I know exactly where to go in Vietnam. I’ve spent two months of my life in the country – I think that’s enough to say I’ve had a good look around, from a touristy point of view anyways. It was the first Asian country I went to, back in 2013, and since then I’ve been back again to cycle from Hanoi up in the north all the way down to Ho Chi Minh City.
I loved that trip, it was such a good pace to see the country and I got to revisit a few spots from when I went before too.
My two weeks in Vietnam itinerary is pretty popular for anyone trying to work out where to go in Vietnam, but I thought I’d make things a little clearer by writing a quick review of each of the most visited places to go. The great thing about travelling Vietnam is that it’s all pretty straight forward. On the map you can see that it’s a skinny country, with lots of glorious coastline. This means you can go from top to bottom quite easily, checking in to all the main hot spots as you go.
READ MORE: Cycling From Hanoi to Ho Chi Minh City: 700km in 10 Days
It’s easy to get around Vietnam too. The trains in Vietnam are good, the planes are quicker, and of course along the way the Vietnamese food is just amazing. I can’t support your decision to go to Vietnam enough, but for now, let’s look at where to go.
Where to Go in Vietnam
Hanoi is great – all ancient architecture and a labyrinth of an Old Quarter with shops, restaurants, street stalls and beauty parlours. Check out all the best Vietnamese souvenirs to buy, here. The top things to do here include Ho Chi Minh’s mausoleum – yes you can actually see the old president’s body – the Hoan Kiem Lake and Hoa Lo Prison. Don’t leave without exploring the Thang Long Water Puppet Theatre: bonkers.
And definitely don’t leave without trying an egg coffee – absolutely delicious until I found out how they make it. Don’t worry yourself with that, or the calories.
From Hanoi you can do two day trips to the beautiful Halong Bay – with all it’s limestone cliffs and junk boats – and Sapa. Sapa is one of the best places to go hiking in Vietnam. Unfortunately I’ve never been able to make it thanks to the rain but I have it on good authority that the homestays and rice paddies are well worth the physical exertion.
In Hanoi you can find Bia Hoi stalls where you can drink fresh beer for around 25p a pint. Always a good time.
READ MORE: How Much Will I Spend in Hanoi?
Great Itinerary for Northern Vietnam in 9 Days, from nomllers.com
The main attraction in Hue are the huge citadel walls. Hue was once the main royal residence of the most important families in Vietnam and the rooms that were once at the centre of all the decision making here are now home to a museum where you can find out as much as you like about the royal families gone by. I just looked at the pictures and enjoyed the sereneness of the gardens.
History buffs will love it here. For everyone else it’s definitely worth a look around. It’s the most royal city in all of Vietnam and thanks to all the monuments, tombs and pagodas it’s now recognised as a World Heritage Site.
If you can’t be bothered to walk round then you can always call over one of the tuk tuk drivers to take you round and enjoy watching it unfold from the comfort of your seat.
Be prepared for your travel to Vietnam!
Interesting Facts About Vietnam to Know Before You Go
11 Great Festivals in Vietnam to Time Your Trip By
Vietnam Advice to Know Before You Go
Top Tips for Travelling Vietnam Solo
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Check the prices for your Vietnam trains, buses, flights and ferries here…
Hoi An is my favourite place in Vietnam – it’s just so picturesque. There’s so many cool things to do in Hoi An too. Once upon a time it was in the hands of French colonialism, and the houses and shops retain the European character of the time. The quaint town is built around the pretty waterfront and you’ll need to stay at least 2-3 days to enjoy sitting outside as many as possible, to drink Vietnamese coffee.
Make sure to visit the waterfront at night to try one of the boat restaurants, and to set off your own candle on the canal.
By day in Hoi An you can rent mopeds or cycles and go down to An Bang Beach, or pay one of the boat peddlers to take you out on a trip.
This is where everyone get’s their tailored suits and shoes for next to nothing, and where you can check out one of the best markets.
If you have time see if you can get out to the Hai Van Pass. It’s a high mountain road famously featured on Top Gear and even more famously cycled by me. Thought I was having an asthma attack on the way up, but the many km of downhill on the way back made it totally worth it.
Quy Nhon, or Qui Nhon, isn’t quite as popular as most of the other places on this list with tourists, but it’s definitely worth a visit. I went last time I was in Vietnam and joined a tour to a local village. We went out in one of the little circular boats and saw how they managed to keep up with demand using the traditional means they have.
Quy Nhon felt really rural compared to much of the rest of Vietnam that I saw. Visit here and you’re really out in the sticks – all the more reason!
Don’t leave without having a delicious lunch at one of the waterside restaurants. You can pick your live seafood, and they’ll cook it for you. Maybe not one for the vegetarians among us.
Nha Trang is one of Vietnam’s most popular beach destinations. Visiting in 2017 vs visiting in 2013 was so different. I couldn’t believe how much the place had changed and developed. If you want to see modern Vietnam and the direction it’s going in, then this is the place for you.
Although having said that Nha Trang is home to Po Nagar Cham Towers – an old temple tower built around 781!
