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Feedback on Itinerary for August

  • eb

    Joined Travelfish
    5th July, 2009
    Posts: 21
    Total reviews: 5

    Any suggestions or advice for this itinerary for August? As a bit of background - I'll be arriving in HCMC with a friend. She'll be flying out of Hanoi on day 11, and then I'll be flying out of HCMC at the end of it. Also, I figured we should book the flights as soon as possible. Anything else we should be trying to book now? Thanks in advance for any help!

    Day 0 - Arrive in HCMC
    Day 1 - HCMC
    Day 2 - HCMC. in the evening, fly from HCMC to Hue
    Day 3 - day in Hue, then evening to Hoi an
    Day 4 - Hoi an (Cham Island overnight homestay)
    Day 5 - Hoi an (Cham Island back to Hoi An)
    Day 6 - Spend the day in Ho An, in the evening fly from Da nang to Hanoi
    Day 7 - Ha long bay
    Day 8 - Ha long bay
    Day 9 - Ha long Bay
    Day 10 - Hanoi
    Day 11 - Hanoi and then overnight train to Sapa
    Day 12 - BacHa Market (It'll be a a Sunday) and Sapa
    Day 13 - Sapa
    Day 14 - Sapa and then overnight train to Hanoi
    Day 15 - Hanoi, in the evening fly to Siem Reap
    Day 16 - Siem Reap
    Day 17 - Siem Reap
    Day 18 - Siem Reap
    Day 19 - Seim Reap
    Day 20 - Boat from Seim Reap to Phnom Pehn
    Day 21 - Phnom Pehn
    Day 22 - Bus from Phnom Pehn to HCMC
    Day 23 - HCMC
    Day 24 - fly home

    #1 Posted: 5/7/2009 - 22:21

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  • eb

    Joined Travelfish
    5th July, 2009
    Posts: 21
    Total reviews: 5

    Actually, one minor edit - would I be able to spend Days 22 and 23 going through the Mekong Delta from Phnom Pehn to HCMC? I know I won't get a great Mekong Delta experience that way, but I'd love to see it at least a little bit. Thanks!

    #2 Posted: 5/7/2009 - 23:47

  • somtam2000

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    A couple of suggestions:
    I'd shave a day off Siem Reap and give it to Hanoi

    For PP to Siagon, get the boat from Phnom Penh to Chau Doc then bus to Can Tho (for the floating) markets then bus to Saigon. You will need three days though... so need to shave a day somewhere else.

    Not sure about evening transport from Hue to Hoi An...

    What you're suggesting overall is doable, but I'd be inclined to givive yourself a few more days in Vn, skip Phnom Penh and fly from Siem Reap to Ho Chi Minh City .

    Hope that helps

    #3 Posted: 6/7/2009 - 07:28

  • eb

    Joined Travelfish
    5th July, 2009
    Posts: 21
    Total reviews: 5

    Thanks! I like your Mekong Delta suggestion, so I think I'll shave the day from Siem Reap for that rather than Hanoi (I guess the one other place I can see shaving an additional day is Sapa, but not sure if it is worth cutting that shorter).

    If there isn't Hue to Hoi an transportation in the evening, and I switched it to the afternoon, that would give us the morning and early afternoon in Hue. I think I'd like to see Hue, even if briefly - would half a day there be worth it to get a little bit of a feel for the city?

    Also, I was thinking it might make sense to do an overnight train from Da Nang to Hanoi rather than flying, but the train schedules I was looking at don't seem to go overnight for that leg. Is that correct?

    #4 Posted: 6/7/2009 - 08:37

  • BruceMoon

    Click here to learn more about BruceMoon
    Joined Travelfish
    27th December, 2008
    Location Australia
    Posts: 1941
    Total reviews: 6

    eb

    I wouldn't suggest shaving the day off Siem Reap. The pass you'll buy is for 1 day or 3 days (3 to be used over 5 days if you choose). The Angkorian temples are just something else. But, 3 full days of temples is really trying. I generally suggest make the trip for 4 days and spend a day on Tonle Sap (the reason why the temples are located in this region). Go check ou:

    http://www.talesofasia.com/cambodia-siemreap-guide-other.htm

    especially note the comments re: Kampong Khleang.

