Hello, I'm currently planning my trip to vietnam and I have 12 days to get from hanoi to hcmc... Tentatively it goes like this:
Day 1: hanoi
Day 2: hanoi
Day 3: hanoi
Day 4: ha long bay
Day 5: hoi an or hue
Day 6: hoi an or hue
Day 7: nha trang
Day 8: nha trang
Day 9 hcmc
Day 10: hcmc
Day 11: hcmc
Day 12: hcmc
Is this itinerary doable given that this is all overland travel, using train or buses? Any suggestions would be great!
#1 kellipoop has been a member since 24/9/2010. Posts: 8
I think you need an overnight in halong bay and I would spend an extra day in Hue or hoi An and a day less in HCMC.
You don't allow time for travel. have a look at seat61.com for info about trains and see if you can work out overnight train trips, the one between Hanoi and Hue (or danang for Hoi An) and between Nha trang and Saigon would be most useful. The night train between Hue and Nha Trang only has soft seats or hard sleepers, though it's usually easy to buy tickets (and I thought it was fine).
The Vietnam airlines website will show you plane times. If you travel in the middle of the day, by the time you allow for travel to and from the airport ans waiting time it can take up a considerable part of the day.
#2 violets has been a member since 6/7/2009. Posts: 151
Violet has a very good point on travel. That will eat considerable time.
It's hard to comment on posts like this, because you throw out an itinerary with a bunch of place names, but don't specifiy why you want to go to these places. Since we know nothing about you the person, your interests, your likes and dislikes, it becomes impossible to give intelligent advice. For example, if it were me, it would be 8 days in Hanoi, dancing with Do Sao Mai and her dancers, because she's a great dancer and I want to support her dance scene. Then I would fly to Saigon and dance in the budding scene there for four days. This is all because I love to dance. I couldn't care less about natural beauty. Holds no interest for me whatsoever. On the other hand, maybe it is very interesting to you. Or maybe you are an expert of French paratroop history and want to walk the old Dien Bien Phu battlefield... there's a million possibilities. So for anyone to give informed advice, the basics of what you want to do, what you like and don't like, would really help. Otherwise people are going to tell you what they would do - which, as you see from my example, might not be what you would do.
Whilst I agree that it's hard to advise people without knowing your likes and dislikes, the itinerary you suggest will give you a good mix of the key 'things' in Vietnam and I agree with Violets about shifting a day from HCMC to Hue / Hoi An - unless of course during your time in HCMC you want to visit the Mekong for more than a day. Of course, Hue and Hoi An are very different places so I'm not sure how you're going to decide which to go for! Overnight trains and buses will probably save you time on flying and giving you're essentially splitting the country into thirds, none of the journeys will be too onerous. However, one suggestion - if you're only going to Nha Trang to sit on the beach you could consider doing that in Hoi An instead (depending on time of year) and then flying from Danang to HCMC. It just means less up-rooting yourself.
Thank you all for your suggestions.
Like travellingsarah stated, we are trying to see the key "highlights" in vietnam. We are also going to be traveling to bali afterwards lounging on the beach so do you think we should get rid of nha trang and give the days to hue/hoi an?
Also, I thought ha long bay was a day trip from hanoi? Would it be better to stay the night, and would it be possible to catch a train from there or would I need to go back to hanoi to travel down south?
And I will check out seat61. Thanks again for your help!
#5 kellipoop has been a member since 24/9/2010. Posts: 8
Halong is about 3-4hour drive from Hanoi depends on the traffic. You can go to Halong for 2 days trip and get back to Hanoi at about 4.30pm, catch night train at either 19.00 or 23.00.
Choose the fast train SE1 or SE3.
Livitrans Express is tourist carriage, or else, you can just get a berth on Vietnam railways carriage for a cheaper rate.
#7 kellipoop has been a member since 24/9/2010. Posts: 8
As Saggie says, it's a long drive to Halong so if you just do a day trip you will spend most of your time on the bus and not get to spend long in the Bay at all. So an overnight stay is a better option. Note that if you do opt for the day trip you are very unlikely to make it back to Hanoi for the 1900 train so would need to take the later one.
Nha Trang - bit of a party place if you're looking for that and the beach is fine but if you are going to Bali yes, you could give it a miss. Based on your schedule you'd only get one night there anyway. So personally yes, I'd give the time to Hue / Hoi An.
Thanks all for all the tips and suggestions! It has really helped.
But one more quicky question... Would you suggest booking tours in advance or when we get there? And if in advance do you have any suggestions for good tour agencies.
#10 kellipoop has been a member since 24/9/2010. Posts: 8
You should be fine to book tours when you arrive - I've had a few friends and family over to visit and they haven't had any problems with Halong, I'm not sure about Sapa (if you decide to go).