I've just booked my first trip to Vietnam for two and a half weeks, flying into Ho Chi Min and out of Hanoi. I have to be in Hanoi after one week to meet up with my boyfriend and we'll be travelling together for ten days. I have a couple of questions and would greatly appreciate any advice.
1. What is the best (and safest because I am a female travelling alone) way to get from Ho Chi Min to Hanoi? And what are some places and sites that I should make an effort to see along the way. Not adverse to tours, but I am trying to travel on a budget.
2. Is there a specific guidebook that is better than others?
Hi. Travel in Vietnam generally is very safe. The problems people have is bag snatching and pick pockets. But generally if you use common sense you will not have any drama's.
It's easy to travel around Vietnam by plane, train or bus. Bus is by far the cheapest option with hop on hop off tix around 30USD HCMC - HN.
Trains leave at various times everyday and are also cheap, but do tend to take longer.
Planes are flying all over VN everyday. Book in country as it's much cheaper. Tickets are around:
HCMC - Nha Trang - 40USD
HCMC - Danang (Hoi An) - 50USD
HCMC - Hanoi - 100USD
Guidebooks - most people use the Lonely Planet which is quite good as it has history, culture, restaurants, maps, hotels etc. But there are millions out there.
Check out www.vietnaminfocus.info for more info.
Don't be to concerned, Vietnam is a stunning country and the people are nicer. You'll have a great time!
Hey! I loved Vietnam! It's pretty easy to get around. I am a lone female traveller and found that the best (an cheapest) way to get around was via the open tour bus. I didn't get a ticket all the way as you have to confirm the day before or pay extra, I just got tickets as I went and it only works out a few dollars more. The train is tricky as you don't know who you'll end up sharing a compartment with...if you meet up with others doing the same journey, it'll most likely be fine, but I wouldn't risk it alone personally.
Must not be missed places are Hoi An (beautiful town, lots of sights, stunning architecture, lots of good tailors to get clothes made!) and Halong Bay (I did a 3 day tour, stayed on a boat, did a trek and kayaking...chose a budget one, quite unorganised, but still good!) - you can do Halong Bay from Hanoi. The southern highlands are beautiful too, especially DaLat...
Guidebook...I used the Rough Guide to Vietnam and found it really good...excellent infact, no complaints at all...
Not sure if my post came in before, but check out LETS GO:
it is up to date, as the lonely planet one isnt (publised a few years ago)
also, vietnam air flies nonstop HCMC to Hanoi.. if you fly Vietnam air, BOOK FLIGHTS IN THE AFTERNOON!. they always delay until they fill up, so you mine as well book the later one or you will be waiting around
Thanks for all the great advice. The open tour bus sounds up my alley because I like the idea of flexibility. ClaireH, did you stay in hostels when you travelled? If so, any recommendations in any of the places you mentioned?
Unless you are a really tight budget, you do not need to use hostels. Every city you will hit from HCMC to HaNoi will have rooms under $10. I have photos in my gallery of this trip. PM me if you have questions or need hotel advice.
It's so easy to find cheap hotel rooms. I had fan ensuite rooms the whole way and never paid more than 10USD. Mostly paid about $6-8. You get good rooms for the money - most have TV also, towels and sometimes fridge and mini bar. I quite honestly don't remember the names of the guesthouses I stayed. The best thing to do is check out in a guidebook which streets the main guesthouses are in and take a walk when you get there and see what you like the look of. The open tour bus will always drop you at 'A' reasonably priced hotel, but always check on a map where it is as they are not always in a good location and sometimes they tell you centre is 5 mins away when it's more like 15.... If you're really lucky (about 50/50 chance), they will drop you at a hotel of your choice. If you do tours, they will book a hotel for you. How much you pay will depend on quality of room - in my experience, they tend to be zero star shared ones for budget tours, so check if you want better!!!