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How many days should I dedicate to Vietnam?

Travel Forums Asia How many days should I dedicate to Vietnam?

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1. Posted by radd (Budding Member, 7 posts) 3 Oct '07 22:39

radd has indicated that this thread is about Vietnam

My very first post.

I know that Vietnam had been touched on so many times but I just need to know. If I have 2 wks only I want to travel from Hanoi to Saigon via land transfer, is it possible? Would you guys think its better for me to squeeze in an extra couple of days if possible.

Im lost honestly as its my first time to Vietnam and somehow the country seem to have so many places to go to.

What is the best way to travel ard Vietnam?
Are trains recommended ?

(im thinking of leaving for Vietnam next week and I know its awful of me to start planning now)

2. Posted by vegasmike6 (Travel Guru, 3523 posts) 4 Oct '07 00:09

Radd,
I took 3 weeks between HaNoi & HCMC, but you can shorten it to 14 days. Your best/cheapest option is the open tour buses that run between HAN-SGN. There are at leasts 4 companies that offer the open tour. I have used Sinh Cafe and Hanh Cafe. Stick with one of these. Sinh Cafe is the largest tour operator is VN. Best buses and of course more expensive. Figure about $35 for the open tour HAN-SGN. Hanh Cafe about as good, charged me $28 last Jan. The open tour allows you to stay as long as you want in each city listed. Normal route is; overnight bus to Hue. I would spend 2-3 days in Hue. Short ride to Hoi An. Ladies love Hoi An for custom clothes at cheap prices. Heaps of tailors in Hoi An. My Son ruins outside of the city are worth a day tour. As is walking the historic section of Hoi An. You will enjoy your days there, 3 days. Overnight bus to Nha Trang. 2-3 days on the beach and bay tour. Now either go to another beach at Mui Ne, or head for DaLat. I vote DaLat. Cool, green, pretty. Waterfalls and hilltribes, 2-3 days. Bus to HCMC. That will take right at 13-14 days. You have 2 overnight bus options, saves you one night's accomodation and you don't lose a day travelling. Pick the overnight bus when you have a choice.

I have this entire trip in my photo gallery. Take a look and send me PM if you have questions.

3. Posted by vntrafest (Full Member, 2 posts) 4 Oct '07 00:41

vegasmike6 is right, that is the best budget choice in Vietnam. I used that Sinh cafe too, nice buses, good timing. If you don't want to explore Vietnam on your own, I can help you find someone or travel agency, who can organize trip with more activities. I'm in TP ( travellerspoint ) chat room or you can reach me, REMOVED .

[ Edit: Sorry no personal details in the forums ]

4. Posted by jkaufman (Budding Member, 5 posts) 4 Oct '07 03:42

The Sinh Cafe-type busses are the cheapest. However, its probably good to note that on these busses you won't meet many Vietnamese people. If you want to feel like you're visiting the country (as opposed to backpacking the country), and you can spare a few extra bucks, try the train. We take it from HCMC to Nha Trang all the time and its really fun. You get more local flavor, you won't have to deal with those stay-at-my-hotel hustlers, and if you're only in the country for a few weeks, why not stay away from all the other Westerners? I mean, I travel 'cause I need a change, you know?

Note: when you really are on a budget and you've had enough local flavor for awhile, the cheap busses are a fine option. Don't get me wrong; I'm not knocking them. (I'm sure someone will get defensive about this post. I hope not.)

5. Posted by jkaufman (Budding Member, 5 posts) 4 Oct '07 03:45

Also, stay as long as you can. I know you asked if we think you should stay a few extra days and my reply is definitely. You're right, the country has heaps of places you should go. I don't think you'll regret stretching your itinerary!

6. Posted by radd (Budding Member, 7 posts) 4 Oct '07 12:17

okay ! this is it. I decided to prolly squeeze in more days. Now Im working with a grand total of approximately 19 days. Yups I tried looking at Lonely Planet today and I know 14 days in Vietnam is probably shortchanging myself.

I see a lot of positive comments on Vietnam and as this is my first trip there, I definitely want to immerse myself in their culture.
I think I will work with a mix of bus rides plus throwing in train rides if possible.

Are the train tickets difficult to book? What are the places that I should never miss since now I have 19 days ? Also, the bus open tickets is like an unlimited concession ticket?

Any form of advise will be deeply appreciated. =)

7. Posted by vegasmike6 (Travel Guru, 3523 posts) 4 Oct '07 23:49

Quoting radd

Are the train tickets difficult to book? What are the places that I should never miss since now I have 19 days ? Also, the bus open tickets is like an unlimited concession ticket?

Any form of advise will be deeply appreciated. =)

Radd,
The open tour bus system allows you to stay as long as you want in designated cities. Stay one day or 20, then move on. It is a cheap and efficent way to see VN. Once in HaNoi, check with at least 3 travel shops about open tour prices. You will see signs stating they rep for either Sinh Cafe, Hanh Cafe, T-M Bros. or An Phu. Check and you will see Sinh Cafe is more expensive than the other 3 and stay at better hotels. I have used both Sinh & Hanh open tour and would recommend either one. Had a bad experience on T-M Bros. and will not get on their buses again. You will save about $35 going with Hanh Cafe and staying where they stop rather than Sinh Cafe. Your decision.

Now the train system. If you go with open tour, it really does not make sense to travel by train. An example. A guy I met in Hue used the sleeper train HAN-Hue. He paid $35 for this leg. I paid $28 to go from HAN-HCMC. Major price differences and not as easy to use. You have to book several days in advance for a sleeper berth. With the open tour system, tell them at 4:00pm and leave the next morning.

I vote not to miss HaLong Bay. Worth at least 1 day of your 19. Send me a PM if you have questions.

8. Posted by Purdy (Travel Guru, 3535 posts) 5 Oct '07 10:57

Im gonna jump in here - cos this is really helpful info for me! BUT just a quick question - what about internal flights? Are they easy to book - l intend only booking one between HAN & HCMC - on my route home - as l fly internationally in and out of HCMC!

Cheers

Heather

9. Posted by bex76 (Moderator, 3595 posts) 5 Oct '07 12:01

hi heather

internal flights are really easy to book - our hotel booked ours for us over the phone and gave us the tickets the next day. there are travellers cafes everywhere too which I am sure could book them easily too. we flew with Vietnam airlines and they were fine - i think there might be another vietnamese carrier too.

10. Posted by vegasmike6 (Travel Guru, 3523 posts) 5 Oct '07 21:40

There is a new discount airline serving VN. Try Pacific Air and see if their routes are helpful. I have not flown them yet.
<http://www.pacificairlines.com.vn/Search.aspx>