Firstly, I need some advice. My boyfriend and I are arriving into Saigon (by air) at 2am from China. I'm not sure whether I should book a place first online, which I know I will pay more for. I don't mind paying a few dollars more if it means I have a bed to go to once I arrive. However, I've read in numerous places that taxi drivers are inclined to tell you various things about the hostel/hotel you've booked to attempt to take you somewhere with commission. Basically, does anyone know of a good hostel/hotel that could pick us up from the airport at that time? Obviously we would pay for the transfer, it would just give me a lot more peace of mind knowing it's arranged before I arrive. We would also be willing to sleep at the airport if this is possible? Maybe they have those chairs that you can lie in by the hour?
Secondly, we have 17 nights/ 18 days in Vietnam. We fly into Saigon and out of Hanoi . We are planning to do day trips to the Mekong Delta, Chu-chi tunnels, a night in Cat Tien Nat. Park and then start heading up north to visit Mui Ne, Nha Trang, Hoi An, then up to Hanoi and spend a few nights in Halong Bay (mostly by train). I realise that this is a lot to squeeze into this timeframe. I'm thinking of getting a Jetstar flight from Danang to Hanoi to cut down on some travelling time if necessary, but am still worried that we're trying to squeeze into too much. Does anyone have any suggestions for what could be taken out of this itinerary? We are looking to get a bit of everything - jungle adventure, beach fun and city sightseeing, plus of course exploring Vietnam's beautiful scenery. Basically, I'm wondering if:
1. The flight from Danang-Hanoi is a good idea.
2. If spending 2 or so nights in each place listed here is enough to really see each place.
3. If there are any areas I've listed which aren't a must-see that I could take out.
Any help much appreciated!
#1 fcottle has been a member since 19/6/2009. Posts: 5
First, at that time, I doubt you'll get any accommodation provider that will pick you up. But, also, do book at least one night with someone. There are a host of options listed in the accommodation section here on Travelfish for Saigon.
Answering your 3 points:
1 definately yes.
2. No, but if that's all you've got, sobeit. Personally, I'd drop Mui Ne and go to Dalat (the NP is half way there, anyway), and from Dalat, go to Nha Trang. If you want to go to a beach (and August isn't necessarily the best time for beaches) go to Cam Ranh Bay between Dalat & Nha Trang.
There is another option, go type in Jungle Beach into the Search Travelfish box up top.
Nha Trang is a very western town, so if partying etc is your thing then you'll like the place. The beaches are ordinary, the islands great. But, your call.
Also, the Mekong Delta 'day trip' is about 6 hours on a bus, 1/2 hour on a boat, and 1 1/2 hours looking at 'home industries' (ie what used to exist before factory production please buy, buy buy) and stuck in a place for lunch.
Also, Hoi An has a great beach (a 10 minute bicycle ride away), as does Danang (China Beach).
3. mentioned Dalat. Also, from Hoi An, go see My Son (rent a moto will make the trip even better).
Hope this helps
Thanks BruceMoon, advice much appreciated.
Can you tell me if you need an international drivers license to hire a mobed/scooter? Also, my b.f. and I have never ridden them before - are they difficult to ride without any experience? What are the roads like between Dalat and Nha Trang?
#3 fcottle has been a member since 19/6/2009. Posts: 5
Neither had I ridden till I hired an automatic moped in Vietnam.
Moto's are for in and around the place you are staying. I suggest you hire a fully automatic. That way, you only have to worry about going, steering & stopping. The Vietnamese drive slowly, and YOU CAN drive slower if you wish. Most Vietnamese who are going to overtake you give a little beep. Also when travelling along, the REAR brake should be the one you mainly use (the front is only for harsh stopping). Make sure the brake works OK.
As for hiring, most places ask that you leave your passport with them. The 'requirements' are sort of vague. I take an international licence (from my motoring association). When hiring, write on a piece of paper every scratch, dent, etc. Get the person renting the bike to you to sign it. That way, if someone wants to be silly and try and cheat you, you're in front.
I'd suggest you don't even entertain using a motorbike for between cities/towns.
The distance between Dalat and Nha Trang is about 5 or 6 hours with a reputable bus company servicing tourists.
Legally, all bikers need a bike license. In reality, you could probably get away with never having one. But the risk is there and traffic police can confiscate the bike. If you have an accident and have no license, it is an excellent excuse for your insurance company to deny your claim.
Mopeds are very easy to ride. Wear closed footwear.
I encourage you to use both front and rear brakes for the most effective stopping. Locking the front wheel will cause the front to fall away and you WILL go down. Read this guide for braking: http://www.sportrider.com/ride/146_9510_motorcycle_braking_tips/index.html