Hi All, I've been spendign days on the forum prepering for my trip to Vietnam and Cambodia. I'm still not sure how long I have (waiting for boss to approve) but it'll min 4-5 weeks max 8. I sort of got stuck between Da Nang and HCMC. Def want to do train journey between Hue - Da Nang but not sure how to continue - what to skip... happy to fly or train, please see detailed trip below - Thank you!!
Bangkok (1-2 nights) markets, rest
Bangkok - Hanoi - flight $80
Hanoi (2 nights / 3 days)
Hanoi - Sapa - overnight sleeper train $20
Sapa (4 days)
Sapa - Hanoi - overnight sleeper train $20
Ha Long Bay / Cat Ba Island - 2 nights $80
Hanoi-Hue - Flight $50, 1 hour
Hue - Da Nang - day time train , 3 hours
Da Nang - Hoi An , Cua Dai beach
Nha Trang (Skip?)
Mui Ne (beaches, sand dunes) (Skip?)
Ho Chi Minh
Cu Chi Tunnels
The Mekong Delta
Ho Chi Minh - Phnom Penh - bus $10, 6-8 hours
Battambang (?) - 4 HR bus
Island (if we have time...)
It seems like you've thought this out pretty well. You don't have to decide right now whether or not you'll skip Nha Trang , Mui Ne and/or Da Lat. It would probably depend on how much time you have when you get to Hoi An (and how much time the boss gives you). But because you're not flying from HCMC or anywhere after Hanoi to Da Nang you have the advantage of being able to stay longer in places you like and/or cut out places if you feel you may not have time. I would say just wing it and if, when you're in Hoi An, you feel like you've got plenty of time, pick one (or all) of those 3 destinations and go. You can make the decision almost last minute. They're all worth checking out in my opinion if you have the time. But if you have to choose just one of those 3 it's kind of a tossup and depends on your preference - if you want mountains, wine and coffee - go for Da Lat. If you want party, para-sailing and bbq lobster - go for Nha Trang. Little more relaxed beach scene and amazing sand-dunes - Mui Ne. Personally I liked Hoi An the best out of anywhere in Vietnam and ended up staying there for 5 weeks. 2 days in Nha Trang was good enough for me. Good luck
I spent a month in Vietnam in December. Whilst I enjoyed Hanoi, Hue and Hoi An and to a lesser extent, Nha Trang, the highlight of my entire 5-month SE Asia travel was the 9 days spent on a motorbike tour from Dalat through to Chau Doc.
We started out with a 4-day trip from Dalat to Mui Ne , but 3 days into it, we decided to bypass Mui Ne, and head for HCMC then through the Mekong Delta. It was on this trip that we met to amazing guys (EasyRider guides) who took us to some really interesting places. But more importantly, it was the first time that we really got off the tourist trail, and felt that we were meeting genuine people who didn't look at us like walking wallets.
As we travelled each day, we visited many small home businesses and learned a lot about daily life in Vietnam.
It cost us US$65/day each (I think - or was it $70?), but this included all transportation and accommodation. We only paid for meals on top which were dirt cheap at a variety of local places that we probably never would have tried on our own. Whilst it was a budget blowout for those 9 days, our previous days in Vietnam were well under budget so it evened out for us.
I was fairly nervous about being on the bike at first, but these drivers are good and I managed to relax pretty quickly. They shared many stories about their lives. It was an awesome experience and turned my views of Vietnam around after feeling a bit jaded from the constant aggressiveness of many of the other places we had visited.
Just my long two cents worth!
I also fully agree with DLuek's comments about Dalat, Mui Ne and Nha Trang. Spot on! Don't overplan it as you'll find you want the ability to change your plans as you go. Dalat also ended up being one of my favourite towns
I did an almost identical trip this time last year, except we missed Sapa which was a really bad call in hindsight.
As DLuek put it, it really depends what you're into. I fell in love with Hoi An too - colonial charm, great shopping, fabulous food and a nearby beach to catch some sun. We'd only planned a quick 2 night visit but ended up staying over a week.
My travel buddy, on the other hand, really enjoyed Nha Trang: boat trips, late night partying & a cable car to an island that hosts nothing but a massive amusement park...
Regarding the other possible stops you mentioned: Mui Ne - beach life, possibly not worth a stop if you are planning to visit islands (unless you are massively into kite surfing). Dalat - if you do go, please visit Peace Cafe: amazing food and the owner was the loveliest lady we met in Vietnam! Good sport activities but otherwise it was a pretty uneventful visit. Some really weird/cheesy landscaping going on... In hindsight, I would have skipped these 3 stops to make more time for other places.
I found that reading the descriptions here on Travelfish gave me a pretty good idea as to whether I'd enjoy a place or not and it was pretty spot on.
Have a fantastic time!
Thank you FSH and all other travelers! this is great help!
FSH - how long did you go for? did you go to Cambodia as well?
I def know I want to do north and all the way down to hoi-an. then will decide if we skip the rest and jump to HCMC - as you said - it's hard to tell now if i'll wanna spend longer in another place...but i do hope i make it cambodia!
DLuek - thank you so much for the detailed response.
KazAussie + busylizzy - not sure i'll be able to get myself on a bike - but it does sound like an amazing trip!
We left Vietnam on the very last day of our visa so we were there for a full month. The trip between Hanoi & Hoi An made up just over 2.5 weeks of this but I could have easily stayed longer!
When we got to HCMC we decided to kill two birds with one stone so we booked a tour of the Mekong Delta that took us into Phnom Penh . We spent a week here because we were meeting friends but you could easily visit the main sites in 3/4 days. Unfortunately I had to rush back to Thailand so besides Phnom Penh & Siem Reap, I don't know much about Cambodia! Tonle Sap sounds fascinating though.