Go Back > > >
Reply
Thread Tools Search this Thread
Old Nov 8, 17, 7:09 pm #1
Original Poster

Join Date: Sep 2002
Location: LAX
Programs: AA PLT / 2MM
Posts: 1,510
Advice On 15 Day Trip To Taiwan, Vietnam & Laos?

Hi, we're holding USA-Asia-USA award seats, arriving Dec 12 and departing Dec 27. We're trying to see if this itinerary makes sense and to get some help with the details.

***
Day 1 (Dec 12): Arrive in Taipei from USA at 11:00am, relax / see Taipei, O/N Taipei

Day 2 (Dec 13): Taipei Day 1, O/N Taipei

Day 3 (Dec 14): Taipei Day 2, TPE-HAN 7:10PM-9:20PM (VietJet), O/N Hanoi

Day 4 (Dec 15): Hanoi Day 1 (Ha Long Bay day trip?), O/N Hanoi

Day 5 (Dec 16): Hanoi Day 2, HAN-LPQ 6:50PM-7:50PM (Lao Air), O/N LP

Day 6 (Dec 17): LP Day 1, O/N LP

Day 7 (Dec 18): LP Day 2, LPQ-VTE 6:45PM-7:30PM (Lao Air), O/N Vientiane

Day 8 (Dec 19): Vientiane Day 1, O/N Vientiane

Day 9 (Dec 20): VTE-PNH-SGN 11:35AM-3:00PM (Vietnam Air), O/N Saigon

Day 10 (Dec 21): Saigon Day 1, O/N Saigon

Day 11 (Dec 22): Saigon Day 2, O/N Saigon

Day 12 (Dec 23): ???

Day 13 (Dec 24): ???

Day 14 (Dec 25): ???

Day 15 (Dec 26): ???

Day 16: Depart Saigon at 6:00AM

***
Some questions / remarks:

1) About us: We're a young couple. I've seen a bit of SE Asia (Thailand, Cambodia, Burma), but wife has never been. We thought focusing on Vietnam and Laos made sense for this trip.

2) We thought flying LAX-HKG-TPE for a stopover in Taipei would be nice since flights from TPE to HAN are cheap. We're not sure if we have too much time in Taipei, or not enough time. It doesn't seem like there's too much to do.

3) AA/Oneworld award space on the return around Xmas time is scarce, so we have no option but to end the trip in SGN. Hence, the double entry into Vietnam and the Hanoi-LP-Vientiane-Saigon routing.

4) We have FOUR extra days to add into this itinerary. We'd appreciate some ideas on how best to use them. Central Vietnam definitely seems out because of the weather. Sapa seems possible but questionable because of the weather. From what I've read, people don't seem to like spending too much time in Hanoi, and think LP is a giant tourist trap, so we're leaning towards not lingering there too much.

5) We're really interested in getting off the beaten path and getting away from the tourist hoards (to the extent that can be done on a 2 week trip) and seeing the "real" SE Asia. Seeing the ethnic tribes in Burma near the Golden Triangle was amazing, authentic and untouristed. Can this type of experience with the people be had in Vietnam and Laos on a short trip like this? We want to avoid the type of things that appear "cultural" but are overrun with tourists and commercialized, pre-fabbed generic group tours, etc.

6) Our primary interests are history, culture, nature/animals/scenery, and food. Not looking to do beaches.

7) We don't like to rush, but we can pack a lot of stuff in a day of sightseeing. Also, we want to avoid temple fatigue and don't need to stick around and see, say, every temple in LP.

***

Thanks so much for your help. We really appreciate it.
LAX_Esq is offline Reply With Quote
Old Nov 8, 17, 9:14 pm #2

Join Date: Apr 2008
Location: Hanoi, Vietnam
Programs: Asiana, Singapore, EVA, Southwest
Posts: 840
Cancel the day trip to Halong Bay as well as the Vientiane stop, PLEASE! That day trip to HB means 8 hours on the road, and Hanoi is just too interesting to be leaving Hanoi so soon. Luang Prabang is just too interesting and beautiful to be leaving for Vientiane (rather plain and boring). I am not a fan of Lao Air (Vietnam Air far superior in my opinion).

