Two weeks in Vietnam – Here’s what to do !
In December 2017 we went to Vietnam. It was actually our first time in South East Asia and it was absolutely incredible to see the Vietnamese culture we’d heard so much about but never actually experienced. Ho Chi Minh, Hanoi, Hoi An, Hai Phong and Ha Long Bay were our destinations of choice as we embarked on our journey from the south to the north. We came across the crazy roads, the incredible nightlife and the caring and friendly nature of the locals. We tasted pho for the first time, experienced beer worth Rs. 15 (bia hoi) and witnessed the beautiful landscapes of Vietnam during our two-week itinerary.
Our itinerary worked out perfectly and we loved it. For all you Vietnam trip planners: here’s our Vietnam itinerary to get you started !
Our two weeks in Vietnam
We started and ended our trip in Ho Chi Minh and we opted to travel in a loop through the country squeezing in as many must see sights as possible. Our two weeks saw us stay in 4 Vietnamese cities, visit 2 UNESCO World Heritage sites and make countless journeys in Grab, uber and flights !
Ho Chi Minh –> Da Nang –> Hoi An –> Hanoi –> Hai Phong -> Ha Long Bay –> Ho Chi Minh
Days 1 and 2 : Ho Chi Minh City
We flew from Manila, Philippines to Ho Chi Minh City. We arrived in Vietnam after 10 PM and in need of a good sleep and checked into our AIRBNB where we spent our first two nights. We called for a Uber from the airport and arrived at our Airbnb within 30 minutes of jumping in the taxi! Suggestion: Our two weeks in Vietnam began and ended in Ho Chi Minh and we spent a few days at each end of the trip exploring the city and its surroundings. We opted to fly in and out of Ho Chi Minh as the flight prices were much lower than Hanoi coming from Bangalore, India. We spent the next day exploring the best Ho Chi Minh sights from the historical War Remnants museum to the bustling Binh Than Market. Our evening was spent eating over some local beers. Suggestion: The two most reliable taxi companies are the white and green Mai Linh taxis and the white Vinasun taxis. Make sure the driver switches on the meter. We used Uber and Grab throughout our trip and have no complaints whatsoever. Ho Chi Minh accommodation: This city has some amazing economical Airbnb’s at central locations. (We paid 1000INR per night!).
Day 3, 4 and 5 : Hoi An
We flew into Da-nang from Ho chi minh city and took a taxi to Hoi an. (Our homestay arranged the taxi and she charged us less than the airport rate.) Hoi An is one of the most beautiful places in Vietnam so it’s worth scheduling a few days to explore and this will also allow you to take advantage of the booming clothing industry and pick up some tailored clothes (allow some extra days if you are planning on adding to your wardrobe). We were excited to arrive and it quickly became one of our favourite Vietnam gems. Hoi An is frozen in time and it’s fantastic to wander through the lantern lined streets of the UNESCO ancient town (UNESCO number 1, yay!). Crammed full of bicycles, tailors and souvenir shops we were in awe of the simpleness of life and our Hoi An days flew by. Suggestion : Every month Hoi An celebrates a Full Moon Lantern festival on the 14th day of each lunar month. The electricity and lights are switched off in the Old Town, motorcycles are banned and candle lit lanterns light up the river and the town. It is incredible and but not worth scheduling your Hoi An visit to coincide with the festival. Hoi an on regular days is just as spectacular. Accommodation: We stayed at the ‘Nhu Huy Homestay’ which cost around 1000INR/night and which we booked through Airbnb. The room was excellent and we loved the proximity of this homestay to the ancient city.
Days 6, 7, 8 and 9 : Hanoi
Leave Hoi An and fly from Da Nang to Hanoi to spend some time in the Vietnam’s capital and explore the North of the country. The Old Quarter of Hanoi was our favourite part of the city with it’s mix of chaotic alleys, local street sellers and quaint bars marked by tiny stools on the streets. The energy of Hanoi is incredible. Accommodation: Hanoi Old Quarter is an amazing part of Hanoi to stay in and has amazing homestays and backpacker hostels. Though we didn’t stay in the old quarter as we preferred to come back home to some peace and quiet at night. We booked our airbnb on the other side of the river in a locality called ‘Bo De’. We paid 1100INR/night and our airbnb host was really awesome and let us borrow his Scooty for free - which was a huge blessing.
Days 10, 11 and 12 : Hai Phong
Day 10 saw us taking a bus into Hai phong - the business area of Vietnam. The bus journey took us about two hours and another half an hour for us to reach our hotel. We did this basically for the close Proximity to Cat Ba and Ha long bay. Ha Long Bay : Ha Long Bay is a 3.5 hour bus journey from Hanoi and 1.5 hour journey from Hai Phong. We took a taxi to Ha Long Bay and booked a tour from their itself (It’s cheaper). Ha long bay tours set off mid afternoon via minibus from Hanoi and Hai phong. The mystical waters of Ha Long Bay are almost movie like with the towering limestone islands jutting out of the emerald waters. (UNESCO number 2, YAY!!) Accommodation: After a huge amount of research into the various cruises, reading a lot of blogs - we opted to not go on any overnight cruise. It’s a complete waste of money and they show you the same things during the day trip too. We booked a hotel in Hai phong for 1800INR/night. Suggestion : We would recommend you to visit Cat Ba though instead of Ha long bay without a doubt.
Days 13 and 14 : Ho chi minh city
Most international flights are cheaper from Ho Chi Minh and so we returned to southern Vietnam for our second final night in the country. All we did was Shop, Eat, Drink, REPEAT. Ho Chi Minh accommodation : We again booked from Airbnb and we stayed above a cafe and it was absolutely amazing. We paid 700INR/night.
Any questions regarding our Vietnam itinerary? Ask us in the comments below!
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