Thank you, thank you, thank you. We're 'feeling our way around' some of the Laos websites...and trying to figure out the lay of the land. This looks like a spot we'd really enjoy. I was able to print a map of northern Laos and pinpoint the trail of a boat trip on the river to Luang Namtha where we'd like to stay at the Boat Landing Guest House and Restaurant...before going on to Luang Prabang. Vientiane again is probably the easiest way to get from Laos to Vietnam...so we'd go back to the restaurant, Kualao, for the most delicious shrimp puffs (for lack of a better title) I've ever eaten. I'll read the book you suggested. Thanks for the tip.
We just finished our itinerary for our 2nd trip to Vietnam. Take 3 days in Hanoi, maybe even 4. You can do lots of day trips and lots to do and see in Hanoi. One day go near Ninh Binh (1 hour away) and take a bamboo boat ride through the working rice fields with the mountains surrounding, to the TamCoc caves (you are paddled through, not scary, can see daylighton the other side). We then went to another river and were motor-boated along other rice fields through floating fishing village. It was an very enjjoyable day. One morning you could go to the Lake in Hanoi and watch or do yoga or tai chi with everyone else! Look on website for Ann Tours. We have and will use them for our trip(s).
Spend one night (or 2) in beautiful Hue. Then go by driver to Hoi An. A lovely drive thru the Pass and you can stop to see famous China Beach. Trip 2 hours. Stay Hoi An 2 nights. Check out tripadvisor.com for places to stay. Hoi An Riverside Hotel (just outside town), Thanh Xuan (on the River in town), Life Resort (in town, recommended by Ann Tours). All prices available.Cuisine in Hue and Hoi An excellentand you can take cooking lessons that include the meal...a bargain and a great way to meet people and talk with locals.Then fly from Da Nang (nearest HoiAn) to Saigon to do your thing there. Trip Advisor is a great resource. Always try to figure out, though, if the folks writing the reviews may have your taste in travel, where they are from (backpackers or lux travelers). Enjoy your trip. When are you going? We are leaving mid-Jan.
Personal drivers and guides are very inexpensive in Vietnam...$20-$30 for a whole day. Worth every penny when going to TamCoc Caves, etc. or driving from Hue to HoiAn, for example.
I've read all 5 pages of posts on Vietnam with great interest- there is so much good information here!
My husband and I are planning our very belated honeymoon to Asia for March. He lived in Asia for many years while in the US Army, and I have never been in Asia, so this trip is a way for me to know more of him and his past, as well as have a bit of my "dream trip"! (Hotels and flightsare allon our "Points & Miles": We will have a week in Korea based at the SeuolMarriott (with a car, and day hunting on Jeju Island), 4 nights in Tokyo (Intercon) & then approx 3 weeks in Vietnam (a week in HCMC/Saigon at the Marriott,the 2-night train to Hanoi (we Love train travel& very excited about this...), 2 nights in Hanoi (Hilton), and then a good week free to hopefully go into the Central Highlands,ending with 3 'honeymoon' nights at the Life Resort in HoiAn...
Any tips on great food (cooking? My husband is a chef at our HistoricInn in WV & I'm a bit of a 'foodie', so this would be of interest- CIA is doing a Vietnam trip, but it's in Feb...), suggestions for finding a good guide or drivers,any info on "Doctor Fish" spas in Vietnam (tiny fish that give one a pedicure by nibbling at your feet and have become all the rage for people with Psoriasis... like me! My husband experienced this in the 70s at a spa in Nha Trang next to the Playboy Club!),any remains of US Army and Aviation bases in Vietnam and excursions or contacts that would be of interest & value to aVietnam Veteran (3 tours...), romance, adventure, art, craft & cultural things, and ifrenting a motorcycle(anyone heard of "Easy Riders"?) as I have read about is a totally crazy thing to consider!
From "travelfish" I learned of a tour gude from Kon Tum namedMr Huynh [email protected] who does hikes/tours to some of the manynative villages of the Central Highlands- anyone know of this? We would very much like to get to at least one Yard village... Also heard of [url="http://www.connectionsvietnam.com/"]www.connectionsvietnam.com[/email] which doescooking tours whichsound like fun- anyone know of this?I much prefer boats, trains, etc.to flying, so any ideas along those lines will be appreciated too. Thanks!
I can also be contacted through our Inn's website [url="http://www.elkhorninnwv.com/"]www.elkhorninnwv.com[/email]
Sounds like a great trip you have planned. I amnot sure if your plans are set in stone, but I would recommend a few more days in Hanoi. Most people seem to prefer Hanoi's historic charm to the frenetic pace of HCMC.
I saw the following "food guide" featured on the travel channel (but have not personally used her). Her food tours in Hanoi look great. www.hanoistreetfood.com/
We've made six trips to Vietnam and are planning our seventh.
It's a wonderful country and I know you'll have a great time.
On one trip we had a cooking lesson with Mrs. Cuc in Hue.
We met her at the market...watched as she selected ingredients...then went to her home and learned how to prepare three different dishes...then we ate .... and ate .... and ate.
That same day we were to enjoy the 'royal banquet' but I was so full from the lunch we prepared I couldn't eat.
I had to apologize to the staff at the banquet...I could not eat another bite but my husband made up for my inability to enjoy the feast.
I agree about Hanoi.
I much prefer it to HCMC.
Any meal we've had at the Sofitel Metropole in Hanoi
has been good.
Don't miss cha ca la vong (can't remember if I'm spelling that correctly)....a hole in the wall with a traditional meal you cook yourself at
For art/cards/stationery/t-shirts I never miss Tara and Kys in HCMC on Dong Khoi Street.
We've enjoyed dinner at La Camargue in HCMC.
I could go on and on about what we like about the country so if you'd
to ask specific questions you
can email at: (personal content edited to prevent spam)
We've stayed at Ana Mandara Resort and Spa 6 times and the Evason Hideaway out of Nha Trang twice.
Chef David Thai is
a friend now and we'll follow him to his new post in Dalat when we return to Vietnam.
The two-night train?
We took the "five-star express" last August.
! five star but fun...from HCMC to Nha Trang.
Message Edited by LL_moderator_nc on 01-07-2008 08:13 PM
Thanks Howard! But I've been to Vietnam and back by now (several months ago), loving every moment along the way. I agree with your hotel assessments, however, and I'm sure it will be helpful for other readers.