Myself and my boyfriend have a trip booked to Vietnam end of Dec to Jan. We want to know if our planned route is practical and do able. We have 21 days and would like to visit the following places:
Saigon & the Mekong Delta
1) Which are the best places to spend most time?
2) We would like to cycle on the Mekong, is this advisable?
3) How long should we spend in each place?
Thank you :-)
Yes, that's quite doable. My favorites are Hanoi, Sapa and Hoi An (least favorites are Hue and Cat Ba Is.). I also like Dalat very much. If you like the chaos of Hanoi, that would be my pick for more time. I'm not the one to ask about the Delta since I was disappointed there (not at all what I was expecting - very overpopulated). Since everyone has different tastes, I find it very hard to tell you how long to spend in any one place. I suggest that you just wing it and come and go as you like. Sapa and Dalat will be cool and foggy at that time, but still well worth the effort. I recommend the free guides over at Travelfish.org. Inexpensive small hotels are very nice here, but still you should inspect rooms before you hand over the passport. Best thing about this country is the people themselves!
I am going to assume you are on your own and not a tour. You have 2 basic transport options. The open tour is cheaper and more convenient than rail. Hop on/off as you make your way to HCMC Trains are safer. I prefer the bus, others vote for safety over price and convenience. Your decision.
I would let the weather be you guide on how long to stay in SaPa or HaLong Bay (HB). It is likely to be raining and cool at this time of year. I went to HB in the rain and one day was enough. SaPa might be the same. I don't know how much you like slogging around in the mud, but that might influence your decision. Decide once there. Do not book anything until you are in VN. Tour prices to SaPa & HB will be cheaper once in HAN. I enjoyed Hue, allow 2 days. If you take the overnight bus from HAN, you arrive early am. Find a room, then you can either take a motorbike tour of Hue and the outskirts, tour the Citadel or take a tour on the Perfume River.
Hoi An is great for shopping, beach and Cham ruins. Worth 3 days IMO. Overnight bus or train to Nha Trang. Great beach, sightseeing, bay tour. My blog covers my last time in NT. 3 days 2 nights is about right. Another beach option is close by at Mui Ne. Or choose DaLat. This is my choice. Cool, green, plenty to see. 2-3 days, on to HCM. My photos cover delta, tunnels, city. My blog only deals with arriving and finding a room in Pham Ngu Lao area of SaiGon. My photos cover from HAN to the delta.
I would spend my extra days in Nha Trang, DaLat area. This is if HAN is cool and raining. I don't find sightseeing in the rain all that much fun. Much better weather down south in Jan. than in HAN area.
Send me a PM if you have questions. Good luck with your planning.
I would recomend Mui ne. From my experience it was my favourite and cleanest beach. You can also check out the desert they have there. Great fun to play on!!
Nha Trang did have a fair bit of litter on its beach, but the seaside town did have a lovely feel about it (Defo get a curry at the Sailing Club!!). There was plenty of easy riders here too, if you fancy a cheap day tour.
I never managed to get to Phu Quoc and I doubt you will have time to get there either but the beach is meant to be lovely from what I've heard... maybe next time..
The beach at Hoi an is very nice and clean. Its a great place to relax as its very big and you can find your own discreet spot to chill out. When I was there, there was a party on the beach at night so maybe there will be one when your there too.
I think that you will definately have enough time to visit all the places that you listed in your post.
When I travelled around Vietnam, I think Hanoi and Hoi An were my favourite places and I cant wait to go back there again on my next travels!
Nha Trang is wonderful. You can go swimming, bau cruising and snorkeling. When you get on cruising trip in Nha Trang, make sure you find the correct one. A lot of companies offer very cheap cruising tours to Nha Trang Bay but bad quality.
Ha Long Bay is wonderful, too. You can spend one or two nights on board in Ha Long Bay.
Sapa is getting messy and dirty. Too many local women selling things all along the trekking paths. May be talk to some locals to find some where else with less toursists and selling things.
Hoi An is good for shopping as well as a bit of history and culture.
[ Edit: Sorry, no promos please. ]