    - - - -

    You are planning this trip for August. The weather may well be against you for Halong Bay. As well, is there any reason for 3 nights? most only do one or two.

    As for weather, August is part of the wet season, it MAY be sunny, showery, rainy, or some combination.

    Today, the whole area is covered by dense cloud. Go see at:

    http://www.wunderground.com/cgi-bin/findweather/getForecast?query=HaNoi,%20Vietnam&wuSelect=WEATHER

    If you 'right click' on the small picture to the left side to open in a new tab/window, you'll see just how dense the cloud really is. Halong Bay is about where the 'g' is in Hai Phong (on the right side).

    But, in a weeks' time, it may all be sunny again - that's weather.

    But, as you are 'pushed' for time to see/do things, I'd be seriously recommending you shorten the days allocated for that trip to max 2, and have a fall back position handy in case it's rained out.

    - - - -

    As for a 'day in Hue ', might I suggest you also rethink this one. Except for one, the 'attractions' of Hue aren't located close to the city centre. So, you will need to hire transport for the day to get an inkling of the palace buildings.

    I know the imperial ruins of Hue are on the tourist 'trail', but IMHO they are something worth seeing if one happens to be in Hue for several days. I personally wouldn't be rushing to Hue just to look at a couple of old palaces for a day and then rushing away. But, I recognise it's your journey.

    You could entertain flying SaiGon > DaNang to visit Hoi An, and DaNang > HaNoi.

    This may give you time to enjoy the MeKong via boat (instead of bus)...

    - - -

    Answers for your comments/ queries about rail can be found at www.seat61.com/Vietnam.htm

    - - - -

    The day boat from Siem reap to Phnom Penh costs $155, and I suggest as its a fast boat' (looks like a converted police boat) on most of the journey you'll see mainly water (it's a big lake!). Go to www.cfmekong.com or:

    http://www.cfmekong.com/searchCruises.html?xpath=/*[local-name()=%27cruise%27][@vendor=%27cfm%27][not(@cancel=%27true%27)][@trip=%27PhnomPenhSiemReap%27][@variante=%276%27][translate(@start,%27-%27,%27%27)%3E=%2720090705%27][%2720090819%27%3E=translate(@end,%27-%27,%27%27)]&nbMonth=2&start=&rip=PhnomPenhSiemReap&variante=6&delta=30

    The alternative is a $12 bus that takes some 5 hours.

    - - - -

    Hope this helps.

    Cheers

    #5 Posted: 6/7/2009 - 10:37

  • violets

    Joined Travelfish
    6th July, 2009
    Posts: 151
    Total reviews: 28

    I agree that Hue needs more time, or none. I love the place but find often the people who say they don't have spent only 2 nights there! Most transport from there to Hoi An goes in the middle of the day I think (or early morning). The train from Hue to Danang (cost about $3 and takes 2-3 hours) is a pretty nice trip (then you get a taxi to Hoi An- under an hour). If you're only going to spend a brief time in Hue, I'd go to Tu Duc's or Kai Dinh's tomb and the citadel. It's also a good place to get a cyclo tour; it's relatively safe there and the city (well, away from the tourist district) is very attractive.

    I think August may be too wet for the Mekong.

    #6 Posted: 6/7/2009 - 11:08

  • TomSawyer

    Joined Travelfish
    1st July, 2009
    Posts: 10

    Looks like a great itinerary you have put together, Bruce is right 3 days in Siem Reap more than enough, Siem Reap is very touristy, and can be rather expensive as well, the Angkor temples are incredible, though you’ll be surprised at the enormous numbers of tourists there, I thought it was going to be a more an adventurous experience that it turned out to be, however I'm sure you'll enjoy the place. By the way when you’re in Siem Reap hire a bike and ride out to the countryside and visit some of the adjacent villages (as a break from all the temples). As awesome as the Angkor temples are, the smiles of the people in the surrounding villages were also a real highlight for my visit there. The Cambodian people are just great, especially when you venture away from the tourist traps, and Siem Reap is certainly one! ; )

    (By the way I'm planning to be in Halong bay for 3 days in just under 2 weeks time, that's only 2 nights, not too long I think)

    #7 Posted: 6/7/2009 - 11:27

  • BruceMoon

    Click here to learn more about BruceMoon
    Joined Travelfish
    27th December, 2008
    Location Australia
    Posts: 1941
    Total reviews: 6

    Tom/eb

    As you'll see in my reply, I merely indicated not to shave any more off for Siem Reap , but in fact, I'm for 4 days at Siem Reap (1 to go on Tonle Sap).

