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Old Sep 4, 18, 2:25 am
  #46  
 
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Originally Posted by NYTA View Post
Coming to Vietnam for 12 days in about 2 weeks from now:

Current Plan:
2 Days Hanoi
1 night, 2 day Halong Bay Cruise
Fly to Danang - taxi to Hoi An
3 days Hoi An
Fly to Saigon
Taxi to Cai Be - 2 days 1 night there
3 days Saigon
Wife wants to add Sapa because a friend told her to but I don't think we have time. Any suggestions? is 3 days in Hoi An too much?

Seems like Sapa is at least 2 days given the travel time.
May I suggest not to spread all over Vietnam? Please take into consideration that if you count time to get from place to place, it will easily add on 3 days and more.

I am not a big fan of Saigon (mildly speaking). I would suggest to replace Saigon with Dalat and limit your travels to 3 places maximum. For Hoi An you would need 3 days only if you plan to order some clothing made from one of local shops. If not, 2 days/nights should be sufficient - one for Marble Mountains, My Son and coming back via boat, second day for the town itself.

Last edited by invisible; Sep 4, 18 at 2:31 am
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Old Sep 4, 18, 2:42 am
  #47  
 
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I noticed nobody mentioned Hue - given that we'll be in Hoi An it seemed like a logical day trip. Worth it? Better than My Son?
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Old Sep 4, 18, 3:34 am
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I'd put Hue ahead of the Marble Mountains for sure. My first Hyatt stay in Da Nang I didn't even know it was a tourist site and it was right by the hotel. It is not that great, imo. I'd not put Hue ahead of My Son. Hue is a good deal further away though, a pretty full "day" to go there, tour, and go back to Hoi An. Some like to go there on the last day and fly from Hue, so as to avoid the return to Da Nang.

As for the Saigon comment, if you read older threads here you will find a bit of division, some who prefer Hanoi don't like to visit Saigon, some who prefer Saigon don't like to visit Hanoi. I think both are good as a tourist, while preferring Saigon by far to stay long term. But it seems a minority of frequent visitors like both.
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Old Sep 4, 18, 9:50 am
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Originally Posted by NYTA View Post
I noticed nobody mentioned Hue - given that we'll be in Hoi An it seemed like a logical day trip. Worth it? Better than My Son?
I would not do it as day trip because car transport back/forth will take min 5h and unless you leave at 7AM and come back at 9PM you won't see much. Imperial Palace easily will take 4h to see, add the same amount of time for 1-2 Imperial tombs and your day is gone.

Was there this May. Hue definitely worth to see it and I would put 2 night at Hue and 2 nights ad Hoi An, I arranged this way - car transfer directly from from Da Nang airport to Hue, stayed there 3 nights and came back for one night for Hoi An, but I was at at Hoi An during my previous visit.
For travelling back we had a train ride and honestly, I am not big fan of trains (except Shinkansen) but that 3.5h tran ride was one of the best I had and you can't get better scenery - more than half time the train follow coastline and you can sit there, watch outside thru window and channel your inner cat.

Check seat61 for that route and details - plenty of info. I bought my tickets at www.baolau.com - DO NOT buy 'private' car cabins - not much difference from Vietnam Railways cabins while being 3x-4x more expensive.
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Old Sep 4, 18, 11:50 am
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Thinking about a short trip to Vietnam, but I have a question about the toilets. Are the toilets eastern style, like in China, or western style? If eastern, is there any way to avoid it entirely while sightseeing at Vietnam?
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Old Sep 4, 18, 12:30 pm
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Originally Posted by new2flyertalk View Post
If eastern, is there any way to avoid it entirely while sightseeing at Vietnam?
Weeeel, you might choose not to go.
On more serious note - unless you are staying in a tent or in the middle of nowhere, you won't have that problem. All hotels/home stays I've been - I am NOT staying at western chain hotels - had western type toilets. The same applies about toilets in restaurants/cafes.
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Old Sep 4, 18, 9:03 pm
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Originally Posted by NYTA View Post
HPH airport flight schedule didn't work out - only flights were in the morning and we wanted to fly in the evening.

Also looked at both Can Tho and Saigon from DAD but isn't the floating market in Cai Be? Would you recommend staying in Can Tho instead of Cai Be? Haven't booked that flight yet but thought Saigon was better given the number of daily flights vs. the one flight we could take to Can Tho.
Recheck a flight from HaiPhong to Danang (Hoian) => There is one in the afternoon.
Say No with Cai Be. 2 floating markets (Phong Dien and Cai Rang) in Can Tho for you to visit.

Originally Posted by NYTA View Post
I noticed nobody mentioned Hue - given that we'll be in Hoi An it seemed like a logical day trip. Worth it? Better than My Son?
Hue is worth a 1 or 2 night stay NOT a day trip.

