I am planning a solo trip to Hanoi in October/ November in order to visit Halong Bay. Having read some of the posts on this forum I may also include Sapa so my questions are:
1 Can anyone recommend a good Halong Bay Cruise? I am not very fit so not able to clamber over other boats to board and do not relish the idea of carrying my own luggage down treacherous steps. Whilst I am budget conscious, I am prepared to pay more for this section of the trip.Also, I have heard that it is cheaper to book in Hanoi than online - is this still true? And one more requirement, I am a smoker so do not want a boat where you can't smoke (there does not appear to be much information out there about this).
2 Having read reviews I am considering also doing Sapa, what is the easiest way to get there? I don't like sleeper trains for obvious reasons, as I am not prepared to pay for the whole compartment.
3 After North Vietnam I am going on to Cambodia. I am considering flying Hanoi Bangkok Bangkok Siem Reap or Phnom Penh with Air Asia. Does anyone know of a reasonable direct alternative?
Many thanks for your time
The only reasonable route up to Sapa from Hanoi is by sleeper train from Hanoi - Lao Cai then minibus from Lao Cai to Sapa (correct me if I'm wrong).
As for Halong Tours, there's a plethora of information already in the forums as well as a sticky that contains some tips. Put that search button to use! If I were you, I'd opt for booking your Halong tour in person once in Hanoi. That's a general rule of thumb that could probably be applied to booking just about anything in this region, except a flight.