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Two Weeks in Vietnam Travel Itinerary

Dreaming of slurping on delicious phở in Hanoi, jumping in the emerald water of Halong Bay, riding a motorbike along mountains that are not for the faith of heart, and strolling along the romantic Hoi An? You have come to the right place! This travel itinerary to Vietnam is your ticket to a memorable adventure.

Chances are this won’t be your only trip to Vietnam (yes, it is THAT great), so relax and enjoy the ride. We've got you covered from historic must-sees to hidden gems, from useful tips to must-eat delicacies, and from getting a visa to planning your travel budget, all gathered in this easy to follow two weeks in Vietnam north to south itinerary.

Get ready for a phở-nomenal time in Vietnam! (Sorry, couldn’t help myself!😂)

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Chapters

Vietnam Two Weeks Itinerary

Two weeks in Vietnam is the minimum we suggest for first-time visitors to this amazing country, allowing you to get a taste of what it has to offer and visit some of its most important highlights. If you have three weeks or more to spend, don’t worry, we provide some cool tips and suggestions along the way to keep you busy!

Your Vietnam route can start in either Hanoi or Ho Chi Minh City, allowing you to work your way up or down the country. This itinerary begins in the north (Hanoi), as its vibrant energy always inspires us to explore. However, feel free to choose whichever airport has the best deal for your particular case.

Street in Hanoi a must visit during a Vietnam itinerary

Day 1-3: Hanoi

Welcome to Hanoi, the vibrant (or chaotic, depending on who you ask😅) capital of Vietnam. This city is a fantastic starting point for your Vietnam two weeks itinerary, not only because, chances are, you landed in its international airport, but also because it is extremely well connected by air or land with the rest of the country.

couple near must visit pagoda in Hanoi Vietnam
Ho Chi Minh Monument Hanoi

There is so much to do in Hanoi! Explore the Old Quarter with its famous craftsmen, get mesmerized by French-style architecture in the French Quarter, hold onto your coffee so it's not taken by the passing train on the train street, watch the never-ending photoshoots by Hoan Kiem Lake, indulge in a delicious bowl of Pho, or simply spend 30 minutes trying to cross a road until you are rescued by a local.

Couple in must visit temple in Hanoi during any Vietnam itinerary
woman in oldest bridge in Hanoi a must visit in Vietnam

When planning your travel itinerary to Vietnam, dedicate at least two days to enjoying Hanoi’s magnetic atmosphere, bold flavors, aromas, sights, and sounds. On the third day, consider squeezing in a day trip to a nearby village such as Quang Phu Cau for its highly photogenic insane incense production*.

While there is incense production throughout the year, this visit is particularly impressive during the months prior to Tet celebration.

incense village near Hanoi in Vietnam during the best time to visit
incense village a must visit for any Vietnam route

If you can afford a sneaky extra night, consider visiting the Sapa area and spend the night. It is a nice way to get a glimpse of the magical northern beauty, without committing to an intense experience such as the Ha Giang Loop (which we love and actually prefer, but the truth is there are quite some rules and regulations around this trip nowadays, so it's better to do it with an easyrider). We only recommend the loop if you have more time in your Vietnam travel itinerary to dedicate to the northern part of the country, such as 3 weeks or more.

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Where to Stay in Hanoi

Most of the highlights of Hanoi can be explored by foot if you situate yourself in the surrounding area of Han Kiem Lake or Old Quarter. Consider one of these central Hanoi hotels:

Lamant de Hanoi Hotel best budget hotel in Hanoi
Hanoi Esplendor Hotel best hotel in Hanoi Vietnam
Peridot Grand Luxury Boutique best luxury hotel in Hanoi

Day 4-5: Halong Bay

A cruise down the emerald waters of the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Halong Bay is a must in any travel itinerary to Vietnam. Sailing around the breathtaking limestone karsts and floating villages, can be organized with a direct pickup from Hanoi, or you can go down to Halong Bay or Cat Ba and make this another step into your Vietnam route.

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visiting halong bay during a Vietnam itinerary

Day 6 - 7: Ninh Binh

If Halong Bay is a mandatory stop in your Vietnam two weeks itinerary, then Ninh Binh, known as the “Land Halong Bay” is just as important. This province in northern Vietnam is renowned for its limestone mountains, tranquil villages, beautiful rice paddies, and winding rivers. Without a doubt, it is one of our favorite places to relax while in Vietnam, and to our surprise, such paradise is still overlooked by so many travelers.

couple in Mua caves Ninh Binh during a 2 week travel itinerary in Vietnam

Explore beautiful pagodas, go up the most stunning viewpoint you will ever lay eyes on, and embark on a river tour where you can explore caves and temples. If you are lucky, you might even spot a few skillful boat rowers using their feet to push off the riverbed and propel their boats along the narrow waterways.

