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Thread: South Vietnam

  1. #1

    Default South Vietnam

    Hi! I'll be exploring the south of vietnam for 18 days.

    The itineray is roughly as follows

    Ho Chi Minh >
    Mekong Delta
    Mui Ne
    Dalat
    Nha Trang
    Danang (from which we'll see My Son and Hoi An)
    Hue (and see the DMZ)
    head back to HCMC

    It would be my first backpacking trip so i'll need all the advice i can get. My main concern is the transportation inbetween cities. Should i take those Open tour buses or the public buses.

    Thanks! (:
    Nikon!
    flickr

  2. #2

    Default Re: South Vietnam

    Hi littlejt,

    Would suggest that you take those sleeper bus from backpacking agency. Take those overnight bus so that ya can save on the accom. It tend to be cheaper, faster and more comfortable than train. Vietnam is an awesome country. Went on a 40days backpacking in Vietnam last year and it still not enuff!

  3. #3

    Default Re: South Vietnam

    Any difficulty for those travellg backpack ?
    food, hotel etc?

  4. #4

    Default Re: South Vietnam

    Quote Originally Posted by indycyber View Post
    Any difficulty for those travellg backpack ?
    food, hotel etc?
    From my observation, a lot backpacker in HCMC. For food, definitely not a problem in HCMC. But some could be slightly expensive. Pho24, one of the chain there, is ok. About 33000 VND, if not wrong, per bowl of chicken pho.

    For Hanoi, the food stall beside the streets could seems dirty, avoid if you don't like.

  5. #5

    Default Re: South Vietnam

    i just got back from the trip.

    typically i went budget for the whole trip.

    Generally, for Asians, Vietnam is quite safe. You don't really have to be paranoid and keep your bag infront of you and buckle everything with locks and stuff. (which i saw quite a few singaporeans doing. i even saw a girl tucking her purse in her cleavage)

    Accomodation wise, sticking to the ones mentioned in lonely planet or other guide books will do fine even for the budget range. You can get fake (photocopied) lonely planet vietnam in HCMC or those small bookshops in the cities. Accomodation can be found easily near or in the Backpackers district. Prices are quite cheap and affordable. I actually spent half of what i expected to pay for hotels around. Most of the hotel owners speak proper english and language will not be a barrier. Staff there are really friendly. For those looking to go budget, just be prepared that the rooms are just basic, beds (tho some are not comfortable), attached toilet with heater, tv.

    As for the food, I'll say after eating street side pho for a few weeks, fast food chain Pho aren't as nice. and its slightly more expansive. Expect to pay 15k to 30k for Pho Bo. Eat at coffeeshop places or clean street side stalls. Coffee there is excellent (I'm not really a coffee person but i drank coffee there everyday). goes abt 10k to 12k vnd a cup? the locals pronounce it as "ca fei swa dar". Try their vietnamese tea too! its quite refreshing for a hot day. it goes by the name of "tra da" say 2k to 6k vnd?
    Food here is generally slightly cheaper than singapore. Western food is much cheaper in the restaraunts here compared to sg. But don't expect much because most of the western food i tried are quite disappointing.

    Bottled water is widely available. Reputed brands are La Vie (nestle) and Aquafin (pepsi)

    Alcohol on the other hand is ard the same price as a can of soft drink. Note: The beers are much lighter here. Tiger is sooo much lighter than the ones in Singapore. I ended up drinking Heine most of the time. Try local beers like 333 (ba ba ba), Biere Larue, Hue Beer, Hanoi Beer and Halida beer. The others just taste like water. Their cocktails goes for abt ~60k vnd. But they aren't really nice.

    Transport wise, try to stick with the reputed travel agencies. Try Mailinh and pueong trung (sorry i forgot how to spell but they're recognisable by their big orange buses) for trips between cities. Sinh Cafe also offers such services at an afordable price. Also, the you can get your train tickets easily at the train stations. Just write down the start and end destinations and what kind of seats/sleeper you want. They speak english. For travelling within the city, you can always hail a cab. trust the Mailinh and Vinasan Taxis (its quite easy to spot because they're all around). Its pretty cheap with a flag down rate of 9-12k and 10k increase for every km. Do not try others because they tend to cheat you with rigged meters or taking a longer route. Also some of them have logos that look similar to Mailinh.

