Photo: Canals of Ca Mau, Mekong Delta.

Vietnam forum

3-4 week trip - first timer advice needed!

Posted by Katie2952 on 10/3/2014 at 17:23

Hi,

I do apologise for any silly questions but I am in the very early stages of planning a solo trip leaving mid July and back mid August and I have never done anything like this before. Firstly before I ask for your much needed advice i'll tell you what kind of trip I'd like....

Fairly relaxed, not too much rushing around, spontaneous but safe. I will be alone but i'm desperate to lose my habit of over planning trips. I would love a fair bit of beach time. I need to keep the trip fairly cheap as I am on a budget. I am open to shared accommodation/hostels as long as I feel safe and would love the odd night of 'luxury' (in comparison to hostels any way!). As I've said I will be travelling solo for the first time in SEAsia (I've done the USA and Canada alone when I was 18-21 but nothing solo since).I am fairly confident travelling alone but would love to meet some people along the way.

So I firstly would ask what kind of route should I look at? The cheapest flights are flying in and out of Ho Chi Minh City. What route would you recommend from here? I was considering heading up to Hanoi and then jumping on a flight back down a few days before leaving for home. Would anyone recommend this or would I be trying to pack too much into my trip and losing the element of relaxation?

What is the best way to travel around Vietnam? This obviously depends on my route so hopefully the above question will answer that. Does travel have to be booked in advance? I'm sure I'll think of more to ask but that's enough to get me started!

Thanks in advance :-) Katie X

#1 Katie2952 has been a member since 10/3/2014. Posts: 1

Posted by antoniamitchell on 15/3/2014 at 05:31

Hi Katie,

A couple of obvious itineraries spring to mind - head north, and work your way up to coast (including Hoi An and Hue ) to Hanoi . Or work your way around the beaches and deltas of the South (sample itinerary here: https://www.travelfish.org/trip_planner/vietnam-southern-explorer, although I'd ignore the trip length - you'd be rushed off your feet trying to do a trip like this in 10-14 days. 3 weeks would be a much better pace.

You mention worry about trying to fit too much in - the best way to avoid that is not to overplan. Have a rough idea of an itinerary, fine, but don't feel you "have to be in Da Nang by Tuesday". Set your own pace. Move on when you feel like it. If you decide to head up towards Hanoi and only get as far as Hue before you run out of time, there's no shame in that.

As to getting around, the trains are reasonable (although they don't go everywhere) - if you want a sleeper you should book at least a few days in advance, but for standard tickets you don't really need to. The buses go everywhere, although traffic in Vietnam is insane (watching the traffic can be terrifying - overtaking directly into oncoming traffic and forcing each other off the road). You can easily buy your bus ticket the day of or the day before you travel. Internal flights aren't hugely expensive and can be booked easily a day or two in advance, so you can use them and still keep your itinerary fairly open. It's all pretty easy to organise.

Have fun!

#2 antoniamitchell has been a member since 13/5/2012. Location: Singapore. Posts: 499
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Posted by captainbkk on 16/3/2014 at 02:33

1,get a guidebook-even an older one from the library will work for the global route. ANd DO read the general info-utterly useful.
2.due to its form, VN is dead easy to travel no-so or reverse. You forgot to tell from where you start, so I guess its OZzieland? Do not stare blind on price of tickets-an open jaw- go to HCMC, come back from Hanoi, might be much more useful. Other way also possible.
3.My last visit was about 1 yr ago, In any of the tipical stops/places that westerners come, there are plenty of hotels, budget places and even some hoStels-for prices like 6-10US$/night: clean room, basic, own bath, always TV, and thats it. More luxury/expensive is of coruse also a plenty available. No need to prebook or worry monthes advance about fullness-there is a giant oversupply of anything a tourist might want. Ditto for transport.
4.again due to its form, you are never far away from the sea-but there are excellent beaches and many more mediocre and even many more spoilt utmost by the VNese themselves by their karaOK bars and ladies for rent. But do not underestimate times needed to go even just 30-40 kms: can easily take 2-3 hrs.

#3 captainbkk has been a member since 16/2/2012. Posts: 472

Posted by captainbkk on 16/3/2014 at 02:33

1,get a guidebook-even an older one from the library will work for the global route. ANd DO read the general info-utterly useful.
2.due to its form, VN is dead easy to travel no-so or reverse. You forgot to tell from where you start, so I guess its OZzieland? Do not stare blind on price of tickets-an open jaw- go to HCMC, come back from Hanoi, might be much more useful. Other way also possible.
3.My last visit was about 1 yr ago, In any of the tipical stops/places that westerners come, there are plenty of hotels, budget places and even some hoStels-for prices like 6-10US$/night: clean room, basic, own bath, always TV, and thats it. More luxury/expensive is of coruse also a plenty available. No need to prebook or worry monthes advance about fullness-there is a giant oversupply of anything a tourist might want. Ditto for transport.
4.again due to its form, you are never far away from the sea-but there are excellent beaches and many more mediocre and even many more spoilt utmost by the VNese themselves by their karaOK bars and ladies for rent. But do not underestimate times needed to go even just 30-40 kms: can easily take 2-3 hrs.

#4 captainbkk has been a member since 16/2/2012. Posts: 472

Posted by Bill_Vietnam on 17/3/2014 at 03:28

Posted from within Vietnam.

According to the information you provided, you will come toVietnam from mid-July through August, this is a nice time for travel. However,the hot weather is a major obstacle. Schools in Vietnam summer break at thistime, you will meet a lot of people at the resort or beach. About places of interest, I suggest thefollowing: Hanoi, Halong, Sapa (in the North): 5-7 days; Hue, Danang, Hoian,Nha Trang (Central): 5-7 days; Muine, Ho Chi Minh City, Can Tho: 5-7 days.Transportation: planes, trains or automobiles (of beds or seats). I recommendchoosing the automobiles. You enter Vietnam at Tan Son Nhat airport- Ho ChiMinh City and from here you should start the jouney. Accomodation: mini hotelor room for rent is a good choice, price from 15-20 usd/day. Food: youenjoy specialties in places to visit from 10-15usd/day.
Wish you happy.

#5 Bill_Vietnam has been a member since 17/3/2014. Posts: 4

Posted by TerroirTravel on 21/4/2014 at 04:22

Hi!

Have you looked into flying into HCMC and out of Hanoi ? Is that a lot more expensive from where you are?

I went one-way solo from phu quoc- HCMC- and north to Hanoi in just under 3 months, lots of stops in between. The only thing I booked in advance was phu quoc, as I was there over Tet.

As others have said, booking is easy, advance planning unnecessary and limiting. Some people just land into a town and start hotel/hostel shopping. I had a iPad with me, and wifi is everywhere, so I'd book online a day out or so, and do a little research. If I liked a place, I'd stay longer, if not, I'd move on. I still ended up staying in some places longer than I wanted, and some less... I met people, travelled with them, ran into them again along the way, it was good. I also saw lots of solo female travelers, and fewer men alone. I wonder why that is?

I took a couple of trains, and a couple of busses. If you buy from the train station or the actual bus company, you'll get a good rate, travel agencies charge lots more. I like the trains more than the busses because the roads are madness. The only thing that keeps you from motion sickness is the terror :)

#6 TerroirTravel has been a member since 1/2/2014. Posts: 64
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