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  • Aston100 1,495 posts

    Looking at flying longhaul with Qatar using Avios.
    The flight times & flight duration seem largely the same to/from both SGN and HAN, but it seems easier to fit Phu Quoc in if flying into SGN.

    Currently looking at 5 nights in each of 4 locations. Is there a better way to do it than this:

    London to HCMC
    HCMC to Phu Quoc
    Phu Quoc to Da Nang (undecided where to stay – Da Nang / Hue / Hoi Ann)
    Da Nang to Hanoi (inc a night or two on a boat in the bay)
    Hanoi to London

    Happy to drop Phu Quoc and spend additional time in one of the other 3 places.

    I will have a companion voucher available, so please advise if it is worth going via Hong Kong with BA (and then onwards presumably with Cathay) if BA reward availability comes up. I don’t like the thought of additional travel and unprotected connections eating into my time. Plus, not really convinced there will be a significant cost saving.

    Thanks.

    Richie 1,062 posts

    5 nights in Phu Quoc may be too many, unless you have found a great place to stay and want to relax. Check the rubbish in the sea water situation at where you plan to stay.

    I liked Hoi An. If you’ve never been to HK, it’s worth a stop.

    Aston100 1,495 posts

    OK dropping Phu Quoc.
    Hanoi vs Saigon – Is there any advantage to flying in or out of one over the other?
    Currently looking at flying into SGN and flying out of HAN

    Thanks.

    Richard Peters 172 posts

    Our trip was NCL to Hanoi with Emirates
    3 days Hanoi then 3 day tour of Halong bay
    Hanoi to Hoi Ann (5 nights), then onwards to Saigon 3 nights and then 3 nights in Cambodia before flying back to NCL from Saigon with Emirates.

    Appreciate you are using Qatar but principle the same and we used Vietnam airways for all internal flights.

    It’s a great country and you’ll love it

    yorkshireRich 225 posts

    Hi, I have done Vietnam a couple of times now and absolutely loved it. I converted my wife a few years ago who at first said “I’ll go to Thailand but no where else in SE Asia”. She then went once (albeit in October when there was a huge typhoon). Not wanting to dampen spirits we booked again for the follow Feb and She only said the other day how much she misses Vietnam. The people, the food, it really is amazing.

    Most people do North to South or vice Versa. We actually flew from Hong Kong with HK express and it was extremely cheap and no issues. We stayed in Hue and did the Hai Van pass. Highly recommend and it’s a cheap in a taxi (or it was). Hoi an is wonderful. You could probs do 2 weeks in central Vietnam to be honest. We once took a sleeper train to Nah trang. It was full of Russians but not sure how that is nowadays.

    Hanoi is wonderful and there is ample choice with the boats for Halong Bay so choose wisely depending on your interests.

    Princess 21 posts

    Hi! We were in Vietnam over Easter time and we loved it! Other people already covered most of the key advice, I would only like to add to consider a stop in Ninh Binh.
    We spend 2 nights there and it was wonderful, it is not far from Hanoi and also not difficult to reach from Halong bay (a bit longer however)
    Lot of things to see in the unspoiled country side

    Aston100 1,495 posts

    We actually flew from Hong Kong with HK express and it was extremely cheap and no issues

    Hi, did you fly into Hanoi, or into Da Nang?
    Did you overnight in Hong Kong first?
    What about your return to the UK – did you overnight again in Hong Kong?

    Aston100 1,495 posts

    Hanoi is wonderful and there is ample choice with the boats for Halong Bay

    When I was looking at these today, the itinerary seems almost identical between boat operators.
    Are there any boat operators that do 2 full days? All the ones I’ve seen seem to depart at midday, and return by midday the following day (advertising lunch at 10:45 or 11:00 enroute back to port!)

    yorkshireRich 225 posts

    We actually flew from Hong Kong with HK express and it was extremely cheap and no issues

    Hi, did you fly into Hanoi, or into Da Nang?
    Did you overnight in Hong Kong first?
    What about your return to the UK – did you overnight again in Hong Kong?

    hi did 3 nights in Hong Kong. We just paid cash on qatar, outbound was to Hong Kong and Inbound was from Singapore.

    I’m far from an expert compared to some but more than happy to give advice to help plan your trip

    strickers 771 posts

    We absolutely loved Vietnam but this was just as they banned anyone who’d been in China in early 2020. Some of the small hotels are delightful, we stayed in the O’Gallery Classy in Hanoi, small but the service was fab. We had a driver as we worked our way south to the IC DaNang visiting Hue and some of the war sites including Khe Sanh. We went to Hoi A for the day but wish we’d stayed there for a few days. Sun World and the Golden Bridge in the Ba Na Hills was an odd experience to say the least.

