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Vietnam forum

First time backpackers / 2.5 week itinerary

Posted by scudz on 27/8/2013 at 12:31


My wife and I are planning a trip to Vietnam in December this year. We have return flights booked to Ho Chi Minh City and about 20 days between arriving and leaving.

We have put together a rough plan of where we think we can go in the time, without rushing too much. Just wanted to know if this is do-able, rushed / or if we need to do more/less.

Final query... is $75 USD per person enough per day, to include hotel/food/activities/travel ? We can exclude plane fares as we can book these before :)

Our thoughts...

ho chi minh
(fly to) nha trang
nha trang
(train to) hoi an
hoi an
hoi an
(train to) hue
(fly to) hanoi
hanoi -> ha long bay
ha long bay
ha long bay -> hanoi -> overnight train to sapa
sapa -> hanoi
(fly to) ho chi minh
ho chi minh
ho chi minh
ho chi minh
flight home


#1 scudz has been a member since 27/8/2013. Posts: 2

Posted by daawgon on 27/8/2013 at 13:15

I would change the Nha Trang part (I just don't care for that town), and you never want to take the train for that distance (Nha Trang to Danang/ Hoi An ). Add that time to Hoi An or Hanoi. I'm also not crazy about Hue - unless you like history a great deal, you might skip that too. $75. PP is fine - you can get a great room for $35. or $40. (I like the small hotels the best, and save by not getting one w/elevator).

#2 daawgon has been a member since 17/4/2007. Posts: 1,112

Posted by caseyprich on 27/8/2013 at 18:55

I agree with all that daawgon said, but would add that Hue on a drizzly day does have a unique feel to it that can be nice to experience. Also, you should be able to find a lot of ok rooms for 20 USD a night and so splurging at other times would be a possibility.

Since your'e only stopping in Nha Trang for a short time, and I've not heard great reviews of the place, fly directly to Da Nang to check out Hoi'an. That should open up your schedule a little, and if you want to see some beaches you can hit them up in Da Nang or Hoi'an.

On a final note I think 3 full days in HCM is more than you'll need, so I at least wouldn't add any more time there.

#3 caseyprich has been a member since 3/3/2010. Location: China. Posts: 1,281
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Posted by daawgon on 27/8/2013 at 20:36

It's been my experience that Vietnam is going upscale in a big way esp in the larger cities and resorts. Yes, you can still get $20. rooms, but they won't have the creature comforts that we Westerners take for granted. Things like "wet bathrooms" - no shower curtain, rooms without windows, older TV's, older furniture, etc. in the cheaper hotels and guest houses. I know for a fact that many formerly cheap 2* hotels in Hanoi, for instance, have been repainted and remodeled with shower cabinets, new furniture/TV's and a new 3* hotel name and website. Then this hotel will be advertised as new with promotional rates for a month, but the base rate has gone up considerably.

The cheaper places are often advertised on the hostel sites because many don't have their own website, and often can be difficult to contact.

#4 daawgon has been a member since 17/4/2007. Posts: 1,112

Posted by travellingsarah on 28/8/2013 at 00:48 TF writer

Posted from within Vietnam.

I'm would usually agree with the other guys about skipping Nha Trang and getting your beach time in Danang or Hoi An, but you're going in December and that's rainy season in central Vietnam which lowers your chances of getting some sunny beach time. However, it's also rainy season in Nha Trang at that time, so that doesn't really help! Basically, if beach time is important to you you'll need to consider somewhere like Mui Ne or Phu Quoc - which would add time so you'd have to lose something elsewhere - but if it's not, skip Nha Trang and go straight to Hoi An.

Hue's a really interesting place if that period in history floats your boat - we took motorbike tours and it was one of the best experiences of my first trip to Vietnam. It's easier to get there by bus from Hoi An, as that's direct, but of course the train journey gets rave reviews for the scenery.

Regarding hotels, daawgon's right in that prices have increased, and for under US$20 the room's going to be quite basic, but there are still decent hotels in the $20-30 range - some even come with shower cubicles or a bath ;) Anyway, with a joint $150 a day budget you can easily go for something US$40+ which opens up some really good places.

