|Subject: RE: Hong Kong and Vietnam questions|
Great to hear that you are coming to HK! What dates are you thinking
Re. hotels in HK - the Salisbury Y is an excellent choice. There are a few other places I could recommend of comparable value but can't compare with the location that the Y affords. Priceline Asia has just started up so it definitely might be worth checking what they can do for you when you get closer to the date. I have also found that sometimes (again, closer to travel time) local travel agents can get deals on 4-5* hotels which are better than the Y prices so .I'd be happy to recommend my agent here just so that you can see what he has on his books at the time.
Another recommendation (for both HK and Vietnam) is to check out: www.asia-hotels.com - I actually know the people that run it (so know that you can trust it) and have often ('though not always) found their prices to be better than other hotel booking sites in the region. .
A day trip to Shenzhen is all you need (and only go there if you want to do 'cross-border shopping' - there really isn't much to see there). But you might consider a short excursion which takes you to Macau (I've lots of favourites to pass on for this delightful city), Zhuhai (just across the border) and Zhongshan (former residence of Sun Yat Sen) - which could be a day trip from Macau or . possibly do the circle route and go from there to Guangzhou (beautiful orchid garden, tea house, and fascinating back street markets) and then back to HK. For Shenzhen you can get a day-trip visa at the train station but to go into China through Zhuhai - you'll have to get a China visa before you go (something that's now easiest to get through a local (HK) travel agent - they've made it so bureaucratic through the official China office here).
Unless you get one of the deals like Cathay's All-Asia package - friends and colleagues of mine have found it cheaper to buy tickets in HK for travel around the region. Yes - $600US seems high - if you give me your tentative timing, I'll ask my agent here what price he can get for you.
I definitely don't think you need to book a tour - we found it very easy to travel around Vietnam independently. I would also echo Lisa's suggestion that you consider Hanoi. We also found Hue and Hoi An to be highlights of our week in Vietnam. AND. if you possibly can, try to get to Siem Reap in Cambodia - it really is the most incredible site that we have found in all of our travels throughout Asia thus far.
Cheers! Judy in Hong Kong