If Vietnam is the next place to visit in your wishlist, you may want to come up with the best plan ever to make your trip memorable. However, you don’t know where to start and how long it will take to see the whole of Vietnam through your eyes.
There is no need to be afraid because you just need three weeks to fall in love with Vietnam. Furthermore, we will recommend a perfect Vietnam Itinerary for three weeks. Three weeks and ten destinations, are you ready for the go?
Vietnam Itinerary 3 Weeks - Route: Hanoi (2 days) - Sapa (2 days) - Halong Bay (2 days) - Phong Nha (1 day) - Hue (2 days) - Hoi An (3 days) - Nha Trang (2 days) - Da Lat (2 days) - Ho Chi Minh City (2 days) - Mekong Delta (2 days) - Ho Chi Minh City Departure.
Welcome you all to Vietnam, the country of natural beauty. It must be exhausted after a long flight, so after transfer to your hotel, you can get some rest. After you recover, you can walk around to get yourself adapt to Vietnamese climate and atmosphere.
If you stay near The Old Quarter, this would be a great chance for you to blend in the streets. The Old Quarter, along with Guom Lake, is the heart of Hanoi. You can stroll down the crossing small street networks filled with shop and stores. You can find a traditional medicine store and a hardware shop inside the Old Quarter. That means this is the miniature of Hanoi.
Water puppet show - the one and only show on the world
If you are craving for some local food, let’s try rice soup with pork rib (cháo sườn), pho (phở), vermicelli and grilled chopped meat (bún chả), vermicelli and shellfish soup (bún ốc),... They sell these dishes almost everywhere at a really cheap price, just around or under US $3
Don't miss egg coffee - the most famous signature drink of Hanoi
Now when you are fully recovered, it’s time for a complete Hanoi visit. You can choose to visit the major historical and cultural sites such as St. Joseph Cathedral, Hoa Lo Prison, Ho Chi Minh Complex, Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum. The Presidential Palace, The Temple of Literature, Vietnam Museum of Ethnology and so on.
St. Joseph’s Cathedral (also known as the Great Church to local people) is built in Western style, it is the highlight in an Asian surrounding. Lemon tea and snack around that place are popular choices of Vietnamese youngsters.
St. Joseph Cathedral Hanoi - Construction began in 1886, with the architectural style described as resembling Notre Dame de Paris
Another place worth visiting is Hoa Lo Prison or Maison Centrale, a witness of the colonial period in Vietnam. There are a lot of artefacts, 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 Temple of Literature hosted 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.
It’s time for you to get transferred to Sapa in the early morning. Sapa is the territory of Vietnamese ethnic minority, a colourful mixture of culture.
You will have the chance to get into the beautiful valley and enjoy the magnificent panoramic view of the terraced rice field and houses of Black Mong people. Get your camera ready, because you will love to take a lot of photos of this dreamlike scenery. To get closer to Vietnam, you should walk further, down to the village of the ethnic minority and experience yourself the life on high magnitudes.
Beautiful brocade goods made by minority ethnic people will be a good souvenir
Next is the waterfall. It is not only grandiose, but it is also the electricity supply for the Sapa town. The hydropower plant there was eventually built by the French. You can end the trip with a bus ride back to your hotel for refreshing before going for dinner. The night at Sapa can be a bit cold, so remember to keep yourself warm and cosy.
The next day, you will move to Lao Chai village in the morning. Standing at a high level, you will have the great panoramic view of the whole Muong Hoa valley with the lush green landscape, huge terraced rice-fields and the villages of ethnic black H’Mong. The beauty of them will take your breath away.
You can rent ethnic costume to take photos
After that, you should keep on walking to Ta Van village of Dzay people. In that village, you will see and feel the real daily life of the ethnic minority and still, other breathtaking scenes. The people are friendly and helpful. Trying exotic local food at a restaurant is also a must.
Exploring the centre market of Sapa before catching a bus back to Hanoi is another great thing to do. Ethnic people sell their goods here, from the colourful handicraft, homemade wine to silver bracelets. On Saturday, it turns into Sapa Love Market. Single young men and ladies will gather to sing, dance and find their other half.
You should pay visit to Fansipan - Top of Indochina Area
After travelling from Sapa to Hanoi the night before, now you will go to Ha Long Bay. The ride would be a bit long, around 3.5 hours. However, you will be made up with a cruise trip. Yes, it will be a cruise trip with fresh and plenty of seafood served on board.
On board, you will see a great number of rocks and islets coming in all shapes and sizes. You can even stop at some mysterious yet fantastic caves too, depending on each cruise’s itinerary. Then, please enjoy a nice and romantic dinner on board. Let’s cheer when the cruise is sailing on the dawn-hue water. In the evening, you can try the night squid fishing and spend a night on the cruise.
