Vietnam in the blink of an eye – a 10-day itinerary
Visiting a whole country in a short amount of time almost seems impossible. There are thousands of places to go, millions of things to do in Vietnam and you are freaking out because of the schedule? Don’t worry, here are the express 10-day itinerary just for you to make the best out of your trip.
Within ten days in Vietnam, you have plenty of choices depending on your partners and your own taste
Vietnam 10 days itinerary map
In Totle: Hanoi (4 days, 3 nights)); Halong Bay (2 days 1 night); Sapa (3 days 2 nights); Ninh Binh 1 day
with 10 days you’’d probably only have time to go to three places. I'd start at Hanoi, either choose Halong Bay (or Cat Ba for a less touristy experience), Sapa (hilltribes and hiking), Ninh Binh (beautiful Karst scenery, hiking and cycling). Take a look at those and depending on which three you settle on, regulars can advise on logistics. Also, for Hanoi it's very worthwhile to book the free AZ NPO tour which will help you orientate yourself around the city and also get some good commentary on the sights you're seeing. The Museum of Ethnology is great for kids because they can climb through all the tribal houses in the courtyard. You need to book sooner rather than later though because they do get booked out.
Notes: Q & A
Q1: 2 days in Ho Chi Minh: Day 2: HCMC (Please tell me some reccomendations of how to spend these days at the most)
=>Day 1: Opera House, 151 Dong Khoi in District 1, the Independence Palace, dinner at the Secret Garden or at Cuc Gach restaurant
=>Day 2: old town, Thu Thiem tunnel, Thao Dien
Q3: Day 3: Da Nang-Hoian-hue?? (the flight is to Da Nang right? Should we stay there and take tours to the other towns or stay in Hoian instead? What about Hue? Does it worth
Yes, the flight is to Da Nang
My choice would be two days in Hoi An and a day in Hue, possibly head for Hue on arrival and try to see as much as you can and then head for Hoi-An the next morning. Reason is Hoi-An is nearer the airport than Hue
Q4: Day 5,6 (2 days 1 night): Halong bay cruise (any advice on that? Any good)
And: If really want to go to Nha Trang, Stay 2 days in hanoi and 1 day in Halong instead of 3 days and 2 days as above
This option covers most of the tourist places and sightseeing all over Vietnam. You will have the experience of Vietnamese cultural diversity. Besides, you will have a chance to enjoy the famous local food and cuisine of each region. Also, these recommended destinations are great choices for photo-lovers.
This itinerary is quite on the relaxing and slow-paced side, so you can take time to enjoy each place. It is suitable for any tourist with a mind of exploring the wonder of Vietnam in a short time.
>>> Disover the beauty of Northern Vietnam
Welcome to our lovely country! Once you check out of the Custom at the airport, it’s time to explore Hanoi. It will take you about 30 minutes on a car to get to the center of Hanoi city. You can use the bus, catch a taxi or even book the transport service car of the airline. For accommodations, you should book in advance for a hotel, hostel or homestay to be best prepared. The most popular location to stay in Hanoi is around the Old Quarter.
And of course, the first suggestion is the Old Quarter Hanoi, the place holds a thousand years of culture and is the heart of the city. It will be a bit chaotic and crowded, but it is nice strolling down the crossing small street networks, with all kinds of stores. You can almost buy everything there! If you arrived at the weekend, you will have a chance to visit the walking streets right around Guom Lake and enjoy the street performances and a very relaxing atmosphere.
Besides, you can go to other destinations nearby, such as St. Joseph’s Cathedral (also known as the Great Church to local people), Dong Xuan Market, Temple of Literature, Hoa Lo Prison and Hanoi Opera House
The Great Church is built in European style with a touch of Asian surrounding. You can try to have some lemon tea and snack around that place.
The Khue Van pavillon is featured on 100.000 Vietnam Dong banknote
Dong Xuan market is the retail market of Hanoi, where you can find everything. You will be amazed by the number of stores and goods you can find in here. The Temple of Literature hosts the Imperial Academy, Vietnam's first national university. Today, it’s the place where students come to pray for luck in the study. You can find the stone turtles with steles carved names of the successful students from hundred years ago.
Another place worth visiting is Hoa Lo Prison or Maison Centrale, a witness of the colonial period in Vietnam. There are a lot of artifacts, relics and restored figures to show you how the life of prisoners was at that time. If you love history, don’t miss this place.
The next suggestion will be Hanoi Opera House inspired by the Paris Opera House. You are free to walking around and taking artsy pictures, but if you want to enter it, you will have to pay about $20 per person for the entrance fee.
"Bun cha" Hanoi - rice noodle and grilled chopped pork
If you are tired and hungry, go and try some local food and a cup of Ta Hien’s beer. They are no doubt good and cheap. You can try rice soup with pork rib (cháo sườn), pho (phở), rice noodle and grilled chopped pork (bún chả), rice noodle and shellfish soup (bún ốc),... all are under US $3.
