Overview: Vietnam is a destination that has something for everyone. There is a deep history to understand, a rich culture to explore, amazing cuisine to enjoy, and beautiful beaches to relax on. This country has it all. And the nice thing is all of it is easy to combine together and enjoy in one multi-stop trip. I'm sharing the following itinerary based on my personal trip, and the way I chose to include different stops to give me a well-rounded experience in this country. Use this itinerary to be inspired and figure out what type of experience would suit you best.
10 Day Vietnam Itinerary
Day 1 - Arrive Hanoi
Upon arriving at Noi Bai International airport then you’ll be met and driven to the selected hotel for check in after being guided through a VIP visa process on arrival. Spend the rest of the day resting and exploring the neighborhood around your hotel.
Suggested hotel: The Silk Path Hotel is a decent hotel located near the city center and walking distance to the Old Quarter. For an upgraded and special experience, consider the Sofitel Metropole. This is Hanoi's most storied 5-star hotel, and is located in the French Quarter, a lovely area to explore and stay in.
Day 2 - Explore Hanoi: Hanoi Orientation with street food
This street food highlights tour gives you insightful stories about the city, its people, its culture and of course its cuisine. Hanoi, the capital of Vietnam, is well known for its centuries-old architecture and rich culture with Southeast Asian, Chinese and French influences - and you'll see it all from the back of a motorbike. You’ll visit popular attractions such as is Ho Chi Minh’s Mausoleum, his simple stilt house where he lived and worked and the museum that is dedicated to his memory. Next, you can learn about Vietnam’s 54 ethnic minority people through the extensive display at Vietnam Museum of Ethnology, widely acknowledged as the best in the country.
If you've been itching to try Vietnam's famed street food -- this is your chance. Your English-speaking local guide will give you an insight into the incredible varieties, intricacies and traditions of Vietnamese food culture, including ingredients and historical backgrounds of popular northern dishes. You'll eat as you go, trying seasonal fruits and sampling a tasty French-inspired snack from a street cart. This is a unique experience to try the foods of the local Hanoi people.
Day 3 and 4: HaLong Bay
Located 160 kilometers from Hanoi, is the scenic HaLong Bay. It is the perfect compliment to a city stay in Hanoi, and allows you the opportunity to see some of the most magnificent scenery up close and personal as you sail along emerald waters in between towering limestone islands.
Your 2 day/1 night cruise will be onboard on the best quality wooden junk for sightseeing and you will be able to enjoy activities such as swimming, fishing, secret caves, and kayaking. You will spend the night in an air- conditioned ensuite room on the junk, and have the opportunity to see some of the most impressive and jaw-dropping scenery the entire time.
Recommended Junk: Indochina Sails is a gorgeous boat with impeccable service and staff, as well as delicious food. For an upgraded experience, consider the Violent Junk, one of Heritage Lines boutique boats that houses only six suites total for a more intimate experience.
Your trip will end at 12:00PM on the second day and you will arrive back at Hanoi in the late afternoon before taking your flight to Hue. On arrival, you’ll be transferred to the hotel where you’ll spend the night.
Day 5: Hue
During your full day in Hue, you can choose to slow down your pace, or stay busy with all the incredible sightseeing and cultural exploration available in what was once the capital of Vietnam. A must-do is a scenic ride down the perfume river to visit one of the most iconic attractions in Hue - the ancient Thien Mu Pagoda.
In the evening, a nice experience would include a traditional Hue dinner in a garden house. Not only will the distinctive classic Hue cuisine indulge your taste but the beautiful and tranquil environment creates its own special atmosphere that makes for a delightful experience.
Day 6: Hue and on to Hoi An
Start your day with a guided visit to the Imperial Citadel of Hue, once the capital of Vietnam under the Nguyen Dynasty. Wandering outside, you’ll see the distinguished view of the enormous walls overlooking the defensive moat which is filled with beautiful lotus. After entering the citadel through Noon Gate you’ll visit different areas such as Thai Hoa Palace, the Nine Urns and remains of Royal Palaces and learn about the history as well as traditions of these important times.
After a delicious lunch, you'll have a private transfer to Hoi An, approx 3 hours away by car. The drive is a beautiful one, and there are interesting places to stop and explore along the way.
Being classified as a World Heritage, Hoi An's beauty lies in her well preserved ancient wooden houses built hundreds of years ago, a variety combination of different cultures, traditional villages, delicious food and warm hospitality.
Suggested Hotel: A stay at Boutique Hoi An Resort gives you the opportunity to stay right on a beautiful beach, just a few miles away from the old town. If you prefer accommodations closer to the Old Town, consider Hotel Royal Boutique - a gorgeous hotel located on the riverside.
Day 7: Explore Hoi An
This day is for exploring the old town, either on your own or with an experienced guide. The Ancient Town has considerable significance in the history of Vietnam. The ancient architecture of Hoi An is a fascinating combination of Vietnamese traditional buildings with Chinese and Japanese influence. There’s plenty to see in this delightful town, some of which are the famous Japanese Covered Bridges, Pottery Museum, 200 years old Tan Ky House, Chua Ong Pagoda and vibrant market.
Take your time walking past many low tiled houses scattered along the small streets and assembly halls, which reflect the town's multi-cultural past.
Day 8: From farmer to fisherman tour
Today you’ll explore the life of local farmer and fisherman up close.
You'll enjoy the peaceful scenery of the rural area, riding your bikes through enormous rice paddy fields to visit an organic vegetable garden with water buffalo passing by — oh, and you might stop to ride the water buffalo too! You'll get to know the work of local farmers and experience their work of watering and planting vegetables with your own hands.
Then you will cruise down the river observing the lives of local fisherman and “help” them with their work. You will float down the water palm coconut canal, which was used as an effective hiding place of Viet Cong soldiers during the war. The afternoon will end with a fabulous seafood lunch.
This was probably my favorite day in Vietnam. Take a look at my day in action:
Day 9: Relaxing day at the beach
Hoi An town is three kilometres from Cua Dai Beach - part of what was once known as China Beach and used for rest and recreation by American GIs during the Vietnam War. The beach is composed of white sand fringed with palm trees and overlooks the South China Sea. Another optimal beach location to plant yourself is Ang Bang Beach, with plenty of lounge chairs, palapas, and eateries to choose from.
Day 10: Goodbye Vietnam .... or hello Ho Chi Minh City!
This is where my Vietnam adventure ended, but as you probably can tell, we haven't yet explored Vietnam's biggest city - HCMC! Totally different from the old, traditional and peaceful location in the Central part, Ho Chi Minh City is the busiest and most dynamic city in Vietnam. Depending on the type of trip you are looking for, this is an obvious destination to include.
Time spent here can include cultural aspects of the city, Cu Chi tunnels, cooking classes, and exploring the vibrant nightlife. Once you've had enough of the bustling city, a fabulous add-on would be a homestay in Vinh Long to enjoy and explore village life.
There are numerous ways to make this trip you own, and fully customize it to the type of trip that will suit you best. I'd love to help you create the trip you've been dreaming about and can't wait to hear from you to get started!