Hi, we are travelling to Vietnam in May and arrive in Hanoi on the 15th and then fly out of Hi Chi Minh (Saigon) on the 16th of June.
We are thinking of using the train to see most of Vietnam, heading to Sa Pa (Sapa) first then back to Hanoi and then down to Ho Chi Minh.
Was just wondering if this is a good route and if anybody can recommend places to get off/stay and visit whilst there?
Hi David - I would suggest you check out some of these itinerary ideas to get an idea of what is possible, see what grabs you interest and go from there.
There is wealth of info in the Vietnan section of this website to get you going!
I like to mix my modes of transport in VN - the train is good on some routes, but not so good on others. The train is quite good out of Hanoi to points NW and SE as far as Danang. From Danang to Nha Trang or HCMC, I like Vietnam Airlines. Some locations (Dalat and the Delta) have no train connection and will require either private car or minibus. Travelfish has some excellent tips under Places/Vietnam. It's very good that you're giving VN at least a month.
#3 daawgon has been a member since 17/4/2007. Posts: 1,111
The trains are fine but if you do your homework and decide what you really want to see you can get bargin flights with Vietnam Airlines if you book early. We flew from Hanoi to Dong Hoi for $30AUD, it took 1hr instead of 12hrs on the train.
Take a travel guide book and get yourself a good map before you go (maps are impossible to find when you get there)
Hanoi - stay in the old quarter for the best vibe, read my post on Hanoi Taxi's and eat early as dinner is hard to find after about 8.30pm.
Halong Bay - visit slopony website for comprehensive instructions on how to get to Cat Ba and then use there fab services for your adventures when you get there.
Dong Hoi - a non touristy town (think we were the only white people there) but if you are interested in going to Phong Nha caves and the Vinh Moc tunnels they are about an hours traveling from here, you will get told that it is easier to go to these places from Hue, but you will be backtracking and you spend the whole day on the bus (yuck). Not much English is spoken here but it is possible to arrange transport (message me if you are interested in contacts). Don't stay at the Coscevo Nhat Le hotel it is awful, despite not looking too bad on the net.
Hue - the Citadel is brilliant, as are the tombs, but be prepared to be harassed to death by touts.
Hoi An - I could have stayed for a week...it had the best food, a great atmosphere and heaps of shopping. If you are so inclined hire a scooter to get yourself around, it should cost about $5 per day and the traffic isn't too manic here (but be aware they kick all motorized transport out of the old town at 2pm, its foot traffic and pushbikes only), but they do have parking on the edge of town. Don't know your accommodation style but try to stay near the center as China beach is lovely but it's a lot further out of the center than it seems. Have a look at Thanh Van I (we stayed at ThanhVan II, which was lovely but a little far out of town, our friends stayed at the sister hotel which was much closer and just as nice). Visit My Son it is brilliant.
We concentrated on the top half of the country as we had time constraints but with a month you should get a really good look around. Travel safe
#4 sems has been a member since 8/8/2010. Posts: 28
Hey guys, thanks for the replies and there are a lot of good ideas about where to go, I get @daawgon advising flights will save time but we have a whole month so would rather see most of Vietnam from the ground if it is physically possible, and @sems thanks for your very informative post! these are the ideas we need, places off the beaten track and alternative ways to see things apart from the major centres - so I thank you all for your help.
Here is a link to the first of a series of pages that my help you decide on places t see and visit
Nice to hear that you would like to visit Vietnam next May
As I see that, you will have a month in Vietnam and this travel duration will be okay for you to cover the whole Vietnam.
I would like to suggest the program like this for your Vietnam vacation:
- Spending 2 or 3days for Hanoi and surrounding area such as Ninh Binh with Tam Coc, Hoa Lu or Cuc Phuong National Park then leaving to Sapa
- Catching the night train to Lao Cai ( Sapa) and spending around 4 - 5days there depending on which kind of activity would you like to take: biking, trekking ( to the village or to the Mt. Fansipan)
- Then continue moving to the Center of Vietnam ( Hue and Hoian). You could spend from 4 - 6days in this area to visit the most famous places such as the Royal citadel, The monument, pagoda, ancient town... shopping and relaxing on the beach.
May will be fine for your beach vacation in the center of Vietnam.
- After that, you could visit the South of Vietnam with Saigon, Mekong River Delta and beach ( Nha Trang, Mui Ne, Phu Quoc) or visit Dalat - in the Center highland...
- It is a great ideal if you could take the train from Hanoi to Hue/ Danang or Danang - Saigon to enjoy the scenery but the train in Vietnam is not as comfortable and fast as in your country.
