This is a guideline that shows how to travel in Viet Nam from the North to the South. By reading this carefully, we hope you will find a way to enjoy everything of our country, from the history of more than two thousand years to its beauty of a new dawn in the 21th century, from the country that you may only heard about through the word “War” to its origin values and delicious local delicacies.
HOW TO SPEND 3 WEEKS IN VIETNAM
This is the guide written by Peter, one of the local tourguides of Saigon Adventure team. By reading this carefully, we hope you may find a way to enjoy everything of our country, from the history of more than two thoudsand years to its beauty of a new dawn in the 21th century, from the country that you may only heard about through the word “war” to its origin values. The peak season to travel to Vietnam is widely considered to be September to April, but there's not necessarily a bad time to fly to Vietnam. Let’s us begin!
*** Note: this is a guideline that shows how to travel in Viet Nam from the North, starting in Hà Nội, our capital, to the South, finishing in Hồ Chí Minh City (Sài Gòn), our biggest city.
3 Week Vietnam Itinerary from Hanoi to Ho Chi Minh
Week 1: Hanoi, Halong Bay, Quang Binh
Week 2: Hue, Danang, Hoian, Nha Trang
Week 3: Nha Trang, Dalat, Saigon
Hanoi (3 days / 3 nights)
*** What to do:
Wander around the Old Quarter and see the 36 different marketplaces with specific kind of trade goods, see and take in the crazy motorbikes, loud street vendors and the shops selling all manner of interesting things. Spend some of your time to vist Hoàn Kiếm Lake, located in the middle of the city and the Ngọc Sơn Temple, located in the middle of the lake.
See the Hồ Chí Minh Mausoleum complex with Ba Đình Square. No need to be told, you know for sure what you’re about to see inside, don’t ever try taking photos inside and above all, be wary of strange opening times and closures at certain times of year. This is a great insight into his life and ideology.
The Temple of Literature (Văn Miếu Quốc Tử Giám), which is nearby, will be a perfect place for visting because of its meaning, the first university of Việt Nam. Trấn Quốc Pagoda would be nice to finish your final day in Hà Nội. This pagoda is of cultural importance as it was originally built in the 6th century, but still holds an important message for the future as "Trấn Quốc" means "stabilizing the nation".
Also, don’t miss the West Lake (Hồ Tây) near to the pagoda, on your walk around the lake, try to see Phủ Tây Hồ, in which worshiping Goddess Liễu Hạnh, the Lady of the “Four Immortals”. There are extra excursions in the riverside of the Red River (Sông Hồng), Bút Tháp Pagoda, Dâu Pagoda, Hỏa Lò Prison, … and try to remember this, once you are in big city, the driver is not going to stop and wait for you, be brave and beat them on the road!
*** Local delicacies: Phở (famous beef noodle soup which is on top of every bucketlist when you visit Hà Nội), Bánh Cuốn (steamed rice rolls), Cà Phê Trứng (egg york coffee), Bún Chả (pork kebab noodle) and there is also vegan restaurants if you’re not interested in meat.
Halong Bay (2 days / 1 nights)
*** What to do: Sea and sight.
Visit the famous caves, there are Đầu Gỗ cave, Sửng Sốt (Suprise) cave, Thiên Cung (Heaven) cave, Tiên Ông cave, Mê Cung (Labirynth) cave, Kim Quy (Golden Turtle) cave, Luồn cave, Trống (Male) cave, Trinh Nữ (Virgin) cave and Nam Thiên Sơn cave.
Go for the Bãi Cháy Beach or Bái Tử Long Bay to avoid the crowded area. Don’t forget your sun cream and a hat, unless you really want your skin gets burned red like every traffic light in rush hour. If you have more time to spend, you can look for Cát Bà island with lots of activities like trekking, kayaking, climbing, national park and so on.
*** Local delicacies: Local seafoods, but as usual, you should know the exact price before order anything, some of the price mainly will follow the season or the rareness of the food.
Phong Nha Ke Bang National Park (2 days / 2 nights)
*** What to do:
Spend a day visit Phong Nha Kẻ Bàng national park, the most beautiful cave here are Động Thiên Đường (Paradise Cave), this is the biggest cave in the park and Hang Tối-Sông Chày (Dark Cave and Chày River) a small branch of river which lead you into a very dark cave inside the moutain.
Usually the popular choice is to take a trekking adventure to explore more about the history and natural beauties of the province, but if you may find it expensive, spend a day at Nhật Lệ beach is enough. You may find lots of places that offer bike rental, if you are adventurous, you can ride around the city to its acctraction and the park without problems. But remember check the map first and the fuel on the way, don’t lost in the jungle out there!
*** Local delicacies: Bún Cá Lóc (snakehead fish noodle soup).
Hue (2 days / 2 nights)
*** What to do:
Explore Hue city including the Imperial Palace and ancient citadel, see the Ngọ Môn (Noon Gate). Take a short cruise down if you can negotiate a decent price with the ticket sellers down by the riverside of Hương River.
