With it´s unique heritage and amazing foods, Vietnam is both exotic and compelling for any traveler. A country of breathtaking natural beauty, dynamic megacities and hill-tribe villages. Unforgettable experiences are everywhere. Wondering how to travel through Vietnam or what to do whilst there? Here are the highlights you should see during a 10-days itinerary in Vietnam.
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10-days itinerary in Vietnam
This 10-days itinerary in Vietnam is a day by day route taking you to the highlights of Ho Chi Minh City, Hoi An, Hanoi and Halong Bay. If you have the time you could easily add more days, and please note that each day includes a link to a detailed article about that specific location. Each article includes many tips and tricks, and suggestions of things to do during your upcoming adventure to Vietnam! 🙂
Day 1 – 3: Ho Chi Minh City
Ho Chi Minh City is the perfect place to begin your 10-days itinerary in Vietnam. There are tons of activities on offer, restaurants to visit and places to explore. Whether you’ll want to go partying in one of the many roof top bars, eat your heart out or explore the many sights, Vietnam has something for every traveler. The entire city in buzzing with life, and highlights are waiting for your around every corner.
We spent our first day strolling the streets of HCMC, visiting what felt like very night market, food stall and street vendor. The city itself is divided in districts, and if you wish to explore every inch of this awesome place you could spend days, if not months doing so. The people are super friendly, very welcoming and genuine. It is hard to not fall in love with this mega-city.
On our second day we decided to hit the streets, and booked a private guided food tour. This was without a doubt one of the best decisions we made! Cruising around HCMH on the back of a scooter, eating delicious food and enjoying magnificent views along of the city. This ended up being one of our highlights of our trip, and is highly recommendable.
On our third and last day, we decided to venture out of the city and explore the Mekong Delta River. It was so much fun exploring it´s beautiful maze of rivers, floating markets and fruit farms. The long tail boat ride was great, and we had a blast learning about the life around the water. During a day tour you will only see a fraction of the beauty this place has to offer. I therefore highly recommend spending more time in this region, exploring and traveling even deeper to find all the hidden gems.
Read more: A Mekong Delta River Tour, Vietnam
DAY 4 – 6: Hoi An
Hoi An is personally one of my favorite towns, and it is super cute!! With its lantern-covered streets, romantic restaurant and colorful shops, its certainly as magical as it is beautiful to look at. The Old Town boost with historic houses, warehouses, Chinese temples, boutique hotels and bars. Spend your days exploring its local markets or beaches, or venture out to the famous Golden Hands Bridge just outside Da Nang. Either way, you will not be disappointed that you added Hoi An to your list!
Read more: 5 awesome things do do in Hoi An, Vietnam
Day 7 – 8: Hanoi
In 2016 Hanoi was named the 8th most popular destination in the World by TripAdvisor. The city is 1000 years old, and the history is mind-blowing. Theatres, unique temples, ancient citadels and gorgeous day tours and scenery outside the city walls all offer fun-filled days in the capital. There are gems to be discovered all around Hanoi, and some of these includes colonial buildings, ancient pagodas, mosaic walls and remarkably preserved museums. Make sure to visit as many of these attractions in Hanoi as possible.
Read more: 10 fun things to do in Hanoi, Vietnam
Day 9: Halong Bay
You can’t visit Hanoi without also visiting Halong Bay. This beautiful area was declared a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1994. The bay is dotted with 1.600 limestone karst and islets, and is a stunning natural wonder in Northern Vietnam. The tiny islets is covered by forest, and the limestone pillars are rising from the emerald waters of the bay. This is a truly awe-inspiring sight and a vision of beauty.
Most visitors decides to embark on an all-inclusive cruise tour that includes sleeping on board a wooden junk boat. You have the option of doing it as a day tour, or spend 1 or 2 nights on board a traditional boat. We opted for a 2-nights cruise, but looking back we would have only gone with 1 night.
Read more: Halong Bay, Vietnam
Day 10: Hanoi
If you wish to add more days to your itinerary, then Hanoi is the perfect base to do so in the northern parts of Vietnam. Whilst there are plenty of activities on offer in Hanoi Itself, you should definitely consider a day trip or two in this region. This way you can truly discover what Hanoi and its surrounding areas are all about. And don’t forget to spend a couple of days exploring the gorgeous hills and villages of Sapa – one of the very highlights of this region,
Read more: 8 best days trips from Hanoi, Vietnam
Getting around in Vietnam
How you decide to travel through Vietnam really just comes down to time and budget. The logistics are impressive, and you have a wide range of options to choose from. Everything from sleeper trains, buses and planes are available for you.
