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Vietnam forum

Solo travel for 3.5 weeks in Vietnam: Overall Itinerary and Bac Ha Market

Posted by ncollins on 6/8/2014 at 02:27

Hello fellow travelers,

I am traveling to Vietnam (and possibly Cambodia) during August/September for 26 days. I am traveling solo and am mostly interested in natural beauty, adventure, meeting other like minded travelers, etc. I was thinking of the following itinerary and would love feedback with whether I should just concentrate on Vietnam or try to add Cambodia in too.

Hanoi : 3 days
Sapa / Bac Ha : 3 days
Halong Bay/Cat Ba Island: 3 days
Ninh B: 2 days
Phong Na: 1 day
Hue: 2 days
Hoi An: 2 days
Cambodia (fly from Da Nang): 7 days
Return to Hanoi to fly home

I also wanted to ask about traveling to the Bac Ha Sunday market. I am arriving on the night train from Hanoi and was considering going directly to the Bac Ha market and then heading to Sapa afterwards. From what I have heard, tours are avaiable right outside the train station, and one just has to negotiate the price. Is it crazy to go right from the night train to Bac Ha and then to Sapa? Not sure if the pay off will be worth all the long travel.

Thanks so much for all the great advice on this forum!

#1 ncollins has been a member since 6/8/2014. Posts: 1

Posted by chengywong83 on 12/8/2014 at 02:30

Hi Natalie, i traveled to Vietnam back in 2012 for nearly 13 days. We started from South Vietnam, which is Saigon and from there we headed to Hanoi via a domestic flight. The package that we took for Halong Bay and Sapa were booked earlier on via our guesthouse in Hanoi, which is highly recommended somehow compare to the ones you plan to book near the train stations. We took the night train from Hanoi to Sapa, and arrived next day around 5-6am and the tour van picked us up from the train station. Oh yes, Halong Bay is definitely worth going, you should spend more than 2 days there, of course if your travel budget allows you. Happy planning! cheers

#2 chengywong83 has been a member since 1/8/2014. Posts: 11

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Posted by Antran on 15/8/2014 at 00:17

Posted from within Vietnam.

Hi Natalie,
About travelling to the Bac Ha sunday market: Yes, it's possible to go right from the night train to Bac Ha and then come back to Sapa.
You have two options:

- On the way from Ha Noi to Lao Cai , you can get off at Pho Lu station. It's about 30km from Pho Lu station to Bac Ha market and about 40km from Pho Lu station to Lao Cai Station. This is a local station, so do not surprise if you are the only tourist . You can take a Taxi or Motorbike taxi (Xe Om) to Bac Ha. A taxi fare may around 400 - 450.000 VND ( ~ 20-25$). It will take about 45 minutes to Bac Ha. The road is small and pretty bumpy. And you get to Bac Ha around 7:30 AM and this is a good time for you to discover cause at that time has very few tourists and the street crowded with ethnic.
Remember to ask staff who work on train to wake you up when the train reach to Pho Lu station (it's about 5AM in early morning).

- You stop at Lao Cai station and then catch a bus to Bac Ha. It's about 70km from Lao Cai to Bac Ha, and spends about 2,5 - 3 hours to get there. Beware of common scam: bus conductors will try to charge you US$10 for the bus ride. You can walk into the station, 300m south-west of the train station, down Phan Dinh Phung street, where the price is written on the board, there will be no argument.
Buses leave from Lao Cai and return buses from Bac Ha at various time during the day.

Hope it helps,

#3 Antran has been a member since 14/8/2014. Posts: 1

Posted by travellingsarah on 18/8/2014 at 00:39 TF writer

Posted from within Vietnam.

Hi Natalie. I'm not aware of people offering Bac Ha tours waiting outside Lao Cai train station but you can certainly pick up a bus to Bac Ha from Lao Cai

As to whether it's sensible to go straight from Lao Cai to Bac Ha or not - I did it last time I was there and although tired was able to doze a bit on the bus (though we had a private transfer so it was more comfortable) and stay lively enough to enjoy the market. Personally I think it's better to go to Bac Ha first then head to Sapa as if you go from Sapa to Bac Ha at the end of the trip you'll get there later.

The rest of your itinerary looks a bit rushed, by the time you factor in travel. Of the places listed, I'd probably skip Ninh Binh (it's a lovely place but doesn't really add much to your experiences). But go through it again and work out the travel and exactly how long that will leave you in each place and if you're comfortable with that, go for it.

#4 travellingsarah has been a member since 23/3/2010. Location: Vietnam. Posts: 684
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