    Cheers

    #8 Posted: 6/7/2009 - 13:40

  • eb

    Joined Travelfish
    5th July, 2009
    Posts: 21
    Total reviews: 5

    Thanks for the replies!

    In terms of Siem Reap, would 2 1/2 days be enough for temples? If so, would it make sense to do 2 days of temples, a day on the lake, and then a morning of temples and take the bus to Phnom Penh that afternoon? That would leave enough time for the Mekong Delta part.


    For Halong Bay I was a little unclear - I had in mind a 3day/2night trip, so we'd be back in Hanoi that third evening. Do you think it would make more sense to switch to a 2day/1night trip? Also, in terms of having a fallback plan for that, how would that work? Just look up the weather in advance and decide not to go if the forecast looks bad?

    I suppose I should probably forgo Hue, which would give us a little more time in Hoi An which I expect we would enjoy. It's so tough cutting things out - there so many things I want to do (many of which I had already resigned myself to leaving out)!

    #9 Posted: 7/7/2009 - 09:29

  • BruceMoon

    Click here to learn more about BruceMoon
    Joined Travelfish
    27th December, 2008
    Location Australia
    Posts: 1941
    Total reviews: 6

    eb

    It's so tough cutting things out - there so many things I want to do (many of which I had already resigned myself to leaving out)!

    I couldn't agree more.

    It's always a race between seeing everything possible, and experiencing something that you will remember for years to come.

    To your questions.

    Siem Reap

    It would be unwise of me to say what you should/nt do. Essentially, there are three focii used by tourists for the Angkor ian temples:

    1/. The four star must sees (using 4 stars as a guide) like Bayon, Angkor Wat, etc. By rising early and 'going for it' these can largely be seen in a day, but...

    2/. A very brief journey through the Angkorian empire, looking at 2 or 3 star and above examples of the Angkorian temples from some form of perspective ie. architecture, kingly power, etc. This can be 'done' in about 2 or 3 days.

    3/. A detailed journey through the Angkorian empire, looking at a variety of examples of the Angkorian temples from a particular perspective ie. a temporal perusal of the Khmer development, etc. By 'going for it', this can be just done in 3 days.

    Though I suggest 3 full days (spread over a longer period) so the viewer can either go for it and see much, or take a more relaxed approach and have the appetite whetted, there is no right or wrong way.

    IMHO my view is that spending time and money to visit such a spectacular place warrants the time and effort to view that complex in a way such that the person can speak with confidence about the place when they return home.

    So, if you can only fit in 2 1/2 days, but do understand that there's so much to see/do that it'll need 6am starts (IMHO) etc., and you are comfortable with that, then my contribution has been worthwhile.

    - - -

    As for Halong Bay, I now understand. Sorry, I read it differently.

    I don't know what you were going to spend $$$'s on the trip, nor how relevant that was to your budget.

    But, if you're anything like me, choosing to spend (relatively) large amounts on the anticipation of a good result can leave a sour taste if everything turns to bleaghhhh!!

    What I'd suggest is an afternoon or early evening flight from Danang to HaNoi, and if you know in advance who you want to use for the Halong Bay trip (even have a second choice operator), if the weather is fine go to their office and pay your money (and if booked out - which I doubt - go to 2nd choice operator). Most operators are open till 6 or 7pm. If the weather is foul, go to fallback.

    As for alternatives, Somtam suggested maybe spending more time in/around HaNoi. It's possible that that could be the fallback position. So, you leave booking your Halong Bay trip to the last minute, and if the weather is against you, you then 'do' things in/around HaNoi.

