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Planning a Trip to Vietnam – 2 Week Itinerary
Finally, you have booked the tickets to beautiful Vietnam for your next holiday! Vietnam is such an amazing country and it will definitely leave you speechless. If I was you, I would already be jumping up and down in and could not wait for the 2 week Vietnam trip. However, the hardest part is just ahead of you – planning a trip to Vietnam. I know, it might be frustrating with so many places to see and things to do in Vietnam. However, this guide to Vietnam is here to solve all your problems! Precise 2-week itinerary for Vietnam, including things you need to know before going to Vietnam. The trip is planned for you, so just pack the bags and jump on the adventure.
What you need to know before going to Vietnam
You will need a visa to enter Vietnam. There are many different visas you can choose from, depending on how long you want to stay in Vietnam, what is the purpose of your visit and either you want to have a single entry or multiple entry visa. The usual and most popular choice is 1-month single-entry visa, which costs $10 for the online application and $25 upon entering Vietnam for the stamping fee. If you would like to explore Vietnam for a longer period, there are plenty of visa choices including 1, 3, 6 and 12-month multiple entry visas.
What is the best time to visit Vietnam?
There is no bad time to visit Vietnam. People still have this misconception that in the rainy season it will be raining 24/7 and during the dry season you will die out in the desert. Due to the rapid climate change, the lines between the rainy and the dry season are blurred, thus, most of the time giving you a nice mix of weather any time you visit Vietnam.
If you are looking for a colder weather, visit Northern Vietnam from December until March and you’ll be enjoying a breeze at 15 t° C (60 F). However, the regions of Central Vietnam and Southern Vietnam stay super warm all year round. When I say super warm I mean about 30 t° C (90 F). Just be prepared that unexpected rain or a mild storm can cross your road at any time of the year, as well as you might have 2 weeks of straight beach days. Do not really worry about choosing the wrong seasons, as there is none.
Vaccinations required for Vietnam
You do not need any specific vaccinations to visit Vietnam. Useful ones to have are Hepatitis A vaccine and typhoid. However, we can speak from the experience and assure you that rarely anyone gets any vaccines at all. What you have to remember though is to wash your hands regularly, wash the fruit you eat and do not drink the tap water. However, a good travel insurance always is the safest choice, just in case something goes wrong. Otherwise, you will be just fine.
ATMs and money in Vietnam
ATMs are widely available everywhere in Vietnam. However, if you decide to bike around smaller villages you will not find any ATMs there. Banks and ATMs accept all the popular cards, including VISA and Mastercard, however, be wary of the money withdrawal feels. The feels will never be skyrocket high, but they might add up. Thus, you are better off taking more money out at once. Always have some cash with you when you are leaving the bigger cities and hitting the countryside, so you don’t end up stranded without any money. True story.
All the biggest supermarkets and shopping malls will accept cards, as well will restaurants and hotels. However, street food, souvenirs, and smaller hotels will accept only cash. If you want to exchange your home currency to Vietnamese Dong, currency exchanges are widely available in all the cities and there is no commission fee for the exchange. However, always check your receipt and, oh God, please stay away from Western Union as they charge up to 40% exchange fee.
Vietnam 2 Week Travel Itinerary
Day 1. – Leaving your home country/arriving in Hanoi, jetlagged.
Day 2. – Hanoi
Day 3. – Tam Coc (drive from Hanoi to Tam Coc in the morning)
Day 4. – Tam Coc – (evening drive from Tam Coc to Hue)
Day 5. – Hue
Day 6. – Hue
Day 7. – Hoi An (drive from Hue to Hoi an in the morning)
Day 8. – Hoi An
Day 9. – Hoi An (night train/bus from Hoi An to Nha Trang)
Day 10.– Nha Trang
Day 11. – Nha Trang (night train/bus/flight from Nha Trang to Ho Chi Minh City/Saigon)
Day 12. – Ho Chi Minh City
Day 13. – Ho Chi Minh City
Day 14. – Leaving Vietnam and heading back home
Places to Visit in Vietnam – 2 Week Travel Guide
Itinerary: Hanoi – Tam Coc – Hue – Hoi An – Nha Trang – Ho Chi Minh City.
