Looking to explore Vietnam but don’t know where to start? This 10 day Vietnam itinerary will take you on a whirlwind tour of the country’s most popular destinations. From vibrant Ho Chi Minh City and bustling Hanoi, to the picturesque Halong Bay and charming Hoi An, you’ll see it all!
There is no doubt that Vietnam is one of the most beautiful and exotic countries in Southeast Asia, or possibly even the world!
With its lush jungles, stunning beaches, and delicious food, it’s no wonder that so many people are drawn to it year after year. If you’re planning a trip to Vietnam, or if you’re just curious about what to expect, this 10 day itinerary will give you a taste of everything the country has to offer!
Vietnam is a country that is rich in history and culture. From the ancient city of Hoi An to the bustling metropolis of Saigon, there is much to see and explore in this Southeast Asian country.
Vietnam is also renowned for its cuisine, with tasty dishes such as pho and banh mi being enjoyed by locals and visitors alike. The country’s palm-fringed beaches and verdant mountains are another big draw, providing a stunning backdrop for any holiday. In short, Vietnam has something for everyone!
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- How to get to Vietnam
- Getting around Vietnam
- Best time to visit Vietnam
- How to book your trip to Vietnam
- Know before you travel to Vietnam
- Map of our 10 day itinerary for Vietnam
- Day 1 – Hanoi
- Day 2 – Hanoi
- Day 3 – Halong Bay
- Day 5 – Hoi An
- Day 6 – Hoi An
- Day 7 – Hoi An
- Day 8 – Ho Chi Minh
- Day 9 – Ho Chi Minh
- Day 10 – Ho Chi Minh
- Got more than 10 days in Vietnam
- FAQs about visiting Vietnam
- Conclusion to this 10 day Vietnam Itinerary
How to get to Vietnam
The vast majority of visitors to Vietnam will arrive by air, with Hanoi’s Noi Bai International Airport and Ho Chi Minh City’s Tan Son Nhat International Airport being the two busiest airports in the country.
There are direct flights to both Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City from major cities around the world, including Bangkok, London, and New York. There are also a number of budget airlines that fly to Vietnam, making it an affordable destination to visit.
By bus or train
It is also possible to enter Vietnam by land, although this is usually only done by those coming from neighbouring countries such as Cambodia, Laos, and China. If you are planning on entering Vietnam by land, it is important to have all the necessary visas and permits in order before you take the trip.
Getting around Vietnam
Vietnam is a large country, and getting from one place to another can often take some time. The best way to see the country is by taking a combination of flights, trains, and buses.
Flying is the quickest way to travel around Vietnam, and there are a number of domestic airlines that operate within the country. However, flying is also the most expensive way to get around, so it is worth considering taking a combination of flights and other forms of transport if you are on a budget.
The Vietnamese railway system is extensive, and travelling by train is a great way to see the country. The trains are comfortable, and you can often get sleeper train tickets. This overnight train gives you the opportunity to sightsee during the day so that you can travel at night.
Buses are plentiful in Vietnam, and they are usually the cheapest way to travel between cities. However, they can be quite crowded and uncomfortable, so it may not be the best option.
Best time to visit Vietnam
The best time to visit Vietnam really depends on where you want to go and what you want to do.
If you’re planning on visiting the country’s beaches, then the best time to visit is from December to February, when the weather is dry and sunny.
However, if you want to avoid the crowds, then it is worth visiting during the shoulder months of November and March.
If you’re interested in exploring Vietnam’s jungles, then the best time to visit is from March to April, when the weather is cooler and drier.
The months between May to November are in the rainy season, and so this is generally considered to be the low season. Prices for accommodation and flights are usually cheaper during this time, so it can be a good option if you’re on a budget.
In saying all of the above, I travelled in August and it rained for about 20 minutes one day and was glorious the rest of the time!
How to book your trip to Vietnam
There are a few things to consider when booking your trip to Vietnam. Firstly, you will need to decide how you are going to get there.
If you’re flying, I recommend booking your flights either through Skyscanner as you can find the best deals available. If you plan to get the train to Vietnam (or around Vietnam), 12GoAsia is my go to for booking train tickets.
To book day trips and activities throughout Vietnam, GetYourGuide and Viator are your best bet. You can either type in the area and browse the various tours or you can put in more specific activities (i.e. snorkeling in Hoi An).
