Located in Southeast Asia, Vietnam is a country with a variety of landscapes. From the paradisiacal white sand beaches and rice fields to authentic places full of history, Vietnam can appeal to all tastes. In this blog post, I share with you a 2-week itinerary in Vietnam: from Central to North Vietnam, that includes a daily schedule of recommended activities with all my tips. After reading this guide, you will have everything you need to know to plan your trip to Vietnam and make the most of it.
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TABLE OF CONTENTS
How to get to Vietnam?
Vietnam has different International airports across the country which makes it very easy to access. Most of the regions mentioned in this guide (namely Hanoi, Hué, and Da Nang) also offer International airports.
In case you are coming from neighboring countries, such as Cambodia and Laos, it is quite simple to cross the border by public bus too.
When to visit Vietnam?
Even though Vietnam has four seasons, the country being very long, the seasons can vary a little bit from one region to another. Indeed, some parts of Vietnam can have a little more rain or higher temperatures depending on the time of the year.
On paper, the ideal season to visit Vietnam is between January and May because it is the end of the rainy season. As a result, the nice days are here and the temperatures are not unbearable or suffocating. On the other hand, the rice fields (one of the main attractions in North Vietnam) are still not green at this time of the year and the temperatures may be a little too cool for swimming in the sea.
In other words, if you want to enjoy the beaches in Central Vietnam, as well as to see the green rice fields, you will have to come a little later in the year, starting from the end of June. But just keep in mind that this time of the year is also the beginning of heavy rains and stifling temperatures. So it is up to you and what you are looking for!
How long to stay in Vietnam?
- Northern part: with the main towns being Hanoi, Ninh Binh, Sapa
- Central part: with the main towns being Da Nang, Hoi An, Hué
- Southern part: with the main towns being Mekong Delta, Saigon, Phu Quoc island
“Note that the classic tourist visa allows you to stay a maximum of 30 days in the country.”
Where to stay during your trip in Vietnam?
During our stay in Vietnam, we booked our different accommodations through this booking platform. Thanks to this platform we have saved a lot of money with incredible discounts for excellent quality accommodations. You will find all the details of the accommodations in the itinerary tab below!
Where to go for a 2-week itinerary in Vietnam?
Again, since the country is pretty long, you probably will have to choose which parts of the county to explore during your trip to Vietnam. Below, I describe to you in a few words the characteristics of landscapes that draw the three parts of the country.
- The Northern part of Vietnam: home to mountainous and green landscapes with numerous rice fields and its famous Hà Long Bay.
- The Central part of Vietnam: home to some of the most beautiful beaches in the country combined with authentic historical small towns, offering a great place for traditions with lots of temples.
- The Southern part of Vietnam: home to the Mekong Delta and big cities such as Ho Chi Minh as well as the paradisiac small island of Phu Quoc.
How to move around Vietnam?
The most popular means of transportation throughout Vietnam is without a doubt the scooter. Whether on the roads or the sidewalks, you will see scooters everywhere. However, although it is one of the easiest ways to get around towns, we did not explore the surroundings this way for safety reasons. Driving in Vietnam can be very difficult (for beginners or experienced drivers) due to the number of vehicles on the road and the traffic laws. That is why we did all our visits either on foot or by taxi via the Grab application. It may come as a surprise but taxi rides are cheap in Vietnam!
Regarding travel from one city to another, the country is rather well served by train and by public bus. For long trips (more than 6 hours), I would recommend you take night buses (also called sleeping buses) to save one night of accommodation and not waste one day of travel.
In order to book your bus or train tickets, I strongly advise you to use this reservation site. This website is super easy to use (and in English) and will give you all the information you need to find the best route for your journey through Vietnam. I advise you to reserve your seat (whether for the train or the bus) at least two days before.
Things to know before visiting Vietnam
- Vietnamese Dong is the local currency.
- Cash is king. Credit or debit cards are rarely accepted except in supermarkets.
- You will have to pay cash for your accommodation at check-out (not at check-in). If the hotel accepts credit cards, they will charge you between 3 to 4 % additional fees.
- They will ask you to provide them with the passport of all persons staying in the room so that they can register you with the police.
- If you need a visa to enter Vietnam, do it at least two weeks before coming to the country. Indeed, it can take several business days to get approved by the government (even more depending on the period of the year). You will need a photo passport in addition to a copy of your passport details.
- Try to avoid traveling to Vietnam during the Tet festival (Chinese New Year). Everything is closed during an entire week (supermarkets, restaurants, tourist attractions, museums, and so on).
A 2-week itinerary in vietnam day-by-day
I share with you a 2-week itinerary with a day-by-day description of the recommended activities to do as well as the means of transportation to get from one place to another.
DA NANG - 3 nights
Da Nang is home to an International Airport, which makes it the perfect first stop to start your journey across Vietnam. It is not only for its International airport that I recommend you put your bags here for some days. Indeed, this coastal city offers beautiful white sand beaches, surrounded by green mountains and magnificent temples.
Where to stay? Da Nang is packed with stunning beachfront resorts. The Cherry on the cake, you will have superb hotels for very reasonable prices. Check it out we were super impressed!
