I am planning to spend a few nights in Hanoi. I am taking a 2 night trip to Halong Bay (1 nt Junk and 1 nt on Cat Ba), and a 3 day train trip to Sapa.
If I am going to Sapa & Halong Bay is it worth it to also go to the Perfume Pagoda and Tam Hoc? Or will I basically be seeing the same thing?
My options are to stay in the North and see everything, or spare some sights and head down to Hue or Nha Trang, or anywhere else someone can suggest.
Is the Mekong Delta worth seeing or has it turned too commercial?
It's difficult if not impossible to give good advice to others about itineraries (who knows what you like/dislike). I've been in VN twice and love the Hanoi area best (esp. the city itself), but also love Sapa and Hoi An. While I did not see a great deal of the Delta, I will tell you that I was somewhat disappointed to see toll roads and the huge city of Can Tho when I expected jungles and tropical vegetation. From what I read about other trips, the Perfume Pagoda would not be on my list of priorities, and I stay away from Halong Bay because I hate places where all I see are other tourists. I do think you would be smart to restrict your trip to one general area, and see all of it.
I went to Perfume Pagoda a few years ago.....and would recommend it if you have time.
You take a 1 hour boat ride along a peaceful river, which is surrounded my huge mountains and the scenery is fantastic. When you arrive at the 'docking area' you have the choice to catch a gondola or trek to the top cave where Perfume Pagoda is located. Beware if people offer to help you with your walk i.e. as a guide, they will demand money once the trek is over.
Its quite commercial but worth seeing and not to expensive. You will get some great photos opportunities.
[ Edit: Edited on 07-May-2009, at 17:00 by jadeverell ]
I had several Perfume Pagoda photos in my gallery. I am not sure what to recommend. The scenery on the way is spectcular, I vote go for that reason. Take the cable car, the hike up is pretty strenuous, my knee would not hold up. I did walk down, that was tough enough. The actual pagoda is important for VN people. You and I will think, 'what is the big deal'? Not much in the grotto for foreigners. I will vote you do go if you have the time. The scenery is worth the trip. However, it should not be on the top of your sightseeing list while in HaNoi.
My 2 cents.
[ Edit: Edited on 07-May-2009, at 19:57 by vegasmike6 ]