Dear SE Asia travellers,
My girlfriend and I are planning a trip to Vietnam and Thailand, arriving in HCMC on the evening of 8 July and returning home from Bangkok on 8 August. I've put together an itinerary and would be very grateful if some experienced travellers could cast their eye over it. Recommendations, suggestions, changes would be greatly appreciated. We've included a few internal flights to save time. Here we go...
Day 1 - HCMC
Day 2 - HCMC
Day 3 - HCMC (day trip to tunnels)
Day 4 - Mekong Delta (over night stay)
Day 5 - HCMC
Day 6 - Nha Trang (fly from HCMC)
Day 7 - Nha Trang
Day 8 - Nha Trang (Sleeper train to Hoi An via Danang)
Day 9 - Hoi An
Day 10 - Hoi An
Day 11 - Hoi An
Day 12 - Hue (easyrider from Hoi An???)
Day 13 - Hanoi (fly from Hue)
Day 14 - Hanoi
Day 15 - Halong Bay
Day 16 - Halong Bay
Day 17 - Hanoi
Day 18 - Hanoi
Day 19 - Bangkok (fly from Hanoi)
Day 20 - Bangkok
Day 21 - Bangkok
Day 22 - Bangkok (sleeper train to Chiang Mai
Day 23 - Chiang Mai
Day 24 - Chiang Mai (over night trek)
Day 25 - Chiang Mai
Day 26 - Ko Sumui (fly from Chiang Mai)
Day 27 - Island (Ko Pha Ngan/Ko Sumui/Ko Tao
Day 28 - as above
Day 29 - as above
Day 30 - as above
Day 31 - as above
Day 32 - Fly Surat to Bangkok to home
1. Is it too long in HCMC given our time frame. Would it be better to take a day off and put it somewhere else?
2. Is an overnight stay on Mekong highly recommended?
3. Should I take a day off somewhere to add on to our stop in Hue?
4. Given our timeframe is a two night Halong Bay package appropriate or would one night suffice?
5. Should I take a day off Bangkok and add it on to Chiang Mai?
6. Is it worth doing to Pai to do the trekking or will Chiang Mai suffice given our timeframe?
7. Is there much added benefit from island hoping or should we maximise our time on one island and explore it as much as we can. If so, which island out of the three?
Thanks in advance.
#1 prankmonkey has been a member since 8/2/2010. Posts: 4
I would knock a day of HCMC and add it to Hue - not that HCMC is not worth the time, more that you will need 2 days in Hue. It's a couple of hours from Hoi An, so unless you leave early in the morning it's going to be around lunchtime by the time you arrive.
Take the 1 night trip to Halong as you suggest, and have that extra day in Hanoi, it's a great city to walk the streets and take in the atmosphere.
Overall it looks very well thought out to me. Here are my answers:
1. Yes I would knock a day off HCMC and give it to Hue . You can see a lot in Hue in just one day but I prefer to take at least 2 days in any one destination... A little breathing room.
2. Never been, couldn't tell you.
4. This is a matter of preference. Even with 2 nights for Ha Long Bay you still have plenty of time for Ha Noi, so if it were me I would do 2 nights for Ha Long Bay and make sure to spend one of them on Cat Ba Island! Actually if it were me I would do both nights on Cat Ba, but that's just me... I don't really care for the night on the boat - just think it's kind of boring.
5. I don't think so, unless you're keen on extra time for trekking in the north... You may consider doing a day trip up to Ayutthaya from Bangkok though.
6. Never been to Pai so can't really say, but given your time frame if you do go up to Pai you'll probably want to knock a day or two off somewhere else to allow for that.
7. Personally I don't see the point in island hopping. You will have done a lot of traveling by the time you reach the islands - maybe would be nice to relax and enjoy just one? Certainly all three of those islands seems a bit much for your time frame. Koh Tao and Koh Phangan are probably better choices than Samui - more laid back anyway. If you're interested in diving/snorkalling then definitely Koh Tao. Regardless I personally would do Koh Tao.
Number 7: Ko samui is a large island, plently to do.I would leave this open as if you get bored you can always arrange the Island hopping last minute. We went here planning to explore & do lots, but ended up doing NOTHING for 5 days.......it was wonderful
#4 jasinorbit has been a member since 4/12/2009. Posts: 37
A big thanks for your prompt replies!
Any recommendations on the best area to stay on Ko Samui/Ko Pha Ngan. Would like a pretty decent nightlife, but not pumping down the beach every night and awesome beach. Will definitely check out Tao for the snorkeling/diving. Any accommodation recommendations for a couple that's wanting a few creature comforts after being on the move for three weeks - willing to spend the extra money at this point!
#5 prankmonkey has been a member since 8/2/2010. Posts: 4
I agree that you need an extra day in Hue, even that seems hardly enough to me. Get the train from Danang to see the beautiful coast.
I'd also want another day in the Mekong, though with that timeframe you will want an organised tour, so see what's available.
#6 violets has been a member since 6/7/2009. Posts: 151
Among the cities, Hanoi is the most interesting, so I would drop 2 days from HCMC and also drop 1 day from Bangkok. I would also fly from Nha Trang to Danang instead of the train - pretty boring trip on that train and you waste a great deal of time. I would use the saved time to take a trip to Sapa by overnight train - a really interesting, one-of-a-kind places in VN.
#7 daawgon has been a member since 17/4/2007. Posts: 1,083
Q2. I went on an overnight Mekong tour into Cambodia last year. It felt really rushed and therefore a bit pointless. Even though it might be a shame to miss it, you're definitely better off cutting back on places where you can only afford to spend a night in favour of having more time in the ones you do visit! Only excpetion would be Halong Bay - although there is a lot of exploring to be done it's the impact of the place that really sticks with you in the long run, one night might be enough.
Q6. I love Pai but it's the kind of place worth visiting if you have time to settle down a bit. The bus from CM to Pai is 3.5hrs which all-in-all means two more half days of travel. You'll find great treks from CM too I reckon.
Q7. It's definitely better to spend more time in one place than on, err, buses & ferries :) So yeah, I'd say stick to one island (unless you don't like it, in which case you can just move on). I think reading the descriptions here on Travelfish give a really good feel for what you'll like.