Photo: Canals of Ca Mau, Mekong Delta.

Vietnam forum

Our travel plans ok? Time to get from A to B? Need help.

Posted by Peat on 7/9/2009 at 16:03

Hello,
it would be great if somebody could have a look at our plans, especially giving us some info about the time to get from A to B by train...first time in Viet.:)

Trip from October 26th till November 15th.

1) Hanoi 2 nights: how many hours to Ha Long Bay? By train, by bus? Ticketsin advance?

2) Ha Long Bay; 2 nights, then: how many hours to Hue (with stopover in Pong-Nha for the caves); night train or day train to Hue? Ticktes in advance?

3)Hue: 1- 2 nights, then: how many hours to Hoi An by train?

4) Hoi An: 2 nights
Night train to Nha Trang (weather ok in mid-november or heavy rain?) or Mui Ne ; is Mui Ne better concerning the weather?

5)Nha Trang/ Mui Ne: 2-3 nights

6)Central Highlands: before Mui Ne, after Nha Trang?; whats best to get there? Train or bus?

7)Mekong Delta: 3 nights; how many hours to Mekong by train from Mui Ne? Tickets in advance?

8)Bus to the coast, ferry to Phu Quoc: 2-3 nights

9)Flight back to HCMC: 1 night


THANK YOU!!
Peat

#1 Peat has been a member since 7/9/2009. Posts: 9

Posted by Chinhnguyen on 7/9/2009 at 17:02

Posted from within Vietnam.

Hi Peat,

Are you independent traveler? Right?

For your information, please be advised that:
1) Hanoi 2 nights: how many hours to Ha Long Bay? By train, by bus? Ticketsin advance?
- City tour in hanoi: visit Ho Chi Minh complex, temple of Literature, Museum of Vietnamese Ethnology,...
- Outskirt of Hanoi: Bac Ninh province, Bat Trang Village, Thay pagoda, Tay phuong Pagoda,.Perfum Pagoda,..
- Hanoi to Halong Bay by bus/car/shuttle bus, approximately 3.5 - 4 hours.

2) Ha Long Bay; 2 nights, then: how many hours to Hue (with stopover in Pong-Nha for the caves); night train or day train to Hue? Ticktes in advance?
- Hanoi to Hue by train - night train (about 12 hours, Ticket: US$36/tix
Departure time: 19:00, Arrival time: 8:25 am

3)Hue: 1- 2 nights, then: how many hours to Hoi An by train?
You should go to Hoi An by bus, about 3.5 hours

4) Hoi An: 2 nights
Night train to Nha Trang (weather ok in mid-november or heavy rain?) or Mui Ne ; is Mui Ne better concerning the weather?
- Nha Trang is warm all year round with an average temperature of 23 Degree Celcious. Generally, the best time to visit Nha Trang is from late January to late October. The wettest months are November and December, but rain usually falls only at night or in the morning.
- Mui Ne sees only about half the rainfall of nearby Phan Thiet. The wet season (June to September), rains tend to be fairly light and sporadic. The waves are best from August to December, and the wind is best from late October to late April; so never really a bad time to go.

6)Central Highlands: before Mui Ne, after Nha Trang?; whats best to get there? Train or bus?
Nha Trang - Central Highlands and then Mui ne is better. Get there by bus.

7)Mekong Delta: 3 nights; how many hours to Mekong by train from Mui Ne? Tickets in advance?
Why dont you visit Mui Ne after Central Highlands, then go by bus/train to HCMC-bus to Mekong Delta (boat in Mekong)-flight/ferry to Phu Quoc (fly back HCMC)?

#2 Chinhnguyen has been a member since 7/9/2009. Posts: 2
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Posted by Peat on 7/9/2009 at 17:20

Thanks so much for your help!! What do you think, is it ok to buy the tickets right at the train station on the same day or is it safer to book in advance (couple of days or even more)?

#3 Peat has been a member since 7/9/2009. Posts: 9

Posted by Chinhnguyen on 7/9/2009 at 17:36

Posted from within Vietnam.

In my opinion, you should book in travel agency or buy in the train station before departure day as soon as possible to hold your seat. It would has better than buy in station on the same day

#4 Chinhnguyen has been a member since 7/9/2009. Posts: 2
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Posted by BruceMoon on 7/9/2009 at 18:18

Peat

I read your itinerary and said to myself - I don't think Peat has looked at what s/he wants to do at the places s/he is wanting to visit. It appears the focus is on the fact that the places exist, not what peat wants to do/experience in the various places.

May I suggest you read this post for advice .

As you'll see in that post, one region per week is the bare minimum. You have 3 weeks. So, Hanoi/Halong = 1 week. You also want to visit Saigon, therefore, about a week there (possibly include a nearby beach location such as Long Hai). Now choose another location: and that's it.

The mechanics -

HaNoi - Halong Bay. The boat operators organise mini-bus transfers. So, you get picked up around 8am, get taken to halong bay about midday, off onto the cruise. Are you spending one or 2 nights on the water? Or one night on water, another at Cat Ba? Which operator? Cheap'n'nasty, or quality?

HaNoi to Hue ? Either sleeper bus or sleeper train (a bit more expensive). Train leaves about 7pm, gets into Hue about 8am (roughly). Hue needs 2 full days (minimum) to view the history.

Hoi An has no rail station. The nearest is Danang. The train from Hue leaves @ 8am and arrives Danang @ 11am (roughly) - then you must get a bus. The bus from Hue to Hoi An (direct leaves about 9am and arrives Hoi An about 2pm).

