Vietnam Itinerary 9 days is quite enough to cover major tourist destinations for international visitors.
“I fly to Ho Chi Minh City on Easter and plan to spend 9 days in Vietnam. Was thinking of Halong Bay, Nha Trang, Hoi An and Sapa. Can someone recommend where all to go (we like beaches, quaint towns and a bit of history) and how to travel between cities?”
Thats a lot to fit into 9 days. In order to really enjoy your time I think you need to try and cut down your destinations a bit.
You don't mention anytime in HCMC or visiting the Delta so I'm not sure why you are flying into HCMC rather than Hanoi. It seems like you'll save time and money by flying into Hanoi.
So lets say you fly into Hanoi, then Day2 you could leave for Halong Bay. Its much better to spend 3 days in Halong rather than 2 and if you decide to do that you'll return to Hanoi from Sapa on Day4. You could catch the night train to Sapa arriving in Lao Cai on Day 5. If you spend three full days in Sapa you'd leave Lao Cai on the evening of Day7 and arrive back in Hanoi the morning of Day8. That would leave you Day8 and 9 for Hanoi. For more hand-picked tours, you should see Tour Package to Hanoi.
Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum in Hanoi Vietnam
If you cut down Halong to 2 days with one overnight, and cut down a day from Sapa then you could fit in a quick Hoi An trip. But cutting down on Halong and not givingm yourself time in Hanoi is not something I would recommend.
Itinerary #1: North Vietnam
Itinerary #2: (From Hanoi to Ho Chi Minh)- North to South Vietnam
This itinerary could be turned around starting from Ho Chi Minh
Visit the War Remnants Museum
Learn about Vietnam’s recent history at Independence Palace (Reunification Palace)
Visit neo-Romanesque Notre Dame Cathedral
Visit Saigon Central Post Office
Once stepping inside Saigon Central Post Office, you will immediately be wowed by the French-impacted architecture.
Drop by Opera House
This is known as the counterpart of Hanoi Opera House.
Shop at Ben Thanh Market
Besides traditional goods and handicrafts, food vendors are also varied at Ben Thanh Market.
Pay a visit to Cai Be floating market
Floating market is a typical market form in Mekong Delta. You definitely should include it in your Vietnam Itinerary 8 days.
Have lunch at a local food stall on An Binh Island
Take a traditional rowboat deeper into the countryside
Ho Chi Minh Complex
It is hard to say that you have come to Hanoi without paying a visit to this top national historic site. Just grab your chance to gain an understanding of the Vietnamese leading figure as well as part of Vietnamese history.
Visit Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum
Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum only opens in the morning. Therefore, you should notice this before planning your trip.
The architectural combination of both Lenin Mausoleum in Moscow and distinctive Vietnamese features will impress you a lot.
Visit Ho Chi Minh Stilt House
The modest stilt house demonstrates a frugal life of President Ho Chi Minh. Through that, you can understand why he has won the heart and respect of all Vietnamese generations.
The cosy atmosphere prevailing in this lovely house makes this my favourite destination in the complex.
Visit One Pillar Pagoda
One Pillar Pagoda is one of the two most iconic Buddhist temples in Vietnam.
Besides, the unique architectural feature which gave the pagoda the name One Pillar makes it unforgettable.
Temple of Literature
A lot of students particularly flock here before examinations to pray for luck. Temple of Literature is also a common spot for students to shoot photos for their yearbook.
Noticeably, Ong Do (Vietnamese calligraphers) sit patiently inside or around the Literature Temple to produce great meaningful handwritings on red paper.
Hanoi French Quarter
Vietnam wars against French colonists are known in the world. The French colonial rule no doubt expanded effects on several aspects such as architecture.
There are reasons for the French Quarter to be called A Little Paris in Hanoi.
Visit Hanoi Opera House
The exterior of Hanoi Opera House follows many different architectural styles: Roman, Renaissance, Baroque, Art Nouveau and French neoclassical.
This theatre in central Hanoi was modeled after Opéra Garnier (Opéra de Paris). Yet there is an argument that it has even more aesthetic merits than the original.
Visit Hoa Lo Prison
Hoa Lo Prison (also known as Maison Centrale) was built by French colonists. As a representative of the period of Vietnamese resistance war, the prison still maintained a lot of torture tools.
As a representative of the period of Vietnamese resistance war, the prison still maintained a lot of torturing tools.
Day 8,9: Halong Bay (Back to Hanoi to depart)
I have already recommended a detailed Halong Bay 2D1N Itinerary in my previous blog. Please read it for further information.
My plan includes highlighted features of this world natural wonder: Sung Sot Cave – Titop Island – Luon Cave.
Following this itinerary, you will have a relaxing cruise trip. As a result, no worries upon overwhelming your two days!
In late afternoon of Day 3, you return to Hanoi and take a domestic flight to Da Nang.
You then transfer to Hoi An Ancient Town and have a free night there.
Other destinations that are not mentioned in 9 days itinerary above
Da Nang is a center of culture and tourism in Central Vietnam. From here, you can combine with other destinations of Central, such as Hoi An ancient town, Nha Trang beach, Ba Na hill, Hue ancient capital,... However, Da Nang city has too many sites to visit.
Following is my experiences about Da Nang travel.
- If your time is tight, only 1 day, you should main attractions such as: Dragon bridge (cầu Rồng ), Champa museum, Linh Ung pagoda (chùa Linh Ứng), 1 of some beaches: Non Nuoc, My An, My Ke, Han river bridge (in night) and 1of 2 following places: Son Tra peninsula (bán đảo Sơn Trà) or Ngu Hanh Son mountain (Ngũ Hành Sơn), these places are far apart so you must choose 1.
- If you have 2 days, you should add Ba Na hill. You can go to Ba Na by car or motor (rent in Da Nang city). I prefer going by motor, it's freedom and convenient for taking photos.
- If you have more time, about 6 days, you should combine 3 adjacent places: Hue - Da Nang - Hoi An. 3 days in Hue, 2 days in Da Nang and 1 day in Hoi An.
*** Detail for 1 day schedule in Da Nang**
- Early morning, driving to Son Tra peninsula (cross Han river bridge and go straight AH17 highway ). Driving up the mount. I like siting in cafe, drinking a coffee and watching the bustling city. You should drive around the peninsula and relax with sea wind, then back to the city according to Hoang Sa road. Don't forget to visit Ling Ung pagoda on this road, where is very beautiful and peace. If going early, you will have enough time to visit Dragon bridge and return to the city to lunch late.
- Afternoon, visiting the Champa museum (in city), then bath at 1 of 3 beaches: Non Nuoc, My An, My Ke.
- Evening, circlring the city, eating famous snacks of Da Nang, watching Han River bridge. Last, sleeping in hotel and dreaming about Da Nang. ^^