If you havnt seen it you MUST watch Top Gear in Vietnam on Scooters :)
I am trying to get about 3 weeks at least; to go to Vietnam around Dec 2010 / January 2011.
What have I got so far...
From Brisbane to ?? TBD
Expect 3 but would like 4 weeks
Wife and self
Mid range as to accommodation ?
Some tours ???
Some self managed trips
Some short walks ?
Need access to coffee and or coffee people ;)
Willing to try any food... Wife may not be quite so happy
Have been advised to book the first night or two from Australia and to manage all other bookings from in country... Better deals and service ? ?
So any and all comments and recommendation welcome.
Please feel free to post and or PM.
If you havnt seen it you MUST watch Top Gear in Vietnam on Scooters :)
Seen it *;)Originally Posted by 5C5B5F505852475750593E0 link=1273147696/1#1 date=1273149119
The wet does not impress me..
I am too old and the bones wont take it... *Besides my wife broke her back years ago in an accident and getting her on a 2 wheeled bike theses days, is a no chance...
I wasnt suggesting scooters but there is some great spots shown to add to your itinerary I reckon if you have a car for the duration. I watched the rerun again the other week just for the scenery.
Have a look into Sa pa, were doing a 5 day trek out and around there, its a small village deep in a valley halfway up the country, our trek accomadation is home stays, staying in mountain peoples houses, home cooked vietnamese meals breakfast lunch and dinner for 5 days......meals, tour and accomadation including transport around $250 each.......thats what im talking about!!! :)
Sapa is a fantastic place to visit, with a few minority groups decked out in their traditional costumes. *It was definitely one of the highlights of the trip, though the overnight trains from Hanoi can be tiring. *So jealous of WSully.... we only went for 3 days and loved it! *The only downside though was that it was really hot and humid when we went and the hotels we stayed at had no air-conditioning or fan!
I booked all the accommodation before I went via the internet, and the prices were very reasonable with places costing $50-$60 being very nice. *I would recommend booking the tours through reputable tour operators (such as Kangaroo Cafe or Sinh Cafe) over there as it would be much cheaper. *If booking in Hanoi, watch out for dodgy tour operators - the more reputable ones are copied. *For example, there are only two real Sinh Cafes in Hanoi (as far as I know), but every other tour operator will have a Sinh Cafe sign outside.
Since youre travelling with your wife, I think shed like a stop by Hoi An, which is well-known for made-to-order clothing. *Some shops even have made-to-order shoes.... my wife had a pair of boots and sandals made. *The clothes will be ready in around 24 hours, but stay a little longer as adjustments may need to be made. *Plus, Hoi An is a beautiful place and one of our favourite places in Vietnam, especially as you wont have to watch out for those crazy motorcycles! * :)
Oh, and if you like your food, Id highly recommend Bobby Chinns in Hanoi which has fantastic food for around $15-$20. *In Hoi An, The Secret Garden was pretty good as well.
If you want any more info, feel free to ask. *I was just there in July last year and can pass you our tour guides details in Hoi An if youre interested.
Sorry to hijack AM ;) but thanks heaps for that info griffster! If you dont mind, can i PM you about stuff were planning on doing, just to see what ya think? Inside info is worth its weight in gold! Thankyou heaps 8-)
PS, Kerrie and I can be your Recon team AM ;D
PPS. I have a copy of the Vietnam special BF is talking about AM, i can drop it round on my days off if ya like.....its gold ;D and shows some great scenery too ;)
Ya not hi jacking...Originally Posted by 585C7A636366796E610F0 link=1273147696/6#6 date=1273161965
The forum is open to all ;)
Wsully, you and ya lovley partner need to drop and we can have a bbq or just nibbles and chat as to places and things to do.
Griffster... Thats exactly the sort of stuff I wanted. And yes and contacts and or tricks as to Fakes and Real is an added bonus. I hear teh sleeping Train / Bus is an interesting experience.
My gut feel is fly into Hanoi and then move out and around and return to Hanoi to fly out. I guess managing baggage is another issue to manage.
The Wife went over for a week and stayed with friends and she recons * HALONG BAY and stay on one of the Junks is a must do.....
