Note: Vietnam is a very vast and diverse country, hence covering the entire country within a short span is not justified or worth it. You may need at least 12-15 minimum number of days, as per my experience to explore this wonderful place properly. Out here, in this 7-day travel itinerary of Vietnam, it mainly covers from South to Central Vietnam.
Vietnam is a great country for travelers. It’s home to bustling cities, beautiful beaches, and some of Southeast Asia’s most impressive historical sites. It’s also very affordable, with prices similar to neighboring countries such as Thailand and Cambodia.
Although you need about two weeks to see the best of Vietnam, you can get a great taste of Vietnam as a travel destination in just seven days. This itinerary covers three destinations: Ho Chi Minh City, Hoi An, and the bustling beachside city of Da Nang.
Visiting Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon) for 2 Days- South of Vietnam
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The visit to Vietnam starts in Ho Chi Minh City, which is still often referred to by its historic name of Saigon. Ho Chi Minh City is Vietnam’s biggest city and commercial center, with plenty to see and do. Read here more for things to do in Saigon (Ho Chi Minh).
You can see the highlights of Ho Chi Minh City in two days, including a trip to the interesting Cu Chi Tunnels complex, which is located outside the city.
Day 1 – Exploring Ho Chi Minh City (Vietnam)
Your first day in Ho Chi Minh City is a great opportunity to visit the city’s top tourist attractions in District 1. Many of these are located within walking distance of each other, making it easy to see the central city’s main sites as you explore.
The War Remnants Museum is one of the most visited tourist locations in Ho Chi Minh City. It documents Vietnam’s wars against France, Japan, and the United States, with several exhibits and a collection of war-era vehicles, including helicopters and fighter planes.
Close to the War Remnants Museum, Ben Thanh Market in Ho Chi Minh City’s most popular city market. Although the prices here for clothes and other items aren’t the best, there’s a street food area close to the market that offers a selection of Vietnamese and international cuisine.
Other good places to see in District 1 include Notre Dame Cathedral, which was built during the French Colonial period, and the equally impressive Saigon Post Office, which is located a short walk away next door.
Day 2 – Cu Chi Tunnels Tour
Located just outside Ho Chi Minh City, the Cu Chi tunnels are a network of underground tunnels used by the Viet Cong during the Vietnam war. Today, the tunnels are a popular tourist spot and a great day trip out of Ho Chi Minh City.
Visiting the tunnels takes a little longer than half a day. You can spend the rest of your last day in Ho Chi Minh City out and about in District 1, enjoying Vietnamese food or doing some final shopping before leaving for Hoi An.
Tips for Visiting Ho Chi Minh City (Southern Vietnam)
If possible, get your visa in advance. Indian passport holders need a visa to enter Vietnam. While it’s possible to get a visa on arrival if you have an invitation letter, the service at the airport is slow, making it best to get your visa beforehand to save time.
When it comes to taxis, only use Mai Linh and Vinasun. These two companies have good reputations and won’t rip you off. Make sure to avoid unmarked, unprofessional looking taxis that linger close to tourist areas, as these are often scams.
Stay in District 1 or 3. These districts are the closest to Ho Chi Minh City’s main tourist attractions and offer the best convenience. Bui Vien and Pham Ngu Lao are where you can find the cheapest accommodation, although these areas can be noisy and busy.
If you’re staying long term, rent an apartment. Ho Chi Minh City is an interesting place to spend a week or longer. If you want to stay long term, apartments like The Vista provide luxury hotel-quality facilities at a much lower price.
2 Days in Beautiful Hoi An (Ancient town in Central Vietnam)
Hoi An is a historic town located in the central region of Vietnam. You can get there from Ho Chi Minh City by flying to Da Nang, then taking the bus or a private car to Hoi An. It takes about 45 minutes to travel from Da Nang to Hoi An by car, or approximately one hour by bus.