You say you don't want to rush, but this itinerary is nothing but one BIG RUSH!
Daawgon is offline Reply With Quote
Old Nov 8, 17, 9:51 pm #3
Original Poster

Join Date: Sep 2002
Location: LAX
Programs: AA PLT / 2MM
Posts: 1,510
Quote:
Originally Posted by Daawgon View Post
Cancel the day trip to Halong Bay as well as the Vientiane stop, PLEASE! That day trip to HB means 8 hours on the road, and Hanoi is just too interesting to be leaving Hanoi so soon. Luang Prabang is just too interesting and beautiful to be leaving for Vientiane (rather plain and boring). I am not a fan of Lao Air (Vietnam Air far superior in my opinion).
I'm thinking we could hire a private driver to Ha Long Bay to make the road trip more tolerable than a bus that picks up a bunch of different people. Would that help? Ha Long Bay seems overly touristed and polluted, so I'm not even sold on going.

As mentioned, I've read a lot of people who say they don't enjoy Hanoi -- what sort of interesting things do you recommend beyond a day of sightseeing?

Also, what I've read about LP being full of tourists and no locals turns me off name makes me not want to spend too much time there. Do you disagree?

Quote:
You say you don't want to rush, but this itinerary is nothing but one BIG RUSH!
Well we've got 4 extra days to pad into this itinerary...
LAX_Esq is offline Reply With Quote
Old Yesterday, 12:25 am #4

Join Date: Nov 2017
Location: LAX/BUR/LGB; SGN
Posts: 1
Lived in SGN for most of 2 years. Personal opinions below...

- Ha Long Bay: either do an overnight or don't do it at all. I've been twice and agree with your comment that it is touristy and polluted.
- I'd use the rest of the buffer for Taipei/Taiwan. Though this is mostly influenced by the fact I already get the "real" SEA experience you desire from living in VN.
- 2 days is plenty for each of SGN/HAN/LPQ/VTE (1.5 days, ideally), unless you want to squeeze Ha Long Bay into those 2 Hanoi days.
- Sapa: tons of my friends have suggested Ha Giang over Sapa. The locals in Sapa can get a bit aggressive trying to sell you stuff. If you are the adventurous type and can motorbike, motorbike Ha Giang (over Sapa). Sapa is cool but if you have hiked any other rice terraces before, it is not substantially different.
Abul is offline Reply With Quote
Old Yesterday, 2:28 am #5

Join Date: Apr 2016
Location: Ben Tre Province
Posts: 16
It looks too rushed in Hanoi. After HCMC, you should do 1 or 2 nights in Mekong Delta and then head to Phu Quoc island from Can Tho airport. Phu Quoc fly to HCMC.
dinhoecotour is offline Reply With Quote
Old Yesterday, 7:17 am #6

Join Date: Jan 2006
Location: DCA/IAD
Programs: IHG, SPG, Hyatt, AS, AC, BA, AA, VS
Posts: 2,903
There are some day trips out of Hanoi that I did when I was there several years ago. So I think you could add a day or two up there.

I did HAlong Bay in 1 day on that trip. Had my own guide/driver. It was definitely a long day but doable. And this was 8 years ago or so when the roads weren't so good.

Some people love LP and others don't. Personally I like it there. It can be a very laid back place. I'd suggest adding at least a day because it's a nice place to be. Kuang Sii can take most of a day depending on how you do it (and if you want to go there...which you do). I agree that Vientiane was underwhelming (again that was a decade ago that I was there, so I don't know if there's any charm added since then - other than That Luang and I suppose the knock off Arch de Triumph plus a temple or two it wasn't the most interesting place).

I'm also a Taiwan fan so I could see adding a day or two there as well. Taipei is a nice city with plenty to keep you busy for a couple of days. And there are other places around the island worth doing.

