Friday, June 2, 2023

from Hanoi to Luang Prabang

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Hi there, there! On this article, I’ll share our itinerary for two weeks in Vietnam in Laos, from Ho Chi Min Metropolis to Luang Prabang, that includes the perfect of those two wonderful nations. Laos is among the most tough nations to go to in Asia as a result of lack of worldwide flights to Laos, however it’s fairly straightforward to get there from Vietnam. Therefore, we determined to mix Laos and Vietnam in a single journey! 

Right here’s a brief overview of our itinerary for Vietnam and Laos in 2 weeks:

Days 1, 2 – Ho Chi Minh Metropolis, staying at Hammock Inn Ben Thanh

Days 3, 4, 5 – Phu Quoc island, staying at Salinda Resort

Day 6 – afternoon in Hanoi, staying at JM Marvel Resort

Day 7 – In a single day Ha Lengthy Bay cruise – Paradise Class (E book right here)

Days 8, 9 – Hanoi, staying at JM Marvel, non-obligatory tour to Ninh Binh

Day 10 – Vientiane, Laos, staying at S2 Boutique Resort

Days 11-13 – Luang Prabang, Laos, staying at The Belle Rive Resort

Day 14 – Flying again to Hanoi

Earlier than we dive into our itinerary, let me handle a few FAQs:

Vietnam and Laos in a single Journey FAQs

What’s the perfect time to go to Vietnam and Laos? When did we go to?

Vietnam and Laos are each all-year-round locations, however summer time will be scorching and humid. We visited throughout winter, in December and January, and had the perfect climate within the southern cities of Phu Quoc and Ho Chi Minh. Nevertheless, it was unusually chilly in Hanoi, with temperatures solely reaching 15-16 levels. This was an uncommon incidence as December will not be usually that chilly in Hanoi. Vientiane was fairly scorching as properly, and Luang Prabang was a bit colder however nonetheless a lot hotter than Hanoi. In the course of the day, it was round 24-28 levels and at evening, it was a bit chilly. 

It’s robust to pinpoint the perfect time to go to Vietnam and Laos because it actually depends upon what you wish to see and do. We selected December because it was the one time we may take break day for the journey over the Christmas holidays. Consequently, we labored round this time and selected locations with the perfect climate throughout the winter season. If we had travelled in October, for instance, we might have needed to modify our itinerary and select completely different locations to go to in Vietnam.

We determined to skip the center of Vietnam, particularly the Hoi An space, because it will get very wet within the winter.

What’s one of the simplest ways to journey round Vietnam and Laos?

Travelling round Vietnam is reasonably priced should you take buses and trains, however you’ll want greater than per week to take action. In any other case, you’ll spend most of your time travelling from one place to a different. You probably have restricted time, you’ll have to buy flights, which is usually a bit costly. Nevertheless, we discovered inside flights with Vietnam Airways to be dependable and good general.

To journey from Vietnam to Laos, it is advisable fly. We flew with Lao Airways, and it was fairly an expertise. I like to recommend attempting to fly with one other airline, even when the tickets are a bit dearer. Nothing flawed with the service – I simply felt that the airplane was not in the perfect situation and was in all probability retired by North American or European airways within the 90s and was flying in Laos since then. Fortunately for us, nothing occurred on all the three flights we had with Lao Airways, however I wouldn’t fly with Lao Airways once more. 

Additionally, you don’t have to fly from Vientiane to Luang Prabang – there’s a velocity prepare that connects these two cities, though shopping for tickets is considerably problematic. You’ll be able to solely do it in particular person (as of early 2023), and it’s laborious to purchase them and not using a native fee app (they don’t settle for money or international playing cards). Though, hopefully, it’ll change quickly!

When travelling inside cities in Vietnam, we advocate utilizing Seize, an Asian model of Uber. It’s dependable and really reasonably priced. You should use my referral hyperlink to put in it.

With out additional ado, let’s begin our itinerary for Vietnam and Laos in 14 days:

2 weeks in Vietnam and Laos itinerary: from Ho Chi Min Metropolis to Luang Prabang

Days 1 and a pair of: Ho Chi Minh Metropolis

Exploring Bên Thanh and attending the road meals tour

Our flight from London to Ho Chi Minh Metropolis was direct, touchdown at 5 AM. Since we couldn’t sleep on the airplane, we booked an affordable resort close to the airport to relaxation for a number of hours between 6 AM and 11 AM. It gave us a while to chill out and relaxation earlier than exploring town.

We checked in early on the Hammock Ben Thanh resort, which is located in a incredible location for exploring town – Ben Thanh neighbourhood! It’s surrounded by cafes, eating places, and sights, and many of the main sights are inside strolling distance. It’s additionally fairly fashionable and reasonably priced! 