#5 travellingsarah has been a member since 23/3/2010. Location: Vietnam. Posts: 681
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Posted by vesmax01 on 28/8/2013 at 02:18

Posted from within Vietnam.

HCMC - nha trang - hoi an - hue - ha noi - ha long - sapa is an interesting tour, if you are retail custopmer, it'll be not performed.
this is weekly tour: HCMC - da nang - hoi an - hue - quang binh - ha noi - ha long - yen tu 8d7n, for retail customers.
however, if you need to travel like tour that you said, you can go to this way:
from HCMC fly to nha trang: about 1.685.000vnd/turn
from nha trang to hoi an and hue: the best choice is the bus, because you save time and money, go sight-seeing, take the picture...
from hue fly to ha noi: about 1.960.000vnd/turn
from ha noi train to sapa: about 1.500.000vnd/return
with 75 usd/person, i think it's relative resonable: eating and drinking, room hotel, transport,visiting...
all information you need consult, please contact:
Fiditour JointStock Company
129 Nguyen Hue,District 1 , Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
Tel: +84.8 39 1414 14 – Fax: +84.8 38 21 54 27
Hotline:0909.581.762 Ms.Yen Linh – Sales Online
Skype &Yahoo: fiditour.touronline14

#6 vesmax01 has been a member since 26/8/2013. Posts: 5

Posted by caseyprich on 28/8/2013 at 03:29

Last year we stayed in Can Tho around Tet for 20 USD a night in a twin room (right by the Ho Chi Minh statue). Sure, we didn't have a window and we had a wet bathroom - but that savings meant we had been able to splurge for a nicer place while in Kampot --- so just putting it out there as an option. Nothing wrong, especially in a noisy partof town, with having no window and saving a few bucks.

#7 caseyprich has been a member since 3/3/2010. Location: China. Posts: 1,281
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Posted by scudz on 28/8/2013 at 05:00

Thanks for all your responses. Interesting to see that not a lot of people rated Nha Trang :)

I will take a look at Mui Ne and Phu Quoc and see if these are a viable alternative to the above, and if possible, take a detour there. If not, we could extend the time in Sapa, and have a day in HCM at the start instead of at the end.

We are interested in history and I think Hue will be worth a visit.

1 other question I didn't ask was, does Vietnam "close down" at / around Christmas? We hope to be in Ha Long bay on 24/25/26 dec and in HCM for NYE. Has anyone experienced this ?


#8 scudz has been a member since 27/8/2013. Posts: 2

Posted by travellingsarah on 28/8/2013 at 05:07 TF writer

Posted from within Vietnam.

It doesn't really close down. Halong trips can be booked across Christmas.

#9 travellingsarah has been a member since 23/3/2010. Location: Vietnam. Posts: 681
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Posted by brambora on 17/1/2014 at 06:38

Hi everyone, I just thought I'd comment on the budget. A friend and I were in northern Vietnam in May 2013 and got along comfortably on much less than USD 75 per person. We were backpacking, but it definitely wasn't a shoestring type of trip, my friend needed some comforts :)

In Sapa, Hanoi and Cat Ba, we always had good, clean, comfortable twin rooms, with breakfast, for 15-25 USD per room per night. In the case of Sapa, the room was USD 25 and it was waaay nicer than we needed, with two amazing beds, beautiful stylish furniture, free breakfast, complimentary smoothies, western style bathroom with bath tub, robes.. the works! (we decided we want to splurge a bit). Food is cheap and even transport won't get you up to a USD 75 per person and day budget. I mean of course you can spend that much, but you in no way have to.

In a lot of the hotels you just have to ask for a discount and that is all it takes to actually get it.

#10 brambora has been a member since 19/1/2009. Location: Czech Republic. Posts: 7

Posted by nathuy on 24/1/2014 at 20:04

Posted from within Vietnam.

i think with you that budget, it is enough to travel in vietnam

#11 nathuy has been a member since 24/1/2014. Posts: 28

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