If you're really interested in seeing cultural minority groups you could consider eastern Cambodia. I am in Rattanakiri right now. Several ethnic villages in this area you could visit. But it's a lot of driving and some roads that aren't in great shape.
glennaa11 is offline Reply With Quote
Old Yesterday, 7:19 am #7

Join Date: Oct 2010
Location: EWR, SLC, SGN
Posts: 946
+2 Taiwan
+2 Hanoi (including an overnight at Ha Long)
+1 LPQ
-2 VTE
+any remainder in the delta

I would add another day or two in Taiwan. There are tons of great food options and you can get some less touristy places just with taking a train or subway or bus a bit out of town. Some very interesting culture. Taroko Gorge is beautiful too for nature.

There are a lot of tourists in Ha Long, but it's because it is pretty awesome. I'd definitely recommend an overnight trip there. Are there a lot of people? Yes, but less in the winter and it's really enjoyable if you get a medium to high end boat. Day trips are not great at all, even if you have a private driver.

Hanoi is ok, I don't like it as much as some on this board, but I think one more day there would be good. Plenty of museums, history, food and such without all being temples. Just enjoying the time around the lake and the people in the evening is pretty nice.

I am sure LPQ is worse than it used to be. But Vientianne even 15 years ago when I was there had nothing. I would add another day at LPQ and cancel the capital.

In Saigon it's mostly food. Two days is about enough for the city itself, with many people adding a day or two in the delta or cuchi or over to the coast.

If you're looking for culture, you can do it two ways easily. One is to just get out into the small towns. You can hire a driver if you wish, or just go on the bus or train. But there are plenty of small towns, hiking trails, caves, etc outside of either city north and south that you can explore. Many of the small hotels are great and the owners will give you tips on where to go and rent you a bike (or motorbike, but be aware you're illegal even with int'l dl, and u will be liable for any accident your in, even if it's not your fault. I recommend not riding motorbikes here) or hire you a driver and tell him where to go. Second is homestays. There are some higher end ones and lower end ones, and there are even some here in the poorer d4 in Saigon that I have heard of. You can really see culture of the city or the delta or the smaller towns if you do homestays. Often lonely planet has more of that type of info than this forum.
maverick17 is offline Reply With Quote
Old Yesterday, 8:27 am #8

Join Date: Nov 2006
Location: Omaha
Posts: 1,265
Do you have a multi-entry visa? You're going to Vietnam, then leaving, then going back.
CrazyInteg is offline Reply With Quote
Old Yesterday, 2:27 pm #9
Original Poster

Join Date: Sep 2002
Location: LAX
Programs: AA PLT / 2MM
Posts: 1,510
Quote:
Originally Posted by Abul View Post
Lived in SGN for most of 2 years. Personal opinions below...

- Ha Long Bay: either do an overnight or don't do it at all. I've been twice and agree with your comment that it is touristy and polluted.
- I'd use the rest of the buffer for Taipei/Taiwan. Though this is mostly influenced by the fact I already get the "real" SEA experience you desire from living in VN.
- 2 days is plenty for each of SGN/HAN/LPQ/VTE (1.5 days, ideally), unless you want to squeeze Ha Long Bay into those 2 Hanoi days.
- Sapa: tons of my friends have suggested Ha Giang over Sapa. The locals in Sapa can get a bit aggressive trying to sell you stuff. If you are the adventurous type and can motorbike, motorbike Ha Giang (over Sapa). Sapa is cool but if you have hiked any other rice terraces before, it is not substantially different.
Thanks, Abul. We're pretty adventurous but I'm afraid of the safety and liability issues with motorbiking. Can Ha Giang be done with a private driver? How long would it take to get there? How's the weather in December there?

Quote:
Originally Posted by dinhoecotour View Post
It looks too rushed in Hanoi. After HCMC, you should do 1 or 2 nights in Mekong Delta and then head to Phu Quoc island from Can Tho airport. Phu Quoc fly to HCMC.
As mentioned, we're not really interested in beaches. Why Phu Quoc?

Quote:
Originally Posted by glennaa11 View Post
There are some day trips out of Hanoi that I did when I was there several years ago. So I think you could add a day or two up there.

I did HAlong Bay in 1 day on that trip. Had my own guide/driver. It was definitely a long day but doable. And this was 8 years ago or so when the roads weren't so good.

