To rush or not to rush; Hanoi halong cat ba sapa
Replies: 8 - Last Post: Aug 18, 2012 2:59 PM Last Post By: tranvantuan
Aug 16, 2012 6:57 AM
I'm seeking some personal opinions here really, we've started to run short of time and now we have only 6 days free to do halong bay area and sapa. It seems that it is possible to do the itinerary below, but is it wise. We like outdoor stuff (trekking, kayaking/ snorkelling etc good) and natural scenery preferably with less people (not so into the whole meet the tribes thing) so is it worth making the crazy trains to sapa, or is there a better option with such limited time? Thanks in advance for your thoughts!
Sat 18: arrive Hanoi arrange transport etc
Sun 19: head to cat ba
Mon 20: full day cat ba
Tues 21: return from cat ba to Hanoi. Take night train to sapa
Weds 22: full day sapa
Thurs23: day sapa, night train back to Hanoi
Fri 24: flight out of Hanoi 1600 ish
Aug 16, 2012 6:59 AM
Aug 16, 2012 11:49 AM
2yeah, i personally don't see the above itinerary happening. you're probably better off picking one or the other. if you're into trekking and mountainous terrain (not to mention village walks and rice terraces) then Sapa is for you. If you're more into the beachy, cruisy, watersport activities, then Halong is for you. Both have their pros and cons. The natural scenery at both is phenomenal and unique, as well as very iconically Vietnamese. However, you'll get a lot of touristy cruisers in Halong, and while the tribal people are fascinating IMO, you'll probably get annoyed with them trying to sell you things after a couple days in Sapa. But it is also much cooler in Sapa, which definitely came as a relief to me when i went.
Aug 16, 2012 6:54 PM
Aug 16, 2012 7:06 PM
4I'd also recommend Sa Pa over Ha Long Bay. Ha Long Bay is unlikely to change much over time, except maybe and hopefully the amount of litter in the water might diminish. But in Sa Pa part of the attraction is the ethnic minority peoples in their costumes and with their unique handcrafts* that are so interesting and keep changing with the times.
- Yes I do know that much of what is sold in Sa Pa is cheap imports from China and Thailand and not locally produced. But I found some locally produced things in the Sa Pa markets and had a wonderful time dealing with a group of older women who quickly understood what I was looking for.
Aug 16, 2012 7:54 PM
5I normally don't recommend tours or moving quickly thru an area. But if you may never get back to that part of the world then go for it. Both areas are quite amazing and will be very memorable plus most people spend about that amount of time in those places just not back to back. You can get reasonable tours for about $125 for each place. They will make the experience less hectic and your time spent more efficiently.. Unfortunately by doing both you won't have any time to check out Hanoi which is one of the more fascinating capitals in that part of the world. I guess it all depends on how much energy you have. Have fun.
Aug 17, 2012 8:04 AM
6Sorry OP but #6 is correct. The typhoon that struck the Philippines a couple of days ago and devastated parts of Manila is now just over the coast of VN. Hanoi had a fierce storm this afternoon and the worst is not expected until around 1 am Saturday Hanoi time and for the hours following. Your plane may be grounded until after it has passed - even longer if the damage is great.
Both Ha Long Bay and SaPa look to be in the direct path although the passage of typhoons is difficult to predict. But you may not be able to get to either in the next couple of days.
Aug 18, 2012 6:45 AM
7Wow, thanks guys,we didn't even realise there was a typhoon! It seems to have been downgraded to a tropical storm now, so we are going to spend 2 days one night in Halong Bay (as #5 says, we may never get back...) and then overnight train straight to sapa, no fixed plans there as yet, except that we are on the train again 23rd overnight to get back to Hanoi for our flight on the 24th. Totally agree that we are rushing both, but I guess since it appears to not be the best time for either with the storms that maybe we will get a taste of each at least.
Thanks again for all your advice - much appreciated!
Aug 18, 2012 2:59 PM
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