FULL GUIDE & ITINERARY FOR VIETNAM19 min read

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FULL GUIDE & ITINERARY FOR VIETNAM

Vietnam is an incredible country and offers so much even compared to it’s neighbour Thailand. From it’s history which involves the war and it’s communist era to it’s delicious food and paradisiac beaches.

During my trip through South East Asia, I spent 10 days travelling from Hanoi to Ho Chi Minh thanks to the help of 2 motorbikes we bought. Personally, there is no other way to do it and it made the trip entirely unique to anywhere else you’ll go

🗺 FULL GUIDE & ITINERARY FOR VIETNAM: WHERE IS VIETNAM? 🗺

📆 FULL GUIDE & ITINERARY FOR VIETNAM: WHEN TO GO 📆

Vietnam is long and narrow which means the weather will vary and you travel but it’s best to travel during it’s driest months, especially if you plan to travel by bikes. The dry months are December, January and February. It might get a little cold in Sapa during these months but beyond this the temperature is fairly warm.

When to go: Jan/Feb

BROKEN BIKES, VIETNAM 21

Full Guide & Itinerary for Vietnam

⏳ FULL GUIDE & ITINERARY FOR VIETNAM: HOW LONG TO STAY ⏳

To enjoy Vietnam properly don’t go for any less than 10 days. I would have stayed longer but unfortunately this was all that we were allowed on from a visa on arrival.

How long: 10 – 14 days

🛫 FULL GUIDE & ITINERARY FOR VIETNAM: HOW TO GET THERE 🛬

Hanoi is a major airport in South East Asia and direct flights can be made from around the world. Worst case scenario you might have one short layover. If you are flying from as far away as Fiji then expect several layovers in china and a delayed bag.

How to get there: Direct flights from across the world

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Full Guide & Itinerary for Vietnam

🌦 FULL GUIDE & ITINERARY FOR VIETNAM: WEATHER 🌦

Generally the rainfall is similar in both the north and the south (wet season is summer season). However, even though winter can be warm enough in the south, it can get very cold in the north, Check out the annual weather for the North and South before booking.

Weather: Everything; warm, hot, wet and dry.

 FACTS:
  • Vietnam is actually spelt with two words; Viet Nam
  • The coastline is over 2000 miles long
  • Vietnam is home to 16% of the world’s species!
  • Vietnam is the second largest exporter of coffee, after only to Brazil.

💳 FULL GUIDE & ITINERARY FOR VIETNAM: MONEY 💳

The famous Dong will get you a lot of notes for your buck! £1 will get you around 30,000Dong. And if that didn’t put a smile on your face then knowing how cheap some of the things are will. Expect to budget between $40-$50 depending on how much you want to do and eat! Be sure to take activities and attractions into account on top of this.

ATMs are found around the cities but not so much off the beaten path, be sure to bring some U.S. dollars as a back up.

Money; Dong, Dollars & cards accepted, very affordable

 RELATED READ: RUNNING UP LION’S HEAD

🗣 FULL GUIDE & ITINERARY FOR VIETNAM: LANGUAGE 🗣

English is becoming more and more common, especially with the Vietnamese youth. Don’t expect any problems within the tourist industry as the English language is very well catered for.

Language: Greek & English

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Full Guide & Itinerary for Vietnam

🏍 FULL GUIDE & ITINERARY FOR VIETNAM: HOW TO GET AROUND 🏍

There are 3 main options when deciding how to get around;

TOUR

You can sign up to a tour which sorts out all of the logistics and any possible headaches. It’s a sure fire way to meet plenty of people but lacks in flexibility as you will be tied to an itinerary.

BUS

This option is both cheap and flexible as it allows you to go at your own pace. However you will be restricted to the stops and won’t be able to stop at anything you like the look of as you drive by.

MOTORBIKE

For me this is the only way to travel through Vietnam. If you are worried about not being able to ride a bike, don’t be. This is the very place I learned, not the best place to learn but if you can drive here you can drive anywhere. The good thing about the bikes is that you can stop where and when you want, giving you ultimate freedom.

How to get around: Tour, bus or motorbike

David Simpson riding a motorbike in Quy Nhon, Vietnam. The Vietnamese clubs

Full Guide & Itinerary for Vietnam

📱 FULL GUIDE & ITINERARY FOR VIETNAM: INTERNET & MOBILE 📱

Wi-Fi is everywhere here and I mean everywhere. You could stop at a place that looks like it’s just about to fall over but you will be guaranteed relatively good Wi-Fi connection! I would also suggest you get a sim if you are taking a motorbike.

