I can’t think back to my Vietnam tip without a big smile on my face. The people, the food, the culture and the beautiful country absolutely stole my heart! From bounty beaches, green rice fields and impressive nature to bustling cities and historic temples… Vietnam has everything to offer you could be looking for in an Asian country. And you can see it all in three weeks! How? I’ll tell you in this blog and I’ll help you out making the perfect travel itinerary for your Vietnam trip!
How much travel time in Vietnam do you need?
Vietnam is a country you can already discover in just two weeks, but you can also travel around for two months. Three weeks is the perfect amount of time. If gives you enough time to fully enjoy the diversity of the country.
How to get around Vietnam
Vietnam is known for its motorbike trips! A perfect way to travel between all your destinations is by motorbike. At the start of your trip, you can easily buy one from a traveller at the end of his trip. You can sell it yourself at the end of your motorbike trip. I didn’t dare to do this on my first trip to Vietnam, but would definitely do this on a next trip!
Not interested in your own motorbike? Then you will travel around by public transport. The (night) buses for long distances are good options, but also consider domestic flights. There are more than 10 airfields for domestic flights, so there will always be one near your destination. I opted for two domestic flights. That didn’t even cost that much more than a bus ride, but saved us a lot of time.
The best travel time to visit Vietnam
Because of the shape of the country there’s not really a perfect time to visit Vietnam. The temperatures and the climate in the north are very different from those at the coast. Also the rainy season varies by region, but runs roughly from May to November.
In the middle of the country, the high season is approximately in the summer months June-August. Though it is very hot and there can be heavy rain showers that time of the year. There is a chance of a storm in autumn and spring as well, but especially in the middle and on the northern coast. The low season in Vietnam is in spring and autumn.
Would you like to include the northern Sapa in your itinerary? Remember that the famous rice fields are also harvested every year. You will not have the idyllic views that you know of the pictures after harvest. So make sure to check in advance when the harvest time is around that year. It is at the end of autumn or the beginning of winter. At around the same time, Sapa gets much colder.
The perfect Vietnam itinerary for 3 weeks
Because Vietnam is elongated, so a itinerary from south to north – or vice verse – makes sense. Although return tickets to and from the same airport are usually cheaper, it is really a must in Vietnam to fly back from another place. We chose to start in Ho Chi Minh City and fly back home from Hanoi.
Tip: many guidebooks will recommend you to combine your Vietnam tip with a day trip to Angkor Wat in Cambodia. I would really advise against that. Cambodia deserves much more time than just a short trip to the temples. Moreover, it is quite a distant trip to cover from Vietnam for just a day trip. Do you want to see some temple ruins in Vietnam instaed? Then take a day trip to the old royal city of My Son from Hoi An!
#1 Ho Chi Minh City. Welcome to Vietnam! In old Saigon, you immediately see how diverse this country can be. In just one city you’ll find the most modern architecture right next to ancient temples. From small alleys with local street food to huge avenues with endless flows of traffic.
#2 A boat trip through the Mekong Delta. This famous Asian river ends in the far south of Vietnam and splits the land there into endless islands. This creates a beautiful green landscape with many floating markets and floating villages.
#3 The mountains of Dalat. Take the night bus or a domestic flight to Dalat and grab your warm sweater. This is the perfect place for some outdoor activities such as canyoning and motorbike tours.
Extra time: after Dalat, visit one of the most popular beach spots on the coast. Especially Mui Ne and Nha Trang are popular with travellers.
#4 Hoi An. Get yourself a tailor-made outfit, cycle through the old town and go to the bridges in the evening for the magical lanterns. Hoi An will enchant you! From Hoi An, you can easily take a day trip to the ancient temple ruins of My Son.
Extra time: head to the beaches of the Cham Islands off the coast of Hoi An for two days. The white beaches, blue sea and relaxing island vibe will make the perfect getaway.
Extra time: travel from Hoi An to nearby Hué. This historic city was the capital of Vietnam not that long ago. That is why you will find the most impressive temples, tombs and palaces in this city.
#5 Hanoi. Take a domestic flight or a night bus to the Vietnamese capital. Hanoi has no specific highlights in particular, but is amazing to get lost in the beautiful streets. A day trip to the Perfume Pagoda is highly recommended.
#6 The rice fields of Sapa. Travel from Hanoi to the high north. This area is high up in the mountains and not on the coast, so Vietnam has a completely different climate here. And in that climate the famous rice fields of Vietnam grow! Make a multi-day trekking along small villages, visit the local tribes and admire the rice fields.
#7 The islands of Halong Bay. If you’re looking into Vietnam for the first time online, you’ll for sure run into pictures of beautiful Halong Bay. This magical, beautiful place makes the perfect end for your trip! In this bay, you can make a beautiful (multi-day) boat trip along the rocks and islands. After visiting Halong Bay, travel back to Hanoi for your flight home from Halong Bay.