Ultimate Travel Guide to Vietnam

Vietnamese flower Lotus Lily Vietnamese national flower #Vietnamnationalflower

Page Contents

With its rich history, cultural complexities, staggering natural beauty, and captivating ancient temples, Vietnam is compelling. After spending a few weeks in this amazing Country, I’ve compiled this Vietnam travel planner with all the information you require to experience the wonders of this astonishing Country on the Indochina Peninsula in Southeast Asia. Besides how to plan a trip to Vietnam, I have also included the best places to visit in Vietnam to help you plan your best Vietnam itinerary. Get ready to discover the wonders while I take you on a journey through Vietnam.

At a Glance

For some, Vietnam is only known for its war activities many moons back. However, besides its rich history, Vietnam boasts bustling cities, charming towns, and picturesque landscapes with golden rice paddies, water deltas, lily fields, and idyllic beaches. Altogether, it is home to the largest Cave in the World, the Son Doong Cave in Quang Binh, Vietnam. Along with its heartwarming people and its healthy, delicious foods, our three-week itinerary in Vietnam was such a memorable experience that I can’t wait to return. Exploring Vietnam is indeed an adventure bucket list experience.

Vietnam Travel Planner

Planning a trip to Vietnam can be a massive challenge, but if you follow my travel advice, you won’t need to feel overwhelmed. The most frequent question people ask me is, Is Vietnam worth visiting? Absolutely! Read my article, and let me know your thoughts.

What to Know Before Visiting Vietnam

Quick Information

  • Vietnam Time Zone: Indochina Time (GMT +7h)
  • International dialling code: +84
  • Vietnam has 54 ethnic groups, and 87% of Viet Kinh people inhabit the Red River Delta, the central coastal Delta, the Mekong Delta, and cities.

Vietnam Visa Requirements

As the Visa regulations keep changing, it is best to double-check with your embassy or on the government website. When planning a trip to Vietnam, ensure that your passport is valid for at least six months and has two blank pages. Check the latest regulations and Apply for a Vietnam Visa.

Safety in Vietnam

Safety is always a concern when travelling to a new country. However, coming from South Africa, Vietnam was a pleasant surprise. We explored many regions of Vietnam and always felt safe. Nevertheless, it’s crucial to note scams worldwide. One must always use common sense and avoid flaunting money and other valuables. FAQs: Is Vietnam safe for solo female travellers? Travelling alone in Vietnam is generally safe.

Vietnam Travel Insurance

Must have: Travelling to any Country without travel insurance is not advisable. Life happens, and real-life incidents have shown the importance of having travel insurance. My experience has taught me that you never travel without the right Travel Insurance. For an affordable Vietnam travel insurance quote, visit Safety Wing. Read more about Why you need to take out Travel insurance.

Language: Although English is widely spoken. We were sometimes forced to use Google Translate, which was annoying, especially in smaller towns. A good grasp of essential Vietnamese words can go a long way. Here are some words one encounters every day.

Vietnam Currency: The currency in Vietnam is the Vietnamese Dong (VND), with the symbol ₫. US$ are widely accepted, but having some cash when haggling and buying stuff at the markets and street vendors is always good.

  • Hello: Xin chào
  • Goodbye: Tạm biệt
  • What is this: Cái này là cái gì?
  • Thank You: Cám ơn
  • How much? Bao Nhieu?
  • Local draft beer: Bia Hoi 

Vietnam Trip Planner

Planning a trip to Vietnam can be a massive challenge, but if you follow my Vietnam travel tips and advice, you won’t need to feel overwhelmed.

When is the Best Time to Visit Vietnam

When planning a Vietnam trip, the best time to go depends on the experience you seek and the region you want to visit. Vietnam has a hot and humid tropical climate with rain in some parts. Southern Vietnam typically experiences dry and hot weather from November to April.

The highest rainfall occurs between June and August, and cyclones are common during this period. A good time to visit Vietnam is from November through April to explore Northern, Central, and Southern Vietnam.

We explored Vietnam from North to South in December, and the weather was perfect. We never had to wear winter clothes and only used our rain jackets once in Hue. However, parts of northern Vietnam can be cold between December and February; we had good weather throughout our Vietnam trip in December.

Disclaimer: Some links on this page are affiliate links. If you click through and should make a purchase, I might earn a small commission (at no additional cost to you).  

Plan to Explore exciting Hoi Ann with its Colourful Lanterns on your Vietnam  Travels
Hoi Ann in Vietnam with its Colourful Lanterns

How Many days do you need in Vietnam

How many days in Vietnam is enough? It all depends on the places you want to visit and your available time. However, I recommend you include enough time in your Vietnam travel planner to experience the Country fully. FAQ: How many days do you need in Vietnam? I would ask them how much time they have.