Mobile: Buy a sim if required. Wi-Fi available everywhere.

🧳 FULL GUIDE & ITINERARY FOR VIETNAM: WHAT TO PACK 🧳

This is all dependant on the time of year you travel but regardless of that you can expect some serious heat so pack the shorts and t shirts. When driving through the mountains things got real cold but a jacket can be bought out there for cheap and then gifted to someone when you leave.

A friend and pink teddy riding the motorbike in Da Lat, Vietnam. Night rider and a broken bike

Full Guide & Itinerary for Vietnam

💰 FULL GUIDE & ITINERARY FOR VIETNAM: CAN IT BE DONE ON A BUDGET 💰

Vietnam caters for all types of tourists, whether you are a backpacker that needs to look after their pennies or a couple who are having a no expense spared honeymoon. Vietnam is known to be better value than it’s neighbour, Thailand and I would have to agree.

Can it be done on a budget – Yes, something for all budgets

 FOOD:
  • Try a bowl of pho
  • Vietnamese coffee
  • Vietnam Spring Rolls
  • Bánh bèo

📝 FULL GUIDE & ITINERARY FOR VIETNAM: WHAT TO DO 📝

Put it this way, you won’t struggle to find things to do. The food, history and scenery will all be highlights of your trip. Just be sure not to overlook the locals, they are some of the kindest and warmest people you will ever meet!

FULL ITINERARY FOR VIETNAM: 10 – 14 DAY ITINERARY

DAY 1, GOOD EVENING VIETNAM

Airport – Accom – Evening food tour

17:00

FOOD TOUR

After arriving at your hotel it’s best to get out of the room asap or run the risk of lying down for a while. That will seem like a perfect idea but you will regret it for the rest of your holiday! What better way to get you outside than an evening food tour around the amazing streets of Hanoi. This should stand you in good stead for the rest of the holiday so be sure to ask your guide any questions. Try some Vietnamese coffee if you are really struggling with the tiredness!

David Simpson and friends in Ha Long Bay, Vietnam. Everyone's worst travel nightmare happened today
Castaway cruise with David Simpson and friends in Ha Long Bay, Vietnam. The greatest party cruise in the world

Full Guide & Itinerary for Vietnam

DAY 2-4, HA LONG BAY

Hanoi – Ha Long Bay – Hanoi

06:00

Whether you are a couple looking for a romantic treat, family wanting to see the sights or a solo traveller wanting a party boat there is something for everyone here! Ha Lon Bay was one of the highlights for me as we met so many great people. It was a bit rowdy yes but I wouldn’t have changed it for the world. Day trips or overnight trips can be arranged from vendors in Hanoi, however I would suggest you book something with your (reputable (agent) at home

 

18:00 DAY 4

On your return, you will make it back for dinner either at your hotel or as per a recommendation from your food guide during your first day.

DAY 5&6, BUYING BIKES AND GETTING TO HUE

Hanoi & Hue

After some much needed sleep from your Ha Long Bay cruise it’s time to find some bikes – if you are going for that option. There are numerous facebook groups, buy and well webpages and garages which will all have bikes for sale. If you are stuck don’t be afraid to ask a local or even a hostel, it’s a common question they will get asked.

 

As soon as you source the bikes, take the opportunity to check out the city, it really is stunning and unique to most other Asian cities. Five attractions that must be visited are;

  • Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum
  • Hoa Lo Prison
  • Imperial Citadel
  • The Old Quarter
  • The B52 wreckage

If you might be lacking on time take the bus to Hue, otherwise enjoy the 14 hours trip!

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Full Guide & Itinerary for Vietnam

DAY 7, CHECKING OUT HUE

HUE

The highlights of Vietnam are located closer to the south so its best to keep moving until we reach the likes of Hoi An. But while you are here check out;

  • Mausoleum of Emperor Khai Dinh
  • Imperial city
  • Mausoleum of Emperor Tu Duc
  • Thanh Toan Bridge
 TIPS:
  • Keep an eye out for anything and everything that might grab your attention. We found ourselves stopping at the side of the road frequently!
  • Need a break from driving? Find a place that serves Vietnamese iced coffee, it’s incredible!
  • Talk to the locals, they are some of the best hosts you will find!