Know before you travel to Vietnam
Get your visa
Most nationalities will require a visa to enter Vietnam. You can apply for an e-visa here. It costs around $25 and takes 3 working days to be approved. You will need to make sure you have at least 6 months left on your passport when travelling. And don’t forget to print out a copy of your e-visa to take with you.
Alternatively, if you don’t want to deal with applying for visas yourself, iVisa do all the work for you and save you the hassle.
Sort your travel insurance
I can’t stress enough how important it is to have travel insurance before vising a country like Vietnam. This itinerary for Vietnam includes activities and adventures that attach some sort of risk. You’re going to want to experience everything while you’re there, right?
However, things do happen unfortunately, and you need to make sure you’re protected. I met a mother and daughter while in Halong Bay and the mother ended up on crutches after a motorbike ran into her leg.
There are millions of motorbikes speeding around, strange food that you won’t be used to which could have an effect on you, and adventure activities you’re going to want to jump right into.
Take a look on World Nomads (who are also recommended by the likes of Lonely Planet and National Geographic) and you can build the plan that suits you best. They also offer safety advice for the destination you’re travelling to. You can visit their website here.
- Pick up a sim card for a little as $10 as soon as you get to the airport.
- Arrange airport transfers with your hotels before you arrive if you don’t want to navigate public transport.
- If you have a long flight, treat yourself to lounge access – you may be surprised to find some that don’t charge too much. And some even accept miles. You should also check out my list of ultimate essentials for a long haul flight for a more comfortable flight.
- The tap water isn’t safe to drink in Vietnam. Bring a refillable water bottle with you so you can fill up with filtered water.
Now that all the nitty gritty details are out of the way, here’s our 10 day Vietnam Itinerary
Map of our 10 day itinerary for Vietnam
Day 1 – Hanoi
Hanoi is the capital of Vietnam, located in the north of the country. It’s a busy city, with a whopping 5 million motorbikes and mopeds filling the streets. You’ll see the locals carrying everything – TVs, pets, 5 person families – on the back of one of these motorbikes!
Where to stay in Hanoi:
The O Gallery Premier Hotel & Spa is located right in the Old Quarter, giving you easy access to walking around the city.
You’ll be handed a refreshing welcome drink as soon as you arrive at the hotel. I stayed in this hotel and it was perfect for my stay in Hanoi.
Other recommended places to stay in Hanoi:
- May De Ville Legend Hotel & Spa (luxury)
- Hanoi Prime Center Hotel (mid range)
- Hanoi Culture Hostel (budget)
First stop on our 10-day Vietnam trip is Train Street, one of the most unique and interesting places in the city.
This narrow alley is located right next to the tracks of the Hanoi Railway, and for years it has been a popular spot for locals and tourists alike.
The street is lined with shops and cafes, and the trains run right through the middle of them twice a day. It’s an amazing sight to see, and it’s definitely one of the most quirky and fascinating places to visit in Hanoi.
Top tip: walk a little further up to the quieter area Lê Duẩn where you can get some good photos and watch the train go by without the crowds getting in the way.
Note: it is reported that Train Street closed down in 2019 due to an incident on the tracks. However, it seems to be slowly opening up again. Please ensure you adhere to the safety regulations on the tracks, and only visit if it is safe to do so.
Street Food Tour
Next up is the Hanoi Street Food Walking Tour, where you’ll get to sample some of the best food Hanoi has to offer.
The tour takes you around the Old Quarter, where you’ll try everything from pho and spring rolls to grilled fish and sticky rice.
You’ll also get to learn about the history and culture of Hanoi as you walk.
Hanoi Old Quarter
No trip to Hanoi would be complete without a visit to the Old Quarter. This is the heart of the city, and it’s where you’ll find some of the best shops, restaurants, and cafes.
Wander down the narrow streets and take in the sights and sounds of this vibrant part of town. Make sure to stop by one of the many cafes and try a traditional Vietnamese coffee.
Hanoi Opera House
The Hanoi Opera House is one of the city’s most iconic buildings. It was built in 1911 by the French, and it’s a beautiful example of colonial architecture.
The Opera House is located in the heart of Hanoi, and it’s well worth a visit. Even if you don’t catch a show, it’s worth taking a look inside this stunning building.
No, not the hotel chain! The Hanoi Hilton is a prison in Hanoi that was used by the Viet Cong during the Vietnam War.
The prison has been turned into a museum, and it’s a fascinating place to visit. The museum tells the story of the prisoners who were held here, and it’s a sobering reminder of the horrors of war.
