Sapa in January, or Ninh Binh as alternative?
Replies: 16 - Last Post: Dec 15, 2012 12:54 AM Last Post By: alenathai181
Nov 20, 2012 9:10 PM
Sapa in January, or Ninh Binh as alternative?Hi there,
We are visiting VN mid January (2013), starting in Hanoi and moving down to Saigon.
I've read a lot about Sapa, and heard going there in Jan could get 'messy'... Anyone out there that has done Sapa in Jan, or would you say it's a better bet to visit Ninh Binh (or some place similar)? Would love to go to Sapa though, have only heard good things...
What is the the 'to do' and 'to see' things in Ninh Binh (I know I can google, but want to hear from fellow travelers which places are worth it). Any other suggestions maybe as alternatives to Sapa?
Safe travels, cheers!
Nov 20, 2012 10:00 PM
1Went to Sapa in late November and although it was cold and misty at certain times of day it was still a definite highlight of Vietnam for me. The scenery in that area is amazing and the people are very friendly. Ninh Binh is also very nice but most of it can be seen in a day by hiring a bike and riding out to Tam Coc to take a boat ride up the river. If possible, do both..
Nov 20, 2012 10:02 PM
Nov 21, 2012 5:47 AM
Nov 21, 2012 5:58 AM
4''What is the the 'to do' and 'to see' things in Ninh Binh?'
The town itself is underwhelming but it is a great base for the nearby karst scenery including Tam Coc, An Trang and just for cycling around generally.
It is also near the ancient city of Hua Lo, and just a little further afield is the extraordinary Bai Dinh temple. Not only huge, but also beautiful in parts.
Nov 21, 2012 1:19 PM
Nov 22, 2012 1:18 AM
Nov 24, 2012 11:25 PM
7Well, you are talking about day and night ! The 2 are wonderful (I ahve been to Sapa 8 times and Tam Coc 32 times -my "nest" when I am fed up with the noise in Hanoi ! January is not warm and it can be awfully foggy in Sapa. Sapa means "trekking and minorities", Tam Coc is not called for nothing "Halong Bay on Land" !
You don't say what period in January ? If it is during Tet festival, except fully-booked trains, buses
and hotel, all full of Vietnamese, who are not the most discreet hotel guests, particularly early in the morning !
Because of the weather, my advice is the following : you can wait until let's say 48 hours before taking a decision, so I would check the weather before "hitting the road" once in Hanoi, and decide according to the meteo
Nov 28, 2012 4:26 AM
8Thanks for the replies.
I realize that you can't actually compare the two places as each have their own unique qualities, but thing is I need a good alternative if the weather (and ultimately my experience...) is going to suck. BUT, the first choice definitely is Sapa.
We are going to be in Sapa 16 January. Think we'll do a hotel for one night and then some trekking and a homestay. I've also read that you can actually organise your trekking when getting there in Sapa, as you are more likely to get better deals/prices there... Have any of you ever just gone and play it by hand when there?
We are going to see what the weather forecasts say (when arriving in Hanoi) and then make an informed decision as to where we'll go. The thing is, as I research more about Ninh Binh, the more it intrigues me!
Anyway, thanks again for any feedback. Your advice or opinions are welcomed!
Dec 3, 2012 7:53 PM
Dec 3, 2012 8:17 PM
Yes ! Open www.orientalbridge.com, Pages "tours 2 and 3 days". This said, you need an agency for Halong Bay, but most people do Ninh Binh (Tam Coc) by themselves : easy to go there (bus or train Hanoi-NB - 3 hours max (2.50$ one-way) + moto-taxi (3$) or taxi (4$) NB-Tam coc (6 km) and then everybody goes around on a bicycle (free at the hotels).
The best hotels in Tam Coc (NOT in Ninh Binh , ugly !) is the famous Chez Loan (2 small rooms downstairs at 15$, the others 25 and 30)
Dec 8, 2012 12:32 AM
11Cheers, thanks for the advice, much appreciated.
That site with it's quoted prices are a little steep for our budget, will look for cheaper alternative.
Ninh Binh doesn't seem to difficult, but looking for more info on Mai Chao. Looks like a place that shouldn't be missed? Suggestions and other tips?
Dec 11, 2012 9:31 PM
2 cheaper solutions :
- Group tours, OK but they take you to the group sites ; it's OK for one day
- You go on your own, very easily : public bus or better train to Ninh Binh (3 hours - 72 000 D) + moto-taxi Ninh BInh-Tam Coc (40 000 D), stay in a hotel (2 best addresses are Duc Tuan and Chez Loan), which give you bicycles and maps to explore the region on your own. The boating on Tam Coc river must be done when the groups are not there, that is in the morning before 12 or at 4h
Dec 13, 2012 5:42 PM
Dec 14, 2012 3:36 AM
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