We explored the Central Market and its fruit, tea, and sweets sections, the place we bought some edible souvenirs. Ho Chi Minh’s Metropolis Central market can also be well-known for its faux baggage and watches. For lunch, we tried the normal Vietnamese sandwich, Bahn Mi – among the finest locations for Bahn Mi was situated steps away from the resort – you possibly can at all times see the big queue outdoors, however it strikes rapidly and is 100% price it!

Later within the night, we loved a avenue meals tour on bikes with native college students, which was a incredible expertise. Should you can solely do one factor in Ho Chi Minh Metropolis, I like to recommend taking this avenue meals tour! You’ll be able to test the costs and availability right here.

Sightseeing & having fun with Ho Chi Minh Metropolis from above

The following day, we headed to Little Hanoi Egg Espresso to strive the normal Vietnamese Egg Espresso, a singular espresso with an egg inside (a must-try should you eat eggs!). Afterwards, we took a stroll across the upscale a part of Ho Chi Minh Metropolis the place many of the boutiques are situated – and noticed the Individuals’s Committee Constructing and The Opera Home.

We visited the Bitexco Tower Statement Deck, which presents a incredible view of Ho Chi Minh Metropolis. It was Vietnam’s tallest constructing earlier than the Landmark Tower was constructed. We additionally went to the Clean Lounge Espresso Bar by Nest on the Landmark Tower and loved the cocktails and desserts with an ideal view – the perfect view within the metropolis! In addition they had the perfect cocktails and desserts we’ve tried in Vietnam! 

Our final cease in Ho Chi Minh Metropolis was the previous a part of town, the place we visited the Sai Gon Central Submit Workplace and Notre Dame Cathedral. The publish workplace is free to go to and has a working publish workplace and memento outlets. Notre Dame Cathedral is a working cathedral that dates again to the center of the nineteenth century and is among the oldest surviving buildings within the metropolis.

Days 3-5: Phu Quoc

The place to remain in Phu Quoc:

Selecting a resort in Ho Chi Minh Metropolis was a lot simpler than choosing a resort in Phu Quoc! There have been many elements to contemplate, from value to location and, in the end, whether or not we wished a small resort or a resort. In the long run, we determined to select a resort as a result of we simply wished to relaxation for a number of days, as Ho Chi Minh Metropolis is tiring and a bit disturbing! 

We picked a resort referred to as Salinda, which was voted Phu Quoc’s finest resort a number of occasions. I can positively advocate it!

Issues to do in Phu Quoc: 

Should you’re seeking to unwind and chill out in Phu Quoc, the Salinda Resort is the proper spot. You’ll be able to spend most of your time lounging on the seaside, swimming within the sea and within the afternoon, take a stroll down the excessive avenue and go to a therapeutic massage or espresso store, for instance.

Nevertheless, should you’re up for some journey, you possibly can lease a motorbike and tour across the island. Alternatively, listed below are some prime actions to do in Phu Quoc:

  1. Go to the bustling evening market in Phu Quoc, the place you possibly can strive some wonderful Vietnamese avenue meals and purchase souvenirs. It’s solely a 9-minute taxi experience away from the Salinda resort.
  2. E book a scuba diving or snorkelling tour to find the colourful coral reefs and various marine life round Phu Quoc. You’ll be able to pre-book this tour prematurely right here.
  3. Take a guided tour of Phu Quoc Nationwide Park, a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve, to discover the luxurious forests and spot uncommon wildlife.
  4. Take a look at the historic Phu Quoc Jail Museum to be taught in regards to the island’s previous throughout the Vietnam Struggle and acquire perception into the resilience of the Vietnamese folks.

Additionally, should you’re within the temper for some wonderful cocktails, there’s a speakeasy bar situated simply throughout the highway from the Salinda resort that we liked and extremely advocate!

Day 6: Hanoi 

On the sixth day of our Vietnam and Laos journey, we flew to Hanoi within the afternoon, leaving us with the morning to benefit from the resort and swim. The flight from Phu Quoc to Hanoi took virtually 2 hours and was longer than the one from Ho Chi Minh Metropolis to Phu Quoc. After we landed at round 3 PM, we took a taxi that we booked by Seize app to our resort, JM Marvel. Nevertheless, it took a while for the taxi to reach.

