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.

Visas:

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.

Read:

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.

Watch:

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

Eat:

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

Drink:

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.

HANOI

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

HALONG BAY

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

HUE

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’

HOI AN

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

NHA TRANG

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

Top things to do:

£9 pp Island cruise, visit 4 islands where you will snorkel, sunbathe, have lunch, water sports activites (at additional cost) and swimming

To eat:

‘Lanterns’ lovely atmosphere and great local cusine

Address: 34/6 Nguyen Thien Thuat Nha Trang

'Louisiane Brewhouse' which brews own beers. Try a tasting tray. Vast food menu.

Address: 29, Trần Phú Nha Trang

For something different try Omar's Tandoori Cafe.

Address: 89b Nguyen Thien Thuat St, 96A/8 Tran Phu S. Nha Trang

Additional info:

We went in one tourist shop and in Russian they told us they only do tours for Russians! (It is very Russian around Nha Trang) A taxi along the bay will cost £2. We took a cyclo with an elderly man at the wheel, he tried to overcharge us at £6. We felt bad after as he would have been struggling with two of us, but he didn’t stick to agreement.

Take money on your island tour cruise for water sports

SAIGON

Getting to Saigon: 13 hours on a comfy reclining seat sleeper bus.

Accommodation: 5* Windsor Plaza Hotel. 18th floor. Massive windows. Huge room, the hotel has a free shuttle . £54 per night

How long: 4 nights

Top things to do:

Reunification Palace, built in 1966 to serve as the presidential palace, bunkers, outside on the grass was two tanks which crashed through the gates, as well as a fighter jet and helicopter.

Address: 106 Nguyen Du St Ho Chi Minh City

Open: 7.30-11am & 1-4pm

Entry: 40,000 DNG £1.25

War Remnants Museum which documented the atrocities of the war. It was very brutal and had an array of heart-breaking photographs of the victims of war. more of the effects of Agent Orange and Dioxin poisoning

Address: 28 Vo Van Tan, in District 3, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam

Open: 7.30am-noon & 1.30-5pm

Entry: 40,000 VND £1.25

Visit the Viet Cong’s Cu Chi Tunnels on a guided tour. Located 75km outside of the city, taking around 2 hours each way. £6 pp for tour plus £2.50 pp for entry fee at gates. Climb inside real tunnels, some as long as 50 metres. See booby traps which are gruesome with spikes coming out to penetrate through the body. You can also shoot a M16 rifle at targets.

A daily market located in district 1 is full of bargains and fake goods

Additional info:

Free shuttle from hotel, HCMC is made up of several different districts, our hotel was in district 5 and the main one is district 1

Visa information correct as of May 2019

Come check out our other Vietnam Blog Posts

HANOI

HALONG BAY

HUE

HOI AN

NHA TRANG

SIAGON

Have you been to Vietnam before and if so how long would you recommend?

If you haven’t been, but want to go, where is top of your list?

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