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Flexible 2 Week Vietnam Itinerary (up to 1 Month)

Flexible 2 Week Vietnam Itinerary (up to 1 Month)

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Vietnam is an incredible country and this post has you covered for either 2 week Vietnam itinerary or a 30 day Vietnam itinerary. 

A trip to Vietnam means diverse and delicious foods such as steaming hot pho and bahn mi sandwiches.

The landscapes vary from mountains to beaches to rice fields to towering karst topography. We hear this phrase all the time but the people of Vietnam truly are something else.

Trouble with your rented motorbike? The next person to pass by will stop and get you back on the road in a jiffy. Returning to your new favorite coffee shop for the second time? The staff will remember you by name and greet you like a cousin. 

During our 30 days in Vietnam, we went from north to south at a slow-ish pace. We took our time as much as we could but still packed our itinerary full of sites.

Here’s all you need to know to prepare the perfect Vietnam itinerary for 14 days or 1 month!

All-inclusive 30 Day Vietnam Itinerary & 2 Week Vietnam Itinerary 

This guide works as either a month-long or a 2 week Vietnam itinerary. It’s based on my own 30 day Vietnam itinerary and draws on how we got around, where we stopped along the way, the sights I recommend most, and mistakes we made that you should avoid.

This post is designed to help you figure out which areas appeal the most and which ones to axe from your travel plans. You’ll need to determine the exact nights in each destination based on their timeframe.

If you’re planning a 2 week Vietnam itinerary, I’d recommend skipping some places rather than cramming all destinations into your trip.  In hindsight, I’d have loved to have spent longer in Sapa and Mui Ne during our 30 day Vietnam itinerary.

Want to know how much I spent during my trip to Vietnam? Less than $50 per day for two people! Check out my other post on how much does it cost to travel Vietnam?

How long to spend in Vietnam?

Two weeks is perfect for seeing the highlights of Vietnam. In this amount of time, you can start in the north in Hanoi and travel south to Saigon/Ho Chi Minh City like we did. Or, flip the itinerary and go in reverse.

A 2 week Vietnam itinerary would let you visit such spots as Sapa, Ha Long Bay, Hoi An, Hue, and Mui Ne. 

If you have time, 30 days lets you see even more of this long country. Just remember to do your research about visas.

The Vietnam e-Visa permits tourist stays of up to 90 days for US travelers. Those from the UK can stay for up to 45 days without a visa.

views of mountains with the ocean in between.

The coastline in Vietnam is one of the most magical in mainland Southeast Asia.

Best time to visit Vietnam

Vietnam is a long country with different climates and weather patterns to contend with.

Hanoi and northern Vietnam experience cold dry winters from December to February. Sapa is very cold at this time of year; you’ll need warm base layers and winter accessories. The summer months (May to August) are hot and humid. The best time to visit northern Vietnam is March/April or September/October/November).

Central Vietnam is prone to typhoons during the wet season (August to November). The rainy season usually subsides in February and brings sunny weather that lasts until August.

South Vietnam enjoys warm temperatures year-round. The dry season generally runs from December to May and there is a rainy season from June through November. March through May is very hot and can top out around 104°F (40°C).

When planning a 30 day Vietnam itinerary, bear in mind how the conditions may impact your plans.

Tet (Lunar New Year) falls in February. All transport sells out and hotels will either fill up or close for a few days. Tet can also impact the opening hours of attractions and restaurants.

How to get to Vietnam

The major cities of Hanoi and Saigon/Ho Chi Minh City are the main transport hubs in Vietnam.

Hanoi is served by the Noi Bai International Airport (HAN), around 18 miles north of the city center

There are several shuttle buses and public buses that take you to Hanoi. Shuttle buses tend to terminate near Hoan Kiem Lake.

Bus number 86 takes around an hour to reach Hanoi Central Railway Station and costs 30,000 VND ($1.20 USD). 