Best Ways to Travel Around Vietnam

Many transport options are available to and throughout Vietnam. Please refer to the Vietnam Transport Guide for information on how to get there, including how to get around the country and make travel arrangements.

Rough Budget

Travelling in Vietnam can be affordable or costly, depending on your preferences. If you opt for street food and hostels, you can get by with a daily budget of around $25-30. Therefore, exploring Vietnam on a strict budget is possible.

The Cost of food in Vietnam

Food prices in Vietnam vary depending on the type of food, location, and dining establishment.

  • Basic Street food or local eateries: $1
  • Mid-range Restaurant: $3-6
  • Upmarket restaurant: $10 and above. 
  • Beer in a supermarket: $0.88, and Beer in a bar: $1 – $1.5 
  • Nightclubs and hotels: $3.5 – $4
  • Wine and other spirits are very costly in Vietnam.

Accommodation

  • Budget accommodation in hostels: $5-$10 (dorm) and up to $25 in private rooms.
  • Mid-Range hotels: $30 – $45
  • Luxury options: anything from $60+ 

Experience Vietnamese Culture and Foods

Thanks to its fertile soil and good climate, Vietnamese food is healthy and super nutritious. Besides being flavourful, it’s affordable, making Vietnam a food lovers paradise. To fully explore and enjoy Vietnamese cuisine, consider booking an authentic food tour during your Vietnam travel itinerary. Learn to cook like a local while tasting the best Vietnamese delicacies. Enhance your experience by taking Vietnamese cooking classes with Cookly.

Northern Vietnam Itinerary

Hanoi Vietnam Travel Planner

Exploring Vietnam’s bustling capital city is a journey filled with rich history, captivating culture, and an array of exciting attractions. As Vietnam’s second-biggest city, Hanoi should be on any North Vietnam travel itinerary. Chances are that you’re flying into or out of Hanoi. The capital of Vietnam has overcome the ravages of war and a government that isolates the Country from the outside World.

Despite the noise of blaring horns and the hustle and bustle of trillions of scooters, they patiently let one cross the streets. The city still bears the influence of its past French and Chinese occupiers. However, the resilience of Vietnam’s ambitious and proud people is remarkable as they continue to withstand and overcome difficulties.

Chances are you’ll be flying into Hanoi, The Capital. Check out the post on The Best of HANOI for the top attractions and what to do in the bustling city. Transport from Hanoi to SAPA.

SAPA

The Best Things to Do in Sapa

The charming Sa Pa is a town in the Hoàng Liên Son Mountains of northwestern Vietnam and should be part of all Vietnam Itineraries and Vietnam Travel Planners. Besides the stunning landscapes with rice paddies, Sapa is known for its fascinating ethnic minority groups and a trekking base to climb Mount Fansipan. Sapa Vietnam in winter: We were in Sa Pa in December and had pleasant weather without wearing a jacket. How to get to Sapa, and Book an overnight Bus to Sa Pa?

Sa Pa town overlooks the terraced rice fields of the Muong Hoa Valley and Phan Xi Păng, known as Mount Fansipan, or the Roof of Indochina, the highest peak on the Indochinese Peninsula. Whatever you do, don’t miss this extraordinary gem nestled in the Hoang Lien Son Mountains. Read further to plan your Sapa Itinerary.

Waterfall at Cat Cat Village Sapa. Sapa is exciting place to include in your Vietnam Travel Planner Trip #catcatvillagevietnam
Waterfall at Cat Cat Village Sapa
  • Explore Sapa town & enjoy the atmosphere and Vietnamese Culture.
  • Enjoy Vietnamese Cuisine at Good Morning Vietnam Restaurant.
  • Hike down to the scenic Cat Cat Village and the Cat Cat Waterfalls.
  • Trek down to the Muong Hoa Valley & Lao Chai Village.
  • Best hikes in Sapa: Muong Hoa Valley 2-day Trekking & Homestay.
  • 1-Day Guided Trek to Lao Chai & Ta Van
  • Explore the lan Black H’mong’s stilt houses and Ta Van Village.
  • Walking along the scenic rice terraces, admiring the surroundings.
  • Conquer the highest mountain in Indochina with a tour to the summit of Fansipan. Take a cable car or hike Mount Fransipan to enjoy the scenic view. Epic 1-day Trek to Mount Fansipan.
  • Visit the Sapa market and other Sapa Tourist attractions.
  • Sapa 3 Days 2 Nights Trekking Tour (1n in Ta Van Village, 1n Hotel).
  • From Hanoi: 2-Day Sa Pa Ethnic Homestay Tour with Trekking.
  • Cycling in Sapa: Renting a bicycle to explore Sapa town and the countryside with terraced rice fields is a fun way to experience the region’s natural beauty. Cycle to local villages and towns and experience the different tribes’ cultures and ways of living.
  • Sapa 1 day Motorbike tour with lunch.
  • Tip: Don’t wait till the last day to visit Mt Fransipan as the weather is unpredictable and won’t be worth going up if it is overclouded.