    Gary 298 posts

    Sorry to hijack the thread. Anyone has any experience to report re VietJet?

    It’s the only HKG DAD flight that syncs with BA31 LHR HKG arrival on Fridays without an overnight.

    zapato1060 719 posts

    Theres just something about Vietnam. Its just magical to me. Calling Pho fanatics!

    HCMC is much more manic than Hanoi. But theres not a bad thing on my travels. Consider the sleeper train up and down the coast.

    zapato1060 719 posts

    Sorry to hijack the thread. Anyone has any experience to report re VietJet?

    It’s the only HKG DAD flight that syncs with BA31 LHR HKG arrival on Fridays without an overnight.

    No issue with them. LCC obvs but took a few journeys with them myself.

    BJ 655 posts

    Returning from HKG-LHR provides you with UK/EC261 protection. Returning from anywhere on QR does not.

    Also, consider the pros/cons of booking QR via BA discussed on that topic.

    Richard Peters 172 posts

    if you do Halong bay choose carefully: we used a small company that left away from the large port (will see if can locate details) great door to door service and good food. The water in the bay is dreadful so don’t swim. Most Europeans do north to south and the Ozzies and Kiwis the other way. We sourced great and cheap hotels through booking.com apart from Saigon where we treated ourselves to the Grand Hotel.
    A trip up the Mekong river is a must along with the Chu Chi tunnels and be aware that all the museums lack objectivity! Whatever your views on the Vietnam War there needs to be stories from both sides not just how evil the Americans were.

    Crossing the road especially in the big cities is like Russian roulette as like cyclists in London red lights tend not to be observed.

    omicron 53 posts

    Seems like a good itinerary. The large cities are very hectic so it’s good with some breaks in smaller places in between.

    I think you should stay in Hoi An when visiting the Da Nang area, as the city centre in Da Nang itself doesn’t have a lot that you won’t see elsewhere in the country. You can then take a taxi from Hoi An to Hue, and fly onwards from Hue airport unless you decide to travel overland from there. If you want some beach time there are many nice resorts along the beach between Hoi An and Da Nang, but I would stay at least a few nights in the Hoi An town centre regardless of what you end up doing.

    Internal flights are efficient and the airports are well organised, but the trains are also good. I would avoid taking the long distance buses if you can avoid it as they are slow and not very comfortable.

    I have not been to Phu Quoc, but when visiting HCMC we took the train to Mui Ne (train to Phan Thiet and then a short taxi ride from there) and stayed at a resort there, which was very nice and saves you an extra flight.

    Vietnam is full of excellent boutique hotels, so focus on what area of the city you want to stay in and then go from there when picking hotels.

    We did one night in Hong Kong on the way there (would have done more if we had time), and one in Qatar on the way back (which helped us get a soft landing jet lag wise, but is not a place I would go out of my way to see).

    HSV 33 posts

    We are planning something similar next March. I have my flights with BA booked in and out of Singapore (2-4-1, CS), just need to book the local flights into Hanoi and out of HCMC. Couple of questions:-
    1. Is worth getting a local company in Vietnam to organise the hotels, transfers, flights, quides etc? Or it safe and easy to do it all yourself?
    2. We were thinking of ending with three nights at Six Senses on Con Dao Islands. Is it worth the cost or better spend on Mekong Delta and central Vietnam?

    Our iternary is:-
    3 nights Hanoi
    1 night cruise Halong Bay
    3 nights Hoi An
    2 night HCMC
    3 nights Con Dao Islands
    Thanks

    omicron 53 posts

    2. We were thinking of ending with three nights at Six Senses on Con Dao Islands. Is it worth the cost or better spend on Mekong Delta and central Vietnam?

    I’ve not been, but you could also look into the Four Seasons close to Hoi An, or the Intercontinental or Banyan Tree in Danang. They should have similar levels of quality only a taxi ride away from Hoi An and Da Nang airport, saving you a day of travel. From the Banyan Tree you could also do a day trip to Hue.

    HSV 33 posts

    Thanks – the Banyan Tree looks pretty amazing and good value.

    Richie 1,062 posts

    BTW I took the train from Phan Thiet to HCMC, it’s a much better option than by road.

