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Vietnam forum

3 week itinerary dilemma

Posted by Talia1968 on 16/3/2017 at 06:07

3 week trip itinerary dilemmas...

Hi all, we are planning a 3 week visit to Vietnam in August. We are a family of 5 persons (ages: parents - 48, kids - 19,16,12) and are looking for a trip that will include:

* Experiencing the culture
* Nature
* Animals (if applicable)
* Adventure (Rafting, Zipline)
* Spiritual element (Temples - Would love to see a prayer ceremony, and maybe experience the spiritual aspects, if applicable)

We have put together the following itinerary that includes North, Central and South Vietnam:

Day 1 - Saigon Arrival.
Day 2 - Saigon City Tour.
Day 3 - Saigon - Tay Ninh (Cao Dai Temple), Cu Chi Tunnels.
Day 4 - Saigon - Mekong Delta - Can Tho .
Day 5 - Can Tho - Floating Market, then Back to Saigon.
Day 6 - Fly to Danang - Arrive at Hoian - Walking Tour
Day 7 - Hoian - Farm & Fishing Eco Tour - Is it any good? other ideas?
Day 8 - Hoian Cooking Class half day.
Day 9 - Hoian - Beach Day
Day10 -Drive to Danang, then to Hue - Lang Co Beach, Royal Citadel, Imperial
Museum, Mausoleum of King tu Duc , Dong Ba Market.
Day 11-Hue - Lady Pagoda (Thien Mu Pagoda), Khai Dinh’s and the Minh
Mang's tombs. Then drive to Phong Nha .
Day 12 - Phong Nha - Paradise Cave (Dong Thien
Duong ) and Dark Cave (Hang Toi).
Day 13 - Fly to Hanoi . Afternoon City tour in Hanoi
Day 14 - Hanoi City Tour
Day 15 - Drive to Lao Cai - Sapa Sightseeing and Cat Cat Village
Day 16 - Sapa - Visit hill tribe villages.
Day 17 - Bac Ha (Sunday) Market , then drive back to Hanoi
Day 18 - Drive to Ninh Binh - Hoa Lu & Tam Coc - Is trang An preferable in August? should we do them both?
Day 19 - Drive to Halong Bay - Overnight on the cruise.
Day 20 - Finish cruise and drive back to Hanoi.
Day 21 - Flight back home

Our dilemmas:
Are we trying to cram too much into 3 weeks?
would it be preferable to skip the South?
Are there places that are preferable over our suggested itinerary? for example, Da Lat?

I would appreciate your opinions and suggestions as well as any other recommendations for activities, guides, special accommodations, etc.

Thank You and Cheers

#1 Talia1968 has been a member since 16/3/2017. Posts: 2

Posted by maxlewis on 21/3/2017 at 01:51

Posted from within Vietnam.

Hi Talia1968,

If I am honest I think you're squeezing a little bit too much in. Personally, I always prefer a bit of a rest day and after 21 full on days you may be absolutely exhausted as Vietnam's highlighted destinations are hours apart. I found in regards to Tam Coc and Hoa Lu its quite nice but you wouldn't need to do both. Ninh Binh is an excellent day trip from Hanoi and that'll most likely include both destinations anyway though. Are you travelling or yourself or going through an agency?

#2 maxlewis has been a member since 20/3/2017. Posts: 5

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Posted by SoManyMiles on 22/3/2017 at 09:35 TF writer

Hi Talia1968,
Your itinerary is in theory doable though I do think you are trying to cram a bit too much in. One more relaxation day or an extra day added somewhere would be less hectic especially since your itinerary involves a lot of shuttling around, to/from airports which always eats up time.
Here's a few notes on your itinerary:
-Feedback from travellers - often people say one day in Saigon is enough.
-seeing 3 caves Phong Nha, Paradise Cave and Dark Cave in one day is ambitious but doable full day if you manage your time. Rushed though. You'll probably need to make private arrangements as most public tours lump Paradise Cave and Dark Cave into one full day trip.
-I suggest you try to drop one thing, and considering spending one more night somewhere, perhaps on the Halong Bay cruise or Phong Nha. Both offer the nature component you are looking for.
Hope this helps!

#3 SoManyMiles has been a member since 7/2/2014. Posts: 130

Posted by Talia1968 on 7/5/2017 at 08:22

Thank you "So Many Miles " and "Maxlewis". Sorry for late reply , just realized now that you answered. Since writing this, I have changed the itinerary. It is stil packed, and we are still with a few dilemmas. Here is the new itinerary:

Day 1 - arrival in afternoon to Hanoi
Day 2- Hanoi
Day 3-5 Pick up by car for 3 day tour to Mu Cang Chai and Northern area. At end of tour, take night train from Sapa to Hanoi)
Day 6 Ninh Binh - Stay at night at homestay
Day 7-8 Pu Luong ovenight trip with the Ninh Binh homestay owner (Return on the 8th day to the Ninh Binh homestay and spend night)
Day 9-11 - Early morning pick up to Cat Ba - for 2 night on private junk . At the End of cruise, back to Hanoi
Day 12 - Hanoi (at night, we take night train to Dong Hoi).
Day 13 - Phong Nha - Dark Cave and Phong Nha Cave
Day 14 - Phong Nha - Abandoned Valley Day tour (or any other cave and water excursion)
Day 15 - Phong Nha - Paradise Cave 7KM Day tour
Day 16 - Travel by car with guide to Hoi An (with stops in Hue, marble mountain, etc)
Day 17 - Hoi An
Day 18 - Hoi An
Day 19 - Hoi An
Day 20 - Hoi An (Fly in evening to HCMC)
Day 21 - Drive to Can Tho (Stay in homestay)
Day 22 - Mekong Delta Tour and return in afternoon to HCMC
Day 23 - Either explore HCMC, or day trip to Cu Chi Tunnels and Cao Dai Temple
Day 24 - Morning flight home

Yes, It's pretty packed, but our experience is that we know how to do packed trip.. and yet...
So, here are a few dilemmas:

Northern experience:
Initially, I was planning just a 4 day Mu Can Cahi tour and 2 Days in Ninh Binh. However, I understood that the PuLuong and Mai Chau areas are much more authentic, with our the fabulous terrace views of Mu Cang Chai.
As a compromise, I settled for the current itinerary, which includes a 2 day PuLuong trip (with wonderful guide), but am still not sure it is the right thing to do. No doubt it would be more relaxing to just do a long Ninh Binh, Pu Luong- Mai Chau trip, however, from all I've read, it seems that there is no alternative to the fantastic Rice Terrace views of Mu Cang Chai area. I am having such difficulty deciding... help!!

Phong Nha:
So many incredible caves, too little time, hard to choose... I will be glad to hear your input on my plan for Phong Nha.

I understand that we are not leaving almost any time for HCMC, but I feel that it would be cramming in too much to add more days here. This, especially since we are less into modern cities and more into the culture, nature and authentic vibe of the trip.

I'll be glad to hear your feedback on the plan.

#4 Talia1968 has been a member since 16/3/2017. Posts: 2

Posted by flijten on 7/5/2017 at 23:23

You are in Hoi An for about 5 days right. Is this due to beach time? Otherwise I'd personally take out 1 or 2 days there and use them somewhere else that you're stretched thin in time.

#5 flijten has been a member since 19/12/2016. Location: Netherlands. Posts: 64

Posted by violets on 9/5/2017 at 15:59

I'd cut the time in Hoi an and add to the time in Hue. When I travelled with a teenager she loved the cooking class at Red Bridge and the street food tour we did in Hanoi with Stickyrice.

#6 violets has been a member since 6/7/2009. Posts: 153

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