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Vietnam forum

Itinerary advice for 18 day trip

Posted by rachel275 on 8/6/2016 at 17:13

Hi folks, We have 18 full days in Vietnam in October (flying in to Ho Chi Min at night and out of Hanoi in the morning at the end). We are looking for some opinions on itinerary from people who have spent a bit of time in Vietnam.
We are in our 40s, like a night out but not the backpacker party scene, don't fancy Sapa or Nha Trang. We both have some back issues so prolonged trekking and long bus or train journeys are out, but we can do a bit of both. Primarily we would like views on how long to allow for Danang/Hue/HoiAn, but other itinerary suggestions would be appreciated too.
We are thinking:
2 days Ho Chi Min (including going out to the tunnels)
3 days 2 nights Mekong Delta trip
1 day back in Ho Chi Min then fly to Danang
A few days in Danang, Hue, Hanoi - we aren't sure how many is enough/too much??
Fly Danang to Hanoi
2 days Hanoi
3 days 2 nights Halong Bay/ Cat Ba Island
Back to hanoi and morning flight.
Is it worth staying in Halong Bay itself an extra night?
Thanks for any tips/suggestions.

#1 rachel275 has been a member since 8/6/2016. Posts: 2

Posted by chantungsinz on 17/6/2016 at 21:15

Actually, I don't know why my post deleted. When visiting Hanoi , you should stay there more time and rent the motorbike to travel outside of Hanoi such as Ba Vi and Tam Dao national park.

#2 chantungsinz has been a member since 15/6/2016. Posts: 9

Posted by antoniamitchell on 18/6/2016 at 02:52

In my personal opinion, HCMC is less interesting than the other places, so i'd personally leave off the extra night there. Plus I think you might be trying to fit in a bit too much.

As for the danang/hoi an/hue segment, you could easily spend anywhere from 3-4 days to 2-3 weeks exploring that area - it really depends on your interests. I think I spent about 8 days in that area, and could have happily stayed longer. But some people are less into history and exploring back roads than I am, and would wonder how I amused myself for so long. ..

But my biggest piece of advice is actually to recommend not over planning the tail end of your trip. Perhaps you end up really loving danang/hoi an/hue and end up spending a few extra days in the area before you move on to Hanoi (and therefore don't have time for Halong bay)??? That's fine and dandy - give yourself permission to do what you feel like doing, when you feel like it.

(For a start, this part of the world doesn't fit into schedules the way the west does. This ain't Switzerland and the trains don't run on time....)

So if I were you, i'd consider not prebooking the flight up to Hanoi - sure you'll pay a bit more to get a flight late, but how much is it really compared to the total cost of the trip?

Have a wonderful time (and ensure you've got really good health insurance - my new official motto)

#3 antoniamitchell has been a member since 13/5/2012. Posts: 566

Posted by poppyjones on 12/7/2016 at 23:32

In my opinion, go to Halong directedly from Hanoi by seaplane would be very nice for you back, only 45 minutes rather than 4 hours on bus.
And the scenic flight included maybe a greatest way for you to admire all the beauty of Halong Bay, especially when you are all at 40s.
Even 1 day cruise in Halong Bay is enough for you if you might extend you journey at some previous destinations and got little time remained for Halong ( as antonyamitchell suggested above )

Have a good time ^^

#4 poppyjones has been a member since 12/7/2016. Posts: 2

Posted by TracEdaroundasia on 3/8/2016 at 09:44

Having just spent the last 3 months travelling the length of Vietnam, I would throw a couple of potentially alternate selections in to the mix:
Nam Cat Tien National Park - approximately 150km north of HCM is a fantastic place if you are into your wildlife. The early morning gibbon safari is fantastic.
A touch further north, approximately 150-200km from Hue is the Phong Nha National Park with some unbelievable cave structures to visit.
I tend to agree with most of the respondents above that HCM is not the most interesting of cities. Our personal preference was Hanoi over HCM. But even more than that we loved the architecture, surrounding countryside and food of Hoi An; also Hue was fantastic for the citadel, proximity to Lang Co and Hai Van pass to the south, and DMZ to the north.
Ha Long Bay we have found to be overly commercialised, but the idea of a sea plane in (which is surprisingly reasonably priced) is quite appealing. Avoid the route through Haiphong if at all possible. Heavily industrial and painfully slow.
It is a shame Sapa has changed so much, but if you are inclined to see amazing mountain scenery and spectacular rice paddy's completely unspoilt , the roads north of Nghia Lo to the north west of Hanoi (c. 150km) are amazing; as are the roads east of Sapa near Bac Ha.
Whatever you choose I suspect you won't be disappointed. A fantastic country

#5 TracEdaroundasia has been a member since 3/8/2016. Location: Australia. Posts: 2

Posted by shakitasexson on 8/9/2016 at 22:43

Your itinerary sounds good. If you want to new experiences, you should homestay at local people and join floating market in the early morning instead of hotel or hostel. In Hanoi, you can join free tour with student tour guide or DIY

#6 shakitasexson has been a member since 14/8/2016. Posts: 12

Posted by daawgon on 10/9/2016 at 14:31

You're getting some good advice from antoniamitchell because this is not the place to rush and Oct often sees some rough weather on the Central Coast. I'm also the kind of person that prefers Hanoi over HCMC,

#7 daawgon has been a member since 17/4/2007. Location: Vietnam. Posts: 1,159

Posted by eliseswinehart168 on 12/9/2016 at 03:26

Hoian is a great destination so you should spend much time here. Perhaps one week in Danang - Hue - Hoian is enough for you.

#8 eliseswinehart168 has been a member since 16/8/2016. Posts: 3

Posted by ThinhBui on 14/9/2016 at 03:40


You may be done with your plan but I still give my idea.

Your basic plan is very good already. Hoi An , Da Nang and Hue can be few days. My recommendation is: 3 days (even more if you love the city) in Hoi An because there so many things to do such as bicycling tour, beach, cooking class, great street food,...
Hue can be 2 days as more things to do nowaday. The National park on the way from Hoi An to Hue is worth to take a visit. If you are abit adventure, take a motorbike tour from Hoi An to Hue.
Da Nang - No need to stay there as you can take a day trip from Hoi An.

Adding some nights in Phong Nha for caving can be great before it becomes too busy in tourism. Phong Nha cave, Paradise cave are amazing to visit. Weather maybe a bit cold for Dark cave.

That is my suggested plan for Central of Vietnam. All the best for your travel

#10 ThinhBui has been a member since 14/9/2016. Posts: 1

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