Firstly I know people are going to tell me 8 days isn't long enough however thats all the time I have and I can't change that. I'm a british citizen hopefully travelling with a friend if not by myself. I will be travelling to Vietnam from Vang Vieng, Laos preferably by bus or overnight train in December time, which I'm told is there dry season.
Below are a few places i'd like to visit Can anyone who has been tell me realistically what they think I could fit in and make an enjoyable time here please? Recommendations for tours, accomodation, etc are very welcome. Especially any recommendations for Ha Long Bay tours? I'd like to avoid getting scammed if possible as I've heard it's rife here.
I can appreciate travelling time will eat into my stay, so I know I will most likely have to cut a couple of places out. I definitely want to visit Hanoi and Ha Long Bay though. Thank you travellers.
Vietnam 8 days
Hanoi (One Pillar Pagoda - Temple, Lien Phai Pagoda Temple, Cathedral, National Park) 3 days
Ha Long Bay (Overnight boat tour) 1 night
Hao Lu, Tam Coc (Three caves and row boat cruise on Hoang Long river) 2 days
Van Long (Yellow Dragon River ) 1 day
Cuc Phuong (National Park tour, hot spring) 1 night
Halong Bay will take up at least 2 days between travelling there and back, potentially three days (and two nights) if you really want to enjoy it.
Five days relaxing in Hanoi before or after this and trying all the street food and bia hoi would be my idea of fun, i.e. just go Hanoi and HB on this particular trip. Come back again if you can for the rest of the country, or even for the rest of the North.
#2 chinarocks has been a member since 17/6/2011. Posts: 740
Since you have altered your schedule, be sure to look into a 3day/2night Halong Bay cruise rather than the standard 1 night. The additional full day on the bay lets you go to more remote and more scenic areas. Many companies that offer the 2 night cruise have a good set of activities planned for the 2nd full day, such as kayaking through lagoons or cycling on Cat Ba island. There are some very good companies out there in a variety of price ranges, although the lower in price you go you need to keep in mind that you get what you pay for. On the very high end, Indochina Sails is great, A little lower cost Bhaya also does a very nice job.
Here are some suggestions to keep you nicely occupied in Hanoi:
#4 Tecalli has been a member since 1/2/2012. Posts: 5
Hi, you need to have 1 day arrive and 1 day depart, you only have 6 days for visiting time. This is my suggestion:
D1: Ha Noi arrive
D2: Ha Noi city
D3: Ha Noi - Ha Long. O/n on board
D4: Ha Long - Ha Noi
D5: Ha Noi - Van Long. O/n in Ninh Binh
D6: Van Long - Cuc Phuong National Park. O/n bungalow in park
D7: Cuc Phuong - Ha Noi
D8: Ha Noi depart
If your time is 8 days for visiting not include day arrive and depart, you can spend more 1 day in Ha Long Bay, 1 day in Ha Noi city or 1 day in Cuc Phuong NP.
#5 essentialtravel has been a member since 28/1/2012. Posts: 5
Re Halong, my experience is that the only benefit of going on a 3 day trip rather than a 2 day trip is that you get a day on Cat Ba Island, mostly spent walking up a mountain, eating and maybe going to monkey island. Or you go for the 3 days on a boat option (usually a bit more expensive than the overnight on Cat Ba option) which I wouldn't recommend in December as it'll be too cold to sunbathe or swim and so could be a bit dull. Possibly some boats do go further afield, as Tecalli mentions, but I don't think that's common practice and, as I say, it would mean 3 days on a chilly boat.
Whilst I don't want to push you to rush around for the 8 days you're here - and agree that you could spend quite a few days just in Hanoi -, if you go for 2 days in Halong and do want to get out of the city a bit more you could look at Ba Vi, Mai Chau or Cuc Phuong. Mai Chau might be a bit far for just a couple of days but will make a nice contrast with Hanoi and Halong, and the other two are best with an overnight stay but could be done in a day. Note again that although Mai Chau will probably be warmer than Hanoi, you might consider staying in one of the more solid accommodation options rather than the stilt houses.