Vietnam is a beautiful country full of rich history, stunning landscapes, and vibrant culture. With two weeks on hand, you can explore some of the best that Vietnam has to offer, from the bustling cities in the south to the serene mountains in the north. In this article, we will provide you with an itinerary that covers all the major highlights of Vietnam in just two weeks.
Who Should Consider This Itinerary?
This itinerary is perfect for those who have limited time but want to experience the diversity of Vietnam. Whether you are a first-time visitor or a seasoned traveler, this itinerary offers something for everyone. From exploring the vibrant city of Ho Chi Minh to trekking through the stunning rice terraces in Sapa, you will get a taste of everything that makes Vietnam so special.
What Will You See on This Itinerary?
This itinerary covers all the major highlights of Vietnam, including:
- The bustling city of Ho Chi Minh;
- The historic town of Hoi An;
- The tranquil countryside of Ninh Binh;
- The breathtaking landscapes of Ha Long Bay;
- The stunning rice terraces of Sapa;
- The vibrant city of Hanoi.
When Is the Best Time to Visit Vietnam?
The best time to visit Vietnam is between November and April when the weather is dry and cool. However, keep in mind that this is also peak tourist season, so expect larger crowds and higher prices. If you prefer to avoid the crowds, consider visiting during the shoulder months of May, September, and October.
How to Get Around Vietnam?
Getting around Vietnam is relatively easy and affordable. The most common modes of transportation include:
- Domestic Flights: There are many domestic airlines in Vietnam that offer flights between major cities. This is the quickest and most convenient way to travel long distances.
- Train: Vietnam has an extensive railway system that connects most major cities. Train travel is a great way to see the countryside and interact with locals.
- Bus: Buses are the cheapest mode of transportation in Vietnam but are also the slowest. They are a good option for short distances or when traveling on a budget.
- Private Car/Taxi: If you prefer more comfort and convenience, you can hire a private car or taxi. This option is more expensive than public transportation but allows you to travel at your own pace.
Pros and Cons of This Itinerary
- Covers all the major highlights of Vietnam
- Offers a mix of cultural experiences and natural beauty
- Suitable for all types of travelers
- Easy to follow itinerary
- Allows for flexibility and customization
- Fast-paced itinerary may not be suitable for everyone
- Limited time in each destination
- May require early starts and long travel days
- Covers only a fraction of what Vietnam has to offer
Alternatives to This Itinerary
If this itinerary doesn’t suit your preferences, here are some alternatives:
- North Vietnam Itinerary: Explore the best of Hanoi, Sapa, Ha Giang, and Ninh Binh in 2 weeks
- Central Vietnam Itinerary: Discover the historic towns of Hue and Hoi An, as well as the stunning beaches of Da Nang and Nha Trang in 2 weeks
- South Vietnam Itinerary: Experience the bustling city of Ho Chi Minh, the Mekong Delta, and the beaches of Phu Quoc in 2 weeks
Step by Step Guide to Complete This Itinerary
Day 1-2: Hanoi Start your trip in Hanoi, the capital city of Vietnam. Spend your first two days exploring the Old Quarter, where you can see the bustling streets, colonial architecture, and sample delicious street food. Don’t forget to try Hanoi’s famous Bun Cha dish, which is grilled pork served with noodles and herbs.
Day 3-4: Ninh Binh Take a day trip from Hanoi to Ninh Binh, located around two hours away. Here, you can explore the Trang An Scenic Landscape Complex, a UNESCO World Heritage Site that boasts impressive karst formations, caves, and temples. You can also take a boat ride along the river and admire the stunning scenery.
Day 5-6: Ha Long Bay from Ninh Binh, head to one of Vietnam’s most iconic sights – Ha Long Bay. Take an overnight cruise on a traditional junk boat and marvel at the towering limestone cliffs and emerald waters. You can go kayaking, visit fishing villages, and watch the sunrise over the bay.
Day 7-8: Fly from Ha Long Bay to Hue, the former capital of Vietnam and home to the Imperial City. Visit the Citadel, a walled fortress and palace complex that was once the seat of the Nguyen Dynasty. You can also take a boat ride along the Perfume River and visit the tombs of the Nguyen emperors.