#7 duong has been a member since 22/12/2010. Posts: 19
I've been working (on and off) Vietnam for more than 5 years now and i must say i like somethings and hate somethings too......In general, Vietnam is a safe place to travel to....foods are cheap...accomodation is of average....transporation is cheap...DSLR are cheap.......iphones are cheap.....silk are expensive..some travel packages are a bit expensive.....most locals don't speak English....streets are filled with motorbikes......taxi drivers are really annoying especially in Hanoi .....foods are great....
If you will arrive in Hanoi, you can start your travel from there.
Hanoi in general is old and busy with slight hint of Chinese culture. You can stay in Hoan Kiem District near the lake...
After Hanoi you can go to Halong Bay and or Sapa . I believe you can go to Sapa by train from Hanoi...In Hoan Kiem District there are many travel agency that can helpyou with a travel program....
Thats the Northern Part of Vietnam...after that you can go to Nha Trang and Muine and Hue and Dalat....
Nha Trang and Muine are for beach lovers, kite surfers, scuba divers, tanners and nature lovers.....From Nha Trang you can take a bus to Danang and Hue....and from Nha Trang you can ride the "sleeping bus" to Muine then Saigon City (Ho CHi Minh CIty)....
Dalat is the city of flowers and located in highlands....Hue is an old city...not much to do there....Saigon City is busy ...good for shopping souvenirs, gifts, silk, ....good for dining also...
In Nha Trang and Muine you can stay in bayside areas.....
In Saigon City you can stay along Bui Vien street and Pham Ngu Lao...its famous for expats, tourist and backpackers.....
There are many tourist agencies offering package tours all over the counry....Pick the best one....Only a few of them ....
Have fun and travel safe....
#8 JiroIsCounting has been a member since 23/12/2010. Posts: 24
thanks for all of the insight it has been very helpful with all of our planning so far. It is only just over 6 weeks until we leave for Vietnam so time is passing by very quickly indeed!
We have been looking into cookery schools, does anybody know where would be the best place to do this? or if anybody has had any experiences with this?
thanks again guys
There are lots of cookery schools at restaurants in Hoi An. Some fancy ones like Secret Garden (lovely setting) or Red Bridge (proper classroom), or something more simple like Gioan (we did a private class at Gioan as only wanted to do a couple of hours and it was casual and fun).
#10 jojo123 has been a member since 15/11/2010. Posts: 16
sorry only just noticed your reply, hopefully not too late! We paid about $9 each for the 3 dish private class at Gioan, and I'm sure other more 'homely' places would be in the same ball park. The big fancy schools were obviously more. Red Bridge has detailed pricing on their website to give you an idea http://www.visithoian.com/redbridge/cookingschool.html
#12 jojo123 has been a member since 15/11/2010. Posts: 16
I love me my Hue and thought Hoi An was an big white shopping mall.
Everyone's got different opinions.
Keep in mind that flying can be cheaper than taking the train sometimes... and the buses can be cheaper and more convenient (I'm thinking in and out of Hoi An here).
Re cookery schools - the $9 one mentioned above seems good value. From what I've heard, Hoi An is the best value place to do a course as there is a lot of choice and prices are good. The courses in Hanoi and Sapa (I'm sure there are some other threads on here about them) are possibly more organised affairs but pricey - think $30/40 +.
And re eating times - we've never had problems finding food, there's even stuff available (on Food Street) 24 hours a day. Enjoy!
I have visited vietnam, I want to share my tip with most popular destination in Vietnam.
In the North of Vietnam
+ Hanoi city tour ( full day) or you could visit by yourself
+ Halong tour ( should spend at least 2 day 1 night)
+ Sapa ( 3nights 2 day, homestay in sapa)
In the center
+ Take a flight or train to Da, Nang then Hoi An
+ Continue to visit Hue
+ Enjoy beautiful beaches in Nha Trang, Mui Ne
In the South
+ Half day to visit Ho Chi Minh city, Cu chi tunnel ..
+ Taking mekong tour
But please notice that it is very hot in June because it is simmer time
#16 yongin85 has been a member since 28/5/2011. Posts: 3
During this time you should take day trips to visit the main sights of Vietnam by trains and flights for saving time
Train to Dalat
Stay 3 nights here before transferring by easyrider to Nha Trang.
Stay in Nha trang for 3 nights, relaxing.
Train To Hoi An
Stay in Hoian for 3 nights, day trips to see populr sights.
Train to Hue.
Stay here for 3 nights, Day trips.
Train to Hanoi stay 2 nights
Train to Sapa.
Stay 2 nights.
Back to Hanoi
Day in Hanoi balance all.
3 day/2 night Halong bay( mid range.
Back to Hanoi
Fly to HCMC