My girlfriend and I are planning a 3 week trip to Vietnam for a wedding in November
our itinerary so far
fly to HCMC on the 10th spend 3 days in which time we will attend the wedding
14th fly to Phu Quoc with the wedding party returning on the 17th then fly to Hanoi.
the plan is then to spend a few days in Halong Bay
our flight home is on the 2nd december which leaves 12ish days to travel back to HCMC
we would like to spend a few days in or around Sapa,
I have heard that the towns of Bac Ha and Ban Ho are less touristy which really appeals to us, Has anyone been there?
any advice in how best to travel this area and were to go / stay?
other must sees on our list are Hue, My Son and the Cu Chi tunnels.
any suggestions on other places to add to our list?
also what would you suggest as the best way to make the most of our trip down the country
without feeling like we are being rushed?
Thanks in advance, Isaac and Christie
if you go to haylong bay stay 2 nights on the boat, one isn't enough. In sapa hire motorbikes and do your own thing, the tourist tours are just that, made for tourists and if you're into less touristy stuff hiring bikes is the way to go. I met a family and had lunch with them for instance and gave lifts to locals which was great fun.
Vietnam is totally set up for the tourist. Sleeper coaches travel to the main towns along the coastline, these work well if you are slim and not very tall, if you book ask to see the position of your seat and if possible make sure it's not near the toilet.
The people are very friendly and helpful, the foods good and there's plenty of good cheap hotels.
There are travel agents on every corner to arrange whatever you want.
Halong Bay is a must we had 3 nights on a boat and so enjoyed it but do shop around for a good deal and make sure they know you want a double room together, get it in writing so there is no mistake, we met a couple who were split up into different cabins.
HCM is a nightmare of a city with 6,000,000 bikes can you believe, it's difficult to cross a road watch out for the bikes on pavements they are everywhere.
Cui Cu tunnels, my husband went down into the tunnels I didn't bother it's very cramped but hubby said very interesting and worth the effort.
You can get anything made in Vietnam we met women who went with pictures of clothes she wanted making and in a couple of days the clothes were ready, some people take empty suitcases with them just for this.
You'll have a great time.
There is no way to avoid the tourists really - just walk a few blocks away from the crowds and you'll be amazed what you find. Even in heavy areas like Hoi An and Sapa this is possible. I'll also be in Hanoi about the same time for my 4th trip. I know a travel agent there who treats me like King Tut - PM me if you'd like to know this guy's name.
My advice is not to overplan your trip, but rather to take your time, meet the people, indulge yourself in the wonderful food, and generally just chill out. Do make reservations with the FREE student guides - the real bonus here is not where they take you, but the chance to meet these wonderful students (Hanoikids, Saigonhotpot & Danangkids). I'm still in contact with a few that I met 2 yrs ago.
See you at City View Cafe in Hanoi - my hangout