2 Weeks in Vietnam: Sample Itineraries

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2 Weeks in Vietnam Ha Long Bay

2 Weeks in Vietnam

In this post, which is our third post in our sample itineraries series, we give you what we believe are some of the best things to see and do during your upcoming travels.

Because we want to make sure you get the most out of your time in Vietnam, we are going to give you two different itineraries for Vietnam, a country that offers a bit of everything to the traveller. Blessed with historic ruins, rugged mountains, stunning coastline, and food that is loved around the world, we are sure you’ll love this country. Of course, with the Vietnam War in the not too distant past, there are also plenty of areas to visit to learn more including the infamous Cu Chi Tunnels outside of Ho Chi Minh City.

These sample itineraries are just a guide and depending on what type of traveller you are, you can modify these to suit your own style.

Figured out your budget is yet for Vietnam? Let us help you with our post, “What to Budget for Vietnam”.

Vietnam

After travelling for a month through China,  which at times was quite difficult (but rewarding) travel, Vietnam and its well trodden backpacker path and it’s easy to navigate transit system was a sight for sore eyes. We did however get off to a rather bad start as we were scammed by the first taxi driver we encountered in Hanoi which you can read more in our post Scams in Southeast Asia. We could have let that spoil our time in Vietnam but instead we chose to let it roll of our backs and move on and we’re glad we did.

From the natural wonders of Ha Long Bay and the rice terraces of Sapa in the North, to the beautiful ancient buildings and ruins around Hoi An in the middle to the history and culture of Ho Chi Minh City in the South, Vietnam has left a lasting impression on us. Vietnam is of course also known for its fabulous cuisine and we absolutely loved eating our way across the country.  Favourites around the world, pho, salad rolls and coffee are what the country is known for so rest assured that you’ll not only eat cheaply in Vietnam but also extremely well!

And then there’s the traffic. You’ll soon figure out that the only way to cross the street in Vietnam is to close your eyes and just start walking and whatever you do, don’t stop!

We’ve come up with two awesome itineraries for you that were sure you’ll love. Up first will be our 2 week itinerary focusing on both the ancient culture and the beaches of the East while the second focuses on the natural beauty of Vietnam’s mountains and hills in the West.

If you are lucky enough to have more than 2 weeks in Vietnam, you can always combine these two itineraries into one if you’d like to tackle the entire country in a month.

Lastly, some of you may be starting in Hanoi like we did while others in the Ho Chi Minh City. Obviously you can flip these itineraries around to better suit your entry and exit points.

Let’s begin!

2 Weeks in Vietnam

Itinerary One – Ho Chi Minh City, Mui Ne (or Nha Trang for divers), Hoi An, Hanoi & Ha Long Bay

Days 1-3: Ho Chi Minh City (formerly Saigon)

  • Find your accommodations, acclimatize yourself to the new time zone and the fact you are now in Southeast Asia or that you’ve arrived into another country on your journey.
  • Explore District 1 ( Pham Ngu Lao) area which is jam packed with backpackers, hawkers, food stalls, street side massage parlours, tattoo shops and so much more. If you are a backpacker, this area will be most likely where you’ll stay as there are heaps of budget guesthouses in the area.
  • Book yourself a day trip out to the Cu Chi Tunnels and in the afternoon check out the War Remnants Museum which will allow you to gain a greater understanding of the Vietnam war from the other side.
  • Buy your three city pass from the bus station where you can pick your stops. With this itinerary you’ll want to pick Mui Ne or Nha Trang (if you want to scuba dive), Hoi An, and Hanoi.
  • While in Ho Chi Minh City practice your haggling skills with the street vendors and tuk-tuk drivers as Vietnam works on the bartering system. Use HCMC as a warm up for the rest of your travels in Vietnam and Asia. Make sure to check out our post on Haggling Like a Pro so that you can haggle with the best of them during your trip.