Second that. Such a beautifully scenic place. I only did the day trip but the overnight trip would be worthwhile. The only thing that lesseneded the experience was that there are so many tour boats (the top pic gives a small idea) but the bay is large enough for it not to become crowded. For the island trek (the pic showing your wife) you have to wait a while for your turn to land, and it includes a cave tour with somewhat tacky lighting.
The island tour and seafood lunch at Nha Trang rated as a highlight of my first trip there in 93 but just about all food in VN was good.
Other places worth visiting are the Cu Chi tunnels outside HCMC, Cao Dai temple also near HCMC. May as well do the Mekhong delta tour. Those three are usually a day trip package.
Be warned that it is winter in VN in Dec - Jan and quite cool in the northern parts. I got off the train at Hanoi and had to buy a jacket. I found one - made in Australia, ironically.
Hilarious.Originally Posted by 484F4B444C465343444D2A0 link=1273147696/1#1 date=1273149119
Spent 3 weeks in Vietnam in January this year and two weeks in HCMC in 2007. Stunningplace. The food, scenery and people are beautiful.
Halong bay, stay on a junk, tour the caves. Awesome.
ChuChi tunnels, slightly commercialised to cater for the tourists but still highly worthwhile. Good perspective of what the conditions were like during the war.
Making delta, do a home stay with a family to see how the locals live. Love coconut candy. Ate cobra and drank its blood and still beating heart with rice wine. Not for faint hearted.
Hoi An, beautiful place. Great for custom clothes and shoes.
Bobby Chinn in Hanoi is s top restaurant. Funny menu - read it carefully.4 of is spent $200 for a 3 course meal with 2 bottles of wine. Bobby is a funny man.
Food. Food. Food. Love the food. Pho the national dish is a noodle soup.
Beer is approx 80c for a big bottle, cocktails for the ladies are only a dollar or so and potent.
Hanoi in January is freezing, some days didnt reach double figures.
I typing on my phone at the mo, feel free to pm or email any qs. Also have a guide book that I can send to anyone.
P.S. Mikes Hotel is the best place to stay on Hanoi.
good thread. Im leaving for vietnam in about 4 weeks, and going for 6-7 months. havent been before, but pretty sure me & mrs doug81 will love it :)
Sounds like ya need to leave ya contact numbers... Wsully and others may need to catch up with another CS person.Originally Posted by 737862702F26170 link=1273147696/12#12 date=1273217726
My wife and I landed in HCMC (Saigon) and headed north, flying out of Hanoi.
Can recommend the Mekong Delta. Very interesting but wouldnt go back.
Hoi An was our favourite spot. If we went to Sapa I think that might have been mine. Clothes, clothes and more clothes.
The full moon festival in Hoi An is great if you are there at that time.
If the weather is good dont miss out on going to the beach. Closer to the beach is a nice river with some good restaurants lining it.
Near Hoi An is the marble mountains. Some amazing stone work shops there. The climb up the mountain is steep but worth it for some views and some stunning caves.
Also the Cham museum is worth checking out.
Hue was ok. The tombs and the Citadel were good to see.
The Phong Na caves looked great but the 7 hour round trip made it less worth while. Especially if you go to the caves at Ha Long Bay, they are pretty much on the same level.
Hanoi was just another city to us by the time we got there.
Ha Long bay was awesome. We actually went to Bai Tu Long bay then back to Ha Long. Bai Tu Long is a bit more expensive but there is far less boat traffic. We only saw about 2 other boats.
The Hang Sung Sot caves (Surprise caves) were nice.
Unlike other places a little bit more gets you a lot more. If you want to live it up Vietnam is the place.
It is good to get your head around the money conversion rate before you get there.
Also book your first couple of nights at a hotel and pay the little extra for them to pick you up at the air port. You can get haggled there by people doing dogey deals, taking you to a overpriced hotel. Last thing you want when you land in a new country.
One more pic.
This forum has limitless information!, what cant you do here!!!! NOTHING!!!!
Thankyou all for the awesome tips, keep the photos coming if you have em!!!!