How many days for Sapa: include at least three days in Sapa in your Vietnam Travel Planner. The best transport to Sapa, visit the best way to travel around Sapa.

More Sapa Tourist Attractions

Where to Stay in Sapa

Accommodation is always important. To help you out here are the following recommended options:

The Ha Giang Loop

One of the most exhilarating adventures starts in Ha Giang town and winds through jungle-clad mountain passes along scenic canyons, rivers and ethnic villages. The iconic 384km scenic route through Northern Vietnam Mountain passes includes scenic gorges with limestone karsts and waterfalls. One of the most frequently asked questions is, Is the Ha Giang Loop dangerous? As the roads twist the entire way through mountain passes, one should not undertake the journey yourself unless you’re an experienced driver. The stunning mountain passes, ethnic villages, and breathtaking landscapes will forever be etched in your memory and promise a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

Ha Giang Loop Map Route

The route entails Hà Giang→Tam Sơn→Yên Minh→Lũng Cú→Đồng Văn→Mèo Vạc→Mậu Duệ→Du Già→Hà Giang and takes between 3 and 10 days, depending on whether you want to experience the entire Ha Giang loop with all the extensions and side routes. But thanks to Easy Riders, one can experience this once-in-a-lifetime exhilarating route on a guided Ha Giang Loop Motorbike Tour.

The Best Time to Discover the Ha Giang Loop: Ha Giang’s weather patterns vary throughout the year. It is wise to avoid the route during rainy, foggy weather. November to April presents the most predictable and favourable weather conditions for riding the Ha Giang Loop. Unfortunately, from May to October, there are higher chances of heavy rain and fog that make the route slippery and dangerous.

Ha Giang Loop Mountain Pass, Northern Vietnam
Ha Giang Loop Mountain Pass, Northern Vietnam

Ninh Binh

Ninh Binh is a true hidden gem in the Red River Delta of Northern Vietnam, blessed with surreal landscapes, limestone karsts, ancient pagodas, and the most beautiful Countryside. The UNESCO World Heritage Site boasts making Ninh Binh a place you won’t want to miss. The UNESCO World Heritage Site, with its surreal landscapes, limestone karsts, and ancient Pagodas, is a gem you do not want to miss. 

Where is Ninh Binh? Ninh Bình is located between the Red and Ma Rivers, south of the Northern Delta. It borders Hòa Bình and Hà Nam to the north and Thanh Hóa to the south and west. It has a very short coastline on the edge of the Gulf of Tonkin. Besides the attractions, exploring the countryside is a fantastic experience.

Best Things to Do in Ninh Binh

  • Explore Ninh Binh town and the Countryside.
  • Drive out on a scenic route to the famous Mua Cave Vietnam, an attraction located 4 kilometres outside Tam Coc in Vietnam’s Ninh Binh Province. 
  • Explore the Grotte de Hang Mua and its beautiful surroundings. To reach the Hang Mua Peak, one has to climb 500 steps to get to the Hang Mua Caves viewpoint.
  • Visit the Little Wall of China with its dragon on the opposite side of the Mua Cave viewpoint.
  • Take a scenic drive to Tràng An, a spectacular landscape of valleys, caves, limestone peaks, rivers, and steep, vertical cliffs near the Red River Delta.
  • Enjoy a 2.5 – 3 hour boat cave tour on a large river, through waterways surrounded by towering limestone cliffs, and through several caves. In total, explore islands with Pagodas.
  • Visit Bai Dinh Pagoda, Hoa Lu ancient capital, Bich Dong Pagoda.
  • At sunset, join one of the many restaurants on the sidewalk. Enjoy the friendly atmosphere and lively vibe while enjoying ice-cold Tiger and barbequed duck.

Our experience: On our first day, we cycled to one of the famous Pagodas in town. Thereafter, enjoy ice-cold local beer next to a lake before exploring the countryside by bicycle, which was one of our trip’s highlights. After breakfast, we rented a scooter and drove to Mua Caves. Drive to the renowned World Natural Heritage site, Trang An, a gem you must include in your Vietnam Travel Planner.

Couple standing on top of Hang Mua Viewpoint Vietnam overlooking the landscape in Vietnam after climbing 500 steps to get there.
Hang Mua Viewpoint Vietnam
Hang Mua Viewpoint Vietnam #hangmuavietnam
Hang Mua Viewpoint Vietnam #hangmuavietnam

Frequently Asked Questions:

  • Is Ninh Is Ninh Binh worth visiting? Absolutely yes.
  • And how long to stay in Ninh Binh? I would suggest at least three days.
  • Transport options to Ninh Binh: How to Get to Ninh Binh.