In December, Hanoi’s climate will be fairly unpredictable. Throughout our keep, the temperature was 14C levels on the primary day, 16 levels on the second day, and 21 levels per week after we returned from Laos. It is suggested to pack heat garments, reminiscent of a light-weight, packable goose climate jacket from Uniqlo. On our first night in Hanoi, we dined at Duong’s restaurant, which is a well-liked spot beneficial by many journey guides. They provide conventional Vietnamese dishes with a singular twist.

After dinner, we visited the well-known prepare monitor cafes to look at the trains go by. The realm is a pedestrian-only avenue with prepare tracks working within the center, surrounded by cafes and outlets. When the prepare approaches, everybody must clear the road and keep within the cafes/outlets because the trains go very near the folks. We then strolled round Hanoi’s centre, loved some milk tea, and headed again to our resort, JM Marvel, to relaxation early for our early pick-up for the Ha Lengthy Bay cruise.

7-day itinerary for Vietnam.

Day 7: In a single day Ha Lengthy Bay Cruise 

Reserving your Ha Lengthy Bay cruise prematurely is essential, as many cruises can promote out weeks prematurely. Once we tried to e-book the Athena cruise a month forward of time, there was no availability, so we went with the Paradise Class cruise as an alternative. The company offered a free switch service to the cruise and again, which was very useful, and the minibus was fairly comfy.

We had been picked up from our resort foyer round 8:25 AM after which drove to a different resort close by to select up one other couple. The journey to Ha Lengthy Bay took round 2-2.5 hours, with a technical cease on the Pearl Museum, the place you possibly can go to a museum, a big pearl store, a number of cafes, and a rest room.

After arriving on the resort for check-in at 11:20 AM, we acquired completely different colored bracelets that dictated your boarding time. Since we acquired black bracelets, we had been among the many final ones to board at 12:20 PM and needed to wait within the resort foyer for an hour. On board the Excellence Ha Lengthy Bay cruise, there have been 2-3 actions obtainable on the primary day and 1 exercise on the second day.

We determined to skip the kayaking and pearl farm go to as a result of chilly climate however loved the go to to Titov Island, which included a pleasant seaside and nice views of Ha Lengthy Bay. There was a free cooking class throughout sundown and reside music after dinner. The following morning, we visited the most important and most well-known collapse Ha Lengthy Bay, adopted by breakfast and checkout by 9:30–10 AM.

General, the 2-day, 1-night Ha Lengthy Bay cruises are extra like 24 hours, and we had been again in Hanoi by 1:30 PM. Should you’re considering reserving an identical cruise, you possibly can test the costs and availability right here.

Days 8-9: Hanoi

On our final 2 days in Vietnam, we had loads of time to discover Hanoi, so we determined to do some sightseeing. Listed here are among the landmarks that I like to recommend visiting:

  • The Imperial Citadel is among the oldest and most spectacular buildings in Hanoi. It was the political centre of Vietnam for over 13 centuries and served because the capital of the nation throughout the Ly, Tran, and Le dynasties. Contained in the Citadel, yow will discover palaces, temples, and residences constructed in several intervals, every reflecting distinctive architectural types and cultural influences.
  • The Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum is the ultimate resting place of Vietnam’s most well-known chief. Guests will pay their respects to Ho Chi Minh and find out about his life and legacy.
  • The Temple of Literature is a historic temple devoted to Confucius, with gorgeous structure, tranquil gardens, and a wealthy historical past. This web site is a must-visit for anybody considering Vietnamese tradition and historical past.

Another locations I like to recommend visiting in Hanoi embody Hoan Kiem Lake, surrounded by lovely parks, temples, and historic buildings, and the Previous Quarter, a glimpse into Hanoi’s previous and an ideal place to expertise town’s vibrant tradition.

Should you nonetheless have time and power left, I recommend visiting the Vietnam Museum of Ethnology, the place you possibly can be taught in regards to the nation’s 54 ethnic teams by interactive reveals and demonstrations and take a avenue meals tour to pattern the native delicacies and expertise the bustling ambiance of Hanoi’s evening markets. Nevertheless, should you already took avenue meals in Ho Chi Minh Metropolis, it is likely to be a little bit bit repetitive. Should you favor to take a sightseeing tour, this wonderful Hanoi tour by classic bike is among the best-rated within the metropolis!

You can too take a day tour to the gorgeous Vietnamese countryside – to Ninh Binh – one of the crucial lovely locations in Vietnam! You’ll be able to test the costs and availability right here.

Day 10: Exploring Vientiane

In your tenth day of the Vietnam and Laos journey, it’s time to lastly fly to Laos! There are flights to each Vientiane and Luang Prabang from Hanoi, so you possibly can choose whichever works higher for you after which regulate the itinerary primarily based on that. 

