Talk to me about…Vietnam

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  • Talk to me about…Vietnam
  • Pigface
    Member

    Spent a moth there almost 10 years ago, brilliant fantastic place. Loved every second.

    Hue is missing off your list, I found it very interesting.

    The traffic will blow your mind, dont look just walk and let them miss you. Hanoi was a lot more reserved that Saigon, Saigon was a naughty city.

    peterfile
    Member

    The traffic will blow your mind, dont look just walk and let them miss you.

    Yeah, one of my friends lives in Saigon, he has told me it takes a bit of getting used to!

    Thanks for Hue, having a look now 🙂

    Spent a month there late 2009, early 2010. Great place. Loved it. You probably have anough time to travel south to north if you missed off Phu Quoc.

    Although I didn’t have enough time to visit PQ and I hear it’s quite nice.

    As said Hue is nice. Halong Bay and the overnight junk boat trip expereince is worth it I think. Although it’s busy.

    I’d probably go as far North as possible straight away and work your way down. I found the north of the country far more interesting than the South. HCMC does have a better nightlife though.

    Just as an indicator, it’s a 12 hour overnight train from Hanoi to Sa Pa, the mountinous town near the Chinese border. It’s also a 12 hour overnight train from Hanoi to Hue.

    Highly recommend hiring scooters/motorbikes and riding from Hue to Hoi An (Top Gear style but opposite direction to the TG boys). Great day trip. Nice adventure with spots to visit on the way down (a temple/ruins and waterfalls) plus a flying visit through Da Nang en route to lunch and a swim on China beach before taking a quiet costal road to your destination.

    I could go on. There’s loads to see and do. Drop me an e-mail if you want anymore information. Alternatively buy the Rough Guide and select the places you fancy seeing and spending time at the most.

    Saigon was a naughty city.

    I feel that there’s a story here and we’re missing out on it….

    Premier Icon Mad Pierre
    Subscriber

    My mate had quite a trip back there doing some pedalling a few years back! Vietnam By Cyclo

    Premier Icon jpacey
    Subscriber

    id definitely recommend going on a multi-day guided motorbike tour inland along the ho chi minh trail.
    You can pick up a guide easily in Nah trang etc and travel along to your next destination that way.
    I normally hate organised tours/guided tours etc but this was excellent. our guides had fought in the war and gave us a really good insight on events/places and we ate some amazing food that we wouldn’t have found otherwise.

    Premier Icon wwaswas
    Subscriber

    I think Al Murray is there currently. Have a look at his twitter feed.

    peterfile
    Member

    Not quite sure how it happened, but just booked flights into Ho Chi Minh City, head out early November for about 3 weeks.

    Anything I should add to my list of things-I-definitely-need-to-see?

    Can stay pretty flexible and book internal flights once i’m there.

    So far, potential places on our list at the moment:

    HCMC
    Hanoi (maybe Halong Bay)
    Hoi An
    Nah trang
    Phu Quoc

    +1 jpacey. I used Easyriders setting off from Dalat in the Central Highlands. Great stuff.

    jfletch
    Member

    Don’t miss out Halong Bay. Very spectacular place (if a bit overcroweded). Its worth finding a good tour company rather than following the crowd. The minibus ride from Hanoi is an experience as well, but maybe not in such a good way!

    Have a Bia Hoi in Hanoi and embrace the hangover of all hangovers that you can only get from very cheap beer!

    loddrik
    Member

    Attractive women.

    wl
    Member

    Was there for 6 weeks in 1999 – in my top 3 countries of 30+, so good choice I reckon. Mekong Delta is fascinating, Marble Mountains are cool if you’re passing nearby anyway. I had a bike and touring kit with me and the highlight of the visit (highlight of my whole round-the-world-trip) was getting bus to Sappa then riding back to Hanoi the long way round through places like Son La, Dien Bien etc. Took us around 9 days but you could hire a motorbike and do in around 3-4. Amazing and unforgettable in every respect. My one big tip would be try to get off the beaten backpacker track at some point – the main highlights will be rammed with gap year kids, and all the worse for it (unless that’s what you’re into). Overall – breathtaking scenery, fascinating culture, great food, fantastic people, mind-boggling everyday sites.

