Hi, Landing in Hanoi in 10 days. staying @ Hanoi Central backpackers, want to do Halong Bay + Sapa in the first week - a little concerned about weather, from checking online in looks like there are storms up+down the country... I have 4 weeks, planned to do north-south but wonder if i should skip some places due to weather. advice?
is it a good idea to book these tours with hostel - or shop around when i arrive?
There's not much you can do about the weather, but I would wait until you're in country to decide on places to skip. People in this country are used to the storms, and they adapt very quickly. I would shop around for a travel agent if I were you. I'm one of those people who needs to spread it around - if you know what I mean. For Sapa, all you need do is to book the train, and then you can do most of the rest yourself. When you arrive in Sapa, I suggest you then hook up with a local agency. I'm coming myself in 6 days (Hanoi) for my 4th trip. So glad to hear you're giving the trip 4 weeks! This way, you have time to enjoy the country without running around with your head cut off. I suggest you take Travelfish's advice and keep the itinerary planning to a minimum. Do educate yourself about the taxi/cyclo scams - remember that you're in charge! Maybe we'll run into each other - I'm the bald senior with glasses!
I stayed at Central Backpackers earlier this year. The place is ok, and in quite a good spot. There are plenty of fellow travellers to be found in the area. There is also a little restaurant on the same street which does an excellent steak sandwich and fries (after 7 weeks I was ready for some home comforts!). I cant remember the name of the place but it has a large inflatable bottle of Tabasco Sauce outside though. You cant miss it.
As for the Sapa trip, I found that the trains started to fill up several days in advance so it might be worth enquiring about the availability as soon as you arrive. The Ha Long Bay trip is great, but I found all the packages to be broadly similar and the only difference seemed to be the quality of the boats, which seemed to be more luck of the draw and bore no correlation to the cost of the package.
Often you will find that the cruise is combined with a trip to Cat Ba national park which is OK, but the night on the boat is the star of the show. The hike in the national park is decent but it somehow feels like filler after the cruise, not least as the little town that we spent the second night in was little more than a spot on the map with nothing much going on.
Finally, if you are planning on 'partying'during your night on the boat, be warned that the cost of beer etc can be astronomical. The operators have cottoned on to the fact that they can charge what they like, even for soft drinks. Most of the youngsters on my cruise had smuggled aboard some 'contraband' spirits.
Enjoy your trip.
#3 ms1892 has been a member since 23/12/2009. Posts: 38