:D :D :D
Seems like a few people are interested in info on Vietnam so it may be better to discuss it in the thread - especially as other people who have been to Vietnam can also chime in. * :) * Feel free to send me a PM any time though.Originally Posted by 5652746D6D6877606F010 link=1273147696/6#6 date=1273161965
Info is always worth its weight in gold I find, especially things to be aware of, such as the dodgy taxi cabs and tour guides waiting outside airports to take unsuspecting tourists for a ride - it can be MUCH safer to have a car from the hotel youre staying at picking you up. *I think most of the time it came up to around $10 or so one way, so its not too bad. *Ive heard stories of the dodgy cabs taking 2 tourist girls part way to a more deserted location then extorting more money from them or threatening to leave them there. *And also be very careful of people on the motor scooters offering to take you around as they will have a tendency to change their prices.
If youre stopping in Hoi An (very highly recommended even if not clothes shopping), you may want to bring along clothes that fit you very well as well as clothes you like from magazines. *The tailors in Hoi An can pretty much copy anything you show them.
There are tour operators everywhere so rather than booking over here I would recommend booking there. *My wife and I didnt have a set itinerary - when we felt like it, we would just book a few tours. *Otherwise we just walked around by ourselves and enjoyed the culture and atmosphere. *Its safe enough as long as you watch out for the crazy motorcycles in Hanoi.
For the tour operators, we used Sinh Cafe which is one of the more well-known ones. *Be VERY cafeful in Hanoi... they are copied everywhere and some are really crafty. *For example, there are 2 in Hanoi. *One is at 52 Luong Ngoc Quyen Street, and going down the street we found one where the shops on either side had numbers displayed which were 50 and 54, and 52 had a sign saying "Sinh Cafe, 52 Luong Ngoc Quyen Street", but if you keep walking, the numbers dont match. *This particular "Sinh Cafe" must have paid the other 2 shops to change their numbers.
There seems to be a lot of "beware" messages... even from myself!
This maybe giving some people a bad impression of Vietnam. We didnt get into any problems at all. The Viet people are super friendly. We did get ripped off here and there but it was only for amounts that convert to $10AUD.
The internal flights are cheap, all the time. A flight from HCMC to Danang is about $50. Danang to Hanoi $50. Thats no discount. We got the flight from Danang to Hanoi for $33... two people. $16.50 each! :o This was done through the tour operator.
So dont bother with the bus or train.
There is one problem. Vietnam airways are late a lot of time but they rarely cancel. Travelling to a destination and staying overnight is fine (even with the delay you will get there quicker then train/bus) but I wouldnt do a connecting flight.
I think the issue of being informed is great....Originally Posted by 494A58585C4A522B0 link=1273147696/19#19 date=1273469484
While one might say every where and every place has issues... parts of asia do have some cultural and percived issues that frighten many off.
Your minor warnings / reminders are just what is needed. *Shame others do not follow the same common courtesy but then perceptions and what one sees as teh norm is very different.
Just booked my flights to Vietnam in June/July Very excited!!!
Im hearin ya Bassway with the train!, long trip!, i was looking at taking the train north then doing a 4 day trek out of Sa Pa, then i sort of realised that wed be on the train on and off for 3 days of our honey moon,i then had a look at internal flights.....cheap as chips! So were now planning on 3 days in Saigon, 2 days inDa Nang/Hoi An, 4 days in Sa pa and last 2 days in Halong bay.
Were doing the Cu Chi tour out of Saigon, the Bonsai Dinner cruise, the 4 day Hard Sa pa trek with homestays and a junk in Halong bay. Were also searching for a half day cooking class too.....
Any other recommendations?
1: giggled like a schoolgirl... AND MEMORIES...Originally Posted by 6B6F495050554A5D523C0 link=1273147696/21#21 date=1273471387
Got back late and sat up and watched the RBT from the window... Early flight to Rome.
