Nha Trang is more a party scene, with cruises to the islands, floating bars off boats, water sports off the islands, etc.
PHU QUOC is the place you want to be for quality beaches, more tranquility, etc!! Also very good place for diving if that's what you're into.
You will like Hoi An very much. Pick the newish hotel on the outskirts (3 kms from centre), but then you can hire free bikes to explore thwe surrounds, the river, the beach at the back, etc at your leisure. The hotel has a roof terrace for great views, but I suggest eating out to try different restaurants & their cuisines :-)
And a quick word of warning: Hoi An is famous for those 'quick' tailoring services, BUT please ensure you give them a few days extra (versus the next day delivery!!) & tell them to use strong & quality thread, plus stipulate the PROPER stitching & lining details you require, and make it clear that if they do not emulate the stitching on your sample you show them, they will not be paid. Why I say this is because loads of people get clothes made very quickly & inexpensively, but the stitching is weak & atrocious :-(
Unique Suggestions: Show the tailors a sample of the stitching & lining you expect, and tell them clearly that you only want to commission them if they can replicate the style & quality, otherwise you will not pay them.
Give yourself at least 2-3 days in Hoi An, and visit the tailorsa early on, so that they have the time to meet your finish standards & criteria ;-)
Fun Alternatives: Give the tailors more time, and show them samples of the finish, stitching, design you are after.
Enjoy the Phu Quoc beaches.
we took a local bus in Hanoi and the guy told us to wait for my change. then i asked again and he smiled at me making me understand that i had to wait more. at that point, i just went to see him and put my hand in front of him.
when you take a taxi, insist for the meter and if you can, get a map and follow the streets taken or pretend when you are in the car. always keep an eye on the meter and if you can, make sure that the driver knows you keep an eye on the meter.
Unique Suggestions: its typical and everybody knows about it but it's always good to remember that it always helps a lot to pay your hotel or restaurant bills with your 500000 or 200000 dongs note so you always have some smaller notes to pay the rest of your expenses.
be aware that the motorcyclist amongst others are not very honest people. I was dooped into paying for a ride around a hotel that i was looking for. I was on the most east wall of the caravel. Asked where the caravel was and was charged 20000 dong for a ride. He just took me the long way and parked me on the west side. Other motorcyclist observed but said nothing. later on that night one road by and told me I'd been tricked and that that was messed up. He was offering to take me back to my hotel but not for free of course
Hoi An is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is also one of the best sites in Vietnam to see capitalism, albeit with a social face. Tourist outnumber locals, while those who are local are busy selling souvenirs, handicrafts or t-shirts. Step into one of the old homes and you will get a bored spiel from some young woman about the house construction which quickly morphs into "... and would you like to see our embroidery, wood works, lanterns, etc... Yes, we take VISA." Maybe Hoi An is one of those places you have to stay at for awhile to let it all seep in, where you become numb to the other tourists and the "Good Morning Vietnam" t-shirts. Maybe.
Unique Suggestions: T-shirts. At least get three for $5 if you are going to get them. Also get sizes larger you would normally.
Fun Alternatives: My Son is not far away.
Day 1: Hanoi
Arrive at Noi Bai Airport. Meet and transfer to hotel. Take a glimpse of Hanoi on a short city tour to see the cultural richness of the capital of Vietnam. Tour includes Ngoc Son Temple or pagoda of the jade mountain standing at the northern end of Sword Lake which provides relaxing atmosphere. Then proceed to the Old Quarter consisting of 36 commercial streets, each lined with ancient architectural works harmonized with lakes lying between. Overnight stay in Hanoi.
Day 2: Hanoi -Lao Cai
Continue the sightseeing tour in Hanoi by the first visit to Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum where the body of Ho Chi Minh is well kept. Then visit his house built on stilts situated nearby. Followed by the visit to One Pillar Pagoda, it was built of wood on a single stone pillar, elaborately designed to resemble a lotus blossom which is a symbol of purity. Afterward, go for the Temple of Literature with its traditional Vietnamese architecture, dedicated to Confucian cult which broke the Buddhist monopoly in education; the temple was then regarded as the site of the first university of Vietnam; another dominant feature of the temple is traditional Vietnamese architecture. Continue the route to the Fine Arts Museum which gathers a collection of prestigious artifacts of Vietnam. After ending the remarkable tour in Hanoi, get on a night train to Lao Cai.