Where we stayed: Anh’s Guesthouse – $10 USD per night (private room) or Town House 23 Saigon (Dorm)

District 3 Ho Chi Minh City

Days 4-6: Mui Ne (Option A: For those non-divers)

  • Book a tour to see the red and white sand dunes and fairy stream. If you can negotiate a good rate, rent an ATV to cross the dunes.
  • Spend the rest of your free time lazing around this sleepy little beach town preferably in a hammock with a drink in your hand.
  • Check out our photo tour of Mui Ne for some travel inspiration.

Where we stayed: Coco Sand – $13 USD per night (private room)

Sledding down Mui Ne sand dunes

Days 4-6: Nha Trang (Option B: For divers)

  • If you’ve ever thought of scuba diving or if you’re looking to get an advanced license, Nha Trang is the cheapest option in Southeast Asia. Yes, even cheaper than Koh Tao. We got our PADI Open Water here which you can read all about in this post.
  • Other than diving, there isn’t a whole lot to do and see in Nha Trang but it does offer some great nightclubs and pretty nice beaches but you’ll be competing with loads of Russian tourists during the peak season.

Where to stay: Don Hai Hotel – $9 USD per night (private room)

Nha Trang Scuba

Days 7-9: Hoi An

  • Book a half day tour to see the ancient My Son ruins dating back over a thousand years, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
  • Rent a couple of bicycles and spend half a day exploring the ancient town which is another UNESCO World Heritage site. Make sure to check out the bustling local market along the waterfront.
  • Head into one of the dozens of tailors in town and buy yourself some cheap clothing as the town is known as the tailor capital of Vietnam.
  • On your final day, rent a few bikes and head to the local beach to catch some rays. We found that the beaches here were the most pristine in all of Vietnam. Be warned though that all the chairs along the beach belong to the different restaurants so make sure to head a bit further down the beach to find one of the cheapest places and as always, try and negotiate!
  • To learn why Hoi An was our favourite city in Vietnam, read our post here.

Where we stayed: Hoa Binh Hotel – $17 USD per night (private room, included A/C and hot shower)

Hoi An Beach

Days 10-11: Hanoi

  • Grab a drink across the street from Hoan Kiem Lake to enjoy splendid views and of course to watch the craziness of the traffic unfold beneath you. Check out Hoa Lo Prison Museum which was nicknamed the “Hanoi Hilton” during the Vietnam war and is famous for having housed John McCain as a P.O.W.
  • In the evening make sure to check out Thang Long Water Puppet Theatre. This ancient puppet show dates back centuries and is passed down from generation to generation and for us was a definite highlight from our time in Hanoi.
  • Book a one night tour of Ha Long Bay. Shop around and haggle for the best price and please try to avoid monkey island in your tour as we found the monkey’s to be terrorized and abused by heaps of tourists.

Where we stayed: Golden Hostel II – $17 USD per night (private room, included A/C and hot shower)

Hanoi water puppets

Days 12-13: Ha Long Bay

  • Take an overnight journey through one of the natural wonders of the world.
  • Kayak, swim and take in the breathtaking sunset while cruising through the stunning karst mountain landscape.
  • Make sure to check our post on Ha Long Bay!

Ha Long Bay sunset

Day 14: Back to Hanoi

  • Head back to Hanoi to either continue your adventure or fly back home and start saving for the next one!

Itinerary Two – Ho Chi Minh City, Da Lat, Hoi An, Hanoi & Sapa

Days 1-3: Ho Chi Minh City (formerly Saigon)

  • Find your accommodations, acclimatize yourself to the new time zone and the fact you are now in Southeast Asia or that you’ve arrived into another country on your journey.
  • Explore the District 3 area which is jam packed with backpackers, hawkers, food stalls, street side massage parlours, tattoo shops and so much more. If you are a backpacker, this area will be most likely where you’ll stay as there are heaps of budget guesthouses in the area.
  • Book yourself a day trip out to the Cu Chi Tunnels and in the afternoon check out the War Remnants Museum which will allow you to gain a greater understanding of the Vietnam war from the other side.
  • Buy your three city pass from the bus station where you can pick your stops. With this itinerary you’ll want to pick Mui Ne or Nha Trang if you want to scuba dive, Hoi An, and Hanoi.
  • While in Ho Chi Minh City practice your haggling skills with the street vendors and tuk-tuk drivers as Vietnam works on the bartering system. Use HCMC as a warm up for the rest of your travels in Vietnam and Asia. Make sure to check out our post on Haggling Like a Pro so that you can haggle with the best of them during your trip.

