• Last Post 03 May 2017
KRG posted this 28 February 2017

That looks absolutely unbelievable! 

Sadly, it's probably a bit much for K-R-Knackered-Knees. lou_sad

Dubai_Phil posted this 28 February 2017

The other thing you must do is the drive from Danang to Hue over Monkey pass.

Clarkson did it on a bike. 

You must also take overnight train to Sapa weed grows free in public parks but don't take my word for it type Sapa Vietnam into Google images 

Dubai_Phil posted this 01 March 2017

OK a keyboard at last.

Vietnam is still a Communist Nation so some stuff is quirky. But simply go with the flow.

1) Book Flights and Hotels Independently or are the staple - they are International not just Brit in their views.

Getting there and back is easy now, most people start in the south and flow up country. Internal Flights are cheap as chips, they have Jetstar - meh, Vietnam Airlines - excellent and you can book Business Class for a few dollars more but take luggage easily. Don't be a Primark Brit though, there are a number of Cheap Airlines - a lot of their flights never seem to take off... and they have awful reviews.

Trains have NO services - you book a Cabin you will have a wash place and toilets. You do NOT want to eat anything they serve on the train (Gloop) so you MUST take your own food & Drink - and THAT is not easy as 7/11 Supermarkets are quite Rare outside the big cities. I mentioned book all four bunks in a 4 bed carriage - met an Aussie Back packing couple who spent 16 hours with 6 kids and a bunch of goats. They admitted they had massively fucked up to save $40.

Saigon is arrival then Chui Chi Tunnels. You will be taken to the museums - Presidential Palace Time Warp, The Photo Musuem you should get around 2.5 floors (Women may only make 1.5) - it is HARROWING but you really understand the Nation so do it.

The Tourist Market is great for Coffee and Hats but unless you are @secondratedeveloper NOTHING will fit you (In fact I only ever found 1 Tee Shirt and thatwas at Hue Market

Buy Backpacks, Fake Handbags/Purses and Coffee If they say 1000 do not fall into the tourist trap of saying 500 you say 250 then settle around a 60% discount

Saigon has "workshops" or "Charities" that provide employment for "victims of Agent Orange" yes it is exploitative BUT they make these pictures from Duck Egg Shells that are simply stunning also see Top Gear Hammond's Ship present

Day 2 Mekong Delta - a 4 hour drive to see well not much but you spend an interesting day on the river hopping into little huts seeing stuff being done. I thought it was too tame for my lad (30) - he loved it. We checked out our hotel - did the tour - went to the airport and then flew to Danang.

( A lot of people go to Nha Trang for the Cham Statues and Temples and Beaches - its on my next trip wish list)

Danang has become a 5 Star Beach Resort & Golf Course hell in last 10 years

BUT Hoi An is down the road - some nicer Beach Hotels near it older style so cheaper but limited to Pizza type food - the beach is one of the greatest in the world. But Vietnam is NOT for laying around. Hoi An is a museum city so pay to get in a mix of Chinese Japanese Dutch & Provence architecture around a canal. Mooch around the shops each French or Vietnamese fine dining but make sure you stay for dinner when the place will burn every Gb of Photo storage you have (Google Images)

Then you drive from Hoi An to Hue it is STUNNING. There is a CHam Museum in Danang and some stuff for tourists to do but you need to be moving.

Hue is about the Perfume River Boat Trip, Sports Bars in the Old Town and The Citadel - Google War - Ancient Capital - China etc and also the Tombs outside the City - lot of walking but STUNNING.

Enjoy a scenic boat trip on the Perfume River to Thien Mu Pagoda, one of the oldest ancient architectural structures for religious worship in Hue. Visit the Hue Citadel. The Hue Citadel is situated on the Northern bank of the Perfume River and built by Emperor Gia Long it was designed for the exclusive use of the Emperor and his household. The Citadel is a square 2 km wall encompassing 3 walled enclosures; the Citadel, Kinh Thanh Hue, the Yellow Imperial city, Hoang Thanh and in the centre the Forbidden Purple city Tu Cam Thanh where the Emperor lived. The Hue royal complex has been officially recognized by the UNESCO as a World Heritage Site. Continue your tour with a visit to Tu Duc and Khai Dinh Royal Tombs, considered to be two of the three most beautiful mausoleums around Hue. Construction of the tombs was meticulous carried out starting whilst the king was still alive in order to ensure his comfort in the next life. Most of the tombs have courtyards, a temple for worship, statues of elephants and figures and a pond, but the layout of each is different reflecting differing each king’s personality and style.

Needs 2 nights here.

Then you have a choice you can fly from Hue to hanoi or Halong but we turned inland to the Caves & DMZ ending up in Dong Hoi at a beach resort for the night. Luckily I was bright enough to take supermarket cool bags with us so we could steal rolls and cakes from the hotel breakfast bar and mini bar so we had food that night after the tours and went on the train

During the second Indochina War (Vietnam American War), the Ben Hai River at the 17th parallel was the demarcation line between Northern and Southern Vietnam. This created a Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) of five kilometres north and south from the river. However, the Southern area of the DMZ was one of the bloodiest battlefields during the war. The tour to the DMZ will take you to some of the war sites, including the Ben Hai River, Hien Luong Bridge, Vinh Moc Tunnels, Khe Sanh military base and Dong Ha Town. Enjoy a picnic lunch at a simple restaurant in Vinh Moc or Dong Que. On the way back to Dong Hoi, stop at the Ancient Citadel of Quang Tri which was built in 1824, during the 4th year of the reign of Minh Mang. The citadel is approximately 60 km north of Hue. Stop over at Lavang church – the Hollyland.