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Getting to Ninh Binh

From Hanoi to Ninh Binh:

Getting from Hanoi to Ninh Binh is super easy and quite fast and affordable. You can go by bus, van, direct train, car or motorbike. Travel time is between 1h30min and 2h15min. Click here to find the best options available for your travel day*.

woman near temple in Ninh Binh in Vietnam
man smiling in Ninh Binh must visit Temple

From Halong Bay/Cat Ba to Ninh Binh:

Getting from Halong Bay to Ninh Binh is possible by bus (public or touristic), car or motorbike. To considerably reduce the travel time we suggest you depart from Cat Ba, which is one ferry ride away from Halong Bay. The travel time will be somewhere between 3h30min and 4h30min. Click here to see the best transportation alternatives for you*.

Don’t get off the bus in Ninh Bình center unless you've booked a hotel there (which we don’t recommend). Get off at Tam Coc. If you arrive in Ninh Binh by train, Tam Coc is just a 10 minute taxi ride away.

Where to Stay in Ninh Binh

Contrary to what one might assume, staying in the center of Ninh Binh is not the way to go. You will want to stay in Tam Coc. This town has a single main road packed with good restaurants and a very fun and chill vibe. There is a small pier with boat tours and it is fairly easy to get to most local attractions from here.

Thom's House best budget hotel in Ninh Binh
Tam Coc Holiday best hoptel in Ninh Binh
Le Clos Du Fil best luxury hotel in Ninh Binh

Day 8-9: Hue

Step into Vietnam’s history with a visit to the wonderful city of Hue, the former Imperial capital of the country. Roam around the walled imperial city, visit its impressive Citadel, ancient tombs and lovely pagodas by the Perfume River*.

woman walking in the imperial city of Hue a must visit during a Vietnam itinerary

While getting a glimpse of the country’s history and culture is an important part of these two weeks in Vietnam, truth be told, that is not the reason why we visited Hue the first time around, nor why we keep coming back. We were drawn to this city for a mysterious abandoned waterpark. When we first heard about it from another fellow traveler years ago, it was nothing but a whispered secret, with no photos online to prove its existence. We were intrigued, so we had to investigate.

woman in abandoned water park near Hue in Vietnam

Urban exploring is not everyone’s cup of tea and this place is guarded, so if you wish to visit it, do so at your own risk and please be careful.

Nevertheless, the reason why we return is simple: Food! There is no place like Hue to indulge in Vietnamese cuisine. The royalty's presence elevated the gastronomy here to a whole new level!

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Getting to Hue

From Ninh Binh to Hue:

To get from Ninh Bình to Hue you can either go by train or bus. Both options offer overnight journeys, which are preferable since the travel time ranges from 10h30min and 11h30min. Therefore, prepare to wake up in a whole new city after (hopefully) a good night's sleep. Purchase your train and bus tickets here*.

man in colorful temple in Hue Vietnam
must visit temple in Hue during a Vietnam route

From Hanoi or Ho Chi Minh City to Hue:

You can go from Hanoi* or Ho Chi Minh City* to Hue by air, bus or train. Vietnam Airlines is currently the only airline that serves Phu Bai International Airport (located about 15km South of Hue city center), with a travel time of around 1 hour. By bus and train the overnight journey is quite long and the price point doesn’t always compensate for the time investment.

Where to Stay in Hue

While Hue’s city center is not huge, it offers a nice variety of accommodations with great value for money. We always aim to find a place within walking distance of the walled Imperial City or the Night Walking Street, which comes to life in the evening with its fun bars and lovely restaurants. Here are some of our favorite hotels where to stay in Hue:

ChocoHouse best budget Hotel in Hue
Senna Hue best Hotel in Hue Vietnam
Melia Vinpearl best luxury hotel in hue

Day 10-12: Hoi An

We have arrived in the city, the hopeless romantics underline in bright colors on their travel itinerary to Vietnam: the beautiful lantern-lit Hoi An. Enjoy a bicycle ride by the river of its UNESCO World Heritage ancient town, while being transported in time by the magnificent cultural heritage that exudes from the smiles of the ladies wearing nón lá hats while selling fresh produce in the morning market. Stroll along bright yellow walls, admiring street artists and the French-style architecture.

woman in the most romantic city in Vietnam Hoi An
couple in must visit Hoi An Bridge in Vietnam

While relaxing and soaking in Hoi An’s vibe should be a good enough reason to visit, this city offers countless activities, from a stroll down the night market, a fun ride on a traditional basket boat, a delicious cooking class, or getting a tailor-made suit or dress for a fantastic price.

