I'll be travelling to vietnam for 2 weeks in may and am having trouble to decide on my itinerary. As I'm flying in budget from singapore, the ticket is not open-draw and I'll have to arrive and depart all in Hanoi, which thus presents me the problem of whether I can make the customary bus trip route of Hanoi-Hue-HoiAn-Saigon and the reverse.
I gather that if I time well, it shouldn't be a problem, but my concern is if it is worth all the overnight bus bumpings (I doubt I'll fork out the money for internal flight) as I am also pretty distracted by the northwest hill tribe regions. Heard some good ravings on Sapa in particular. Would it be a recommendable alternative, to plan my trip just around Hanoi, then make a round northwest to Sapa, finally down to Hue and Hoi An, and return to Hanoi in 2 weeks? Guess I'll be foresaking Saigon and the Mekong Delta, which is a sure pity, but I'll rather take this trip slow and in-depth rather than pit-stops. Or are there some other recommendations?
Thanks for listening! And I'll really appreciate it if I can have some advice from you.
2 weeks is no way long enough to bus down Saigon and back, and stopping off at places along the way. I would recommend something similar to this:
2 days in Hanoi
Overnight train to Sapa, spend 2/3 days trekking then overnight train back to Hanoi (usually get in about 6am).
Head to Halong Bay for 2/3 days (if you stay 2 days, spend night at sea in Halong bay, 3 days 1 night at sea and 1 night at Cat Ba Island).
The next stage depends on your budget. I would then fly to Saigon and have a up to a week here exploring Saigon and the mekong. A return flight from Hanoi will cost you in the region of $200 US (that's what it cost me in October).
If you're budget won't extend to that then i would concentrate on Hue and Hoi An. Hope this helps.
Perhaps you may care to consider just catching the bus down to Hue. That should only be an overnight ride from Hanoi. Sapa & Halong Bay are not to be missed.
Hi Wocca and Daveh,
Thanks for the tips! I'm doubly looking forward to the trip now
Wocca and I both have photos in our galleries of Vietnam. Check them out and see what kind of things you will be seeing.
Hi there again,
One more question -- would I need to malaria pills or any other jabs?
Hi shaoling, you don't need malaria pill, because VN is free from malaria.
Hmm ... I just got back from VN - really liked it, but I flew into the south and out of the north. Honestly, the rushed job of travelling for 2 weeks did finally start to take its toll - and I would recommend you fly at least one of your legs (ie- Hanoi to Hue or vice versa).
You should also try to catch Hoi An - the food, the people, everything was great. One-way flight from Danang to Hoi An is $56 (only like $20 more than the sleeper train, which is also a good idea btw).
Just keep in mind that Halong Bay right now is very foggy/misty - and kind of cold at night. We were told that the weather is better in June and that's when it clears up.
Link to a series being done in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch on Vietnam and tourism boom. Hope it helps with ideas/tips! There are links just to the right of the top of the story for other days' stories and related articles.
Robertson--is that you they're talking about in the Thursday article?
Thursday article? Well, I know that's supposed to be a joke but I guess it went over my head!
But anyhow I DEFINITELY second the recommendation for the Mango Restaurant in Hoi An... there's an entire article written about the chef/owner. I think it was the best meal I had in all of VN....