If you had only one region to visit in Vietnam, which one would you choose?
I'm headed on my first backpacking trip through Thailand, Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam this spring, and I'm only going to have about a week/10 days in Vietnam because I'm really trying to focus on the other 3 countries this time around. I would like a taste however, but I'm wondering what the best region to experience a little bit of Vietnam would be.
Should we go to Ho Chi Minh and the Mekong Delta, exploring some of the villages around there? Or should we head up to Hoi An, I've heard it's a beautiful little city with good food and tailors, then maybe take a day trip or two to places close by? OR, should we head straight to the north, visit Hanoi, take a trip in Halong Bay, and then visit Sapa if we have time as well?
I would say that I am mostly an 'active traveller', not afraid of walking/biking etc. I do like cities, but will be spending a fair amount of time in Bangkok, Chiang Mai and Luang Prabang. Also, we'll already be spending some time in the Thai Islands as well as along the Mekong in Laos, so although I do love beach/lounge time, I'll already be getting a fair amount of that. So basically, what I'm trying to figure out, is what will be the most unique experience in Vietnam out of those 3 regions? I know it's a different country and they're all unique, but what is the most can't-miss-it type of region? Any opinions/suggestions/tales-of-past-experiences would be much appreciated!
#1 katerpillar has been a member since 4/12/2011. Posts: 5
I'd say the north ( Hanoi , Halong and Sapa ) if you can make it 10 days rather than 1 week.
I must admit that it's not my favorit region in Vietnam but it would probably suit you best given your other destinations and "activeness". Besides it is perfect for ten days and you would be able to tick it off and leave the rest for another visit.
A few days hiking in the cool climate of Sapa is probably very welcome during a long backpacking trip. Halong bay gives plenty of opportunity to swim and Hanoi is a great city to stroll around for a few days.
You'll have to fly in and out of Hanoi though because overland travel is bit more time consuming
I would completely second eastwest's comments.
#3 chinarocks has been a member since 17/6/2011. Posts: 740
I also like the North - Hanoi and Sapa are the most interesting places - the places that I return to again and again. They can keep Saigon - the "Los Angeles of Vietnam". One other area that is very nice is the Central Highlands - I've been to the city of Dalat, but would like to see more of that area.
#4 daawgon has been a member since 17/4/2007. Posts: 1,114
I see that Eastwest opinion is correct. With time limit you should spend to discover and see in the North of Vietnam with Ha Noi, Ha Long Bay, Sapa. Other places in Vietnam you can return and visit next time. There are many places which are very interesting for you to visit so spend more time for them.
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#5 vietnamvisit has been a member since 8/12/2011. Posts: 2
Looks like we're all agreeing with eastwest! The reason I'd give for the north is the variety: with Hanoi, Halong and Sapa you have three very different experiences.
If you decide you really want to go to Hoi An then you could switch that in instead of Sapa - the travel time to and from Hoi An isn't much different from travelling to and from Sapa.
Thanks for the replies everyone!
Now another question about Sapa : For those who have been trekking around there, as well as in and around the Chiang Mai area, which do you prefer? Is Sapa worth going all the way up there on the train? Or is the experience similar around Chiang Mai? I'll be in Chiang Mai for quite a while so will definitely be doing some trekking around there. Is it good to compare the two? Or would my time be better spent heading down to Hoi An and seeing that part of Vietnam for a few days?
#7 katerpillar has been a member since 4/12/2011. Posts: 5
I prefer Sapa and the two are completely different.
First of all Sapa is much cooler and much sparsely vegetated. Around Chang Mai it's more a jungle trek in more humid climate. I would advise to visit both if you're really into activities (which you wrote yourself).
But you seem to get back about Hoi An. If you really fancy that you should go there. It's certainly a worthy place. My only problem with that is that you probably want to spend some more time in Hoi An, 4 days or so, and more in that region and then your visit to both regions would be a bit cramped. And if you do return you'd still have to go north to see Sapa.