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Your Vietnam two weeks itinerary can end here, with a flight out from the nearby Danang Airport. However, since many international flights have stopovers in Ho Chi Minh City, why not give it a quick peek?

Getting to Hoi An

From Hue to Hoi An:

Traveling from Hue to Hoi An is fairly easy with a 3 to 4-hour ride by bus, minivan or train (which stops in Da Nang, requiring a transfer from there). Choose your preferred mode of transportation here*.

woman in colorful temple in Hoi An, Vietnam

If you are up for an adventure, take the Hue to Hoi An journey via the famous Hai Van Pass, and fall in love with the hills and coastline of this stunning part of the country during the 21km ride. Stop in Da Nang for a quick visit and cross the quirky and unique Golden Bridge. The best way to experience the Hai Van Pass route is by motorbike for the more adventurous or private car*.

From Elsewhere in Vietnam:

Getting directly to Hoi An is only possible by bus, minivan or private car from anywhere in the country. Nevertheless, Da Nang’s airport and train station are only 40 to 60 minutes away, easily manageable with a convenient transfer*.

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Artist painting the must visit streets of Hoi An in Vietnam
must visit areas of Hoi An in Vietnam

Where to Stay in Hoi An

Hoi An offers lovely accommodations both by the beach and near the old town, allowing you to choose based on your type of trip, the main attractions you wish to visit and budget.

The beach is a 1 hour walk from the old town, so if you choose to stay in that area, consider renting a bicycle or scooter for easy mobility.

Hoianian Central Villa best budget hotel in Hoi An
Anio Boutique best hotel in Hoi An Vietnam
Bay Resort HoiAn best luxury hotel in Hoi An

Day 13-14: Ho Chi Minh

Get ready to explore the largest city and the last stop of your Vietnam route: Ho Chi Minh City (or Saigon for close friends). This modern and bustling metropolis is unlike anything you will find anywhere else in the country. A city divided into districts, with tall skyscrapers and wide avenues, that somehow manages to retain glimpses of traditional Vietnam.

Visit the Notre Dame Cathedral of Saigon, send a postcard home from the majestic central post office, go souvenir shopping at Ben Thanh Market, check out the Cafe Apartments, or simply eat your way through the night. There is no going wrong with doing a food tour in Ho Chi Minh!*

couple in front of Saigon post office a must visit during a Vietnam itinerary
photo of a man in Vientam

If you are short on time, a super fun way to wrap up your Vietnam two week itinerary, while exploring the city highlights, is with a scooter tour. Click here to join a tour that guarantees a fun time*.

Ho Chi Minh City has several informative war museums for you to visit, but a good day trip to take is to the Cu Chi Tunnels*, a network of underground tunnels used by the Viet Cong soldiers during the war.

Getting to Ho Chi Minh City

From Hoi An to Ho Chi Minh City:

To travel from Hoi An to Ho Chi Minh City, you have plenty of options: bus, van, train and flights. However, only some bus/van services go directly from Hoi An to Ho Chi Minh, all other options depart from Da Nang. Find the best alternative for you here*.

From Elsewhere:

Ho Chi Minh City is widely connected with the entire country and the rest of the world. You can count on plenty of railway and bus connections, as well as domestic and international flights via Vietnam's largest international airport: Tan Son Nhat.

man working in a Saigon market in Vietnam
truck with flowers in Saigon

Where to Stay in Ho Chi Minh City

When planning a Vietnam trip, remember that Ho Chi Minh City has a different city structure than the rest of the places you will visit, it is divided into districts. You will want to stay in District 1. If your budget or the accommodation availability doesn’t allow it, check out hotels in District 3 or 5 (Chinatown). Here are some accommodation suggestions for you:

Skycure Serviced Apartments best budget hotel in ho chi minh saigon
Fusion Suites Saigon best hotel in ho chi minh vietnam
La Siesta Premium best luxury hotel in ho chi minh saigon

If you have more than two weeks in Vietnam to spend and can extend to a 3 week itinerary, consider exploring more of the northern area of the country where nature is king, visit the sand dunes of Mui Ne, spend some time near the Mekong Delta, or go for a swim in the beaches of Phu Quoc.

old lady in Vietnam village where to stay

What to Eat in Vietnam

Vietnam’s gastronomy is a wild and flavor packed adventure! Every city unlocks new flavors you didn’t know you needed: sweet, sour, salty, and spicy notes, all of them combined for a treat to your palate.

best restaurants in Vietnam
best food of Vietnam

Each dish seasoned with spices and herbs to taste, from a hot bowl of pho to the most fantastic bun cha, Vietnam is every foodie’s dream come true. So we strongly incentivize you to get out there to taste as much as you can during your travel itinerary to Vietnam!