Hanoi Night Market
The Hanoi Night Market is the perfect place to pick up some souvenirs, try some new amazing food, and enjoy the lively atmosphere.
The market is open every Friday to Sunday, and it’s located in the Old Quarter. It’s the perfect place to start your weekend in Hanoi!
Day 2 – Hanoi
Hanoi Vespa Tour
Start your morning just like the locals do with a Vespa Tour of Hanoi! You’ll zip around the city on the back of a scooter, taking in all the sights and sounds of this vibrant city.
This is a great way to see Hanoi, and it’s a lot of fun too! You’ll get to meet some locals and stop for traditional Vietnamese food along the way.
Museum / Bus Tour
If strolling around the city is more your style, why not take a walk and check out some of these Hanoi museums:
If you prefer to take in the sights from a bus, the Hop-On-Hop-Off tour is an excellent way of seeing the city. This is something I always do if I don’t have too long to spend in a city.
My usual trick is to go around the route once and mark out the things I want to visit, then I hop off where I want during the second route.
Lotte Observation Deck
Head to see the sun setting over the Hanoi skyline on the 65th floor of the Lotte Observation Deck. If you’re not afraid of heights, step out on to the glass ledge and get your picture taken in the heart window.
After a couple of long days of sightseeing, you’re going to need a massage, am I right?
Vietnamese massages are excellent, and they’re very cheap too! You can get a full-body massage for around $10!
There are plenty of places to choose from, but I stopped by the spa in my hotel, O’Gallery Premier Hotel & Spa.
Day 3 – Halong Bay
One of the highlights of any trip to Vietnam is a cruise around Halong Bay. This UNESCO World Heritage Site is absolutely stunning, and it’s a must-do while you’re in the country.
There are plenty of different cruises to choose from and you can choose more traditional wooden boats or opt for something a little more luxurious.
I booked a two night Halong Bay Cruise with Stellar of the Seas Cruise and it was an incredible experience. The food was fantastic, and I loved waking up in the morning to find we were anchored in the middle of nowhere surrounded by limestone cliffs.
If you choose this cruise, you will be picked up at your hotel in Hanoi (as long as it’s within the Old Quarter) and driven 2.5 hours to the cruise.
Don’t worry, you get to stop for a quick pee break with a view along the way!
Once you arrive in Halong Bay, you’ll be given a safety briefing and then it’s time to set sail!
You’ll spend the next two days cruising around the bay, stopping at different islands along the way. You can go kayaking, swimming, or just relax on the deck of the boat and take in the breathtaking scenery.
This ship is also one of the only ones to have a swimming pool on board.
All the rooms have balconies so you can sit out in the evening and watch the sun setting over the bay.
Kayaking around Halong Bay
One of the best things about being on a cruise around Halong Bay is that you can get up close and personal with the limestone cliffs and nearby islands.
I loved going kayaking and exploring all the different caves and lagoons. It was so peaceful out on the water, and it’s a great way to see the bay.
Visiting neighbouring islands
Your Halong Bay Cruise continues with a speedboat ride to a neighbouring island. If you’re up for it, you can cycle around the island (it’s a little hilly!) or you can go by buggy.
You’ll meet the locals of the village and test some of their homemade alcohol. But this is no ordinary alcohol…
There are huge jars with snakes, bees and scorpions – oh and the alcohol is in the jars! While I’m not a big drinker, I’m a big fan of trying something new and, well, it was interesting!
Day 5 – Hoi An
Your Halong Bay cruise, whichever one you choose, will likely drop you back at your hotel in Hanoi. It’s then time to head for the airport for the next stage of your 10-day Vietnam itinerary…
Hoi An is a beautiful town located in central Vietnam. This UNESCO World Heritage Site is well known for its colourful buildings, traditional temples and lovely lantern-filled streets.
It’s the perfect place to relax and enjoy some Vietnamese culture.
Where to stay in Hoi An
I stayed in the wonderfully unique Belle Maison Hadana Hoi An Resort & Spa. As you walk into the lobby, you get a real Vietnamese feel with the beautiful lantern like lighting. The staff here were wonderful and no request was too big.
Other recommended places to stay in Hoi An:
- Almanity Hoi An Resort & Spa (luxury)
- Green Island Hoi An Villa (mid range)
- Hoi An Lazy Bear Hostel (budget)
Hoi An Ancient Town
After a long day of travelling, I suggest taking a walk down to the Ancient Town. This is the most well-preserved area of Hoi An and it’s a great place to wander around and explore.
