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Old Aug 3, 18, 2:10 am
  #16  
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Originally Posted by anaggie View Post
Traveling to Hanoi with two of my friends from India and we are booked at the JW Hanoi. We will have 1.5 days to explore Hanoi before heading out of a bike tour of the countryside, then a day at Ha Long Bay and then bike back to Hanoi.

What should we do in Hanoi? I was looking at doing the street food tour and exploring the Old Quarter. Any other suggestions you can think of?
JW Hanoi is a nice hotel but a bit far from the Old Quarter for tourists. FWIW, Four Seasons is building a hotel right in the center of Hanoi lakeside at Hoan Kiem Lake. Personally, 1.5 days in Hanoi is a bit too rush. I would say 3 days would be ideal to enjoy Hanoi. It's a compact city, most of tourist things are within 5 km of Hanoi center. The Old Quarter is a must visit at night, on weekends, the streets around Hoan Kiem Lake is blocked off for pedestrians only.

Things to do in Hanoi are Night Market on Hang Ngang & Hang Dao streets, Ta Hien & Luong Ngoc Quyen streets for fresh beer (Bia Hoi) and snacks. Temple of Literature, One Pillar Pagoda, Ngoc Son temple in the middle of Hoan Kiem Lake. Street foods are everywhere in Hanoi, a must try is Bun Cha (Hanoian's grilled pork with vermicelli), Obama & Anthony Bourdain's shared a meal of Bun Cha in Hanoi, but don't go to that shop, it's expensive and mediocre at best. My favorite spot for Bun Cha is on Cửa Đông street, they only open for lunch. Other food to try is of course, Hanoi Pho Bo or Ga (Beef or chicken) and Xoi Yen, a famous sticky rice place in Hanoi. Banh Mi (Vietnamese baguette sandwiches) is one of Vietnam's French influence culinary favorites. Kafa coffee is ubiquitous in Hanoi, a great place to have Ca Phe Sua Da (Vietnamese Coffee with condensed milk) relax and people watch. May be I should offer a street food tour for Flyertalkers. .
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Old Aug 3, 18, 2:13 am
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Originally Posted by wolfpacktrojan View Post
I hadn't heard of Tay Nguyen, so I'll check that out. Thanks!
Tay Nguyen is not a city, it's the central hightlands region. Buon Me Thout or Gia Lai / Dak Lak are some of the cities in that region, a bit off the beaten path for tourists.
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Old Aug 3, 18, 2:17 am
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Originally Posted by heronb View Post
Travelling to Danang in the last week of April for two weeks, would like to visit Nha Trang also but wondered which area would usually have the best weather at this time of year.
April time frame in Danang and Nha Trang are pretty much the same. Personally, I would stick with Danang & Hoi An.
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Old Aug 3, 18, 5:21 am
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Originally Posted by maverick17 View Post
Nha Trang is ok, but I would rank Da Nang/Hoi An above it in general. But depends on which hotels and if you want beaches. The Amanoi is obviously top notch, so Nha Trang can be great. But Da Nang has more culture with Hoi An, Hue, all within easy reach, IMO. The areas between the two have some nice small beaches but not many luxury options that I'm aware of. Phu Quoc is getting more and better hotels, for better or for worse, and April would be ok there for weather. Note there is a public holiday in April next year.



Both should be hot and dry in April. You do get the storms coming in May, so if they are early at all, you could get some. Hard to plan for that though. Note the holiday comment above for April.
Thanks for the info re the weather, we have 11 nights to spend at a beach town, currently the plan is 6 nights Hoi An and 5 nights in Danang or vice versa. It would be Nam Hai or Intercontinental Danang Sun Peninsula in Danang, the problem I have is that these are out of town and I like to visit local restaurants. The other options are Amanoi or SSNVB but again these have the same issue, I might have to reconsider and pick a place within reach of a town.



Last edited by heronb; Aug 3, 18 at 1:56 pm
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Old Aug 3, 18, 10:40 am
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Originally Posted by imm2b View Post
JW Hanoi is a nice hotel but a bit far from the Old Quarter for tourists. FWIW, Four Seasons is building a hotel right in the center of Hanoi lakeside at Hoan Kiem Lake. Personally, 1.5 days in Hanoi is a bit too rush. I would say 3 days would be ideal to enjoy Hanoi. It's a compact city, most of tourist things are within 5 km of Hanoi center. The Old Quarter is a must visit at night, on weekends, the streets around Hoan Kiem Lake is blocked off for pedestrians only.

