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  • 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.

    Think I may have found a possible solution.
    After finishing with the south and the centre, fly from Da Nang to Cat Bi airport (couple of daily non-stop flights), which looks a heck of a lot closer to Ha Long Bay than HAN does.
    Overnight somewhere near the airport or near the cruise port.
    Get one of the early cruises, so the extra 4 hours or whatever should make it unnecessary to stay more than one night aboard the boat.
    Go to Hanoi the next day and check in.
    Fly home from Hanoi a few days later.

    I think that should work in theory and hopefully get the south done a couple of weeks early to help avoid the worst rain.

    Richie 1,062 posts

    There are flights from Danang to Cat Bi airport for Halong Bay.

    Edit : you posted at the same time.

    Aston100 1,495 posts

    There are flights from Danang to Cat Bi airport for Halong Bay.

    Edit : you posted at the same time.

    Excellent, so do you feel my south to north plan/route in May is do’able without much inconvenience?

    BuildBackBetter 705 posts

    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.

    Dont plan anything the evening you return from Ha long bay, other than a dinner of course. The return can easily get delayed due to traffic, number of hotels each guest have to get dropped off etc.

    Richie 1,062 posts

    There are flights from Danang to Cat Bi airport for Halong Bay.

    Edit : you posted at the same time.

    Excellent, so do you feel my south to north plan/route in May is do’able without much inconvenience?

    Domestic flight cancellations are quite common, there’s no 261 reg. law in place, so do a bit of de-risking, I just didn’t book the last flight of the day etc.

    As regards climate, perhaps look at a climate records website to see if your assumptions are broadly correct.

    The real Swiss Tony 724 posts

    Don’t think anyone has posted on the Saigon v Hanoi debate but my take away was that the latter was far more communist/Soviet bloc in feel versus the former. I really didn’t like the vibe but that was a good few years back.

    As for air travel, we last flew in on Dragonair (very good) and back out on JetStar Vietnam (very very tired looking plane). The area around Danang was lovely and at least in August it benefits from a sub-climate because of the curve in the coastline apparently. We had one short shower in the 9 days or so we were out there for.

    Another route that might be worth considering is flying to/from Macau then getting the bus over to HKG. Might throw out some more options for you.

    qc 259 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. .

    I wonder if you have managed to find the name of the company please?

    mol27 26 posts

    Quick question for anyone who has visited Vietnam in July/August – it seems Central Vietnam is generally recommended at this time of year weather wise, but has anyone travelled at this time and can comment on whether the rain elsewhere is more heavy shower or all day rain? Thinking particularly of Hanoi/Ha Long bay.

    Thanks in advance.

    memesweeper 1,311 posts

    Quick question for anyone who has visited Vietnam in July/August – it seems Central Vietnam is generally recommended at this time of year weather wise, but has anyone travelled at this time and can comment on whether the rain elsewhere is more heavy shower or all day rain? Thinking particularly of Hanoi/Ha Long bay.

    Thanks in advance.

    when I was there in August we experienced heavy, brief, showers on some days. Some lightening. Usually the afternoon IIRC. Absolutely spoiled nothing at all — most of the rest of the time it was sunny.

    mol27 26 posts

    Thank you @memesweeper, useful to know.

    Richard Peters 172 posts

    @qc it looks like this lot http://bitly.ws/P6vi They’ve changed the itinary slightly but I certainly remember the bike ride as our bikes had no breaks!

    Aston100 1,495 posts

    International flights booked.
    I see the Hilton Saigon is finally opening, about 5 years late, so will book that for our time in HCMC.
    Hilton Da Nang looks like a good use of points, so will book that.
    Finally, am looking for something better than the HGI in Hanoi (may have to settle for this). The two ICs are a bit far from the action.
    Was hoping to use IHG or HH points throughout our time in Vietnam with the exception of a night in Hue at the Melia Vinpearl, and a night somewhere near Sun World Ha Long, with cash.

    Thanks for all the ideas and other input.

    jamesturk 49 posts

    I’ve been to Vietnam twice, and both times we flew into Saigon and flew home from Hanoi. Similar to the Top Gear special, we bought mopeds and drove them the whole way north. What an experience. First time we went along the coast Saigon, Mui Ne, Nha Trang, Hoi An, Hue, Hanoi, Ha Long Bay. Second trip we left Saigon for Dalat up in the mountains, and then Nha Trang and further north.

