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7 One-Week Itineraries for Vietnam

With one week to spare, which part of Vietnam should you visit? Take your pick from these one-week itineraries which combine destinations such as Ho Chi Minh City, Ha long Bay, Sapa, Mui Ne, Sapa, Phu Quoc and more!

Travellers who visit Vietnam are often torn between getting an overview of this large country or focusing their stay on one region. Below are a few itineraries to consider when booking your trip to Vietnam, based on different geographic regions, personal interests, and activities.

1. North Vietnam: Combined Adventure and Relaxation

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Cat Ba National Park | Image credit: Gavin White

Day 1: Hanoi

Fly into Hanoi and visit sites such as the Old Quarter, Ho Chi Minh’s Mausoleum, the Presidential Palace, the One Pillar Pagoda, the Temple of Literature, and the Ethnology Museum. Take an overnight train to Sapa.

Day 2-3: Sapa

Arrive in Sapa and spend the day hiking through the Hoang Lien mountain range and rice paddies. Meet local Vietnamese tribes in their villages and consider staying with a local family rather than at a hotel. Spend your second day in Sapa hiking through bamboo forests and visiting Giang Ta Chai waterfall, the Muong Hoa River, and the villages of Giang Ta Chai and Supan. Take an overnight train back to Hanoi at the end of Day 3.

Day 4: Ha Long Bay

After returning to Hanoi, be picked up for your tour of Ha Long Bay. Spend the next night on the ship and explore the thousands of islets, caves, and rock formations. Enjoy water activities such as swimming, kayaking, or visiting a pearl farm.

Day 5-6: Cat Ba Island

Explore Cat Ba National Park and choose between relaxing on the beach or hiking to the top of the mountain for a stunning view of the entire bay. Spend the night on the island before returning to Hanoi for your last day.

Day 7: Hanoi

Spend the morning picking up some souvenirs in the Old Quarter and depart for your home country in the afternoon.

2. North Vietnam: A Hiker’s Journey

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Sapa

Day 1: Hanoi

Fly into Hanoi, the capital city of Vietnam. Book a hostel or hotel in the Old Quarter, the city’s commercial district, and experience the bustling life of this famous market. Spend the day haggling with the shop owners, eating pho in an outdoor restaurant, and exploring Hoan Kiem Lake.

Day 2: Hanoi

Branch out of the Old Quarter and see some of the other historic sites in the city, including Ho Chi Minh’s Mausoleum, the Presidential Palace, and the One Pillar Pagoda. For young scholars or travellers interested in education, continue to the Temple of Literature, built in 1070 and considered Vietnam’s first university. Take a break for lunch, and then visit one of Hanoi’s famous museums, such as the Ethnology Museum, the Vietnam Military History Museum, or the Vietnamese Women’s Museum. Spend the evening relaxing on the overnight train to Sapa—you’ll have some long days ahead!

Day 3-6: Sapa and Fansipan

Spend the next few days on a hiking tour of North Vietnam, which I recommend booking through a tour company. Spend two days summiting Fansipan, the highest mountain in Indochina, while staying overnight in tents or homestays along the way up the mountain. On Day 6, explore the rural town of Sapa and learn about Vietnam’s hill tribes.

Day 7: Hanoi

Return to Hanoi and depart for your home country.

3. North Vietnam: A Cruiser’s Paradise

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Ha Long Bay

Day 1: Hanoi

Fly into Hanoi and spend the first day exploring the Old Quarter. With this laid-back itinerary, consider a taxi or cycling tour of the Old Quarter.

Day 2: Hanoi

Explore some of the city’s history, such as Ho Chi Minh’s Mausoleum, the Presidential Palace, the One Pillar Pagoda, the Temple of Literature, and the Ethnology Museum. Enjoy your last evening on dry land—it’s an aquatic adventure from here!

Day 3: Ha Long Bay

Prepare for your tour of Ha Long Bay. I recommend booking this through a tour company—they’re on every corner of the Old Quarter! Take the 3.5-hour bus ride to Ha Long Bay and board the ship that will take you through the thousands of islets and limestone rocks. Enjoy swimming, kayaking, spelunking, visiting a pearl farm or just relaxing in your private room on the ship.

Day 4-5: Cat Ba Island

Cruise to Cat Ba National Park and enjoy the beautiful scenery. You can spend time on the beach, hike up the mountain, or explore the jungle. Overnight on Cat Ba Island.

Day 6: Ninh Binh

Enjoy a final day tour from Hanoi to Ninh Binh. Visit Hoa Lu, the ancient capital of Vietnam, or explore the three caves of Tam Coc. You can also take a rowboat trip and enjoy the view of the mountains. Return to Hanoi in the evening for your last night in Vietnam.

Day 7: Hanoi

Spend a relaxing morning in Hanoi and depart for your home country in the afternoon.

4. Central Vietnam: A Historical Perspective

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Hoi An

Day 1: Danang

Fly into Danang airport. Spend the day exploring Vietnam’s third-largest city and seeing sights such as Ngu Hanh Son (Marble Mountain) with its numerous caves and stunning views, the Son Tra Peninsula, and Thuan Phuoc Bridge, which is the longest suspension bridge in Vietnam. Spend the night in Danang.

Day 2: Hoi An

Take a bus, train, or private car to Hoi An, which exhibits an array of architecture inspired by the Vietnamese, the French, the Chinese, and the Japanese. Wander around the local market, Tan Ky Old House, Fu Jian Assembly Hall, and the Japanese Bridge. Hoi An is most famous for its tailor shops, so take some time to shop for a new, custom-made wardrobe.

Day 3: My Son Sanctuary

Take a day trip from Hoi An to explore My Son sanctuary, the site of the ancient Cham civilisation. Similar to Angkor Wat in Cambodia, My Son features many Hindu temples and is designated as a UNESCO Cultural Heritage Site. After your tour, return to Hoi An for the evening.