If you pick up a SIM card at the airport or arrange an e-SIM you can hail a Grab (Southeast Asia’s version of Uber). 

Otherwise, you can pre-book a private airport transfer

Saigon is served by the Tan Son Nhat International Airport (SGN). This is only five miles from the central area and as the largest airport in Vietnam, it has even more connections. It’s also easier to pre-arrange a SIM card for pick-up at this airport. 

The yellow airport bus costs 15,000 VND ($0.60 USD) whereas the public bus number 152 costs half that. Both journeys take around 45 minutes. 

Again, you can pre-book a private airport transfer for peace of mind.

bright green rice fields in sapa as part of a 2 week vietnam itinerary.

The lush green rice fields of Vietnam should definitely be explored on a 2 week Vietnam itinerary.

Getting around Vietnam

Getting around the locations on your 30 day or 2 week Vietnam itinerary is best done by bus or train. Buses do tend to be faster although the train is a unique experience.

Buses in Vietnam have different price points. The more you pay, the more luxurious the experience. The same applies to trains in Vietnam. If you have the money, it’s always worth paying a bit more. 

Night buses and trains are great for saving money and maximizing sightseeing time. On the flip side, too many night journeys can be pretty tiring and can take their toll. I’d recommend you try to strike a balance.

12go.Asia and Bookaway let you compare times and fares for the bus and train. These sites work great with foreign cards.

Otherwise, you can book tickets via your hotel or guest house in Vietnam. Often this is easier and the price doesn’t change. 

Open Bus – recommended for a 30 Day Vietnam itinerary

Luke and I opted for the cheapest possible transportation: the hop-on hop-off buses.

This is the ‘Open Bus’ ticket and you can buy it from any travel agent in Hanoi or Saigon.

The most reliable, and therefore most expensive, companies are Hanh Cafe and Sinh Cafe (formerly Sinh Tourist). We used a company called Queen Cafe (obviously they love cafes?).

We paid $34 USD each for our ticket which included sleeper buses for each leg of the journey. As a woman under 5 feet, I found it incredibly comfortable. Anyone over 5’10” might find it slightly cramped.

Based on my experience, I would be cautious of using Queen Cafe if you are going to travel further south than Ninh Binh.

The service changed hands from here and we found the company that took over to be pretty rude. We smelt cigarette smoke onboard and the driving was reckless at times. 

If you are only going to travel around the north, the actual Queen Cafe buses were very clean, the staff was friendly, and we ran to time. Do check the latest reviews and make an informed comparison of the different companies.

30 day vietnam itinerary

How to plan a 30 Day Vietnam Itinerary or 2 Week Vietnam Itinerary 

When you are putting together your itinerary, consider what cities are most important to you and then how much time you will spend in each. Vietnam is a pretty large country and you’ll need to account for travel days during your Vietnam itinerary.

Hanoi – 2-5 nights 

Hanoi is the boisterous yet captivating capital of Vietnam and much of the action revolves around the Old Quarter and Hoan Kiem Lake. I enjoyed wandering these tangled streets and stopping to sup incredibly strong iced coffees and browsing markets for little trinkets.

Most of our time in Hanoi was spent sorting out the rest of our one month in Vietnam. When we weren’t trailing around travel agents, we drank beers on Ma May Street and ate so much street food I’m hungry just thinking about it.

How many days to spend in Hanoi

Aim to spend at least two nights in Hanoi as part of a 2 week Vietnam itinerary. Stretch to five nights as part of a 30 day Vietnam itinerary. 

You might want to spend slightly longer in Hanoi or Saigon – do some extra research to see which city has the most appeal. 

Best things to do in Hanoi

Cooking Class – Vietnamese food is so delicious you’ll appreciate going home with the knowledge of how to make it. This cooking class starts with a shopping trip at a market before getting down to business.  

Hoa Lo Prison Museum – this is situated in the remains of a prison used to contain prisoners of war during the Vietnam War. The exhibit exposes home truths and propaganda about the conditions of the POWs. You can visit in conjunction with the Military History Museum as part of this war sites of Hanoi walking tour.