Things to do in Hanoi are Night Market on Hang Ngang & Hang Dao streets, Ta Hien & Luong Ngoc Quyen streets for fresh beer (Bia Hoi) and snacks. Temple of Literature, One Pillar Pagoda, Ngoc Son temple in the middle of Hoan Kiem Lake. Street foods are everywhere in Hanoi, a must try is Bun Cha (Hanoian's grilled pork with vermicelli), Obama & Anthony Bourdain's shared a meal of Bun Cha in Hanoi, but don't go to that shop, it's expensive and mediocre at best. My favorite spot for Bun Cha is on Cửa Đông street, they only open for lunch. Other food to try is of course, Hanoi Pho Bo or Ga (Beef or chicken) and Xoi Yen, a famous sticky rice place in Hanoi. Banh Mi (Vietnamese baguette sandwiches) is one of Vietnam's French influence culinary favorites. Kafa coffee is ubiquitous in Hanoi, a great place to have Ca Phe Sua Da (Vietnamese Coffee with condensed milk) relax and people watch. May be I should offer a street food tour for Flyertalkers. .

The JW offers a free shuttle to the city so we can just use that and then grab a taxi or UBER to where we need to go. Trying to see everything in one go is not our thing .. we will try to get to the lake and just walk around. Eating is our thing. We will do the night markets for sure.

We are doing a three day cycling tour to spend time together -- "This journey will bring you to a new side of Ha Long Bay. Starting from Red River out of Hanoi city we cycle to the famous UNESCO world heritage site of Ha Long Bay. We cruise on crystal clear water to beautiful Cat Ba island and visit one of the world's biosphere reserves, Cat Ba National Park. Here we'll be treated to green jungle and beautiful scenery, We spend the night ion the beach before we cycle along the coast to meet our next boat. This one takes us to the newly discovered Thien Long cave before we head back to Hanoi."
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Old Aug 3, 18, 10:45 am
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Originally Posted by maverick17 View Post
I am not the OP obviously, but will add a little from a SGN perspective.

You might get some rain then. The beaches and waves will be a little less inviting. But it is not the daily rains of August and September, if it looks attractive to you, I would not think December weather will ruin your trip. The Mekong would be pleasant at that time of year, and has a lot of culture including homestays. Sapa is active and culture but you end up with more weather issues - doable but fog limits views and it can be muddy. Duc mentions the highlands, and Da Lat is real nice and plenty of culture, and you don't see nearly as many western tourists there, so you might like it. I liked the waterfall hikes and touring the various coffee shops and restaurants and flower garden. There are lots of small places to visit, but not really any one awesome site there IMO. But it's just relaxed and nice temps. I do not know much about the weather there, but I would think it's far enough south you get cool temps but rain tapering off by Dec. I am sure you can find more info on that somewhere.

But I would note: The last two years we've had unusual weather in SGN. Usually mid- Nov to June should be no rain at all. Last year it rained almost every week or two, and this year it was about once every 2 or 3 weeks. So weather questions might be a bit hard to answer.
I appreciate your insight! I have been doing some research over the past few days, and the Mekong delta does look enticing. Perhaps I could take a full week to explore Saigon and the Mekong delta? I'm beginning to realize that I can easily spend a month in Vietnam alone! Thanks for the heads up regarding the weather; will definitely keep that in mind when preparing for the trip.
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Old Aug 3, 18, 10:56 am
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Originally Posted by imm2b View Post
December is rainy season in central Vietnam. I would recommend northern Vietnam for December because the weather is cooler. For culture experiences, Hanoi, Ha Long, Sapa and Ninh Binh are great for December. The weather ranges from cool to chilly, so bring light jackets and/or sweaters.
I appreciate the recommendation! How many days would you recommend to spend in the north to visit Hanoi, Ha Long, Sapa, and Ninh Binh without rushing?
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Old Aug 3, 18, 11:25 am
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Originally Posted by wolfpacktrojan View Post
I appreciate the recommendation! How many days would you recommend to spend in the north to visit Hanoi, Ha Long, Sapa, and Ninh Binh without rushing?
Hanoi 2-3 days, Halong can be done in 1 day, overnight on a boat if desired, Sapa 2-3 days including travel time, and Ninh Binh can be done as day trip or overnight. Depending on your travel style, 7-10 days for all these places would be ideal.
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Old Aug 3, 18, 12:32 pm
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Originally Posted by heronb View Post


