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Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi (Vietnam)

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  • Comrade Chag

    As you have probably guessed, we are heading east and as part of the trip we will be spending 4 nights in each city.

    Since a lot of you are very well traveled I would love to hear your recommendations, tips/general comments, or things to avoid?

    Thank you!

    JDB

    Four nights in HCMC feels like rather a long time. It is not a very attractive city and there isn’t really much to see. We chose not to visit the tunnels which is generally rated the No. 1 attraction and often combined with the touristy Mekong delta boat trips. Hanoi is more interesting, has a lot more charm and they have preserved many more old buildings. The old part of town is quite compact and easy to walk around; worth booking a food tour. Three nights would probably suffice though.

    strickers

    I can’t comment on HCMC, but in Hanoi Beer St, banh mi from a street stall and the egg coffee, the latter of these I wasn’t sure of initially but was absolutely delicious.

    Gavin454

    In HCMC, I found the Reunification Palace and War Remnants Museum interesting (I’m interested in the history of the Vietnam War etc). The Reunification Palace has been left the same as it was in 1975 when the war ended, and was formerly the workplace and home of the president of South Vietnam.

    Richie

    I like the roof top drinking opportunities in HCMC.
    The foodie opportunities for dining in both cities are excellent.

    BuildBackBetter

    +1 to what JDB said. HCMC is more like 2-3 days. You can do a few day trips from Hanoi like Tam Coc and Ninh Binh. Halong bay – go for atleast an overnight stay.

    Nigel Keya

    I like the roof top drinking opportunities in HCMC.
    The foodie opportunities for dining in both cities are excellent.

    Thanks. We’ll be heading there in the not too distant future and couldn’t really give a monkey’s about tunnels & historic buildings: it’s all going to be about food and life & people.

    JDB

    I like the roof top drinking opportunities in HCMC.
    The foodie opportunities for dining in both cities are excellent.

    Thanks. We’ll be heading there in the not too distant future and couldn’t really give a monkey’s about tunnels & historic buildings: it’s all going to be about food and life & people.

    Well, if you are going to HCMC for those things, you will be sorely disappointed vs other places. To the extent you are genuinely interested in “life & people”, understanding their history is rather important.

    Nigel Keya

    I like the roof top drinking opportunities in HCMC.
    The foodie opportunities for dining in both cities are excellent.

    Thanks. We’ll be heading there in the not too distant future and couldn’t really give a monkey’s about tunnels & historic buildings: it’s all going to be about food and life & people.

    Well, if you are going to HCMC for those things, you will be sorely disappointed vs other places. To the extent you are genuinely interested in “life & people”, understanding their history is rather important.

    JDB – not saying you occasionally talk bollox old man – but perhaps you should see this through a screenshot of people who love fantastic food?

    Comrade Chag

    Thanks everyone. I find 4 nights a good balance in order to get a feel of each city especially considering that half a day is usually lost on travel.

    We very much like to walk the city rather than using transport.

    BJ

    All I can say is that @JDB and @BBB must have made poor choices or were poorly advised. Personally I had a fantastic time based in HCMC and around the Delta. No war stuff at all, no museums, no factory shops etc. All about food, contemporary life and environment etc so I think @Nigel is on the right track. Some years since I was there but we used levietnamcycletours. Tung and his team were all superb. If you’re not up for cycling then they can also organise private tours by car. Not sure if it is still owned by Tung but he listened carefully to what interested us and what didn’t and arranged our trip accordingly.

    Richie

    I’ve been twice to HCMC.
    The ‘war’ stuff is interesting. The Reunification Palace is fascinating.
    I think a metro underground system is being built. It’s definitely worth stopping over for a few days.

    SamG

    If I were “doing” Vietnam then I wouldn’t do 4 days in HCMC as there are plenty of other places to go that have more to offer. But if you’re interested in food and just enjoying the pace of a city then you’d enjoy it – definately research some tours carefully and be clear what you want from them as this will add value to your stay IME

    Entitled

    Throwing my hat into the ring for similar advice.

    Flying into Singapore and out of Bangkok August ’23 as a family with two young teens in tow. Going to take in Ko Samui for some R&R but I’m keen to visit Vietnam.

    I was thinking of HCM due to proximity but this thread has made be consider Hanoi as an alternative. Given our flight arrival/departure points I am not desperate to add another city to the list. Ko Samui takes care of the beach so what I want from Vietnam is something different, probably in the countryside, ideally surrounded by ‘real Vietnam’ whatever that is.

    Anyone any suggestions for places within easy reach of HCM or Hanoi that might fit the bill and offer something that little be different?

    Nigel Keya

    Yeah sorry JDB if I was a bit rude, which I guess I was – so sorry.

    You offer valuable advice. Appreciated.

    BuildBackBetter

    Anyone any suggestions for places within easy reach of HCM or Hanoi that might fit the bill and offer something that little be different?

    Hoi An is good, but not easy to reach. Hanoi has a few day trips – check Tam coc and Ninh Binh mentioned above. Or Halong bay – a bit touristy, but a different experience.