Day 1 – Arriving
Leaving for Hanoi and arriving late, jetlagged and super excited.
Great budget accommodation right in the city centre with the loveliest owner is Hanoi Old Town Palace Guest House.
Day 2 – Hanoi
If you choose to stay in our recommended Hotel, you will be staying in the Hanoi Old Quarter. This is the best location to soak up the beauty of the city. Wake up bright and early to head to the Ho Chi Minh Museum and Mouseleum, which is open only until 11 o’clock. Later you have to squeeze in (it is mandatory) a Bahn Mi for lunch. THE BEST SANDWICH YOU WILL EVER HAVE. We might move to Vietnam just for that. After an unforgettable baguette experience head to the Temple of Literature and enjoy the nearby park.
If you have enough time left, go and explore the Hanoi Chinese Quarter. And the best is just to come, as in the evening you have to head out to explore the Old Town streets and sample the Bia Hoi beer. Bia Hoi is brewed fresh to serve every night and delivered to bars every morning. And the best part, it costs only $0.20 per glass, so it might be the first time drinking does not break the bank. Sit on the plastic chair on the sidewalk and enjoy Bia Hoi watching the world pass by.
Day 3 – Tam Coc
Great accommodation in Tam Coc at the cleanest and most modern Ninh Binh Central Hotel.
In the morning you have to wake up bright and early to head to Tam Coc. It takes roughly 1.5 hours to reach your next destination by public transport. Take the public bus or minivan or your own motorbike to enjoy the beauty of Northern Vietnam.
Tam Coc is a place where you should head to enjoy Halong Bay on land. Lush rice paddies, caves and marble mountains all in one place. And, with the fraction of the tourists and the cost. A must see in Tam Coc is Cuc Phuong National Park, where you can see many different bird and animal species as well as breathe in the fresh, pleasant air. Cuc Phuong National Park offers many different tracks depending on what you would love to see. We strongly suggest either arriving early and spending the whole day at the park or coming in the late afternoon for the sunset at the “Bird Park” watchpoint. The entrance fee is only $2.50 (EUR 2)!
Day 4 – Tam Coc
Once again, you will have to start your day bright and early. (We promise, you will have some lazy days as well). Today is the highlight of Tam Coc and perhaps all of Northern Vietnam, as you will visit the beautiful rivers and caves – Halong Bay on land. A fun and an adventurous tour will cost you only $9 (EUR 7). Make sure to arrive at the tour location as early as possible to avoid the crowds and to have the magical place to yourself. To enhance the experience we would recommend renting a bicycle and heading to the tour starting points on your own. It is cheaper than hiring a ride and offers so much more authenticity.
After the boat tour and having a lunch you should head to Mua Caves. The caves are just breathtaking and if you are up for a climb you can reach the temple that is located right at the tip of the mountain. If you have chosen to rent a bicycle or a motorbike, you can easily get there and we can guarantee a pleasant ride along the Vietnam countryside. The entrance fee in Mua Caves is $4.20 (EUR 3.50).
Do not park your bikes or motorbikes before the park entrance, as locals have set up a thousand of PARKING signs along the road to get you to pay and park there. Just head to the park area and park for free after paying an entrance fee.
Leaving Tam Coc
In the evening pack your bags and head to the train station to catch a train from Ninh Binh to Hue. The train ride is 11 hours and it costs $40 (EUR 35). However, we chose to take a bus, as we are always trying to find the cheapest ways to get around. The bus cost us less than $12 (EUR 10) and was equally smooth and pleasant. Both, buses and trains have fully reclining seats, thus you just ride and sleep. Perfect.
Day 5 – Hue
A beautiful accommodation to stay in Hue is Sunny B Hotel.
After settling in your accommodation for the next 2 nights, it’s time to go and explore the Ancient Hue City Citadel. The Ancient City is huge, thus plan to spend the whole day there. Bring plenty of water and some snacks. The entrance fee is 150 000 VND, which is less than $8 (EUR 6). Well, no wonder why Hue Ancient City Citadel is a part of UNESCO World Heritage. Many years ago Hue was home of the royal family, thus this place is so grand and beautiful. And as we said, its territory is huge – 2 km2.