Vietnamese Women’s Museum – this excellent museum is dedicated to the role of women in Vietnam throughout history. Exhibitions look at different ethnic groups and spotlight such topics as marriage, childbirth, agricultural work, and fashion.

Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum – the embalmed body of President Ho Chi Minh is exhibited at this monumental mausoleum at select times during the year. Note that photography isn’t permitted, a modest dress code is observed, and the queue can take a while.

Water Puppet Show – this 50-minute performance is emblematic of Hanoi! The show brings together puppetry and music and dates back to a thousand-year-old tradition. You can buy tickets online or at the theater next to Hoan Kiem Lake.

sunset over the beach with hotel in the background.

The beaches in Vietnam should not be missed!

Where to stay in Hanoi

All the best hotels in Hanoi are dotted around the Old Quarter and Hoan Kiem Lake. If you are planning trips to Sapa and Ha Long Bay, you should be able to store your luggage at your base in Hanoi. 

Hanoi Tirant Hotel – start (or end!) your 2 week/30 day Vietnam itinerary at this upscale property near Hoan Kiem Lake. It has a rooftop pool and period-inspired bedrooms. 

La Ava’s Home – here’s where to stay in Hanoi for a down-to-earth experience. Rooms at this homestay have private bathrooms and access to the shared kitchen and roof terrace. The host family is warm and helpful.

*Hanoi Scam Alert 

We spent a hot afternoon people-watching around Hoan Kiem Lake. A nice man with excellent English and a woman with limited English approached us and asked if they could practice their language with us.

They were both in their early twenties. We agreed and got chatting. After about 20 minutes they asked if we wanted them to give us a “locals tour” of the city. We said maybe tomorrow and they gave us their phone numbers.

When we got back to our hostel we Googled it and found this to be a very common scam. Apparently, if we met up with them, we would find ourselves in a situation where we were paying an awful lot for food/drink/taxi fares.

Whether these two were genuine or not, we’ll never know, but it’s better to be cautious.

what to do in sapa vietnam

Sapa – 2-4 nights 

Most people visit this northern part of the country to hike in Sapa’s remote mountains and rice terraces. For the three days we were in Sapa, we trekked, drank too much rice wine, and laughed with a Hmong family. You can read about that experience in this story.

It’s really easy to get to Sapa Town from Hanoi. Buses travel during the day and through the night with journey times taking five/six hours. It’s also possible to take a train as far as Lao Cai from where you need to take a bus for the final hour. 

If you book a bus back from Sapa to Hanoi at a travel agency in Sapa, be sure to get clear directions about where the bus will leave from. There seemed to have been several different locations, one of which was quite a walk away.

How many days to spend in Sapa

On a 2 week Vietnam itinerary, I’d recommend taking a night bus to Sapa and booking at least 2 nights of accommodation in a homestay as we did. 

If you are spending one month in Vietnam, consider up to 4 nights. 

Best things to do in Sapa

Stay with a Hmong family – booking an all-inclusive homestay experience should be at the top of a Vietnam itinerary of any kind! Your host family will take you trekking through the mountains, prepare homecooked meals, and challenge you to match their intake of rice wine! 

Trekking in Sapa – if you opt for a hotel rather than a homestay you can still go trekking. It’s easy to get lost so book a tour, these also support the local economy.  This Muong Hoa Valley trek includes stops at ethnic villages and lunch.

See Sapa by motorbike – motorbikes are another means of getting around Sapa other than by foot. This Sapa motorbike tour lets you choose between riding pillion or driving your own vehicle behind the local guide. It’s almost a good excuse to forget your hiking clothes!

Hike Mount Fansipan – climb to the top of the “roof of Indochina”, the highest mountain in Vietnam. It’s no walk in the park and so you’ll benefit from having a professional guide at your side when summiting Fansipan.