We had a sleeper booked - very crowded .... But as we pulled out the train crew bashed on all the doors.. A Bishop was stuck with plane strikes etc
YEP... He got given full access to our sleeper for the WHOLE BLOODY TRIP SOUTH. He got off one stop before.. BUGGER :-[
2: Excited as to the wedding or the trip :o :o :o
Both mate!, so.....whens my CS Bucks party Andy? Get me drunk on espresso WOW ;DOriginally Posted by 1A353C3E29163A353A3C3E363E352F5B0 link=1273147696/22#22 date=1273471750
And Limoncello :DOriginally Posted by 484C6A737376697E711F0 link=1273147696/23#23 date=1273473545
I dont tend to worry too much about the beware messages, as I heard them all for south america and didnt have any problems there. just keep your wits about you, and bring the aeropress, and youll all be fine Im sure :D
Whats the policy on tipping in Vietnam? ive heard mixed answers, i personally will tip anyone who deserves it, but not if they havent earned it......
I agree with Bassway that the majority of people in Vietnam are friendly so would not in any way not recommend people not to visit.Originally Posted by 7D7E6C6C687E661F0 link=1273147696/19#19 date=1273469484
I also think however that warnings when travelling can assist people in raising awareness of different scams that are running, as being scammed can make what should be a good holiday memory a terrible experience, so even something like just booking an official car from the hotel to pick you up can save you a lot of trouble. Like I said, although the majority of people can be great in a country, the scammers will hover like vultures over the areas where tourists gather such as the airport and tourist attractions which is quite unfortunate.
I think the warnings are worth their weight in gold, especially when $1 = 17500 dong!!! Much easier to get ripped off when the currency value is so different.....
Tipping isnt expected in Vietnam but very welcome.Originally Posted by 4E4A6C7575706F7877190 link=1273147696/26#26 date=1273499866
Unless you are on a very tight budget its a no brainer.
Go out to dinner, one beer, two wines, two beginners, two mains, two deserts, bill comes to $350,000 dong. Crap, we only have 2 x $200,000 dong. Hang on, the change equates to $3 AUD. Dont worry about the change!
Also make sure you agree to a price before excepting a service, especially on the street. This is generally where you will get ripped off. Someone will ask "Shoe shine, shoe shine?" Proceed to do the service and then ask for $200,000 dong when the rate should be $20,000 dong. This happens all the time. And again not the end of the world, they just ripped you $11 AUD.Originally Posted by 4E4A6C7575706F7877190 link=1273147696/28#28 date=1273529936
When you are on the plane and about to land the cabin staff give you one of those forms to fill out when you enter a country. When you pass through customs they will stamp it. Even though there is no instruction to keep this, DONT THROW IT OUT! You will need when you exit the country, it forms part of your visa.
Nah not a tight budget, just had a disagreement with the better half, but i was right! he he, now im gunna go enjoy another cup of your blend!Originally Posted by 3734262622342C550 link=1273147696/29#29 date=1273531345
Well Fellow CSs, im back!!!, anyone thinking of going to Vietnam on hols.....book it!!! Its is an amazing experience that you will NEVER forget!, ill post a big rundown tonight with some tips on what we learnt, with photos, its good to be home CSs ;D
PS Coffee in Vietnam is the worst.........AM, get those Caffeine patches from the chemist ready!
Welcome Home Mate Looking forward to the pisc :) :)Originally Posted by 7074524B4B4E514649270 link=1273147696/31#31 date=1278907561
Well we had a ball, from start to.....almost finish, ill explain later, but here is how our journey went....
Flew into Saigon at around 7pm at night via KL.....WOW what a place!, 7 million people, and 5 million scooters! literally! We checked into Liberty Central Apartments that we had prebooked for $80 USD for just the one night, we dumped our bags, splashed some water on our faces and hit the streets. The first thing that hits you is the heat, 30C at 8 pm at roughly 90% humidity, coming from around 15C max in aust....its a great change. Then the traffic, the road rules or lack there of, and the calmness of the local folk, the happy smiles, the great outlook of these people who compared to us here in the lucky country are bordering on poverty. We headed to the markets to find some food. We found a little Restaurant (if you could call it that) on the side of the road, this is where most cooking in Vietnam takes place, on the ground/footpath/gutter, the food was amazing, and 2 "tiger" beers, 2 mains, and 2 waters(bottled) set us back around $8 AUD or 120 000 VND (Vietnamese dong) $1 AUD = 15 000 VND approx.