After a long day exploring Ancient ruins and learning about you have to go for a dinner and enjoy the great Vietnamese cuisine. Another great way to wrap up the day is to treat yourself to a classic Vietnamese massage for less than $10 (EUR 8).
Day 6 – Hue
We highly recommend waking up with the sun (again) and going for a boat ride through the Perfume river. If you are not a boat fan, just head for a slow walk along the river and watch the city wake up. In the evening the same coast turns into a lively night market, so you can likewise visit the riverside in the evening to compare how contrasty Vietnam can often be. As Hue is the Ancient Capital of Vietnam, there are plenty of tombs where the royalties rest. If you are a history geek tomb exploration can take up your whole day no shame there! The most impressive tombs are Khai Dunh and Minh Mang.
However, if tombs are not your thing head directly to Thien Mu Pagoda. It is an absolutely beautiful sunset location. Thien Mu Pagoda is the highest religious building in Vietnam. And due to its beauty and interesting location, it is a popular tourist attraction. Thus, prepare to bump into many wandering tourists pointing their cameras at all directions. Thien Mu Pagoda is worth it, though.
Day 7 – Hoi An
A charming homestay to stay in Hoi An is Quynh Nhan Homestay.
A morning transfer from Hue to Hoi An. Transfering between the two cities with a public bus will take approximately 3 hours and will cost $11 (EUR 9). Public bus, by all means, is the cheapest way to get from Hue to Hoi An. Interestingly, Hoi An is another UNESCO World Heritage city. And the city is very romantic. You will be greeted by lanterns, narrow streets and a river winding through the city. If you happen to visit Hoi An on one of the days locals are lighting and flying lanterns you will fall in love with the place, no doubt. Flying lanterns is also one of the most popular tourist attractions in Hoi An.
Also, Hoi An is famous for its tailor-made clothes for very cheap prices. If you are up for a new dress or a suit go to a tailor right away and already the next day you can adjust (if needed) and pick up your order. Last but not least, when in Hoi An you should take a cooking class. For about $25 you will be able to learn some Vietnamese cooking secrets and perfect your knowledge of Vietnamese food traditions and cuisine.
Day 8 – Hoi An
Finally, you do not have to wake up early and you can go and have a beach day. An Bang beach is located 4km away from Hoi An and you can reach it either by bike, motorbike or taxi. If you are up for an adventure rent a motorbike or a bike and head to explore the countryside of the city and end your day with a cool swim in the ocean. The local villages around Hoi An give you a great insight into how the locals live and where does the food you eat at the restaurants come from.
If you do not want to explore the villages on your own there is always a local willing to take you up for a tour. Locals usually conduct these tours in a very personal way, bringing you into their homes, cooking together with you and their family and sharing with you their fishing skills. Amazing experience.
Day 9 – Hoi An
Last day in Hoi An should be spent peacefully, enjoying the romantic and unrushed atmosphere of the city. Stroll around the tiny cobblestone streets and walk into cafes that speak to you. If you love museums go and see some of Vietnam’s best design and art museums in Hoi An.
If you feel more adventurous take a day tour to the nearby Da Nang city. Da Nang is a city with a beautiful beach, fewer tourists, and the most important attraction – Marble Mountains. Stunning caves and Buddhist temples, as well as beautiful panoramic views, can all be found when visiting Marble Mountains.
In the evening it is time to hit the road again and take a night bus/train from Hoi An to Nha Trang.
Day 10 – Nha Trang
A superb place to stay right next to the beach in Nha Trang is Rex Hotel & Apartment.
Either you are visiting alone or with your family, Vinpear water and amusement park is a great way how to spend the day in Nha Trang. Every one of us has this little inner child that cannot wait to jump on a water slide, right? Especially if Vinpearl is considered as Vietnam’s Disney World. Even more, this Amusement park is only reachable by a cable car. And this is no usual cable car, but the longest one of its kind in the world.
If amusement parks are not your thing spend the day snorkeling or diving. Nha Thrang is one of the best places to enjoy water activities. After a long day, you have earned a massage, so enrich your pampering experience by attending a Blind massage. You will be massaged by a person with visual impairment. By supporting this initiative you are supporting the Blind People Light Centre and helping people with disabilities to stay employed. The massage costs only $4 (EUR 3) and it will be of a very good quality.