Ninh Binh Boat Tours

The scenery on the Tam Coc and Trang An boat tours are very similar, with beautiful scenery around limestone cliffs and clear water. However, the Trang An boat tour takes you through about 7 to 9 caves and lasts about 3 hours. On the other hand, the Tam Coc boat tour takes you through 3 caves and lasts about 2.5 hours. During the rice season from May to June, you’ll experience the golden rice fields in Tam Coc. Tam Coc offers one boat route, whereas Trang An offers several.

Tam Coc versus Trang An

Trang An is a much larger area than Tam Coc. I decided on a Trang An boat because I’ve read several negative reviews about vendors pestering tourists during their Tam Coc boat tour. Trang An has a lot of historical and cultural sites, such as the Bao Hieu Pagoda. Experience the grandeur of Hoa Lu and immerse yourself in the natural beauty of Trang An. Do Book an adventure tour to Ninh Binh, Hoa Lu & Trang An & Hang Mua Tour

Ninh Binh Trang An Caves #tranganboattours
Ninh binh Trang An Caves

Trang An Boat tour routes

  1. Route 1 is a circular route that takes you to the Trinh Temple, the Dark Cave, Light Cave, Nau Ruou Cave, Tran Temple, Ba Giot Cave, Seo Cave, Son Duong Cave, Khong Palace, Bao Hieu Pagoda, Tran Cave, and Quy Hau Cave. The tour lasts approximately 3-4 hours.
  2. The Route 2 tour includes a visit to Lam Cave, Cao Son Temple, Vang Cave, Thanh Truot Cave, Dia Linh Mountain, Suoi Tien Temple, Dai Cave and Hanh Cung Vu Lam (Vu Lam Royal Step-over Place). Some parts of the Skull Island movie were shot on this route—about 2-3 hours long.
  3. Route 3 includes a visit to three caves, two temples, and a location from the Kong movie: Skull Island, Trinh Temple, Dot Cave, May (Cloud) Cave, Suoi Tien Temple, Dia Linh Mountain, Dai Cave, and Hanh Cung Vu Lam (Vu Lam Royal Step-over Place). The tour takes approximately three hours. 

The best route for the Trang An boat tour is Route 2. Although Route 2 can be very busy, it offers various sights.

  • Boat trip from Hanoi to Ninh Binh. Join a unique tour of Ninh Binh: Visit three caves, Hoa Lu and Mua Cave, and Ngo Dong River, which have panoramic countryside views. The tour includes a boat trip, biking to a village, and a Vietnamese lunch.

Other Ninh Binh Attractions

Where to stay in Ninh Binh

What is the best area to stay in, Ninh Binh? Staying in the Countryside just outside town.

Ha Long Bay

We boarded our Ha Long Bay cruise boat and admired the stunning views while gliding slowly through the waters of Halong Bay. I couldn’t believe I was there and reminded myself to appreciate every moment. We met other passengers on the deck, drank cocktails, laughed, and had great fun. We passed by one limestone rock after another, each with different shapes and sizes, some with sharp rising pinnacles, and now and then, passing another boat, limestone cliff, or little cove.

Halong Bay is comprised of about 1600 little islets near China’s border. UNESCO recognized its incomparable beauty in 1994 and declared it a World Heritage Site. Is Halong Bay worth visiting? Although it is overrated, we had an unforgettable two-day, one-night experience there.

Overnight Cruise Halong Bay vietnam Beaches in Halong Bay #halongbaycruisesovernight #halongbaybeaches
Overnight Cruise Halong Bay Vietnam Beaches in Halong Bay #halongbaycruisesovernight #halongbaybeaches

Best Things to Do in Halong Bay

Halong Bay Overnight Cruises

Cat Ba Island

Best Things to Do on Cat Ba Island

Cat Ba Island is the largest of the 367 Archipelago islands on the southeastern edge of Lan Ha Bay in northern Vietnam.

Visit the Beaches

Cat Ba Island boasts three beautiful beaches: Cat Co 1, Cat Co 2 and Cat Co 3. Visitors can enjoy water sports activities and relax on the golden sandy beaches with crystal-clear blue water. An incredible natural phenomenon occurs at night when bioluminescent plankton begins to sparkle on the beaches. These marine organisms light up as a defence mechanism against predators, creating a magical and unforgettable experience for those lucky enough to witness it. If beaches are your thing, include Cat Ba Island in your travel planner for Vietnam.

Explore Cat Ba National Park

There are 4 hiking routes in the Cat Ba National Park, with the Vit Hai the longest. 

Where to Stay in Cat Ba

For a range of Cat Ba accommodations and Cat Ba Hotels, check out Places to Stay in Cat Ba.

Dong Hoi

The seaside town of Dong Hoi is one of the best-kept secrets on the Vietnamese coast in North Central Vietnam. It clings to the banks of the Nhat Le River, with unspoiled beaches to the north and south. Various transport options are available to get to Dong Hoi.