There are plenty of little shops and cafes, as well as some beautiful temples. Make sure you visit the Japanese Bridge, which is one of the most iconic landmarks in Hoi An.
If you want to learn more about the history of Hoi An, you can take a guided tour. I did this walking tour with a local guide and it was really interesting to hear all about the town’s history.
In the evening, the streets of Hoi An are lit up with colourful lanterns. It’s a really magical sight and it’s definitely worth staying in Hoi An for a couple of days to experience it.
Day 6 – Hoi An
Hoi An is a great place to relax but there are plenty of things to do if you want to stay active.
You’ll be picked up from your hotel in the morning and driven to Cua Dai Wharf where you’ll take a traditional Vietnamese boat out to nearby Cham Island. Once there, you have the opportunity to swim, snorkel and then it’s time for the underwater walking!
I was lucky enough that by the time it was my turn, most people had already been, and I was on my own with the guide. He took my Go Pro and filmed the entire time!
Next you’ll head to Bai Chong Beach for a delicious seafood lunch, followed by a lazy afternoon lying on hammocks on the beach with a beer in hand.
One of my favourite things about this experience was that I met a lovely South Korean family who adopted me for the day and we remained in touch afterwards too!
Day 7 – Hoi An
Today is all about taking in the history and culture of beautiful Hoi An. Here are my picks for the day:
Visit a tailor
Hoi An is well known for its tailors and textiles, and there are plenty of shops to choose from.
While you may not have extra time to have a suit or dress made from scratch (this usually takes around 3 days), you can always have a look at what they’ve already made and they will alter for you there and then.
Reaching Out Teahouse
Enjoy a quiet and peaceful cup of tea or coffee in this charming café, located in the bustling centre of Hoi An.
The Reaching Out Teahouse is run by speech and hearing impaired staff and you are asked to write down your order and enjoy the silence and tranquil atmosphere.
Afterwards, head to their workshop where they sell beautiful handmade crafts and souvenirs to bring home.
Hoi An Central Market
Along the banks of the Thu Bon River, you’ll find stalls selling spices, textiles and handcrafts galore. Don’t forget to stop at various carts to try out some traditional Vietnamese food.
Just across the river from Hoi An is An Hoi where you’ll find one of the most beautiful markets in Vietnam, the Lantern Market. Be sure to ask before taking a picture of the lanterns, or better still, buy a lantern first and then take a picture!
Day 8 – Ho Chi Minh
Today you’ll head back to DaNang airport and take another 90 minute internal flight to Ho Chi Minh, the largest city in Vietnam.
Ho Chi Minh City is a bustling metropolis that is always on the go. The streets are crammed with motorbikes and the air is thick with exhaust fumes.
The sidewalks are crowded with vendors selling everything from knock-off designer handbags to steaming bowls of pho.
The city is an assault on the senses, but there is a certain charm to its chaos. While it may not be the most beautiful city in the world, it has a vibrancy that is hard to find anywhere else.
From the craziness of Nguyen Hue Street to the tranquility of Hoan Kiem Lake, Ho Chi Minh City is a city that has something for everyone.
Where to stay
I stayed at the Winsuites Saigon Hotel located right in the centre of Ho Chi Minh. Back in August 2019, the hotel had just opened and, while there were a few teething problems, the staff more than made up for them with free afternoon tea and a late check out (which is something that’s always high on my list!).
Other recommended places to stay in Ho Chi Minh:
Water Puppet Theatre & River Cruise
I booked this tour as I had heard about the water puppet theatre before arriving and it also included a river cruise dinner.
The cruise itself was very pleasant, with some spectacular views and wonderful local entertainment. The dinner was delicious with a set menu of traditional Vietnamese dishes.
However, the star of the show was definitely the water puppet theatre. I had no idea what to expect but it was such an interesting performance that combined music, dance and puppetry all in one! It was definitely a quirky experience and I highly recommend checking it out.
Day 9 – Ho Chi Minh
Cu Chi Tunnels
Located just outside of Ho Chi Minh City, the Cu Chi Tunnels were used by the Viet Cong during the Vietnam War.
The tunnels were an elaborate network of underground tunnels that allowed them to move around undetected and also served as hiding spots during combat. The soldiers dug these tunnels themselves – tens of thousands of them.
Today, the tunnels is open to the public and you can even go down into the tunnels yourself! It’s a fascinating (albeit a little claustrophobic) experience and definitely worth it.