Day 4: Hue

Depart Hoi An for Hue, the imperial city of Vietnam. In Hue, you can visit the Imperial Citadel, Thien Mu Pagoda, the mausoleums of Vietnamese emperors, and Dong Ba Riverside Market. If you didn’t have the chance to visit the tailors in Hoi An, you can still do so in Hue!

Day 5: Hue – Phong Nha Cave

Take a day trip from Hue to Phong Nha Cave, another UNESCO World Heritage site. Enjoy a boat ride down the river to reach the cave, and spend the day exploring the grottoes, underground lake, and rock formations. Return to Hue in the evening.

Day 6: Hue – DMZ

Take a final day trip from Hue to visit the Vietnamese DMZ (Demilitarized Zone). This tour will teach you the Vietnamese perspective of the infamous war and include sites such as Hien Luong Bridge, which crosses the Ben Hai River and marks the former border between North and South Vietnam. You can also visit the Vinh Moc tunnels, in which villagers lived for two years during the war, and the Khe Sanh Combat Base. Spend your last night in Hue.

Day 7: Danang

Travel from Hue to Danang and depart Danang airport for your home country.

5. South Vietnam: Jungle Journey

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Mekong River

Day 1: Ho Chi Minh City

Fly into Ho Chi Minh City, formerly known as Saigon, and spend the first day exploring the largest city in Vietnam. Visit the War Remnants Museum, former Presidential Palace, the Notre Dame Cathedral, and the Old Saigon Post Office.

Day 2-3: Mekong Delta

Take a two-day trip outside of Ho Chi Minh City to explore the southern jungles and rivers of Vietnam. Enjoy a leisurely boat ride down the Mekong River, while visiting rice plantations, pagodas, and floating markets—a sharp contrast to the hustle and bustle of HCMC. Spend the second night in the southern city of Can Tho, and continue the tour on Day 3. Return to Ho Chi Minh City at the end of Day 3.
Day 4: Cu Chi Tunnels

Day trip from Ho Chi Minh City to the Cu Chi Tunnels, a Vietcong stronghold and an extensive tunnel system in the middle of the jungle. Crawl through the tunnels and learn more about the lives of Vietnamese soldiers during the war. Return to Ho Chi Minh City and take a flight, bus or evening train to Da Lat.

Day 5-6: Da Lat

Experience the flora and fauna of the pine forests and jungles while hiking Pinhatt Mountain. Spend the night at a campsite in the jungle, before finishing your trek through other mountains and valleys. Return to Ho Chi Minh City on Day 6.

Day 7:  Ho Chi Minh City

Depart Ho Chi Minh City for your home country.

6. South Vietnam: Island Vacation

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Mui Ne

Day 1: Ho Chi Minh City

Fly into Ho Chi Minh City and spend the first day exploring sites such as the War Remnants Museum, former Presidential Palace, the Notre Dame Cathedral, and the Old Saigon Post Office. For a more relaxing day, head to Ben Thanh Market to pick up some souvenirs.

Day 2-3: Mui Ne

Transfer from Ho Chi Minh City to the beach town of Mui Ne to spend some time relaxing on the beach. If you’re feeling adventurous, climb to the top of Ta Cu Mountain and see the 49-metre-long Statue of Lying Buddha, the biggest statue in Southeast Asia. In between relaxing on the beach, visit the Mui Ne Red Sand Dunes, the Fairy Spring and the Fishing Village. Return to Ho Chi Minh City at the end of Day 3.

Day 4-6: Phu Quoc

In the morning, fly from Ho Chi Minh City to the island of Phu Quoc. Over the next two and a half days, explore sites such as Coi Nguon Museum, the Phu Quoc Pearl Farm, Sao beach, and Ham Ninh Fisherman Ancient Village. If you prefer, take a day trip to one of the nearby uninhabited islands such as the An Thoi archipelago in the south or Mong Tay and Doi Moi in the north. At the end of Day 6, fly back to Ho Chi Minh City.

Day 7: Ho Chi Minh City

Spend the morning relaxing and return to your home country in the afternoon.

7. Vietnam: City-Hopper

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Ho Chi Minh City

Day 1-2: Hanoi

For a hop, skip, and a jump through Vietnam, start in Hanoi and travel north to south, ending in Ho Chi Minh City. Arrive in Hanoi on the first day and explore the Old Quarter, Ho Chi Minh’s Mausoleum, the Presidential Palace, and the One Pillar Pagoda. In the late afternoon on the second day, take a flight or overnight train to Danang.

Day 3: Danang

After arriving in Danang, visit Ngu Hanh Son (Marble Mountain), the Son Tra Peninsula, and Thuan Phuoc Bridge. Transfer to Hoi An in the evening.

Day 4: Hoi An

Spend the day at the tailor shops or exploring the city’s unique history and architecture. You also have the option of doing a half-day tour to My Son Sanctuary. Transfer to Hue in the evening.

Day 5: Hue

Upon arriving in Hue, tour the Imperial Citadel, Thien Mu Pagoda, the mausoleums, and Dong Ba Riverside Market. You may instead choose to spend the day exploring the Vietnamese DMZ or nearby Phong Nha Cave. In the evening, take a flight or overnight train to Ho Chi Minh City.

Day 6: Ho Chi Minh City

Fly into Ho Chi Minh City and spend the first day exploring sites such as the War Remnants Museum, former Presidential Palace, and the Notre Dame Cathedral. You also have the option to book a half-day tour to the Cu Chi tunnels.

Day 7: Ho Chi Minh City

Stop by Ben Tranh Market for some last-minute souvenirs, and depart Ho Chi Minh City for your home country.

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