I'm going to be in Vietnam for about 5-6 weeks in February and March 2013 (part of a 6 month trip to SEA). On a scale of most to least, i'm most interested in history and culture, and just chilling out and taking things as they come (hence why i'm spending 5-6 weeks rather than shooting through in a fortnight) and least interested in partying. I'm going from south to north and have identified the main areas along the way (HCMC, Nha Trang, Hoi An, Hue, Hanoi and Sapa).
What other places are worth going to? I was looking at Ninh Binh and Ha Giang as places that are a bit different to the main areas listed above. I do tend to like to mix up the tourist trail places with places a little less mainstream. Does anyone have any suggestions on my itinerary? Places to go (subjective i know), places listed above to miss?
When planning I like to focus on spending at least 3-4 days, and as much as a week, in one area. Considering the length of Vietnam, it might be best to focus my trip in 5-6 areas. I'd rather stay in one place for a 5-7 days rather than see 3 other places in that week.
Thanks for any advice.
#1 GhostOfTomJoad has been a member since 23/8/2012. Posts: 13
Well, I hear good things about Dalat and the central highlands for relaxing and getting cool after the heat of HCMC. A friend went to Nha Trang and was not overly impressed with the beach there - meanwhile I had a fantastic time in Da Nang which plays into your plan to spend a significant amount of time in an area. You can stay near the beach in Da Nang - like a 5 minute walk, for fairly cheap and be in a quiet local area but still with access to bars and the like. I'm sort of a big Da Nang advocate as I also enjoy playing 60's US rock & roll at Sunrise Bar while thinking about the marines landing in 65.
You didn't say that much about natural scenery, but I notice you didn't add Ha Long Bay to the list - or is that part of the Hanoi leg? There is a bay north of Ha Long that is far less touristy but still accessible that you might consider. The north can be a little rainy and foggy in February, but that adds to the charm of the karst formations . . . it'll get chilly at night up in Sapa that time of year, and even Hue gets a fair amount of rain . . . but I think that just always happens in Hue.
So I'd recommend a few nights stay with a motorbike in Hoi'an, then up to Da Nang for a few nights stay, then the beautiful train ride between Da Nang and Hue and check out all the history around Hue including the DMZ stuff. If you are only gonig to Nha Trang for the beaches, you get plenty of that in Da Nang and Hoi'an.
Since you describe yourself as "least interested in partying" I'd suggest you don't plan on spending too much time in Nha Trang.
Ninh Binh is definitely worth a stop - you can see the area pretty thoroughly on a bike in a couple of days but decent accommodation in the karst scenic area (as opposed to the fairly dull Vietnamese provincial city) might persuade you to stay a little longer
I've heard mostly good things about Phu Quoc island which would definitely allow you to relax
Da Lat is worth considering, mostly for motorbike tours of the relatively untouristed surrounding highlands (the town itself isn't that exciting if you're not a Vietnamese honeymooner)
#4 enigmatic has been a member since 14/4/2011. Posts: 84