Turning 30 in Vietnam

With my 30th birthday looming, and keen not to spend it home, a birthday adventure has been lined up for for June – taking in the sights of Vietnam for the first time and also squeezing in visit number fourteen to Thailand. My travel companion for this trip is none other than my mum, who shares the same passion for travel and a love for the Far East.

Whilst only the flights are booked at the moment, it is sure to be a great trip and one that will open my eyes to more of Asia – things I haven’t seen before, a culture that I won’t have experienced and food that I am sure will be out of this world.

The trip will involve 14,000 air miles and 1,100 miles by rail - travelling from Hanoi in the north to Ho Chi Minh in the south of Vietnam.

The trip will involve 14,000 air miles and 1,100 miles by rail – travelling from Hanoi in the north to Ho Chi Minh in the south of Vietnam.

The first of seven flights on this two week trip will be with British Airways on the 40-minute trip to Paris Charles-de-Gaulle. Here we will catch an Oman Air flight to Muscat and onwards to Bangkok. After an overnight stay in Bangkok, we will set off for Hanoi in northern Vietnam with the country’s flag carrier – Vietnam Airlines. We will then have eight days to travel to Ho Chi Minh in the south, most probably by train, taking in the sights, sounds and smells on the 1,100 mile trip. It’s from here that we will return to Thailand, spending just four days stuffing our faces with no end of red, green and panang curries, fried bananas and lots of tasty seafood on the beach.

For anybody looking to travel for less, I cannot recommend ‘open jaw’ flights enough. Open jaw isn’t a straightforward return flight but rather departing from an airport in one country and then returning to an airport in another. In our case, the Oman Air route chosen was Paris to Bangkok to London, saving around £160 each on the simpler London to Bangkok return. A great deal of persistence with the various available booking websites eventually pays off and you’ll bag yourself a bargain!

Further savings were made on the Vietnam Airlines flight (around £35 per person) by paying in local currency directly with the airline.

Watch this space over the coming days as we plan our route and choose our accommodation (and trains) for the journey from north to south Vietnam.

An Update (16.05.2015) – So, we have decided against travelling by train from Hanoi to Ho Chi Minh. Sure, it would have been an experience, but it would have meant a very slow trip from the north of Vietnam to the south, and when you’ve only got 8 days there, it seems a shame to spend 25% of the time stuck on a train. We had also planned to stop in Da Nang for a few nights but that’s a little more developed than we were hoping for – so that idea has been knocked on the head as well!

On arrival in Hanoi, we’ll be spending two nights at the 5* Lotte Hotel Hanoi, then flying down to the island of Phu Quoc (southwestern Vietnam) staying for four nights at the 4* Mercure Phu Quoc Resort and flying to Ho Chi Minh for our final two nights in the country (in a hotel still to be confirmed)

Our flights from Hanoi to Phu Quoc and from there to Ho Chi Minh are with low cost airlines but with all the optional extras paid for to make it feel a little less ‘low cost’. The flights are with VietJetAir and Jetstar respectively, with the 2 hour 10 minute trip from Hanoi costing around £70.00 per person with a hot meal, allocated seating and a 20kg luggage allowance. The shorter 1 hour trip to Ho Chi Minh is around £34.00 per person with allocated seating and a 20kg luggage allowance.

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