Vietnam is one of those places you could spend months exploring and still have tons of things left to visit.
But, if you have limited time in the country, this is the perfect 8-day Highlights itinerary from North to South of Vietnam.
We started our trip from Hanoi towards the South, but you can easily do the other way around and begin the tour from Ho Chi Minh (Saigon)
The Capital of Vietnam, the first stop of my Vietnam Tour, was a real surprise to me since I was sure I’d loved Saigon much more.
But Hanoi has so much to offer, history, nature, culture.
First advice. Try to book in a central location hotel so you won’t spend the whole day trying to reach the city center (remember Hanoi is a city of over 20 million). Nice areas are Hoan Kiem Lake (Sword Lake) and all the Old Quarter. If you don’t want to be in the middle of the craziness, I’d suggest you book a place close to the lake but one or two roads from it.
During your full-day in Hanoi, I recommend visiting the Temple of Literature (which hosts the Imperial Academy, Vietnam’s first National University),.the Hoan Kiem Lake (and its beautiful red Huc Bridge), the Ngoc Son Temple, the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum, and the Vietnam Museum of Ethnology. You can also try to take a cyclo tour around the Old Quarter of Hanoi, but be sure you agree on your driver’s price before starting it.
Click here for more detailed info about Hanoi.
HA LONG BAY
We’re taking a marvelous cruise in the Ha Long Bay area during the second and third days.
Ha Long Bay, situated roughly 110miles from Hanoi (180km) or a 3 to 4-hour drive, has been UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1994. With almost 2,000 limestone islands and islets topped by forest, the bay is one of the most popular destinations in Vietnam.
The best way to explore it is by taking a 2-day cruise on this gorgeous ships.
Once you get on board, you are served lunch while the ship reaches the destination.
Then, using small “speed boats” you get to reach the most beautiful spots of the area, including secluded beaches, floating villages, and caverns.
Spending the night on the ship, admiring the stars and the moon is something you’ll never forget.
Click here for detailed info about Ha Long Bay and the cruises.
After the 2-day cruise in Ha Long Bay, it’s time to go back to Hanoi and fly to Danang and then drive to Hoi An, Central Vietnam.
A Unesco World Heritage site since 1999, Hoi An means “peaceful meeting place”, and its stunning Old Quarter full of lanterns deserves a visit and a long walk on the riverside.
While in Hoi An, you shouldn’t miss visiting My Son Sanctuary, a UNESCO World Heritage site itself, formally the religious and political capital of the Champa Kingdom and today a vast area with a series of impressive tower-temples located in a dramatic place.
Ho Chi Minh City (SAIGON)
HCMC, or Saigon for the nostalgic, is the most vibrant, chaotic, and contradicting city in Vietnam. You can easily have the impression of being in a big US city and, just around the corner, you’re back to the typical SE Asia metropolis.
If you’re staying in the Saigon just for one or two days, don’t miss the Re-Unification Palace, the Notre Dame Cathedral, and the War Remnants Museum. But don’t forget to walk around, smell the city, hear it. Just be careful when crossing the streets: the green light doesn’t really count, so be ready to jump into the crazy traffic and let the tons of cycles, motorcycles, cars, and whatever has heels avoid you.
Want to know more? Click here for The Essential Saigon Guide.
The last stop of our eight days Vietnam Tour must be a full-day trip to the Mekong Delta area.
My Tho and Ben Tre are the most famous towns to visit. Take a boat trip on the Mekong river to visit family businesses that epitomize the idyllic rural lifestyle. Walking through the fruit plantation village is something you won’t forget.
I also suggest a quick stop at the Vinh Trang Pagoda near My Tho: one of the most beautiful Buddhist temples in the area.
After touring Vietnam, most of the people opt for a tour of Cambodia or Laos or both of them. I personally decided to visit the Siem Reap area in Cambodia to explore the Angkor Wat temples, and I wasn’t disappointed at all! For more info on Cambodia take a look at my Ultimate Cambodia Travel Guide.
Is Vietnam on your bucket list?
Comment down below!
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