The next day we jumped on a tour to the Cu Chi Tunnels, it was a half day tour including transport and the tour itself setting us back $20 USD for the both of us, if you want to read all about the tunnels, which are amazing and a definate "must see" click the link to find out a little bit about them......amazing http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/C%E1%BeanBay%A7_Chi_tunnels
That afternoon we were off to the Airport to get a flight to Da Nang, found a flight for $60 USD each after a little hopping around comparing rates, ended up with Vietnam Airlines, Boing 737-300 i think from memory, good clean transport, wonderful hosts.....
Arrived in Denang and jumped on a taxi to our accommodation which was the Golden Sands Resort, 5 star (our only 5 star stay), absolutely amazing!, again, dumped our bags and headed into the nearby village of Hoi An by taxi, about $4 AUD. This was our favorite destination in all of Vietnam, the people were amazing, shopping galore, incredible food, a great night life, one thing we noticed in most of Vietnam was the lack of sleep for these people, most destinations run almost 24/7! We loved it, one thing to note here is the general bartering rule of thumb, ask for a price, offer 40% of what they offered, think about their counter offer, and walk away.....95% of the time it works, kerrie picked up a pure 100% wool tailored jacket for $20 AUD delivered to the hotel!, same jacket in aust......$300 ++. We stayed 2 nights here, but could of stayed longer, got massages for $5, ate more food than id care to mention for next to nothing, bought heaps of stuff at basement prices......loved it!.
We were off to Hanoi by plane after 2 nights in Hoi An, got the flights for $55 US each, about an hour flight time, 1000 klms in distance, then we were pretty much straight on the overnight sleeper train to the Sapa Valley. Now this is where we got ripped, against several peoples recommendations, we booked the trekking tour in aust through a company whom i wont mention, if you want more detail, PM me...... We payed $300 USD for overnight train to Lao Cai (300klms), minibus from the train station to Sa pa(40klms), a 4 day hard trek including home stays in the villages, with the last night accomadation in the Cat Cat hotel in Sa pa, minibus back to Lao Cai and overnight train back to Hanoi.....Sounds pretty good doesnt it? The problem was that the people that do all the work for you get next to nothing, the traditional Sapa guide gets a pitance of what you paid for the trek, the homestays get less than $3 a night for housing you cooking you dinner and cleaning up after your gone etc etc, the tour company sits back and enjoys the massive profit, your better off, paying for the transport out to Sapa yourself, which can be bartered the finding your own guide on the ground in Sa pa, they are every where, you wont miss them, you could do what we did for around $120 US id say....anyway.....how was it? AMAZING, ill let the pics do the talking......
Welcome back and congratulations
If Hanoi was the only place you were ripped off then you have done very well. I got slung US$5 for a 200 metre journey in Hanoi (it was raining) and even then he wanted to charge us $10.
Recommendations are as only good as what experience the recommender has to compare to. I have nearly always travelled free and easy and book as I go. The only times Ive been disappointed is the booked tours which include the obligatory stop or three at a souvenir shop.
Didja buy a Viet coffee maker?
Buggar, why wont these links work? they work fine in live preview......not in the final post.....
most likely an issue with your photobucket album wsully. They all show as non existent...Originally Posted by 4A4E687171746B7C731D0 link=1273147696/35#35 date=1278922082
4 Year old Sapa Girl with 5 month old baby sister oh her back.....I had a laugh
So after we arrived back in Hanoi by night train we trumbled across to the hotel district and found a hotel, got some prices and settled on a tour to Halong Bay(180klms) for two days, one night on a Junk including transport and all meals, swimming, kayaking and karaoke! for $50 each, so we jumped on the painfull bus for 3 hours and arrived at the majestic Halong Bay, once again ill let the photos do the talking!
We returned to the hotel where we booked the tour from in Hanoi and checked in for 2 nights, the aircon wasnt working so we were moved to another hotel!, and at 42C you need air con!