The next day, we will travel to Ha Long, the impressive World’s heritage site. However, be prepared to spend more than the average budget. The reason is tourism service will mainly be cruise-based. It’s luxury but it’s proved to be worthy.
Kayaking is a must try activity in Halong bay
You will have the chance to go sight-seeing with all the emerald islands and islets taking shapes and named after creatures and figures. And if you are sporty enough, the charming beach and water sports are calling for you.
The recommendation is to enjoy Halong Bay nightlife. A night on the cruise will let you watch the enchanted dusk and dawn, visit a seaside fishing village and even go squid fishing on a boat with the local people. Besides, eat to your own content the fresh and plentiful seafood.
Halong Bay cruises only provide from 2 days 1 night or 3 days 2 nights tour depending on the journey of each cruise.
The next morning, you can check out and head back to Hanoi. You should spend some time to rest. The third day is when you take it slow to prepare for a long ride to the center of Vietnam. You can choose to visit sites in Hanoi, such as Ho Chi Minh Complex, West Lake, Tran Quoc Pagoda,... You can adjust to fit your schedule, don’t rush to visit all in one go.
Ho Chi Minh museum - an attraction in Ho Chi Minh Complex
In the afternoon, you should start packing your luggage. We will head South, to the center of Vietnam. You can either go by plane, by train or tour bus. Remember that airline will be quicker and less tiring, meanwhile, it will take you approximately 12 hours on train or tour bus to get to Hue. But, train or tour bus tickets are more economical.
Welcome, to Hue, the mysterious and elegant ancient capital of Vietnam, the house of the royal tombs and palaces. After recovering from your ride and checking in the hotel, you can choose to visit Thien Mu Pagoda, Imperial Citadel, Royal Mausoleum, and Trang Tien Bridge.
The symbol of Hue, Thien Mu Pagoda is a Buddhist worship place. You can contemplate the octagonal, seven-tier tower and burn incense sticks to prove your sincerity and make your wish. The bell in Thien Mu Pagoda is so loud, it is rumoured that the whole city can hear the ring.
Khai Dinh built his mausoleum with the combination of modern Western architecture style with traditional Eastern architecture. This is also the only mausoleum that mixes East and West style. Located quite high, so visitors must pass 127 steps to visit this tomb.
The Imperial Citadel is hugged by the Huong River, it holds the history of a long time ago and the Vietnamese magnificent architecture and decoration. This was the place Vietnamese royalties once lived. You will see a lot of restored palaces, houses, relics and artifacts in here.
The next attraction is Royal Mausoleums. There are tombs of Khai Din, Minh Mang, and Tu Duc. Each is a palace with sophisticated sculptures and enormous buildings. You will be travel back in time when visiting these places. If you are wondering about the lavish lifestyle of the King and Queen of An Nam, please take a look.
The next city is Da Nang. You can get to Da Nang from Hue just by cars, buses or trains, it only takes around 2 hours up to 3 hours at most. Danang is a poetic seaside city, filled with stunning natural and man-made sightseeings. The people of Danang are famous for their friendliness and hospitality.
The golden bridge inside Ba Na Hill complex - the new icon of Da Nang City
Here, you can jump in the cleanest and appealing beaches of Vietnam, including Da Nang, Non Nuoc, Bac My An, My Khe and Son Tra peninsula. Crystal-clear water, white silky expanses of sand, fresh environment, a huge amount of available seafood and good tourism service will definitely not disappoint you.
Other things you can do while in Da Nang is visiting the Han Bridge, the heart of the city. At night, tourists are attracted to Han city. In the night lights of the city, Han Bridge and River become so alluring, sparkling and dreamlike. You can take a boat trip on the river to see the beautiful city under the starry sky.
If you come to Dragon bridge at the weekend, you can see she dragon shooting fire and water
If you love natural beauty, you can visit Son Tra peninsula. There are Son Tra Nature Conservation housing for over exotic and rare plants and animals. You can also have a small hiking trip to the peak of Son Tra Mountain and have a panoramic, clear view.
The European city of Da Nang is Ba Na Hills. It still preserves the French and Western feel in the air with all the flowerbeds (a lot of flowerbed!), a wine cellar and magnificent Western-style buildings. Not only you can enjoy the dreamy scenery of Ba Na Hill, you can also experience the changing weather there: Spring in the Morning, Summer at noon, Autumn in the afternoon and Winter at night.
After Da Nang, you can have a small ride to Hoi An, the lantern old town. This UNESCO World Heritage Site will let you have a look of ancient Vietnam – peaceful and graceful.
It a must for you to strolling down the ancient town filled with lantern store, try some local dish and breath in the airy air of the beach. It is recommended that you spend some time at night here when the lanterns are all lit up. You will be in awe of how the small streets can be so alluring.
