Itinerary Day 1: HANOI
Welcome to the picturesque capital city of Hanoi. Upon arrival at the Noi Bai International Airport, – we personally recommend Vietnam Backpackers Hostels, we know they are awesome and we have stayed in each of them. There is also a money saving benefit, if you stay at any Vietnam Backpackers hostel you automatically receive 10% discount on any Mad Monkey Hostel in Cambodia, likewise, stay in any Mad Monkey Hostel prior to hitting Vietnam and you receive a 10% discount on any Vietnam Backpackers hostel, although it wont save you a huge amount it can add up especially if you are booking private rooms.
Warm up by setting out to explore the ancient and modern city of Hanoi and its charming tree-lined boulevards.
But the main event in Hanoi is the Old Quarter Tour: take a one-hour xichlo (3-wheeled rickshaw) tour of the Old Quarter, near Hoan Kiem Lake, a city that preserves its state from a hundred years back. Talk about time-traveling to the past! Definitely recommended for a deeply cultural and ancient experience.
Your cultural immersion doesn’t stop there. For the night, take a gastronomical adventure: Enjoy Vietnamese cuisine for your dinner: the famous pho (Vietnamese noodle soup) and other specialties, like bun cha (vermicelli noodles with pork and salad), xôi bắp (corn sticky rice), or gỏi cuốn (fresh spring roll).
Where to stay:
$ – Vietnam Backpackers Hostels ( recommended ), [eafl id=6470 name=”Bluebell Hotel Hanoi” text=”Bluebell Hotel”], [eafl id=6471 name=”Hanoi Fantasea Hanoi” text=”Hanoi Fantasea”] Hotel, [eafl id=6472 name=”Blue Star Hostel Hanoi” text=”Blue Star Hostel”], [eafl id=6473 name=”Hanoi Blues Hostel” text=”Hanoi Blues Hostel”], [eafl id=6474 name=”Golden Time Hostel Hanoi” text=”Golden Time Hostel”], [eafl id=6475 name=”Hanoi Light Hostel” text=”Hanoi Light Hostel”]
$$ -[eafl id=6476 name=”Hanoi Guesthouse” text=”Hanoi Guesthouse”], [eafl id=6477 name=”Madam Moon Guesthouse Hanoi” text=”Madam Moon Guesthouse”], [eafl id=6478 name=”Army Guesthouse Hanoi” text=”Army Guesthouse”],[eafl id=6479 name=” Serenity Villa Hotel Hanoi” text=” Serenity Villa Hotel”], [eafl id=6480 name=”Hanoi Charm Hotel” text=”Hanoi Charm Hotel”], [eafl id=6481 name=”Hanoi Elite Hotel” text=”Hanoi Elite Hotel”], [eafl id=6482 name=”Golden Sun Suites Hotel Hanoi” text=”Golden Sun Suites Hotel”],[eafl id=6483 name=”Meracus Hotel” text=”Meracus Hotel”]
$$$ -[eafl id=6484 name=”Apricot Hotel” text=”Apricot Hotel”], [eafl id=6485 name=”Lotte Hotel” text=”Lotte Hotel”], [eafl id=6486 name=”Marriott Hotel Hanoi” text=”Marriott Hotel Hanoi”], [eafl id=6487 name=”Silk Queen Hotel” text=”Silk Queen Hotel”]
DAY 2: HANOI
In the morning, visit the National Museum of Vietnamese History, at the Hoan Kiem district. A colonial French building, designed by by architect Ernest Hébrard, it is a sight to behold. Here, trace Vietnam’s ancient history and see some fascinating museum pieces that date back as far as 10,000 BC. Bronze drums, jewellery, sculptures, Champa pieces, and a lot more interesting display.
Then visit the Ho Chi Minh Mauseleum Complex, a large memorial in Hanoi. Located right in the center of Ba Dinh Square, this is frequented by tourists who wish to better understand the life of Ho Chi Minh, the nation’s founder.
You can also stop by the Temple of Literature, known as the first university of Vietnam. It was built in 1070 at the time of Emperor Lý Thánh Tông.
Then drop by the historic Buddhist temple, the One Pillar Pagoda, built in the 11th Century in dedication to the Buddha of Compassion, built by Emperor Lý Thái Tông.