    As for travel agencies, there are many around if you look carefully ard the backpackers district. But i used Sinh Cafe most of the time for their ability to speak english at all the branches.

    If you need info about the specific cities and what to recc, do email me at jonathantee89@gmail.com

    hope this helps! cheers!
    Nikon!
    flickr

  6. #6

    Default Re: South Vietnam

    Quote Originally Posted by littlejt View Post
    i just got back from the trip.

    typically i went budget for the whole trip.

    Generally, for Asians, Vietnam is quite safe. You don't really have to be paranoid and keep your bag infront of you and buckle everything with locks and stuff. (which i saw quite a few singaporeans doing. i even saw a girl tucking her purse in her cleavage)

    Accomodation wise, sticking to the ones mentioned in lonely planet or other guide books will do fine even for the budget range. You can get fake (photocopied) lonely planet vietnam in HCMC or those small bookshops in the cities. Accomodation can be found easily near or in the Backpackers district. Prices are quite cheap and affordable. I actually spent half of what i expected to pay for hotels around. Most of the hotel owners speak proper english and language will not be a barrier. Staff there are really friendly. For those looking to go budget, just be prepared that the rooms are just basic, beds (tho some are not comfortable), attached toilet with heater, tv.

    As for the food, I'll say after eating street side pho for a few weeks, fast food chain Pho aren't as nice. and its slightly more expansive. Expect to pay 15k to 30k for Pho Bo. Eat at coffeeshop places or clean street side stalls. Coffee there is excellent (I'm not really a coffee person but i drank coffee there everyday). goes abt 10k to 12k vnd a cup? the locals pronounce it as "ca fei swa dar". Try their vietnamese tea too! its quite refreshing for a hot day. it goes by the name of "tra da" say 2k to 6k vnd?
    Food here is generally slightly cheaper than singapore. Western food is much cheaper in the restaraunts here compared to sg. But don't expect much because most of the western food i tried are quite disappointing.

    Bottled water is widely available. Reputed brands are La Vie (nestle) and Aquafin (pepsi)

    Alcohol on the other hand is ard the same price as a can of soft drink. Note: The beers are much lighter here. Tiger is sooo much lighter than the ones in Singapore. I ended up drinking Heine most of the time. Try local beers like 333 (ba ba ba), Biere Larue, Hue Beer, Hanoi Beer and Halida beer. The others just taste like water. Their cocktails goes for abt ~60k vnd. But they aren't really nice.

    Transport wise, try to stick with the reputed travel agencies. Try Mailinh and pueong trung (sorry i forgot how to spell but they're recognisable by their big orange buses) for trips between cities. Sinh Cafe also offers such services at an afordable price. Also, the you can get your train tickets easily at the train stations. Just write down the start and end destinations and what kind of seats/sleeper you want. They speak english. For travelling within the city, you can always hail a cab. trust the Mailinh and Vinasan Taxis (its quite easy to spot because they're all around). Its pretty cheap with a flag down rate of 9-12k and 10k increase for every km. Do not try others because they tend to cheat you with rigged meters or taking a longer route. Also some of them have logos that look similar to Mailinh.

    As for travel agencies, there are many around if you look carefully ard the backpackers district. But i used Sinh Cafe most of the time for their ability to speak english at all the branches.

    If you need info about the specific cities and what to recc, do email me at jonathantee89@gmail.com

    hope this helps! cheers!
    Good info, but miss out the name for the back packer district: Pham Ngu Lau
    Lonely planet could be borrowed from National Library in Sg
    Also, now they offer pick and mix chapter online, I would say is value for money. Some chapter as low as USD2 per chapter, if you buy 3 chapter and above.