Day 3: Lao Cai -Sapa
Arrive at Lao Cai and transfer to Sapa, a remote land littered by a patchwork of diversely rich cultures of ethic groups. On the way to Sapa, enjoy the majestic greatness of Fansipan Mountain, the highest peak in Vietnam and also of the Indochina Peninsula; this pyramid-shaped mountain is shrouded with clouds all year round, allowing temperatures drop to ten below zero, especially at high elevation. Check in Sapa, and take a rest for a long journey. In the afternoon, commence the trip again with the first visit at Catcat Mountain, a hamlet of H'Mong people who still retain their own culture and tradition. Then go to see the station of electric-hydro water, built by French in 1925. Enjoy dinner and spend an overnight in Sapa.
Day 4: Sapa tour
Transfer to visit Silver Waterfall, one of the most famous attractions in Sapa. In the afternoon, visit Dragon Jaw Mountain from where you can get the spectacular view of Sapa Town standing in the sea of mist, neighboring TV station tower which is close to pear and cat apple garden. After dinner, attend the Saturday evening market, Love Market of Dao Do minority people in the Northwestern Highland of Vietnam. Dinner and overnight in Sapa.
Day 5: Sapa -Lao Cai -Hanoi
Spend freely your leisure in Sapa; you may visit the town to see the life style of local people or enjoy shopping at the market where a wide variety of local products are sold: Oriented medicines, honey, brocade, and etc. Turn back to Lao Cai to visit the Kieu Bridge, the border gate which connects Vietnam and China. Enjoy shopping again at Coc Leu market before having dinner. Then leave Lao Cai for Hanoi. Overnight on train.
Day 6: Hanoi tour
Arrive at Hanoi railway station. A full day free in Hanoi
Overnight stay in Hanoi.
Unique Suggestions: Lying on the eastern part of the Indochinese peninsula, Vietnam is a strip of land shaped like the letter “S”. China borders it to the north, Laos and Cambodia to the west, the East Sea to the east and the Pacific Ocean to the east and south.Vietnam has two World's Natural Heritage sites: Halong Bay and Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park and 6 World's biosphere reserves including: Can Gio Mangrove Forest, Cat Tien, Cat Ba, Kien Giang, Red River Delta
Fun Alternatives: Excellent trip
Vietnam Attraction, Vietnam Travel, Vietnam Hotel
Unique Suggestions: The capital, Hanoi, sprawls on the banks of the Red River. It is a beautiful city that retains an air of French colonial elegance with pretty yellow stucco buildings lining leafy streets. Hanoi is also a city of lakes, which adds to its air of sleepy grace. At present there are relatively few cars – many people travel by bicycle or moped. It is a city that appears lodged in a bygone age. In the middle of the city lies the peaceful Hoan Kiem Lake (Lake of the Restored Sword) with the 18th-century Ngoc Son Temple (Jade Mountain Temple) sitting
on an island in its center. The temple can be reached by The Huc Bridge (Rising Sun Bridge). To the north of Hoan Kiem Lake is the Old Quarter, a fascinating maze of small antiquated streets lined with markets and pavement restaurants and cafes. West of the Old Quarter and south of the West Lake is the former Ville Française. This is the old French administrative center and is characterized by enormous colonial-era châteaux and wide spacious boulevards. It also houses Hanoi’s most popular attraction, the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum. When visiting the Mausoleum, it is important to be respectful both in dress and attitude. Ho Chi Minh was the father of the modern state and is still held in reverential regard. His house, built in 1958, is also on public view.