Where we stayed: Anh’s Guesthouse – $10 USD per night (private room) or Town House 23 Saigon (Dorm)

Cu Chi Tunnels

Days 4-5: Da Lat

  • Da Lat is a small town in the mountains of central Vietnam that is famous for being a honeymoon destination for locals because of its picturesque setting amongst waterfalls and colourful gardens.
  • Enjoy people watching with some Vietnamese coffee in one of the small cafes in town.
  • Try to get in a trek while there as the views from the mountains are spectacular.

Where to Stay: Thien Kim Guesthouse – $8 USD per night (private room)

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Days 6-8: Hoi An

  • Book a half day tour to see the ancient My Son ruins dating back over a thousand years, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
  • Rent a couple of bicycles and spend half a day exploring the ancient town which is another UNESCO World Heritage site. Make sure to check out the bustling local market along the waterfront.
  • Head into one of the dozens of tailors in town and buy yourself some cheap tailor made clothing as the town is known as the tailor capital of Vietnam.
  • On your final day, rent a few bikes and head to the local beach to catch some rays. We found that the beaches here were the most pristine in all of Vietnam. Be warned that all the chairs along the beach belong to the different restaurants so make sure to head a bit further down the beach to find one of the cheapest places and as always, try and negotiate!
  • To learn why Hoi An was our favourite city in Vietnam, read our post here.

Where we stayed: Hoa Binh Hotel – $17 USD per night (private room, included A/C and hot shower)

Bicycling in Hoi An

Days 9-10: Hanoi

  • Spend the day wandering around the city. Grab a drink across the street from Hoan Kiem Lake and people watch. Check out Hoa Lo Prison Museum which was nicknamed the “Hanoi Hilton” during the Vietnam war and is famous for having house John McCain as a P.O.W.
  • In the evening make sure to check out Thang Long Water Puppet Theatre. This ancient puppet show dates back centuries and is passed down from generation to generation and was a definite highlight from our time in Hanoi.

Where we stayed: Golden Hostel II – $17 USD per night (private room, included A/C and hot shower)

Hoan Kiem Lake Hanoi

Days 11-13: Sapa

  • Rent a motorbike/scooter and spend a couple days driving and hiking through the stunning landscape of the misty mountain rice terraces of Sapa.
  • Head to Sapa Lake and rent a paddle boat.
  • If you can find a homestay that has a good reputation, you should try and stay there instead of a hostel. The experiences of a homestay are unmatched.

Where to stay: Muang Hoa – $8 USD per night

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Day 14: Back to Hanoi

  • Head back to Hanoi to either continue your adventure or fly back home and start saving for the next one!

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2 Weeks in Vietnam

We loved Vietnam. We loved the tenacity and spunk of the Vietnamese women who are cunning business women. We loved the varied natural beauty of the country from marvellous rive terraces, karst mountains to stunning beaches. Of course we also loved the food as how could you not? The pho, salad rolls, coffee and so much more left us feeling like we had died and gone to food heaven!

I hope these sample itineraries for 2 weeks in Vietnam have helped you plan out your adventure and that you’re feeling prepared and inspired!

If you enjoyed this post please like and share as that would mean a lot to us.

Cheers and happy travels,

Ross & Alyse

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Ross

Lover of travel, photography, nature, movies, and nachos. If you love Star Wars and Lord of the Rings we'll probably become best friends.
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