Im heading to Vietnam at beginning of April and am planning on staying for 3 weeks before I move on to Cambodia.
I'm planning on starting in Hanoi and heading south. I was thinking something along the lines of
Ha Long Bay
Its all quite vague so far and i dont know if that sort of Itinerary is do able in 3 weeks at reasonable pace i.e not rushing too much.
If anyone has suggestions then please do suggest. I'm open to anything really. Is there interior worth exploring? the major sights seem to be on the coast.
Thanks for any tips.
#1 Lost_Vagabond has been a member since 31/10/2012. Posts: 8
That's a pretty typical "greatest hits" route through Vn. With three weeks I'd suggest something like:
Hanoi 3 days
Ha Long Bay 2 days
Sapa 2 days (night train each way)
Hue 2 days
Da Nang 2 days (including China Beach/Marble Mountain)
Hoi An 4 days
Nha trang - skip
HCMC 3 days
Mekong Delta -- if you're headed to Cambodia consider doing one of the 3/4 day Saigon to Phnom Penh tours that go through the delta, otherwise Can Tho (2 days) then Chau Doc 1 day + boat to Phnom Penh.
I'd suggest skipping Nha Trang as you'll get beach in Da Nang and Hoi An OR swap it for Mui Ne . While the open tour buses are tempting pricewise, I'd really recommend the train for the whole kit (except for the Hoi An diversion, which is off the line - get a minibus from Da Nang and for the Ha Long Bay bit which is easiest done on a tour out of Hanoi )
Hope that helps.
#2 somtam2000 has been a member since 21/1/2004. Location: Indonesia. Posts: 7,770
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I would say that your plans are do-able. Our plans are for end of March into April - 3 weeks:
Hanoi 1 night
Halong Bay boat cruise: 1 night
Hanoi: 1 night
Sleeper train south: 1 night
Hoi An: 3 nights
Hue: 2 nights
HCMC: 3 nights
Mekong Boat Trip: 1 night
Chau Doc: 1 night
Phnom Penh: 2 nights
Siem Reap: 3 nights
HCMC: 1 night
So comparable, except we head into Cambodia for a few days! Enjoy your trip- we can't wait:)
#3 suzienichols has been a member since 5/9/2010. Posts: 17
I've been researching the net over the last 2 years putting my itinerary together. I found as you go along that it comes down to reading what each place has to offer and then deciding how long you need to stay there to do what you want to see and do. Of course, if you have time restrictions then you have to make compromises.
I originally read about the train between Hue and Hoi An (apparently one of the most scenic train rides in the world). But then I changed my itinerary after reading about doing an easy rider 1 day trip between the two. Food for thought. You will rarely come across a negative review.
I'm looking at an alternative to somtam suggestion ie staying at Nha Trang for my beach fix but not Danang. Why? Because you can visit Danang by a day trip from Hoi An plus the bike trip (plenty of reviews on internet) from Hue allows you to visit China Beach and Marble Mountain.
With only 3 weeks stick to the coast attractions.
Bottom line is you have options.
To Suzie, don't want to be picky but should your itinerary show Hue then Hoi An as Hoi An is south of Hue?
Thanks for your reply stoneman :) Well done for spotting the deliberate mistake! In fact we were going to do Hue before Hoi An but I realised that if we do it the other way around we'll be in Hoi An in time for the New Moon Festival so there is method in my madness. Does mean a bit more messing about but hey ho :) I've organised a car to take us up to Hue from Hoi An via the Marble Mountains, Cham Museum in Da Nang and the Pass that you're going to ride across. One note (that you're probably on top of because you seem as organised and as obsessive me!) is that standard holiday insurance doesn't usually cover riding motorbikes- it can be pretty costly for an accident abroad!I'm like you- I like to spend my time planning everything- if you can only go for 3 weeks then get as much as you can out of it! Next big trip will be my 50th in 2016 to central India- I'm already planning- I love it :)
#5 suzienichols has been a member since 5/9/2010. Posts: 17
After just finishing my trip I am amazed on how many people miss out on the caves in Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park. Paradise Cave imo was the best part of Vietnam and there are no other caves in south east asia that compare. Since it is on the way and only really takes a day and a bit out of your travels I wouldn't miss it for the world. Just take the train to Dong Hoi, rent a scooter and drive to the cave enjoying the amazing scenery on the way and then hop on the next train down to Hue .
Couple other comments,
Hanoi is worth 2 days max imo, really nothing all that spectactular to see or do(mind you I missed out on Ho Chi Minh stuff since it is closed on M and F pretty much, the 2 days I happened to be there...)
Danang to me didn't really seem worth stopping in so I passed through it. Marble mountain is worth seeing but that can easily be done by taking an easy ride tour from Hue to Hoi An as previously stated(not that cheap but would be a great day).
Unless you really want to shop Hoi An is imo a 2 day stop. Decent ambience but little worth seeing so more of a relaxing town.
Nha Trang isn't as bad as many make it sound, if you want to try or enjoy scuba diving it is a great place to do that. Mark Scott is a good instructor and my try dives with him were right up there with paradise caves.
Dalat has some beautiful scenery, heard very good things about taking 2-3 day easy rider trips(3 day Dalat to Nha Trang or vice versa has very good reviews) but they are very expensive($60 per day). You can rent a scooter and ride around which is nice though but I wouldn't bother unless you have the extra travel time which probably won't be the case with 3 weeks.
Ho Chi Minh is worth a couple days, 3 if you go to Cu Chi tunnels.
Ha Tien was a nice enough place and I saw people arrange Moto rides through the border to Kep for $8(I think they got a steal at that though). Makes for a good way to get into Cambodia as Kep, Koh Tonsay, Kampot shouldn't be missed.
Train is much more comfortable for sleeping travel. If you take a bus plan on spending a chunk of the next day relaxing or catching up on sleep... Definitely don't take a bus if you are over 6' tall.