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Looking for feedback on a potential itinerary

Waterloo, Canada
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Looking for feedback on a potential itinerary

My husband & I are considering a tour of Vietnam in November. The trip is offered by the alumni association of our university, so there is a faculty lecturer accompanying the tour. On first glance to us it sounds quite interesting, & we've heard good things from people who have done similar trips with the alumni group (but not specifically a Vietnam trip). I'm getting several guidebooks out to read more about Vietnam, but in the meantime I would love to hear feedback from experienced travellers to the region about the itinerary.

We prefer not to be rushed through sights, so I'm a bit afraid of that (although encouraged by the occasional half day breaks to explore areas on our own). We like to get a taste for the (genuine) culture of a region, a sense for history, & to do some active travel & see the natural beauty of new areas, too. If this itinerary isn't ideal for us, I'd love to know so we can try to plan something else instead!

I have edited the detailed descriptions provided for brevity. If you have questions about anything listed here (or can think of questions I should be asking the tour operator) please let me know! Oh, there is an optional extension for 4 days in Cambodia--but I thought we'd decide whether the basic trip was right for us first, and then see if we want to add that.

I've really come to rely on TA in planning trips, & this is the first time I've ever considered a tour group for my travel, so even if I can't tailor the journey exactly based on TA recommendations I'd love to get some feedback here! Thanks everyone.

Days 1-2: Depart U.S. for Hanoi, Vietnam

Day 3: Arrive Hanoi, then transfer to our hotel. The remainder of the day is at leisure.

Day 4: Hanoi This morning we take a walking tour of Ba Dinh Square. Following lunch on our own we embark on an orientation tour of this French accented city. Later we walk the Ancient Quarter then enjoy a traditional cyclo ride followed by a traditional

Water Puppet show.

Day 5: Hanoi/Ha Long Bay Early this morning we depart on a full-day excursion to Ha Long Bay, including a boat trip.

Day 6: Hanoi/Da Nang We fly this morning to Da Nang. Upon arrival, we tour the acclaimed Cham Museum. The remainder of the day is at leisure.

Day 7: Da Nang/Hoi An This morning we visit nearby Hoi An. This afternoon is at leisure to either remain in Hoi An on your own

or return to our beachside resort for a relaxing interlude.

Day 8: Da Nang A morning walking tour of a nearby farming settlement reveals the daily life of a local community up close.

Day 9: Da Nang/Hue We depart this morning by coach for the ancient imperial city of Hue. We explore the Imperial City. We also visit the Central Market. Tonight we enjoy a special Hue buffet, accompanied by a performance of traditional music.

Day 10: Hue This morning we cruise along Hue’s Perfume River to peaceful Thien Mu Pagoda. Later we visit the palatial Tomb of Ming Mang. This afternoon we see the tombs of Tu Doc, a gem of

royal architecture; and Khai Dinh, an elaborate mix of ancient and modern, European and Asian.

Day 11: Hue/Mekong Delta/Can Tho We board an early morning flight to Saigon. Upon arrival we transfer to a motorcoach for the three hour drive south to the Mekong River town of Cai Be. From there we travel by coach and ferry to the busy river port and provincial capital of Can Tho.

Day 12: Can Tho/Mekong Delta We rise early for today’s journey by boat to the bustling floating market at Cai Rang on the Mekong’s lower reaches. The remainder of the afternoon and evening is at leisure.

Day 13: Mekong Delta/Saigon This morning we reach the upper reaches of the storied Mekong. Here we board motorized sampans for an up-close look at river life. After lunch at a local

restaurant we continue on by coach to Saigon.

Day 14: Saigon

A morning tour includes the former Presidential Palace. We also tour the History Museum with its excellent display on the indigenous peoples of Vietnam.

Day 15: Saigon This morning we visit the Cu Chi Tunnels. This afternoon is at leisure; tonight we enjoy a farewell dinner.

Day 16: Depart for U.S. Today we depart Saigon for our connecting flights to the U.S.

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1. Re: Looking for feedback on a potential itinerary

Hmmm, because of the distances involved, rushed you will be. I'll start off the replies with comments about the itinerary for north and central Vietnam - others are more knowledgeable about the south.

Days 3-4: rather a short time in Hanoi as it has a lot more to offer than can be fitted into one full day, bearing in mind that you are likely to be too tired after your flight to make the most of your free time on day 3.

Days 5: does your detailed schedule spell out the fact that the return journey by road will take about 7 hours, leaving very little time in Halong Bay itself? Because of the travelling time most people opt for a 2-day/1-night junk cruise on the bay.

Day 6: Danang is an administrative centre and the least interesting of the cities/towns in central Vietnam. For those passing through it has little more to offer than the Cham Museum, unless you have friends there to take you to places that offer a local flavour. A group of local students, the Danang Kids, who provide free tours in exchange for practising their English, could help in that regard.

Day 7: this is rather rushed, but Hoi An is a small town and the main sights can be seen in 1 day. Two days would be better, and many visitors to Vietnam stay much longer in order to relax after extensive sightseeing in other parts of the country.

Day 8: this sounds interesting, but what about the rest of the day? More free time in Danang?

Days 9-10: although it's a longish drive to Hue this part of the itinerary is about right for a short holiday in Vietnam.

Having a lecturer with you would be a decided plus, but on the whole I would eschew this tour in favour of something more tailor-made to your requirements and interests. With or without the help of a local agent the latter would probably be much, much cheaper too.

Keep us posted on your thoughts!

Waterloo, Canada
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256 posts
42 reviews
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2. Re: Looking for feedback on a potential itinerary

Thanks so much for your feedback! I will definitely keep that all in mind. It's especially helpful to hear about travel times, etc., because the detailed itinerary does not feature those (I'm sure closer to the travel date they would give us more details, but right now it's just a sketch of each day). That definitely gives a better sense of just how rushed we would be in certain places.

We're still open to the idea of traveling on our own or with a different tour company (I'm hearing lots of great things about Intrepid, and have also had a recommendation for Audley Travel). We're normally pretty independent, but this will be our first time in Asia and we thought for a first experience it might be less stressful to have someone helping us along. Perhaps I'll look for something a bit more personalized where we can have some group experiences and some solo travel, too.

I'm looking forward to getting my hands on the travel books I have on hold from the library so I can learn more about travel in Vietnam!

3. Re: Looking for feedback on a potential itinerary

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