We will be visiting Vietnam and Thailand in August 2010. I will be meeting my 17 year old daughter who will be completing a two week service trip in Laos and Cambodia in Bangkok. From research I have set on the following itinerary...We will leave Bangkok to Hanoi , one night Hanoi (Hotel Elegance), Sapa 4days (two on sleeper, one night to BacHa market then on to Sapa, hotel stay then second night homestay) Halong Bay for 2 nights (Prince junk), going the less traveled route to Bai Tu Long Bay. Then back to Hanoi for another day before heading to Chiang Mai . Chiang Mai 2 nights (Baan Oraphin)then to Chiang Dao (Chiang Dao Nest) for some trekking/2 days, one night, back to Chiang Mai then on to Bangkok ( Hilton Millenium) for the last 2 days. Any suggestions for better itinerary? My daughter does not have desire to go to Thailand beaches (will have to leave that for another solo trip) and wants to see the culture to round out her trip. We have never been to SE Asia. Any advice?
#1 jztravels has been a member since 22/2/2010. Posts: 3
Seems like a well thought-out plan to me. For culture Hanoi and Chiang Mai are both great cities to see it. In both cities, ironically, you'll want to take a walk through the Old Quarters - especially in Hanoi the culture there will shock, surprise and delight you. In Hanoi do not be too afraid of the traffic, which can be very overwhelming and intimidating at first. You simply have to find the courage to step out into the street and let the motorbikes go around you - watch how the locals do it... There aren't many cars and trucks but when you do see them don't get in their way! There are many museums and heritage sites worth seeing in Hanoi - I always tell people to download the Travelfish guide, great info in there. I assume you're booking a tour for the Sapa-Bac Ha-homestay? If so they should take care of everything.
In Chiang Mai there are many ancient Buddhist temples that are worth seeing and the trip up to Wat Doi Suthep is a nice one. If you're there on a Sunday don't miss the Sunday Market in the Old Quarter, which starts at Tha Pae Gate. In Bangkok if you're there on a Fri., Sat. or Sun., try to get out to Jatujak (JJ) Market, a massive sprawling market where you can buy all kinds of goods for very cheap... Especially good at the end of the trip if possible. Also in Bangkok Wat Pho is a favorite site of mine. A trip on one of the Chao Phraya river boats can also be fun and refreshing (catch it at any pier). If you're up for a day trip Ayutthaya is about an hour north... You can take a taxi for around 1000 baht. There you'll find the ruins of the ancient Siamese capital and you can take an elephant ride, that is if you haven't already when trekking up in the north.
In both Vietnam and Thailand be careful not to be scammed. At Hanoi Airport it's common for taxi drivers to quote you one price then demand a far higher price upon arrival, (such as quoting 200,000 dong then demanding 2,000,000 upon arrival and saying you made the mistake). If this does happen to you just remain calm and say you're contacting the tourist police. However it is best in Hanoi to avoid the men who approach you in the airport terminal itself and ask where you're going. Since you're booking in advance, ask your hotel if they can arrange to pick you up at the airport and, if not, look around for the "official" taxi service - make sure the taxi is metered. In Bangkok this is not so much of an issue, but there too, always make sure a taxi's meter is running. Never agree to a taxi driver's "special price for you." Always go with the meter (unless going a long distance such as to Ayutthaya - in this case you will have to negotiate the price). In general, though, Bangkok taxis are extremely reliable, easy to use, and they're everywhere! The skytrain is also easy and enjoyable.
I wish you the best of luck.
Thank you so much for your reply....great information and advice. We are really excited about the trip and this forum has helped us immensely with the planning. We will try and fit Ayutthaya in and if I can squeeze out another day or two were even thinking of getting to Sukhothai. We'll be flying mostly because of our time limitations but may take a bus to Sukohthai...or just hang in Chiang Mai. So many places to choose from...so little time:)
#3 jztravels has been a member since 22/2/2010. Posts: 3
""(such as quoting 200,000 dong then demanding 2,000,000 upon arrival and saying you made the mistake)"" ...:O hey guy, please dont flatttter. If you dont trust, so ask from a car company where they can offer you very good price. Let me ask you this question, who was experience with this? You? or from who? to tell this story to you?
You will see if googling, all tour operators just fix at price of 25 USD. And this is very certainly thing. So if you said that, how you can believe in paying for your trip, because it must be different quotation for variety of choices.!
Anyway, I am as a private guide and I just feel dont agree with this feeling of you who hasnt ever been to Vietnam but lost trust like that.
#4 Junie has been a member since 23/3/2010. Posts: 3
As DLuek said, Ha Noi is a great town ... the first time off the curb into the traffic flow will be the worst. After that, you'll understand it. Choose your opening and walk steadily forward ... try not to look at the drivers. It'll just make you 2nd guess yourself (or them 2nd guess you, which is just as bad).
About Noi Bai Airport, at Ha Noi (despite what "Junie" went off about at #4), there is the potential for taxi scammers. Best is to be picked up by someone from your hotel (they'll generally have a little sign with your name on it). Otherwise, when you come out of the terminal, more or less straight ahead at the curb are some railings and taxis backed in. There's usually a man or woman with a clipboard or such, directing people to cabs. A year ago, fare into the Old Quarter was about 15 USD.
By the way, we stayed at the Hotel Elegance 4 on Hang Bac Street and found it to be just fine. Great staff and good location (in the middle of the Old Quarter, a short walk from the Water Puppets theatre and Hoan Kiem Lake).
Enjoy your travels!