Photo: Canals of Ca Mau, Mekong Delta.

Vietnam forum

Vietnam and Laos in 2 weeks

Posted by sarahwelch on 4/3/2008 at 08:49

I know, I know-probably too much :) I am trying to go from HCMC to Hoi An and then on to Hanoi to fly into Vientiane to stay a few days. I will then take a return flight to Hanoi to stay there a few days. This is the suggested itinerary:

March 20th-arrive HCMC at night
March 21st-day trip to Mytho and back to HCMC
March 22nd-day trip to Cu Chi Tunnels and back to HCMC
March 23rd-HCMC (attempt to take night bus/train to Danang and then connect in the morning to Hoi An)
March 24th-Hoi An
March 25th-day trip to My Son (attempt to take night bus/train from Danang to Hanoi)
March 26th-arrive in Hanoi early morning, fly to Vientiane
March 27th-Vientiane
March 28th-Vientiane
March 29th-fly to Hanoi
March 30th-Hanoi-perhaps Halong Bay if it can be done in a day trip
April 1st-Hanoi
April 2nd-Hanoi (fly out at 12:40 am)
April 3rd-back to Japan

Are the night bus/trains feasible or should we skip something? Are the Cu Chi Tunnels not worth it? I read a post on here and am wondering if we should try to go to the DMZ instead...Thank you so much!!

#1 sarahwelch has been a member since 4/3/2008. Posts: 2

Posted by somtam2000 on 4/3/2008 at 19:52 admin

Hi Sarah,

Yes it's too much! :-)

I'm assuming you're fitting in Vientiane to catch up with somebody, because unless they're a very dear friend, I'd suggest saving Laos for another trip and giving yourself a bit more time in Vietnam.

A couple of other pointers:
a) HCM to Da Nang by bus or train takes the best part of 24 hours overland, so I'd suggest flying
b) I'd skip My Son and spend the extra day in Hoi An
c) As with (a) I'd strongly suggest flying this leg as overland you're looking at 16 hours or so
d) Ha Long Bay can be done on a day trip, but reports back on the day trip experience are almost universally poor -- if you can fir an extra evening (or two) into the equation, it's a good idea. Check the Ha Long Bay section of Travelfish for some stories comparing different tours.
e) Cu Chi is over-rated and I'd say an extra day spent in the Mekong Delta (or pretty much anywhere else) is a good call. The DMZ is only worth it for Vinh Moc tunnels, which are far far far better than Cu Chi, but I can't see how you could possibly fit them into the time you have.

Remember the mantra - less is more -- Vietnam takes a long time to travel around in, so fly when possible but don't try to cram tooooo much in!

More questions - ask away!

#2 somtam2000 has been a member since 21/1/2004. Location: Indonesia. Posts: 7,938
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Posted by CatBa on 5/3/2008 at 03:51

Posted from within Vietnam.

Like many first-timers to the area, you lack knowledge of the time / distance ratio imposed by the poor infrastructure.

My Tho is about 60 kilometres south of HCMC and in a Western country you are looking at an hour on the road but here it takes about 2 hours because the roads are crowded and often a single lane in either direction.

I recommend Mai Linh Express for this journey as they have buses leaving every hour in either direction.

Ha Noi / Ha Long Bay is a 4-hour journey in BOTH directions assuming no delays through accidents on this killer highway that is often choked by trucks / lorries. Hardly worth the hassle.

ANY overnight bus trip is NOT a sleeping journey (bad drivers, roads and buses) and you will arrive sleep deprived.

What I suggest you do is to concentrate your trip on either Ha Noi OR HCMC - and get some quality time in that area. Ha Noi has more culture that HCMC and is much smaller than HCMC.

More bad news: the VN government has authorised substantial increases in air fares - my well worn trip from HCMC .. Buon Ma Thuot now costs MORE than HCMC >> Ha noi or Hai Phong.

#3 CatBa has been a member since 5/3/2007. Posts: 349

Posted by sarahwelch on 5/3/2008 at 06:17

thank you so much for all of your help! i will talk to my travel partner and if we have any other questions i will be sure to ask them! again, thank you so much :)

#4 sarahwelch has been a member since 4/3/2008. Posts: 2

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