Thanks for the info re the weather, we have 11 nights to spend at a beach town, currently the plan is 6 nights Hoi An and 5 nights in Danang or vice versa. It would be Nai Harn or Intercontinental Danang Sun Peninsula in Danang, the problem I have is that these are out of town and I like to visit local restaurants. The other options are Amanoi or SSNVB but again these have the same issue, I might have to reconsider and pick a place within reach of a town.

Having been at the Son Tra Intercontinental, I will not make the same mistake again because, like you, I prefer to eat out at local restaurants downtown and around the public beaches. It takes around 30 minutes each way to go from the hotel to downtown by car.
I have since stayed at the Novotel Han River, centrally located downtown and on the bank of the river.
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Old Aug 3, 18, 12:37 pm
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Originally Posted by imm2b View Post


Hanoi 2-3 days, Halong can be done in 1 day, overnight on a boat if desired, Sapa 2-3 days including travel time, and Ninh Binh can be done as day trip or overnight. Depending on your travel style, 7-10 days for all these places would be ideal.
Great, thanks!
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Old Aug 3, 18, 2:11 pm
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Originally Posted by imm2b View Post


Hanoi 2-3 days, Halong can be done in 1 day, overnight on a boat if desired, Sapa 2-3 days including travel time, and Ninh Binh can be done as day trip or overnight. Depending on your travel style, 7-10 days for all these places would be ideal.
I disagree on your days per each place, but I would agree that 10 days is *okay* (he did say without rushing, so I'd add a few more days on there).
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Old Aug 17, 18, 5:18 am
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As an add on to my Vietnamese trip I am considering a 3 night stay in Siem Reap or HCMC. In terms of 'things to do' it appears that Siem Reap will have more appeal to me but am I missing something in HCMC? My interest in ancient history is probably greater than in modern history, but this isn't the only factor. Which is the better place for food and other interests? As a reference point I'm also staying in Hong Kong and Bangkok on this trip for flights and I know both reasonably well.
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Old Aug 17, 18, 7:38 am
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Originally Posted by heronb View Post
As an add on to my Vietnamese trip I am considering a 3 night stay in Siem Reap or HCMC. In terms of 'things to do' it appears that Siem Reap will have more appeal to me but am I missing something in HCMC? My interest in ancient history is probably greater than in modern history, but this isn't the only factor. Which is the better place for food and other interests? As a reference point I'm also staying in Hong Kong and Bangkok on this trip for flights and I know both reasonably well.
You're going to get a 100 different replies to this question.

In your research of things to do, what else did you find for Siem Reap besides the Angkor temples? I would say there are many more things to do in HCMC than Siem Reap. As for the historical stuff, I agree that Siem Reap will be better than a big modern city like HCMC. For food, I would say HCMC. Look into those food tours.

In my opinion the two places are completely different. You need to think about what you want to do, Angkor or big city. HCMC is different from Bangkok and HK, but again, it's another big city.
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Old Aug 17, 18, 1:47 pm
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Food is Saigon for sure. Saigon things to do revolve around people more than history. Markets, neighborhoods, coffee shops and nightlife, along with visits to the Delta and farm areas, small temples that are not as old, some small museums maybe if you want to learn about the city and see some of the famous places from the conflict, or about HCM himself. Since you're used to BKK, I would compare it somewhat to that location, but without a palace and the old temples (and obviously less developed still, i.e. no BTS).

Siem Reap is tiny by comparison, and imo revolves entirely around the temples, with the lake being a compliment.
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Old Aug 26, 18, 9:04 pm
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Just a little observations about Siem Reap. I was in Siem Reap 10 years ago, when it was a sleepy little town with no traffic and virtually empty temples. I visited Siem Reap again last month, I was surprised how much it has changed. It is now a much more vibrant little town, with night markets, pub streets and many more variety of restaurants. However, the temples are over ran with tour buses consist of mostly Chinese and Korean tourists. The good part is Siem Reap has a little more night life, bad part is crowded temples.
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