Traveling with Stephy

The best 2-week itinerary in Vietnam: from Central to North

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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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.

Please note that depending on your nationality, you may need to apply for a tourist visa beforehand. Plan to submit your visa at least 2 weeks before your departure because it takes a few working days before it is validated by the authorities. You will need a copy of your passport and a passport photo. Once your e-visa has been approved, you will need to print it to give it to customs.
“This 2-week Vietnam itinerary can be done in both directions. In other words, it is up to you to see which airport offers the cheapest airfare from your home country. Don’t waste time and check out now for  one of the cheapest flight tickets here.

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!

“For the record, we visited Vietnam in January and had rain almost every day with very low temperatures. I think it varies every year, unfortunately.”

How long to stay in Vietnam?

First of all, it is important to note that Vietnam is divided into three main parts
  • 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
With its S shape, the country is pretty long (more than 4’500 kilometers of land border), therefore, it takes time to travel from one place to another.
That is why, from my standpoint, I would say that it is necessary to choose which parts you want to explore during your trip to Vietnam. In other words, if you have a limited time, it won’t be feasible to visit the three parts of the country without rushing. 
In summary, I think seven days is the minimum amount of time to be able to have a good first glance at Vietnam. Ten days will allow you to visit two parts of the country properly, and fourteen days will allow you to be immersed in Vietnamese culture. 
Having said that, I would highly recommend visiting the Central part combined with either the Northern part or the Southern part. In this way, you will have enough time to explore the two regions without rushing out.

“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. 

“For the record, the Vietnamese were always very surprised to see us walking in the streets. Indeed, you will quickly notice that nobody moves around on foot. They all have their scooters and no matter how far the trip is, they will use their scooters instead of walking.”

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

day 2

  • Marble mountains
For your first full day in Vietnam, enjoy a resourcing walk in the Marble mountains. Located 20 minutes away from Da Nang city, Marble mountains is a must-do while in Da Nang. Indeed, it is the perfect place to explore beautiful temples and pagodas and hike in nature at the same time.

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.

A temple surrounded by lush forest in Da Nang, Vietnam
Buddha statue inside a dark cave
Temple surrounded by lush forest in Da Nang, Central Vietnam
Travel couple walking inside Marble mountains site during a 2-week itinerary in Vietnam
Travel couple in front of a grey pagoda during a 2-week itinerary in Vietnam
Roof details from Marble mountains site in Da Nang

day 3

  • Son Trà Peninsula
Son Trà Peninsula is the symbol of the green mountains in Da Nang. Located only 15 minutes away from the city center, it is a must-see while in Da Nang. Indeed, the Peninsula is packed with amazing temples surrounded by lush forests. You can even see families of monkeys strolling around the temples (this is the reason why it is also called Monkey mountain).
How to get there? No bus goes up but in case you don’t want to rent a scooter, note that it costs about 75k Dong to get there by taxi. Don’t try to come on foot since there is no sidewalk along the mountainous road.
Entrance fees? Free access.
How long? Allow 2 hours to complete the visit.
Big white statue of buddha surrounded by trees
Travel couple running through a door in Son Tra Peninsula during 2-week itinerary in Vietnam
Beautiful grey pagoda in Son Tra Peninsula in Central Vietnam
View of the beautiful grey pagoda from above
Temple details from Son Tra Peninsula, located in the city of Da Nang
Couple posing in front of a temple during 2-week itinerary in Vietnam

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.

Day 4

Transfer from Da Nang to Hoi An in the morning

I suggest you contact your hotel in Hoi An to know if they propose a shuttle service from Da Nang. Most hotels offer this service at a rate of 300k Dong for a private vehicle. It takes about 50 minutes to get to Hoi An from Da Nang by car.
  • 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. 

“Once the night has fallen you will have the opportunity to go on a boat to enjoy all the lanterns lit. One of the main activities is to light a candle and put it in the river. Even if it can be a tradition for some, I strongly advise you not to do it because it pollutes the area intensely. Indeed, in the morning we can see all the waste stagnating in the river. Super sad!”
Lots of lighted lanterns at night
Couple kissing in the middle of the lanterns during a 2-week itinerary in Vietnam
lighted lantern in Hoi An
Girl walking in the street, surrounded by colorful lanterns during a 2-week itinerary in Vietnam
Architecture of the Hoi An town in Central Vietnam
Girl in the middle of the street, surrounded by colorful lanterns
Architecture of the Hoi An town with lanterns in Central Vietnam
Lanterns details by night
Hoi An Ancient Town by night with a lot of colorful lighted lanterns
Lighted bridge in the Ancient town of Hoi An, Central Vietnam
Lighted bridge details from Central Vietnam
Restaurant venture by night with red lanterns
Focus on a lantern with Chinese letters witing

Day 5

  • Hoi An Ancient town / My Son Sanctuary / An Ang Beach
On your second day in Hoi An, you have the choice to go again and enjoy the cafes and restaurants in the Ancient town or if you want to discover the surroundings a little bit more, I advise you to visit My Son Sanctuary. Numerous agencies offer organized tours from Hoi An for 1’000k Dong per person.
If you don’t want to visit any temples, but still want to discover the surroundings, rent a bike and go to one of the beaches. 
Couple in the middle of the colorful lanterns in Hoi An during a 2-week itinerary in Vietnam
Famous landmark of Hoi An Ancient Town
Tailor shops in the streets of Hoi An, Vietnam
Lots of bicycle carts across the streets in Vietnam
Street vendors with fresh vegetables and fruits
Yellow temple in Central Vietnam

