I am planning my 8th trip to Vietnam for 3 months starting in January 2014. After spending 5 days during Tet in Hanoi , I plan to travel extensively around Northwest/North Vietnam for 4-6 weeks. Below is a rough sketch of my plans. I am mostly interested in getting current/updated information on public bus routes/schedules and accommodations. Any suggestions on "must-see" places/stops is also welcomed.
At first I was thinking I would fly to Dien Bien Phu (DBP) and start my northern trip from there and I may still do that. But I've also studied the possibility of taking public buses to DBP from Hanoi so I can see the countryside. First to Mai Chau (or maybe Hoa Binh if possible) and stay 1-2 nights and then to Son La and stay 1-2 nights and then on to DBP. I'm not a young guy anymore and very long bus rides wear me out but 3-5 hours on a bus, even a not-so-new one, can be ok. I received some info from my hotel in Hanoi on this portion of the trip and it sounds possible to me by bus but I still need to know more about the buses (bus stations, tickets, etc) and places to stay in Mai Chau and Son La (and possibly Hoa Binh).
I plan to stay 2-3 days in DBP. From DBP, I plan to continue by bus on to Sapa with a 1-2 night stop in Lai Chau. I've been to Sapa before so I probably would only stay 2-3 days so I can try to locate some people I met before. From Sapa, on to Ha Giang (maybe with a 1 night stop in Lao Cai) where I probably want to stay 6-8 days.
From Ha Giang, it would be on to Cao Bang. I don't know know much about Cao Bang right now, but I guess I would stay 2-3 days here to look around and just rest. Then on to Lang Son for 2-3 days. Then one option is to return to Hanoi, with a possible 1-2 night stay in Thai Nguyen. Or if possible, I might head to Hai Lang-Cam Son-Halong Bay directly from Lang Son. I have been to Halong Bay before but definitely could go back for 2-5 days with some time on Cat Ba. From Halong Bay, it definitely would be back to Hanoi for 2-3 days rest before I head to Ninh Binh and on south.
Time is not an issue, I can easily commit 4 weeks...even 5 and maybe 6 weeks if need to...to do this route. But cost is the limiting factor since I am retired now and on a budget. And I will be traveling alone so I cannot share costs. Because I will be traveling for so long...3 months, I am planning to spend no more than US$100 each day...obviously some days I will spend more and some days I will spend less...but this would be my average for each day. As for hotels/places to stay, I don't need anything fancy but I do prefer my own room and shower/bath.
In advance, thanks for any information provided.
#1 Rango has been a member since 12/8/2013. Posts: 2