  7. #7

    Default Re: South Vietnam

    haha. you know why. cos some fella borrowed it and brought it to vietnam. i met that guy in Hoi An. saw him carrying the lonely planet guide with the nat lib tag with him haha. anyways what is your planned itinary. i can help with places in the south.

    and yep pham ngu lao is the backpackers area. i would rather stay there than the dong khoi area. more happening. plus theres this new club called Crazy Buffalo ran by the same ppl that opened allezboo and GO2 that just opened there. opening party is actually today. the day which i left. don't expect much night life there. went to one of their most happening club (apocalyse now) and its like a 1000 x tamer than zouk. plus according to the locals, most of the girls that go there are either finding for a ang moh husband, are prostitues or yeaa.. you get what i mean.

    oh yea. you can get other books like. Lets Go Vietnam, Frommers guide to Vietnam or Rough Guides. its pretty decent. but lacks some background history and stuff compared to Lonely PLanet. you can always plan a rough itinary and go to saigon and get a fake lonely planet.
    Last edited by littlejt; 20th June 2009 at 10:49 PM.
    Nikon!
    flickr

  8. #8

    Default Re: South Vietnam

    Quote Originally Posted by littlejt View Post
    haha. you know why. cos some fella borrowed it and brought it to vietnam. i met that guy in Hoi An. saw him carrying the lonely planet guide with the nat lib tag with him haha. anyways what is your planned itinary. i can help with places in the south.

    and yep pham ngu lao is the backpackers area. i would rather stay there than the dong khoi area. more happening. plus theres this new club called Crazy Buffalo ran by the same ppl that opened allezboo and GO2 that just opened there. opening party is actually today. the day which i left. don't expect much night life there. went to one of their most happening club (apocalyse now) and its like a 1000 x tamer than zouk. plus according to the locals, most of the girls that go there are either finding for a ang moh husband, are prostitues or yeaa.. you get what i mean.

    oh yea. you can get other books like. Lets Go Vietnam, Frommers guide to Vietnam or Rough Guides. its pretty decent. but lacks some background history and stuff compared to Lonely PLanet. you can always plan a rough itinary and go to saigon and get a fake lonely planet.
    Hello!

    Perhaps this is a little OT --I'm heading to Vietnam from 25th June - 11 July North to South. Would fake LPs be available in Hanoi too?

  9. #9

    Default Re: South Vietnam

    yea i think they're all around. saw those in small bookshops in nha trang and danang too. but they were all out peddling around in saigon.

    For a 18 day trip i'll be quite pack. i suggest Hanoi > Sapa > Halong > Hue > Hoi An > Mui Ne > Dalat > Saigon
    Nikon!
    flickr

  10. #10

    Default Re: South Vietnam

    Quote Originally Posted by littlejt View Post
    yea i think they're all around. saw those in small bookshops in nha trang and danang too. but they were all out peddling around in saigon.

    For a 18 day trip i'll be quite pack. i suggest Hanoi > Sapa > Halong > Hue > Hoi An > Mui Ne > Dalat > Saigon
    I think I'll buy a copy there first thing after touching down then!

    It's actually 16 days in total, including 2 days of just flying (arriving late, leaving early in the day). That gives 14 days of travel time. I'm actually doing the route you suggested but leaving out Dalat. As it is, I'm choosing between Mui Ne and Nha Trang... Hmmm.

    Did you have trouble with peddlers? A simple search on the net turns up info on how travelers are being harassed in Vietnam --I just hope that applies to Westerners only.

  11. #11

    Default Re: South Vietnam

    alamak! i pressed some button. which made the page load back! and the long most i typed disappeared!

    Anyways i did my planning from a 2005 LP and a library borrowed 2006 Frommers and Rough Guides.
    I got my fake LP for like 90k VND but i think you can get it for 60k VND if you bargain. Got it at that price cos i was bargaining to get the China LP which was like 2.5x the thickness of the Vietnam one for another 90k VND. Got it down from like 250k.insane.

