I'm going to be in Vietnam from 19/7 to 11/8 with a friend and I was trying to decide what to do... quite hard as there are so many places to be and a little more than 3 weeks makes it necessary to exclude something (for the next trip!)
I arrive in Saigon while my friend is in Hanoi , then we both fly back to Saigon, so my idea was to join her in Hanoi and travel south to Saigon. But then I read about the north part and saw some amazing pictures of the landscapes on the mountains... how could we not go there! I was thinking of renting a motorbike since it seems it's the more convenient way to reach remote areas, like the Ha Giang region... then I saw many people rent/buy a bike to go from Hanoi to Saigon, and that also sounded pretty amazing, especially if you want the freedom to go and stop wherever it inspires you... and once in Saigon, how could you not spend a couple of days in the Delta, maybe going around with a bicycle... then off course if you plan everything, count the days (and double them, 'cause these plans in SEA just do not work) you end up with a 90 days visa almost not enough... So I come to you for help, for whom already did a similar trip or for whom is living in Vietnam, to have some suggestions to what part is better to do, considering for example the period (rainy season in the north).
So far the whole trip is:
- 2/3 days in Hanoi and around (Perfume pagoda, Ba Vi)
- rent a bike in Hanoi, put on a night train to Lao Cai and spend some days around Sapa/Bac Ha with a little trekking (1 day maybe) and homestay then Ha Giang -> Dong Van-> Meo Vac-> Bao Lac-> Ba Be-> Hanoi... I guessed at least 7 days to do the whole tour.
- From Hanoi to Hai Phong, then a boat to Cat Ba. Staying 2-3 days there with trekking/climbing in Cat Ba, some kayaking in the Lan Ha bay, and/or a boat tour to Halong Bay
- Starting the Hanoi-Saigon leg, stopping at Tam Coc (1D) and Phong Nha (2D)
- 2/3 days based in Hoi An and from there day trip to Hue and back (with a motorbike I heard the pass from Hoi An to Hue is amazing)
- 3 days of relax on a beach, one between Nha Trang, Mui Ne , Phan Thiet->Long Hai or even Con Dao
- 2 days in Dalat, maybe visiting Cat Tien or going to Mui Ne with a motorbike (and looking for a monaster only for women that my friend says she has to visit absolutely, even if she has no idea where it is... any idea?)
- 3 days in the Delta, going around with a bicycle
- flying to Phu Quoc and spend the last 2 days relaxing on the isolated (?) beaches
All together it makes at least one month... so what shall we exclude (this time) ?
Thanks to everyone who had the patience to read it all and reply...
You are trying to fit everything in in too short a time and also need to think about the weather. Probably quite a bit of rain will come your way taking a bit (perhaps all) the fun out of your trekking. Vietnam repays slow travel, even if you leave what some people call 'must sees' until the next time.
Not sure how much of your travel was by motorbike. Hanoi to Hoi An is 900 km. and it might be raining... Hanoi to Saigon about 1800 which is going to take a fair number of days to ride. Overnight trains are a good way to save time.
Suggestions: Drop Sapa but keep the Ha Giang... trip
Drop the three days of beach at Nha Trang, etc. You can go to the beach at Hoi An. Hue deserves more than a day, so either make more time to spend there or drop it. The Ha Van pass is nice, but it's got nothing on Ma Pi Leng which you'll see when you in Dong Van.
If you feel rushed, drop Da Lat and Cat Tien.
Cycle through the Delta and take a Hydrofoil to Phu Quoc if the weather merits it and then fly back to Saigon assuming flights aren't weather delayed...