4 weeks trip - Hanoi to HCMC - advice needed
Replies: 11 - Last Post: Nov 16, 2012 8:59 PM Last Post By: mooslie
Nov 7, 2012 12:10 PM
I'm going on a trip for about 4 weeks in Vietnam with my girlfriend.
I've tried to build an itinerary for this trip but I came to a conclusion that I don’t know exactly what I HAVE to see, and how long I should stay in each place.
My plane lands in Hanoi on 17/12/12 (evening), so I'm starting my trip on the 18th.
I'll stay in Honoi for a few days and then go on two trips - to Sa-pa and to Halong Bay (I don’t know how long I'll stay in each place).
Then, I think I'll go down to Hue, Da Nang and Hoi An - I don’t know how long I need in each place, and what are the "must see" sites in every place.
Then, I'll go through the Central Highlands. Again - I didn’t go into details, I just know that I want to get to Da-Lat' which I hear is very beautiful area.
Afterwards, I'll head down to HCMC, spend some time there and then go on a trip to the Makong Delta.
I'm flying out on 15/1/13.
I really only started figuring this trip out… So I will be happy to learn what I planed wrong and what you recommend to do in each place, how long you think I should stay in each place, and so on…
Also, my girl and I, we are both big foodies and I'd like to know what we have to eat and where - Great restaurants/Great dishes/other recommended culinary experiences will be greatly appreciated!
Thank you so much in advance for ant advice!
Nov 7, 2012 12:29 PM
Nov 7, 2012 1:46 PM
What did Socrates say? "The only true wisdom is in knowing you know nothing."
First, you don't have to see anything. People live their whole lives and die without visiting Vietnam. Sad unfortunate people but they do it.
You seem to have mapped out a perfectly viable trip; you're basically done when it comes to planning.
I think a lot of first-time visitor feel that if they don't have a carefully mapped out itinerary then... well, something bad will happen. They won't have a hotel or something.
No, don't worry about it. Land in Hanoi. First day, poke around and make a reservation to go to either Sapa or Ha Long. Do that trip. When you come back, either stay a few more days (if you're digging Hanoi) or move on. You can take the train south (see caves) or just fly to Danang or Hue (see temples). A lot of good food to be had there. When you're done, you can take the bus to Dalat and see the Highlands, or the train to Mui Ne and see the beach. Then on to HCMC or Mekong.
Will you miss something? Of course! Vietnam is twice the size of California, you can't see it all in a month. The point is, you'll spend as much time as you want in each place. There will be hundreds of tourists and guides and touts and chambermaids to give you suggestions.
True that. Pro tip: best phở is always made by an ancient crone in a tent by the side of the road who is simultaneously tending some two-year-old descendent.
Nov 7, 2012 6:09 PM
3Also, don't forget Hoi An!
It's a little village with beautiful french historical buildings and delicious resturaunts. If you go, go to the Morning Glory Resturaunt and also attend one of their cooking classes... The owner has written an excellent and all inclusive cookbook which has recipes in it that I've made over and over again :)... Across the road from that resturaunt is a delectable french pastry shop which (although touristy) has some worthy treats! :).. Actually, upon thinking about it, I'm pretty sure all our food experiences in Hoi An were delectable.
If you'd care to, I wrote a detailed reply to another similar question that was asked a few months back about a Vietnam Itinerary... http://www.lonelyplanet.com/thorntree/thread.jspa?messageID=20187467#20187467
I visited in Jan this year and am going again same time next year :)
Hope I've helped
Nov 7, 2012 8:27 PM
Nov 7, 2012 9:29 PM
Nov 14, 2012 2:22 PM
6thank you all very much,
right now i'm trying to figure out how to make my way in the Central Highland (i've heard transportation ther is more difficult), and to decode which places in this region are the most interesting. -mooslie- if you have any recommendations in this subject, i'll be happy to hear.
-malvolio- when you say that i can "take the train south (see caves)" what do you meen? train to where? i heard Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park has some amazing caves. is that what you mean?
anyway do you all think Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park is worth visiting? i heard getting there and back takes a lot of time and i'm not sure its worth it...
thanks in advance,
Nov 14, 2012 10:14 PM
Nov 15, 2012 1:39 AM
Yup. No train and not as many buses. Easiest way: get a motorcycle. Easiest way you're likely to survive: hire somebody to drive you around.
That's what I meant. Phong Nha-Kẻ Bàng has some 300 caves, the largest of which, I calculated, could contain San Francisco's Financial District, Transamerica Building and all. You can't go in the big one yet, but still, has to be worth seeing, doesn't it? I haven't been there myself, but it's right on the way from Hanoi to Hue.
Nov 15, 2012 7:23 AM
9''right now i'm trying to figure out how to make my way in the Central Highland (i've heard transportation ther is more difficult)''
Travel to Da Lat is easy enough from Nha Trang and HCMC; plenty of buses available.
In Da Lat itself there are plenty of people willing to help with motorbikes. Easy Riders, cafes/bars in town at 70 Phan Dinh Phung st
Nov 16, 2012 10:41 AM
10girlfriend and i took a month long trip in the reverse direction last spring.
we took a speed demon minibus ride to Dalat from Mui Ne. poor Vietnamese lady in the front seat was motion sick the whole way. Vietnamese jocks tried to smoke cigarettes the whole ride too but they abstained when we asked them nicely (but firmly)
Mui Ne would've been worth skipping but we really wanted to spend some time on the ocean.. actually the beaches outside Hoi An were nicer.. Hoi An old town was interesting for a day or so but too touristed and moldy for much more.
Hue was a nice ancient provincial city with good food.
Dalat was beautiful and surprisingly cosmopolitan with some nice places outside town to explore by motobike for a couple days. riding the cable car up to the top of the city and temple gardens was nice.
we hadn't planned (like you, no plans really) but flew from Dalat to Danang as a quicker way to get north as opposed to overland travel. we booked the flight one day in advance through our hotel owner since we could not get the local website to work. his price was consistent and he told us up front he would add a 3% service charge for his services. sounds fair.
i think it was total around $60 or maybe $80 each. not sure what we missed or if we skipped over anything nice with the flight... was considering checking out Quy Nhon; maybe would've been a good alternative to Mui Ne..
Phong Nha-Ke Bang was definitely worth the detour but I would only highly recommend the one big cave (Dong Tien Duong aka Paradise Cave).. train to Dong Hoi and then private car was how we went, not sure of alternatives...
it really is spectacular.. biggest cave i've ever seen and tastefully developed for tourism inside despite the Disneylike ride in golfcarts to the entrance.. of course we walked but the local Vietnamese tourists seem to relish the novelty..
riding through the dirt road villages/farmland/jungle on rented motobike to get there was half the fun..
in fact, renting a motobike and exploring cities and outskirts on our own was about the best way to see any of the places we were in.
i would've liked to explore more the regions outside Sapa (Bac Ha and maybe further) but illness meant we stayed only in Sapa town and trekked around a bit.
exploring the Mekong Delta by hired boats and motobike was fun for a few days. homestay in Ben Tre was very nice.
one quiet night on a boat in Halong Bay was enough to experience the place
we regret a bit not getting out more into nature and the hinterlands but it is not so easy in Vietnam.
next time we will definitely schedule some relaxing beach time at Phu Quoc.. maybe Con Dao
Ninh Binh maybe would've been a good place to see the wilds some more
best pho i had the whole trip was in Hanoi at 49 Bat Dan (Pho Gia Truyen)
Nov 16, 2012 8:59 PM
11Mui Ne would've been worth skipping but we really wanted to spend some time on the ocean.. actually the beaches outside Hoi An were nicer
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