    My folks lived in HCMC for three years – I’ll get their recommended spots. I went out and spent three weeks with them.

    Otherwise get lunch in the Temple Club in Saigon (central HCMC) and get over to the Ku Chi tunnels – touristy, but fascinating. The military museum is fascinating too, and take a scooter taxi around downtown.

    Re. traffic, I viewed it like swimming through a shoal of fish – you wait for a clear(er) spot, step out and move at a consistent speed while watching the scooters whizz round you.

    I also took a bus to Cambodia and spent some time there – less hectic, equally wonderful.

    It’s a gorgeous part of the world – I need to get back to see more of northern Vietnam and go into Laos.

    Photos here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/pimpmasterjazz/sets/72157613298288436/

    And Cambodia here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/pimpmasterjazz/sets/72157613267609001/

    My one big tip would be try to get off the beaten backpacker track at some point

    Absolutely +1

    willard
    Member

    Did Christmas and new year there in ’99 or something.

    Saigon is a fantastic place, filled with just about everything, including the subtle hint of danger from the roving packs of cyclotaxis. Not sure I ever felt properly safe there and I was advised by the owner of the Irish pub (Sheridan’s, go there if it is still there) not to wear anything visible in the jewellery sense.

    Da Lat was a bit odd. It was quite small when I was there, but a lovely place with great views. Nha Trang was more of a beach resort, but the locals had dynamited the reefs, so the diving was poor.

    It’s still a lovely country though with breathtaking scenery and genuinely friendly people. I would go back there, but would prefer to head north, maybe taking the train up the coast to Da Nang and seeing Hue this time.

    aphex_2k
    Member

    Spent three weeks there. Amazing. Pretty much did the “Top Gear” tour ending up in Ha Long bay for 3 days. Stunning. Friendly people. Scrummy food. Were spending 20-30 dollars for a 3 course meal with wine and cocktails. Would go back in a hearbeat. Do it.

    Scamper
    Member

    Absolutely love Vietnam but have only just scratched the surface, with the north being much more reserved. Hope you have good negotiation skills 🙂

    As suggested the night trains up and down the country are a great way to do it and cheaper, more comfy than the tourist' night buses. Even internal flights are (were) cheap. Thelocal’ highway buses are fun too.

    Also used the Easy Riders for a day around Da Lat which was a highlight as was the Tam Coc river – nice and early in the day.

    peterfile
    Member

    This is all great, thanks 🙂

    Getting excited now!

    (Sheridan’s, go there if it is still there)

    It was when my folks went back about two years ago.

    Not sure I ever felt properly safe there and I was advised by the owner of the Irish pub (Sheridan’s, go there if it is still there) not to wear anything visible in the jewellery sense.

    While my folks were there, there was a noticeable rise in petty crime. Primarily toward women, usually on their own and at night. Nothing more than holding up at cashpoints or bag snatching, but yes – be aware. Pick pockets were also on the rise in downtown HCMC, but less of a problem outside district 1.

    crankboy
    Member

    I have only been to Saigon for a mid week break but loved every minute from the near death experience of the drive from the airport to the hotel to the daily challenge of crossing the road. I would genuinely go again just to watch traffic.

    We also went to the Tunnels the “Museum of American and Chinese War Crimes” and the big indoor Market. Aside from one agitated machete wielding coconut seller every one was friendly and welcoming. The food was wonderful.

    My in-laws went in a more adventurous way and also loved it.

    I was there earlier this year cycle touring. Most folk I have talked to have a different perspective to me, not only as i was cycling through the country, but also because the country has changed so rapidly in the past few years. They are onto tourism in a big way, and know how to extract the most $$ out of you. If you have time, pop over to Laos (which is still really underdeveloped in much of the country).

    I was there earlier this year cycle touring. Most folk I have talked to have a different perspective to me, not only as i was cycling through the country, but also because the country has changed so rapidly in the past few years. They are onto tourism in a big way, and know how to extract the most $$ out of you. If you have time, pop over to Laos (which is still really underdeveloped in much of the country).

    Burchy1
    Member

    Most people above have mentioned the places I’d suggest so the only things I’d add are:

    Don’t be THE tourist who buys a trinket from a street hawker in Sa Pa, we saw an American couple get swamped by about 40 people after they’d bought something.

