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Short Vietnam trip


I'm planning a trip to Vietnam next January but I could only get a week off work to make it happen. I want to spend most of my time in Hanoi, I've heard Halong Bay is amazing but considering I don't have much time to spare perhaps its not worth the effort. Is booking a cruise worth my time and money? How many days are recommended? Any advice would be great.


  • Hi, @Jamie_L .

    I would recommend sticking to the north of Vietnam for such a short trip. You can do this a few ways, but I would recommend spending two to three days Hanoi, exploring the old town around Hoan Kiem lake and trying Bia Hoi (local beer corners that serve fresh, unpreserved beer daily), and local street food like Bun Cha (Pork with rice noodles and leaves like mint and coriander), or Pho. While exploring the old town there are plenty of reliable tour operators to be found (always double check on the reliability of agents with your hotel or backpackers, or do a quick search online): you can use one of these tour companies to book a sleeper bus to Ha Long Bay and then stay a few days on a cruise boat, sailing among the limestone karsts.

    However, have you spent any time elsewhere in South East Asia? If you have, you might want to consider giving Ha Long Bay a miss. While it is spectacular, the sheer numbers of tourists in addition to the pollution mean many come away disappointed. There are plenty of limestone paradises to sail around in this part of the world.

    I would recommend rather using the tour operators to book a bus to Sa Pa, the mountain community of Vietnamese ethnic minorities (black hmong, red dao) who are famous for the awe-inspiring rice-terraces they have built in the mountains, as well as their skill at dyeing and weaving fabrics. Spend three days trekking through the Sa Pa area with a guide (tour companies can also recommend someone), where you can stay in the homes of locals and have a truly authentic experience.

    Also, because of Sa Pa's altitude, you will have a welcome respite from the sweltering humidity of Hanoi.

    If you really rush it, you could fit in Hanoi, Sa Pa, and Ha Long Bay, but you might not be able to soak it all in properly.

    What made you choose Vietnam?
    Check out our full, up to date travel guides on the Word Travels website.
  • Hi @LukeC

    Thanks for the advice! I chose Vietnam because I've heard great things about the people, food, and natural beauty. Considering my budget, its also very affordable. I've traveled around South East Asia quite a bit and have had some fantastic experiences. I'm looking forward to another South East Asia adventure.
  • edited December 2017
    As a resident of Hanoi, I’ve made the Sapa tours from Hanoi multiple times a year, so if you’re looking for some advice for a trip to Sapa, I think my experience is enough to help you solve some questions, for example, which transport you should choose to travel to Sapa like what I’m going to tell you below.
    There are two main ways to get from Hanoi to Sapa: Bus and Train

    In the past, most of tourists or travelers recommended the train because the bus ride was long and quite dangerous. But that all changed in 2014 when Vietnam has officially opened to the Hanoi – Lao Cai Expressway. This is a brand new highway that goes directly from Hanoi to Lao Cai (the province that Sapa locates, and also the station of Hanoi – Lao Cai train.
    If you’re​ planning a trip to Sapa, my advice for traveling there is making Sapa tours by bus by booking tickets directly with the bus company or with some reliable travel agencies. The trip will take a little under 5 hours, you will have an English speaking guide and, most importantly, have a safe driver (by Vietnamese standards). It’s also a limousine style bus instead of the miserable sleepers that you have to suffer if booking through a cheap, unreliable travel agency.
    You will have a nice sleep on the bus, because it’s comfortable and modern enough to suit you best, and of course, don’t forget to keep an eye on your luggage, even though, on these kinds of tours, the security level is quite high. Well, we all don’t want to ruin the trip by losing something, right!
    You’ll be taken straight to Sapa via the Lao Cai Expressway. The only stops are two bathroom/snack breaks – no picking up random Vietnamese people! The bus drops you off right in the heart of Sapa town, so you won’t need any type of transfer.
  • edited January 12
    Hi @Jamie_L

    A week is an ideal duration for you to explore the highlights of Northern Vietnam. For your travel preference, I would suggest:
    1-2 days in Hanoi (city tour around Old Quarter, Hoan Kiem Lake and other historical attractions - if you are interested).
    2-3 days in Sapa (trekking Cat Cat, Ta Van, Ta Chai villages, cable car/trekking to the Fansipan Mountain)
    1-2 days in Halong Bay. Overnight on Halong Bay cruise is really worth trying. 2 days 1 night itinerary is recommended for your trip.

    If you still have time, you can plan 1 day to Ninh Binh, get on a boat tour and admire the natural landscape of the rural Vietnam villages.

    If you need any advice, reply this message then I will help you ;)

    Thank you and hope to welcome you in Vietnam!
  • 2 days 1 night for the cruise in Halong is reasonable. There are many cruises available for you to choose, for example, Paradise luxury cruise offed by halong-bay-tours. For the remaining time, you spend 2 days in Hanoi and 3 days in Sapa.
  • You can visit Vietnam and Cambodia for holidays, and be enjoying native culture, historical web site, lovely landscapes, wild beach and spectacular temples. Throughout the country the landscape offers complete contrast; from the good beaches in Danang, Mui Ne and Phu Quoc, to the authentic stilt-houses and floating markets on the Mekong River Delta. This amazing trip will be more adventurous.
  • Hi Jamie,

    One week is enough to visit Hanoi and Halong bay. Halong bay is hardly 180 km away from Hanoi and take approx 3:30 hours from Hanoi to Halong bay. And according to me, 2 to 3 days are enough for Halong bay. I know about a tour operating company who provides Hanoi to Halong bay cruise tour packages on very affordable price ranges. Must visit the below link for more details..
  • If you come to Hanoi Please our Best Travel Agent in Hanoi. We will invite you enjoy our unique and special tours such as : Tam Coc Mua Cave Tour and Trang An Mua Cave Tour
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