    We stayed in the Apricot hotel in Hanoi if you’re looking got a nice place to stay. Not part of any hotel rewards scheme unfortunately. Location is perfect.

    Aston100 1,495 posts

    Behold my revised 20 night Vietnam itinerary.
    Trying to use points wherever possible.

    Heathrow to Saigon (Qatar Airways – 150k + £500 odd pp)
    5 nights in HCMC. Will probably skip the Mekong Delta as I get the impression it’s either a couple of nights or nothing. Awaiting the Hilton Saigon to sort out their availability and opening date (keeps getting pushed back). May be forced to stay at the IC or else have to pay cash for some non-chain property. There is a Holiday Inn up by the airport which looks good value for points but is far from the action.

    Saigon to Hue – Vietjet
    2 nights at the Melia Vinpearl Hue. Making use of the 24% off via voucher + app

    A scenic private taxi journey from Hue to Da Nang (Hai Van pass hopefully).
    5 nights at the Hilton Da Nang. Not really sorted much of an itinerary but will probably go to the tourist trap Sunworld Ba Na hills for a day and spend another day in Hoi An. The Voco and the HGI are both very competitively priced on points, so I may switch from the Hilton at some point before I fly out.

    Da Nang to Haiphong / Cat Bi – Vietjet
    2 nights stay at somewhere in Halong TBC (probably the Novotel). Spend a full day at the Sunworld park. A full one day (8 hour) cruise of Halong bay. I decided not to bother with an overnight cruise as there doesn’t seem to be much of a difference in the itinerary.

    Private transfer (some kind of ‘luxury limousine bus’ apparently) from Halong to Hanoi
    6 nights in Hanoi. A suite at the Melia Hanoi seems excellent value when getting a 24% discount with a voucher + app booking. Will do a day trip to Ninh Binh, but am currently trying to workout if I can do an overnighter there and reduce the Melia stay to 5 nights, and somehow still make it back to Hanoi for a 19:30 departure to Doha.

    Hanoi to Heathrow (Qatar Airways – 150k + £500 odd pp)

    LD27 214 posts

    @Aston100. Just a few comments. Recently spent a few weeks in Vietnam.

    Internal flight prices seem to change very little so we left it late to book. Had planned to stay in Nha Trang but as weather so bad flew to Saigon earlier. We thought IC Saigon was very good and excellent location. It was full so with late flight arrival and IC full booked Holiday Inn at airport which is about 10 minutes by shuttle bus. Emailed hotel in advance. Our flight was late as were so many on our trip and they waited. As diamond Ambassador got upgraded to suite. Could have slept entire family! Even had cooking facilities. Got Grab early next morning to IC. Although full, they let us check in and allocated room as soon as we arrived. We’d previously stayed at Voco DaNang (which was very good) and lots of guests seem to go from one to the other as do staff.

    We booked IC Westlake in Hanoi and then cancelled. But Grab is so quick and cheap so if that’s all you can get take it. In the end we stayed at Aira Hotel which someone on HfP recommended. It was no cheaper but close to Train Street, Museum and other tourist sights.

    We did one day trip to Halong Bay as 2 day itineraries were similar but with night on boat. If you want to travel further you need to stay for 2 nights.

    We also stayed at Melia Vinpearl in Hue. Great location as easy walk to Citadel. We spent hours there. So much better than going on a tour. There were 2 or possibly 3 day tickets (can’t remember) which were cheaper than buying individual tickets but you need to know in advance where you want to go. All cash. If using bank card, Agribank by far the cheapest for withdrawing cash.

    We used limo buses. Max 7 passengers. Good for long distance, eg 6 hours Hanoi to Sapa.

    If you go to Hoi An for only a day, go early before the cruise ship passengers arrive if there is a boat in Da Nang or you will struggle to walk through the tiny city.

    Hope you enjoy the salute at the end of your Vietjet flight. No bow like Vietnam Airlines! Shorts much shorter than Southwest!

