I am in the beginning stages of planning a trip during Christmas from Kunming to Hanoi to Ho Chi Minh. Have any of you ever done this? What is the cost of a train from Hanoi to Ho Chi Minh? What can I expect to spend on hotels? What are some things to do and see in Hanoi or Ho Chi Minh?
I am looking at driving my car from KMG to Hekou (leaving the car at the house of someone I know) then crossing the border and taking the train to Hanoi. Spend a few days in Hanoi and then take a train to Ho Chi Minh. I would appreciate any thoughts or feedback.
1) If you are getting the visa in Kunming, it's now 400rmb and 5 working days. The reviews have more info.
2) Your beginner train resource for Vietnam
3) Except for the major cities, don't always expect the ticket counter to have a clerk there, like if you miss the morning trains from from lao cai to Hanoi, there no one at the station to ask for help.
4) Just search the roughguide online for sightseeing info.
5) As to hotels, cheap as 8usd to 170usd for a room. Up to your travel style.
6) Add Hoi An to your list; great break from just going from one urban center right to another.
7) China Eastern has a direct flight back to Kunming from DaNang, should you not want to backtrack all the way by land or fly to GZ first.
8) Finally, drink as much bia hoi as possible.
If you can change your dates, the weather is pretty good in November in Hanoi, and again maybe April I'm told, but it's lousy at most times. Hanoi is a beautiful and interesting city with too many cars and motorcycles on rather narrow streets. You might take a look at Jim Goodman's Uniquely Vietnamese - as well as at his other 2-3 books on Viet Nam, to learn just how Viet Nam is NOT just like China, to which the culture and society are always being compared.