Finally visit Hoan Kiem Lake, or “The Return Sword Lake” and get a glimpse of the rare endangered giant turtle species, before heading to the nearby Ngoc Son Temple, Hanoi’s most visited temple, dedicated to General Tran Hung Dao (who defeated the Mongols in the 13th century), La To (patron saint of physicians) and the scholar Van Xuong
End the day by watching the traditional water puppet show at the Thang Long Opera Theatre.
DAY 3: HALONG BAY
This day shall be dedicated solely to HaLong Bay, the main tourist attraction in Northern Vietnam. It is famous for its emerald waters punctuated with over 2000 colossal limestone islands, as well as rain forests. It’s a breathtaking, spectacular view. Even the journey to Halong Bay will be a sightseeing in itself: get a glimpse of the Red River Delta’s rural areas and observe Vietnamese farmers in paddy fields.
Halong Bay, which means “where the dragon descends into the sea,” was designated a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1994, and you’ll have to spend the entire day on a junk boat cruising this heavenly place.
For a full day tour of Halong Bay, you can choose from a wide variety of one-day tours offered by travel agencies: there’s a one-day helicopter tour, private tours with your choice of length: minimum of 4 hours and maximum of 10 hours.
Spend the night at Halong Bay. Tourists usually sleep in a boat. [eafl id=6488 name=”Viola Cruise Halong Bay” text=”Viola Cruise Halong Bay”] is recommended and can be booked online, as can the [eafl id=6489 name=”Signature Halong Cruise” text=”Signature Halong Cruise”] and the [eafl id=6490 name=”Christina Diamond Cruise Halong Bay” text=”Christina Diamond Cruise “]- these are all premier cruise options ranging from $100 and up a night, backpackers we suggest you head to the Vietnam Backpackers Hostel that provide a number of tour options to Halong Bay.
DAY 4 : CAT BA TOWN
Head to Cat Ba Town, Halong Bay’s largest island, for a day of fun and adventure. A chain of hotels run the gamut in the island, and a flock of Vietnamese usually arrive in droves in weekends— therefore weekdays are advisable if you want to avoid the crowd. Island activities include kayaking and sailing around Lan Ha Bay. Karaoke is also a main activity in the island.
You can drive or rent a motorbike to explore Cat Ba Town, as this is the most practical way to explore the island. The island also boasts of temples in the hills, a zoo, and even a butterfly farm.
However, if you are more inclined to enjoy a peaceful, more laid back experience of Cat Ba Town, or you are more interested to explore the natural wonders of the island, you will not be disappointed. Almost half of the island is a diverse ecosystem, declared a National Park. Enjoy stunning sights of rocky cliffs, pristine beaches, waterfalls, limestone hills, fishing villages, quiet coves, caves, and the 3-hectar Ech Lake.
Where to stay
$ – The island is popular to backpackers, who can stay in the bungalows of [eafl id=6491 name=”Cat Ba Sandy Beach Resort” text=”Cat Ba Sandy Beach Resort”], or at the [eafl id=6492 name=”Cat Ba Beach Resort” text=”Cat Ba Beach Resort”], or [eafl id=6493 name=”Thu Ha Hotel Cat Ba” text=”Thu Ha Hotel “]or [eafl id=6494 name=”Green Cat Ba Hostel” text=”Green Cat Ba Hostel”].
$$ – Mid range accommodation is easy to come by, try the [eafl id=6495 name=”Monkey Island Resort Cat Ba” text=”Monkey Island Resort”], [eafl id=6496 name=”Cat Ba Island Resort and Spa” text=”Cat Ba Island Resort and Spa”], [eafl id=6497 name=”Cat Ba Eco Lodge” text=”Cat Ba Eco Lodge”] or [eafl id=6498 name=”Full Moon Party Hotel” text=”Full Moon Party Hotel”].
$$$ -If you have the money we highly recommend the [eafl id=6499 name=”Cat Ba Sunrise Resort” text=”Cat Ba Sunrise Resort”] – be prepared though as rooms are north of the $150 a night mark, still if you can afford it this is the place to stay.
DAY 5: HO CHI MINH CITY
Early morning, return to Hanoi and head to Noi Bai International Airport for a flight to Ho Chi Minh City (formerly Saigon), which takes around 2 hours and 5 minutes. You can check in any of the single/group backpacker hostels listed in HomeAway.