Fun Alternatives: Other museums in Hanoi include the Bao Tang Lich Su (History Museum), the Bao Tang Quan Doi (Army Museum), Ho Chi Minh Museum, Bao Tang My Thuat (Fine Arts Museum), Bao Tang Cach Manh (Revolutionary Museum) and Independence Museum. There are a number of interesting pagodas in Hanoi. The One Pillar Pagoda, first constructed in 1049 (subsequently destroyed by the French just before they were ejected from the city and then rebuilt by the new government), was built to resemble a lotus flower – the symbol of purity rising out of a sea of sorrow. The Temple of Literature built in 1076 was the first university in Vietnam. It is a graceful complex of small intricate buildings and peaceful courtyards. To the northwest of the Citadel is the West Lake, which is about 13km (9 miles) in circumference. The shores of the lake are popular amongst the Hanoians for picnics and there are a number of cafes. The lake also contains the wreckage of a crashed American B52 bomber. see more: www.muadulich.com
There are plenty of busses waiting out the front of Lao Cai train station waiting to transport you to Sapa. Cost will be approx $25,000 - $30,000 Dong per person. There is also one mini bus that will likely be waiting for you on the actual train platform....
When we arrived at the crack of dawn (we can recommend the soft sleepers on the train by the way) there was a minibus waiting on the platform and we allowed ourselves to get hustled into it, along with a lot of other bleary eyed travellers - we were all told that if we didn't take the bus there would be a long wait until it returned to pick up the next load of travellers.
Cost us $100,000 Dong per person for the same service we would have got for $30,000 if we had known there were other busses waiting for us outside the front of the station. $70,000 Dong is small change in the great scheme of things I know - but at the time it was annoying :-)
Unique Suggestions: Don't let yourself get hustled into believing that the mini bus waiting on the platform at Lao Cai is the only one available...
Something else to consider - if you have already booked your accommodation in Sapa, check with your hotel - it will likely be able to arrange for a bus to be ready to meet you for the same $30,000 cost.
Do not pay your driver until you reach your destination.
I had one unscrupulous driver who would not give me my luggage from the boot of his car until I paid him more money.
I got my bag only after yelling and calling out to a policeman.
May not always happen but I no longer pay in advance.
If you are going to Cambodia and Laos from Vietnam:
Be aware when changing money in Vietnam to Cambodia/Laos money, the Laos money and the Cambodian money are very similar but the rates are very different, so be aware so you don't get Lao money when Cambodian money are expected nad vice versa. I was fooled that way. Lao money is also quite difficult to get rid of outside Laos (I got some Laos money for free from a traveler whom discovered that to late). Don't change more then you use in the country. However my mistake was affordable and no big problem for me.
Unique Suggestions: Don't change to much each time. Use the money especially in Laos. Quite worthless outside Laos.
This might changes of course since more travelers are going through these countries, but be cautious.
Fun Alternatives: Make sure you get the right currecy. Check the web for info, the money is very similar not to mention the "guy" on the bills.
While walking on the streets in Vietnam, you will see alot of men in motor cycle beckon you. they willing to offer you rides around the city. I am not sure how safe is it but they bound to over charged you and yes, if you are a lady, better do your own walking.
Streets Vietnam lady in straw hats , carrying sticks with baskets tie at both ends, they will also offer you what they have to take photos... don't accept the offer unless it is totally FREE.. they will usually over charged too as they know we are tourist.
Unique Suggestions: I would jus smile or shake my head to show that i do not need any help from them.
When visiting Marble Mountain beware of men/boys offering to assist you when climbing up pillars within the mountain.
They will block your way and demand money before letting you get either back down or up to the top. I found this quite frightening but fortunately my friend came up not far behind me and created a bit of a scene. Don't be afraid to yell...these shysters are not liked by the Vietnamese either
Unique Suggestions: Do not have bags or backpacks floating, keep them close to your body - money belts are great here.
Do not accept any help except from registered tour guides.
Women and girls, try and stay with someone (or follow another tourist) - don't go off alone. This is only a small area but has many places where these shysters can get to you.
Everyone is trying to make a quick dong from Western tourists. These are the top scams that I either fell for or caught on to and stopped in the act:
1. Taxi drivers will try to overcharge you or not tell you about the tolls. This was certainly the most common problem especially in Hanoi.