Bamboo boat in Ha Long bay
Good morning, after having a light breakfast, you shall continue the adventure on the cruise to visit other caves of the Bay before returning to the Wharf. Make sure to take a lot of photos since the scenery will light up your mood.
Then, you should enjoy a brunch on board before disembarking and heading back to Hanoi. You will be expected to arrive at Hanoi late at noon. After that, you can rest and relax in your hotel for the night, or you can go out and enjoy the Hanoian life when the streetlights are lit.
You can go to famous local restaurants for local food, shopping mall to buy gifts, souvenirs and other things.
You can buy a lot of souvenir in Hanoi Old Quarter
Now it’s time to explore the centre of Vietnam. You can go by plane, train or tour bus to get to Dong Hoi city, Quang Binh Province. In this beautiful city, you can start the excursion to Phong Nha Grotto – Ke Bang National Park.
Phong Nha-Kẻ Bàng national park is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Phong Nha-Kẻ Bàng is famous for its cave and grotto systems since it has 300 caves and grottos. In here, you will be able to get on boat and cruise on the world's longest underground river to Phong Nha Cave.
Spectacular view inside Phong Nha caves
The deeper you go in, the more magical and amazing it is. Its natural beauty of the caves will surely make you excited. After going through 800m, a large dry passage will appear, then you can take a walk to discover the cave for 500m more. You will have a chance to explore the remains of Cham Altars and Inscriptions inside.
A night in Dong Hoi Town will let you a lot of time to enjoy local food and the refreshing atmosphere of this city.
The next morning, you will leave Dong Hoi early for Quang Tri Province. It is suggested that you stop on the way at historic Hien Luong Bridge and Ben Hai River which were the Demarcation Line between North and South of Vietnam during American War. You can visit the DMZ or the Demilitarized Zone, nowadays is a tourism attraction.
Vinh Moc tunnel network, at the Vinh Moc commune in the central coastal province of Quang Tri
Along the way, you can come to visit the famous Vinh Moc Tunnel. It was the place where local people had gone deep underground to avoid US bombing every day. They moved whole the village down to the tunnels, they lived and fought bravely in a really uncomfortable living condition, even 17 children were born in the tunnels during the war as well.
After you complete your visit to Quang Tri province, it will take you around 2 hours to get to Hue city, the Ancient Capital of Vietnam.
The ninth day in Vietnam, you will have a chance to explore Hue city, a beautiful city with 2 World Heritage of UNESCO. Firstly, it is really nice to take a dragon boat trip on the calm Huong River to enjoy the peaceful scenery of Hue city. The next stop will be Thien Mu pagoda, religious sightseeing with large bell towers and other ancient buildings.
You can go up the hill to visit this pagoda and learn about its history, then come down and catch our car to visit Hue Imperial Citadels, which is the last Citadel built in Vietnam. You will have a chance to learn the lavish lifestyle of the old Kings and Queen.
Hue cuisine will be worth it, so you should have meals in a local restaurant. You can continue your visit to the tombs of King Tu Duc and understand more about the Royal Family in Hue. You will be travel back in time when visiting these places.
When the night comes, you can tour around the busiest market in Hue to walk around and sample delicious local food, as well as walking on the historic Trang Tien Bridge.
After spending time in Hue, you can travel further to the South to reach Hoi An. You will head to Hoi An Ancient Town through Hai Van pass, and Lang Co beach – one of the most beautiful beach of Vietnam. If you take the train or car, you can see the beautiful changing scenery along the way.
The Museum of Cham Sculpture is a museum located in Hải Châu District, Đà Nẵng, central Vietnam, near the Han River
On the way to Danang city, you can drop by to visit Cham Museum. Cham museum includes the open air collection of Cham sculpture and indoor displays, especially the breathtaking sandstone carvings.
Once you arrive at Hoian, you will love this vintage town. 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.
The next destination is a sanctuary. It is about 50km from Hoi An to My Son Sanctuary. My Son Sanctuary consists of many Champa temples, in a valley roughly two kilometres wide, surrounded by two mountain ranges. It was the site of religious ceremony of Champa Kings, and also a burial place of Champa royals and national heroes.
Champa vesgate tower in My Son Sanctuary
Leaving this site, you can go on a Boat trip along the Thu Bon river to have a picnic lunch on the water. Or you can choose to visit the handicraft pottery village located along the riverside.
The interesting thing is you can get back to the Hoian old town by boat en enjoy yourself on the vintage streets of Hoian. Some of the most famous attractions include Japanese covered bridge, Chinese Assembly Hall, and some typical Vietnamese houses of 18th century.