Laos may be very completely different from Vietnam regardless of being so near it. Laos resembles Thailand far more – the languages are very related, and the tradition can also be a bit related (and so is the meals). 

Vientiane is a really quiet capital – it doesn’t have that many vehicles and it’s fairly calm general (in comparison with Hanoi, which by no means sleeps). We spent a day in Vientiane and did a little bit of sightseeing. We picked S2 Fashionable Boutique Resort as our in a single day resort, and it was fairly reasonably priced however very removed from in every single place. Nevertheless, distances in Vientiane are giant (town may be very unfold), so no matter the place you keep, you’ll have to ask for a number of taxis. 

Listed here are among the finest issues to see in Vientiane:

  1. Pha That Luang: This golden Buddhist stupa is an important nationwide monument in Laos and a logo of the nation’s Buddhist religion. It’s believed to include a relic of the Buddha and is surrounded by lovely gardens.
  2. Patuxai: Often known as the “Arc de Triomphe of Vientiane”, Patuxai is a grand monument inbuilt honour of those that fought for independence from France. Guests can climb to the highest for gorgeous views of town.
  3. Wat Si Saket: This lovely temple is among the oldest in Vientiane and includes a gorgeous courtyard stuffed with 1000’s of Buddha statues.
  4. Buddha Park: Simply outdoors town, this park is dwelling to greater than 200 Buddhist and Hindu statues, together with a large reclining Buddha. It’s an ideal place to spend a day exploring and taking within the serene ambiance.

Additionally, the evening market within the coronary heart of the previous city, proper subsequent to the Mekong, is an attention-grabbing market to go to. Nevertheless, there isn’t a lot to purchase there until you’re searching for very reasonably priced garments with misspelt logos. There are many locations to eat close by, in order that is likely to be a bit extra attention-grabbing!

Days 11 – 13: Luang Prabang

On the morning of the subsequent day, we took a brief inside flight to Luang Prabang. Whereas we initially wished to purchase the prepare, we weren’t positive we might be capable of safe it as tickets are inclined to promote out and it was not doable to purchase them on-line. To keep away from risking shedding sooner or later in Luang Prabang, we determined to pay a bit extra and get an inside flight as an alternative. 

The place to remain in Luang Prabang?

Lastly, let’s discuss lodging and the place to remain in Luang Prabang. We stayed on the Bel Air Resort with gorgeous river views. Nevertheless, the placement wasn’t the perfect as a result of each time we wanted to go someplace (all of the locations apart from the airport had been throughout the river), we needed to cross a really scary bridge. Not the stunning Bamboo bridge, however the Previous French Bridge that seemed prefer it was on the breaking point, with lacking picket planks and nails protruding in every single place. Not like the Bamboo bridge, this bridge was very excessive within the air, and any fall would have been deadly. 

As an alternative, I like to recommend staying on the following locations:

Luxurious resorts: If cash will not be an issue, these resorts can be a tremendous possibility: Burasari Heritage, Rosewood, 3 Nagas

Mid-range lodges and resorts: The Belle Rive, Angsana Maison

Very reasonably priced however fairly good place to remain in Luang Prabang: Villa Ouis

Finest issues to do in Luang Prabang in 3 days:

Whereas 3 days in Luang Prabang (which is just a bit larger than a village) seems like plenty of time, it’s really not! There are such a lot of issues you are able to do in Luang Prabang. If you wish to see the total listing, I wrote this text in regards to the 18+ wonderful issues to do in Luang Prabang >>

Right here I’ll simply give attention to the actions now we have loved essentially the most in Luang Prabang:

Sundown cruise alongside the Mekong River 

A sundown cruise alongside the Mekong River is a must-do exercise in Luang Prabang. There are many choices obtainable, from luxurious to easy boats. Head to Khem Khong Road, and also you’ll discover many boat homeowners providing their providers. We discovered a flyer for a $5.5 per particular person sundown cruise from Svan Mekong Cruises and had been fortunate to have the boat all to ourselves. With bean baggage and cosy seats, we had been capable of take pleasure in our drinks and snacks whereas admiring the gorgeous views. It may get chilly, however blankets had been offered. Don’t miss this distinctive and unforgettable expertise!

In order for you a fancier expertise, you possibly can e-book a dinner cruise with a 3-course dinner right here >>

Stroll the Unesco Heritage-protected a part of Luang Prabang

Luang Prabang grew to become a UNESCO world heritage web site in 1994 and that was completely deserved – Luang Prabang may be very fairly. Among the best issues you are able to do in Luang Prabang is to put on comfy sneakers and for for a stroll or a motorbike experience across the Previous City – there are many lovely streets!