2. Drivers get kickbacks for bringing tourists to particular restaurants and hotels. When you start comparing rates with other tourists you may see a difference in price. To defeat this, have a taxi or Honda drive you take you to the area where you want to stay, then leave the hotel and shop around.
3. The old bait-and-switch tactic is alive and well in the shops. Just be careful and check your purchases! I bartered for some film for my camera, then when she put it in the bag, she swapped it out with cheaper film... I ended up paying more for some Vietnamese brand than I would have paid in the US. Luckily I was able to use the film, so not a total loss.
4. Prices always start high for tourists in anticipation of negotiating a lower price (or the shop owner making a fortune). The big place we saw this was in negotiating trips. In Hanoi, we organized a Halong Bay tour through our hotel (mistake 1). Then after they told us about it, we didn't shop around to compare prices (mistake 2). We ended up paying about twice as much as some others paid (and half as much as others!). Shop around and compare prices, capitalism is alive and well.
Street Booksellers... sold photo copies of real books at a fraction of the price. Somehow they got the binding to look similar even if the pages were all off centered.
6. Even in occasional restaurants, I was overcharged and had to ask to see the breakout of the bill ... then all of a sudden I owed less!
7. Not to mention occasional thieves and pickpockets.
If you are careful, you won't fall for too many of these scams, and you will enjoy your trip! Even if you do fall for some of these scams, remember that you are usually only out $1 or $2 so not really a big deal anyway, right?
Travelling independently, we booked our own night train ticket from Hanoi to Lao Cai. While ensconced in our very basic 4-berth soft-sleeper, I was woken by two conductors who indicated in sign-language for me to follow them.
We traversed a number of coaches before they escorted me into a very nice, cosy and unoccupied Livitrans coach. This could be mine, they offered, for a price. After a round of negotiations, my wife and I "moved" to the Livitrans coach, which also boasted a western-style toilet.
Unique Suggestions: While my wife, especially, appreciated the upgrade in transportation, it would have been much easier, and cheaper, to have booked Livitrans through our trustworthy hotel.
While SaigonTourist is a large, relatively reliable tour agency, beware of "non-private" tours. We, a group of four, once booked a tour to the Meekong Delta at the concierge of the Omni Hotel for about $20. The next day, we were surprised to see the tour guide an hour earlier than planned. He took us to a totally different agency where we waited almost an hour to join a tour group to the Meekong area. The problem is this: we paid $20, only to discover that the same trip booked through this new agency only costs $7! Why? It turns out that non-private tours are not handled by SaigonTourist, but rather handed down to lesser agencies for consolidation. The SaigonTourist representative we made the booking with was not to be found.
So what did we get for an extra $13 after some protest with the smaller agency? Nothing much other than a few shoulder shrugs and "better" food that was late in being served for lunch.
The tour itself was pretty good for $7, but for $20, it was a total rip-off.
Make sure you check to be sure that you ask about this when booking tours.
Taylor-made clothes are the biggest tourist trap in Hoi An... one hard to avoid, as they really look great... especially the flower embroideries themy create on silk. However we were told by manny, including a local insider, that the quality is very poor... true, clothes are cheap in Hoi An, but apparently they are not worth the money paid. Even our local insider, who lives in Hoi An and knows plenty of people, did not succeed in having a pair of trousers made by a friend.. and still they did not last a year...
Unique Suggestions: Admire the clothes in the windows... and then say, no thanks. And look for a magnificent clothes shop with some golden furniture... it was once a theatre (see photo)
Fun Alternatives: If you find some silk that you like, buy it... if you are northbound, have your clothes made in Hue... the quality is much superior... the beauty the same (and sometimes even better)
All rooms offer pool of City views with full luxury amenities. As true sense 5- Star hotel, it is...more
We booked 2 rooms and all of us simply loved it. We are given complementary drinks at the restaurant...more
It's worth the money to stay and enjoy the beach like in Victoria Hoi An. Price from 150$++ public...more
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