My first taste of Asia since a big trip last year...its only going to be 2-3 weeks but I'm excited.
A few questions:
We are going mid-late January until early Feburary. I'm aware that Tet occurs in early Feburary..I'm fully aware this might impact on our plans a bit but is travelling around still feasible during this time?
Secondly, assuming the shorter period of 2 weeks, we hope to be able to travel the length of the country hopefully, stopping off in several places. We will be flying into HCMC and probably flying out of there too. I was thinking we could bus it up north, and then fly back from Hanoi to HCMC to save time at the end. Also at the start it is likely we will go to Cat Tien national park for a few days, to visit my girlfriends brother who is working there.
Is this do-able in a few weeks? I would like to visit Hanoi but of course the main reason I want to go up north is Halong Bay...it feels like it would be a waste of time visiting Vietnam if I can't go there.
It is quite doable if you fly between destinations. During Tet I would suggest being in either Nha Trang or Saigon because there are very large expat areas that will have services open. Travel will still be available, but at inflated prices. Be sure to have flights booked before you go. Getting around can be difficult during Tet.
You might want to do Halong and Hanoi for 4 Days, then to Hoi An/Danang/Hue for 5. After that head to Nha trang for 4 or 5 days before ending in Saigon for the remainder of your trip.
I have to disagree! 2 weeks is much too short a time to see all of Vietnam - I advise you to select one region, and cover it well. I prefer the north myself, as I'm writing this from my Hanoi hotel room. I feel that Saigon has the least to offer the tourist.
Yeah, as I've done more planning I've started to realise that...
I always do this when I have limited time, excitedly try to plan to see everything then realise I have no chance. I never learn :)
I think we may have to miss the North out this time, since we have now booked to fly into Saigon - we sort of had to do that as my girlfriend has family there she wants to see.
Also, January/Febuary looks like it probably isnt the best time to visit Halong Bay.
So perhaps we will just stick to the South/Central areas.
owee - thanks for the advice about Tet. We are actually going to be in Vietnam till the 7th Feb, so following your advice we may try and spend time in Saigon at the end rather than the start of our trip, as we can travel around more easily the first week (we get in on the 25th Jan after a day in Bangkok)
Of any of the regions, the north would be the one I'd cut out first... HCMC, the national park, Nha Trang, maybe Da Lat, Hoi An, Hue... That's still a great trip! Ha Long Bay is beautiful, no doubt, but from my experience it wasn't even close to the most enjoyable aspect of my time in Vietnam - save it for next time and don't sweat it.