Cat Cat Village – this is a tourist village that’s modeled on traditional customs in the Sapa valleys. It’s a short walk from Sapa Town and comprises waterwheels, gift shops, and workshops. You need to take it with a pinch of salt: it’s touristic but lovely. And, you can buy some nice little souvenirs. 

beach in vietnam with boats in the background.

The sunsets in Vietnam, especially along the coastline, are pretty special.

Where to stay in Sapa

Definitely look at staying with a Hmong homestay. Unfortunately, I’ve lost contact with Bau, who we stayed with. I would suggest reaching out to Mama Sumi via Facebook who will take just as excellent care of you.

When you alight the bus in Sapa Town, you will be greeted by Hmong women who will also offer their services. It can be a little overwhelming but they are good people making a living. It’s wise to pay these host families in cash so that you know it’s not going via a middleman. 

Sapa Town is an assault on the tenses. Prioritize getting out in the mountain villages  but you might need a night there subject to when you travel back to Hanoi. If so, need here are some other options for where to stay in Sapa.

Mega View Homestay – this lovely guest house has a mix of dorms and private bedrooms. The best units have balconies and are all beautifully decorated with locally made woven fabrics. The staff can help arrange activities and onward travel. 

Pistachio Hotel Sapa – that’s a serious swimming pool. Rooms are spacious and the hotel is located centrally but a little set back from the noisy areas. Some units have mountain and valley views and the breakfast should see you through until dinner.

what to do with 30 days in vietnam

Ha Long Bay – 1-2 nights 

Everyone had warnings and horror stories to share with us about Ha Long Bay.

Every sign seemed to point us away from going: “too touristy”, “horrible boat companies”, and “rats in the rooms”. We read so few positive reviews that we didn’t really know what to believe.

We considered going it our own and getting a boat to Cat Ba Island to camp, but we quickly decided against it for the hassle of it all. In the end, we went with Halong Imperial Cruises. It was an incredible experience in paradise. Yes, Ha Long Bay is touristic but it’s a phenomenal place to see with your own eyes.

How many days to spend in Ha Long Bay

You can book 2-day/1-night or 3-day/2-night cruises in Ha Long Bay. The shorter option slots in fine with a 2 week Vietnam itinerary.

Otherwise, you could consider spending three nights on Cat Ba Island where you can get out on the water and explore the national park. This is more appropriate when spending one month in Vietnam. 

Best boat tours in Ha Long Bay

The main reason to visit Ha Long Bay is for a boat cruise. 

The easiest way of doing this is to book an all-inclusive tour from Hanoi. This will include pick-up from your hotel and return travel. It covers the agreed number of nights on the boat, activities, and food. The only thing to budget for is extra beers and cocktails onboard. 

This Ha Long – Bai Tu Long Bay is a 2-day 1-night cruise focusing on quieter parts of the bay. It covers everything detailed above. 

If you’re not too bothered to sleep on the boat, this Halong Bay Day Trip with Titop Island is doable as a day trip from Hanoi. It may feel quite rushed and honestly it’s such a special experience to fall asleep in the bay and wake up among the karst towers. 

Where to stay in Ha Long Bay

It’s not necessary to book a hotel in Ha Long as bay tours include Hanoi pick-up. Ha Long City is very much geared toward cruise ship arrivals and doesn’t have the charisma of Hanoi or the charm of Cat Ba. This island is where you might want to stay near Ha Long Bay. Staying there is possible if you’re spending 2 weeks in Vietnam but it’s a better fit for a 1 month Vietnam itinerary.

Lan Han Floating Homestay – the perfect alternative or accompaniment to a liveaboard! All rooms have water views and the property has free kayaks and SUP boards for guests. It’s a great place to decompress. 

Cat Ba Sweet Potato Homestay – this top-rated guest house has dorm rooms and private rooms. It’s just on the outskirts of the main town on the island which makes it easy for getting out into the national park and cycling around the country lanes.

