Sample 2 week itinerary for Vietnam

One of the trickiest things for do-it-yourself travel planners to work out, especially when visiting a destination for the first time, is how to arrange the itinerary so that you make the most of your time on the ground, without trying to pack too much in. So in this post I have outlined a sample 2 week itinerary for Vietnam based on our experiences there over four separate trips between 2010 and 2015.

A sample 2 week itinerary for Vietnam: www.feetonforeignlands.com

Our first trip to Vietnam was in September 2010, when we spent just over two weeks there. We’ve returned three times since, the most recent time in January 2015 when we spent two and a half weeks in Ho Chi Minh City alone. Our experiences there have inspired me to put together a suggested two week itinerary for first-time visitors to Vietnam which hits some of the highlights, without the pace being so frantic that everything in this rich and diverse country speeds past in a blur.

Whenever we visit a foreign land we like to pace ourselves so that we get an opportunity to scrape a little below the surface of a destination. So, this itinerary focuses primarily on the two big cities of Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon) and Hanoi, but throws in some diversions along the way.

In summary:

  • 4 nights in Ho Chi Minh City
  • 3 nights in Hoi An
  • 2 nights in Hue
  • 2 nights in Hanoi
  • 1 night on a junk at Halong Bay
  • 2 nights in Hanoi

Read on for the full suggested list of what to do within this time. Suggested activities or things to see are in dot points under each day, with links to where I’ve written posts about those activities.

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A sample 2 week itinerary for Vietnam

Day 1: Arrive in Ho Chi Minh City

Ho Chi Minh City (also known as Saigon) is the largest city in Vietnam, and is famous for the role it played in the Vietnam (American) War. A city of distinct contrasts, HCMC is a vibrant combination of the old and the super-new. Beautiful French-colonial architecture sits alongside skyscrapers of glass and steel. 

The Caravelle and the Municipal Theatre at night
The Caravelle and the Municipal Theatre at night

Days 2-4: Ho Chi Minh City

Day 5 -Fly from Ho Chi Minh City to Danang, ground transfer to Hoi An

Hoi An on Vietnam’s central coast is best known for its well-preserved Ancient Town, which is located on the banks of the Thu Bon River. An important trading port in times gone past, the influence of visiting trader cultures is see in the architecture which is a mix of eras and styles. The town is also known as the ‘tailoring town’ and a huge number of tailors are ready to whip up any creations you desire. 

Lantern Festival Hoi An

Day 6 & 7 – Hoi An

Day 8 – Hoi An to Hue

North of Danang and Hoi An in central Vietnam, Hue was the seat of Nguyen Dynasty emperors and the national capital from 1802-1945. The 19th-century Imperial Citadel, which is surrounded by a moat and thick stone walls, is a major attraction, as are the tombs of the Nguyen emperors which are dotted throughout the Perfume River valley.

  • Ground transfer to Danang, then there are two options to get to Hue – either continue by road over the Hai Van Pass, which is a spectacular mountain pass, or take the Reunification Express Train from Danang to Hue. Apparently, on a good day, the views of the coastline from the right-hand side of the train as you head north are stunning.
  • If you have time when you arrive in Hue, take a boat tour from the city centre along the Perfume River to the Thien Mu Pagoda (Heavenly Lady Pagoda). Otherwise, arrange for that to be included in the following day’s tour

Khai Dinh Tomb 2

Day 9 – Hue

Day 10 -Fly from Hue to Hanoi

Hanoi in the north of the country is the capital of Vietnam and the second largest city. Its history stretches back over 1,000 years,  with the culture representing a blend of East and West – traditional Sino-Vietnamese and French colonial influences. At the centre of the city is the Old Quarter, a chaotic arrangement of narrow streets grouped according to trades. 

  • On arrival in Hanoi, head to the Old Quarter and wander through the streets which each specialise in a different goods.6dac0-img_7540.jpg

Day 11 – Hanoi

  • Day tour with Hanoi Kids – these volunteer student guides will include whatever sights interest you, but have a few suggested tour itineraries on their website. We took Option 1: Ho Chi Minh Complex, Temple of Literature, Sword Lake area and Old Quarter.

Day 12 – Overnight on a junk at Halong Bay

Designated a World Heritage site in 1994, Halong Bay, in northeast Vietnam is known for its stunning geological feature of thousands of towering limestone (kaarst) islands rising out of a bay of emerald.  Junk boat tours ply these waters, with many visitors staying on a junk for a night or two. 

b844f-img_5485.jpg

Day 13 – Halong Bay to Hanoi

  • Return to Hanoi by road (4 hours)
  • Thang Long Water Puppet Theatre
  • Hanoi Night Markets

Day 14 – Hanoi

Day 14 (late) or Day 15 – Depart Hanoi

What would you put top of your Vietnam itinerary list?

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A sample 2 week itinerary for Vietnam: www.feetonforeignlands.com

Creating an itinerary packed full of memorable moments is no accident. If you would like to know my method for doing it, download your free copy of my e-guide: Memorable Moments: How to pack your travel itinerary full of opportunities to create those memories.

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