay, you can also Bai Tu Long Bay and the most beautiful one is Halong Bay. Although it's busy, but should not miss visiting one of the nutural wonder of the world hornored by UNESCO

    3. In this time of the year it will be necessary to make reservations for transport, accomodation or tours? If yes, where?
    - This is high season for tourism in Vietnam, so you have better book every thing in advance. However, if you want to join group tour, don't book in advance until you are there to get a better rate. In case, you prefer a private one, please book everything in advance especially accommodation as in Vietnam, it's very difficult to find a hotel if you don't book in advance. You can find a travel agent and book with them by searching on Search Engine.

    4. The route is logical? I know the places are more or less standard but are there any places which I should insert or maybe skip?
    - Your route is logical and good. Keep it and enjoy your trip.

    Happy traveling!!!

    #2 Posted: 23/9/2007 - 14:55

  • CatBa

    Joined Travelfish
    5th March, 2007
    Posts: 349

    I always wonder why 'travel professionals' say 'book everything in advance'.

    I have been in VietNam for seventeen years and the ONLY things I book in advance are travel / accommodation over Tet (which is BEFORE you arrive); university term start / finish periods; national holidays; Sa Pa and Ha Noi < > HCMC rail travel.

    There is NO reason to pre-book anything, otherwise. Be very, very careful about using Vietnamese 'travel agents' as the market is still immature and they think credit card usage still requires a 3% surcharge (tell them to forget it) and a COPY of the front and back of a credit card (all credit card issuers recommend AGAINST COPYING although it is OK to e-mail the info.

    The travel agents in Ha Noi are world-notorious, deservedly, and they attract more complaints than any other region in VietNam.

    These comments apply to tour operators, too.

    Your best bet is to acquire a copy of the Rough Guide or Frommers (Lonely Planet is always outdated and inaccurate - seems to be published annually to keep the cash flow moving) and plan your route.

    It is a pity you are starting from the south as it will be getting 'warm' whereas if you started in Ha Noi you would get acclimatised more slowly.

    The usual tourist spots are Mekong - a minimum 2day-1 night tour - HCMC, Da Lat or Mui Ne, Nha Trang, Hoi An, Hue and Ha Noi.

    At Ha Noi you have some juggling to perform. First, on arrival book your Ha Long cruise (using the < www.Tropical-Sails.com > boats gives you a smaller boat whilst using the < www.emeraude-cruises.com > puts you on a larger boat).

    This web site has some good detail on cruise options so poke around and find them. Being cheap in Ha Long is not worth it as it is such a special destination that you will only see once.

    Once you have made your cruise reservation and KNOW the date of your return you should immediately go to 120 La Duan - the rail station - and book your trip to Lao Cai for the NIGHT of your return from HLB cruise.

    They will most likely be reluctant to sell you a return ticket (too many no shows) but you can buy the return in Sa Pa.

    Do NOT stay at the Queen Hotel (theft) or Mountain View Hotel (poor service) in Sa Pa. The 'love market' no longer occurs, BTW.

    Room pricing in VietNam is by the room and NOT by the number of people staying there. (Tours charge by the person!)

    If you want guiding info for Sa Pa - get it in Sa Pa. If you want contact details RE-POST (I rarely re-read posts I have answered) and I will be happy to supply them. Ha Noi tour ops simply charge a high price for an inferior tour guide.

    As for your timing, I would cut Hoi An short, Nha Trang is a now a grubby seaside resort that has rising crime rates - better spending extra time in Mui Ne or Hoi An.

    Opentour buses (ONLY USE AN PHU or SINH - the rest are UNSAFE) leave Hoi An at 08.00 and 12.00 noon for the 3-4 hour trip to Hue. IF you leave on the 08.00H bus you will arrive in Hue for the USD$6.00 (buy this from CITY TOUR) half-day tour (the full day includes a cruise and lunch on the less than pristine Perfume River).

    This means that you can 'do' Hue and leave on the evening Opentour bus the following day for Ha Noi. There is also the overnight SLEEPER train from Hue which is worth looking at. (The other 'sleeper' train journey is between Nha Trang and Da Nang [for Hoi An]}.

    I suggest you NOT use the 'sleeper' buses as the drivers are as useless as the non-sleeper buses and you don't get too much sleep for the USD$25 fare.

    Enjoy VietNam - there are few countries like it in the world!

    #3 Posted: 26/9/2007 - 22:22

  • charlotteru-
    ssell

    Joined Travelfish
    1st November, 2007
    Posts: 7

    travelling to vietnam 30jan-26feb;
    not sure where to be during tet and how much to book ahead or to go to cambodia or laos for a week over tet instead, flying in and out of saigon, three of us travelling please help

    #4 Posted: 1/11/2007 - 15:41

  • CatBa2

    Joined Travelfish
    6th November, 2007
    Posts: 53

    Tet is busy as far as hotels and transportation is concerned.

    Best to position yourself in a larger centre for the Tet period as services in rural / small towns-cities are much reduced for at least the first three days of Tet.

    Not booking ahead gives you flexibility, the opportunity to check out your accommodation (if you check a room make sure the room you get is the one you checked).

    Sinh Opentour is the safest most honest - Camel and T.M. Brothers have poor maintenance and very poor drivers with high accident rates. Vung Thanh is so, so. Hanh Cafe are rip off artists (as are An Phu) and have poor vehicles as well.

    Our company has been photographing buses in VietNam all this year and can stand behind these claims. Vung Thanh bough 8 sleeper buses and within 6 weeks 4 had been involved in serious accidents.

    Trekking Travel killed a pedestrian (USD$25,000 to the family and then you get your bus back) in Vinh and they also had a bus switch to the oncoming lane in the Hai Van Tunnel which then ripped the side off an oncoming vehicle.

    NOTE: Most OpenTour buses HAVE NO PASSENGER INSURANCE - they usually have only Third Party / Fire coverage unless the bank loan used to buy the buses demands better coverage. In any event PASSENGERS HAVE NO COME BACK.

    Huong Long sleeper buses are VERY good and their drivers are professionals.

    #5 Posted: 7/11/2007 - 11:09

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