30 day vietnam itinerary

Ninh Binh – 2-3 nights 

I didn’t know anything about Ninh Binh until our travel agent in Hanoi told us about it. This place is similar to Ha Long Bay only it’s inland. Hence the nickname, “Ha Long Bay Onland.” There are lakes and gorgeous rural landscapes but no beaches. 

Granted, he got a bit more money for our open bus ticket by selling us more stops, but I’m still glad we added it to our 30 day Vietnam itinerary. Famous for the boat tours in Tam Coc, there was more than enough in the surrounding area to fill several more days.

It’s a 90-minute drive from Hanoi or a 2-hour train ride.

We rented a motorbike on our first day and road around the Trang An park area stopping to take in the immense views of the dramatic limestone cliffs surrounding us. We ate Chao Ga, chicken rice porridge, which quickly became one of my favorite meals in Vietnam.

How many days to spend in Ninh Binh

Plan for 2-3 nights in Ninh Binh. Depending on your vibe, Ninh Binh might suit you better than the busy bay and beach resorts. 

On the other hand, you could take a day trip to Ninh Binh from Hanoi. This covers all travel as well as the main natural and spiritual attractions in the region. It might suit you better if you have only 2 weeks in Vietnam.

Best things to do in Ninh Binh

Rent a bicycle or motorbike – you can get by with the former for exploring your local area but a motorbike is a must for covering this vast region. Most homestays and hotels provide rentals of both. 

Tam Coc – a boat trip along the river in this village is so much fun. They’re rowed by women mainly who use their feet to propel and steer the boats. You can just buy a ticket in person at the departure point. There are tours of different lengths. Do tip your boatsperson. This is a physically gruelling job and they make a pittance, otherwise. We also bought ours a bottle of water – although she traded it for a cold lemonade. We all won there I’d say. 

Mua Cave – after climbing 500 stone steps to the top of Ngoa Long Mountain, you’ll have incredible views of the Ngo Dong River and the paddy fields. There’s also a remarkable carving of a dragon from a second viewpoint. 

Bai Dinh Pagoda – this is s stunning complex of Buddhist temples in the mountains.  It’s situated on Ba Rau Hill near the Hoang Long River. 

Where to stay in Ninh Binh

There are hotels in Ninh Binh town near the train station and homestays scattered across the smaller villages and rice paddies. The latter is better. 

Tam Coc Windy Fields – this place is serenity personified with its views across the emerald fields and forested limestone crags. Rooms are accented with bamboo and feature modern private bathrooms. The breakfast is exceptional and the pool is a major bonus.

Trang An Mountain House – get a taste of rural life at this tranquil Vietnamese homestay in Ninh Binh. It’s nestled amid the mountains and has a pool and restaurant. The staff will help you as much or as little as you require.

what to do in vietnam

Hue – 2-3 nights

Hue is about as central a city as you’ll find in Vietnam. It was the seat of Nguyen Dynasty emperors and later the capital (1802 to 1945). As such, Hue is a place to add to your 2 week or 30 day Vietnam itinerary if you love history!

We spent our first afternoon at the famous Imperial City. It was SO hot and because of the random time we’d arrived in the city, we accidentally skipped lunch – so we (read: I) was incredibly cranky. 

How many days to spend in Hue

You’ll need at least a night in Hue on a 2 week Vietnam itinerary but 2-3 nights is better if you’re a history buff. It was a quick three days for us with a lot to see. You could easily spend longer. 

On the other hand, you could base yourself in Hoi An and take a day trip to Hue. This is something to think about based on your interests. As with Hanoi and Saigon, most travelers tend to favor one city over the other. 

Best things to do in Hue

Imperial Citadel – this is the headliner attraction in Hue and can easily gobble a whole day of your 2 week Vietnam itinerary. The ticket includes entry to the Museum of Royal Antiquities which is full of old armor, royal garb, shields, and wood-carved plaques. And, the obligatory pottery section. I’d heartily recommend a walking tour to maximize your time and learning.  

