THE CHALLENGE: VIETNAM IN A WEEK
Replies: 19 - Last Post: Jan 18, 2012 7:23 AM Last Post By: cjkelly1000
Jan 14, 2012 8:21 AM
THE CHALLENGE: VIETNAM IN A WEEKHi TTers,
I'm just trying to organise a trip for a myself and a few friends to Vietnam for the end of April. I have been reading this forum quite extensively and there's some great advice and itinerary suggestions, but most seem to be for two or three weeks or longer. We'll have just 10 days and two of those are our travel days from and back to Japan. So essentially just eight full days. We wish it were longer, but that's all we have.
We haven't booked flights yet, so we can fly into Hanoi or HCMC and from what we have been reading, our must-sees are Hanoi, Ha Long Bay, Sapa, Mai Chau, Ninh Binh, Hue, DMZ, Hoi An, Nha Trang, Mui Ne, Da Lat, Sai Gon, Mekong Delta, HCMC and the Cu Chi Tunnels. Obviously we can't fit all of this in, so for those who have spent time in Vietnam, what would you recommend for a first trip?
It's hard as some people on here say, for example, that Sapa is definitely worth the trek. Others say that it should be forgone for a Mekong trip in a short itinerary. What do you think?
We are aged 25-32 and are interested in a relaxing break from work, rather than too much sightseeing of museums and palaces. Beautiful scenery, good food, markets, time on the water and a nice beach thrown into the mix would be great. An opportunity to scuba dive would also be good. Saying that, we're still interested in some of the historical side - such as the Cu Chi Tunnels - just not an overdose of history on this particular trip (by this stage we'll all be in need of a complete break from work).
We'd be flying in on April 26 and out on May 5. We are more than happy to take overnight trains and buses, day buses/trains or cheap internal flights and we're trying to keep it as inexpensive as possible.
If anyone could help me with a rough itinerary for these days, I'd be most appreciative.
Thanks in advance!
Jan 14, 2012 9:24 AM
Jan 14, 2012 12:32 PM
Jan 14, 2012 6:36 PM
3I'd stick to either the north or the south, don't try to do too much. If you are travelling between places on a bus you must allow time. At least half a day or more per journey, night buses are an option of course but may tire you for sight seeing the next day. I'd maybe do the south at this time of year as its coolest and the north later as it can be wet and cloudy in Sapa.
Jan 14, 2012 7:59 PM
Jan 15, 2012 1:24 AM
5There is absolutely NO WAY that you can do all that in 10 days !!!! Vietnam is mostly mountains and communications are extremely slow except by plane (count 30 km/h with the necessary stops photos/toilets/lunch), and the train are as slow !!!!! To give you an idea, Hanoi-Dien Bien Phu by bus (475 km) takes 14 horrendous hours ; to go to Halong, it takes 3 1/2 hours for 176 km, etc.
April is a good month so go to the North, much more beautiful than the South. Count
Hanoi 2 days
Halong 2 (1 night on board ; since it takes 7 hours for the RT Hanoi-Halong by bus, I don't recommend 1 day only)
Then night train to Sapa and 2-day (or 3) trekking
1-day excursion from Sapa ON SATURDAY for the Can Cau Market 18 km north of Bac Ha or SUNDAY for the Bac Ha one (both astonishing)
2 days in the magic "Halong Bay on Land" of Tam Coc (Ninh Binh - 2 hours by bus from Hanoi), And that's it for a very good basic visit f the North !!!!
Jan 15, 2012 2:46 AM
6Thanks for the prompt replies guys! Yeah, I was not for a second thinking we'd manage to get anywhere near through that list - they were just the places that keep coming up in the suggested itineraries I was reading.
I keep hearing mixed reviews about Sapa - is it worth a visit if trekking isn't on the agenda for this trip? If not, what would be an alternative?
Any chance of fitting a beach with scuba diving opportunities in there? I've read good things about diving in Nha Trang.
And is Hue, Hoi An an Nha Trang (or just one or two of these) completely out of the question (if we miss Sapa, for example).
Are cheap internal flights an option in Vietnam?
Jan 15, 2012 12:08 PM
Jan 15, 2012 11:55 PM
8Many people try to do too much, they forget how long it takes to travel between places, best to pick one area and cover that, I would pick Hanoi which is good in April.
Jan 16, 2012 5:23 AM
9Thanks Bassalegboy and Herbie47. So is Sapa worth a visit even if we wouldn't be trekking? (I'd be keen on a trek but I know the other people in my group wouldn't be). To be honest, I'd not actually heard of Sapa until I started researching - and the place seems to get mixed reviews, with some saying it's one of the most spectacular places on earth and others saying that yes, it's beautiful, but not worth the hassle it takes to get there.
Also, The 27th - the second night we're in town will be my birthday, would you recommend staying in Hanoi for a second night to celebrate or heading out to Halong Bay for a birthday on the water. We'll certainly be wanting a few drinks to celebrate!
Thanks in advance!
Jan 16, 2012 6:03 PM
10Sa Pa is definitely worth visiting and the journey is well worth the minimal "hassle" - in fact the journey is part of the attraction.
Drinking on the water is not hard to arrange.
Jan 17, 2012 9:58 AM
Jan 17, 2012 3:55 PM
12Thanks Bambooboy and dogeatinghotchips. So if we were to get an overnight train and arriv early in the morning, could we see anough in one full day and take an overnight train back that night? Don't usually like to rush things but with 8-9 full days I want to utitlise our time as best as possible.
The others still seem to be keen on seeing Hue and Hoi An, and one really wants to get to Nha Trang, but I'm just not sure our time would accommodate this.
Jan 17, 2012 4:43 PM
13Boy, you'll be knackered but will get a taste and decide if you want to go back - assuming the weather is fine. If it's cloudy you won't see much.
Forget Nha Trang, it's a dump and not worth it even if you were here for longer.
Jan 17, 2012 5:55 PM
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