Vietnam 2010

A whistle-stop trip from north to south (and a hop next door)

Logistics and travel info


I flew Singapore Airlines from Cape Town to Hanoi, via Singapore. Chris flew Cape Town – Singapore – Saigon and then took a Vietnam Airlines flight from Saigon to Hanoi.

The alternative was a Cathay Pacific flight via Hong Kong, but this was more expensive and the connections meant longer travel times. And there are worse places to wait for an onward flight than Changi Airport.

All Singapore Airlines flights were extremely clean and comfortable – my only gripe is that they don’t offer small bottles of water on the flights, but half-fill cups on request. Although the crew are more than willing to assist with constant water requests, it would be preferable to have one’s own bottle on hand throughout the flight. I got the hump because at every security check (and there were plenty of them!), I had water confiscated, some of which I had paid $3 for 500ml! I took to chugging it as my bag slid through the X-ray machine, to the chagrin of the uber-efficient security personnel who were intent on marching us steadily through the checkpoint.

Internally, we flew Vietnam Airlines Hanoi – Da Nang and Da Nang – HCMC – Siem Reap – HCMC. On two occasions, the planes were brand spanking new A320s. The staff were friendly and efficient and the flights were smooth and comfortable. On the return from Siem Reap, the flight was code-shared with Angkor Air Cambodia and we used an Angkor Air plane. No problems on this flight either.

And all four airports we visited (Hanoi, Da Nang, HCMC, Siem Reap) are new and super-efficient. We are used to travelling in Africa (Jomo Kenyatta and Cairo Intl are home-from-home for us) and I certainly expected SE Asia to be very similar. I was astounded by how incorrect my impressions were!

We booked our tickets through Lisa Ballerini at Travel Above and Beyond (Tel: +27 21 521 9200, Fax: +27 21 552 4597, Email: We have used Lisa again, since this trip and find her to be extremely quick and efficient at finding the best routes at the best prices.

For information on specific areas, please click on the links below:


Sa Pa trekking

Cruising from Cat Ba Island

Ancient city of Hoi An

Siem Reap and the Angkor complex (Cambodia)

Ho Chi Minh City


One Response to “Logistics and travel info”

  1. Lekha said

    Thank you for sharing your trip. I’m thinking of travelling on my own to northern Vietnam later this year. Current plans are Hanoi, Sapa, Halong Bay and Hoi An – I only have 8 days after 2 weeks in Thailand with a friend.I’m having difficulty choosing a junk for Halong Bay – any thoughts. I’m from Johannesburg and prefer to get my visa before I leave. Is it pain free (not that visa applications ever are!)?

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