Travelling to Hội An or Đà Nẵng via the Hải Vân Pass is a must do on a 3 weeks Vietnam itinerary, on the way you’ll visit waterfalls and fresh water springs, but the most exciting part is driving through the famous pass; a 20km stretch of spectacular coastal road and panoramic scenery. The Hai Van Pass is historically significant to the Vietnam war as it was taken over by the Americans and at its highest point the bullet-damaged bunkers and patrol towers still stand today.
*** Local delicacies: Bún Bò (the Vietnamese famous “royal recipe” beef noodle soup of the middle land) and Cơm Hến (tiny little clams rice).
Danang - Hoian (4 days / 4 nights depend on where you stay in both towns)
*** What to do:
It’s great for wandering round and enjoying the many cafes and bars on offer. Don’t forget to see Chùa Cầu (Japanese Covered Bridge) in the ancient town, Cửa Đại seagate on Thu Bồn River, visit Cam Kim Village, join a cooking class and enjoy An Bàng peaceful beach during the time here, you won’t be dissapointed by those.
*** Local delicacies: Cao Lầu and Mì Quảng is the 2 famous noodles here, the first one is dry noodle while the other is noodle soup, enjoy these two and you will feel the “heaven on earth”.
Nha Trang (2 days / 2 nights)
*** What to do: Surrounded on all three sides by mountain ranges, Nha Trang offers the picturesque vista of primary forest, water fall and high mountain peak floating in soft could.
Located 60km far from the city center, with the height of 1578m, Hòn Bà Peak is regarded as “the second Đalat of Việt Nam”. Ones will need to drive about 25km of mountain pass and bendy slopes until reaching this area. Being overheated by the temperature of sunlight and ocean? The pure air and cool temperature here will definitely ease your feelings. Scientists estimate that there are more than 40 rare floras and 60 endangered species living in Hòn Bà Mountain. If you are tired of beaches, Hòn Bà may be a great place to visit. Other tourism destinations for your consideration in Nha Trang: Long Sơn Pagoda or Tháp Bà.
*** Local delicacies: Bún Chả Cá (chopped fish noodle soup), Bún Sứa (jellyfish noodle) and seafood.
Dalat - Flower City (2 days / 2 nights)
*** What to do:
There are many places for travellers interested in architecture to visit, such as Dalat Railway Station, designed by French architects Moncet and Reveron, or Hằng Nga guest house, "Crazy House" which is also an interesting place to stay.
The climate in Dalat is often called ‘Eternal Spring’ for its pleasantly warm temperatures during the day and quite cool at night, down to perhaps 10oC. Due to its favorable weather, Dalat is a supplier of temperate produce for all over Vietnam, for example, cabbage and cauliflower. Also, it has a nickname ‘City of Flowers’. Apart from architectural places of interest, Dalat also has lots of beautiful sites such as Xuan Huong Lake – center of town, Hồ Than Thở - Lake of Sorrow (Lake of Sighs) – 5km, Thung Lũng Tình Yêu - Valley of Love, Lang Biang Mountain - has a 1900m peak, ideal for a 3-hour hike, Thác Prenn - Prenn Waterfalls – 10km outside the town.
*** Local delicacies: specialties such as strawberry jam, dried fruits, avocado and Bánh Tráng Nướng (Vietnamese super thin pizza), Bánh Mì Xíu Mại (bread and meatball).
Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon) (4 days / 3 nights)
*** What to do:
Welcome to our home, when you visit this busy city, for city internal activities, you should never miss the Notre-Dame Catheral Basilica and the Central Post Office of French Quarter, The famous War Remnants Museum, The Jade Emperor Pagoga, one of the biggest and oldest Chinatown in the world of district 5 (Cho Lon) with its 300 years old Thien Hau Temple (Temple of the Sea Goddess), the Temple of Caodaism (Vietnamese unique religion), the Monuments of the Burning Monk, the Old Aparments (~60 years old military compound of Vietnam War) and the Flower Market.
You love shopping? Welcome to Ben Thanh Market. Care about external activities, from near to far, the Cu Chi Tunnels which is a must-go place when you stop here will take more than half a day for it. Then far away to the south west, the Mekong Delta will be suitable if you’re looking for authentic and really local experiences.
*** Local delicacies: Bánh Mì (like Vietnamese Subway, even much better), Bánh Xèo (Vietnamese Pancake), Cơm Tấm (Broken Rice), and Cà Phê Phin (Saigonese style local filter coffee) Sài Gòn is a place that gather all the customs and culturals from other parts of Việt Nam, so that would be the reason why you can try all kinds of food here.
The journey may finish here with the final night to board the flight from Tân Sơn Nhất airport to go back home.
The total would be 21 days and 20 nights. So be sure about your luggage, bring the sun cream, raincoat, and everything that you need for the greatest adventure of your life.
READ MORE: what to eat in ho chi minh