Last edited by NewbieRunner; Sep 7, 18 at 10:45 am Reason: Please use multi quote
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Old Sep 4, 18, 9:30 pm
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Originally Posted by dinhoecotour View Post
Hue is worth a 1 or 2 night stay NOT a day trip.
Agree with that. I am glad that we changed our plans and stayed there for 3 nights in May where there was cultural festival with street parades and performances at Imperial Palace.

One recommendation - there is a student organization which takes you on free tours around the city. 'Free' - I mean that they do not charge for the tour, but transportation/meals would come from your pocket. Considering how tasty, good and especially cheap meals are - it is not a problem. At the end, we gave equivalent of $20 to each of them - telling that they worked hard and work should be paid. They've been beyond ecstatic.
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Old Sep 8, 18, 3:36 am
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Originally Posted by invisible View Post
May I suggest not to spread all over Vietnam? Please take into consideration that if you count time to get from place to place, it will easily add on 3 days and more.

I am not a big fan of Saigon (mildly speaking). I would suggest to replace Saigon with Dalat and limit your travels to 3 places maximum. For Hoi An you would need 3 days only if you plan to order some clothing made from one of local shops. If not, 2 days/nights should be sufficient - one for Marble Mountains, My Son and coming back via boat, second day for the town itself.
I agree with these suggestions - too many stops for such a short trip and Saigon is just another city (Hanoi is much more interesting and deserves more time). I also love Dalat!
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Old Sep 12, 18, 4:01 pm
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imm2b I am looking for some upscale dinner recommendations in Hanoi. We will only be there 2 nights. We will be there in about 2 weeks.
Thanks.
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Old Sep 12, 18, 4:47 pm
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Originally Posted by new2flyertalk View Post
Thinking about a short trip to Vietnam, but I have a question about the toilets. Are the toilets eastern style, like in China, or western style? If eastern, is there any way to avoid it entirely while sightseeing at Vietnam?
​​​​​​​Most places will have Western style toilets. It's when you're out in the sticks when you'll see Eastern style toilets. But for the most part, I've seen almost every place install Western style toilets now.

Last edited by mystified; Sep 12, 18 at 4:47 pm Reason: Forgot to quote
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Old Sep 13, 18, 11:33 am
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I will be traveling to Vietnam this spring and am interested in rent some motoscooters. I'd like to do this in a smaller town/city to minimize my chances of death. Any recommendations on a scenic road or path that is relatively safe? I'm open to pretty much any city. Also any other general advice on scooter renting?
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Old Sep 13, 18, 3:10 pm
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Originally Posted by Doctorslices View Post
minimize my chances of death.
At least you understand what may end up happening
Originally Posted by Doctorslices View Post
Any recommendations on a scenic road or path that is relatively safe?
I've never been there, but I've read a couple things online saying Phu Quoc is not bad for a beginner riding a scooter there.

Here are some general tips:
https://medium.com/@nguyentuantu100/...h-b848fafc86bf
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Old Sep 13, 18, 8:45 pm
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Originally Posted by CrazyInteg View Post
Phu Quoc is not bad for a beginner riding a scooter there.
Here are some general tips:
I echo the above, there is real risk of bad accidents or death if you drive in Vietnam.

That link is not so great, but they are correct Ninh Binh is a very nice area to rent and ride a motorbike. Lots of small roads and trails through the hills and countryside and rice fields. The Me Kong delta is also a nice place to ride. Da Lat and the mountains, and coastal areas around Phan Thiet/Mui Ne up through Da Nang are nice to ride, but a quite a bit more dangerous as the trucks plying the routes are careless about crossing the center line and overspeed quite often. If you can afford to go to a nicer place, you can get an off-road bike and go some really beautiful places around Da Lat and stay away from the main highway. Phu Quoc is nice, I rode for a week there and enjoyed it. But there are some reports that police are frequently out and pulling over tourists there. Maps.me is a good app for driving, as you can see offline and the road size/type is more easily distinguishable than google maps. As an aside, the Angkor Wat area is also an excellent area to ride.

Here are my motorbike rules for tourists (a bit long, might make a wiki and put there in the future):
1. Be aware you will always be liable. An int'l driver's license is not enough here, you will still be liable in public opinion and in courts if you are involved in any accident.
2. There are traffic rules. Just because you don't understand them, does not mean they do not exist and that you can do anything you want.
3. The general rule is whoever is in front has the right of way.
4. Non-cars and motorbikes have some additional peculiarities. Trucks do what they want, buses also are likely to do as they please and have angry drivers sometimes, but will cede to trucks usually. Bicycles go slower and often are used by kids and children, and you're generally expected to go around them. They will not always look behind for traffic before turning or merging etc.
5. Motorbikes are required to stay on the right side, either in the right lane on multi-lane streets in the city, or on the edge of the road/highway on one-lane roads. Sometimes there will be a small two-meter-ish lane on the right for motorbikes.
6. Blinkers are required, even if the road turns and you are forced to turn as opposed to choosing to turn.
7. Flashing headlights or honking means that people want the right-of-way. Legally speaking, remember number 1 , you will be liable even if you had the right of way. Practically speaking, you do not have to allow them to go first. But if you do not it sometimes becomes a game of chicken at that point. A motorbike coming from behind you is not much of a threat in chicken. A dump-truck in front of you wanting to turn across your lane is a obviously a different matter.
8. The police are kind enough to let you pay your fine on-the-spot. Usual fines for foreigners are 200k, but if you have a bunch of 500's in your wallet you might be expected to give one or two of those. The old "I don't speak Vietnamese" is much much less likely to suffice nowadays, as many police speak English and are willing to use gestures.
9. Do not carry a nice camera around your neck while driving, or leave your bag just sitting on the motorbike between your legs. Motorbike thieves in the city will grab them, even at risk to tipping you over and causing an accident. Use something with a strap over your neck or shoulders for a bag. For cameras and phones keep them in the motorbike or in the bag and not visible.