While you’re here you can book on the Funky Monkey Snorkelling Tour which will take you out to see the coastline from the water, and to have a look under it. I did a little write up in my two-week Vietnam itinerary.
Nha Trang is also known for its egg baths. Basically, you sit in an egg shaped bath and they pour mud on you. Seriously. Check out my review of the Nha Trang egg baths I visited back in 2013. Didn’t quite feel the need to repeat the experience in 2017, but I did find a whole load of new cool things to do in Nha Trang to tempt you in.
Mui Ne is Vietnam’s surfer town. If you’re travelling Asia for a while it’s easy to get stuck in the laid back vibes here, and the ease of being right by a beautiful beach. Expect a typical surf town, but with Vietnamese food. Yep, I can totally understand why the backpackers love it here so much.
Unfortunately I’ve only ever passed through and haven’t quite had the chance to stay for anything more than a few hours, but I totally would. Surf by morning, Bahn Mi for lunch and chill on the beach all afternoon? Yep, yep and yep.
READ MORE: The Most Beautiful Beaches in Vietnam
Ho Chi Minh City
Ho Chi Minh City is the business capital of Vietnam. Here you’ll find a cosmopolitan vibe where old buildings stand next to the super modern skyscrapers. Whether you only have a week in Vietnam, or longer, you’ve got to see Ho Chi Minh City.
There are definitely a few must dos in Ho Chi Minh City. Haggle some bargains at the Ben Thanh Market, check out the king’s digs at Reunification Palace, go and see the old post office and take a look round Notre Dame Cathedral too.
There are some great bars in Saigon: take a look at these suggestions from Accor Hotels, and these best places for Saigon cocktails with a view too.
Watch my Ho Chi Minh City video!
Make sure to book on a Mekong Delta tour while you’re in Ho Chi Minh City. Go and chat to one of the many tourist information offices to get a good deal. Remember, never accept the first price. Nothing should be more than a few quid in Vietnam – one of the may reasons to love the country so much!
I spent a week on Phu Quoc island when I was there in February – loved it. The island is a quick plane ride from Ho Chi Minh City, or a bus ride if you’re on a budget.
I rented a moped for the week and had a great time exploring the island from top to bottom. There are beautiful beaches, night markets, snorkelling, scuba diving and a great beach vibe for you to relax into. You can find out more with my post on everything you need to know about Phu Quoc. Or just ask in the comments below :).
How to get to Vietnam
The first time I went I flew with Qatar Airways and did a stopover in Qatar. We had 9 hours in Doha, and managed a little look around, and a sleep.
The second time I went I flew with Etihad and had a 13-hour stopover in Abu Dhabi on the way back, which meant I could get out and see the incredible Grand Mosque. Absolutely, totally worth it.
I’d definitely recommend breaking up the journey with a little visit to the Middle East somewhere. I mean, why not?
Where to go in Vietnam
I hope you’ve found this guide to where to go in Vietnam useful, and of course, if I’ve missed anywhere out, just let me know in the comments box below.
And, if you’re going to Vietnam, have a great time!
More advice on Vietnam
Click here to read all my advice on travelling to Vietnam. I’ve got over 30 posts, so you’ll be well prepared!
Saturday 1st of June 2019
People should also consider Can Tho. The best food, consistently in Vietnam. I found Phu Quoc completely overrated and overrun with Russian tourists. Same goes with Nha Trang. Dalat is a much more satisfying trip than Nha Trang. Ninh Binh should also be on people's radar to see the natural beauty of Vietnam. Also, less touristy. Bai Tu Long Bay, just north of Hà Long Bay is also a great alternative to cleaner water/less garbage and less crowded. Cat Bà, close by, is worth a visit too. Cheers
Thursday 6th of June 2019
Oh I totally intended to go out there and then didn't want to take the time and money from Phu Quoc to go. Interesting to hear your perspective on it though. I'm glad you enjoyed it. I was gutted to miss out. Yeah, definitely a lot of Russian development going on in Phu Quoc. A scary amount in fact.
Sounds like you're very experienced in where to go in Vietnam. Thanks for sharing your opinions!
Tuesday 23rd of January 2018
Great places in Vietnam. And Halong Bay is one of the best places to travel to Vietnam. In Halong you can relax on the cuise and squid fishing. I think that is place we must to visit in Vietnam. Thanks
Tuesday 30th of January 2018
Halong Bay is such a lovely place. I think it really depends on the weather but I had sunshine and loved it :)
Saturday 2nd of December 2017
Hi Vicky, I always follow your blog & thank you once again on the advice about Budapest. I decided to travel to Vietnam in January 2018 & this blog was the first on list. I am planning to stay for 9 or 10 days and I have already pre-booked the hotel Bich Duyen Hotel (I panicked as it was the last room) but I have not booked my flight. Which airport do you prefer - the easiest to get out of? I will be coming from South Korea, if that would be an issue?
Friday 22nd of December 2017
Oh, that’s great to hear. I’m glad you enjoy it ☺. None of the airports in Vietnam were that difficult to get out of. In fact, I can't remember having any sort of problem with traffic or people. I think just whichever is closest will be best.
Hope you have fun!