Vietnam travel guide itinerary. Vietnam is a country of contrast, with riverside villages, bustling motorbike filled cities, quaint little beachside resort towns and lush jungle and rural areas to explore.
The beaches are great for surfing, relaxing and swimming, the islands great for diving and exploring, and all towns and cities are a great adventure to be had on a bicycle. There are temples, emperor tombs, war museums and history to discover.
Starting Ho Chi Minh City, where you can explore the city and take part in many great and inexpensive day trips such as a Mekong River Tour.
Heading North from HCMC, stopping at Nha Trang (a beautiful, laid back beach resort town), Hoi An (a UNESCO listed romantic and charming small city on the river) and maybe include Da Nang (a seaside resort). Then Hue (where you can step back in time and explore the many Emperors Tombs and learn about the war at the site of America Hill – a battle site of the Vietnam War.
The trip ends in Hanoi – the capital of Vietnam, where you can explore the city's Old Quarter, visit markets, walk the beautiful lake trail, and go on day and multi-day trips to well-known places such as Sapa and Ha Long Bay.
This trip can be done in 2 weeks but 3-4 weeks would be recommended so that you can really enjoy your time in each city, as well as have time to explore and relax on some of the beautiful beaches.
OPEN TICKET BUS TRAVEL- VIETNAM from $35 (price depends on the amount of stop-offs chosen – for this itinerary of HCMC-NHA TRANG – HOI AN – HUE – HANOI – the cost was $38 .
Vietnam – ~$80 visa (needed before arrival as not available on arrival).
Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon)
ACCOMMODATION: dorm beds from $5, private singles with en suite
MEALS: restaurant meals from $2
Day trip on the Mekong River (including lunch, bus, boat) = $8-9 – You can read an outline of the Mekong River Tour here.
Ho Chi Minh City is a clean, action-packed, and super friendly city, full of history, culture, and motorbikes! I have never been to a city with so many motorbikes. I read somewhere that the is approximately 5 million motorbikes in with city! Ho Chi Minh City is the largest city and the main economic centre of the country, its former name is Saigon. What to see and do in HCMC? For a brief overview, of the city sites read my HCMC post here.
HCMC → NHA TRANG (9 hours– day trip)
ACCOMMODATION: dorms from $5, private rooms with en suite from $8
MEALS: restaurant meals from $2
Diving: a day scuba diving from $50
Nha Trang is the most famous beachside resort-town in Vietnam. Clean beaches, beautifully landscaped and peaceful foreshores, sunny skies, a bustling city full of life and culture, delicious food and the most delightful and welcoming people. Nha Trang has a lot to offer everyone. Find a city summary with town services, beaches and things to see and do here.
NHA TRANG → HOI AN (13 hours, overnight sleeper bus trip)
ACCOMMODATION: private rooms with en suite bathroom in guesthouse from $7
MEALS: open air restaurant meals from $1
A visit to Hoi An will make any traveller feel like they have gone back in time to another world. This town is magical, delightful, full of beautiful architecture, nature and people. Hoi An Old Town is full of colourful buildings, hanging lanterns, and winding paved laneways filled with chinese-styled small shops and houses.
Hoi An is a UNESCO listed town, with romantic shop fronts, a relaxed vibe and beautiful river views, for more information and photos of Hoi An see this post here.
HOI AN → HUE (3 hours, day trip) – You can do another stop in Danang (beach resort) if you wish.
ACCOMMODATION: The few dorm rooms in Hue get booked up here quite quickly, single rooms with en suite from $7.
MEALS: restaurant meals from $2-$4
Entrance to some tombs is free, others charge an entrance fee of around $4.
I found the Tomb of Minh Mang absolutely magnificent. Located inside huge stone walls, covering an area of several hectares filled with stone tombs, temples, walls and walks. If you'd like to get the low down on what to see and do in Hue and the tombs to visit, you can read an overview of Hue here.
HUE → HANOI (travel time 18 hours, overnight trip on a sleeper bus).
ACCOMMODATION: dorm beds from $4 (very popular in peak season), private rooms with en suite and breakfast from $11.
MEALS: street food from $2, restaurant meals from $2, fresh fruit markets also very inexpensive.
Day trip to Ha Long Bay: Ticket from $17, includes bus, boat and lunch. You can read a full review with pictures of a day trip to Ha Long Bay here.
The city feels like two different worlds colliding. Hanoi Old Quarter with its crammed streets, bursting with small shop houses, has outdoor eateries sprawled along the sidewalks. The busy roads are filled with cars, motorbikes and bicycles, and the streets and small laneways can be described as a bustling yet organised urban chaotic warren. Get a brief overview of Hanoi here.
With prices listed – you can gain a good idea of the approximate cost of your trip depending on the amount of time you plan to stay in Vietnam. I hope you have enjoyed reading Vietnam Travel Itinerary. I did this trip in just under 4 weeks.