    And as for peddlers harrasing you. you'll get it too. even though you look like them, they somehow know that you're a tourist. You'll get the stares too. When walking through shops, you might get shop owners touching you or holding you bugging you to buy their goods. Also you'll get loads of cyclos and motorbikers telling you to use their services. Just politely say no or wave your hand. Also another point to add is that the locals will just push you out of their way instead of saying a simple "excuse me" its VERY annoying and it pisses the hell out of me almost every time. But its their culture so you can't do anything abt it. Shouting at them will just make all the heads in that area turn at you.

    I'll choose Mui Ne over Nha Trang anyday man. Mui Ne Beach is a small stretch of road/beach dedicated to tourists. Its a some distance away from the quiet Mui Ne Town and 20+km from the busy Phan Thiet city. It was one of the most peaceful places I went during the entire trip. You don't really get peddlers bugging you except for the occassional one asking you to rent their motorbike and the kids at the sand dunes asking you to slide down. Renting a motorbike there is also v econimical choice. you do not have to keep paying for the taxis to get you around. Mui Ne is the safest place to ride a bike because its just 1 stretch of road. Traffic is rather empty compared to the cities. just rmb. left hand drive. and no you don't need a license to ride a motorbike here. (hehe) The main attractions in Mui Ne which i liked were the Sand Dunes (you'll feel like you're in the Sahara near the beach), Fairy Stream, Fishing Village and the Kite Boarding by the beach.

    Nha Trang (pronounced Nia Trang) is over rated. The beach isn't even white and soft. Its brown, rough and grainy! Its a city by the beach and if you've been the vietnam's cities, you'll know what its like. The Islands arounds are just "like that loh" Islands in Thailand and Msia are soooo much better. Went for one of their boat tours. Brough us to some Island which boast an aquarium as an attraction. But turns out the aquarium is just a big pond. Went snorkelling at another island and all i could see were dead corals and cold water. But i think the place is good for scuba diving because of the many dive shops around. There's also this shop named Rainbow divers with a Nat Geog certification. The Po Ngar Cham toweres there weren't spectacular. because its a uber populated area with many tourists visiting that area. I'ld give Nha Trang a skip if i'm not going scuba diving.

    Btw, are you planning to go backpacking or normal travelling?
    Nikon!
    flickr

  12. #12

    Default Re: South Vietnam

    Wow, thanks so much for all the information, I really appreciate it!!!

    I think I'll try to convince my girlfriend to go to Mui Ne, though it might seem a little out of the way. I'm looking forward to its sand dunes (but I hope my camera won't be affected by it!).

    I'll be travelling normally; travelling with a female partner isn't as convenient and easy as travelling alone, I've got to consider the safety of an extra person! Right now I only have the first 5 or 6 days (Hanoi/Halong/Sapa) planned out more concretely, the rest seems to be on an ad hoc basis. I only know when and how I'm travelling to the other places.

    By the way, did you fly domestic or take the sleeper buses / trains? How's the experience?

  13. #13

    Default Re: South Vietnam

    refer to my pm. and btw the rates for changing sing to dong there is soooo much better!
    Nikon!
    flickr

  14. #14

    Default Re: South Vietnam

    Quote Originally Posted by littlejt View Post
    Generally, for Asians, Vietnam is quite safe. You don't really have to be paranoid and keep your bag infront of you and buckle everything with locks and stuff. (which i saw quite a few singaporeans doing. i even saw a girl tucking her purse in her cleavage)
    You can never be sure. I've had friends who were pick pocketed in Vietnam before, better be safe than sorry.

    Oddly enough, I've only been pick pocketed once and it was along Orchard Road!

  15. #15

    Default Re: South Vietnam

    A better way to go is to fly in to HCMC, take the Sinh Cafe buses up north to Mui Ne, Dalat, Hue, Hoi An.

    After Hoi An, take the overnight sleeper bus (around 12 hrs) to Hanoi. Alternatively fly from Danang to Hanoi - 1 hr. (Hoi An to Danang is only 20 mins by car).

    R&R in Hanoi, let the gf do some shopping, then head up to Sapa or Halong. Fly back from Hanoi-SG.


    Quote Originally Posted by idunbite View Post
    Wow, thanks so much for all the information, I really appreciate it!!!

