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How far in advance should I book accomodation?

  • danudy

    Joined Travelfish
    11th December, 2008
    Posts: 4

    I'm travelling with a group of 3 others for about 3 weeks from late august to mid september (a long way away I know but I like to plan ahead!). We've booked flights there and back, but were wondering at what point we should book accomodation in advance/if we should book it in advance at all. We're starting in Hanoi and going through Hoi An, Nha Trang, HCMC and Phu Quoc with a couple of days in each. We're not looking for anywhere too flashy or expensive, just some nice hotels/hostels with plenty of character. Also, do the internal flights from HCMC to Phu Quoc need to be pre-booked or is it easy enough to turn up and get a seat?

    If any of you could help out with your mass of collective travelling wisdom it would be a great help!

    #1 Posted: 15/2/2009 - 23:56

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  • exacto

    Joined Travelfish
    12th February, 2006
    Posts: 2304
    Total reviews: 47

    hey danudy,

    i'm already starting to plan for my trip to thailand in december, so you aren't the only one who likes to plan ahead. :-)

    i'm afraid i haven't been to vietnam, so don't know if there is some special strategy that works best for booking accommodation there. but in my travels, i usually only book ahead if there is a specific place i really want to stay, if i'll be arriving in a large city (particularly if i am arriving at night), or if there is a local holiday or something like that going on.

    otherwise, i usually just try to pick an area of the city where i think i'd like to stay, and select about three different places that are within easy walking distance of eash other so if i don't like the first place (or if they don't have space) it is easy to move on to the second, etc.

    this can mean that i spend a bit of time looking around once i've arrived, but investing the extra time has often meant finding a really great place to stay rather than just suffering through something uninspiring. this strategy has worked for me in thailand, laos, nepal, turkey, indonesia, mexico, australia, etc.

    for things like internal flights and overnight trains, i'd definitely book ahead if possible, particularly if you don't have a flexible travel schedule.

    i don't know if that qualifies as the collective travelling wisdom you wanted or not, but i hope it helps. cheers.

    #2 Posted: 16/2/2009 - 03:42

  • danudy

    Joined Travelfish
    11th December, 2008
    Posts: 4

    thanks exacto, that's really helpful. for the internal flights and trains do you think it'd just be enough to book ahead by a couple of days once we arrive in the country or do you think it needs booking before I leave? I've heard stories of much cheaper prices once you actually arrive there.

    #3 Posted: 16/2/2009 - 06:42

  • exacto

    Joined Travelfish
    12th February, 2006
    Posts: 2304
    Total reviews: 47

    hi again,

    i wish i could help more, but i really don't know much if anything about vietnam. the things that you might want to consider before you decide to book before you leave or not are: if that is a busy travel season or not; and if there are any local holidays around that time. the amount of flexibility you in your itinerary is a big factor too.

    i know that in thailand, it used to be that you could walk up almost as the train or plane was leaving and get a seat. that isn't really true anymore, particularly since the economy has developed and there are so many more domestic tourists out enjoying their own country. don't know if that is a factor in vietnam yet.

    if you are taking short train trips as opposed to long or overnight trips, then my guess is you won't need as much advance booking. but i really have no idea if the flights fill up quickly, how much capacity there is (for example, in thailand there are heaps of budget air carriers now so there is much more variety and capacity in getting to popular tourist places), or if the fares are actually cheaper if you buy after you arrive.

    hopefully someone with vietnam travel experience will jump in and help you. best wishes.

    #4 Posted: 16/2/2009 - 10:45

  • somtam2000

    Click here to learn more about somtam2000
    Joined Travelfish
    21st January, 2004
    Location Indonesia
    Posts: 6960
    Total reviews: 24
    Places visited:
    At least 113

    Yes, it is cheaper to buy Vietnam Airlines tickets in Vietnam. There was a post the other day though sayign you can now buy them online throught the Vietnam Airlines website, so check that -- there's also Jetstar that flies some routes.

    The problematic one is Saigon to Phu Quoc Island as it fills up fast, there are limited flights and given the time you are going, the weather will be so so, so the ferries may be a bit off and on, putting more pressure on flights.

    For accommodation, as long as you're flexible and don't mind trying a few places before you get a room, little need to book ahead for accommodation -- especially at the budget end, where most places can't be booked online anyway.

    Hope that helps

    #5 Posted: 16/2/2009 - 11:46

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