It’s time to take a break from continuously travelling. This day is for you to relax and refresh yourself in Hoian. It is up to you how you spend a day here: walk along the quiet and peaceful streets of Hoian, no motorbike, no car was allowed at working time. Or shopping in Hoian, the heaven for shopping! Or you can also rent a bike to cycle to the villages near the ancient town or go to a very nice beach about 4 km away.
Are you craving for some beaches? Now you can fly to Nha Trang to sunbathe on the beach! After you settle down at your accommodation place, you can go for an evening on the beach.
It is nice to swim in the cool and clear water, or if you are the adventurous type, the water sports are available. You can take a canoe ride too.
Let’s spend the night at this city and indulge yourself with yummy local dishes.
"Mot" herbal drink is very famous in Hoi An - combine from various ingredients
When you are fully charged, you are ready for a full day excursion. Tri Nguyen Aquarium is a good idea to start the day. Tri Nguyen Aquarium-Biology sea is inside Neptune’s place with hundreds of fishes and will satisfy andy ocean-lover.
Then, you can travel to Mun island by boat. This is the most beautiful protected marine area of Nha Trang Bay, you will surely enjoy snorkelling to observe sea creatures such as anemones, coral reefs, ornamental fish.
Another place for you to spend time is Tranh Beach Shore. It is high time for you to take photos of this beautiful and excellent beach. Don’t hesitate to jump in the crystal clear waves!
While you are in Nha Trang, there are some recommended dishes for you to try out: fried salt shrimp, fried fish in sour and sweet sauce, saute cuttlefish, grilled rib spring rolls and softly soft noodles.
After a good night sleep in Nha Trang, now you can leave for another dreamlike destination: Da Lat. In this highland city, you can pay a visit to Robin hill – former artillery base and have full view to the city of Dalat. This place will bring you a feeling of peace and calm.
It is also possible to take a cable car to Tuyen Lam lake and Truc Lam Zen Monastery - the biggest Zen Monastery of Viet Nam. You will have a chance to enjoy the peaceful scenery here and breath in the fresh air of forest, lake and mountains.
If you are a peace seeker, Truc Lam Zen Monastery is a right place for you to take a gap between a journey
On the 16th day in Vietnam, you can visit famous places in Dalat such as King Bao Dai's summer palace, old train station with French architecture and the City of Flower Garden. Or you can choose to stroll around this romantic city. A special thing about Da Lat is this photogenic city has no traffic light.
And be a king for a moment...
After you take Da Lat into your heart, this day will be mostly consumed by flying to the next destination – Ho Chi Minh City – and settling in the hotel, hostel or homestay.
DAY 18: HO CHI MINH CITY - CU CHI TUNNELS
First, you should travel to Cu Chi Tunnels. It is a remarkable tourism attraction. This place was the underground living space of many people, mostly Viet Cong fighters, back in the days of the Vietnam War.
After touring through Cu Chi Tunnels, you can go back to explore the energetic HCM City. The recommended attraction list are Reunification Palace, War Crime Museum, Notre Dame Cathedral and Old Post Office, former US Embassy, Ben Thanh Market. Or, just go around and explore this city in your way.
This morning, you can drive to Mekong river delta. It should take about 3,5 hours to reach the biggest delta of Vietnam. In Cai Be harbour, you can rent a boat to take you to the floating market – the extraordinary market in Vietnam.
To experience the beauty of this place, you can proceed to Vinh Long through small and beautiful canals, tranquil villages and see with your own eyes the marvellous natural setting of Mekong Delta region.
It is also recommended to stop at An Binh islet, famous for fruit orchards and enjoy the local tropical fruits and see the orchards, ceramics, popcorn and rice paper shops... It is a nice chance for you to do bicycle riding through the village and the local handicraft shops.
When you feel like moving to the next point, let’s continue travelling to Can Tho.
Don't forget to taste a juicy sweet and sour pineapple
You can cruise along the small picturesque river by boat to see the Cai Rang floating market. Either you can enjoy the beautiful scenery and the daily activities along the Mekong canals or visit a rice husking mill. Visiting the ancient house in Binh Thuy is a good idea, too!
At the end of the day, you have to get back to HCM City. By this time, have you fallen in love with Vietnam?
Last minute shopping is here! Grab anything catches your eyes because this is your last chance! Now it is officially the end of your 3-week in Vietnam, let’s say goodbye with the brightest smile!
We hope that you find this three weeks in Vietnam itinerary suitable for you. And if you have any question or want further information and advice, please feel free to contact us, the AZ Local Trip team. It is our pleasure to help you!