We didnt enjoy Hanoi at all, for several reasons, we got taken on a ride in a cab, basically robbed $66 AUD for 4 klms! we were locked in the cab and his meter was going ape, it was modified to catch unwary tourists....long story but we got ripped, yes i could have smashed his window, choked him, or whatever, but when you are in an unknown neighborhood, with no tourists around and you have no idea what friends he has around you, and you have a new bride in the car, you hand over the money and leave.
Couple that with $1000 theft through a hacked iphone over wifi(i know you love iphone AM).......
Beside the last 2 days the rest was an amazing experience that we will never forget
So my top tips for Vietnam,
- Always negotiate the taxi price before you get in the cab
- Book tours/accom in country, not from Australia online, book your first night maybe.....then run on the fly, you could save thousands.....
- Never trust Public Wifi (im lucky, im getting a refund from bank)
- Be very careful with water and ice, bottled water only and no ice, if not make sure your tea water has been boiled, its a hard one to police but it is important to try, we both got done on the last day and are still suffering the effects of "Vietnam belly"
- dont trust weather charts online, see if you can get current weather from people on the ground, the online predictions we got were way off, and it cost us a pretty penny in wet weather gear that we never used.
- learn the currency before you go, they can sense your hesitation and will try and trick you, practice bartering.....
- When in Vietnam, make sure your wallet and all important documents are safe, we used a body wallet for passports and tickets and my wallet was in my back pocket with a button, i had two kids attempt to steal my wallet from my back pocket, once in the Sapa, and once in Hanoi.
- We ate for 2 weeks pretty much off the streets, yes its gritty and dirty, but my gut tells me its pretty safe, and delicious!
You will need a strong stomach for Vietnam, for those of you who have not experience true poverty, it may be quite a shock, im lucky, as a few of you know, in my line of work i see it regularly. Just try and prepare yourself, and your nose ::)
Thanks guys ;)
Great post Sully! Welcome back.
A gift would be nice Epic......maybe your speedster? ;D
Welcome back Warren!
Good to hear you had a great time there.
Bit weird to see that you walked the same path as me and took the same photo!
Looks like you had a WOW of a time
Welcome back home
Ha ha yeah!, looks like you were holding a better camera than me on that path though.......with our treking in the potential rain, i left the DSLR at home, would of been great though......Originally Posted by 4043515155435B220 link=1273147696/40#40 date=1279000429
Thanks heaps for all the advice guys, it really helped when we hit the ground!
PS ill get that guide back to you soon mate ;)
Great photos Warren good to hear that it all went well makes all the planning worth wile..
Sounds like you both had a great time Warren, welcome home, looks like lots of photos and great memories.
I imagine the collar will rub a little now your back on Aussie time. ;)
If you come to Vietnam, should try Trung Nguyen Coffee - The no.1 Coffee brand in Vietnam. It is amazing taste in Trung Nguyen Coffee ice with condensed milk.
And you are millionaire, please, try Weasel coffee...Its toooo expensive with 3000$/kg...axx... i am dreaming about it....
I have some friends in Vietnam, if you need a tour-guide!
Have a good trips.
I was there last year too :) Backpacking because I am young and poor.
Im more than happy to offer advice if you have things youd like to do, or any other specific questions.
Sa Pa is great but VERY COLD. You have to buy windjackets and other warm clothes in Hanoi, or bring some from home. Note to AMs wife: bulky clothes= less room to cart home all the shopping. Ha Long bay is very pretty but not recommended in Jan as its very cold, misty and I found it quite miserable. Kayaking the the freezing cold is not my idea of a holiday.
Did not have a single good coffee and so caffeine withdrawal ensued very quickly. Dont know why I didnt just drink Coke. If you like the Vietnamese style of coffee, theres plenty around! :)
My biggest tip is probably to decide if you want to do North to South, just the North (cold) or just the South (hot). If youve only got 3-4 weeks, dont waste your time with trains and buses unless you want to go to remote places. Take a flight - its cheaper, faster and less stressful.
OT I know, if you have some time, hop over to Cambodia. I LOVED it - really genuinely friendly people, and of course the temple cities, especially Angkor Wat are amazing.
p.s. Good to put a face to WSully :D