Vietnam Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) – Luke and I are both kind of big ole’ history geeks and we loved learning about the Vietnam War during our 30 day Vietnam itinerary. A DMZ tour from Hue takes you to the Vinh Moc Tunnel, Ta Con Airport, and Hien Luong Bridge among other places of significance.

Hue Royal Tombs –there are several ornate tombs in and around Hue that are the resting place of imperial families. You can visit them yourself with a motorbike or book a driver to transport to you to three tombs. We rode bikes from the center of town which was slightly difficult without any gears, but really nice.

Where to stay in Hue

The Purple Hue Homestay – this superb guest house is minutes from the Imperial Citadel. It’s a very quiet location especially in the evening although it does mean you’re a little further from the restaurants.

Choco House – on the other side of the river, this little hotel is attached to a cafe specializing in hot chocolate! Rooms are lovely and light with lots of places closeby to eat.

vietnam itinerary

Hoi An – 2-5 nights

I was really looking forward to Hoi An. I’d read so much about it, so many people wax poetic about what an amazing place it is – full of culture and cafes and kind people.

I actually found the amount of consumerism a bit overwhelming and felt a little bored there in comparison with other segments on our 1 month Vietnam itinerary.

However, the restaurants in Hoi An were exceptional. We ate very well during our time in Hoi An.

We ate at a really great restaurant every morning for breakfast, Vi’s Cafe. The woman who ran it was hilarious and gave us some great tips about what else to do. We also had the best banh mi that I had in all of Vietnam from the Banh Mi Queen.

How many days to spend in Hoi An

Plan for at least 2 and up to 5 nights based on your aims and travel duration. 2 nights are enough for a 2 week Vietnam itinerary. This will let you see the local sights and take a day trip or workshop.

As part of a 30 day Vietnam itinerary, you have a better beach vacation coming up! However, Hoi An is very popular for remote workers, yogis, and crafty travelers.

Best things to do in Hoi An

Explore the Ancient Town – this old trading port sits on the river banks and is awash with colorful buildings, temples, museums, lanterns, markets, and cute cafes.

Have clothes tailored – this is one of the most popular reasons to visit Hoi An. Our clothing (good quality!) and boots (lower quality) took about four days. If you’re planning a 2 week Vietnam itinerary and want to have clothes made, this could delay your onward travel. 

Basket boat ride – another popular activity, these boats bob through a coconut forest! This market tour, basket boat ride, and cooking class gives you a mix of three classic Hoi An activities. 

Lantern workshop – make your own Vietnamese lantern to take back home! It’s a lovely reminder of your two weeks in Vietnam. 

Coffee class – another hands-on activity for your 30 day Vietnam itinerary. This coffee masterclass teaches you the art of Vietnamese coffee. 

Where to stay in Hoi An

Hoi An is quite spread out. Stay near the river for ease, or consider the beach if you’re spending a couple of days in town and are planning to rent a motorbike. The rice fields between the beach and Ancient Town is lovely for a quiet, meditative experience.

Vincent’s House – a lovely homestay close to the Ancient Town but quiet at night. You’ll appreciate the pool on a balmy day.

– this property is located on An Hoi Island near the night market and riverside. It has large rooms, some with balconies, and a helpful front desk.

rice fields from above with clouds hanging over the rice fields.

There are rice fields to ride through and hike through in many parts of Vietnam, with some of the most spectacular in Sapa and Tam Coc.

Nha Trang – 1-2 nights

Nha Trang is a resort city on the southern coast of Vietnam with an incredible beach and lively nightlife. If you fancy squeezing a wild night on the town into your two weeks in Vietnam, Nha Trang has your back.

Buses leave Hoi An for Nha Trang or you can catch a train from Da Nang. 

We spent a day in Nha Trang because it was an overnight journey from Hoi An and we wanted to get the hell off the bus. 

