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Vietnam forum

Looking to travel to Vietnam in February.

Posted by BuzzmFrog84 on 21/12/2017 at 16:10

Hi everyone.

As I said, February looks like the month that will be best for me to travel. I'm looking to spend about a month abroad.

In 2015 I spent a month in Thailand but I don't have much other experience with Southeast Asia. How is the month of February when it comes to Vietnam? I should have $3000 usd to spend but if I could spend less, I wouldn't be against that.

All I've heard is that Vietnam is beautiful so I don't even know where to start! Could someone help me plan a route? I heard there are a lot of fantastic natural wonders to see, that's something I don't want to miss. Initially I wanted to see Hang Son Doong but I don't have the money for that!

I'm just looking for some help on how to start planning.


#1 BuzzmFrog84 has been a member since 1/12/2014. Location: United States. Posts: 99

Posted by Want2BHappy on 22/12/2017 at 03:57

Well, I'd start here: https://www.travelfish.org/travel-planning/15-tips-for-holiday-in-asia

Also https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/T%E1%BA%BFt might interfere with your travel plans a little,

#2 Want2BHappy has been a member since 23/2/2013. Location: United Kingdom. Posts: 84

Posted by BuzzmFrog84 on 22/12/2017 at 12:53

Thanks for the links.

Do you think I should avoid the trip because of T?t?

#3 BuzzmFrog84 has been a member since 1/12/2014. Location: United States. Posts: 99

Posted by flijten on 24/12/2017 at 02:35

It might be an interesting time to be there actually, but travelling around presumably will be harder due to a lot of Vietnamese being on the go themselves and/or transport being less readily available. But you can time it so you'll be somewhere that is nice to stay put a few days.

#4 flijten has been a member since 19/12/2016. Location: Netherlands. Posts: 80

Posted by daawgon on 25/12/2017 at 15:09

March is much better!

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

Posted by SoManyMiles on 1/1/2018 at 16:34 TF writer

I wouldn't avoid travelling to Vietnam just because of Tet but have the right expectations and you must come up with a plan. It'd be the ideal time to be bunkered in one spot - avoid all bus, train and air travel - book/reserve the hotel and activity in advance and just have the expectation that it will be busy with Vietnamese on holiday and not everything (like activities, tours) will be available.

Here's Tet tips on Travelfish: https://www.travelfish.org/beginners_detail/vietnam/127

But if your dates are flexible, then yes, do start your trip after Tet.

#6 SoManyMiles has been a member since 7/2/2014. Posts: 147

Posted by shaneaseymour on 3/1/2018 at 11:45

Hi all. We are planning two weeks in Vietnam but will be departing on the first day of Tet this year. Given our travel will be primarily before Tet begins, do you think we will still be impacted by the holiday (crowds, travel, etc)?

#7 shaneaseymour has been a member since 10/1/2017. Location: Earth. Posts: 2

Posted by SoManyMiles on 4/1/2018 at 09:13 TF writer

Hi shaneaseymour,
Yes, you will be impacted as the country begins to shut down/mass migrate in the weeks leading up to Tet, during Tet and in the week after Tet. This article is helpful in describing what to expect:

#8 SoManyMiles has been a member since 7/2/2014. Posts: 147

Posted by BuzzmFrog84 on 1/2/2018 at 16:42

Hi everyone.

So I bought a ticket for early March. I have a very rough itinerary. If anyone can offer suggestions, I would greatly appreciate them.

I'm landing in [url=https://www.tripadvisor.com/Tourism-g293924- Hanoi -Vacations.html]Hanoi[/url] in March. I'm thinking roughly 4 days? I want to feel it out. I found a place called Central Backpacker's Hostel. They offer tours to Sapa and Halong Bay, I'd like to take advantage of both. If anyone knows of a guesthouse/hostel they prefer to that one, please let me know.

After those locations, I think I'd like to see Ninh Binh. I still have to do more research on what to do here.

My number one desire for this whole trip is Phong Nha Ke Bang. Those caves look AMAZING! Are there any tour packages that aren't too expensive that anyone could recommend?

After that I'm torn between Hue, Da Nang and Hoi An. I don't know if I want to see one or all of these places.

I might want to go to Nha Trang, still don't know much about it.

From there would be Ho Chi Minh. I may cut out a location or two that I listed before so I can get a chance to see some rural Vietnam from there. I'd have to give myself enough time to fly back to Hanoi before the end of the month.

As you can see, this is pretty loose so far. I've read that it's best to book trains in advance, and I really don't know how any of the buses or trains really work yet. If decide to have a more relaxed pace and not book everything in advance, is it easy enough/not too expensive to get a train or bus at the last minute, or a day in advance?

Thanks to anyone reading this!

#9 BuzzmFrog84 has been a member since 1/12/2014. Location: United States. Posts: 99

Posted by nadirahmed on 2/2/2018 at 08:08

Hi Buzzmfrog84,

I was in Vietnam last year from 24 March until 12 April - I managed to see Hanoi , Sapa , Ha Long Bay , Hue , Hoi An , Da Nang, Saigon and a tour of the Mekong Delta for good measure. I squeezed it all in, into a 2.5 week trip, and so that included a few flights and a breakneck speed at times. If you're spending a month there, there's no reason why you'd need to cut out a location - you should still have time to see rural Vietnam.