Some discussion then on the above:

Re: 1 - The public believes any accident with a foreigner involved is the fault of the foreigner. You will get yelled at. And if serious the police will also hold you liable because unless you get a license here you are not legal to drive. The last fatal accident I recall the foreigner was long term here, and had to pay a fine of 30 or 40 thousand dollars and got deported, but did avoid jail time if I recall, which angered the public. Future cases might not be able to avoid jail time due to the outcry. If it's a small accident, there will be some theatrics and yelling or arguing, then they will propose a number you need to pay. It will probably not be extortion high, but will probably be a little higher than they need to fix the motorbike.

Re: 3 - If you're behind, then you have to be prepared to swerve and go around people. Being in front with the right of way, you can stop in the road, cross to turn left from the far right of 8-wide motorbike lanes full of traffic, turn for u-turns, etc. Vietnamese do not use the brakes as much, they swerve, so you need to be not "tailgaiting" and give some space, and be aware the person in front of you might swerve around someone stopped in the road in front of you and then you will have to swerve or run into them, or if you are back further you can brake. If you constant brake a lot, you run the risk of being hit from behind as people do not expect it.

Also, people will enter the road without looking because if they get in front of you, then you have to go around them. So if you're driving, do not drive on the far right of the road, as people approaching from your right side will not slow down or yield when turning, even on a red light. You are better off leaving some space to your right side for any motorbikes entering the road. The sweet spot is generally the middle of the right lane, so people speeding by on the left have room and people entering the road from the right without yielding have room.

About renting a motorbike: They call scooters motorbikes here when using English. Motorcyles are above 250cc. Some newer highways allow motorcycles but not motorbikes. Most you will see are 110cc to 135cc. Rental motorbikes are often lower quality. You have to leave an ID, usually a passport, and there is no contract as that link says unless you are at a more professional place that will rent motorcycles, or you're renting long term. For this reason it is often more comfortable for foreigners to rent from their hotels, as they have a copy of your passport already. I've left my passport without incident multiple times. Friends have said they don't have their passports and been able to leave their driver's license, but usually that option is just for locals. 150k to 200k for 24 hours is usually correct. You should ask where the closest gas station is, as it will often be nearly empty when you pick it up. 50-70k will usually fill the tank of a motorbike. Helmets are required for drivers and pillion riders. Be sure they fit before you leave, especially if you have a big noggin. Many are small. They are not good quality either, and are more for style and to not get pulled over than for safety. Thankfully safer full helmets are becoming more and more common here, but you will not find them for free with rentals. You can buy a cheapish full helmet for 30-45 dollars if you want, or some places do sell very nice helmets.

Last edited by maverick17; Sep 13, 18 at 8:56 pm
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Old Sep 13, 18, 8:50 pm
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Originally Posted by maverick17 View Post
(Also, fyi, they just opened a new highway up there, I'm not yet sure if it cuts down on the transportation time for all these tours or not.)
I took some out of town guests to Ha Long on the very day that the new Hanoi-Halong expressway opened. It cuts our travel time in half, 2 hours versus 3.5 hours. Quite nice to be able to do a day trip to Ha Long and didn't feel tired by the end of the day.

Originally Posted by maverick17 View Post
I'm not a Sapa expert. But I can say you can cut a day out of Hoi An and a day out of Saigon pretty easy. Or take a day trip to the Mekong and cut a day from the floating market excursion as well. Sapa would make things rushed, but if it was a "must-see" for the wife, you could do it.
I went to Sapa 10 years ago, and went back this past December. I was very disappointed with my last visit. Sapa is overbuilt with so many new hotel constructions, bus load of tourists, it's no longer a beaten path that it used to be.

Originally Posted by jmj9905
imm2b I am looking for some upscale dinner recommendations in Hanoi. We will only be there 2 nights. We will be there in about 2 weeks.
I assume you are looking for Vietnamese food. I don't frequently go to upscale Vietnamese places. One place that's just opened recently is The T'Art at 46B Bat Dan St, upscale food, in a relax atmosphere.
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