Vietnam is not usually in everyone’s bucket list but it definitely should be, even I can say how wrong I was. It was a complete surprise and nothing what I thought it would be. 5 days wasn’t enough but I actually think I did a lot in such a short time. So here is our itinerary, which includes some things you should know before you go and the places that you should visit. I didn’t go to all of them but they are on my list for hopefully another visit to the land of Pho.
Vietnam has so much to offer and it’s so cheap that you can actually travel around the country for a month or more without breaking your budget. You’ll enjoy beautiful sights, fascinating history, amazing food and a lot of crazy motorcycle driving – but it’s all part of the cultural experience so just enjoy it and be careful crossing the streets.
Before you go believe me, you’ll need a VISA so check the link below with our blog post of visas in Asia and check your country requirements. With most countries you can do VOA (visa on arrival) which is the one I did, it’s much easier and very quick.
Day 1 Arrive at Hanoi – Stay in the Old Quarter
Day 2 Get picked up 8am for an overnight at Halong Bay
Day 3 Halong Bay and back to Hanoi at 4pm to explore a little bit more | late night flight to HCMC
Day 4 HCMC
Day 5 HCMC bus to Siem Reap
H A N O I
Hanoi is the capital of Vietnam and the country’s second largest city by population. As the capital of Vietnam for almost a thousand years, Hanoi is considered one of the main cultural centers of Vietnam. It is where most Vietnamese dynasties have left their imprint. Even though some relics have not survived through war and time, the city still has many interesting cultural and historic monuments for visitors and residents alike.
If you had to do one thing while you’re there; you should sit somewhere and enjoy the cultural experience. Stay at Hanoi Old Quarter, which is located in the Ba Dinh district, and wander around. Here you will have the chance to see French colonial architecture and find small streets with many street vendors selling food and souvenirs. In the center of the city you will find a popular hangout place for locals and tourists - Hoan Kiem Lake, that is also known as the Turtle Lake or Ngoc Son.
Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum | Hanoi Opera House | Visit the Temple of Literature | Shop at the Dong Xuan Market | Long Bien Bridge | Go to Lotte Tower Observation Deck for the views | Visit the Imperial Citadel of Thang Long | Tây Lake
Train Street: he train street lies on a small street between Kham Tien and Le Duan, the exact lane the train passes along is called Ngo 224 Le Duan. It is walkable from the old quarter
H A L O N G B A Y
Beautiful doesn’t even begin to describe this place; it’s one of 7 natural wonders of the world’ as well as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Located in the Gulf of Tonkin it includes around 1600 islands and islets, forming a spectacular seascape of limestone pillars.
The absolute best way to see this natural phenomenon is by boat, and thankfully there are quite a few different options depending on your preference. We choose the tour with Viator. It was a 2 days/1 night package and was great choice costing around $120. It included all meals, activities, and mini bus transfers to and from Hanoi. The bus leaves Hanoi around 8am and you´ll be on board around 12pm and on the way back be at Hanoi at 4pm. The tour of the bay includes visits to caves, a floating farm, and kayaking, on board Tai Chi sessions and cooking classes.
Cat Ba Island – Surprising Cave| Ti Top Island
H O C H I M I N H C I T Y
Is a city of many architectural influences and the biggest city in Vietnam. Ho Chi Minh City was previously known as Saigon (until the reunification of the country after the American War in 1976), and is home to 9 million inhabitants over 2000 square kilometers. Contrast to the traditional capital of Hanoi, this super city is dominated by neon sky scrapers, shopping centers and street wielders.
War Remnants Museum | Reunification Palace | Notre Dame Cathedral Basilica | Municipal Theater | The Jade Emperor Pagoda
Cu Chi Tunnel is a must when visiting Ho Chi Minh City. Not far from the city, you will see through your eyes the famous tunnels that the Vietnamese dug to hide from the Americans and shield themselves from the bombs. The tunnel is around 120 kilometers long and is preserved by the Vietnamese government. The defense tactics, traps, and way of living at that time will be available for tourists to see and understand more about the Vietnam War.
Sailing through Mekong Delta River should be on your list, as this popular river flows through China, Myanmar, Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, and Vietnam.
WHAT TO EAT IN VIETNAM | MUST TRY DISHES
Anywhere you go in Vietnam; there will be the strange but delicious smell of street food that will instantly make you feel hungry, especially in the odd hours of the night. This country, besides being known as the land of motorcycles, is also full of gastronomical street foods, which are all worth a try.
Bun Cha | Gôi Cuon (Spring rolls) | Bánh Xèo (Vietnamese pancakes) | Pho | Bahn Mi (sándwiches)
OTHER AMAZING PLACES TO VISIT
HOI AN | SAPA | HUE
Ban Gioc Falls | My Son Temples | Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park | Trang An Nha Trang | Sand Dunes – Mue Ne | Phu Quoc Island | Da Lat | Ninh Binh | Pongua Falls | Ha Giang Province
ENJOY SOME BEACH TIME IN VIETNAM
Beaches in Vietnam have long been one of the best-kept secrets of Southeast Asia, but recently the countries coastal areas are now becoming globally known! With over 3000 km of stunning coastline, Vietnam is full of infinite stretches of powdery sand, tropical islands and countless coves and lagoons just waiting to be discovered.
Nha Trang Beach, Nha Trang |Doc Let Beach, Hon Khoi Peninsula | Danang Beach, Da Nang | An Bang Beach, Hoi An | Star Beach, Phu Quoc | Long Beach, Phu Quoc | Mui Ne Beach | Con Son Island, Con Dao Archipelago | Ho Coc Beach, Ho Coc
Just look for them on google and you’ll see how amazing they are, I wish I would’ve had more time in Vietnam to head to some of these beaches. I’m definitely coming back, there’s just so much still to explore in this amazing country.
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Have you ever been to Vietnam? Where was your favorite place?
Did you have any trouble getting around Vietnam?
Hello: Xin chào
Goodbye: Tạm biệt
Thank you: Cám ơn