Random thoughts, comments, observations and general fluff from a random bint who left London at the end of September 2004 to embark on a new life and new adventures in Tokyo, land of the cute.... and is leaving mid-June 2010 - and counting!

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Vietnam: post one

I have fifteen days in Vietnam coming up and my initial research has given me an impossible schedule I can't realise. I fly into Hanoi and out of Ho Chi Minh. Travel between places will be a mixture of trains, buses and internal flights. On my list at the moment is:

Around the area (eg Perfume Pagoda, Museum of Ethnology, villages?)
Halong Bay and Cat Ba (probably as a trip from Hanoi)
Hue, the DMZ and Vinh Moc
Hoi An and My Son
Nha Trang
Ho Chi Minh
Around the area (eg Cu Chi Tunnels, Can Gio Mangrove Park, Can Gio market)
Mekong and Mytho (maybe with a homestay in Mekong)

Question: to make this doable, without killing myself, what would you scrap. It could be years, if ever before I have a second trip to Vietnam. Then again, I might like it so much I'll move there and teach, after Tokyo.

I do have a lot more research to do. But please let me know what you think. Cheers.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'd cut out the area surrounding Hanoi and probably Cat Ba. Halong Bay can be done as a day trip from Hanoi - and if you have 15 days, that's what I'd do.


1:50 am

Blogger Jo said...

Cheers, but is that still not too much?

11:10 am

Blogger Jon said...

Oooh, my mom went on a Vietnam/Cambodia trip a few years ago and raved on and on. The pictures were gorgeous! Don't know what I'd cut out, though...

1:43 pm

Blogger Jo said...

Okay. I'm now thinking:

4 days in Hanoi and Halong
3 days in Hue
3 days in Hoi An
2 days in Dalat
3 days in Ho Chi Minh and Mekong

That sounds better, doesn't it?

9:59 pm

Blogger OMIH said...

Sorry I haven't been around to answer your questions - but here goes.

I wouldn't do Halong/ Cat Ba as a one night thing - that involves travelling six hours in one day. Way too much. Stop overnight on Cat Ba and come back in the morning. It's probably too cold to want to stay overnight on a boat right now.

To be honest I wouldn't bother with Dalat. There's not a whole lot to see. Hue, on the other hand, has lots to see but very few places to hang out in. My suggestion would be to take a day and a half to see what you want in Hue and move on.

That would give you extra time for Hoi An which is fabulous and maybe you can squeeze in some beach time at Mui Ne or Nha Trang.

Just my two penneth. Hope that helps.

11:53 pm

Blogger Jo said...

Cheers OMIH. I'm thinking Dalat might be too much hassle to get to now, anyway.

Another question: It seems changing my money to American dollars is the way to do it, BUT do restaurants, etc take US$? I don't want to be changing money to US$ and then again to Dong. Suggestions?

12:35 am

Blogger Elspeth said...

well I wouldnt have a clue but have a great trip!

6:12 am

Blogger OMIH said...

yeah change it to dollars. Lots of places will take dollars but you will be better off changing it in small amounts to dong.

It's a bit of a pain and a million dong is only about $60 so you get a stack of notes but it's all together easier to spend dong than dollars

8:04 am

Blogger Jo said...

Okay, Dalat has gone:

It's now going to be:
4 days in Hanoi and Halong
3 days in Hue
4 days in Hoi An (and around)
4 days in Ho Chi Minh and Mekong


6:52 pm

Anonymous lesley said...

have fun jo


12:25 am

Anonymous Anonymous said...

go to the water puppet show in Hanoi. I know, it sounds lame, but it was one of the coolest things I saw in s.e. asia.

if you've been to Angkor Wat, skip the ancient ruins near HoiAn.

I wouldn't exchange too much to dollars personally. Just go to the bank in Vietnam and exchange from yen to dong. (otherwise you're paying a currency conversion fee twice) And usually, paying in dollars, places give you a less favorable exchange rate.

Remember to bargain everywhere, especially at hotels. Just start to walk away, and that initiates the bargaining process

10:59 pm

Blogger Jo said...

anonymous: really? i'm confused. i keep hearing change it to dollars. i was thinking i would do that and withdraw money from a cash machine to have dong.

maybe i'll change half my money to dollars, and take the rest as yen and change it up.

i've just finished pre-booking all my accommodation anyway. not something i'd normally do, but i figured this trip it'd be easier.

am very excited. although the weather may not as be as good as i'd hoped it would...

11:43 pm

Anonymous Anonymous said...

You've likely left already, but...

You can use dollars almost anywhere in Vietnam, but you don't need to. The thing about the dollar is that it's far more versatile than the yen, pound, or Euro- small businesses probably won't take those.

And it's awkward using dollars at markets. And restaurants usually give you a less than favorable rate- since they'll round to an easy to work with number. a good rule of thumb, is to use dollars for big purchases and dong for everything else.

And the potential hassle of exchanging money at the bank in Japan, is most definitely not on my list of fun activities.

3:07 pm

Anonymous chris in saigon said...

I live in HCMC. Iwould skip Dalat. Vietnamese people love it because it is a temperate climate, pine trees, cool air etc, but if you are from UK, not sure how impressed you would be. I found it dull, considering other option. Hoi An is supposed to be great, and there is a japanese connection you may find interesting.
HCM is good for 2 or 3 days- war museum, a bit of shopping at markets etc. Most tourists go to Binh Thanh market. Mekong you can do in a 1 day bus/boat trip, but may be fun to do an overnight. Tunnels also good- quite a unique tourist activity.

8:07 pm

Anonymous Jack said...

Heres what we think we will do:

3 Days in Hanoi
2 Days in Halong Bay
2 Days in Hue
2 Days in Hoi An
2 Days in Na Trang
3 Days in Ho Chi Min City

read more on my Blog :)

10:58 am


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