There are a few day trips you can take to get to the Cu Chi Tunnels, but given that I didn’t have that much time in Ho Chi Minh and didn’t really fancy spending hours sitting on a bus, I opted for this speedboat half day tour instead.
Tip: Bring a sun hat and comfortable walking shoes.
Ben Thanh Market
No trip to Ho Chi Minh would be complete without a visit to Ben Thanh Market.
One of the most popular markets in Vietnam, Ben Thanh is a great place to pick up souvenirs or try some local food.
The market can be quite overwhelming at first but once you get used to the hustle and bustle, it’s actually quite fun to walk around and see all the different stalls.
Be sure to haggle for the best price – it’s expected!
Day 10 – Ho Chi Minh
Before heading to the airport this afternoon, take in some last-minute sightseeing.
War Remnants Museum
The War Remnants Museum is a must-visit for anyone interested in the history of the Vietnam War.
The museum houses a large collection of artefacts, photographs and equipment from the war, as well as exhibits on the effects of Agent Orange.
Here, you will see military planes, tanks and helicopters outside the museum. And inside you’ll find some horrific exhibits and images. I say horrific, as they are. But they are also necessary to remind us of what went on at that time.
I left the museum with a heavy heart. Feeling somewhat uneasy and disappointed that my own schooling had not once mentioned this horrific event in our history classes.
It’s a sobering experience but an important one nonetheless.
Notre Dame Cathedral
One of the most iconic landmarks in Ho Chi Minh, Notre Dame Cathedral is a beautiful example of French colonial architecture.
Building started on the cathedral in 1863 and it took 17 years to complete.
It is said that back in 2005, the Virgin Mary statue outside the Cathedral shed a single tear, leading to thousands flocking to the Cathedral in the hope of witnessing this for themselves.
Got more than 10 days in Vietnam
That’s the end of our 10 day Vietnam itinerary, but if you happen to have longer than 10 days in Vietnam, there are plenty of other places you can explore!
Sapa – A stunning mountainous region in the northern Vietnam, home to rice paddies, ethnic minority villages and some of the best trekking in the country
The Imperial City of Hue – The former imperial capital of Vietnam, known for its beautiful Citadel, royal tombs and interesting history in central Vietnam
Nha Trang – A coastal city in southern Vietnam with beautiful beaches, island hopping and scuba diving
Phu Quoc Island – An island off the coast of Vietnam, famous for its white sand beaches, turquoise waters and luxury resorts
FAQs about visiting Vietnam
Is 10 days enough in Vietnam?
While you could spend months and months travelling around Vietnam, 10 days is plenty of time to see the best that the country has to offer.
Is Vietnam safe?
Yes, Vietnam is a safe country to travel to. While there are always risks when travelling to any country, violent crime is rare in Vietnam. The most common crimes are pickpocketing and scams, so just use your common sense and you’ll be fine.
What is the best time to visit Vietnam?
The best time to visit Vietnam depends on where you want to go but the idea time to visit is between December and February when the weather is cooler (but still pleasant).
What should I pack for Vietnam?
Make sure to pack light and comfortable clothing as it can be quite hot and humid in Vietnam, especially in the summer months. Also, don’t forget to pack your sunscreen, insect repellent and a hat!
Do I need a visa to visit Vietnam?
Yes, most nationalities need a visa to enter Vietnam. You can apply for a visa online or at the Vietnamese embassy in your country.
How much does it cost to travel in Vietnam?
The cost of travel in Vietnam can vary depending on your style of travel but a budget of $30-40 USD per day is a good estimate. This will cover your accommodation, food, transport and activities.
What is the currency of Vietnam?
The currency of Vietnam is the Vietnamese Dong (VND).
What language is spoken in Vietnam?
The official language of Vietnam is Vietnamese but English is also widely spoken, especially in tourist areas.
Conclusion to this 10 day Vietnam Itinerary
If you’re looking for an unforgettable Southeast Asian adventure, Vietnam is the perfect destination. With its rich history and stunning natural scenery, this diverse country has something for everyone.
I hope this 10 day Vietnam itinerary has given you some inspiration for your own trip!
Have you ever been to Vietnam? What are your favourite places in the country?
Vourneen is a travel junkie and chronic illness warrior. Although she was late to game in terms of travelling, she has picked up numerous tips and tricks from the almost 30 countries she has visited in the past 5 years.