Where should I stay in Dong Hoi

Here are your Dong Hoi Accommodation options.

Central Vietnam Itinerary

After you’ve enjoyed your time along the coast, continue heading up Central Vietnam to enjoy the historical towns of Hoi An, Danang, and Hue. Located in central Vietnam, Hue City is the capital of Thua Thien Hue, a coastal province that shares borders with Quang Tri Province to the north, Quang Nam Province, and Da Nang to the south. With Laos to the west and the East Sea to the east. We arrived from Hanoi to Da Nang by overnight train, which was a pleasurable experience, and I recommend you add an overnight train journey to your Travel planner for Vietnam.

Da Nang 

One of central Vietnam’s most renowned cities, Da Nang, provides easy access to numerous UNESCO World Heritage Sites, the ancient capital of Hue, Hoi An Old Town, and the My Son Sanctuary. With its 60km Coastline, Da Nang is also home to the largest seaport in Central Vietnam. During the Vietnam War, the Da Nang Air Base was a primary location for offensive air operations in South Vietnam.

Couple on the Top of Marble Mountain Da Nang, Vietnam with Da Nang Beach in background
Top of Marble Mountain in Da Nang, Vietnam

Known as one of the largest cities in Vietnam, Da Nang is of historical importance. Besides the beautiful beaches, the lively town offers an array of attractions. Due to its imposing bridges, Da Nang is known as the City of Bridges. Therefore, I suggest you include at least 2-3 days in Da Nang in your Vietnam travel planner and itinerary.

The best things to do in Da Nang

  • Visit the Unique Bridges in Da Nang and enjoy a sundowner at one of the bars or restaurants.
  • Stroll around the promenade or book a sunset cruise.
  • Explore Marble and Monkey Mountain, where you can admire the caves, limestone peaks, and magnificent views. Remember to take a hat, sunscreen and enough water.
  • Make time to visit one or more of the beaches in Da Nang: Non-Nuoc Beach, My Khe Beach, Nam O Beach, or Bac My An Beach.
  • Discover the vibrant coral and marine life on the charming Islands in the whole of Vietnam.
My Son Sanctuary Da Nang, cluster of abandoned and partially ruined Shaiva Hindu temples in central Vietnam
My Son Sanctuary Da Nang, Vietnam

Best Bars in Danang

The City of Da Nang bursts into life at night. After the sun sets, the City comes to life, like in most parts of Vietnam, with streets lined with restaurants and bars, making choosing difficult. Danang Rooftop Bar, Sky36, is the highest rooftop bar in Da Nang and one of the hottest nightclubs in the City, known for extravagant entertainment. Sky36 is a luxurious rooftop bar on the top floor of the Novotel Hotel on bustling Bach Dang Street in the heart of Danang. Located at 36 Bạch Đằng, Thạch Thang, Hải Châu, Đà Nẵng 550000, Viëtnam

The Da Nang Bridges

Da Nang City is home to ten bridges that cross the Han River. Each bridge has a unique structure and design. To see these top tourist attractions, visit Exceptional Bridges in the City of Da Nang.

Two hand holding a strip of Gold where people walk on the Golden Bridge Da Nang Vietnam blow is Ba Na hills with beautiful flowers and green plants #DaNanggoldenhandbridge
Golden Bridge Ba Na Hills Da Nang Vietnam

Where to Stay in Danang

The best area to stay in Danang, Vietnam, is close to the river between the Han River Bridge and the Dragon Bridge. Some of the best Danang hotels are on the riverfront North of the Han River Bridge. For options, specials, and reviews, visit the Best Places to Stay in DaNang.

Hoi An

The ancient town of Hoi An has a timeless charm and is one of my favourite places in Vietnam. Declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site on Vietnam’s Central Coast, Hoi An is about half an hour’s drive from Da Nang. With its old architecture, cosy yellow-painted shops, markets, water canals and bridges with many colourful lanterns and hidden gems around every corner. What to do in Hoi An? The best way to experience the ancient town and its beaches is on foot or by bicycle. How many days, Hoi An? We spent three days here and wish it was more.

Hoi An Old Town with yellow painted walls, dark roofs, and colourful lanterns hanging verywhere. Here and there some green plants and colourful flowers at sunset time.
Hoi An Old Town Vietnam

Tourist attractions hoi an

  • Explore the day- and night markets.
  • The Unesco heritage town is also famous for its great tailors, who make quality clothes at very reasonable prices.
  • Enjoy the vibe and food in the friendly ancient town.
  • Visit Hoi An Beaches.
  • Explore the countryside on a bicycle.
  • Hoi An Cafes is the ideal place to sit and relax while watching the people.