DAY 8, HOI VAN PASS

Hue – Da Nang

The highlight of the journey has to be the Hoi Van Pass, between Hue and Da Nang. The road stretches for 21km and weaving through breath-taking mountains while over looking the stunning coastline. Give yourself the full day as you’ll stop at every spot you can!

 

DAY 9-10, SUITED AND BOOTED

Da Nang – Hoi An

 

HOI AN

Today we enjoy an equally stunning coastal drive for Hoi An. Known as the tailor capital of the world, it’s the place to get suited and booted. Turnaround times can be as little as 24 hours however I would recommend to hang around for a few days, your bum with be thankful of the rest!

Check out the following;

  • Japanese Covered Bridge
  • Hoi An Night Market
  • Hoi An Ancient Town
  • Yaly Couture – Tailor
HAI VAN PASS - HOI AN 3

Full Guide & Itinerary for Vietnam

DAY 11, VIETNAMESE NIGHTLIFE

Hoi An – Son My Memorial – Qui Nhon

 

SON MY MEMORIAL

It’s a long drive to Qui Nhon and it’s important you make the stop at Son My Memorial, where the My Lai massacre occurred. This is one of the worst atrocities of the war and gives you a great insight into what the locals had to endure.

 

QUI NHON

Qui Nhon is a quick stay just long enough to sample the nightlife, something that will shock you – if you haven’t already tasted it! Head to one of the many rooftop bars and then to one of the cities huge clubs where you can order everything from shisha to a fruit bowl!

A pink bear on a motorbike and a beautiful view in Da Lat, Vietnam. Night rider and a broken bike

Full Guide & Itinerary for Vietnam

DAY 12-13, JUMP!

Qui Nhon – Na Trang – Da Lat

 

NA TRANG

Na Trang is one of the countries most popular resort towns with it’s beaches and diving sites. However, being a resort town there isn’t much to see or do outside of the hotels so on we go to Da Lat.

 

DA LAT

Da Lat is commonly known as the adventure town of Vietnam. Located high in the mountains its popular for people keen to trek the jungle and do some canyoneering – jump from the gorges.

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Full Guide & Itinerary for Vietnam

DAY 14, TUNNEL VISION

Da Lat – Cu Chi Tunnels

 

CU CHI TUNNELS

After a crazy drive through the mountains that will for sure test you motorbike to it’s limits it’s time for another highlight of the trip, the Cu Chi tunnels. These tunnels played an important role in Vietnam turning the U.S. Army over in their invasion of the 60s. Evidence of the war can be found throughout the country on your way down and if it’s of interest then I would check out this post.

Whether or not you want to crawl through the tunnels is one thing but everyone should visit them. The tunnels have been made for us westerns to crawl through so don’t expect many problems. There is so much more to do here such as check out the crazy traps, shoot some guns and read up a bit from the perspective of the Vietnamese.

David Simpson and friend inside a tunnel in Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam. Stabbings & tunnels in Ho Chi Minh

Full Guide & Itinerary for Vietnam

DAY 14 – 15, LAST HURRAH

Cu Chi Tunnels – Ho Chi Minh/Saigon

 

HO CHI MINH/SAIGON

As far as cities go, few are as chaotic as Ho Chi Minh but visiting it makes the experience all the more worthwhile! The sheer number of motorbikes is the first thing that you will notice as you try not to crash on the way to your hotel.

Ho Chi Minh, also known as Saigon is much bigger and more developed than it’s northern counterpart, Hanoi. However, there is still plenty to see beyond the many rooftop bars;

  • War museum
  • Notre Dame Cathedral
  • Cao Dai Temple
  • Day trip to the Mekong

 

DAY 16, FLIGHT HOME

 HAVE MORE TIME…?
  • Check out Sapa in the north
  • Do a cookery class in Hanoi
  • Check out the Mekong Delta

FINAL THOUGHTS

So if you are looking for that perfect 2 week adventure holiday to South East Asia then this is it. I would do anything to relive my 2 weeks I had here but if you do end up going, drop me a line on Instagram and let me know how it goes!

SAFE TRAVELS, DS x
To read about my Vietnam trip, click here.

Question Time

  • Have you visited Vietnam?
  • Would you recommend anything else?
  • What was your favourite place?
  • Which restaurants and bars did you like?

Let me know in the comments below . . .

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