So whether you love exploring the countryside and views from a bus window, or you fancy the idea of going to sleep in one place, only to wake up in another – Vietnam has got you covered!
The roads in Vietnam has been greatly improved the last couple of years, along with the services on offer. However the roads are still narrow and bumpy, which is something you need to take into consideration before venturing out on a 15-hours bus-ride.
Breakdowns are also common, and often require a somewhat lengthy wait as the driver is the one who will repair the bus. You should therefore make sure to pack some water and food just in case your bus decide to break down on a lonely stretch of road.
That being said, traveling by bus is perhaps the most popular way of getting around in Vietnam. It is despite the inconvenience, still easy and straightforward. Also, most buses will stop for toilet and snack break every few hours.
The seats can be somewhat small for us Europeans, as they are made for Asians. And the overnight buses are often made of comfortable sleeper berths – but again, you will be fighting for space.
Most buses have recliner seats, A/C, and provides water and blankets on departure. We took an overnight bus from Ho Chi Minh City to Nha Trang, and our bus had two storeys with three individual rows of seats.
TIP! If your bus has two storeys, I would recommend requesting for a seat on the ground level when checking in. The bus normally does not offer much space for your day bag or other belongings.
The price for a bus ticket tends to be around 200,000 – 800,000 VND (10 – 30 USD).
Self drive by motorbike/scooter/car
Many tourists decides to rent a car or a motorbike, as this is both adventurous, cheap and provides the most flexibility. And even though there are many positive sides to these options, there are also downsides to consider. The roads in Vietnam are no joke, and the traffic itself has little to no regards for safety. Accidents are common, and hospitals are far away.
If you are considering this option, you need to be a highly skilled driver. And a super human seeing that you will be driving through tsunamis of scooters in the big cities, and roads thinner than an iPhone 10 in the mountains 🙂
Hire a driver
If you enjoy exploring the country from a car, the absolute best way to do so is to hire a driver. Here you will be winning on the comfort, the safety, the views as well as experience the insane traffic in Vietnam. Slightly more expensive than taking the bus, but again – a much better and safer experience than driving by yourself.
And if you are lucky, your driver may turn into a guide showing you those secluded and off the beaten path places! Yay!
Taking the train is a good option for those who are looking to exploring a different scene than the hectic and buzzling mega cities. From Ho Chi Minh City there is a good rail network providing great access to for example Hue and Da Nang.
Pros: You can travel both during the day and during the night! It is also an inexpensive and environmentally friendly way to travel. With A/C, toilets, and stunning views, its no wonder that this alternative is popular with both the locals and backpackers.
Cons: The shortest train journey takes 24 hours.. In other words, if you are short one time, you might wanna skip right down to the plane option like we did.
Seeing that plane tickets in Vietnam are generally cheap, it will in most cases be worth spending the extra money on flying. We opted for this alternative during our 10-days itinerary in Vietnam. We found tickets as cheap as 20 USD per person!
When you only have 10 days to explore a place, you are probably looking for a way to maximize your time. And in Vietnam – flights are you very best friend!
When to visit Vietnam during your 10-days itinerary in Vietnam
Vietnam is one of those countries that are complicated to decide when to travel to, especially if you´re planning on visiting the whole country. In many ways its a whole-year destination, as long as you’re not afraid of a little rain.
February to April and August to October are the best months to visit Vietnam during your 10-days itinerary in Vietnam. The temperatures are pleasing, and the rainfall is lighter.
Ho Chi Minh City: Year-around destination. You can expect afternoon downpours between May and November, but that never hurt any touring.
Hoi An: best between February and July. However, it remains relatively warm all year around.
Hanoi: Year-around destination. Hot in the summer, cold in the winter.
Halong Bay: March to June, September and October. Experience warm summer days and clear skies during these months.
How much does Vietnam cost?
From a privileged western perspective Vietnam is insanely cheap. It truly is a backpackers dream when is comes to budget. Both accommodation, food and experiences are reasonably priced, and you can totally blow your budget and still have money to spend for the rest of your travels.
It does depend on how you travel and where you go however, but all in all we found Vietnam to be very affordable. And like most places, the bigger the city – the higher the price.
Average prices in Vietnam
Guesthouse: 5 USD per night (double room)
Hotel: 10 – 60 USD per night
Food: 5 – 10 USD per day (per person)
Transportation: 15 USD (per day)
Motorbike rental: 5 USD (per day)
Sim card: 2 USD (6GB)
Laundry: 1-2 USD (per KG)
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