Ho Chi Minh City is a major part in the history of the Vietnam War, and it is known for its French colonial architecture, including Notre-Dame Basilica and the Saigon Central Post Office.
Spend the day exploring this tourist destination for a Vietnamese urban experience: visit the War Remnants Museum to see the chilling and horrific war relics; enjoy the bustling, vibrant Chinatown; visit Ben Thanh Market; and enjoy local cuisine.
You may also want to visit Ho Chi Minh City Museum for an extensive study of the country’s past. You can also tour Dong Khoi Street with its variety of shops and bars, and home to many French colonial buildings.
Where to stay
$ – Backpackers head for [eafl id=6458 name=”Lily’s Hostel Ho Chi Minh” text=”Lily’s Hostel”], [eafl id=6457 name=”New Saigon Hostel” text=”New Saigon Hostel “], [eafl id=6500 name=”3 La Hostel” text=”3 La Hostel”] or [eafl id=6501 name=”Phan Anh Backpackers” text=”Phan Anh Backpackers”], [eafl id=6502 name=”Saigon Central Hostel” text=”Saigon Central Hostel”] is where we would stay when heading to HCM for a backpacking trip, it offers a great location at a low price.
$$ – Mid range options abound, our recommendations are [eafl id=6503 name=”Bloom Saigon Hotel ” text=”Bloom Saigon Hotel “](recommended) [eafl id=6504 name=”Lavender Boutique” text=”Lavender Boutique”], or [eafl id=6505 name=”Liberty Central hotel ” text=”Liberty Central hotel “]located just by the riverside.
$$$ – The Reverie is exceptional and is our recommended hotel, [eafl id=6506 name=”Villa Song, Hotel Des Arts” text=”Villa Song, Hotel Des Arts”] and the [eafl id=6507 name=”Park Hyatt Saigon” text=”Park Hyatt “]all come highly recommended.
DAY 6 : CU CHI TUNNELS and MEKONG DELTA
Cu Chi Tunnels is a must-visit. A large network of connecting underground hand-dug tunnels that was once used by Viet Cong soldiers as hiding places, their base of operations and supply and communication routes, hospitals, and was also a location of military campaigns during the Vietnam War. The labyrinth-like tunnels also once had meeting rooms, kitchens, schools, trenches, and depots. Tours are offered and are highly recommended on Trip Advisor.
Then trek to Vietnam’s largest rice bowl, the Mekong Delta. Enjoy a drive-through of the My Tho countryside, and feast your eyes with the delta’s coconut palms, fruit orchards, and sugar-cane groves.
Visit the Unicorn and Turtle Islands as well, and embark on a boat and get to see locals in their conical-shaped hats working along the banks of the river. Then journey to Ben Tre, where you can get some honey tea at a bee farm, taste fresh fruits, or watch local villagers make coconut candy.
Then return to Ho Chi Minh City.
DAY 7: HO CHI MINH CITY, DEPARTURE
This is your departure day. If you have more time before your flight, you can go for a Sophie’s Art Tour, for a unique look at Vietnam’s fascinating history through the lives and works of its artists.
“The tour is based on the personal experiences of artists who studied, fought, witnessed and documented major changes in 20th and 21st century Vietnam. This tour is not just for art lovers but for all those who want to gain a deeper understanding of Vietnam’s modern and contemporary history,” says its official website.
The Sophie Tour will take you to museums and contemporary art spaces in Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi, with tour packages that include Family Tour, Children’s Workshop, Student Tour and the Architecture Tour in Ho Chi Minh.
The Sophie Tour has been rated excellent in TripAdvisor, with tourists vouching for the enlightening experience, stating it as one of the best tours in the country. The very intelligent and comprehensive tour by Sophie provide tourists a clear and deep understanding of Vietnam history through contemporary art.
Then it’s time to say goodbye to Vietnam.
We hope that that this recommended itinerary will give you a short but sweet Vietnamese vacation. From stunning nature, to a busy and lively metropolis, to art, religion, and history, get to enjoy “Vietnam – Timeless Charm”! If this article has been useful please spend a moment to like and share it as it will help others find the article.