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Vietnam forum

Feedback with 8-Day Northern Vietnam Itinerary

Posted by frugalvan on 27/8/2014 at 22:13

Hubby and I are travelling to Vietnam and Cambodia for 20 days. We are allocating 8 days towards Northern Vietnam and are struggling piece together the optimal itinerary. Would like to receive feedback from TA travellers whether the itinerary below is too aggressive. Flights are already booked so the total number of days is inflexible. However, the order in which we visit these cities is still flexible since hotels, trains, tours, etc are not yet booked. Travelling from Oct 12 to Oct 20:

Day 1 - flight in from YVR via HKG to HAN. Recover from jet lag and sleep.

Day 2, 3, 4 - [url= Hanoi -Vacations.html]Hanoi[/url]

Day 5 - tour of Halong Bay, overnight on junk boat

Day 6 - Halong Bay morning, return to Hanoi, go straight to train station for Sapa overnight train

Day 7 - arrive in Sapa, visit terraces, town, mini trek

Day 8 - Bac Ha Market morning and early PM, travel back to Sapa, sleeper train to Hanoi

Day 9 - arrive in Hanoi early AM, go straight to Noi Ba airport for flight to Danang (11:20am)

We are more into culture and food so the city appeals to us. However, are we missing out on Sapa or Halong by not giving either places enough time? Should one day in Hanoi be reallocated to Sapa? Halong Bay?

What should we be doing with luggage? Lug everything with us onto the Halong junk boat and sleeper train or entrust our baggage with a Hanoi hotel reception desk? Thoughts?

All feedback welcomed.


#1 frugalvan has been a member since 27/8/2014. Posts: 2

Posted by hanoihotel on 29/8/2014 at 03:21

Posted from within Vietnam.


I am Diep Nguyen from Hanoi Imperial Hotel - one of the leading three star hotels in Hanoi Old Quarter. We also acts as a travel agency and organize typical tours to the North of Vietnam.
As per your travel dates, I would like to suggest a popular tour itinerary as below:

Day 1 - flight in from YVR via HKG to HAN. Recover from jet lag and sleep.
Day 2 - Join a group Day city tour. Overnight in hotel
Day 3- Free and easy in Hanoi (enjoy cyclo tour, watching water puppet show or shopping...) + overnight in hotel
Day 4 - Join 2D1N Halong Bay trip. Overnight in cruise
Day 5 - Come back to Hanoi from Halong Bay. Transfer to Hanoi railways station to catch overnight train to Sapa . Overnight on train.
Day 6 - Arrive in Sapa and join group tour in Sapa. Overnight in hotel in Sapa.
Day 7- Continue the part of the Sapa tour. Overnight train back to Hanoi.
Day 8 - Arrive in Hanoi. Freshen up and stay in the hotel
Day 9 - Transfer from the hotel to the airport. Trip finishes.

If take the suggested tour itinerary, you will not feel too hurry or tired after the long trip to Halong or Sapa, also have enough time to explore the Hanoi city, enjoy the tour of culture, food and shopping...
Please rest assured that 2d1n Halong Bay tour and 3N2D Sapa tour is enough, no need to spend more time on the destinations. If you do not want to spend too much time in Hanoi, you should join a full day tour to Hoa Lu- Tam Coc tour (far from Hanoi about 70km).
Almost hotels in Hanoi offer complimentary luggage store service, so you can leave your luggage at the hotel while enjoy the Halong Bay tour or Sapa.
If you need further information or assistance, feel free to contact me via email We are offering promotion for package tours from 1st Sep to 31st Dec, 2014. We will be much pleasured to assist your trip to Hanoi.

Best regards,
Diep Nguyen.Ms.
Sales Manager

#2 hanoihotel has been a member since 29/8/2014. Posts: 2

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Posted by antoniamitchell on 29/8/2014 at 14:18


Pretty much every hotel and guesthouse in Hanoi will have a tour desk or otherwise help with booking tours (as per the advertiser above) so you'll never be short of people willing to sell you tickets!

With regards to your questions / request for suggestions:

Your plan sounds reasonable - you've got enough time in Hanoi to recover from the jetlag of your flight from Vancouver to Vietnam before you start moving on again, and although the Halong Bay/Sapa stretch will be tiring and include a lot of moving, you won't be moving at that pace for that long so it's certainly doable.

One night in Halong is probably enough, unless you particularly want to do the local outdoor activities (rock climbing, lots of kayaking, etc).

With regards to Sapa, it feels to me like an awful long way to go for just 2 days, 1 night and only a mini-trek, but if you aren't that into long treks, then I can see why you'd plan it that way. And yes, if you're into city breaks, museums/galleries, fancy restaurants and bars, etc., then I'd definitely recommend you allocate several days to Hanoi.

Any hotel will hold your bags for you (often for free if you're coming back there after your side trips, or for a small fee if you're not staying in that hotel again). So you certainly have that option, or you could just try and pack light, so you can easily take your stuff with you. It just depends on your packing style.

Hope that's reassuring. have a good trip!

#3 antoniamitchell has been a member since 13/5/2012. Posts: 541
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Posted by frugalvan on 30/8/2014 at 10:57

Thanks for the great feedback, antoniamitc-hell.

Yes, it does seem like a long ways to travel for 2 days/1 night in Sa Pa, however, our goal is to be at the Bac Ha market on a Sunday so by being here, we can check off one of our primary travel goals which is to see all the great markets of the world. Sa Pa seems nice and the hill tribe trekking would be interesting, so the trade off is really more hill tribe culture versus more Hanoi street scene and culture. I think given the diversity that a city offers, we'll stick with the current number of days allocated to Sa Pa/Bac Ha and Halong, thereby keeping Hanoi at 3 days/4 nights.

To HanoiHotel, we prefer exploring on our own but the offer of touring Northern Vietnam is appreciated since we'll likely need to book a Sa Pa and Halong tour for simpler logistics.

Much appreciated for the feedback.

#4 frugalvan has been a member since 27/8/2014. Posts: 2

Posted by chengywong83 on 10/9/2014 at 23:24

Hi, with regards to your enquiry, mu suggested itinerary for you would be:
HCM/Saigon -Hanoi - Sapa - Halong Bay - Hanoi.
It would be great if you could spend more days in Halong Bay rather than just a day trip. As for your query on luggages, you may leave your luggage with the hotel before you depart to Halong Bay / Sapa. Oh yes, we booked our Sapa and Halong Bay trip with the hotel (also the tour agent) in Hanoi.

Happy Planning! :)

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

Posted by travellingsarah on 12/9/2014 at 02:38 TF writer

Posted from within Vietnam.

Hi there. I agree with Antonia - the schedule looks good apart from Sapa being a bit rushed, but 3 nights/2 days is do-able if you don't mind train travel. I'd recommend booking your Halong tour with an agent in Hanoi, but for Sapa you could just as easily book the train with an agent and then sort the rest out once you're there. For a mini trek one option is to walk down to Cat Cat Village. It is very touristy but the walk affords some stunning views and one of my favourite spots for a coffee in Vietnam is en route to the village at Gem Valley View (see the coffee pic in the feature Halong Bay or Sapa?). You can jump on motorbike taxis for the ride back up or walk.

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