Drive up north to Phong Nha – Ke Bang National Park and take a boat trip on the Son River from a critical point of the legendary Ho Chi Minh Trail to the Phong Nha Cave. About 300 caves have been counted in this area so far. This proves the significance of this karsts cave system of which Phong Nha Cave, known as being among the longest and most beautiful karsts caves in the world, has been listed by UNESCO as a world natural heritage site. The boat will take you as far inside as Bi Ky chamber where you will find traces of ancient inhabitants. Back at the pier, you will have lunch at a local restaurant and then drive about 25 km to visit Thien Duong Cave (Paradise Cave), another huge and beautiful cave just opened to the public. Transfer to Dong Hoi Railway station

Hanoi You will go to the Tomb & DO go to the Presedential Palace see Ho CHi Minhs stuff. Take a Cyclo Tour around the old town & French quarter buy coffee drink local brewed Belgian Ales buy Paintings.

One thing many tours miss in Hanoi is the Museum of Ethnology - it tells the story of the many peoples of Vietnam, and IF you are going to Sapa expalins the Hill tribes Hmong. If you aren't going to Sapa you will wish you were. A good  hours needed there

Go to Halong Bay (Google) book a GOOD BOAT not the cheapest and spend the night in the bay. Buy a new SD Card in fact buy the best camera you can afford and learn how to set different exposures - the Sunset is.................

Back to Hanoi Take the train to Sapa in the morning your tour co will arrange breakfast and then go to Bac Ha - there is a "market" - take National Geographic type photos of people

Afterwards, depart in the early morning for the highland town of Bac Ha where you can wander through the district market, considered one of the most colourful ethnic markets in the Northwest. A weekly rendezvous for the locals and men folks can often be seen wending their merry way home at the end of a day at the market. Then have a short boat ride on Song Chay River. Have lunch at a local restaurant. In the afternoon, you will have time for a last look around Bac Ha. Visit Hoang A Tuong Palace which used to be residence of the local H’mong Lord and then visit Ban Pho, where the local corn wine is named after, before driving up hill to Sapa

In Sapa you can stay longer and climb the mountain but you are going to see this stuff

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My knees are shot but from Sapa most of the mountain biking was downhill Day  we did a gentle hike through the villages.

Loved the place to bits

Oh and did I say Weed grows everywhere? (Well, Hemp in honesty but hey)

After breakfast at the hotel, drive from Sapa town down to Lao Chai village. Views of the Muong Hoa Valley and magnificent surroundings of mountains and rice terrace fields can be seen from this road. Along the road, people from many ethnic minority groups (H’mong, Zay, and Red Dao) are likely to be met, and there are stalls along the way that serve tea, fruits and sweets. Soon after turning off the main road and taking a local path, we will arrive in the Black H’mong village of Lao Chai, where you will experience the daily life of the villagers. Continue walking from Lao Chai to Ta Van village, where the Zay hill tribes live. Here you take a rest and enjoy a delicious lunch prepared by your local guide in a local house. After lunch, continue walking to the meeting point for your transfer back to Sapa town.

Now Important Stuff

Google will find you a zillion expat run Tour Companies and a billion Primark style deals. Each tour I mentioned can be done on the cheap in a Coach.

With 50 Japanese/Chinese Tourists in tow. OR you can book when you get to each hotel (Vietnam has taxis you just show them the name of your hotel or get the hotel to book one outbound.)

Or you can book with a bigger agency and know the costs. I went twice and used a bigger agency and they were superb Days our cost about $100 (It was honeymoon) but we had our own car, driver and guide each day. The guides were brilliant (although some went on and on and on and on)

So expensive but I used Diethelm Travel

CONTACT INFORMATION OF DIETHELM TRAVEL OFFICES Hanoi DIETHELM TRAVEL (VIETNAM) CO. LTD. Suite 1701, HCO Building, 44B Ly Thuong Kiet, Hanoi Telephone: (+84-4) 3934 4844 Fax: (+84-4) 3934 4850 Email: Danang DIETHELM TRAVEL (VIETNAM) CO. LTD. L 21-23, Chuong Duong Street, My An ward, Ngu Hanh Son District, Danang Telephone: (+84-511) 395 6101 Fax: (+84-511) 395 6102 Email: HCMC DIETHELM TRAVEL (VIETNAM) CO. LTD. Level 2, VBC building, 57-59 Ho Tung Mau Street, Ben Nghe Ward, District 1, HCMC Telephone: (+84-8) 3914 1509 Fax: (+84-8) 3914 1510 Email:

You can just get to Saigon with a back pack, take your motorbike test, buy a bike and drive north.