The beach is amazing – it seems to go on forever. We arrived at 6 a.m., checked into a small hotel, and were on deckchairs within the hour. I’d never gone for an ocean swim so early in my life, but it felt so good after the terrible sleep we had on the bus. 

How many days to spend in Nha Trang

Book two nights max. Mui Ne is nicer for a beachy experience and you should try to spend longer there on a 30-day itinerary. You might even want to skip Nha Trang for a 2-week itinerary in place of Mui Ne. 

Best things to do in Nha Trang

Eat seafood – Nha Trang is the seafood capital of Vietnam! Round off a day on the beach with a plate of ocean-fresh clams, squid, lobster, and fish noodle soup!

Snorkeling and diving – the water surrounding Nha Trang is crystal clear with lots of marine life. Book a snorkeling or scuba diving excursion to see the corals around the nearby islands. 

Ba Ho Waterfall – swap the salty ocean for a day of waterfall chasing with this half-day trip to Ba Ho Waterfall. There’s a moderate amount of walking and you’ll have the option to try cliff jumping. 

Where to stay in Nha Trang

Aaron Boutique Hotel – close to the beach, seafood restaurants, and amenities, this Nha Trang hotel with a pool lets you experience the best of the city. Rooms have a unique design aesthetic and include luxury perks such as freestanding tubs and curved beds. 

TTC Hotel Michelia – steps from the ocean, this hotel has a private beach and a resort pool. A number of rooms have at least a partial sea view while others face the city.

what to do in vietnam

Mui Ne – 3-5 nights

I loved Mui Ne. I don’t know what it was, but I could have stayed for so much longer. Maybe I was exhausted from the constant go-go-go of the previous few weeks, but we just chilled on the beach for four days out of our 30 day Vietnam itinerary. It was blissful. 

We rented a motorbike to check out the dunes where we paid to rent a few pieces of plastic to slide down on (not recommended). 

We ate ridiculously cheap fresh grilled fish every night. Beer Saigon in hand, we watched the sky turn from orange to purple to pink to navy in the evenings.

We swam in the sea as the sun went down and slept all day in our little motel room. I was so happy there.

It takes 4-5 hours to get to Mui Ne from Nha Trang by bus or train. 

How many days to spend in Mui Ne

If you love the laid-back beach life, aim to spend 3-5 nights in Mui Ne subject to whether you’re on a 2 week or 30 day Vietnam itinerary

If you’re not much of a beachgoer, you could skip Mui Ne entirely. 

Out of Hoi An, Nha Trang, and Mui Ne, this was the place I loved the most. Others prefer Hoi An for the blend of beach and culture or Nha Trang for the developed oceanfront. 

Best things to do in Mui Ne

Sand dunes – the dunes and Fairy Stream are the main thing to see in Mui Ne. This sunrise or sunset jeep tour takes you to the White and Red Sand Dunes. You can walk along the sand barefoot or upgrade to the ATV experience. 

Where to stay in Mui Ne

Bamboo Village Beach Resort & Spa – live that barefoot life in a seaside bungalow right on the sand! Other cottages and hotel rooms overlook the lush green garden. There’s no better place to put your feet up during a 1 month Vietnam itinerary.

Villa Aria Boutique Muine – this superb resort has large, tropical-inspired rooms – some have the benefit of a kitchen or patio. It has a shared pool and a private beach.

Saigon/Ho Chi Minh City – 2-5 nights

Last but certainly not least, we spent six days of our 1 month in Vietnam in Ho Chi Minh City (formerly, Saigon). I was worried it would be too much time in the city, but I could have stayed for six more. 

In my opinion, the food was the best in the entire country. So much street food, so many soups and ban cuon and banh mi to eat. I’ve shared all the best things I ate in Saigon in detail.

Saigon has a rich history like Hanoi. This city has a more modern atmosphere and feels less chaotic in some ways.