My itinerary, to give you an idea of what is possible, was as follows:

Hanoi, three nights
Sapa, three nights
Hanoi (again), two nights
Ha Long Bay, two nights
Hue, two nights
Hoi An, three nights
Saigon, four nights

It's a pretty standard north to south route but I felt, at the end, that I'd seen a lot of the country and certainly the parts I had wanted to see. Some of the durations above might be a bit misleading as travelling from one place to another can take a fair bit of time (e.g. my second stay in Hanoi was actually only one day - I arrived back from Sapa quite late and, after spending a day in Hanoi, then left quite early for Ha Long Bay the next morning).

Suggestions for things you might want to do include:

Visiting the rice terraces and villages of the minority tribes in Sapa. There are tour guides, from those communities, who will wizz you around on the back of a motorcycle to see the rice terraces and villages of Sapa. I used a company called Ethos Travel who were pretty good. One thing I would say is that the weather in Sapa can turn quite quickly and unpredictably. We ended up started later than we'd hoped because of the fog (meaning it would've been too dangerous for riding around on the motorcycles) but we still managed to get a good few hours in, in the afternoon.

Ha Long Bay cruise: lots of posts about Ha Long Bay cruises on here and elsewhere. If you're travelling solo, you might get stung by a hefty single supplement but (I think) it's totally worth it. Pick a boat that goes out to Bai Tu Long Bay/Lan Ha Bay as it's quieter, there are fewer boats, and it's a more 'authentic' experience.

Motorcycle from Hue to Hoi An via the Hai Van pass. Nice scenery on the way and a brilliant way to travel. I used a company called Le Family Riders. They were great. They took my luggage separately in a car/van and took me on the motorcycle. One (minor) word of warning though - the tour ends, in Hoi An, in a tailor's shop owned by the family (or a relative) where they'll try to sell you clothes! No hard sell, just suggestions.

Mekong Delta tour: From Saigon, I did a one-day tour of the Mekong Delta. It included a visit to a Cao Dai temple, a visit to some markets, a boat ride through the delta etc. It was a great way of getting out of the city and seeing more of the country side. You could, with the right tour guide, make it an overnight trip with a homestay if you wanted. It'll let you see more of rural Vietnam.

If you have any questions, or want to pick my brains, let me know. I loved every minute of my time in Vietnam; you'll have a great time!

#10 nadirahmed has been a member since 26/2/2015. Location: United Kingdom. Posts: 19

Posted by BuzzmFrog84 on 12/2/2018 at 15:13

Thank you very much for your reply!

I would to have a brain to pick! Ha.

How did you get around mostly? Taxi? Other means? Any tips on that would be greatly appreciated.

Do you have a hotel/guesthouse/hostel that you would recommend in Hanoi? Ideally, I'm looking for something with airport pickup, other travelers to meet and tour packages.

#11 BuzzmFrog84 has been a member since 1/12/2014. Location: United States. Posts: 99

Posted by nadirahmed on 25/2/2018 at 05:03

Hi BuzzmFrog84, sorry for the late reply!

There's Uber or Grab (similar to Uber, available throughout most of South East Asia) in most cities in Vietnam, so it was fairly easy to get for to get around - as a solo traveller, you can also use them to book motorcycle taxis! For intercity transport, there are usually minibuses plying the route. I also flew some segments due to the limited time I had.

In terms of my itinerary and the specific methods of transport:

Hanoi airport to hotel - Uber
Getting around Hanoi - Walking, Uber
Hanoi to Sapa - Bus; used a company called EcoSapa. Booked via http://vexere.org. Really, really comfortable bus. Just shy of $20USD. There's also an overnight train if you want to save on a night's accommodation.
Getting around Sapa - Walking, taxis and motorcycle tour (with a company called Ethos; local guides from the minority tribes)
Sapa to Hanoi - same bus company that got us there.
Ha Long Bay and back - bus arranged by the cruise company
To Hue - cruise company dropped us off in Hanoi, took an Uber to the airport, flew to Hue
Hue - we arranged a private tour to see the DMZ etc. The bits of Hue we wanted to see were reachable on foot.
To Hoi An - took a motorcycle ride from Hue to Hoi An. Really recommended. Great scenery.
To Saigon - flew to Saigon. Uber to hotel (lots of people will claim to be your uber driver at the airport! Make sure the number plate on your Uber app matches up with the number plate on the car!). Get around with Uber and Grab - depending on where your hotel is, bits of Saigon will be walkable.

I stayed in two different hotels in Hanoi - on the two different dates. I stayed in the Serene Premier Hotel on the first few nights, and then the Calypso Grand Hotel when I came back from Sapa. I would gladly recommend either of them. Word of warning though: I ended up in a room without windows in the latter. It wasn't an issue for me as the room was otherwise quite big and therefore not claustrophobic (and lovely in every other way). Check descriptions etc and ask them before booking if this is going to be an issue for you.

I've now asked the website to let me know when you respond so hopefully I won't take so long to respond next time! When do you plan on flying out (or are you there already!)?

#12 nadirahmed has been a member since 26/2/2015. Location: United Kingdom. Posts: 19

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