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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.
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