Go to the evening market on Sisavangvong Street

Sisavangvong Street is essentially the most well-known, busy and well-liked avenue in Luang Prabang. It will get particularly crowded within the night, round 6 PM, when the evening market opens. The evening market in Luang Prabang has loads of stalls promoting garments, souvenirs and artwork. I’d say it’s primarily geared toward vacationers, however it’s a must-visit attraction anyway.

Listed here are another wonderful issues to do in Luang Prabang in 3 days: 
  • Attempt native avenue meals (proper at the beginning of the Evening Market, there’s a everlasting avenue meals market. The most well-liked dish in Laos is Laap – a meat or fish salad, which is scrumptious however very spicy. Really, most dishes in Laos are very, very spicy!)
  • Go to the Kuang Si waterfall – one of many essential sights of Luang Prabang, 45 minutes away from the city. You’ll be able to both get there by bike, purchase a tour or rent a taxi that may look forward to you there for 3-4 hours for $20. Alternatively, you may get there by boat should you purchase a tour.
  • Stroll the bamboo bridge throughout the Nam Khan River – it’s solely open 6 months a 12 months and will get rebuilt yearly because it will get destroyed as soon as the water ranges rise. It is advisable to pay 10,000 kips ($0.6) per particular person to cross the bridge, however it’s completely price it.
  • Climb Mount Phou Si – there are many stairs to climb. Nevertheless, the views from there are properly price it. The ticket to enter the higher a part of Mount Phou Si prices circa $1 per particular person. 
  • See essentially the most lovely temples in Luang Prabang – Luang Prabang has so many gorgeous temples, monasteries and stupas. Essentially the most lovely is undoubtedly Haw Pha Bang, situated proper on the backside of Mount Phou Si. 
  • Observe the Alm Giving ceremony with the Buddhist monks – should you’re an early hen and also you want to observe a singular, lovely ceremony that is essential to locals, head to the Previous City round 5:30 AM. It’s a ceremony the place native Buddhists supply alms (selfmade sticky rice) to the monks. Nevertheless, until you’re a Buddhist, you shouldn’t take part. As an alternative, you possibly can quietly observe the ceremony. You can too take photographs (and not using a flash), however be sure to’re not in the way in which and never obstructing anybody.

Day 14: Fly again to Hanoi and residential

Despite the fact that there are such a lot of issues to do in Luang Prabang, it’s a good vacation spot for stress-free. It’s quiet, the distances are small, and nobody is dashing wherever. I hope that after 3 days in Luang Prabang, you’ll really feel well-rested and prepared for a protracted journey dwelling! 

You probably have time between your flight to Hanoi and your flight again dwelling, you possibly can discover one other a part of Hanoi that’s the closest to the airport, subsequent to the Chùa Kim Liên temple! There are many issues to see and do there! 

Abstract and helpful hyperlinks to your journey to Vietnam and Laos:

I hope you loved this itinerary for two weeks in Vietnam and Laos and located it helpful! As I discussed earlier than, we visited Vietnam and Laos in winter, December-January, to be exact, and our itinerary was dictated by the climate in these locations. Should you’re planning this journey in summer time, for instance, it’s price checking the climate in all these locations and see if visiting them nonetheless is smart (it may very well be the center of the wet season, for instance) 

I’ve acquired a number of requests to offer a quick abstract of all of the necessary and helpful hyperlinks used on this publish for different articles that includes our itineraries, so right here’s an summary of helpful hyperlinks for this itinerary for two weeks in Vietnam and Laos:

Flights: Skyscanner for the flights to Vietnam and inside flights. I like to recommend flying with Vietnam Airways

Taxis: Seize

SIM card: you possibly can both purchase one on the airport or purchase a multi-country sim like Drimsim that works in plenty of completely different locations all over the world

Plug sort: use this adaptor 

Excursions: avenue meals tour of Ho Chi Minh Metropolis by bike with native college students, Ninh Ninh Tour, Classic bike Hanoi sightseeing tour, Luang Prabang cruise with a 3-course dinner

Ha Lengthy Bay cruise: e-book right here

Resorts: Hammock Ho Chi Minh Metropolis, Salinda Resort Phu Quoc, JM Marvel Hanoi, The Belle Rive Resort Luang Prabang

You probably have any questions, be at liberty to DM me at @lizatripsget – I’d be capable of assist!

Another articles you may discover helpful:

Hanoi vs Ho Chi Minh Metropolis: should you can solely go to one metropolis in Vietnam

18+ wonderful issues to do in Luang Prabang 

7 days in Japan: a really fast-paced itinerary

48 hours in Kuala Lumpur 

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