How many days to spend in Saigon/Ho Chi Minh City

Aim to spend at least 2 nights but consider up to 5 when spending one month in Vietnam. A lot of travelers will have a preference for Hanoi or Saigon: do some extra research to figure out which big city better reflects your vibe and interest.

vietnamese soup with a shrimp on top of the bowl should definitely be eaten on a 2 week vietnam itinerary.

Some of the best food that I ate in Vietnam was in Ho Chi Minh City. Absolutely do not miss the street food in this incredible city.

Best things to do in Saigon/Ho Chi Minh City

Cu Chi Tunnels – seeing where the Americans and Southern Vietnamese troops fought against the Viet Cong was a very sobering tour. You can visit the Cu Chi Tunnels on a half-day tour and crawl through parts of them. Our tour guide was a veteran who’d fought here with the US Navy, although he was originally from Saigon. His horrific stories still haunted him.

Food tour – to reiterate, the food scene in HCMC is out of this world! Follow your nose or entrust a resident to guide you to the best places to eat in Saigon on this street food walking tour at night.

War Remnants Museum – this was very hard-hitting as the photography and stories exhibited are graphic. You can visit independently with an audio guide or deepen your knowledge by booking a HCMC walking tour that includes the museum and other historic sights. 

Independence/Reunification Palace – an interesting take on history, this modern building was constructed atop the former Norodom Palace. It marks the site of the Fall of Saigon that ended the Vietnam War.

Motorbike tour – if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em. This Saigon city highlights tour whisks you around the five districts and spares hours of trying to cross the roads.  

Mekong Delta – visit the Mekong Delta for a glimpse into the traditional, rural lifestyle of Southern Vietnam. This Mekong Delta tour is combined with visiting the Cu Chi Tunnels. You’ll float down the river, watch a music performance, and sample locally-made honey and tea. 

Where to stay in Saigon/Ho Chi Minh City

Silverland Yen Hotel – 10 minutes or less from Ben Thanh Market and major tourist sights, this boutique hotel in Saigon is a convenient base for a short or long stay. Rooms are modern and simple while the infinity pool is exactly what you need after a day on your feet. 

Leiden Homestay & Cafe – tucked away in a quiet enclave in District 1, this homestay offers lodging to solo travelers, couples, and families. The cafe down on the first floor is lovely and there is a mix of restaurants minutes away. 

what to do in vietnam

Things I Would Have Done Differently

This is difficult. I feel like each mis-step we had during our 30 day Vietnam itinerary helped us to avoid others further on in the trip. Vietnam was the first country Luke and I have tried to explore in this way – a lot in a short period. I wish we had more time, mostly. I wish I could have stayed in Mui Ne longer, I wish we had more time in Sapa.

  • I wish I had paid a few dollars more for Sinh Cafe or Hanh Cafe bus tickets. The bus journeys between Ninh Binh and Mui Ne were absolutely terrible.
  • I wish I had spent more time getting to know Bau and her family, perhaps spending another day hiking or helping if we could in any way.
  • I wish I had taken MORE PICTURES!

Other Vietnam Posts:

David lacey

Friday 26th of October 2018

You should try going to monkey island near saigon its very beautiful there are tiny monkeys with their babies but keep guard of your camera's cos you won't get it back there are crocodiles. In there as well

stephanie

Tuesday 8th of November 2016

I see you did not visit the Mekong Delta? What was the reason? And why did you like Mui Ne so much? There is not much to do, besides the sanddunes right?

I had 30 days in Vietnam last year and ran out of time so i sadly couldnt go to the Mekong Delta. I spend most of my days in Hanoi and Hoi An lol :) xx

Brittany

Saturday 6th of August 2016

Thank you for posting this! My boyfriend and I are in a very similar boat as you two - currently staying in Hanoi planning the rest of our time in Vietnam, ready to slowly travel south. I really enjoyed reading about what you liked and disliked - thanks again for sharing!

Laura Bronner

Monday 8th of August 2016

So glad this was helpful, Brittany. Vietnam is such an awesome country with so much to see! Let me know if you have any other questions!!