Some people love LP and others don't. Personally I like it there. It can be a very laid back place. I'd suggest adding at least a day because it's a nice place to be. Kuang Sii can take most of a day depending on how you do it (and if you want to go there...which you do). I agree that Vientiane was underwhelming (again that was a decade ago that I was there, so I don't know if there's any charm added since then - other than That Luang and I suppose the knock off Arch de Triumph plus a temple or two it wasn't the most interesting place).

I'm also a Taiwan fan so I could see adding a day or two there as well. Taipei is a nice city with plenty to keep you busy for a couple of days. And there are other places around the island worth doing.

If you're really interested in seeing cultural minority groups you could consider eastern Cambodia. I am in Rattanakiri right now. Several ethnic villages in this area you could visit. But it's a lot of driving and some roads that aren't in great shape.
Thanks glennaa!

1) What would you recommend for filling, say, 2 days in Taipei?

2) Did you have your own boat in Halong Bay, or just your own driver to take you there?

3) Any other good things to do outside of LP besides Kuang Sii?

Quote:
Originally Posted by maverick17 View Post
+2 Taiwan
+2 Hanoi (including an overnight at Ha Long)
+1 LPQ
-2 VTE
+any remainder in the delta

I would add another day or two in Taiwan. There are tons of great food options and you can get some less touristy places just with taking a train or subway or bus a bit out of town. Some very interesting culture. Taroko Gorge is beautiful too for nature.

There are a lot of tourists in Ha Long, but it's because it is pretty awesome. I'd definitely recommend an overnight trip there. Are there a lot of people? Yes, but less in the winter and it's really enjoyable if you get a medium to high end boat. Day trips are not great at all, even if you have a private driver.

Hanoi is ok, I don't like it as much as some on this board, but I think one more day there would be good. Plenty of museums, history, food and such without all being temples. Just enjoying the time around the lake and the people in the evening is pretty nice.

I am sure LPQ is worse than it used to be. But Vientianne even 15 years ago when I was there had nothing. I would add another day at LPQ and cancel the capital.

In Saigon it's mostly food. Two days is about enough for the city itself, with many people adding a day or two in the delta or cuchi or over to the coast.

If you're looking for culture, you can do it two ways easily. One is to just get out into the small towns. You can hire a driver if you wish, or just go on the bus or train. But there are plenty of small towns, hiking trails, caves, etc outside of either city north and south that you can explore. Many of the small hotels are great and the owners will give you tips on where to go and rent you a bike (or motorbike, but be aware you're illegal even with int'l dl, and u will be liable for any accident your in, even if it's not your fault. I recommend not riding motorbikes here) or hire you a driver and tell him where to go. Second is homestays. There are some higher end ones and lower end ones, and there are even some here in the poorer d4 in Saigon that I have heard of. You can really see culture of the city or the delta or the smaller towns if you do homestays. Often lonely planet has more of that type of info than this forum.
Thanks maverick!

1) To answer your question, to see culture, we'd prefer to use a private driver (he doesn't have to speak much English) just to save time and not deal with cramped buses. We'd probably want mid-range homestays. Private room for us, ideally with a private bathroom but a shared bathroom would be doable if that's all there is. We don't need fancy. As mentioned above, definitely no motorbikes. Does that help you suggest things?

2) Any specifics on how you'd use, say 2 days, in Taipei?

Quote:
Originally Posted by CrazyInteg View Post
Do you have a multi-entry visa? You're going to Vietnam, then leaving, then going back.
Good reading, CrazyInteg. If we end up needing 2 entries into Vietnam, can we just use the official gov't site to obtain two different single-entry visas for $25 x 2 = $50? Do we need a 1 month multiple entry visa?
LAX_Esq is offline Reply With Quote
Old Yesterday, 2:30 pm #10

Join Date: May 2012
Location: Sydney Australia
Programs: No programs & No Points!!!
Posts: 8,689
Quote:
Originally Posted by LAX_Esq View Post
I'm thinking we could hire a private driver to Ha Long Bay to make the road trip more tolerable than a bus that picks up a bunch of different people. Would that help? Ha Long Bay seems overly touristed and polluted, so I'm not even sold on going.

As mentioned, I've read a lot of people who say they don't enjoy Hanoi -- what sort of interesting things do you recommend beyond a day of sightseeing?

