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Vietnam forum

Five days in Vietnam - Please vet my itinerary

Posted by Shahmatt on 30/6/2009 at 14:45


I'm trying my best to schedule an itinerary for a 5 day trip. It looks like its going to be tight.

The trip stops can be summarized as follows:
Hanoi -> Halong -> Hanoi -> Dong Hoi -> Hanoi

Day 1: Thursday night. Land at Hanoi at 8pm. Travel to Halong City during the night. Stay overnight at Halong City.

Day 2: Friday - Visit Halong Bay. Stay overnight on boat.

Day 3: Saturday - Halong Bay, get back to Hanoi by evening. Take sleeper bus to Dong Hoi.

Day 4: Sunday - Reach Dong Hoi by morning. Visit Phong Nha National Park. Return to Dong Hoi by night. Stay overnight at Dong Hoi

Day 5: Monday - Travel back to Hanoi. Spend evening there. Stay overnight.

Day 6: Tuesday - Do some more sight-seeing. Take flight out during the night.

I've deliberately left a day as breathing space on Tuesday in case I can't make it back to Hanoi on time to catch my night flight.

From what I see, it might be tight getting to Halong City on Thursday night. I don't know if there is a way I can travel the 160km from Hanoi to Halong during the night.

In theory this setup works. But I would greatly appreciate some practical experience about this plan. Is it feasible? Can it be done?

Also I would appreciate some advice on accommodation at Halong City, Dong Hoi, Hanoi and sleeper buses to Dong Hoi. Something for the budget minded. I don't need too much comfort. Its just got to be safe and clean.

Thanks in advance!

#1 Shahmatt has been a member since 30/6/2009. Posts: 17

Posted by BruceMoon on 30/6/2009 at 19:16


Two points.

1/. As the Halong boats cater for tourists coming from Hanoi, most tend to leave the harbour around midday. That said, most transport leaves HaNoi about 8 to 9am for Halong City.

So, have you some knowledge about boats leaving Halong harbour earlier in the am (to warrant the night journey)?

2/. When are you planning to undertake this trip?

If soon, the weather may be against you.


#2 BruceMoon has been a member since 27/12/2008. Location: Australia. Posts: 1,941

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Posted by Shahmatt on 30/6/2009 at 23:08

Hi. Thank you for the reply.

I did not know that the Halong Bay tour started at around midday. If that is the case then it makes perfect sense to stay overnight at Hanoi and do the tour like everyone else. Thank you for the information.

I was actually planning for end July, but I am flexible. Do you reckon the monsoon rains will affect my plans? What would be a good month to travel if so?

#3 Shahmatt has been a member since 30/6/2009. Posts: 17

Posted by BruceMoon on 1/7/2009 at 07:41


The end of July could be a complete whiteout - but equally, maybe not. It all depends on the weather. I wrote to another on this recently, so go look at (first):

This will give you an indication of when you're most likely to have good weather.

Though July is the early part of the wet season, it MAY be sunny, showery, rainy, or some combination.

Today, the whole area is covered by dense cloud. Go see at:,%20Vietnam&wuSelect=WEATHER

If you 'right click' on the small picture to the left side to open in a new tab/window, you'll see just how dense the cloud really is. Halong Bay is about where the 'g' is in Hai Phong (on the right side).

But, in a weeks' time, it may all be sunny again - that's weather.


#4 BruceMoon has been a member since 27/12/2008. Location: Australia. Posts: 1,941

Posted by sunnybg on 13/7/2009 at 16:51

Posted from within Vietnam.


It is fine for you to spend 1 night in Halong Bay but why don't you spend one more night there and doing some activity such as kayaking? so you will spend 2 nights there and then get back to Hanoi then move to Dong Hoi .

Now there is a direct flight from Hanoi to Dong Hoi by Vietnam Airline. I ask Active Travel Shop to do it for me. It will save time thus you will have more time for visiting some places.

#5 sunnybg has been a member since 1/7/2009. Posts: 4

Posted by sunnybg on 17/7/2009 at 17:27

Posted from within Vietnam.

Hi again,

Did you find the best way to travel from Hanoi to Dong Hoi? did you ask the Vietnam Airline for the flight ticket? or you would like to take the tourist bus? I know that most of the tourist bus start at Hanoi around 06.00 PM thus you can check it if you like

#6 sunnybg has been a member since 1/7/2009. Posts: 4

Posted by Shahmatt on 17/7/2009 at 21:13

Hi thanks for the help from all you guys. I really appreciate it. My trip got postponed until September due to various reasons. I also believe it is a better time to travel there.

Regarding my trip to Dong Hoi, I understand sinhcafe has regular buses that go past the town, I was hoping to arrange with them to travel there.

#7 Shahmatt has been a member since 30/6/2009. Posts: 17

Posted by Tweet22 on 24/7/2009 at 09:20

The drive from Ha Noi to Ha Long is around 3-4 hours. You could hire your own taxi to take you there at a pre-agreed cost, but that could cost £60-80 depending on haggling/contacts etc.
If you're going with a specific tour company, then they would have their travel schedules which I'm not sure of, but I believe there's always private runs buses running. Of course, as a Vietnamese person born abroad, I always have relatives with me, and whichever local method they take, I feel safe. Although having been a couple times now, and last year going there for 3 months, I was able to travel around on these by myself. There are bus depots that you can go to and buy your tickets there, or even on the buses (coaches) themselves (but beware of being ripped off). They have signage to show all the destinations they stop at, you can ask before you board and even haggle. Then they'll drop you off wherever you please.

#8 Tweet22 has been a member since 24/7/2009. Posts: 8

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