The Best Things to Do in Hoi An

Where to Stay in Hoi An

People taking a Hoi An boat ride on the Thu Bon River, Ancient town of Hoi An Vietnam

More Tourist Attractions in Hoi An

The Hai Van Pass

Recognized as one of the world’s top ten most beautiful coastal roads, the Hai Van Pass is between the Hue Province and Danang City in central Vietnam. At 500m above sea level, it is also the highest pass in Vietnam, with beautiful views of the Son Tra Peninsula. In the past, it was a critical barrier to any ground that attempted to move between the Country’s northern and central areas and connect the two war-torn towns. Unfortunately, due to bad weather, we missed the experience and beauty of the Hi Van Pass.

To have the best experience on one of the world’s top coastal roads, book a Motorbike Tour with Easy Rider Tours that promises you one of your best experiences ever. Besides an exhilarating experience, beautiful scenery, great food and an experienced driver. For prices and reviews and to secure your place, go to the Hai Van Pass Motorbike Tour.

Hue City

What to do in Hue

The ancient royal city of Hue is located in Central Vietnam and is rich in history and culture. The 19th-century Citadel surrounded by a moat is perfect for history lovers and enthusiasts. Hue has a peaceful atmosphere, picturesque landscapes, historic architecture, and cultural and heritage sites. As the capital of Thua Thien Hue province, Hue boasts an 80-km-long perfume river, a 128-km coastline, and over 200,000 hectares of lush forest.

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How many days in Hue? To experience the ancient Capital of Hue, you must stay at least 3 days.

Where to Stay in Hue

For accommodation options, Hue hotels, and other Places to stay in Hue.

Other Top Attractions in Hue

Southern Vietnam Itinerary

The Southern part of Vietnam is home to the lively Ho Chi Minh City, previously Saigon. Everyone visiting Vietnam should spend a few days in the lively City of Saigon. Here are the best locations for your Southern Vietnam Travel Planner. First, check out the best Islands with pristine beaches as well as the amazing Con Dao Archipelago in Vietnam which is worth spending a few days.

Nha Trang

The lively coastal city of Nha Trang in southern Vietnam boasts more days of sunshine per year than any other region of the Country. With its laid-back atmosphere, Nha Trang is famous for its offshore islands, pristine beaches, turquoise bays, and diving sites. Beach bars serving colourful cocktails and seafood are lined up along the coastline.

Best Things to Do in Nha Trang

If you are a beach lover, Nha Trang in Vietnam might be the perfect destination with its six-kilometre coastline. There are several activities you can enjoy while you are there. How many days do you need for Nha Trang? 3 days.

  • Apart from swimming and relaxing on the beach while sipping a cocktail and watching the sunset.
  • Take a boat tour and go island hopping.
  • Explore the beautiful countryside by bicycle, motorbike, or on foot.
  • Book a mineral-rich mud bath.
  • Amuse yourself at the VinWonders amusement park, which offers a day of fun and rides.
  • The park is accessed by a cable car ride, the longest in Southeast Asia.
  • Visit Monkey Island
  • Explore the best Vietnam beaches.

Where to stay in Nha Trang

Accommodation options and the best Places to stay in Nha Trang.

Couple cycling on the Mekong Delta Island in Vietnam Travel Planner Itinerary
Mekong Delta Island in Vietnam

Đà Lạt Itinerary

The capital of Lâm Đồng Province in the Southern Vietnam Highlands, Da Lat, is centred around a lake, surrounded by pine-covered hills, scenic landscapes, evergreen forests, picturesque waterfalls, and vibrant flowers. Dalat is situated between Ho Chi Minh City and Nha Trang.

Best things to do in DaLat

  • The Xuan Huong Lake in the heart of Dalat is a beautiful place to wander and enjoy the serene surroundings. There are Swan Paddle Boats if you wish to ride on the lake. Several restaurants offer bites while you enjoy the beautiful scenery. The artificial lake extends to Dalat Flower Park and Cu Hill. 
  • The Crazy House is one of the world’s most unique, although bizarre, architectural structures. It was designed to resemble an enormous tree, with sculptured design elements throughout.
  • Datanla Waterfalls: Although one of the very touristy Dalat attractions, the Datanla Waterfall is worth a visit. Take a fun ride on an alpine coaster that twists through the forest down to the base of two Waterfalls. Thereafter, hike down the short hiking trail to the bottom of the third waterfall, where you’ll have the best view of the waterfall (wear sturdy shoes and remember sunscreen).
  • Stairway to Heaven is a Dalat sightseeing attraction located on Happy Farm, only 7km outside Dalat. I’ve heard that the view from the top is stunning, and one can capture breathtaking pictures against the blue sky.
  • Dalat Night Market is the place to buy crafts, clothes and delicious food at reasonable prices.
  • The Maze Bar in Dalat is a unique and fascinating place to visit. It was designed by the same architect as the “Crazy House,” with tiny alleys and secret passages everywhere. With its colourful and bizarre decor, there is a lovely terrace where you can relax on sofas while you enjoy a drink. It’s centrally located in town.
  • Vietnam’s largest Zen monastery, The Truc Lam Monastery, is in a forest outside town.