    If museums, etc., aren't your thing, then day trips to places like Perfume Pagoda or Tam Coc may be of interest (I know, they're touristy, but they're also enjoyable). On the latter, you could go to Ninh Binh and hire a moto to chuff around the area.

    - - -

    Sad about Hue, but maybe that's an agenda item for a future holiday.

    Hope this helps

    Cheers

    #10 Posted: 7/7/2009 - 10:19

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  • eb

    Joined Travelfish
    5th July, 2009
    Posts: 21
    Total reviews: 5

    I'm thinking maybe I can play it by ear in Siem Reap and see whether I want more time for temples or whether I want a break to go out on the lake. I think I'm pretty much settled on this itinerary (though still open to suggestions if people have them, and we'll be flexible about the halong bay part depending on the weather). You have all been quite helpful and I'm sure I will have more questions as I get closer to leaving. Thanks.

    Day 0 - Arrive in HCMC
    Day 1 - HCMC
    Day 2 - HCMC. in the evening, fly from HCMC to Da nang, taxi to Hoi an
    Day 3 - Hoi An (Cham Island overnight homestay)
    Day 4 - Hoi An (Cham Island back to Hoi An)
    Day 5 - Hoi An
    Day 6 - Spend the day in Hoi An, in the afternoon fly from Da nang to Hanoi
    Day 7 - Ha long bay
    Day 8 - Ha long bay
    Day 9 - Ha long Bay to Hanoi
    Day 10 - Hanoi
    Day 11 - Hanoi and then overnight train to Sapa
    Day 12 - BacHa Market and Sapa
    Day 13 - Sapa
    Day 14 - Sapa and then overnight train to Hanoi
    Day 15 - Hanoi, in the evening fly to Siem Reap
    Day 16 - Siem Reap
    Day 17 - Siem Reap
    Day 18 - Siem Reap
    Day 19 - Siem Reap and then bus from Seim Reap to Phnom Pehn
    Day 20 - Phnom Pehn
    Day 21 - Boat from Phnom Pehn to Chau Doc
    Day 22 - Chau Doc to Can Tho
    Day 23 - Can Tho to HCMC
    Day 24 - fly home

    #11 Posted: 8/7/2009 - 07:42

  • eb

    Joined Travelfish
    5th July, 2009
    Posts: 21
    Total reviews: 5

    Oh no - I just realized I calculated wrong - I fly home on day 23, not day 24. I need to cut one day out. If I have to forgo one day between day 11 and day 23, thoughts on what it should be? I'm quite disappointed (and a little annoyed w/myself).

    #12 Posted: 8/7/2009 - 08:00

  • BruceMoon

    Click here to learn more about BruceMoon
    Joined Travelfish
    27th December, 2008
    Location Australia
    Posts: 1941
    Total reviews: 6

    eb

    I think you should worry no more.

    You WILL alter your itinerary in minor ways between now and the end.

    You don't say what time you depart Saigon. If a late flight, maybe you could just chance it.

    If you need to reduce a day, I'd not touch anything more. Rather, leave as is and when you get to Siem Reap, if you think that could be reduced, sobeit. If you think it can't, then make the call to bus it from PP to Saigon.

    There is no doubt the PP to Chau Doc is a great journey, but the Chau Doc to Saigon is a long long journey. So, you'd just have to put that down for a future journey.

    Cheers

    #13 Posted: 8/7/2009 - 08:53

  • eb

    Joined Travelfish
    5th July, 2009
    Posts: 21
    Total reviews: 5

    Hey. I've been busy studying for the bar exam (the trip is my reward for that, but I only earn the trip if I pass the exam), but I just wanted to update, and I have a few questions. I decided to extend my trip for a few days. It is a little pricey, but I'm saving some of that by flying from Hanoi to KL and then KL to Siem Reap, rather than flying direct, and I figure since I'm spending a lot to get there, I might as well make the most of it. My itinerary now looks like this:

