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Vietnam forum

Just returned from Vietnam today (my thoughts)

Posted by xan310 on 8/4/2012 at 06:20

I arrived in Saigon and traveled by train to Hanoi stopping in Hoi An .
Saigon didn't offer many interesting things and if I knew better I would have spend 0 days here so I had more time in Hoi An. The air quality in Saigon is terrible, if you come here have dinner at Monsoon Restaurant (very good). I went to the Ben Thanh Market, the sellers mostly woman will harass you until you just want to run out the door which it took me about 3 minutes.
The train to Hoi An from Saigon was delayed and I arrived in Hoi An 23 hours late, because of the delay I ended up traveling by train during the day which made it worthwhile, otherwise I would not recommend. Hoi An was an amazing little town and I highly recommend. I stayed at the Hoi Au Hotel and it was fantastic, I highly recommend.
In Hanoi I stayed at the Splendid Star Grand Hotel and I liked it very much and would recommend as well. Hanoi was OK in my opinion, I had a lot of bad experiences with taxi cabs from taking the long way to giving me counterfeit money. I am actually going to write a separate post on the details because the taxi scams were rampant considering I only stayed in Hanoi for 3 days.
Hanoi was better than Saigon but not great, the air is also very dirty with all the scooters, most people don't speak English and are not very friendly, maybe I was spoiled in Thailand.
Ha Long Bay was well worth it, I took the 1 night 2 day cruise BUT in reality I only spent about 24 hours in Ha Long Bay.
You leave Hanoi and arrive in Ha Long around noon. By the time you are on the boat and the cruise officially starts it is 1PM. An hour long until you arrive at your spot and it is about 2PM. The boat leaves Ha Long Bay on the next day by 11AM, total time is less than 24 hours.
My suggestions are:
-skip Saigon
-more days in Hoi An
-3 days max in Hanoi
-take the 3 day cruise instead of 2 in Ha Long Bay
-avoid the train unless you are traveling during the day
- lastly in case you are pondering Vietnam or Thailand, it is Thailand hands down.

If you want more details just post your question.

#1 xan310 has been a member since 10/1/2012. Posts: 14

Posted by susannna on 8/4/2012 at 08:55

Good report! Taxi scams very popular in Vietnam. We often asked for the prices before we get in. Most of the times were called by our hotel receptionist so I think it's better than doing it ourselves.
We also advised to take 3 days in Halong Bay and it was a wonderful time, the highlight of our trip and we also would recommend that!
Hoian is nice but a little bit small. Try Sapa next time if you can! It is a wonderful place too!

#2 susannna has been a member since 6/4/2012. Posts: 22

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Posted by xan310 on 8/4/2012 at 10:29

I took a cab from the train station to my hotel and when I got to the front desk I asked them how much it should be, they told me maximum 80k, I got charged by their meter 200k. That was on my first day so after that I was alert. I took another cab to the tour company to get to ha long bay and it was 25k, on the way back I took a cab back to the hotel and after driving for 3 blocks the meter was showing 48k. I noticed the price in the meter was jumping a lot faster than normal like every 20 seconds instead of every minute, I quickly told him to pull over and we had a heated argument. Now what pissed me off the most is that one of the cabs passed me a fake 200k bill. It is very easy to get tricked because when you get your change you quickly count it and get out.
The bill looks very much like the original and if you getting it along with other bills it is almost impossible to tell. The bill had 2 punch holes in it, I was told that the bank punches 2 holes on them when someone tries to deposit it. Apparently they return the fake bills to the person trying to deposit instead of destroying it.

#3 xan310 has been a member since 10/1/2012. Posts: 14

Posted by susannna on 8/4/2012 at 20:50

We had the same experience with the cabs from the train station but we had our hotel negotiate the price for us when we arrived at the hotel. We were then advised that the cabs will charge more for that route as it was in the early morning. One more things is that the price is various among taxi brands so should check their price before you decide which taxi to take!

#4 susannna has been a member since 6/4/2012. Posts: 22

Posted by travellingsarah on 8/4/2012 at 22:53 TF writer

Posted from within Vietnam.

Sorry to hear about the taxi problems. As advised in other posts, do try to take Mai Linh taxis where possible - at the train station there are usually lots of Mai Linh parked right by the train tracks. They're not 100% foolproof but better than most. The Taxi Group taxis are usually OK too but they are expensive. ABC is another OK one. Small taxis I use regularly and without problem are Thanh Nga and Phu Dong.

And cabs don't charge more because it's early morning - they charge more because they think they can get away with it.

#5 travellingsarah has been a member since 23/3/2010. Location: Vietnam. Posts: 684
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Posted by susannna on 9/4/2012 at 00:51

Yes, one more votes for Mai Linh. Ask for a card or note down their numbers so you can use. I heard that Mai Linh operates in all parts of Vietnam.

#6 susannna has been a member since 6/4/2012. Posts: 22

Posted by SheaBirds on 9/4/2012 at 03:37

Posted from within Vietnam.

Easy to recognize Mai Linh taxi with green and white color, I away use Mai Linh taxi on my way.

#7 SheaBirds has been a member since 6/4/2012. Location: Vietnam. Posts: 11
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Posted by daawgon on 9/4/2012 at 21:59

I always tell people to avoid that long train trip from HCMC to Danang - guess you didn't hear me, and it sounds like you failed to do much of any research before your trip?

#8 daawgon has been a member since 17/4/2007. Posts: 1,152
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Posted by MADMAC on 10/4/2012 at 07:18

I heard the nightlife in Saigon is the best in Vietnam. Not true?

#9 MADMAC has been a member since 6/6/2009. Posts: 6,957
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Posted by pauletta1979 on 10/4/2012 at 21:56

Posted from within Vietnam.

Very good post, thanks a lot. I learn lots experience from you for my trip.

#10 pauletta1979 has been a member since 12/3/2012. Posts: 5

Posted by ShackJaymz on 14/4/2012 at 10:33

Posted from within Vietnam.

Yeah, the taxi situation can sometimes be tricky

I always, always try to use Mai Linh - White & Green

We have been over charged twice by taxis, once by a Mai Linh* and once by a taxi driver who insisted we traveled with our backpacks on the front seat (covering the meter)

*when getting in a Mai Linh taxi, make sure the drivers box is covered with a see through box and tied with plastic ties!

#11 ShackJaymz has been a member since 4/3/2011. Location: United Kingdom. Posts: 9
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