    We flew from Saigon to Melbourne and were pleasantly surprised. Got the 2 seats together down the back. Not sure what they use internally. Unable to do anything online and even got email to say our flight was cancelled, but it wasn’t! We then flew Qantas across the Tasman which was much more of a squash. Smallest seat pitch and width I have ever encountered for nearly 4 hours. Made us wish were on a BA plane!

    First visit. We loved Vietnam and can’t wait to return.

    BBbetter 812 posts

    Not even a single night on Halong bay? I’d recommend one night if possible, just for the experience. A day trip is just like a short boat trip. You won’t even get to enjoy a quiet sunset with a beer or glass of wine.

    Aston100 1,495 posts

    Not even a single night on Halong bay? I’d recommend one night if possible, just for the experience. A day trip is just like a short boat trip. You won’t even get to enjoy a quiet sunset with a beer or glass of wine.

    Two nights in the area, but not on a boat.
    The itinerary for a one night cruise looks almost exactly the same as an 8 hour one day cruise. As I don’t much fancy squid fishing, I’m unsure what we’d be doing after dinner.
    Is there something else going on in the evenings that I’ve missed?

    Aston100 1,495 posts

    @LD27 – fantastic & relevant info, thank you.
    HCMC: Regarding the HI ‘Saigon Airport’. Would you say this is too inconvenient for the main attractions? I imagine I’d need a taxi or bus wherever we stay in HCMC, so maybe not too bad? Currently around 15k per night compared to around £100 cash.

    Hanoi: everyone elsewhere seems to insist first timers should stay in the old quarter. I note you didn’t. Did you feel you missed some special experiences as a result? Not sure I want to be actually *staying* in such a loud district when I can easily make daily taxi journeys there.

    Halong & Hue: glad you did pretty much what I’m considering. Was there anything you’d have done differently with hindsight?

    Thanks again for the very useful information.

    yorkshireRich 225 posts

    Looking forward to some sort of trip report Aston.

    We stayed at the Vinpearl in Hue before it was melia. I think it was only up and running a few months (if that) when we visited. We said at the time what superb value it was, and after doing a dummy booking, I see it’s still as fantastic value.
    I stayed in a few different hotels in Hue in the old quarter. Nothing spectacular, but I don’t remember any of them being too “loud”. It was great just to walk around Hanoi. There are ample of hotels around the lake from what I can remember.

    Having done 2 different trips to Halong Bay, I certainly wouldn’t rush to do another.

    We stayed at the Hilton Da Nang and stayed in a suite, very comfortable. The pool wasn’t much to write home about but the lounge was okay.

    Apologies that I can’t give upto date info as our last stay was pre Covid, but hope you have a great time.

    Aston100 1,495 posts

    @yorkshireRich – thanks for the helpful info.

    strickers 771 posts

    I’ll be at the IC Saigon in a few weeks then back 2 weeks later, this is either side of our Cambodia trip and a week in Phu Quoc. Will report back on how it is.

    MilesOnPoint 80 posts

    I’ll be at the IC Saigon in a few weeks then back 2 weeks later, this is either side of our Cambodia trip and a week in Phu Quoc. Will report back on how it is.

    Nice. Which hotel are you staying at in Phu Quoc @strickers?

    We had a great award redemption at the JW Marriott Phu Quoc back in 2018, a nonsensical disney-style fake university theme but the hard product and service was faultless, a really impressive property. Would love to go back, pity that Phu Quoc is so tricky to get to from the UK (with points anyway)

    strickers 771 posts

    @MilesOnPoint Staying at the Intercontinental, would prefer the Regent but didn’t have enough points. I think I’ve averaged 26k points a night which with lounge access is a bargain.

    JDB 4,801 posts

    @MilesOnPoint Staying at the Intercontinental, would prefer the Regent but didn’t have enough points. I think I’ve averaged 26k points a night which with lounge access is a bargain.

    I take it you read the review of The Regent and notably the comments before deciding to visit Phu Quoc?

    strickers 771 posts

    @JDB I have. It was between there and Koh Rong where recent reports are sparse and uninspiring, anywhere else just complicated and already busy itinerary. The trip is predominantly about visiting Siem Reap and Phnom Penh whilst Cambodia’s tourist industry slowly recovers and visitor numbers are low. We don’t intend to venture much beyond the IC and will use the time to unwind, lounge access should cover most of our requirements with the odd venture out in the evenings for dinner.

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