Photo: Canals of Ca Mau, Mekong Delta.

Vietnam forum

Going to Vietnam March 2009

Posted by abellim on 7/8/2008 at 16:44

Hi everyone!

AirAsia were giving free tickets in May 2008 so I booked a ticket to Vietnam and Cambodia next year. As I was looking up travel information I came across this wonderful site. Research is ongoing so I will ask when I have any questions that I am unsure of.

Hanoi Youth Hotel has 4 dorm beds at USD5. How early in advance do I have to book to secure a bed? If it happens that the beds are sold-out, what other good hostels nearby (along the same street) that offers quality at less than USD8?

If I were to arrive Hanoi Old Quarters from the Airport via the Airport minibus, I will alight at Vietnam Airlines office right? Where is the office located? Is it near Luong Van Can Street?

Are the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum and Museum all closed on Mondays? And Van Mieu also? By the way, where is the place for best coffee in Hanoi?

Regarding Halong Bay, any recommendations for 2 days 1 night tour that cost around USD50, including staying overnight in boat? Or a day trip that cost less than USD30? Given my budget, do you think its better for me to go for the day trip or overnight trip to get the most out of Halong Bay?

Thank you very much for reading through this post, and I am certain I will have more questions to ask in the near future!

Thanks again!

#1 abellim has been a member since 20/4/2008. Posts: 5

Posted by daawgon on 8/8/2008 at 01:50

Concerning Hanoi, the minibus arrives in downtown Hanoi opposite Vietnam Airlines, here's a map, and the terminal is code 70 in "South of Center" tan color. I could not find the street you listed - just know that a street can change it's name midway - assume it's Old Quarter. Easy walk from terminal to all of Old Quarter and to train station - I did it on a regular basis. Concerning hostels, best to look at the listing on Best coffee? - I liked Highlands in the building with City View Cafe on Hoan Kiem Lake - it's the Starbucks of VN - it's pricey but delicious (also good breakfasts there). Be sure to book with Hanoikids (free college-age guides).

Hanoi map from

#2 daawgon has been a member since 17/4/2007. Posts: 1,083

Posted by abellim on 8/8/2008 at 21:06

Thank you daawgon!

The map is very useful! Luong Van Can Street is on the north west of Hoan Kiem Lake. Just next to the lake. So the Vietnam Airlines office is along Quang Trung Street? How long does it take to walk from the south of the lake to the north?

Anyone can help with the other questions I have above?

And also, is meal provided on the train?

Thanks again.

#3 abellim has been a member since 20/4/2008. Posts: 5

Posted by macman1945 on 10/8/2008 at 13:31

Hi abe,
On your budget have you considered the hanoi backpackers hostel at $7. You can check them out at
Regards coffee, you are in luck. You will find excellent vietnamese coffee everywhere and very cheap.

#4 macman1945 has been a member since 11/10/2007. Posts: 35

Posted by daawgon on 10/8/2008 at 23:30

Hoan Kiem Lake is small - you can walk from one end to the other in 5 minutes (that's what I like about central Hanoi, it's so compact!) Yes, Viet Air is on Quang Trung - a rather large building, can't miss it.
Notice the post office at #69 (pink/eastern side of the lake). What train are you talking about?

#5 daawgon has been a member since 17/4/2007. Posts: 1,083

Posted by abellim on 11/8/2008 at 10:54

Thank you, macman and daawgon.

Yes, I will keep Hanoi Backpackers Hostel in mind.

Does the train that goes towards Hue include food? The overnight train. SE3. Or any other south bound trains for that matter.

Are the real Sinh Cafe tours to Halong Bay any good? They seem quite affordable. Are the day trips alright?

Between staying on board for the night in Halong Bay and spending half a day in DMZ touring Vinh Moc Tunnel, which one do you think is more interesting?

Thank you so much.

#6 abellim has been a member since 20/4/2008. Posts: 5

Posted by daawgon on 12/8/2008 at 01:09

I do believe they give you some food on that train to Hue - I did not take trains except for the tourist carriages between Hanoi-Lao Cai (Sapa). I thought Hue to be a tad boring (Hoi An is the neat destination).

I did transit the DMZ by car, but there was very little to see. Problem with Halong Bay is the hoardes of tourists.

#7 daawgon has been a member since 17/4/2007. Posts: 1,083

Posted by abellim on 12/8/2008 at 15:13

daawgon, you have been a great help. Thanks.

Only planning to stay a night in Hue then move on to Danang and into Hoi An. Heard that the train journey offers some spectacular scenery. Was thinking if I am only going for a Halong Bay day trip then the same night I will take the 11pm train to Hue, reaching there about 12 hours later. And then could get someone to bring me on a motorbike tour to DMZ after lunch. I am not interested in everything there is in DMZ, just Vinh Moc Tunnel, and maybe along the way Ben Hai River and Doc Mieu.

Otherwise, if I am staying on the junk for a night, I will just give DMZ a miss. The Halong Bay part will almost certainly depend on the price. Hoping to get something that is not too terrible with a budget of USD50. If that is impossible, I will just go for a day trip and move on to Hue to visit DMZ.

If I were to reach Danang from Hue at about 1pm, where do you think I can go before taking an evening bus to Hoi An for dinner? Is My Son any good? I will be visiting Angkor Wat later so was wondering if it makes any sense to visit My Son too.

That's all for now. Thank you so much!

#8 abellim has been a member since 20/4/2008. Posts: 5

Posted by daawgon on 15/8/2008 at 01:32

I did not go to My Son at all, but Hoi An is the real attraction on the Central Coast - true that it's very touristy, but it's also a working port with a great deal of history, some of the best food on the coast, and excellent small hotels. Hue did not interest me 1/2 as much since I'm not a real history nut - Hue is more of a regular city (quite conservative). I'm returning in Feb (first Bangkok, then Chiang Mai, then fly to Danang/Hoi An and on to Hanoi and home/USA). You will see more if you take a car from Hue to Hoi An (I took one in the reverse direction for $60.) Many people like the sleeper buses on the coast since they save in hotel bills and travel at the same time. I understand many consider the beaches in Danang/China Beach and Hoi An to be among the best (I never got out of central Hoi An, but next time I'll rent a push bike and see it.)

#9 daawgon has been a member since 17/4/2007. Posts: 1,083

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