top of page

Vietnam Itinerary Guide

In 2014 we travelled around Vietnam, we loved our time there and would highly recommend adding it to your list when travelling through South East Asia. Below is our guide to spending 16 nights in this amazing and varied country.


Organise before leaving home. Visit the Vietnam Visa Centre website, and the process is easy- input your personal details, passport details and payment details. You will get confirmation within 24-48 hours via email. For a one month visa this part costs US $20 pp (£12) / or for a three-month visa is US $35 (£27). Upon landing in Vietnam, you will follow signs for visa control, hand over passport to receive printed stamp in passport, you will also need a passport photo and another US $25pp (£20) / US $50 (£40) for government tax.

Getting there:

Many airlines- we chose Vietnam Airlines from Hong Kong to Hanoi (1hr 35 flight) At approx. £200 pp one way. And Vietnam Airlines from Saigon to Jakarta (3hr flight) costing around £150 pp one way.

Choosing the length of stay:

Minimum 16 nights, recommend if you have more time to boost this to 3 weeks at least.

When to go:

July and August are the high season, prices can rise by 50%, book hotels well in advance. Apart from far north, the country is hot and humid with summer monsoons bringing rain. December to March is the shoulder season, north will be cool weather and south clear sunny skies. The best times to visit is between April and June or September and November where the temperatures are moderate and less rain.


When Heaven and Earth Changed Places by Le Ly Hayslip about her childhood during the Vietnam War, her escape to the United States, and her return to visit Vietnam 16 years later.


'Indochine' set during the uprising in Vietnam against French colonial power


Pho, a noodle soup, with spices. Cao Lau in Hoi An which is a flat noodle broth spicy pork. Try street food from 50p


Vietnamese beer. As cheap as 5000 VND (14p!!)

Travelling around:

Air fares are comparable, but we recommend taking a sleeper bus or sleeper train. This maximises the amount of time you have in each destination, and you get to see the gorgeous landscapes, and it saves a night’s fare in a hotel.


Getting to Hanoi: 1-hour taxi ride from the airport

Accommodation: Hanoi Golden Palace hotel £19 per night

How long: 3 nights

Top things to do:

Ngoc Son Temple located in the middle of the Hoan Keim Lake. The lake is named so because legend has it that in the mid-15th century heaven gave Emperor Le Loi a magical sword that he used to drive the Chinese out of Vietnam. One day after the war he was on a boat in the lake when a giant golden tortoise appeared and grabbed the sword and returned it to its divine owners. Hoan Keim means 'Lake of the Returned Sword'. See the embalmed remains of a giant tortoise in the Temple amongst shrines and statues and look out for real turtles that swim in the lake.

Address: Dinh Tien Hoang St. Hanoi 100000

Open: 8am-6pm

Entry: 30,000 VND (95p)

Hoa Lo Prison best known by its nickname ‘The Hanoi Hilton’. The prison was where the US POW were detained after they were caught by the Vietnamese. The prison was also used decades before, during the French rule.

Address: 1 Hoa Lo St, Hoan Kiem Hanoi 10000

Open: 8am-5pm

Entry: 30,000 VND (95p)

St Joseph’s cathedral iconic church not bombed in the war

Address: 40 Nha Chung St, Hoan Kiem District Hanoi 100000

Open: 8am-noon & 2-6pm

Sunken US B52 bomber

Address: Ngo 55, Hoang Hoa Tham, Hanoi 10000, Vietnam

Visit the nightly markets and shops that are full of fake goods.

To eat:

Hanoi Garden Restaurant

Address: 36 Hang Manh Street | Hoan Kiem District, Hanoi 10000, Vietnam

Watch the crazy traffic from a (chain) coffee bar called Highland Coffee, which was situated a few floors up and had an outside decking area

Address: 1- 3 - 5 Dinh Tien Hoang Street, Hanoi, Vietnam

The kitchen BBQ Buffet

Address: 3B Le Thai To Street, Hang Trong Ward, Hoan Kiem District, Hanoi 100000

Additional info:

Watch out for the crazy traffic. Be aware of pickpockets especially at the market. The Vietnamese seem so sweet and friendly but also be aware they will want your sale, even hotel workers. Visit 'Highland Coffee' for the best views over the busy streets


Getting to Halong Bay: Tour, 4 hours on mini bus

Accommodation: 5*Emeraude. Buffet food included. £200pp

How long: 1

Top things to do:

Set sail amongst the the thousands of limestone karsts and isles in various shapes and sizes. Visit 'Sung Sot Grotto' a large, deep cave, which on the cliff face offers stunning views across the islands. Visit a floating market which is a pearl farm, and watch men working at producing pearls from oysters. On deck take in the breath-taking scenery and at night enjoy an outdoor movie

Additional info:

There are many companies with a range of class of accommodation expensive to cheap, arty to relaxing


Getting to Hue: Purchase train tickets at hotel. A 4-berth soft sleeper train taking 13 hour 40 minutes will cost around £25pp

Accommodation: Not applicable, day trip, book a overnight train to maximise time in Hue

How long: 3 hours

Top things to do:

Hire a taxi for the day at around $20. Visit one of 'Vietnams treasures', the former Imperial City. The Citadel which was massive and is currently being restored as most of it was blown up (like everything by the Americans). The site is very impressive. Watch a short film showing what the citadel would look like once again once reconstruction has been completed.

Open: 7am-5.30pm, to 10pm mid-Apr to mid-Sep

Entry: £5pp 150,000 VND

Vietnams most iconic Pagoda, the Thien Mu Pagoda on the banks of the Perfume river, 4km from the Citadel.

The Tomb of Tu Duc, the burial site of one of the Emperors, and his wife which is set amongst shaded trees and a large lake.

Entry: £5pp 150,000 VND

Additional info:

More time here would be good, but if you can handle the past pace do it. Pick a sleeper train to avoid paying another night accommodation. Hue is pronounced ‘hway’


Getting to to Hoi An: Sleeper bus with reclining leather seats in bunk bed style. Journey 3hr 40

Accommodation: Stunning 4* hotel ‘Hoi An Trails’. Located 3km out of town, with a free shuttle provided. Delux suite £38 pn

How long: 3 nights

Top things to do:

Wander the immensely pretty and atmospheric streets of the UNESCO World Heritage town, visit the Japanese Covered Bridge built in 1593 and the Assembly Hall of the Fujian Chinese Congregation. Have a suit tailor made, we recommend ‘BeBe’

To eat:

'Son’ located near Hoi An Trails hotel, and try Cao Lau. In town eat Western food or local cuisine at ‘Cargo Bar’ and enjoy the best dessert ever (chocolate truffle)

Additional info:

Add a night or 2 and visit nearby Danang


Getting to Nha Trang: Sleeper bus, around 10 hour journey from Hoi An

Accommodation: 'Luxury Nha Trang' £29 pn, with a massive room and sea view balcony /

Hanoi Golden Hotel at £21 pn with rooms up to the 14th floor with views out to the sea. Hotel also has a roof top bar

How long: 3 nights