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General advice/recommendations for a group of first timers

Hobart, Australia
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General advice/recommendations for a group of first timers

G'day everyone,

In September I'll be flying into Ho Chi Minh with a group of 4 friends. None of us have been to Vietnam or any Asian country before, most of us have only traveled to New Zealand with 1 of us having been to Europe and the US as well.

Our itinerary is looking to be something like the following over 2 weeks: Ho Chi Minh > Nha Trang > Dalat > Ho Chi Minh > Phu Quoc > Ho Chi Minh > Home

The above isn't final and is definitely open to being modified and re-ordered, so far we've only booked a couple of nights in Ho Chi Minh right after we arrive.

I've spoken with an array of work colleagues that have been to Vietnam and done quite a bit of reading around this website, other travel/blog websites and have purchased the latest edition of the Lonely Planet Vietnam guide book.

After all of this I have a few general questions and some concerns regarding some conflicting information.

1) I've had a few people recommend checking out Mui Ne and others advising the total opposite citing that there's nothing to do and it's boring.

2)Reading around Trip Advisor and pages such as http://www.seat61.com/Vietnam.htm I've come to the conclusion that a train from Ho Chi Minh to Nha Trang could be a cool experience. Touching on that subject with 1 colleague she mentioned that while she was in Vietnam she was advised not to travel by train due to apparent crime.

3)If travelling from say Dalat back to Ho Chi Minh what would be the best method of transport?

4)How much and what should we have organised in advance? Examples being plane/train tickets, accommodation, tours and the like?

5)Any recommendations for things that are worth checking out and fit with our itinerary would be greatly appreciated!


Hanoi, Vietnam
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1. Re: General advice/recommendations for a group of first timers

HCMC-Nha Trang on the train - you have 2 options: the regular state train or the deluxe Golden Train for tourists (deluxe in Vietnam is nothing like in the West)

Warners Bay...
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2. Re: General advice/recommendations for a group of first timers

I would book your accommodation in advance where possible as you are only there for 2 weeks, saves any mishaps etc. Train travel IMO is safe, but be prepared the standard is not of Australian standards in any way shape or form. It is a fun way to travel, I suggest you travel overnight and book soft sleeper cabin which hold 4 people, bring your own toilet paper, water, food as the food on the trains, well not very appertizing to say the least, train travel is a good way to interact with the Vietnamese people as well. I always recommend people to look at doing an XO Tour around HCMC, it is the best fun, will more than likely be the highlight of your time in Vietnam http://xotours.vn/ if you choose to fly, which is cheap btw, I would book that in advance as well.

Cheers Sylvia

Ben Tre, Vietnam
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3. Re: General advice/recommendations for a group of first timers


I would suggest you the itinerary as below:

Fly into Saigon ,

Stay in Sai gon 2 nights ,that is enough

Take overnight train to Nhatrang( the train journey is ok food on the train is not as good as food in the restaurant,you can bring some snacks with you just in case you don't like food there.It arriive in Nhatrang early in the morning around 6 am ,you have to book the hotel for early check in other wise you have to hang around till 2pm the normal check in time,find the hotel on Tran Phu Street so you can have a swim in the sea whenever you like to.you can do a city tour Nhatrang,and also do a boat trip to some island for a swim,or do a scuba diving if you interested.

Fly to Danang then drive to Hoi An stay at the hotel in Hoian ,spend more time in Hoian as it is very nice old town,

Hue is also very nice historical city to visit,it is about 3&half hours drive from Hoian,you can stay overnight in Hue or come back to Hoian .

Drive to Danang and fly to Dalat if you want to visit this place,or fly to Phu Qouc island from Danang,Phu Quoc is a nice place to relax.

Fly to Cantho from Phuquoc .should see the largest floating market CAI RANG in the Mekong Delta.

Drive to Saigon stop over at Vinh Long Cai Be or Bentre for one night

Back to Saigon to stay one more night or go straigh to Saigon airport to fly home.

Good Luck,

Mango Home Riverside

Melbourne, Australia
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4. Re: General advice/recommendations for a group of first timers

Having just done the Golden Train HCMC to Nha Trang I can tell you it is not a cool experience. It is just ok. It is not horrendous by any means but it is certainly not an adventure as really all you do is board the train..go to your cabin and spend the night trying to sleep.

on our trip the water was turned completely off around midnight which meant no flushing toilet and no washing hands.

that wasn't the type if adventure i was hoping for ;-)

Edited: 24 July 2014, 04:03
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5. Re: General advice/recommendations for a group of first timers


By the sounds of it you seem to slip into the middle age travelers category. Ages would help by the way!! If so, forget Nha trang IMO and fly directly to Hoi an. Spend some quality time there then fly to Dalat. From Dalat fly back to HCMC and head directly to Phu quoc. Short haul train trips I love but the longer hauls can be a punish. BTW, I have not heard anything about crime on the trains that you suggest.....

Happy planning


Perth, Australia
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6. Re: General advice/recommendations for a group of first timers

I have always booked internal flights when I get there. The travel agencies are only a few dollars dearer than on line.

With accomadation ,I usually book something for my arrival and if its good Ill stay,if not ,Ill move out and find something else.

IMO you would be better off starting in the south and exiting the country in the north,or vice versa.

Trains in Vietnam are over rated.

I doubt crime on the train is worse than anywhere else,but you never leave anything unattended.

Its usually women who are targeted for their handbags. Either from thieves who snatch them and escape on a motorbike, or pick pocket types who go through your handbag while your distracted at an ATM or even when you are sitting on a bus.

I would recommend bags that cross over to the other shoulder to make them harder to snatch and bags with a zip across the top,not the open shopper type.

There is videos on youtube showing Vietnamese handbag snatchers and pick pockets at work.

7. Re: General advice/recommendations for a group of first timers

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