    Day 0 - Arrive in HCMC
    Day 1 - HCMC
    Day 2 - HCMC. in the evening, fly from HCMC to Da nang, taxi to Hoi an
    Day 3 - Hoi an
    Day 4 - Hoi an (Cham Island overnight homestay)
    Day 5 - Hoi an (Cham Island back to Hoi An)
    Day 6 - Day in Hoi An, in the afternoon fly from Da nang to Hanoi
    Day 7 - Ha long bay
    Day 8 - Ha long bay
    Day 9 - Ha long Bay to Hanoi
    Day 10 - Hanoi
    Day 11 - Hanoi and then overnight train to Sapa
    Day 12 - BacHa Market and Sapa
    Day 13 - Sapa
    Day 14 - Sapa and then overnight train to Hanoi
    Day 15 - Morning Hanoi Afternoon to Kuala Lumpur
    Day 16 - Early morning Kuala Lumpur to Siem Reap
    Day 17 - Siem Reap
    Say 18 - Siem Reap
    Day 19 - Siem Reap
    Day 20 - Bus from Seim Reap to Phnom Pehn
    Day 21 - Phnom Pehn
    Day 22 - Boat from Phnom Pehn to Chau Doc
    Day 23 - Chau Doc to Can Tho
    Day 24 - Can Tho to HCMC
    Day 25 - HCMC
    Day 26 - fly home

    A few questions (I know I have others, but these are the ones that I'm thinking of right now):

    When I get to Lao Cai , how hard is it to find the bus to Bac Ha ? Are there any buses from Bac Ha to Sapa, or will I need to get one to Lao Cai and then another one to Sapa?

    Ideally I'd love to be flexible about whether I take the train from Sapa to Hanoi on day 13-14 or day 14-15 depending on how long I decide I want to be in Sapa, but I need to buy these tickets a few days in advance, right?

    Any suggestions of cheap places to stay in Can Tho? All of the backpacker or flashpacker options listed on Travelfish seem to have major issues.

    The other things I'm thinking of probably belong in different categories, so I'll post them there. Thanks.

    #14 Posted: 20/7/2009 - 10:24

  • BruceMoon

    Click here to learn more about BruceMoon
    Joined Travelfish
    27th December, 2008
    Location Australia
    Posts: 1941
    Total reviews: 6

    eb

    If you've booked your train passage to Lao Cai , I suggest you book the bus legs via a travel agent. If you haven't booked the train/bus legs, go to:

    www.sinhcafevn.com

    and book.

    The sharks that line up at Lao Cai station will rob you blind if you haven't already got a pre-booking. The Sinh Cafe mob are OK.

    - - -

    Return o/n train, NO, you can buy on the day. There are several trains going each night. You may not have the best choice of time, that's all. Any travel agent / hotel in SaPa will organise for you. Just do a comparison between a couple to double check you're not getting ripped off.

    Can Tho, can't help. Maybe best to just rock up and select for yourself at the time. August isn't a busy time.

    - - -

    When you get to KL, you'll have to take the 9MYR bus to KL Central. LK Central is the train station with links to rapid transit, monorail, etc.

    Make sure you know where to get the bus the next am - it takes an hour from KL Central to the airport. If flying with Air Asia, you MUST be there 2 hours before (at a pinch, 1 hour 40 min). The hassle is getting yourself to KL Central as the rapid transit system in KL doesn't start till 6am. The alternative is a taxi.

    Cheers



    - - -

    #15 Posted: 20/7/2009 - 13:12

  • eb

    Joined Travelfish
    5th July, 2009
    Posts: 21
    Total reviews: 5

    I'm actually not even planning to bother going into KL - just gonna stay at the Tune Hotel by the LCCT (so I will have to get from KLIA, where I arrive to LCCT). My flight gets in around 18:40, but once I get through customs, get over to LCCT, check in at the hotel, etc., and then spend an hour to get downtown, it seems like it will be more hassle than it is worth, esp. since my flight the next morning is at 7am (on Air Asia). I'm basically just stopping there to save money, but not viewing it as an actual destination on the trip (even though I would love to check it out if I had more time). They say they have free internet in the lobby, so maybe it'll give me a chance to catch up on email a bit.

    #16 Posted: 20/7/2009 - 17:40

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