    I think I'll try to convince my girlfriend to go to Mui Ne, though it might seem a little out of the way. I'm looking forward to its sand dunes (but I hope my camera won't be affected by it!).

    I'll be travelling normally; travelling with a female partner isn't as convenient and easy as travelling alone, I've got to consider the safety of an extra person! Right now I only have the first 5 or 6 days (Hanoi/Halong/Sapa) planned out more concretely, the rest seems to be on an ad hoc basis. I only know when and how I'm travelling to the other places.

    By the way, did you fly domestic or take the sleeper buses / trains? How's the experience?

  16. #16

    Default Re: South Vietnam

    haha yea. you can never be too sure. just take the normal precautions. but some of the books exerggerated it to the point that you're definitely going to get robbed there. thats what i'm taking references to haha.

    really. i've nv heard anyone being pickpocketed in singapore before.
    Nikon!
    flickr

  17. #17

    Default Re: South Vietnam

    Heading to hoi an, probably to one of the beaches over there. Anyway am planning to go to Mui Ne as well, any idea what will be the total costs like as well as any hotels to recommend? Thanks.

    Currently in Hue now, really quiet and nice place. A good getaway from the hustle bustle of hanoi, if planning to go there i recommend to take some candid shoot around the citadel area during evening as kids will be gathering over there to fly kite. A pretty cool sight.

  18. #18

    Default Re: South Vietnam

    yea i saw them. as i left the citadel. should have toured the citadel myself cos the guide was as good as useless.

    Do get the booklet from Sinh Cafe cos its v useful abt the tours available, open buses etc and their price. their website also contains good information.

    HUE – HOI AN

    ( 140 km, 04 hours)

    Departure: 8:00AM – Arr: 12:00PM

    Departure: 2:00 PM – Arr: 5:00 PM (direct bus)


    - Lang Co beach

    - Da Nang

    - Marble mountain


    6USD
    Ngu Hanh Son


    If by now you haven't found the Sinh office in Hue....

    * 7 Nguyen Tri Phuong Str.,

    Tel: 054823309 – 848626

    * Kios 4, 12 Hung Vuong Str.,

    Tel: 054.826867 - 845022

    another alternative if you're ready and pumped for adventure is to follow Easy Riders. Where you ride the bike to your destination with your baggage and of course with a English speaking guide to lead the way. Most Easy Riders speak pretty good english and have a portfolio of their trips they've done for other travellers and their remarks. They'll bring you to many sites along the way. prolly the laos border, highlands, waterfalls, battle sites or anywhere you want to go. but last but not least you'll get to bike through the scenic Hai Van Pass something which i did not get to do and regretted. It'll be one of the most beautiful scenes you'll see in vietnam.

    I didn't stay in Hoi An so i can't really comment on accomodation there. Also, i didn't visit the Beach at Hoi An but i wont be surprised if the place is packed with people because its a main tourist spot. I stayed at Hoa's Place along the Non Nuoc Stretch of China Beach which is relatively empty compared the the busy stretches like My Khe. Really had chill out time there.

    Btw did you do a DMZ tour?
    Nikon!
    flickr

  19. #19

    Default Re: South Vietnam

    hey bro i am the one who sent u the mail, pardon me for the double enquiries.
    i am heading to hoi an and then back to hue as i prebooked my ticket to HCM, no choice

    Will be spending another 1 day in Hue after i come back so probably i will be trying the DMZ or some other tours u mentioned. Visiting the central highland and stuff i guess ought to b amazing.

    Currently i am accompanied by a few backpackkers along the way, so can be kind of restrictive here and there; the company is fun though, though i will be heading to Mui Ne by hook or crook to get away from the hustle and bustle of HCM.. I already cant stand hanoi and i supposed HCM could be much worse

  20. #20

    Default Re: South Vietnam

    I myself have backpacked in Vietnam before... Hanoi, Halong bay, Sapa.. Planning to go back there again..

    Bring an iPhone or an iTouch there, it helps like crazy.. the internet there is easily accessable in the town areas..
    Last edited by reanimator; 10th July 2009 at 02:29 AM.
    "From the Heart, Through the Lens"

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