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Vietnam/Indonesia - Opinions? Advice?

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  • Jul 12th, 2019 7:12 pm
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[OP]
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Jul 2, 2019
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Brampton, ON.

Vietnam/Indonesia - Opinions? Advice?

Hello RFD (travel),

This is my first thread here, first post as well. So I want to say hello to the lot of you. I love the RFD travel sub-section - a lot of good advice on here.

Anyways, me and my wife have an upcoming trip to SEA. We will be going for about 24 days split between Malaysia - Vietnam - Indonesia. We rather spend more time in Vietnam and Indonesia.

I have been to Malaysia before so I am not to concerned about that - however I have never been to Vietnam or Indonesia. So I am looking for some very general/basic idea and from there I can do my research to put the plan in place.

1) Vietnam; is it better to start North - South (Hanoi and ending it in HCMC/Saigon) or the other way around? What cities would be a must visit? I know I want to visit Hanoi/HCMC for sure.

2) Indonesia - can anyone recommend where we would start? My wife and me are still deciding if we should switch Indonesia out for Thailand. I would like opinions on this.

Travelling tips:

Our flight is at 5:00 A.M. and believe it or not, I have had very few close calls of missing my flight and missed one completely due to my own fault. So any tips on staying awake the night before (I was thinking party/going out the night before?) Or maybe if I do decide to sleep, any tips on making sure I get up?

I have a short connection in Incheon (South Korea) - 90 minutes. Please tell me this is enough? I am scared ---- when I booked the flight. I thought I would be okay but after looking at the Incheon airport (holy fuarrk - it's huge). Am I screwed?

Is staying at a nearby hotel a good idea? How much would this cost generally? I know there are shuttles but I am trying to see the most economic way of getting there? I am coming in from North Caledon, I think Uber and Taxi Limo will cost a fortune. Last I check, in the $80 range.

If the above does not work or is price-restrictive. Are we able to go to any lounges at Pearson if we decided to check-in extremely early and just chill? I don't mine paying. No, I don't have any of those fancy credit cards with free lounge passes. I am a member with Mariott and have status with Eva Air and Aeroplan.

Thanks a lot for your help RFD. Appreciate it.

Regards,
Last edited by RSPK86 on Jul 3rd, 2019 3:57 pm, edited 2 times in total.
20 replies
Deal Fanatic
Feb 15, 2006
8191 posts
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Toronto
You should change the title. SEA is Seattle. Expand what you mean by SEA.

Vietnam, most people like to go to Halong Bay. It's 2.5hr from Hanoi. Going north to south or south to north, it can depend on where you are coming from and going. So probably north to south makes more sense for you, going to Indonesia.

90 min in ICN is enough.

The Plaza Premium lounge opens at 4:30am, but your flight at 5am won't give you time to go to the lounge. You can still get a premium CC to get lounge access, for the other airports.
Deal Addict
Jan 12, 2005
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Scarborough
How about just dropping the SEA acronym?

I thought Premium Lounges open at 5am and flights don't technically take off till 7am? Do you mean boarding starts at 5am? My opinion is if you're boarding at 5am, don't bother with the lounge, it's a line up just to get in in the morning when it first opens (unless you have unlimited access).

If you're scared of sleeping in, then get a Limo/Taxi as they do wake up calls or just buy extra alarm clocks. A hotel would be more expensive than your taxi/limo
[OP]
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Jul 2, 2019
2 posts
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Brampton, ON.
Thanks for the feedback guys. I really want to opt. for the lounge - I thought they were 24/7 so I was thinking of simply getting to the airport early and chilling there the entire time till my flight.

My flight is at 6:00 A.M. - sorry for the confusion. Since I don't have any premium credit cards for lounge access, how much is it to get in?

Also - between Indonesia/Thailand - which country would be better? We're set on Malaysia/Vietnam. We're definitely going North - South after thinking about it for Vietnam.
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May 14, 2009
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24 days split between such huge countries isn't the best idea IMO. It'll cause too much moving around. Just my own experience but we spent three weeks in Vietname just in the area between Hanoi and Hoi An and we still didn't see everything we wanted to. Ditto with Indonesia: did four weeks in Bali/Lombok and another four weeks in Sulawesi/Flores/Bali and we had to cut out a lot of highlights.

As for which is bettter between Indonesia and Thailand....better for what exactly? What do you want to do and see? For example, if you want to see Orangutans, then Indonesia is better (well, no Orangutans in Thailand at all). If you want nice beaches, Thailand is generally better. Want to see/climb volcanies? Indonesia wins out. Better food? Thailand. Even choosing where to go within either country can be a feat as the countries are quite varied depending on where you go.