Things to do & Places to Visit in Dalat

Where to Stay in Da Lat

Accommodation options and Hotels in Dalat.

  • Is Dalat worth visiting? I haven’t been to Dalat myself, but most travellers recommend visiting Dalat.
  • How many days for Dalat? Recommend 3 days for Dalat Vietnam Travel Planner.

Ho Chi Minh City

What to Do in Ho Chi Minh

Ho Chi Minh City, also known as Saigon, is a vibrant city where the energy never stops. It is my favourite of the big cities in Vietnam. The traffic is hectic, with trillions of motorbikes being the primary means of transport for families in Vietnam. Ho Chi Minh City is undoubtedly the city you should add to your Vietnam travel planner.

best things to add to your Ho Chi Minh Itinerary

  • Visit the Cu Chi Tunnels: Step back in time and experience the underground Cu Chi Tunnels used by the Viet Cong soldiers during the American-Vietnam War. To experience it firsthand, crawl through the tunnels and see booby traps. How to go to Cu Chi tunnels: Book a Cu Chi Tunnels Tour.
  • Discover the Mekong Delta: explore the distinctive delta landscape and rural life on the Mekong River.
  • Book a Mekong Delta day tour from Ho Chi Minh City by riverboat, visit a traditional temple, canal island, and a local home, and enjoy a delta-style lunch.
  • Book a full-day Mekong Delta and Cu Chi Tunnels tour, especially if you don’t spend many days in Ho Chi Minh City.
  • War Remnants Museum and The Notre Dame Cathedral.
  • Explore the City and Visit the Markets.
  • Watching the Sunset from a Rooftop bar in Saigon or bars in Ho Chi Minh City is one of the best things to do in Saigon.
  • Enjoy the vibrant nightlife with local beer and great food.
  • Listen to live music at Waikiki Bar & Restaurant at 222 Đ. Bùi Viện, Phường Phạm Ngũ Lão, Quận 1, Thành phố Hồ. 
Couple on Mekong Delta River tour boat, include a Mekong Delta Cruise, in your Vietnam travel Planner
Mekong Delta Riverboat in Vietnam

best bars in Saigon

One gets overwhelmed in Saigon with the many Clubs or bars in Ho Chi Minh City, where one can have a new experience every day. One thing you should not miss is a visit to a rooftop bar in Ho Chi Minh City.

2 Drafts Saigon beer on Rooftop Bar Saigon, Eliot Hotel Rooftop bar. Include a visit to a rooftop bar in your Vietnam Travel Planner
2 Drafts Saigon beer at Rooftop Bar Saigon, Eliot Hotel Rooftop bar

Here are a few options. Let me know which one you visit and your experience.

  • Elios Hotel Rooftop – not fancy, but fantastic view.
  • M Bar at Majestic Saigon – Located on top of the luxurious Hotel Majestic Saigon.
  • La Siesta Premium Sai Gon.
  • Thao Dien Le Café des Stagiaires
  • Zion Sky Lounge and Restaurant
  • Social Club Saigon, Hotel des Arts Saigon rooftop.
  • Beach-style Banana Mama Rooftop Bar.
  • Blank Sky Lounge,
  • Banana Mama Rooftop Bar.

Top Attractions in Ho Chi Minh City

The Best area to stay in Ho Chi Minh City

Downtown in Saigon’s District 1 is centrally located near Saigon attractions, with the best nightlife.

I recommend the mid-range Elios Hotel. Besides its excellent location at 233 Pham Ngu Lao, District 1, Ho Chi Minh City, is centrally located. Eliost rooftop restaurant has an excellent view over the City, and some rooms overlook the park. Besides that, their breakfast consists of various options. We will stay there again.

Accommodation Options and Hotels in Saigon for specials on budget and luxury hotels in Ho Chi Minh City.

Mũi Né itinerary

What to do in Mui Ne

The beach resort of Mũi Né is a long, palm-lined stretch of sand in Southeast Vietnam about 200 km from Saigon. It is a top holiday destination and great for watersports, windsurfing, kitesurfing, and sailing due to the steady wind conditions during the dry season. The 198 km journey from Ho Chi Minh City to Mui Ne promises an enchanting journey. Add the Mui Ne Vietnam beach to your Vietnam Travel Planner Mui Ne itinerary.

Watch the sunrise at the White Sand Dunes and experience sandboarding on the Red Mui Ne Sand Dunes. Visit a fishing village and walk through the Fairy Stream-coloured sands. Check out this amazing Mui Ne Sand Dunes Jeep Tour and other Mui Ne tours.