    Make sure you try the street food, it can be really very good.

    Definitely hire bikes and ride somewhere, the mayhem on the road is actually pretty sensible when you commit to it.

    oh and make sure you get some weasel coffee 😀

    bigrich
    Member

    I wouldn’t be too fussed about spending too much time in HCMC; it’s just another big asian city. Hanoi on the other hand, is bonkers.

    and overnight on the train yes, but dont do more than 12 hours. and get the fancy sleeper!

    bigrich
    Member

    and get into a 100% competition with some office workers at lunchtime.

    dan314
    Member

    I spent 3 weeks in Vietnam back in 2002, would have stayed longer but we got there a week after the date our month long visa started. Lovely country and very friendly people, I’d love to go back there one day! Hiring bikes would be good but I wouldn’t advise hiring a moped even in a quiet town like Hoi An, my mate pranged his on a trip to the beach haha. You can read my diary from the time here if you like: http://www.travbuddy.com/travel-blogs/38475/ Vietnam starts on 28th April and we crossed the border into Cambodia on the 20th of May.

    peterfile
    Member

    I’ve just read that, thanks, really made me smile 🙂

    You guys sounded like you had a great trip!

    Marin
    Member

    Was there 2 years ago. Cat Ba Island way a bit more chilled for Halong Bay type stuff. Reunification Express is good. Street food is great as in all over Asia. Found the people pretty dollar greedy but hey so is most of the U.K.

    butcher
    Member

    The closest I have ever been to death was in the middle of the road somewhere in Saigon when I was forced to stop and stretch out my body as thinly as possible while a bus hurtled past my nose. It is terrifying. And if you don’t think cyclists stop for red lights in this country…cor blimey! Nobody does over there. But it’s a great spectacle to watch. Especially the dogs riding motorbikes.

    The closest I have ever seen anyone else to death was the dude on a moped casually taking a shortcut through the oncoming traffic of a multi-lane dual carriageway (which in Vietnam, with several mopeds in each lane is the equivalent to a large swarm of half-ton bees travelling at 40mph).

    mbl1
    Member

    Two things…

    1) The city is Ho Chi Minh. Not Saigon.
    2) Vinpearl Land

    Great country. Great queue jumpers too.

    Premier Icon jambalaya
    Subscriber

    I’ve been going there for work and on holiday over the past 10 years, it’s one of my favourite places.

    To be honest the South and HCMC isn’t my favourite. It does have a lively night life. The tunnels are just about worth a day trip, all a bit touristy though. There is a place you can shoot just about any piece of war time hardware. Have also spent a week at a beach resort Muh Nee, I hear there’s a lot of good kite surfing there now, about 3 hours drive from HCMC.

    My favourite is the Centre and North however.

    Hoi An for beach and culture. If you’ve time and want something different take the train up to Ha Noi rather than fly.
    Ha Noi great city, culture, museums (inc war museum as per HCMC), nightlife
    Ha Long Bay – world heritage site, stay 3 days aboard a boat and venture in deeper than day trips
    Sapa – night train from Ha Noi – mountains close to Chineese boarder, local ethic groos still in national dress, bit touristy these days. See if you can do a “home stay” to get away from crowds

    Victoria Hotels Asia very good. Metrople in Ha Noi is best but other more interesting places in old quarter. agoda.com is good for Asian hotels.

    As you have three weeks I’d strongly recommend 3 days 2 nights in Ankor Wat to see the temples (you fly to / stay in Siem Reep)

    Drop me an email (in profile) if you’ve any other questions or want to see a few photos to give you a flavour

    peterfile
    Member

    1) The city is Ho Chi Minh. Not Saigon.

    Hmmm, my mate lives there and says it’s odd to hear the locals call it HCMC.

    All this stuff is brilliant, thanks!!

    Scamper
    Member

    Isn’t the central district technically still called Saigon?

    wl
    Member

    Push west beyond Sappa – that’ll get you into stunning scenery, hill tribe cultures, big mountains, a sense of remoteness, and hopefully away from the crowds as most tourists (hopefully still) just nip to Sappa from Hanoi, then head straight back.

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