Can you give us more ideas of your interests and how much time you'd be willing to spend in transit?
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Oct 5, 2004
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1. Vietnam. You can start in the south or north as it is no difference. You can start in Hanoi, do some tours from there then move south, including relaxing by the ocean (eg on Phu Quoc) . You can easily spend a week in the north as there's a lot to do and see.
Maybe find some tours and see what places they visit and it may help you to see where to go.

2. Indonesia. Been there a number of times with the most recent trip earlier this year. It may be easier for you to go to Bali. It's very tourist friendly and easy to travel around. A lot to see and you can easily spend 1 month just on Bali though most visit other islands nearby as well. It is not a beach destination as beaches are not very pretty or depending on the season they may also be extremely polluted. Bali would be a bit more expensive than Thailand. You can rent a cottage with a pool among the rice fields as cheap as $40/night.

3. Thailand. Great country to visit and you can easily spend 1 month+ in the south while doing island hopping. It has a beautiful north as well to explore. Even Bangkok is a great as you can spend a week just there and doing day tours out of it.


PS. With you flight departing at 6am it is likely the boarding will be at 5:15am. While some lounges claim to open at 4;30 I had instances where they weren't open until 5am so I would not rely on them to get fed.
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Dont forget to purchase travel insurance.
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Deal Addict
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amz155 wrote:
Jul 3rd, 2019 4:24 pm
24 days split between such huge countries isn't the best idea IMO. It'll cause too much moving around. Just my own experience but we spent three weeks in Vietname just in the area between Hanoi and Hoi An and we still didn't see everything we wanted to. Ditto with Indonesia: did four weeks in Bali/Lombok and another four weeks in Sulawesi/Flores/Bali and we had to cut out a lot of highlights.

As for which is bettter between Indonesia and Thailand....better for what exactly? What do you want to do and see? For example, if you want to see Orangutans, then Indonesia is better (well, no Orangutans in Thailand at all). If you want nice beaches, Thailand is generally better. Want to see/climb volcanies? Indonesia wins out. Better food? Thailand. Even choosing where to go within either country can be a feat as the countries are quite varied depending on where you go.

Can you give us more ideas of your interests and how much time you'd be willing to spend in transit?
Agreed.

Vietnam has so much variety that 24 days would not be enough for that country alone. Sapa, Ha Long, Hanoi, Da Nang, Hoi An, Nha Trang, Phu Quoc, Saigon, Hue, Dalat Phan Tiet, Qui Nhon, Ha Tinh etc...

Many ppl would rather say they've been to many X countries, rather stick to one and explore it.
Deal Addict
Jan 12, 2005
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Scarborough
Don't pay the lounges, they are not worth their price. There's nothing wrong with sitting in public places while waiting for your flight to board.
Sr. Member
Dec 26, 2005
723 posts
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Ottawa
If you are interested in lounges, and have the time to apply before your trip, maybe consider getting a Scotiabank Passport Infinite card. spend $1000 in the first 3 months, and get $300 back. No FX fee's, and you get 6 lounge visits with priority pass for free per year.

While I agree you could spend all 24 days in even just one of those countries, there's no reason to not do two. 12 days each place is plenty of time to get in a lot of the attractions and culture. Though, I wouldn't be trying to get in the whole country in that amount of time. Pick 2, or 3 places at the most, each country. It's enough to get a good feel for the country, and decide if you want to come back in the future for longer.
just my 2 cents, and what I do on my trips over there a few times a year .. everybodys different though.
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Nov 27, 2005
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Toronto
demi2004 wrote:
Jul 3rd, 2019 4:50 pm
1. Vietnam. You can start in the south or north as it is no difference. You can start in Hanoi, do some tours from there then move south, including relaxing by the ocean (eg on Phu Quoc) . You can easily spend a week in the north as there's a lot to do and see.
Maybe find some tours and see what places they visit and it may help you to see where to go.

2. Indonesia. Been there a number of times with the most recent trip earlier this year. It may be easier for you to go to Bali. It's very tourist friendly and easy to travel around. A lot to see and you can easily spend 1 month just on Bali though most visit other islands nearby as well. It is not a beach destination as beaches are not very pretty or depending on the season they may also be extremely polluted. Bali would be a bit more expensive than Thailand. You can rent a cottage with a pool among the rice fields as cheap as $40/night.

3. Thailand. Great country to visit and you can easily spend 1 month+ in the south while doing island hopping. It has a beautiful north as well to explore. Even Bangkok is a great as you can spend a week just there and doing day tours out of it.


PS. With you flight departing at 6am it is likely the boarding will be at 5:15am. While some lounges claim to open at 4;30 I had instances where they weren't open until 5am so I would not rely on them to get fed.
24 days is plenty of time for Vietnam and Thailand, but very little time for Indonesia - unless you just go to Bali or Lombok. You could spend 6 months in Indo and not see everything - it is a massive place with generally horrifying, slow transport.