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
The imperial city of Hue is a must-see when visiting this part of Vietnam. With many historical buildings, it is a perfect place to learn more about the history of the country.
How to get there? If you stay at Tam Homestay, the Imperial City is accessible on foot. It takes about 45 minutes to walk there. There are even sidewalks most of the way, so don’t worry about that.
Entrance feesThe entrance fee is 200k per person. The site is very big and you can rent an electric cart to visit it (add 100k more per person). However, I just recommend you to walk quietly at your own pace and soak up the historical atmosphere. 
How long? Allow 3 hours to complete the visit


Entrance of the Imperial city of Hue, Vietnam
Red temple in the city of Hué
Couple posing in front of a red door during a 2-week itinerary in Vietnam
Architecture details in Vietnam
Blue and orange temple inside the Imperial City of Hue
Couple sitting on the stairs with a temple in the background during a 2-week itinerary in Vietnam

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.

“To remove any confusion, Ninh Binh is usually referred to as the overall area to visit. However, I recommend you to stay not in Ninh Binh city center but in Tam Coc village, located 10 minutes drive from Ninh Binh city.”

Day 7


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. 

DAY 11

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. 

“Unfortunately, I can’t give you a price for the train ride, since we paid two different prices for the outbound and the return. I don’t know if it was related to the day of travel or just related to the person at the ticket counter. Note that you will never see the prices posted anywhere.”
  • Train Street Hanoi
For your first afternoon in Hanoi, I advise you to go for a drink at Train Street Hanoi. Located not far from the Old Quarter, it is an ideal place to soak up the atmosphere of the city. Trains run at different times during the week and at a lower frequency compared to weekends. If you are there on the weekend, you should know that there is a train that runs at 3:20 pm (subject to change. There is no website with the timetable, you will have to go there directly to know and check the menu of the restaurants).
Train rack in the middle of the houses in Vietnam
woman standing in the middle of the abandoned train track in Hanoi during a 2-week itinerary in Vietnam
Girl sitting in a café in front of the train track
Train rack in the middle of the houses and cafés in Hanoi, Vietnam
  • Thang Long Water Puppet Theatre
End the day with a Puppet Water Show at Thanh Long Water Puppet Theatre. However, if you don’t want to go there, there are several others throughout the city. The price varies from 100k to 250k per person depending on the row of seats. The show lasts about an hour and relates the history of Vietnam with puppets partially immersed in water. 

DAY 12

  • Ha Long Bay
Halong Bay will be without hesitation the highlight of your stay in Vietnam. Known as one of the 7 natural wonders of the world, Halong Bay offers spectacular scenery.
To discover this magical place, you will have to embark on a cruise. I can highly recommend the company The Halong Catamaran Premium (which is part of Viland Travel). We were invited for a day cruise on board their catamaran, and it was the best memory of our trip to Vietnam. The quality of services is superior, with excellent services such as delicious lunch, a tea and cake party, and a cooking class. Moreover, you will have the opportunity to explore a part of Halong Bay by kayak (included in the price of the cruise).

How to get there? A comfortable shuttle (included in the price) will pick you up directly at your hotel in Hanoi. 

Entrance feesIt 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.

in front of the boat with the mountains of Halong bay in the background
Halong Bay in North Vietnam
Couple sitting in front of the boat with Halong bay in the background during a 2-week itinerary in Vietnam
woman in front of the boat enjoying the view of Halong Bay
overview of the Halong Bay in North Vietnam

DAY 13

  • French Quarter and Old Quarter
Located South of Hoan Kiem Lake, the French Quarter and the Old Quarter are full of life, day and night. The architecture is picturesque and you will find a lot of street vendors, cafes, and restaurants. Also, if you are looking for fruits and vegetables, come and stroll through its street markets during the weekend. The atmosphere is very lively and it is very nice to walk around and get lost in those old streets. 
Architecture in Vietnam
Street vendors strolling in the streets of Hanoi, North Vietnam
Cafés in North Vietnam
Food stalls in the middle of the street in Vietnam
Many flags of Vietnam
Architecture in Hanoi, North Vietnam
Street food stalls in Hanoi
Large white building in Hanoi
  • 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 feesThe entrance fee is 30k per person.

How long? Allow 1 hour to complete the visit.

red paper with Chinese writing in Vietnam
Temple of Literature in Hanoi
Focus on a red lantern
Red lantern and many hanging medals with wishes written on it
Small lake with a bridge in the background, North Vietnam

DAY 14

  • 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 feesFree access.

How long? Allow 45 minutes to complete the visit.

Large brown pagoda with the flag of Vietnam
woman and man standing in front of a pagoda during a 2-week itinerary in Vietnam
Orange pagoda, surrounded by trees in Hanoi

In conclusion

To summarize, Vietnam is a great place to visit if you want to discover a new culture combined with beautiful landscapes and unique traditions. 
Anyway, I sincerely hope that this 2-week itinerary in Vietnam inspires you to put the country on your bucket list. If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact me. I would love to share more with you. Also, if you want to see in videos what these regions of Vietnam look like, I suggest you find me on my YouTube channel.
Finally, in case you need more travel inspiration, check out my page related to destinations around the world to get an overview of my recent blog posts.
Sending you lots of love,
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