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Vietnam forum

Vietnam questions with possible northern itinerary

Posted by marianaamc on 18/1/2014 at 16:44

So after getting really confused about how to make the most of my time in SEA I decided to leave Laos aside and go to Vietnam. My first idea was to do Chiang mai - LN -LP - NK/Muang Ngoi - VV - Vientiane - BKK but with less than 15days and a lot of day light traveling around I decided to leave it for another time.
So, nature culture and food are the things that interest me the most in that order. I like beautiful landscapes and I think that is why Vietnam looks so good to me. I have to say that even though I do like nature settings a lot I'm not sure I will go to Halong bay and just might go to Phang Nga bay in thailand after to look for the same look without the pollution and big boats. But at the same time I don't wanna regret this decision.
So, where do I wanna go? Sapa, Ninh Binh area, Mai chau, Hanoi and MAYBE Hoi an.
I only have 12 full days, so I'm not sure how to allocate my time.
I did this as a test:

21 July - bkk to hanoi

22 hanoi (to sapa)

23 sapa

24 sapa (to hanoi)

25 to ninh binh

26 ninh binh (to danang)

27 hoi an

28 hoi an (to hanoi)

29 hanoi

31 to mai chau trek

1 mai chau trek

2 mai chau trek to hanoi

3 August - fly bkk
[When I put (to ...) it's because I'll be traveling by night train and not taking daily hours on that day.]

1- Where do you think I'm leaving too much or too little time?

2- Would you cut some place in favor of another?

I'm afraid I'm rushing it at some points, as Sapa. The reason I left only two days was because as I'm thinking about doing the homestay in Mai Chau I'm not looking for trekking to minority villages, going there mostly for the beautiful landscape.
Some places in Ninh Binh (trang an, hang mua and bai dinh pagoda) I really want to see but I don't know how to get around there. Should I book a tour, or rent a motorcycle..? I never rode a motorcycle and I'm afraid to especially in a country like Vietnam with a lot of traffic and I think it's even illegal.
Hoi an I hear was very touristy but the architecture and setting of the town looks lovely and looks like it's a sweet place to paddle around. And it looks like a different place from the rest I'm visiting so giving a bit of diversity.

Can you help me make me the most of my itinerary? Thanks a lot!

#1 marianaamc has been a member since 30/10/2013. Posts: 62

Posted by travellingsarah on 20/1/2014 at 04:10 TF writer

Ninh Binh - you can get a train or bus there then hire a bicycle from your hotel, grab a map and easily get to the places you want to go. It's flat and apart from on the main roads the traffic's not too bad. Or book a tour from Hanoi if you're not feeling adventurous.

Mai Chau - what do you like about Mai Chau versus Sapa?

#2 travellingsarah has been a member since 23/3/2010. Location: Vietnam. Posts: 681
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Posted by daawgon on 20/1/2014 at 13:00

With only 12 days, I would advise to cut out a stop or two since ground travel here is so time consuming. If I had only 12 days, I'd make Hanoi my base, and concentrate of Hanoi, Sapa and Mai Chau (Halong Bay if I got bored).

Seriously, can't you extend the trip to 3 weeks? Travel should not be a marathon!

#3 daawgon has been a member since 17/4/2007. Posts: 1,130
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Posted by marianaamc on 20/1/2014 at 16:06

Thank you for your tips. Sounds great to me and Ninh Binh looks lovely. Have you been to all the places I mentioned? Do you think 2 days it's enough?
No, I have flights booked off Bangkok to Myanmar and when I get back I will go to Angkor and Khao sok, Krabi. It's about going or not going... I don't wanna rush ok? Its just the places I wish to see.. I don't know how much time I need for each one and if they're tiring or not. Ground travel doesn't seam very time consuming to me, I mean, if you look at my itinerary it's almost all by night trains, maybe you meant exhausting? I'm here because I don't know if I'm asking too much of my time. But it is the time I got. Anyway I won't schedule anything so if I got tired I could just cut something while I'm there, but knowing I won't be able to go to much of those places might make me reconsider not going to Vietnam at all....

#4 marianaamc has been a member since 30/10/2013. Posts: 62

Posted by nathuy on 24/1/2014 at 19:57

Posted from within Vietnam.

i think same thing with daawgon. travelling is not marathon. you must have more time to travel all places you says. travel for exploring not looking around. i hope you have a right decide. Have a good trip marianaamc

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

Posted by travellingsarah on 24/1/2014 at 21:01 TF writer

I haven't been to the places in Ninh Binh you mention, no. I'll be back there next month though so will check them out! If you go by early bus from Hanoi you'll be there before lunchtime on Day 1, so that will give you a day and a half before you get the train to Danang. It's do-able in that time.

By the way, when we first came we were told we couldn't go to Ninh Binh and then get the train from there to Danang, but that is blatantly untrue! You should book your train ticket in Hanoi as soon as you arrive though.

You didn't answer my question about the appeal of Mai Chau. I think you should cut out one place on your itinerary because at the moment it really is rushed. I know you want to see all those places, and I get that, but you really will appreciate it more if you're not constantly on the move. Hoi An would be the obvious one to cut because of the amount of traveling involved, but if you're set on Hoi An consider dropping either Sapa or Mai Chau.

#6 travellingsarah has been a member since 23/3/2010. Location: Vietnam. Posts: 681
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