I'm going backpacking in Vietnam this coming May and I was trying to arrange my super-rushed itinerary. Hope you guys can help me out a bit.
1) Are below itinerary doable within a day (a day for each)?
Day 1 - HCM-Danang(morning fly), Danang- Hue (noon train), Hue- Hanoi (night train)
Day 2 - Reach Hanoi from Hue(morning), go buy Hanoi-Sapa train at train station, go to Halong Bay day trip, back to Hanoi take overnight train to Sapa.
2) [For Day 1] I heard that Hue-Hanoi train ticket is quite limited since many passengers already occupied the train which originates from HCM. How easy can I get Hue-Hanoi ticket on the same day as I arrived (arrived on May weekday noon)
3) [For Day 2] As you can see, I will arrive in Hanoi in the morning by overnight train from Hue (earliest possible). Then I will need to go buy Hanoi-Sapa train ticket at train station. After that I will go to Halong Bay for a day tour. After that, go back to Hanoi to get into overnight train to Sapa. Is it possible to cover these in ONE day?
#1 navilink has been a member since 14/3/2012. Posts: 11
So are you doing anything in Hue or you just want to arrive at the train station grab dinner and fly to Hanoi ? I don't mean to sound brash, but If this is all the time you're planning to spend in Hue then simply skip it and fly directly to Hanoi - save yourself a lot of hassle. I really liked both Hue and Danang, butI don't think you'll benefit any from spending a few hours there after a day catching planes and trains and thinking about catching more planes and then traveling more right when you get to Hanoi. Better to skip Hue and add that time onto your itinerary in the North.
Actually I wanted to catch the train from Da Nang to Hue, because I heard it's one of the finest train ride in Vietnam. Yes it sounds crazy but when time does not permit, I'm trying to fit in the best possible arrangement. Your suggestion is good also (fly HCM to Hanoi), I'll keep that in mind if it's impossible to go to Da Nang/Hue :)
#3 navilink has been a member since 14/3/2012. Posts: 11
I can vouch for the train ride being pretty - and at just a couple hours you don't get tired of it. That said, with how little time you have you may enjoy yourself more if you save Central Vietnam for another time when you can explore it and relax a little with your schedule up north.
I would also advise against this two day itinerary. Firstly, you'll only get to Hue at about 3pm - assuming the train's on time - which only really gives you 2 hours of sightseeing as places will close. Agree the train journey is pretty, but you're going to Sapa - you're going to see lots of pretty things up there.
As for going straight out on a Halong Bay trip - you'll need to book this in advance and it will leave at 8am, so you'll need to trust in the train not being late and also find a booking agent in Hanoi that's willing to book you a ticket and is open before 8am. Also, booking the train to Sapa on the day, or even the day before, does not guarantee success.
So I'd suggest flying from HCMC to Hanoi, spending the rest of that day in Hanoi and getting your Halong Bay and Sapa trips sorted.
I totally agree with the sensible advice from the others.
My question for you - do you even need to go to HCMC? Assuming you are arriving from another country, can you fly direct to Hanoi, and just spend the time in the north?