A temple inside a cave in Ngu Hanh Son moutain
Beside, you can visit the red-painted Japanese Covered Bridge. The sign over the door said "bridge for passers-by from afar", quite a suitable place for tourists who enjoy Asian architecture.
There are a giant number of handicraft shops, art galleries and local restaurant in Hoi An. You can even try to make your lantern and have a distinctive cup of Vietnamese coffee alongside the street. For photo-lover tourists, Hoi An has a nice and vintage feeling to it. Don’t miss out taking a photoshoot of Hoi An, the lovely ancient town.
You will now travel to Ho Chi Minh City, the largest city of Vietnam. It is a busy city with all types of destinations, from the old historical destinations to natural and man-made beauty. You can choose to visit some of the famous places like Ben Thanh Market, Independence Palace, War Remnants Museum, Saigon Notre-Dame Basilica,...
The first recommendation is Ben Thanh Market. It is the signature marketplace of Ho Chi Minh City. Its building has survived the wartime until now. You can find local handicrafts, textiles, áo dài and souvenirs here. Besides, getting a bit of local food in the market is also a good idea.
Independence Palace and War Remnants Museum are the next places to visit. It was the Headquarter of Saigon Government during the Vietnam war and nowadays filled with relics, artifacts and documents from that time. You will have a general image of how the war was once you visit here.
Notre-Dame Cathedral Basilica of Saigon is a cathedral built between 1863 and 1880 and located in the downtown of Ho Chi Minh City. You should take a look in the cathedral and its two bell towers just to appreciate the impressive architecture and decoration. An interesting thing is that all of the construction materials of the Notre-Dame Cathedral Basilica of Saigon were imported from France, so this is a true French cathedral in Vietnam.
Now you can travel to Tien Giang province to visit the most extraordinary place in Vietnam – the floating market in Mekong Delta. Cai Be floating market is a hub to transport goods, mostly produces, fruits and seafood. Cai Be floating market is only about 80km away from Ho Chi Minh City, you can take a taxi or open bus to get there.
The floating markets open from dusk till dawn and are free to visit. From early morning, the market comes alive with all the boats sailing on the river, and the merchants display their goods with a stick.
It’s like any other market in Vietnam, but it’s on the river. Each stall is a boat, people sell from fresh fruits and vegetable to cooked local food on it. You can even drink coffee from a boat! It is very interesting, vibrant and lively atmosphere there. You can even rent a boat and join the market.
After that, you can travel to the South, to the Mekong Delta. Mekong Delta is the rice bowl of Vietnam. The endless rice paddy field, the peaceful green and gold color spreading to the horizon are surely good materials for any photo-lover. You can also rent a bike and ride through the small path to visit fruit orchards and bonsai garden and meet the local people to learn more about daily life in the Mekong Delta.
Or else, you can cruise through countless canals through the river and appreciate the natural beauty of the Mekong Delta. You will find it a break for your mind to relax after days travelling in busy and crowded cities.
Another thing you can do is have a meal at a fruit garden. You will learn about a traditional Southern Vietnamese cuisine, how a meal would look like and get served at the heart of the garden. Your desserts will also be newly-picked fruits from the nearby trees.
The last destination is the underground village – the Cu Chi Tunnel. This place was the living space of many people, mostly Viet Cong fighters, back in the days of the Vietnam War. More than 100km tunnel complex now is the tourism destinations and war memorial park.
There are two tunnel systems can be touring there: Ben Dinh and Ben Duoc. You will yourself experience the tunnel. Going into the tunnel, follow the crossing path to see the artifacts and figures, seeing the way people live underground years ago.
You can try shooting gun in Cu Chi tunnel for a reasonable price
There are even booby trap models used in the war to prevent an enemy to get into it. You will discover secret trapdoors, field hospitals, command posts, underground kitchens, living areas and meeting rooms of the people once lived there. It’s simply impressive how people could live and fight their way to freedom under there.
Another thing is that you can enjoy a really simple meal – you will eat the food of a typical day in the tunnel at that time, just like any Viet Cong fighters would have had. Above the ground, you can find other tourism activities like observing the monkeys, shooting assault rifles and machine guns. Of course, you will find a lot of stores selling souvenirs.
The last day in Vietnam, you will go back to Ho Chi Minh city. Let’s relax, enjoy some more local dishes and walking down the street to memorize Vietnam in your heart. Then, it is time for you to say goodbye. 10 days is like a blink of an eye, but you will have experienced the best of Vietnam and we hope you will love this trip.
We believe that this 10-day itinerary will help you touring through Vietnam joyfully and effortlessly and enjoy the trip to the bottom of your heart. If there is any question or if you want further information and advice, please feel free to contact us, the AZ Local Trip team. It is our pleasure to help you!