Oh and the one thing nobody EVER forgets about Vietnam?

IF you survive of course



KRG posted this 01 March 2017

Amazing effort. Cheers @Our Man in Dubai, much appreciated! 

Nottarf Krap posted this 01 March 2017

Originally posted by KRG

Amazing effort. Cheers @Our Man in Dubai, much appreciated! 

 Seconded. A great review Dubai-Phil, a lot of effort must have gone into that. I flew to Saigon from Thailand 4 years ago, had a few days there, then went by train to Nha Trang for a week. With hindsight an internal flight may have been the way to go, but the train was OK, as DP says, don't have train food, take your own. We had a good breakfast before leaving, took some snacks and drinks. train took about 8 hours i think, and was an interesting journey. We booked a cabin which is a must. A great country, the Vietnamese are lovely people, and love to meet British people. The older ones, who can remember the war, are especially welcoming, (once they know you aren't American), we can thank Harold Wilson for that! The only downside, especially in Saigon, are the constant attempts by street hawkers to sell you something, especially when you are trying to eat, or relax with a beer or three. They are very persistent, but it is a minor irritation. A lovely country, with lovely people, and great food.

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Tokyo-Saint posted this 01 March 2017

We survived that train by eating those strange prawn crisps, evaporated milk and avoiding the fishhead soup. Plus some strong painkillers to pass the time. 

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Dubai_Phil posted this 01 March 2017

The market st the station in Song Hoi was - an education.

We did find some Pringles clones to add to our stash of breakfast rolls, Danish Pastries & Johnny Walker Red Label.

Oh and pack earplugs!

Tbh that review was mainly cut & paste from what I must have sent to about 10 mates Sapa  I had never heard of until the museum in Hanoi. Vowed to go and - gosh.

Dubai_Phil posted this 13 March 2017

Was doing something else work wise & found this video on how to cross the road in Vietnam. It's the ONE thing nobody will ever forget, and the one thinkg you could NEVER try anywhere else!

It really is like this - just walk!


BTripz posted this 13 March 2017

Originally posted by Dubai_Phil

Was doing something else work wise & found this video on how to cross the road in Vietnam. It's the ONE thing nobody will ever forget, and the one thinkg you could NEVER try anywhere else!

It really is like this - just walk!


O    M    F     G, that is mental..

lifeintheslowlane posted this 13 March 2017

I tried that in Naples 5 years ago...the limp is hardly noticeable now.

CB Saint posted this 13 March 2017

Originally posted by Dubai_Phil

Was doing something else work wise & found this video on how to cross the road in Vietnam. It's the ONE thing nobody will ever forget, and the one thinkg you could NEVER try anywhere else!

It really is like this - just walk!


 We have got to go - the Ayatollah will shit her pants trying to do that

Dubai_Phil posted this 13 March 2017

Originally posted by CB Saint

Originally posted by Dubai_Phil

Was doing something else work wise & found this video on how to cross the road in Vietnam. It's the ONE thing nobody will ever forget, and the one thinkg you could NEVER try anywhere else!

It really is like this - just walk!


 We have got to go - the Ayatollah will shit her pants trying to do that

 Not only would the Ayatollah.....

And the OTHER thing of course - yeah, you will be driving in that from teh Airport to the Hotel, when you do the City Tour or Mekong Delta Tour or go to Chu Chi Tunnels...

In fact everyone asks why it takes half a day to go to the tunnels...

When we went on our honeymoon, the Guide stopped at this factory that made pictures from Duck Eggshell. Now normally I would be ranting against rip offs and exploitation. However the factory had a Belgian Beer Brewery alongside and I was off for a couple of pints of 12% Leffe Clone before you could say PASS THE VALIUM.

Ben Than Tourist Market in HCM has this INSANE roundabout outside it - even if you only sit and watc it is hilarious

PhilippineSaint posted this 13 March 2017

My sister in law is in Vietnam at the moment and is loving it 

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Dubai_Phil posted this 13 March 2017

Sod it some of my photos

Flower Hmong at Bac Ha Market


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Flower Hmong planting rice

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Red Hmong at Sapa

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Rice Terraces

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Field of Dreams (It is actually Hemp) which makes those colourful clothes

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Dubai_Phil posted this 13 March 2017

Halong Bay

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Paradise Cave

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Sleeping Compartment - why you book the whole unit!

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The "let's get some food for the train at the station" fail

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The Ghosts of the DMZ Keh San

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Dubai_Phil posted this 13 March 2017

Hue Imperial Burial sites

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The drive from Danang to Hue 

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The Mekong

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Hoi An

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Hoi An Provencal

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Dubai_Phil posted this 13 March 2017

Road Freight

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Tunnels 1

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Tunnels 2

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Thank Gawd they were so small I had no intention of going down them anyway!

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KRG posted this 03 May 2017

Got back the other day, still not really feeling human or on anything resembling a real sleep pattern. But my word it was a great trip.

Vietnam is a truly incredible country, bonkers, but absolutely brilliant. Think I am one of the few people that has come back from Asia heavier than when they went. 

Would absolutely recommend anyone went there. 

Thanks again for all the tips.