2 simple questions on Vietnam:
1) What are the beaches like in Vietnam? Is there an area that is great for spending a long weekend doing nothing but relaxing? Possibly scuba/snorkeling or a trip to town for dinner but basically just a beach resort. (Background - I'm trying to fit as much as possible into a 18 day trip and going to/from Phuket seems to take a lot of time)
2) Does Vietnam shut down on the weekends? I know that some parts of Latin American and Eastern Europe are basically ghost towns on the weekend. If logistics put is in Vietnam over a weekend is there a better/worse location to be? Would it be better to spend the weekend in Hong Kong and fly into Vietnam Sunday evening?
The only beach i went to was in Hua Hin. It was very relaxing and don't think arriving on the weekend is a problem.
Beach - Na Trang(check spelling - i'm useless) - it's beautiful, everything there you seem to be looking for, but lots of tourists.
A lot of shops close on weekends, but not everything.. you ll have no trouble getting things done on a weekend
I have been to a few beaches in Vietnam - Nha Trang and Mui Ne. Also one at Hoi An which was disappointing. When I was at Nha Trang (late December) it rained the whole time so I got nothing out of it. I really enjoyed Mui Ne which is near the town of Phan Thiet. You can get there by bus from HCMC - probably about 4 hours I think.
It was the only place in the whole country where I was never hassled to buy something. The weather was great, there were a few bars with good music, guesthouses all along the beach (you literally walk out of your guesthouse garden onto the beach). It was really popular with kite surfers and windsurfers. I can't recall any snorkelling there though.