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Vietnam Transportation

Vietnam is a long and skinny country with transportation options for all kinds of travelers and budgets. With several airports available, the largest ones being in Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City, and Da Nang, you can easily start your two week Vietnam itinerary in the north, south or center of the country.

Rickshaws in Hoi An

Between the main cities, overnight trains and buses are popular options due to their affordability, but they often entail very long journeys. We frequently traveled by sleeper bus in Vietnam, finding them generally comfortable (for a bus) and a convenient way to travel overnight without sacrificing days for travel. To reach more remote areas, buses, scooters, or private cars are often the only viable options.

Night buses in Vietnam are commonly referred to as sleeping buses. Typically, the seats are reclined as a semi-bed and blankets are provided. When booking through a hotel or local agency, be sure to specify you want the VIP bus, as these tend to offer more space and fewer passengers. Booking online allows you to view photos of the buses, which is helpful as the quality of Vietnam's sleeping buses can vary significantly.

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While big cities experience heavy traffic, the roads are generally decent. However, some off the beaten path areas may lack roads altogether, so drive safely if you choose to do so.

man sleeping in motorbike in Vietnam

Download the app Grab to secure a taxi at the best fare without the need for bargaining.

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Best Time to Visit Vietnam

Vietnam is a magical trip anytime of the year, but sometimes a wet and cold kind of magic, which is not part of everyone’s bucket list😅. The best time of the year for planning a vietnam trip will depend not only on the season, but on what you plan to visit, as the weather can vary widely from one region to another. Here is a quick breakdown of the best times to visit:

North Vietnam (Hanoi, Sapa, Halong Bay): From October to April the weather is cooler and drier, so nice for a visit. From December to February take a jacket with you, it can be quite chilly.

Central Vietnam (Hue, Da Nang, Hoi An): From February to June is warm, dry weather. Avoid October to January as this region can experience heavy rainfall and occasional flooding.

South Vietnam (Ho Chi Minh City, Mekong Delta, Phu Quoc): November to April offers dry and less humid weather. May to October is the wet season, with short but heavy rainfall.

man among yellow flowers in Saigon
photos of the worst time to visit Vietnam during floods in Hoi An

Avoid visiting during Tet (Vietnamese New Year), the most important holiday in Vietnam, during which most shops close, many services are cut to a minimum and prices in accommodation increase significantly. It usually falls in late January or early February.

Vietnam Travel Cost

Traveling in Vietnam is quite affordable, guaranteeing an out of this world value for money experience to any traveler. Of course average costs can vary depending on your travel style and preferences, but someone comfortable traveling mainly by bus or train, eating local food, while still staying at a nice accommodation, should expect an average budget of around €30-50 a day.

tour boats in Tam Coc in Vietnam
lady carrying clothes in Hanoi

Remember to bargain with shopkeepers and taxi drivers as it is culturally accepted and expected.

Average Vietnam Travel Cost

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Accommodation (per night): €8 - €120

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Meals: €2 - €25

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Transportation: €8 - €75

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Car Rental (per day): €20 - €35

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Tours and Activities: €1 − €35

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SIM: €3 - €30

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Travel Insurance (per day): €3 - €5

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Card with no withdrawal fees: Free

Be aware that most banks in Vietnam have an ATM fee, so even if you're saving on the withdrawal fee from your bank, you still might incur an extra charge from the ATM itself. To avoid this, always withdraw money from Agribank, Maybank, Tpbank or VP Bank, which either have no fee or charge a small one (depending on your bank).

Vietnam Visa

Since June 2023, citizens of 11 European countries (United Kingdom, Spain, France, Germany, Italy, Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Finland, Russia and Belarus), as well as Japan and South Korea, are exempted from a visa for a up to 45-day stay in Vietnam. So an easy-peasy process if your country is on this list!

woman visiting Ho Chi Minh City with an Online Visa
Visiting Hanoi in Vietnam visa free

If, like me, your country is not on that list😢, you will need to apply for a Vietnam e-visa online before your trip. But nothing to worry about, the process is very straightforward, the visa costs $25 and is valid for 30 days. We strongly suggest you apply at least one to two weeks before your trip, as delays and applications being sent back is not unusual.

Visa rules change regularly, so please double check this information to ensure it is still updated and applies to your particular case before your trip.

Planning Time

If you are ready to start planning your next trip, here you have all the usefull links you need to make it happen! By using them you are supporting our work as we might get a small fee from it. But hey! You pay the same (or might even get a discount), so is a win-win situation!

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