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Mai chau or Ninh Binh? itinerary close Hanoi 3 kids

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Mai chau or Ninh Binh? itinerary close Hanoi 3 kids

Traveling with a 2 1/2 yr old in tow and keen not to do too many long trips, and we have a 12 and 14 yr old also. In Vietnam for 3 weeks, fly into Hanoi, out of Da Nang. Keen to do a few days out of Hanoi, Mai Chau or Ninh Binh?

We will do Halong Bay. Appreciate any suggestions, thanks

leicester
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1. Re: Mai chau or Ninh Binh? itinerary close Hanoi 3 kids

Ninh Binh is a couple of hours from Hanoi by train and most of the sights are in the surrounding countryside not the town itself. Not sure a two year old would benefit from being in a car visiting the sites all day. Mai Chau you may find better as you can wander from your accommodation into the local area rather than in NB where you would need to get transport. In NB area there are some beautiful sights but not sure i would want to do them with a toddler as it was tiring and involved a lot of walking, climbing, boating etc. Depends on what you like to do and whether you are comfortable doing these things with a small child.

A suggestion would be to get the train from Hanoi down to Dong Hoi and spend a few days at the farmstay in Phong Nha. It is a night sleeper train which would be part of your adventure and although you are travelling all night you are in a private cabin and it can be great fun if you have a good sense of humour. The place itself at Phong Nha has a small pool, and the owners have a toddler son who is always running around the place. From here you can do trips to the Paradise Caves and the local area is great to stroll around or take a bike. This would also be suitable for the older kids as its quite lively and full of a real variety of people. There are loads of interesting things just going on outside the door. From here you can get either a bus or car down to Hue as you make your way down to Danang. The day trip was a great day out with lots of interesting info about the war etc and felt like a real adventure but safe.

Recommend doing a two night trip on Halong to allow your older children to take advantage of the activities ie kayaking, swimming, visiting a fishing village by boat....and the Vietnamese love children.

Edited: 18 March 2013, 18:35
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2. Re: Mai chau or Ninh Binh? itinerary close Hanoi 3 kids

Excellent - thank you - the farmstay looks great. A few people saying their trips are expensive and the staff a bit disrespectful to Vietnamese locals, how did you find these things?

Hanoi, Vietnam
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3. Re: Mai chau or Ninh Binh? itinerary close Hanoi 3 kids

Dear happytravelsnz,

Your plan in Vietnam seems to cover many interesting must-see highlights. :) Ninh binh or Mai Chau depends on what you want to see, they are both days trip near Hanoi but have some difference.

Ninh binh is a typical countryside destination near Hanoi with peaceful and serene beauty. The advantage is here you have nice hotels, including the Emeranda Ninh Binh, which is very suitable for family stay. tripadvisor.com/Hotel_Review-g303945-d224364…

NB has beautiful landscape of the endless rice fields bordered by the Limbstone Mountains. If you want to access the local life, you can visit typical local house and enjoy a special local lunch prepared by the host family. Enjoy some relaxation, get on your bike and cycling along the dike. The biking is very relaxing, but I'm afraid it's hard for you to take care your baby. But your teenagers will enjoy.

Maichau trip is totally local culture trip. There is peaceful mountainous landscape as well. You will stay at local lodges or stilt houses of ethnic people. It would be a special experience. Although the local house is very comfortable and convenient, you still have to consider if anything you further need for your baby.

Thu Huyen

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4. Re: Mai chau or Ninh Binh? itinerary close Hanoi 3 kids

Yes thank you. Would you recommend Sapa?

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5. Re: Mai chau or Ninh Binh? itinerary close Hanoi 3 kids

Hi again, - would you go to Sapa as part of the trip?