Hoi An Old Town is a UNESCO Heritage Site, with an incredible variety of things to do. You can find a full guide to Hoi An here listing recommended places to stay, things to do, photo locations, Vietnamese dishes to try, and more.
Tips for Visiting Hoi An
Hoi An can get very crowded, especially during high season. To avoid the crowds, try to see as much of the Old Town as possible in the morning before the tour buses show up from Da Nang.
Be prepared to bargain when you shop in Hoi An. Despite its charms, this is very much a tourist spot, meaning haggling will help you to get a fairer price.
1 Day Trip to Phong Nha National Park (North Central Vietnam)
In 2003, Phong Nha National Park was declared as the Unesco World Heritage Site. This natural wonder wasn’t discovered until, when it was listed as one of the UNESCO world heritage sites. And in 2010 it was first opened for visitors. This park has the most famous massive collection of having the largest caves structures in the world.
If you are up for some adventure amidst beautiful natural surroundings, Phong Nha will surely blow your mind away. Tucked in the middle of several mountainous cliffs, this place has several caves and creeks around.
One can explore out of several limestone cave options like Paradise Cave, Hang En, Tu Lan Cave, and Phong Nha Cave, and also it is famous for having one of the longest caves in the world which is Song Doon Caves.
Among the various adventure activities, you can opt for hiking, biking, mud caving, zip-lining through the river channel, kayaking, and many other sports. It is a perfect place for backpackers and nature explorers as the place is full of hostels, home-stays and budget stay options.
Phong Nha is well connected from Hoi-An, Hanoi, Danang, and other major cities of Vietnam. For a more detailed guide to Phong Nha, check out this 1-day itinerary to Phong Nha.
2 Days by the beach in Da Nang
Da Nang is more than just a stopover point on the way to Hoi An — it’s also a bustling city and a great destination for relaxation, with one of Vietnam’s best beaches running the entire length of the city.
After Hoi An, it’s time to enjoy two days by the beach in Da Nang. For the best experience, book a hotel close to Phuoc My Beach, which is Da Nang’s most popular beach and the city’s primary cafe, dining, and nightlife area.
Beyond enjoying the sun, sea and sand, good things to do in Da Nang include Ba Na Hills — a mountaintop retreat and theme park located just outside the city — as well as the city’s famous Marble Mountains, which contain Buddhist sanctuaries and offer beautiful views of the ocean.
Tips for Visiting Da Nang
Da Nang can get incredibly hot and sunny during the day. If you want to avoid getting burned, try visiting the beach either early in the morning or late in the afternoon, once the sun is lower in the sky and less intense.
Da Nang’s iconic Dragon Bridge breathes fire and spits water from its mouth after 9 pm on weekends — a fun event for families with young children.
Summarized 7 Day Travel Itinerary of Vietnam
Day 1 – Land in Ho-Chi Minh City and spend the day exploring the old town and different iconic places and war museums.
Day 2 – Visit Chu Chi Tunnels, Mekong Delta Boat Tour which are both part of a full day trip option from Ho-Chi Minh.
Day 3 – One day trip to Phong Nha National Parks, spend the day doing adventure activities.
Day 4 – Head to explore the ancient town of Hoi-An which is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Day 5- Continue to explore and visit the nearby places around Hoi-An, probably head to the nearby river and taste the various local cuisine.
Day 6 – Head to Danang which is a port city and has lovely beaches. Apart from that, you can go hiking to the nearby Ba Na Hills by pedaling or hiring a bike which is the best way to explore Vietnam.
Day 7 – Explore the city and do the last minute shopping and then to fly out of Vietnam. Trip Ends.
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Although this guide is written from the direction of Ho Chi Minh City to Da Nang, you can also do it in reverse by arriving in Da Nang and flying out of Vietnam from Ho Chi Minh City.
If you have more questions on Vietnam, do reach out to me in the comments sections and I shall be happy to help as always. Although, I would be writing a separate blog on North Vietnam.
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