Day 9-10: Hoi An Take a scenic drive from Hue to Hoi An, a charming ancient town that has been well-preserved. Stroll around the narrow streets, admire the colorful lanterns, and visit the Japanese Bridge and Chinese temples. You can also take a cooking class and learn how to make traditional Vietnamese dishes.
Day 11-12: Fly from Hoi An to Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam’s largest city. Spend your first day exploring the historic landmarks such as the War Remnants Museum and Independence Palace. On your second day, visit the famous Cu Chi Tunnels, an underground network used by the Viet Cong during the Vietnam War.
Day 13-14: Mekong Delta Take a day trip from Ho Chi Minh City to the Mekong Delta, a vast network of rivers and canals that is known as the “rice bowl” of Vietnam. Take a boat ride along the canals, visit local markets, and enjoy some fresh tropical fruit. You can also learn about the local industries such as coconut candy and rice paper making.
Comparing Tour vs. Independent Travel
When planning a trip to Vietnam, you may wonder whether to book a tour or travel independently. Here are some pros and cons of both options:
- Can be less stressful as all logistics are taken care of
- Offers the opportunity to meet fellow travelers
- Provides in-depth knowledge and insights from experienced guides
- May offer better value for money if you’re traveling solo or in a small group
- Allows for greater flexibility and customization
- Offers more freedom to explore at your own pace
- Can be more cost-effective if you’re traveling with a larger group
- Provides opportunities for more authentic experiences and interactions with locals
Ultimately, the decision between a tour or independent travel comes down to personal preference and travel style.
Tips for Traveling in Vietnam
- Dress modestly when visiting temples and pagodas.
- Bargain when shopping at local markets to get the best price.
- Use sunscreen and insect repellent, especially in rural areas.
- Take a motorbike taxi (xe om) only from reputable companies.
- Always carry cash as many places do not accept credit cards.
- Learn basic Vietnamese phrases to interact with locals.
- Be careful when crossing the street as traffic can be chaotic.
- Respect local customs and traditions.
The Best of Vietnam
With so much to see and do in Vietnam, it’s hard to pick just a few favorites. However, here are some must-see attractions that should be on every traveler’s itinerary:
- Ha Long Bay: A UNESCO World Heritage Site with stunning limestone karsts and crystal-clear waters.
- Hoi An Ancient Town: A beautifully preserved town with Japanese bridges, Chinese temples, and French colonial architecture.
- Sapa Rice Terraces: The most beautiful terraced rice fields in Vietnam, surrounded by breathtaking mountains and valleys.
- Ho Chi Minh City: A vibrant metropolis with a fascinating history, delicious food, and endless shopping opportunities.
- Hue Imperial City: The former capital of Vietnam’s Nguyen Dynasty, featuring grand palaces, temples, and tombs.
If you have more time in Vietnam, there are many other destinations worth visiting. Here are some alternatives:
- Sapa: Located in the northwest region of Vietnam, Sapa is known for its stunning rice terraces, ethnic minority villages, and hiking trails.
- Phong Nha: Home to the world’s largest cave system, Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park offers incredible underground adventures and scenic landscapes.
- Da Nang: A coastal city that boasts beautiful beaches, interesting museums, and delicious seafood.
- Phu Quoc Island: A tropical paradise in the southern part of Vietnam, where you can relax on white sandy beaches, go snorkeling or scuba diving, and sample the local seafood.
- Dalat: A charming mountain town that offers cooler temperatures, French villas, and picturesque landscapes.
What is the currency in Vietnam? The currency in Vietnam is the Vietnamese dong (VND).
Is it safe to travel to Vietnam? Yes, Vietnam is generally a safe country to travel to. However, as with any destination, travelers should take normal safety precautions such as not carrying large amounts of cash and being aware of their surroundings.
Do I need a visa to visit Vietnam? Most visitors to Vietnam require a visa. However, some nationalities are exempt from obtaining a visa for stays of up to 15 or 30 days.
What is the best way to get around Vietnam? The best way to get around Vietnam depends on your preferences, budget, and itinerary. Options include domestic flights, trains, buses, and private cars/taxis.
What is the best time to visit Vietnam for good weather? The best time to visit Vietnam for good weather is between November and April when the weather is dry and cool.
Vietnam is a fascinating country that offers a unique blend of history, culture, and natural beauty. Whether you choose to travel independently or join a tour, this two-week itinerary will take you on an unforgettable journey from North to South. So pack your bags and get ready to discover the best of Vietnam!