Hanoi, Vietnam
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6. Re: Mai chau or Ninh Binh? itinerary close Hanoi 3 kids

Sapa is a litle further from Hanoi than Ninh Binh and Mai Chau, so it takes you at least 3 or 4 days in totally for both visiting and transfer from Hanoi. But if you have enough time, Sapa tour is possible. In order to save time, people usually transfer to Sapa via a sleeping train from Hanoi to Lao Cai and car from Lao Cai to Sapa.

So you can spend 2 nights on the train (from and back Hanoi) , 1 or 2 nights at Sapa Hotel and the whole day for sight seeing. .

However, as you travel with children, you should concern about the weather. Sapa is just at the nice weather from March to Oct or Nov. December to Feb is very cold.

Also, the best activity you should enjoy in Sapa is trekking, hiking or walking depending on your interest, which seems hard with your small baby. If so, you can relax and enjoy the mountainous atmosphere at your hotel and explore the town of Sapa. :)

Have fun,

Thu Huyen

leicester
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7. Re: Mai chau or Ninh Binh? itinerary close Hanoi 3 kids

On our visit to Phong Nha, I didn't find either to be true. They employ local people and they all seemed to be having a ball. The owner is an Aussie who was very good humoured so perhaps this was mistaken for rudeness as he had a lot of banter with people. The people in VN can be quite abrupt themselves, I got grabbed there by a local farming lady who appeared to wish to check if my ample bosom was real!!

In terms of expensive I can only think that people are comparing this to cheap back packer places which it isn't. A dollar for a beer and less than five dollars for dinner isn't expensive to me. The rooms were 35$ a night per room and they were nice but again by VN standards maybe a little more but they have no competition right now so they can be realistic and charge what they are worth rather than what they are able to get.The whole day trip out to Paradise Cave including entrance, food, transport and some great local knowledge cost just under 50 $ which by VN standards seems a lot but it was worth every penny to us. Plus we did things we would never have one if we hadn't gone there. Our trip in total there wasn't cheap, but it was great value and still no comparison to home price wise.

Sapa is also great for the family, but you will have to take two night trains to do that as you will need to go back to Hanoi. Lots of interesting things to see there and very I the resting people.

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8. Re: Mai chau or Ninh Binh? itinerary close Hanoi 3 kids

Thank you again for another very informative reply. I think we will have to wait till toddler older to do Sapa - three night trains in 3 weeks and 2 long flights might be pushing it!

Good to get reassurance about the farmstay - We might do both, Mai Chau and the farm stay i think. Thanks again BTW how much was your trip from farmstay to Hue or Hoi An? Did you take a driver? Or am i getting you mixed up with someone else?

leicester
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9. Re: Mai chau or Ninh Binh? itinerary close Hanoi 3 kids

We didn't go on to Hue as we were heading from Dong Hoi up to Ninh Binh but I believe there are a couple of options. One would be to get the bus which I'm sure leaves from near the farmstay down to Hue and takes about 4 hours. Another option was to arrange a car privately, if you email the farmstay that may be able to advise. Or go back to Dong Hoi and take the train to Hue. we arranged for the farmstay to arrange a car to pick us up from the station in DH to take us to the farmstay and although a few reviews said this was expensive we didn't think so as it was about $36 for four of us in a car. If you wanted to go straight to Hoi An then I'm not sure of the best way to do that but again, Ben or Bich were really helpful in advising the best way to get from A to B. if you post the question on here I'm sure one of the expert contributors will know. If you look at the website www.seat61.com you can see what trains go where and the cost of tickets. We booked our tickets before we left the UK via a tour company recommended by the farm and they were delivered to our hotel in Hanoi. As you will need a specific cabin for your trip, ie a soft sleeper 4 or 6 berth, you may want to book in advance to ensure you get what you want. The farm has a minimum 3 night policy i think, but this is a good length of time so that you can relax a bit and not over do the travelling. Happy to help if I can with any other questions, just planning our 4th visit.

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10. Re: Mai chau or Ninh Binh? itinerary close Hanoi 3 kids

Thank you. Great stuff