If you start in Hanoi and go to Halong Bay, you should be able to see everything you need to within four or five days. Add a couple more days if you want to go to Sapa. Also, fly between cities in Vietnam. It's cheap and better than the train. Last time I took the night train in Vietnam there were bed bugs in my bunk. Just not worth it. If you book in advance, you should be able to get cheap Jetstar flights for 50-70 bucks. You could fly down to Hue or Danang if you want to visit central Vietnam. Saigon is interesting, but also not really worth more than a few days if you want to do sightseeing. You could always go down to the Mekong Delta for a few days if you desire - I've heard it is nice there (I rarely do that touristy crap).

If you're going to Indo, you should go North to South through Vietnam, as there are significantly better southbound international flight connections from Saigon. You can take a direct flight from Saigon to Bali (or Jakarta). If you're going to Thailand after, it probably doesn't matter where in Vietnam you fly from, as there are abundant cheap flight links between the two countries.
Personaly, I like to do a few days in KL between connections so that I can gorge on Indian food, but that is just me.
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Oct 10, 2005
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Mississauga
When is your upcoming trip? It may be a consideration on which countries you choose for this trip.
If your connection in Incheon is on the same ticket then you have plenty of time.
I assume your international flight is in and out of KL?

For Vietnam it doesn't really matter north to south or south to north. Likely better travelling through KUL to get from Vietnam to Indonesia.
Lots of cheap flights to/from both Hanoi and Saigon to KL.
From North to South: Hanoi - Halong Bay overnight trip, over night trip to Ninh Binh
- Overnight Train to Hue - Danang (rent a motorbike and do a trip to My Son) - Hoi An - Nha Trang - Saigon - Few days in Mekong Delta (Ben Tre, Vinh Long, Can Tho)

For Indonesia I would plan to arrive in Yogyakarta. Cheap flights from KUL. I would suggest avoiding Jakarta.
Visit the temples of Borobudur and Prambanan. Then book a tour to Mt Bromo and/or Ijen crater then continuing to Kuta, Bali via ferry.
If you pick only one then pick Ijen. You stay at a hotel near the crater. In the wee hours you hike up to and descend into the crater to see the blue flames.
Then back up to the crater edge for sunrise and then to the ferry to Bali.
Then something like Bali - Gili Islands - Lombok - Komodo National Park - Flores (Labuan Bajo) flight back to Bali and flight to KL.
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Nov 27, 2005
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scuba2day wrote:
Jul 5th, 2019 3:59 pm
When is your upcoming trip? It may be a consideration on which countries you choose for this trip.
If your connection in Incheon is on the same ticket then you have plenty of time.
I assume your international flight is in and out of KL?

For Vietnam it doesn't really matter north to south or south to north. Likely better travelling through KUL to get from Vietnam to Indonesia.
Lots of cheap flights to/from both Hanoi and Saigon to KL.
From North to South: Hanoi - Halong Bay overnight trip, over night trip to Ninh Binh
- Overnight Train to Hue - Danang (rent a motorbike and do a trip to My Son) - Hoi An - Nha Trang - Saigon - Few days in Mekong Delta (Ben Tre, Vinh Long, Can Tho)

For Indonesia I would plan to arrive in Yogyakarta. Cheap flights from KUL. I would suggest avoiding Jakarta.
Visit the temples of Borobudur and Prambanan. Then book a tour to Mt Bromo and/or Ijen crater then continuing to Kuta, Bali via ferry.
If you pick only one then pick Ijen. You stay at a hotel near the crater. In the wee hours you hike up to and descend into the crater to see the blue flames.
Then back up to the crater edge for sunrise and then to the ferry to Bali.
Then something like Bali - Gili Islands - Lombok - Komodo National Park - Flores (Labuan Bajo) flight back to Bali and flight to KL.
I mostly agree with this guy's advice. However, whether you should do an itinerary so busy depends on your style of travel. You'll spend as much time travelling on airplanes, boats, and planes as actually relaxing and enjoying yourself if you follow such a full itinerary.

Also - flights from Saigon are more numerous and a fair bit cheaper.

Finally, I generally advise people to avoid the ferries in Indo whenever possible. They do occasionally sink. Buses are not much better. I've taken a bunch. They're crap, and bus travel is slow. Even the one from the ferry terminal to Kuta/Seminyak/Denpasar is a good 5 hours. Just getting to Ijen from Jogja is likely to take 10+ hours. On a crappy bus. Passing on blind corners. The scenery is nice in Indo, but you should fly between destinations if at all possible. I'm not saying you shouldn't visit these places, just that you should know what you're getting into.

If you were single I'd suggest Jakarta - it has some of the best clubs in Asia. If you're with your SO, it will be painful, so just avoid it :)
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Apr 19, 2017
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test9251 wrote:
Jul 7th, 2019 6:10 pm
why?
In case something happens. Missed flight, lost luggage, sick, hurt.
I dont want to see you with Pat Foran on CTV.
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