As there is no station at Hoi An, the easiest option is a night sleeper bus to Nha Trang - leaves about 8pm and arrives about 7am.

From Nha Trang, you either choose Dalat (highlands) by bus leaves about 8am and arrives about 3pm. Or Mui Ne - don't know the bus schedule. You can't easily get from Dalat to Mui Ne. The nearest train station to Mui Ne is some 40k away (a little siding in the middle of nowhere!).

As for Phu Quoc, why entertain by bus when you don't have the time.

As I said above, choose 3 locations - and I'd suggest fly between HaNoi & wherever and Saigon.

My suggestion would be: HaNoi and halong Bay = 1 week. Fly to Dalat, explore area for (say) 3 days. Get Dalat Motorbike rider to take you on the back of a Harley on a 5 day tour via Mui Ne to Saigon. Saigon area for about 4 days.

Cheers

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

Posted by Peat on 7/9/2009 at 19:07

THANKS!

Halong:
Actually we wanted to choose the tour right at the harbour not in Hanoi. Or is it better that way?

Are you spending one or 2 nights on the water? Or one night on water, another at Cat Ba?
I'd prefer one on boat one on the island..

Which operator?
From what I have read its better to invest some money ;) maybe http://www.columbuscruise.com/ or 'Ocean Tours' or Buffalo Tours?

#6 Peat has been a member since 7/9/2009. Posts: 9

Posted by BruceMoon on 7/9/2009 at 19:26

Peat

I have enjoyed a very good experience with Columbus, and so have others, so I'll recommend them.

If you choose Columbus, they will pick you up and return you to/from hanoi within the same price. Put simply, they have their own bus going/returning hanoi - Halong so why would they reduce the price because you made your own way there?

I suggest all boat operators include the Hanoi/Halong bus ticket in the price.

When considering Cat Ba accommodation, choose wisely, there is some absolute rubbish on offer.

Cheers

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

Posted by Peat on 7/9/2009 at 21:34

Whats better; staying 2 nights on the boat and just visit Cat Ba for a few hours or stay there overnight? is there a lot to see apart from the nature?

For Mekong: is there a way to spent 1-2 nights on a boat just like in Ha long? To see more? Or is it better do do a couple of shorter trips? Whats the nicest region in the delta, where to go?

Thanks! :)

#8 Peat has been a member since 7/9/2009. Posts: 9

Posted by BruceMoon on 8/9/2009 at 05:33

Peat

Halong...

On the Columbus trip, I really enjoyed 2 nights on the water. I also did the 'lunch' side trip. On this, go see my blog, here . A part of the reason I liked the 2 nights on water is that it was a great contrast to the helter-skelter that is the Vietnamese culture on the land. And, I do like waking up to a dawn on water.

Mekong...

I suggest you would be wise to consider the topography. Halong is a karst outcrop (like a submerged rocky mountainscape that you float around). The Mekong is a flat low lying river delta. Moreover, in South-East Vietnam, the Mekong is several kilometres wide. Essentially, boat traffic on the Mekong is primarily for transport (ie from point A to B). Given this, there is not a lot to see, and hence nothing to market to tourists. That said, as a quick trip tourist, I doubt you'll find a 'ready made' option to go float on the Mekong.

Hope this helps.

Cheers

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

Posted by somtam2000 on 8/9/2009 at 08:28 admin

Mekong traffic is primarily transport-related rather than leisure -- but there is still stacks to do on the rivers.

Most of the tourist activities revolve around the floating markets in places like Can Tho and the homestays out from Vinh Long -- both of which are highly recommended.

If you want to do a longer overnight trip a good one is from My Tho to Tan Chau (which is near the Cambodian border town of Chau Doc). The trip takes about a day and a half -- bring your own hammock -- it's very very basic! Boats leave irregularly from My Tho -- say a couple of times a week -- you'd need to go to the port area the day before and ask around to see what is going, so it it quite a bit more "work" than a cruise on Ha Long Bay.

In many ways travelling the backwaters of the Mekong can be more rewarding than the scenery at Ha Long because there is soooo much more going on -- both on the river surface and on the banks of the rivers.

#10 somtam2000 has been a member since 21/1/2004. Location: Indonesia. Posts: 7,576
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Posted by Peat on 8/9/2009 at 14:51

Thanks both of you. As we are coming from Mui Ne to the Mekong and leaving for Rach Gia/Phu Coc after, we are not that much into just relaxing (thats what we do on the island :)), but rather seeing a lot.

Is there no town or place where some daytrips or 2daytrips start from daily? Since we have a tight schedule (unfortunately) we can't afford sitting and waiting for a boat to leave for some days...

Peat (f):)

#11 Peat has been a member since 7/9/2009. Posts: 9

Posted by BruceMoon on 8/9/2009 at 17:54

Peat

I suggest you are trying to do too much.

Slow down....

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

Posted by Peat on 8/9/2009 at 18:08

Yeah, I remember how it was a a student (not long ago), I had months for traveling, I could stay as long as I wanted, but thats over. Now only a couple of days off, and we want to see a lot. But I know, could be stressful. ;)

#13 Peat has been a member since 7/9/2009. Posts: 9

Posted by somtam2000 on 8/9/2009 at 18:14 admin

You can do boat trips easily to the floating markets in Can Tho -- that would be my number one recommendation (you'll need to overnight at Can Tho and do the boat trip early the following morning -- outa bed by 4am!) Another option is My Tho but IMO not as interesting and considerably more expensive.

Cheers

#14 somtam2000 has been a member since 21/1/2004. Location: Indonesia. Posts: 7,576
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