Appreciate your thanks. I'll just add following 2 cents:
Majority of 2D1N Halong Bay cruises are similar but vary in cost due to facilities and food provided. I'd do some research before arriving Hanoi and have, say, 3 cruises you prefer and know the address where you can go and book.
My itinerary (to do list) I favour overnight trains rather than the bus (more of a safety issue for me). Best reviews re bus travel favour the original Sinh Cafe or Hanh Cafe sleepers.
You probably know this - airport is at Danang (which is a short bus trip from Hoi An).
When you arrive in Hanoi go to train station asap and book your train sleeper (or through a travel agent who will charge you a commission fee).
You will return from your HB cruise in the arvo. You can then take the overnight train to Sapa on the same day.
If you have any specific questions send me a PM and I'll see if I have the answer/advice in my research notes. Cheers
My suggestion (along the lines of what you have basically decided upon):
2 nights - HCMC
1 night - overnight bus/train to Nha Trang
1 night - Nha Trang
1 night - overnight bus to Hoi An or train to Danang then bus to Hoi An
2 nights - Hoi An
1 night - overnight bus/train to Hanoi
2 nights - Hanoi
1 night - Halong Bay (book 2 day 1 night cruise - heaps to choose from)
1 night - overnight train to Lao Cai - bus to Sapa
2 nights - Sapa (trekking)
Travel from Sapa to Chinese border
Total - 14 nights
As your visiting in June (low season) I would have an idea where you want to stay, just show up and book a room. Have a safe trip.
just to let all you posters know i had a phenomenal trip to vietnam, it was spectacular! here's what i ended up doing
2 night hcmc (plus the night i arrived at midnight...i had a friend with friends there)
bus to dalat
2 nights dalat (great adventure stuff, trekking, nice and cool, loved it)
bike ride to nha trang
2 nights nha trang (including guest teacher of english, do it if you go)
fly to danang
2 nights hoi an
fly to hanoi
1 night in hanoi
2 days 1 night in halong bay (amazing, a must)
1 more night in hanoi
overnight train to sapa
2 day 1 night trekking/homestay in sapa, plus one more night
so basically stoneman your itinerary plus i fit in dalat by saving nights with a couple of flights.
i probably had one more night in hanoi than i needed (there was another full day in there because of the night train to sapa), otherwise it was perfect. so if i could have i would have worked in one night in hue instead but the extra down day was fine as well. i wish i had done the hanoi kids tour, someone i knew did that and said it was great. i found that the right recipe for me was two nights, first day and night walk around the city, next day do something (rappelling down waterfall, my son temple, halong bay cruise, whatever), catch another night in the city, blow out the next day.
thanks again all, this forum was invaluable for me.
till next trip!
socalexplorer, glad to hear you had a great trip. Dalat is certainly on my 'to do itinerary'. You can start planning your next holiday haha.
Bus is alright for me,
trust sinh tourist, easy way to communicate, get around and most importantly-experience vietnam.
If you know how to ride a motor bike, it'll be a plus point to explore a state(not so much of city, cause it'll be too crowded, just go by foot/local motor taxi)
According to me,Vietnam is the best attractive tourist destination in the world.If you are going Vietnam i think there are many attractive and lovely tourist place you see must.These are :-
Sa Pa Terraces
Cu Chi Tunnels