    Princess 21 posts

    Hi, yesterday I gave my short answer, but I can see there are more people looking for Vietnam, so I thought to add my experience in Easter with more details and recommendations.
    I love to plan trips and I don’t think you really need a local tour operator if you enjoy a little of google search.
    I booked everything in advance also the car with the drivers. I prefer to not tho k on those things when I arrive on a place. Most drivers, guides or tour operators will communicate with you via what’s app.
    The itinerary:

    Hanoi 2 night
    Halong bay 1 night
    Ninh Binh 2 nights
    Night train to Hue
    Hue 2 nights
    Hoi an 3 nights
    Ho Chi Min 2 nights

    Two days in Hanoi were just enough to see the main sights. We also took part of a food tour to learn a bit more, at the beginning, of the trip some of the food delights we would experienced.
    I initially booked a room at the intercontinental on the lake, but then change it as it was quite expensive for what seemed an old hotel and far from the old quarter. I them picked the Aira hotel (not Aria). A beautiful little hotel, with really helpful staff (I message them asking if they could buy the ticket for the puppet show for me on the first row and they did)

    From there we took a cruise in Halong Bay stating from Cat Ba island that cover a quieter area of the bay.
    We went for a small operator Cat Ba adventures. They were great, not luxurious but room were good and food was really tasty. Tge boats are smal for max 20 people.
    The best part is that instead of finishing at 11am as the most other cruise they bring you back at 3:30pm, so the second day you still have time to enjoy activity on the bay.
    They also helped us to organise a shared transfer from Hanoi and to Ninh Binh.

    Ninh Binh was one of the highlight of the trip. It is a fantastic place with lots of things to see and do.
    We hire a car with a driver and a guide on the first day to see Bich Dong Pagoda, Hang Mua Cave Bich, Hoa Lu Ancient Capital and Trang A Caves.
    Second day to Cuc Phuong National Park.
    In Ninh Binh we were in a lovely new hotel called the Clos du fil.

    In the evening we took the night train to Hue. Everyone say to do it…it was ok, clean enough, but i would go to the extend to say is unmissable.

    Hue was also full of amazing sights. The old citadel, the kings tombs and the abandoned water park. From there you can visit the demilitarised zone. In Hue we got a normal racy to the first tomb and then we agreed he would wait for us switching off the meter.
    Again 2 days were just enough for all the things to see.

    In from Hue you can take a transfer that goes via the hai van pass. We were a bit unlucky as it was raining while we were at the top, but on the way there we had some enjoyable stops (however we skipped the golden bridge)

    Hoi a was lovely, we stayed a little out of the old centre in the Hoi An ecolodge that offers an amazing value for money. They offer a shuttle at fixed time to the city centre and to the beach. A taxi is really cheap if you want to go to the centre at a different time than the shuttle and only takes 10 minutes
    In Hoi An we took a free walking tour with Momo (you will easily find it if you google it) it was superb!
    We also went to Mi Son (we hire a car with a driver and hire a guide at the ruins) and to the beach (nice to relax an afternoon) from the hotel we also spend a morning cycling around the country side, stunning.

    From there we flew (with Vietjet) to Saigon.
    Saigon was much more interesting than I expected. We travelled with our twins that are still only 7 and we didn’t go to the war museum that is one of the top attraction to visit, but we went to many of the others even if we also spent some time relaxing at the hotel as we picked the amazing An Lam retreat. It is located outside the city and they have a shuttle boat at specific time to bring you to the city centre. It is part of Mr and Mrs Smith collection and it is a little gem.

    Saigo was incredible also for the great food offer. During the trip we mixed eating sometimes at small kiosks/ restaurants and sometime at proper nice restaurants were the Vietnamese cousins was even more delicious!

    We didn’t go to the Mekong delta or Phu Quoc as I felt there was so much to see in the other places. I thought we could go back and next time do Phu Quoc and then cruise the Mekong Delta to Cambodia.

    I hope this help!

    BuildBackBetter 705 posts

    +1 to Ninh Binh.

    BJ 655 posts

    Nice trip report @Princess

    strickers 771 posts

    Regarding the litter situation in Phu Quoc, we have a week booked in Jan at the IC. Assuming we stay predominantly in the hotel I assume this won’t be an issue? Heading there after 8 days touring Cambodia so it’s all about relaxing.

    Aston100 1,495 posts

    Thanks for the input.

    I’m almost ready to book flights.
    Will be there for the last 3 weeks of May.
    I see that most itineraries start in Hanoi and end in HCMC.
    However, I note that it is likely to rain in the south from mid May onwards.

    Therefore, does it make sense to fly into SGN and fly out of HAN?
    I feel this would complicate a Ha Long boat trip – most seem to get you back to your hotel for 16:00, but the flight home leaves about 19:30.
    I want to minimise changing hotels. I’ll likely be flying or training into Hanoi from Danang and I can’t think of a way that doesn’t involve leaving the hotel for a night or 2 mid-stay.

    Or, do you feel the threat of rain is exaggerated and I’d be fine at the end of May in HCMC?

    Thanks.

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