- Settle down in your accommodation
- If you arrive in Da Nang in the middle of the day, enjoy this time to stroll around the town and go catch your first sunset in Vietnam at My Khe Beach.
- Marble mountains
How to get there? No bus comes here but in case you don’t want to rent a scooter, note that it costs approximately 85k Dong to get to Marble mountains’ entrance by taxi (one way).
Entrance fees? The ticket is 40k Dong per person + 15k Dong per person if you want to go up by lift (one way).
How long? Allow 3 hours to complete the visit.
- Son Trà Peninsula
HOI AN - 2 nights
Hoi An is one of the most famous towns in Central Vietnam with all those little cafes, clothing tailors, and alleys full of lanterns as symbols. Its old city is even part of the UNESCO world heritage site.
Where to stay? We stayed at a beautiful villa with a pool and we can highly recommend the place. On top of that, a delicious breakfast is served every morning. The location is also great with a 10 minutes walk to the Ancient town.
Transfer from Da Nang to Hoi An in the morning
- Hoi An Ancient town
Start your first day in Hoi An by strolling around the Ancient town. Part of the UNESCO world heritage site, the old town has a unique atmosphere. With street vendors, street food markets, custom tailors shops, and lanterns on every corner of the streets, it is a great place to spend some days.
- Hoi An Ancient town / My Son Sanctuary / An Ang Beach
HUE - 1 night
Hue, the last stop of your visit to the Central part of Vietnam, is home to the very impressive Imperial City.
Where to stay? We stayed at very cute Homestay perfectly located and can recommend the place without a doubt. Perfectly well located, this cute guest house offers a cozy place to stay. There is no breakfast included in the room but there are a lot of cafes and restaurants close by.
Transfer from hoi an to hue in the morning
- OPTION 1: take the public bus at 8:00 am from Hoi An city center to Hué Bus terminal. It costs approximately 200k Dong per person (Prices may vary depending on which reservation company you book your ticket with and how much you can negotiate.)
- OPTION 2: book a van from your hotel – price varies depending on the company but it is for sure more expensive (around 350k Dong per person) than the public bus, but more comfortable and quicker.
- Hué Imperial City
NINH BINH - 4 nights
Time for you to explore the Northern part of the country during this 2-week itinerary in Vietnam! And for that, you will start your journey with Ninh Binh as your first stop.
Where to stay? We stayed in the best homestay in Ninh Binh. We had a delicious breakfast every morning and its location is right in the center of Tam Coc Village.
TRANSFER FROM Hué TO Ninh Binh
Day 7 of the 2-week itinerary in Vietnam will be dedicated to travel from the Central Part to the Northern part of Vietnam. You will have two possibilities to reach Ninh Binh:
- OPTION 1: by bus – it takes about 12 hours to get to Ninh Binh from Hué. The sleeping bus leaves at the end of the afternoon and should arrive early in the morning the next day.
- OPTION 2: by plane and train – You can fly from Phu Bai International Airport (Hué) to Noi Bai International Airport (Hanoi). The flight lasts around 1 hour. Then, you need to jump on the Express bus from Noi Bai International Airport to get to the Hanoi Train Station (takes 1 hour). Finally, you need to take a train from Hanoi Train Station to get to Ninh Binh Train Station (takes 2h30).
Day 8, 9 & 10
HA NOI - 3 nights
You will end this 2-week itinerary in Vietnam with a few days in the Capital. No surprise if I tell you that Hanoi is a very big, and populated city. From museums, agitated streets, lakes, and temples, the city offers a lot of things to do for everyone.
Where to stay? We stayed in a private apartment near the French Quarter and the Old Quarter. The location was great for walking to museums, eating out at restaurants, and walking along Hoan Kiem Lake. Unfortunately, I can’t recommend any particular accommodation as ours was not clean. However, what I can advise you is to choose youraccommodation close to the French Quarter or the Old Town while in Hanoi.
Transfer from Ninh Binh to Ha noi by train in the morning
Take the train from Ninh Binh Train Station to Hanoi Train Station. The journey lasts about 2h30 and the seats are numbered.
- Train Street Hanoi
- Thang Long Water Puppet Theatre
- Ha Long Bay
How to get there? A comfortable shuttle (included in the price) will pick you up directly at your hotel in Hanoi.
Entrance fees? It costs US$ 119 per person to join a one-day catamaran cruise through Ha Long Bay.
How long? From 8:00 am to 7:00 pm.
- French Quarter and Old Quarter
- Hanoi Temple of Literature
The Hanoi Temple of Literature is one of the most famous temples in the city. There is a museum inside which tells a period of Vietnamese history about Literature. Around the temple, you can also walk around the small lake, which is surrounded by small stalls of merchants and lanterns. The atmosphere is very nice.
How to get there? A comfortable shuttle (included in the price) will pick you up directly at your hotel in Hanoi.
Entrance fees? The entrance fee is 30k per person.
How long? Allow 1 hour to complete the visit.
- Tran Quoc Pagoda
Last day in Vietnam, but before leaving the country, I recommend you to go for a walk to the pagoda.
How to get there? You can get there by foot in less than an hour from the old quarter. You will have the opportunity to discover some lakes during your walk.
Entrance fees? Free access.
How long? Allow 45 minutes to complete the visit.