SE Asia Itinerary Help - Hanoi (Vietnam), Chiang Mai, Bangkok, Phuket (Thailand) - 14 Nights

I've booked a holiday end of January to mid Feburary but now realised I kind of stuffed up picking too many places. In heinsight I wish I didn't book Vietnam and just left it with Thailand only and then we would have done Vietnam at a different time. These flights are not refundable but can be cheaply rebooked to different dates only (not locations). All accomodation is refunable. I've also added things we would have liked to have done.

The flights booked are:

• Singapore to Hanoi (Vietnam) 4N - Ha Long Bay overnight cruise, Ninh Binh day tour, 1 day exploring city
• Hanoi to Chiang Mai (Thailand) 4N - Car hire, Chiang Rai day trip, half day elephant sancturary, 3hr quad bike tour, Doi Inthanon national park
• Chiang Mai to Bangkok 3N - Ayutthaya Historical Park, temples tour, railway and floating markets
• Bangkok to Phuket 3N - Car hire, quad bike tour, island tour (not sure where)
• Phuket to Home

I think I'm okay with 3N Bangkok and Phuket and know we won't be able to do much of the city, but there seems to be too much to do in Hanoi and Chiang Mai. Only 4N in Hanoi, we would not be able to do an overnight cruise. We could just go for the day but heaps of time will be wasted in the car/bus.

Would anyone here change anything?

5N Hanoi and 3N Chiang Mai instead or even drop Hanoi to 2N or 3N and just explore the city only and add those extra days to Thailand? It's kind of 50/50 whether we will go back to Vietnam though. It's also winter in Hanoi (cold but no rain) so not sure how much fun the overnight cruise would be at this time of the year anyway.


  • +1

    Everyone’s personal preferences are different. I’ve been to Thailand 4 times with no desire to visit the north whatsoever. I stick to Bangkok and then Khao lak on the west coast. You definitely need to do day trips to the island etc also.

    Same with Vietnam just came back from there a few months ago and gave ha long bay a miss. I stuck to Ho Chi Minh and da nang/hoi an.

    • +2

      You got to go to Sapa next time. It's an amazing place up in Northern Vietnam. Hanoi and Ha Long were really nice places too. Definitely worth going back to visit.

      • -1

        I spent 10 days in north Vietnam alone (started in Hanoi and just went north from there up to the Chinese border). Part of a tour group and probably wouldn't want to do it alone (if only to know the places to eat) but it was seriously incredible.

        I wish I spent less time in Hanoi in the end, I had 3 days there just exploring, did stuff like going to the Hanoi Hilton (the propaganda machine is running full steam there) and seeing Ho Chi Minh's body. 2 would have been enough.

    • Aww crap I shouldn't have looked up pictures of Khao lak

      If I didn't have Hanoi booked, we probably would have hired a car in Bangkok and driven to Phuket over 3 nights.

  • +1

    Not sure, but are you using a hire car to go long distances? The roads can be hard on cars, so be prepared to possibly need to buy a set of tyres (or pay the damage fee) if you are. I drove from HCMC to Phom Phen and did three tyres getting there. Not blow outs, but huge side wall "eggs". Mad respect for the Camry hey!

    • Yeah hire car, we love driving and drove around 1/3rd of Japan a few years back. You get to see so much more this way.

      Suprisingly zero excess (including tyres) is really cheap in Thailand.

      • +1

        Cambodia/Vietnam/Thailand != Japan when driving

  • +1

    I was in Vietnam recently and did exactly those things that you had in your itinerary - Ha Long Bay (overnight cruise) + 1 day Ninh Binh + 1 day city exploring and the remainder of the trip was 3 days in Ho Chi Minh.

    It will come down to personal preference but I found that the 3 (plus half for the cruise) full days was sufficient for me to visit everything I wanted to see in Hanoi. Sure, you could do more (e.g. Sapa) but enjoy the trip! Ha Long Bay is still amazing this time of year - I didn't find it that cold there and this was around a half month ago.

  • +1

    Just take it easy in Bangkok and Phuket. Relaxing and enjoying the food and massages are part of the charm of the area.

  • +1

    That's a lot of flights in a short amount of time.

    Agreed, Vietnam is a terrific country to visit, 2 - 3 weeks exploring north to south is optimal. I'd get out of the major cities and visit Da Nang, Hoi An, Hue etc. Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh are nice, but not really worth more than 2-3 days. You're doing Ha Long Bay, so that should be enough.

  • +2

    Honestly I would get rid of the Ha Long Bay overnight cruise. It's almost 4 hours drive from Hanoi to HLB, so by the time you get there it's after 1pm, you spend a few hours on the boat, then the next morning you have to disembark and have the same 4 hour drive back to Hanoi. When I did a cruise I was so thankful to have 2 nights - all the poor sods disembarking after one night were really disappointed. Either extend your cruise or do something else.

  • +1

    The itinerary looks good and trust me, you have heaps of spare time.

    5 days in Ha noi: Ha Long Bay overnight cruise, I am assuming this will be your first day and first night? Then you travel to Ninh Binh for the Ninh Binh day tour? 1 day exploring city? Ha noi probably not that much to take up an entire day. The old town and temples? unless you into food tour? Thats 3 days and you have 5. So, chill out. You are on vacation.

    5 days in Chiang Mai:Assuming you flight to CNX in the morning? then you can check in hotel and do the elephant thing. night market at night, foot massage then next day Car hire to Chiang Rai day trip. 3rd day to do the 3hr quad bike tour. you still have half day left. Doi Inthanon national park is not much to do, except to see sunset? vs still have a lot of time. I can suggest you drive to Pai (~3 hours drive and You will love that) or Ban Rak Thai (Thai Chinese Village).

    4 days in Bangkok:travel from CNX to BKK/DMK take half day (flight) overnight if by bus. Check in hotel and explore the malls (Central Worlds, Century 21, Embassy Central. Icon Siam, Siam Paragon…) Day trip to Ayutthaya Historical Park + temples tour ( one day is doable) take note it is very very hot and humid. Bring a small portable fan and drink lots of water to stay hydrated. 2nd day: Railway and floating markets, you cannot travel by bus or PT. I recommend you buy a tour from Klook. They pick you up in Siam Paragon sharp 8AM and thats a day. you still have 1 day left.

    4 days in Phuket: travel from BKK/DMk to HKT take you half day or overnight by bus. Get into the town (depends where you stay, there is old town and new town). explore night markets and local area. island hopping. this is the best and you can see on klook. cost you $70 aud per day. next day do different tour, i recommend James Bond Island and Maya Beach. You still have a day left to explore around.

    Hope this help!

  • +1

    who's going? solo?

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