We're going to be in southern SE Asia for Christmas 2010 and would like to find a pleasant place to spend it. Our plans are flexible but we need to be close to an airport because I need to fly back to the US the day after Christmas. We will be around the Mekong Delta, Cambodia or So. Laos aroung that time. We are open to any suggestions.
#1 heidisueelvus has been a member since 20/8/2010. Posts: 28
What sort of 'Christmas experience are you looking for? Bustling city, quiet beach, parties and action, a peaceful town, turkey dinner or spicy curry, hot and balmy weather or cold and chilly?
I think we all have different interpretations of what makes a 'pleasant' Christmas, so any guidelines as to what you are looking for might help us give some useful advice. There are so many options...
Good questions. I think we would prefer a quiet beach or peaceful town, any kind of good food and warm weather.
#3 heidisueelvus has been a member since 20/8/2010. Posts: 28
In that region I would have 4 suggestions for you.
- Con Dao islands. Beautiful remote island in the ocean. Very scenic, peaceful and quiet. Food is not that great compared to rest of Vietnam but there are some decent places to grap a bite. Fly from Saigon and back (boat is not a serious option)
- Phu Quoc. Plenty of information can be found on that. Most complete of the 3 options but not really my choice but there are some excellent places there. I'm just not an expert on the island but do not like the development which is going on there. Fly from Saigon and back (boat is an option in combination with a bus/taxi trip).
- Kep. Peaceful quiet town with some great restaurants and guesthouses. No real nice beaches though but beautiful natural setting with small national park and great views. Half day overland to Phnom Penh (and then fly) or very long day (better to do in two days) to Saigon to fly out from.
- Mui Ne. Pleasant tourist beach town. Nice mix of bars, hotels and restaurants. Getting a bit like a normal tourist beach town and I still find it pleasant but can imagine that it won't stay like that for long. day on bus/car to/from Saigon.
my preference would be: Kep, Con Dao, Mui Ne, Phu Quoc
Thank you east/west, that was very helpful. I am particularly intrigued by the idea of going to Kep. My problem is that I don't want to travel on December 25 and I need to be on a plane back to US on December 26. I'm worried that it might be difficult to get from Mui Ne to Saigon in time to catch plane? Do you think it might be doable from Kep? I'll check out the flight times out of Phnom Penh.
#5 heidisueelvus has been a member since 20/8/2010. Posts: 28
Road travel is not an issue.
South east asians don't celebrate christmas. You might see some santa clauses and decorations but it has no impact on travel. The only obvious worry is flights for westerners.
I don't know when your flight out is but if it's in the afternoon Con Dao and Phu Quoc are options with morning flights back to Saigon on the 26th (you have to check of course).
From Mui Ne it should not be a problem if you leave early enough in the morning. I don't know bus schedules but if it's important you could hire a private car to be more flexible.
Kep to Saigon is a different story. Best option would be to fly from Phnom Penh to Saigon if you can afford it (leave kep in morning by bus and take afternoon flight). Overland you have two options but both are long days on buses.
- through Mekong delta. Scenic route but roughly 15 hours with lots of bus changes. This is more a "travel" option and also more unreliable because of local transport and many changes. Not recommended for you if you're in a hurry and don't want uncertainties.
- via Phnom Penh. Leave Kep in the morning by bus (or private taxi is probably better/more comfortable (3-4 hours)) and take afternoon (around 1 pm) bus from Phnom Penh to Saigon. Earlier buses to Saigon are possible (they go all through the day) but then you must take a private taxi -which is not so expensive ($40 or so)- from Kep and leave very early in the morning.
This is a lot easier, more comfortable and reliable than the other overland route. Dozens of bus companies ride between PP and Saigon and all of them several times per day. Buses are good quality and efficient. That ride usually takes about 6-7 hours so you'll arrive in the early evening in Saigon.
good luck with chosing.
East/west - I really appreciate you taking the time to give me all that information and advice, it is very helpful.
#7 heidisueelvus has been a member since 20/8/2010. Posts: 28
I'd suggest going dancing in Saigon (it has a small salsa scene), getting drunk, and flying out the next day. Because the stress of trying to get there in a few hours just ain't worth it whereever else you stay.
#9 MADMAC has been a member since 6/6/2009. Posts: 6,957
The salsa was kind of a joke, although I do love to dance. That's a long story. But I teach it now, and have been dancing seriously for about ten years.
Reference the post, though, I just wouldn't want my travel to be on the day of my flight. Asking for stress and a poor outcome.
#11 MADMAC has been a member since 6/6/2009. Posts: 6,957
It also wouldn't be my choice but it depens a little on the situation. In this case I also just give the options.
I think Mui Ne to Saigon shouldn't be any problem. Nor would any short flight be.
The overland option from Kep to Saigon wouldn't be my choice if my flight on the same day depended on it. Border crossing and fact that you probably don't have that much margin for error (timewise) wouldn't make for a relaxing trip.
But some people don't mind and it's great if you can let such things go. I couldn't but everyone is different.
Thank you all for your ideas. It was also fun to watch your discussion re salsa dancing and Saigon! I think we've decided to spend the days on Phu Quoc with an early flight out to Saigon the next morning and an afternoon flight out from Saigon to the states. We're trying to keep our itinerary fairly open while we're in SE Asia but felt like we'd better make some reservations for Christmas.
#13 heidisueelvus has been a member since 20/8/2010. Posts: 28
I would love to go to Halong Bay but we will be in So. Vietnam at that time and flying out of Saigon the day after Christmas.
#16 heidisueelvus has been a member since 20/8/2010. Posts: 28
Our orginal itinerary was going to see us spend Christmas in either Hoi An or Nha Trang, however, now we are booked in at Phong Nha Farmstay, commencing December 23rd.
Apparently the place has a family type atmosphere and it also promises to be in a peaceful laid back area.Rest and peace in a beautiful setting, with great hosts......
Can't think of any other better Christmas present than that !
#18 KevandJho has been a member since 15/9/2011. Posts: 65