Ok, made sure there were no other identical posts to this one before I asked for help on this new one!
We've got 14 days approx, to get from Hanoi to HCMC. We will have done the whole Cat Ba/Halong Bay tour before we begin, so no need to worry about that.
So...can anyone recommend some highlights to DEFINITELY fit in? We're up for the usual mix of beach/historical & quiet/lively activities.
ALSO - has anyone been to PHU QUOC ISLAND? Is it worth fitting in? or will we come across similar locations on the way down the coast?
You will be fairly rushed as it is by the time you fit all that amount of travel in. Just get the open tour bus ticket and go for the option that includes Da Lat as a stop. I did it in about 14 days and it was as rush and didn't allow much time in places, but if you have already included Halong Bay that'll cut a tiny bit off the time needed. Weather permitting an island hopping tour down at Nha Trang is worth it. That was really good value and a really nice, but if the weather is crap well it wouldn't be worth going on (if it even operates when the weather is bad). Also a trip to the Cu Chi Tunnels when at Ho Chi Minh City is pretty interesting. If Cambodia was next on your itinerary a Mekong Delta tour to Phnom Penh was a really good trip, but that takes up 3 days 2 nights which you wouldn't be able to afford unless Cambodia was on your itinerary.
Have a great trip.
Cambodia's still on the trip Al, just have the 14 days between Hanoi and HCMC!
I'm thinking do the whole Hanoi/Halong thing, and then get down to somewhere like Hue asap!
Have you been to anywhere round Hue before?
Hoi An was one of the highlight of my trip up the coast, spend a day or two in the town, then hire a bike out to the beach.
I did a week or so from Hanoi down to Saigon.
From Cat Ba, i came back to Hanoi and take overnight train ( 4 solt sleeper ) to get to Hue. Then charter a dragon boat to do Perfume River Tour to visit The Tomb. and palace temples and stuffs..
Next day, i buy a full day tour to DMZ..it's cool. you will have a chance to get into the Vinh Moc Tunnel as well. It's bigger than the Cu Chi tunnel. So, it's better if you are a big guy.
From Hue, I take a noon bus and arrive Hoi An late in the evening.
In Hoi An, you should take the My Son Tour..to visit the Charm Ruins combine with boat cruise back to Hoi An Town.
May stay here for 2 - 3 nights.. The nearest beach is Cua Dai and China Beach but for me..it's not tempt me to swim as in my counry ( Thailand ).
From Hoi An...you may take an open bus with a stop in Da Lat...I didn't take this route..so I have no idea how it would be...coz i fly from Danang to Saigon and then from Saigon to Siem Riep.
I stopped in Hue, but seeing my time in Vietnam was a rush most the time I only got to spend 1 1/2 days there before moving on to Hoi An. I visited the Imperial Palace and at one area there you could dress up in royal costume and go for an elephant ride for 20-25 minutes which is something that you don't get to do everyday. Another really interesting/cultural thing that I did in Hue was when I walked along Le Loi street (close to the very badly polluted Perfume river). I walked down some of the little side streets which is where you may be able to see the same sorts of things you may have seen pictures of in India with people washing their clothes in the river beating them on the sides etc. I also managed to find this one street where I got right next to the river and was able to pay these people to take me out on one of those long row boats to show me through all the old house boats, river shops and really nice cultural stuff. This was a really nice way to get some interesting photos and see life from the poor locals perspective. Some of the house boats even had little dog kennels attached to the boats where these vicious dogs were going off their head at me going past in the boat, but luckily they were all tied up and didn't come after me. This experience showed me something of a similar sort of nature to what you see in India. Seeing I was there all alone I was a little worried for obvious reasons that they could have been taking me somewhere to be mugged or something along those lines, but all turned out well and it was really nice. If you get the open tour bus from Hanoi-Saigon then you can make lots of stops along the way and in some places do tours to show you other sites outside of the main city/town you've stopped at.
If Cambodia is on your list after Vietnam, you should definitely look at doing a 3 day 2 night Mekong Delta tour from Saigon-Phnom Penh. That was a really interesting trip, was very cheap and included all the accommodation in the price. That could be purchased in any of the many tour shops in Saigon, but if you do that trip, make sure you keep the phone number of the travel agent and also get the address of the places you are meant to be staying at. After the bus trip to Chau Doc we weer meant to be picked up from the bus station to be taken to the hotel, but no one turned up (this turned out to be because they have no set bus schedule so they didn't know when to pick us up). SO we were waiting for over an hour before eventually phoning the tour company back in Saigon/Ho Chi Minh City (it was lucky I kept the phone number) and then they pointed us to which hotel we were meant to be staying at.
I'm doing that too!
HCMC - Hoi An - Hanoi - Sapa - Hanoi
but i'm not sure whether to take the train during the interval trip for hoi an and sapa??!!
Open bus faster or train faster?
Which is more dangerous?? hahaha
Bus would be more dangerous. The train is on a track, therefore less likely to turn over or be in an accident.
If you like to travel on two wheels, hire a motorcycle and ride on Ho Chi Minh highway, a much better route than National Highway 1. Your experience is very special, not for everyone.
Phu Quoc is a good place to stay, but many people have choosen Mui ne for beach and resorts as well. Transport to/from Phu Quoc is expensive and not always easy to arrange.