First of all, I would like to thank Travelfish, as this website has turned out to be really useful when planning my trip, so I would like to hear any suggestions you may have on my trip plan, considering time of the year travelling, lenght of the trip...
I am leaving with my partner in the 1st of July and and we are planning to spend 3/4 days in Bangkok and take the overnight North train to Laos after that, visiting Vientiane (probably a couple of days), and then head north to Luang Prabang (4 days).
We were planning to take a plane to Hanoi from here (after reading the problems people had with taking buses to Hanoi), and once in Hanoi we want to spend 3 days in Halong Bay and 3/4 days andn Sapa. We would the like to head south taking overnight train to Hue, Hoi An, maybe spend a couple of days by the sea (any suggestion) and keep our trip to HCMC, do a tour around the Mekong Delta and cross the border to Phnom Phen, and Siem Reap and Angkor Watt from there.
We would then go back to Bangkok to finish our trip.
Is it too much to do in 7 weeks. Is there any extra stop you would do on the way or sth you would skip?
Thanks in advance for all your help,
#1 AlexBCN has been a member since 22/3/2010. Posts: 12
Hello. All sounds well planned and quite a comfortable pace. I'd certainly go to all of the places you mention.
Sounds like Vietnam will take up most of the time: the first time I came to Vietnam (6 years ago) I did pretty much what you're planning and comfortably managed it in under 3 weeks - travelling by land everywhere i.e. no flights.
I'd check out the weather before committing to a 3 day trip to Halong Bay - it's typhoon season in July and it won't be much fun being there for 2 nights if it's wet. One night might then be enough.
Regarding the beach, I'd say there are 3 options:
Hoi An - the beaches are beautiful and having Hoi An as a base is lovely, plus it saves you stopping off elsewhere for beach time. There's not a lot there though - but you can scuba. They're just out of town so you can get a taxi or hire a bike.
Nha Trang - in my opinion it's a bit tooo touristy and was also a bit dirty when I was there a few weeks ago but that could be due to the TET festival bringing in the crowds. However, it's a lovely beach, there are plenty of restaurants and bars and you can take a day trip out on a boat for snorkelling / to see other islands which, in my experience, was a great laugh!
Mui Ne - the beach isn't as stunning, and there's no snorkelling / scuba but you can do other water sports such as kite and windsurfing. It's a more compact resort than Nha Trang and I just about prefer it.
As to the other parts of your trip: Laos is wonderful so I'd definitely advocate spending a bit more time there if you can. Getting to the south will be a bit too time consuming (though if you have time at the end of your trip you could go back into Laos from Siem Riep, chill at 4000 islands and then go to BKK from there - not sure about flights but you can do it by land).
Anyway, if you want to party, head to Vang Vieng, en route from Vientiene to LP. For a quieter pace of live head up to Nong Khiaw from LP - we got the bus as we'd just done a 2-day slow boat trip, but I hear the slow boat from LP to Nong Khiaw is worth doing: it takes about 6 hours and will cost about 100,000kip. Nong Khiaw itself is worth a stay and an explore (by kayak or bike) but we absolutely loved Muong Noi, 1 hr further up river: we did a self-guided trek and the scenery was some of the most amazing I've ever seen and the villages were wonderful.
Weather-wise - it will be hot and wet! Though saying that, we were in Vietnam last August and Cambodia in September and whilst we did get quite a few downpours, we were lucky on the beaches and the wet weather didn't stop us doing anything.
Let me know if you have any specific questions. Have fun!
Thanks Sarah... I was actually thinking on flying from Hoi An (Danang to Ho Chi Minh) after seeing the price of the flights, and maybe get some more time in Laos this way.
Is the weather actually that bad in North Vietnam by the end of July? I have checked some other forum topics about it, and I was under the impression that end of July/beginning of August would be more WET in South Vietnam than North Vietnam... :(
Many thanks for all the help!
#3 AlexBCN has been a member since 22/3/2010. Posts: 12
Yup, I meant to say that if you have your beachtime in Hoi An you could then save time and fly to HCMC, rather than having to stop off at Nha Trang / Mui Ne.
I'm really not too sure on the weather - reports I've read have varied. My Rough Guide says Hanoi and Northern Vietnam are generally hot and very wet during the summer. Last year the weather was bad in July (we were in Hong Kong but watching the weather reports) but when we got here in early August it was fine in Hanoi, though it rained loads when we were in Halong Bay! You really can't predict it though so I wouldn't worry - I only mentioned it because we've spoken to quite a few people who have been on Halong Bay trips and the consensus was that a night would have been enough because the weather wasn't good enough for sunbathing - but that was February.
Thanks again for the answers, it looks like we might have 2 or 3 days more in SEA, and I was wondering what of the two options would be better:
- Go to the 4000 islands in Laos (how do go back to Bangkok if we chose this)
- Travel around Thailand (maybe Sukothai or Chiang Mai if the things in Thailand get better...)
Any other suggestions?
Thanks in advance!
#5 AlexBCN has been a member since 22/3/2010. Posts: 12
Hi Alex - If you've only got a couple of days, either of those options will be quite rushed and involve a fair bit of travel, so you might be better off just spending a bit longer somewhere you've already got scheduled in. I know I suggested 4,000 islands earlier but for 2 days, I don't think it's worth it due to the travel times. And besides, you'd want to spend longer there!
If you do fancy Chiang Mai you could change your route slightly and maybe look at flying / train / bus from Bangkok, then overland into Laos and down the Mekong to LP. But I'm not sure you'd have time to fit this in?
Can I suggest for your trips from Hue to Hoi An , that you look at the option of taking a ride with "Easy Riders".
My husband and I were convinced by a very encouraging motor bike rider (whose name escapes me just for the moment) in Hue, to take a trip on the back of his motorbike down to Hoi An instead of catching the bus.
I am so glad we did! The rider and his mate (both actually had the same name!) had very well cared for bikes that were only a few years old. They were very comfortable and both riders thought of our every comfort at all times.
The trip was only 4 - 5 hours and this was with many stops, including Elephant Rock, Marble Mountain and a few others. We are not motorbike people normally but we both thoroughly enjoyed our time on the back of these bikes.
I will find the details for anyone who is interested and post them here. I can't recommend these guys enough to be honest. It was a highlight to travel in such a way and so much fun.