Also, what I've read about LP being full of tourists and no locals turns me off name makes me not want to spend too much time there. Do you disagree?



Well we've got 4 extra days to pad into this itinerary...
I love Hanoi. Our favourite Asian city we visited. So traditional and many things are unchanged with time.

Sit at Hoam Kiem lake at 5 or 6 am and watch the city awake. I love watching the locals exercise. Any form of movement is an exercise from slapping someone's back to ballroom dancing by the lake.
Annalisa12 is offline Reply With Quote
Old Yesterday, 7:26 pm #11
LPQ

Join Date: Mar 2010
Location: Cheddar
Programs: TG G 18 years
Posts: 69
I also agree with changing the time from VTE to Luangprabang. Most tourists take tours out of town in the morning so you may not pass many on the walk down the main street to the end of the peninsula. The Royal Palace may be of interest. Avert your eyes if you sense an onset of templeitis since the town has more than its fair share. Good views from coffee shop at the end. Few venture across the river. So you could share a long tailed boat across the Mekong from the landing point down from the Post Office and walk up through the village on the other side to the rice fields.
LPQ is offline Reply With Quote
Old Today, 12:09 am #12

Join Date: Apr 2008
Location: Hanoi, Vietnam
Programs: Asiana, Singapore, EVA, Southwest
Posts: 840
"As mentioned, I've read a lot of people who say they don't enjoy Hanoi -- what sort of interesting things do you recommend beyond a day of sightseeing?"

Someone from S. Calif might hate Hanoi because it's "Old Vietnam" and the infrastructure is crumbling, but if you come to Asia to see an interesting and exotic location, Hanoi is your place. Americans just want to rush to see everything - this is the wrong way to approach this city. Watch a few videos on Youtube and decide for yourself. I love Hanoi for the people - they're real and might not cater to tourists the way they do in many plastic cities.

Luang Prabang is the best of SE Asia!
Daawgon is offline Reply With Quote
Old Today, 7:13 am #13

Join Date: Jan 2006
Location: DCA/IAD
Programs: IHG, SPG, Hyatt, AS, AC, BA, AA, VS
Posts: 2,903
For Taipei - There's the National Palace Museum which has an enormous collection of old Chinese stuff moved out of the mainland during the revolution by Chiang Kai-shek. You could easily spend most of a day there.

I enjoyed the Maokong gondola ride to the various tea houses up on the mountain. It makes for a nice hike once you get up there. Easily reachable by subway.

If you like tall buildings Taipei 101 is worth doing. And also nearby is the Elephant Mountain hike...or more like stair climb. I was pretty jelly-legged on the way back down. It's a good workout with great views over the city, especially at night time. Go up around sunset is a good time.

I'm not really into the whole food thing, so some one else will have to make recommendations on that front.

There's also a history museum called the National Museum of History which is more focused on the history of the island rather than the mainland like the Palace Museum. I enjoyed my visit there and it's right next door to the botanic garden if you like those.

I also took the MRT out to Tamsui once and like it there too. There's an old temple and a fort and shops along the waterfront.

I think that's scratching the surface there fairly well.

In Halong Bay I did have my own boat. We went to one of the caves to wander around inside and then just cruised around for a couple of hours while having lunch.

And for LP, I suppose the other thing most people do it take a boat up the Mekong to the Buddha cave. On my visit my guide brought along a pack of candles and lit the main Buddha image part up by candle light. It made for some fantastic photos.
glennaa11 is offline Reply With Quote
Old Today, 3:06 pm #14

Join Date: Apr 2002
Location: NYC
Posts: 6,883
Maybe consider HAN-LPQ-REP-PNH-SGN? With some more time in each.

Skip Halong Bay - you will be herded with everyone else from neon lit cave to the next attraction.

If the weather is good you could hit the beaches in Cambodia or Vietnam.

Getting from REP to SGN should be easy and typically very cheap so you have flexibility to change plans on the last legs.
erik123 is offline Reply With Quote
Reply


Bookmarks

Thread Tools Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are On
Refbacks are Off

Forum Jump
- FlyerTalk - Archive - Top