Other Top Attractions in Mui Ne

Best Places to Stay in Mui Ne

The serene fishing village of Mui Ne, located in the Binh Thuan Province, has transformed over the years and is a popular coastal destination in Vietnam. To find out where to stay in Mui Ne, see Mui Ne Hotels, Hotels, budget- and various other Mui Ne accommodations.

Top Beaches in Vietnam

Vietnam boasts top beaches, and adding the amazing Islands in Vietnam to your Vietnam Travel Planner is an excellent idea.

Phú Quốc Beaches

  • Phú Quốc Island is a Vietnamese island off the coast of Cambodia in the Gulf of Thailand. It is known for its palm-lined white-sand beaches. Over half of the island is part of Phú Quốc National Park, which has a dense tropical jungle. Besides the beautiful beaches, the island boasts hiking trails, wildlife, and markets selling crafts and produce in Duong Dong town.

Da Nang Beaches

The Beaches in Da Nang Vietnam, are excellent for sunbathing and swimming.

  • Son Tra Beach lies about 10 km northeast of Da Nang City and is one of the favourite Da Nang Vietnam beaches with excellent marine life. Besides its pristine scenery, immerse yourself in nature and enjoy the sunshine, hiking and watersports.
  • The best beaches in Da Nang are Jungle Beach, Nhu Tien Beach, Doc Let Beach, and Bai Dai Beach.

Na Trang Beaches

  • Jungle Beach, Nhu Tien Beach, Doc Let Beach, and Bai Dai Beach.

Thanh Hoa Beaches

About 150 kilometres south of Hanoi lies Thanh Hoa, known for its serene sandy beaches, with clear blue waters and alluring sunsets. One can travel from Hanoi to Thanh Hoa by bus, car, or train.

  • Sam Son Beach is one of the favourite beaches in Vietnam, 16 km from Thanh Hoa City.
  • Hai Tien Beach and Hai Hoa Beach,
  • Tien Trang Beach.

Other Vietnam Beaches

  • Thien Cam Beach is a 2-kilometre pristine beach bound by Thien Cam Mountain and only 20 kilometres from Ha Tinh City in central Vietnam. Located in the Ha Tinh Province, Thien Cam is known for its untouched beaches and the Thien Cam Mountain and Dau Voi Mountain.
  • Bai Lu Beach, with its crystal clear blue water and white sandy beach, is surrounded by mountains. It is located 270km from Hanoi and only 25 km from Vinh City.
  • Nghe An Beach in North Central Vietnam is famous for its white sandy beach and beautiful natural scenery. Located about 291 kilometres south of Hanoi, it is one of the famous Central Vietnam beaches and is about two hours from HCMC.
  • Cua Lo Beach in Vietnam is a relaxed white sandy beach and sparkling blue waters. The 10 km long beach is lined with coconut trees. Tourists go by car, train, or plane from Hanoi to Vinh City and Cua Lo beach. 
Phu Quoc Da Nang Beach Vietnam with blue ocean and white sandy beaches makes a visit to the beaches a must on every Vietnam Travel Planner.
Phu Quoc Da Nang Beaches, Vietnam

Get Adventurous and Book a Trip

While you’re busy with your Vietnam Travel Planner, look into the following Vietnam and Cambodia Trip: On this 17-day Adventurous trip, you’ll experience many natural wonders and fascinating cultures. It combines guided excursions with free time to explore the beaches and historical ruins and admire stunning landscapes. Altogether, Cruise the Mekong Delta overnight on a traditional boat in Halong Bay.

Travel to Cambodia to experience the beautiful Angkor Wat and visit the Killing Fields. Although many activities are included, there is still plenty of time to explore and create the ultimate adventure. Watch the sunrise over the massive Angkor temple complex with a guided tour. Opt to visit the Tonlé Sap floating village and the Angkor National Museum. Enjoy a traditional Khmer meal.

Other Insanely affordable tours and other Vietnam Family Adventures with GAdventures.

For Transportation in and around Vietnam, visit the Vietnam Transportation Guide. Combining your Vietnam trip with a few days in Cambodia is a good idea. Here are why you’ll fall in love with Cambodia and what to know before visiting Cambodia.


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8 Comments

  1. Fantastic insight on visiting Vietnam.
    Thank you very much for your information and beautiful photos.

  2. Thank you and thanks for taking the time to read my post

  3. Wow!! What a wonderful ecperience. Beautiful and very interesting. Very good information for travelers.

  4. Hi Rina,

    Thanks for taking the time to check out my post and glad you’find it helpfull.

  5. Looks like a wonderful experience! So much info for travellers!

  6. Thank you so much and yes it was an amazing experience. With so much more to exprience I can’t wait to go back.

  7. Willem van Zyl says:

    Wow, Wow, Wow !!!
    Your travels are just amazing.
    You experience the most wonderful places on you finely planned visits to Countries of you choice.
    The way you share your experience really makes one feel that you where there ad well.