12 Days In Vietnam – How Many Cities Are Enough?

Lê Ngọc Minh Châu - October 30, 2018

Planning a perfect trip for 12 days in Vietnam is not that easy as you can possibly travel in a rush. You know?

Hanoi, Halong, Hue, Hoian and Saigon are the 5 cities that are included in almost every single 12-day itinerary article you find on the internet. As the tours are customized to fit the limited time, you will spend 2 days on average in each beautiful city. However, it doesn't mean that you can't make the most out of your trip.

Itinerary 1: 12 Days in Vietnam

  • Day 1: Hanoi Arrive
  • Day 2: A palace, a museum, pagodas in Hanoi
  • Day 3: Hanoi – Halong Bay
  • Day 4: Halong Bay – Hue via Hanoi
  • Day 5: Hue
  • Day 6: Hue – Hoian via Danang
  • Day 7: Hoian leisure time
  • Day 8: Hoian – Ho Chi Minh City
  • Day 9: HCMC – Cai Be floating market – Unique Homestay
  • Day 10: Cai Be – Ho Chi Minh
  • Day 11: Cu Chi Tunnels by minivan
  • Day 12: Depart Ho Chi Minh


  • if you want some beach time Nha Trang is better than Hoi an. Hoi An is more a culture place with a lovely little town to visit but the beach isn't great.


  • Beach in Danang, voted by Forbes Magazine as one of the world's best. You can walk for miles on this beautiful wide beach, watch fisherman hauling in their nets, relax on the sands. This is one of my favorite weekend get away spots from Hanoi.


Itinerary 2: 12 Days in Vietnam


  • Day 1 Arrive in Hanoi Hanoi
  • Day 2 Tour of Hanoi City Hanoi
  • Day 3 Hanoi – Cuc Phuong National Park Cuc Phuong National Park bungalow
  • Day 4 Cuc Phuong – Van Long – Ninh Binh Ninh Binh
  • Day 5 Ninh Binh – Bai Tu Long Bay Cruise ship in Halong Bay
  • Day 6 Bai Tu Long bay - Hanoi - Fly to Danang Hoi An
  • Day 7 Countryside tour & visit ancient town of Hoi An Hoi An
  • Day 8 Hoi An free day Hoi An
  • Day 9 Hoi An – Ho Chi Minh City; City tour on Vespa HCMC
  • Day 10 HCMC – Mekong Delta cycling – Ben Tre Rural homestay in Be Tre
  • Day 11 Ben Tre – HCMC HCMC
  • Day 12 Depart HCMC

You can see some notes:

Sapa is one of the destination that you should consider for treckking:


Sapa maybe 3 days is enough.It's a very small town but picturesque and like a Swiss village.The Sapa day tour to the river and waterfall is great Brace yourself for being hassled by hundreds of young hawkers! Victoria resort is a nice romantic option. We stayed there and enjoyed it.I am married to Vietnamese girl and we went there on our honeymoon.

Haiphong and Halong Bay is a must.You should go on a cruise on one of the junks for 2-3 nights.Awesome.

Hanoi is interesting...nice old buildings,thousands of soldiers,thousands of motorbikes with the accompanying polution, nice cafes and of course terds,dead fish and algae floating on the Westlake cesspool.Definitely not greeny friendly but Sapa has beautiful fresh air.If you are travelling in late January then Tet celebrations may be preparing...thousands of bonsai plants and flowers along the streets.

2 nights in enchanting Hanoi

Day 1: Arrive in Hanoi

  • Do a private tour around Hanoi Old Quarter
  • Watch a water puppetry show
  • Enjoy dinner at a local Vietnamese restaurant situated within a former French residence.

Day 2:

  • Do a morning market visit and street food tour
  • Enjoy a private city cultural tour of Hanoi, encompassing many areas, sights and experiences in Hanoi, including a visit to the Museum of Ethnology
  • Enjoy a performance of “My Village” at the Hanoi Opera House
  • Have dinner at a restaurant in the Old Quarter

Day 3: Hanoi - Halong

  • After breakfast, transfer to the airport for a seaplane flight to Halong Bay
  • After landing at Tuan Chau Marina in Halong Bay, an electric car will transfer you to board your one-night cruise.
  • Explore numerous grottoes and caves on the islands
  • Lunch and dinner are served onboard

Day 4: Halong - Hanoi - Danang

  • Following breakfast, you will disembark the cruise and proceed to Tuan Chau Marina for your seaplane flight back to Hanoi.
  • Upon arrival in Hanoi, you will board your flight to Danang
  • Enjoy dinner in downtown Hoi An and spend the remainder of the evening at your leisure.

Day 5:

  • Go to Hoian vibrant marketplace to prepare for your cooking class in the morning
  • Enjoy a leisurely cruise along the Thu Bon River to the cooking school
  • Take part in a walking tour through Hoi An, explore the UNESCO World Heritage-listed Old Town, visit the iconic 400-year-old Japanese Bridge and the busy waterfront, try one of best known cakes in Hoi An.

Day 6:

Enjoy a day at your leisure to relax on the beach

Day 7: Hoian to Hue

  • You are transferred to Hue within 3.5 hour drive in the morning
  • Board a private dragon boat for a relaxing voyage on the Perfume River.
  • Enjoy dinner of renowned Hue cuisine while listening to a performance of traditional live folk music.

Day 8:

  • Wake up early in the morning for a sunrise cruise on Tam Giang Lagoon
  • Enjoy breakfast aboard a small motorised sampan and cruise the lagoon, stopping at stilt houses here and there to meet with local families and learn about their daily lives.
  • Visit Thien Mu Pagoda
  • Continue to the Imperial Citadel before moving on to Long An Palace
  • Enjoy both lunch and dinner at local restaurants
  • 3 nights in bustling Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon)

Day 9: Hue to HCM city

  • After breakfast, you will be transferred to Hue airport for the mid-morning flight to Ho Chi Minh City
  • Visit the Reunification Palace, Notre Dame Cathedral, the city’s striking French colonial-era post office, Hotel de Ville de Saigon (officially Ho Chi Minh City Hall) and the Museum of Vietnamese History, Jade Emperor Pagoda
  • Visit Ben Thanh market for some personal exploration and souvenir hunting
  • Discover Saigon night-life on the back of a vintage Vespa scooter
  • Sample the city’s authentic street food and visit a Vietnamese coffee shop for contemporary live music
  • Finish the evening at a local bar

Day 10:

  • Visit District 4, a superb place to witness regular Saigonese going about their daily business
  • Enjoy amazing Vietnamese coffee

Visit Cu Chi Tunnels

  • Enjoy “The Mist Show – The Stories of Rice” at the Saigon Opera House

Day 11: A full day cruise exploring life along the Mekong River

  • Visit Cai Be colorful floating market in Tien Giang
  • Visit local home factories to watch workers make rice paste, rice popcorn, coco candies and more
  • Discover beautiful landscapes along the river and observe the typical Mekong delta rural life
  • Enjoy a dinner of traditional Northern Vietnamese cuisine at a local home

Day 12: Depart HCM city

  • That's all about a tour within 12 days in Vietnam. Of course you don't have to stick to it if you travel on your own.
  • My personal view is that all the famous attractions in Vietnam worth more than a two-day visit. Slow down, see less, experience more - save the rest for another trip. Quality is better than quantity!
  • However, If you really must cram as much as possible into a trip, then an organised tour may be more up your alley, as you’ll need to spend less time finding hotels and restaurants—which should leave you some time to decompress .
  • Have you got any idea about your 12 days in Vietnam yet? Let's share with us on the comment box below!