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Day 0 (The Pre-Planning Phase)

The Pre Planning Phase
The very idea of visiting vietnam was arrived upon during the afternoon long discussion with karthik and Sanjeeva; Sanjeeva got his passport rejected, twice !. The original plan was to visit Egypt but it required us to wait for a month for approval of Sanju’s passport; we did but fate had other plans. By the time sanju’s passport arrived, it was too late and we had to select a destination ‘cool enough’ (literally) to visit in the tropical regions in the hot months of April-May. After hours of time spent on cursing sanju for delaying the plan , Thailand, Egypt, Philippines, Malaysia etc were out due to tropical summer ; google rescued us from the dilemma. Vietnam happens to be a cool 25-30C in the spring; perfect for vacationing. I was skeptical of visiting Vietnam initially; but the country blew my mind !! More of that in the blog.

  1. Vietnam Visa is fairly easy to obtain and we applied from one of our government approved website for a fairly decent price of 25$ for single entry (https://vietnamvisa.govt.vn/).
  2. In order to cut overall costs including flights, we took an unlikely route. We traveled from South to North instead of the usual North to South;
    31-March Ho Chi Minh Sightseeing (Landing)
    1st April Mekong , Chu chi tunnels (Take Evening flight to Danang)
    2nd April Danang,Hoi an, myson,Hue,Quang
    3rd April Danang,Hoi an, myson,Hue,Quang
    4th April Danang,Hoi an, myson,Hue,Quang
    5th April Danang,Hoi an, myson,Hue,Quang (Take evening / early morning flight to Hanoi)
    6th April Hao Lu and Tam coc (Hanoi)
    7th April Halong Bay cruise (Hanoi)
    8th April Halong Bay cruise (Hanoi)
    9th April Morning Departure from Ho-Chi-Minh
  • Two internal flights along the route.
    Ho -Chi Ming to Danang
    Danang to Hanoi
  • 1 Return flight across the country back to Ho-Chi Minh and then a flight out of the country. This worked out to be cheaper (50% lower) than a direct flight from Hanoi to India. The internal flights in vietnam were very cheap and thus the plan.The flights from BLR to Ho chi Minh was Air Asia via Bangkok and the flight from Ho-Chi Minh to BLR was via Singapore with scoot. Overall it cost only 15k INR to & fro for the flight in & out of the country from bangalore ; however there was a wait time of at least 3 hours at each of the transit destinations. The internal flights cost us approx 1.5K per Trip which was more than reasonable. So overall, it was approximately 20K INR for flights.
  • The second important thing to consider is that budget airlines are very constrained in terms amount of luggage. Overall, we were allowed only 7KG of cabin luggage with an additional laptop; the size of the luggage carrier too is specific according to the airlines which one is using.So Scoot and Air Asia had slightly different size and baggage allowance. Extra baggage happens to be expensive (that is how budget airlines make money). Well I decided to go minimalist and packed everything in a bag measuring 46*30*20. I essentially packed 3-4 days worth of clothes along with essentials & camera; plan was to wash n wear clothes whenever possible. Overall at the time of departing for Vietnam, my bag weighed only 3.7 Kgs out of which 800 Gms was the camera alone. ;and I still had space left for souvenirs.

Post booking the flights, it was time to plan the trips within Vietnam. Under normal circumstances, I don’t take the pre-packaged operator defined itinerary but due to the shortage of time and vietnam being a huge country , we did not have a choice. We found a number of similar deals on
1. https://www.getyourguide.com
2. https://www.vietnamgrouptour.com

As a matter of fact, our listed trip itinerary was customized to suit the itinerary as provided by the tour operators.

The only pending item was booking our stays. Since our trip was already working out to more expensive than initially planned, we decided to plan out entire stay in hostels. Part of our stay was already taken care of as part of packaged itinerary; but we still had to book 4 days of stay. Dablend hostel in ho chi Minh City and pillow back Packers hostel in Hanoi seemed like a decent choice. Dablend hostel costed us about 600 INR per head per night for a private room. We wanted to book the dorm (which was about 400 INR per head) but felt that Private room would be needed after a journey of 12 hours. Pillow backpackers located in Hanoi old quarter costed us almost the same , only we booked the dorm room this time.

>> On to Day 1

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