Hi, Im a female travellor backpacking to northern vietnam Jul 2011 alone for 8-9 days.
Slightly concern about travelling on my own. I'm intending to cover Hanoi, Maichau, Minh Binh and Sapa (not sure if its too much to cover)
I need some guidance if i need to book any tours before i head to the provinces? If yes, where and how do i book it?
and what about staying overnight? Is it safe to arrange it directly when i reach?
Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated! (:
My advice is to wait until you get to HAN to book your tours.Get at least 3 quotes on tour prices before booking anything. There is tremendous competition among tour agents in HaNoi. You can use one quote to bargain with other travel shops. Sinh Cafe is the largest operator, but you may want to go with another if you prefer their prices over Sinh.
I would not book any accommodation until you are there. July is rainy season and there will not be any problem finding a room in your price range. You can use the 'accommodation' option, top of this page the get prices from recommended hotel/GHs in the places you want to visit.
Good luck with your planning and send me a PM if you have any questions.
That's not much time for N. Vietnam, but at least you're restricting travel to one region - very smart! I've done Vietnam 4 times (getting to feel like a second home to me now). This is a very easy/safe place to travel solo, for a female/anyone since the travel industry is so well developed. I use a minimum of local tours since I enjoy planning/booking everything independently. If you need a recommendation for an excellent travel agent in Hanoi, the man who owns Vietnamtour Travel has become a personal friend of mine - you can't find a nicer or more honest/hardworking guy (Mr. Diep) in all of Asia.
Since you have such a short time, I suggest you at least book your first 2 or 3 nights in Hanoi ahead and have that hotel meet your flight. If you send me a PM with your requirements, I'll be glad to suggest a few places. I've been in at least 12 Hanoi hotels in the past 3 years. Mr. Diep can help you with a VOA visa letter, if needed. You've selected some very good places by the way!
If you decide to go with a tour company I would recommend the Sinh Cafe. They're a few dollars more than most of the other companies but far better. We went for a cheaper option and regretted it. As far as accommodation goes I would stay at the new Hanoi Backpackers, a great place for meeting people. They also do tours but I don't know what they're like.