Day 11 – Nha Trang
Nha Trang is a popular beach destination, especially because Vietnam is not really famous because of its beaches. So finally you have earned a beach day! It is time to relax from the fast pace traveling and early mornings. Also, because this evening you will have to head to Ho Chi Minh City either by a night bus or flying. If you choose to take the night bus it will cost $12 (EUR 10) and will take 8 hours. If you choose to fly because you are somewhat done with the long night rides already, we recommend booking the flight early and be aware that it will cost around 5 times more than the bus. However, if you are not on a tight budget, this short flight will be right in time!
Day 12 – Ho Chi Minh City
A spectacular place to stay right in the heart of Ho Chi Minh City is White Home Apartments.
Ho Chi Minh City/Saigon is a magnificent, enormous metropole, which never sleeps and life never stops. It is important that you stay in the District 1 (as per our recommendation) as it is the main center of the city. District 1 boasts endless choices of bars, eateries, luxury restaurants, markets and tourist offices to fulfill all your needs. It is great to stay at the very center and have everything you need at hands length.
One of the most popular attractions in Ho Chi Minh City is Thien Hau temple. From the outside, this temple might not seem impressive, but the inside is a pure artwork. Ho Chi Minh City is very popular because of its huge markets. You can find a small or a bigger market on almost every corner of the city. The biggest and most remarkable markets are Ben Thanh and Binh Tay. Both markets offer anything you could think of, including food, souvenirs, clothes, furniture, and animals. Note that these markets are open only until 7 pm, compared to other night markets around Asia.
Day 13 – Ho Chi Minh City
Its the last day of your 2 week Vietnam trip and you have to choose between 2-day tours. You can visit either Mekong River Delta or Cu Chi Tunnels. Both day tours cost roughly $10 (EUR 8), however, you have to choose your tour in line with what you really want to see. If you are a history geek and are really interested in the Vietnam war and learning on how Vietnamese ambush tactics worked, you have to go to Cu Chi Tunnels. If you want to see the Mekong River Delta, ride along the Mekong River and visit coconut candy factory in the middle of the jungle – this tour is for you.
Both tours are very interesting and if you have an opportunity to stay in Vietnam for a bit longer, go on both tours. Each in one day. A great end to an exciting day is with a cocktail in your hand, on a rooftop, overlooking the metropolis. Usually rooftop bars are well overpriced, however, we have found the best gem in the city. Chill Bar is located in District 1 and it has a happy hour from 5:30 pm to 8 pm every day. Cocktails cost only 88 000 VND or $2.50 (EUR 3). They have a no flip-flops policy but anything else goes! That view is just spectacular and worth staying the whole 2.5 hours long happy hour. What a great way to wrap up your 2 week Vietnam trip.
Day 14 – leaving Vietnam
End of another beautiful trip. It is time to plan the next adventure!
Planning a trip to Vietnam – Great Tips
Vietnam has a well developed public and private transport system, thus, worry not (Start Wars Reference), you will not be left on the side of the road. Either you choose to travel by public transport or drive a motorbike through Vietnam individually you will be perfectly fine. We would highly recommend traveling through Vietnam individually, it is an amazing experience and teaches you so much about the country that you would not learn any other way.
However, keep in mind that English is very little spoken around Vietnam and very less so in rural places. Thus, prepare to use sign language and download an offline dictionary. It will be fun, we promise.
Also, there are several routes to choose, when planning a trip to Vietnam. The most popular is to head from Hanoi to Ho Chi Minh City. You can also do the route another way around, from Ho Chi Minh City to Hanoi, which we chose. There is not much of a difference on how you plan to see Vietnam. However, if you have a complete freedom we would recommend starting from Hanoi making your way down to HCMC.
Be careful wherever you go, and do not forget about a good travel insurance to cover your back, if anything happens!
If you have any questions at all regarding planning a trip to Vietnam, let us know in the comment section and we will get back to you with the best advice we can give!
Let us know if there is a topic you want us to write about!
Special thanks for the template to Latviesi Celo authors Kaspars and Una. (Travel blog in Latvian).