Have you ever been to the Central Highlands/ Ban Me Thuot? What is the best time to visit this part of VN? I have read that for most of VN, should avoid the summer, but summer is when my daughter is out of school.. what is VN really like in June and July? Thanks!
I think summer is not the best but a good time to visit Vietnam. It may be hot and rainy alot but still lots of fun awaiting you and your family.
The central highland may be the least wet area of the whole country and instead, Ban Me Thuot is a nice and cool city. Famous for its CAFE all over the world, you may spen time there discovering about kakao garden and how people make it.
Hope you enjoy.
I must mind you that summer is best time for sea-going.
I live in Buon Me Thuot (aka Buon MA Thuot & Buonmethuot) and have done so for several years.
We have many things for tourists to visit up here.
You can reach BMT by bus from either HCMC or Nha Trang.
BMT is famous as the place where the final drive to overcome the southern government started from in 1975. We also have lakes, waterfalls and elephants.
BMT used to be the French regional government and we have one of their infamous jails here - they used to bring French 'culture' here - a mobile guillotine.
Our temps today are 93 °F/34 °C with a breeze/wind of about 10mph. A really nice day with a few clouds scudding across a blue sky.
Just over 100 kilometres up the road is PleiKu - with a 10,000 foot runway, courtesy of the US taxpayers,
There are many tourist things to do here, too.
Following the road north you come to KonTum which is not as well developed as the other provincial capitals I described.
The great, new attraction is the HO CHI MING TRAIL HIGHWAY that ends up near Da Nang.
Send your daughter over, Sarana, she will be as safe as houses in VietNam, even travelling alone.
The worst weather your daughter can expect is a regular afternoon shower where the air is refreshed and the temperatures knocked back a few degrees. All she has to do is to have a relaxed coffee and then carry on.
My suggestion for your daughter would be to land in Ha Noi, visit the city, go to Sa Pa.
After SaPa she should continue south, over the mountains, by local bus to Mai Chau - there is a great developement to stay at Ban Lac, a small Thai-style tourist village set up to allow travellers to stay just on the outskirts of the town.
This village is set amongst lush rice paddies, the people are wonderfully friendly, food is great, accomodation is VND50,000/USD$5.50 + food/beer/water costs.
For this your daughter will get a comfortable bed on the split bamboo floor of a stilt house, with a mosquito net. The properties are well maintained with a modern shower and toilet outside.
After this she will head further south to DIEN BIEN PHBU where the French learned it is not good military practice to defend a valley.
Heading east from Dien Bien Phu she will come to Son La - the provincial capital of Son La Province.
She would then head back to Ha Noi and then go to Ha Long Bay (independently by bus), locate a good boat and tour Ha Long Bay for a couple of days.
Taking a 'Flying Fish' hydrofoil back to HaiPhong she could then catch another Flying Fish to Nam Dinh. She might have to overnight in HaiPhong if she misses the connection.
Heading south by bus to Ninh Binh she has plenty to visit some local scenery afterwards heading to Hue - the former imperial palaces and tombs.
Four hours south of Hue by bus, or rail, is Da nang - the jumping off point for Hoi An - a retail therapy centre for tailored clothes.
Then it is back to Da Nang and then taking a bus, she heads off for the Ho Chi Minh Trail and KonTium, PleiKu and Buon Me Thuot.
A bus will take her back to Nha Trang and there she can enjoy the beach scene (not between 10.00H and 14.00H please - very, very high UV). Therte I would recommend the Vien Dong Hotel.
Grabbing yet another bus, your daughter should then take a 6-hour bus ride back up to Da Lat at 5,000 feet above sea level. Da Lat is worth two or three days after which she will grab a bus for a 6-hour bus ride to HCMC.
In the USD$25/night range I would recommend <www.indochinehotel.com> in downtown HCMC. Economy minded backpackers head elsewhere for USD$5 accommodation - but they don't include breakfast.
Three days is sufficient to cover HCMC and then only the Mekong Delta remains.
There are bus tours to the Delta - a 2-5 day type is recommended and includes hotels.
I constantly roam this country, for business reasons, and I can honestly say your daughter will have a great, safe time. If she has a GSM telephone from Australia or Europe she can bring it and buy a Vinafone prepaid card so she can be in touch with you at the press of a button.
On a personal note she should know that drugs here are of dubious quality and she should bring her own medications. Tampons and comdooms are also non-existant and contact lens supplies minimal.
Feel free to contact me if you need further information.
'daklak2' has given you great advice and I encourage you to send him a PM for any additional info. My only quibble would be to stay in at the '62 Tran Phu Hotel' when in Nha Trang. I don't know your budget, but I was in VN for a month and never paid more than $8/nite. If your budget allows more than $20/nite, then 'daklak2' has where to stay. If you want lower costs options, send me a PM.