    BuildBackBetter

    All I can say is that @JDB and @BBB must have made poor choices or were poorly advised. Personally I had a fantastic time based in HCMC and around the Delta. No war stuff at all, no museums, no factory shops etc. All about food, contemporary life and environment etc so I think @Nigel is on the right track. Some years since I was there but we used levietnamcycletours. Tung and his team were all superb. If you’re not up for cycling then they can also organise private tours by car. Not sure if it is still owned by Tung but he listened carefully to what interested us and what didn’t and arranged our trip accordingly.

    Fair enough. We probably could have explored more non-touristy places.

    Entitled

    BBB – at present a day in Hanoi followed by the train to Ninh Binh is looking the most likely destination. I did look at Ha Long Bay but the pictures of a dozen boats all moored up together really puts me off. It might be my loss.

    BJ

    Throwing my hat into the ring for similar advice.

    Flying into Singapore and out of Bangkok August ’23 as a family with two young teens in tow. Going to take in Ko Samui for some R&R but I’m keen to visit Vietnam.

    I was thinking of HCM due to proximity but this thread has made be consider Hanoi as an alternative. Given our flight arrival/departure points I am not desperate to add another city to the list. Ko Samui takes care of the beach so what I want from Vietnam is something different, probably in the countryside, ideally surrounded by ‘real Vietnam’ whatever that is.

    Anyone any suggestions for places within easy reach of HCM or Hanoi that might fit the bill and offer something that little be different?

    Given your itinerary you might want to rethink Samui if cost is a factor. The reason for this is the vast majority of flights to/from Samui are on Bangkok Airways (they own, or did own the airport) so there is little competition and fares are high. You will have more options and considerably reduce costs to/from Phuket or Krabi. There would also be much more things to keep you and your teens entertained, nicer beaches and more stunning coastal environment.

    BuildBackBetter

    Agree with BJ. Didn’t want to comment on Samui as the topic was on Vietnam. But yes, it’s a big premium to pay for just a similar coastline. Samui is good if the top priority for you is privacy and cost isn’t a concern.

    Comrade Chag

    Throwing my hat into the ring for similar advice.

    Flying into Singapore and out of Bangkok August ’23 as a family with two young teens in tow. Going to take in Ko Samui for some R&R but I’m keen to visit Vietnam.

    I was thinking of HCM due to proximity but this thread has made be consider Hanoi as an alternative. Given our flight arrival/departure points I am not desperate to add another city to the list. Ko Samui takes care of the beach so what I want from Vietnam is something different, probably in the countryside, ideally surrounded by ‘real Vietnam’ whatever that is.

    Anyone any suggestions for places within easy reach of HCM or Hanoi that might fit the bill and offer something that little be different?

    Very similar here, flying into Singapore and back from Bangkok.

    Entitled

    Agree with BJ. Didn’t want to comment on Samui as the topic was on Vietnam. But yes, it’s a big premium to pay for just a similar coastline. Samui is good if the top priority for you is privacy and cost isn’t a concern.

    Weather in August is supposedly better in Ko Samui than Phuket so this is the driver. Other than flights, prices don’t seem to be eye watering different. Plan is to rent a villa and chill.

    BJ

    Agree with BJ. Didn’t want to comment on Samui as the topic was on Vietnam. But yes, it’s a big premium to pay for just a similar coastline. Samui is good if the top priority for you is privacy and cost isn’t a concern.

    Weather in August is supposedly better in Ko Samui than Phuket so this is the driver. Other than flights, prices don’t seem to be eye watering different. Plan is to rent a villa and chill.

    I would not bet on that! It is generally true but there is not as much in it as many would have you believe. It could just as easily rain every day you are in Samui whilst same days are dry in Phuket. Having said that I spend a week in Phuket once where the rain hardly stopped for five days. Given the rest of your itinerary, Da Nang or Nha Trang would be very much safer bets for the beach in August.

    Michael C

    Agree with BJ. Didn’t want to comment on Samui as the topic was on Vietnam. But yes, it’s a big premium to pay for just a similar coastline. Samui is good if the top priority for you is privacy and cost isn’t a concern.

    Weather in August is supposedly better in Ko Samui than Phuket so this is the driver. Other than flights, prices don’t seem to be eye watering different. Plan is to rent a villa and chill.

    I would not bet on that! It is generally true but there is not as much in it as many would have you believe. It could just as easily rain every day you are in Samui whilst same days are dry in Phuket. Having said that I spend a week in Phuket once where the rain hardly stopped for five days. Given the rest of your itinerary, Da Nang or Nha Trang would be very much safer bets for the beach in August.

    I was thinking along those lines, @BJ – OP could skip the extra trip to Samui, just get a chauffered car to our beloved Hua Hin, then a car back to BKK for a direct flight to Da Nang!

    BJ

    @Michael, out of curiosity, which hotel do you favour in HuaHin? Many moons ago we stayed at a small private resort called Baan Talay Dao, nestled amongst the towers, it was a wee gem way back then. Been too long since we stopped over in HuaHin, need to make an effort to stay again.

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