The Best of Vietnam in 14 Days
Vietnam is one country you must visit in Southeast Asia but deciding where to start and finish your Vietnam travel itinerary can be a daunting task.
I travelled around Vietnam for two weeks as part of my epic round the world trip and I fell in love with Vietnam’s diverse culture, ancient history, friendly people, fantastic food and inspiring natural landscapes.
This fantastic country is somewhere you will want to experience for yourself, so I have put together an easy to follow 14 day Vietnam travel itinerary. It will highlight some of the beautiful Vietnam locations that I experienced, which I hope will inspire you to travel there yourself.
Spend a few days, a week or much longer, and it will get under your skin. Take it from me; once you’ve been, you will want to return again and again!
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Vietnam Travel Advice and COVID 19
Before planning your trip to Vietnam, check with your country’s travel department for the latest updates on Vietnam travel restrictions and COVID19 regulations.
Useful Information for Planning a Trip to Vietnam
I spent hours and hours planning my trip to Vietnam and wished I could have found all the information I needed in one place. Therefore, I decided to write this travel blog post in an easy-to-read format, starting with all the essential Vietnam travel tips you will need to know, followed by a day-to-day 2-week travel itinerary outlining where to go and what to do in Vietnam.
I have written other in-depth blog posts on all the locations I visited to give you the ultimate Vietnam travel itinerary for your first visit to Vietnam.
Getting to Vietnam
My two weeks in Vietnam were part of my epic round the world trip. I flew into Hanoi from Hong Kong, and I flew out of Da Nang and on to Siem Reap in Cambodia. If flying from Europe, prices are often lower if you fly in or out of Ho Chi Minh City.
Vietnam Weather and When to Go
Vietnam is a country that experiences monsoon seasons from May to October, when it will be hot, wet, and humid.
A more pleasant time to visit is between November and April when the weather is more manageable but still warm, and rainfall is a lot less (though showers should be expected.)
In April, I travelled to Vietnam and encountered one full day of rain in Hanoi at the beginning of my trip. The rest of the time, the weather in Hanoi was warm and sunny.
Halong Bay’s weather was warm with cooling ocean winds; however, it can be unpredictable. Halong Bay is often shrouded in mist and low clouds.
In Hue, the temperature was hot and humid. Make sure to pack breathable clothing and comfortable footwear.
Hoi An’s temperature was hot, dry and sunny. Perfect for a day on the beach after sightseeing in Hoi An Town.
In Da Nang, it was hot but quite windy and overcast. As this is a coastal location, the winds from the ocean can be pretty strong.
How many days do I need to explore Vietnam?
The minimum amount of time to see the best Vietnam attractions for a first-timer is two weeks. I have designed this ultimate 2-week Vietnam itinerary to highlight the best places to visit in Vietnam on your trip.
It will be a busy two weeks, but you will get to see some of the most beautiful places in Vietnam and still have some time to relax – what could be better than that!
If you enjoy slow travel and have more time to spend in Vietnam, you can adjust your schedule and spend longer in each location, or you could check out some of the more hidden locations in Vietnam away from the tourist trail.
Where should I go for 2 weeks in Vietnam?
The distances between the north, central, and south of Vietnam can be vast, so planning your journey between locations is essential. You can take the train or bus, but the journey can be long and uncomfortable. Flying is often the best option for both speed and comfort.
For these reasons, you need to carefully decide what you want to experience in Vietnam to plan your perfect trip.
If you love big cities, start in Hanoi or Ho Chi Minh and work your way across the country. If you want to experience rural Vietnam, then head to Sapa or Ninh Binh, while culture lovers should include Hue or Hoi An on their trip itinerary. Sun worshippers will want to relax on the beach in Da Nang or Phu Quoc. And, of course, every Vietnam travel itinerary must include an iconic cruise in Halong Bay – the scenery is like nowhere else on earth.
Best Places to Shop in Vietnam
Hanoi and Hoi An are the best places for a shopaholic, so you need to feature them on your Vietnam travel itinerary. Hanoi’s weekend night market is terrific, with so many artisan crafts on sale (and a lot of designer items being sold very cheaply!) Hoi An is the best place for tailor shops in Vietnam; you can have a suit, dress or even shoes made during your trip.
Travel Essentials to Pack for Vietnam
Please read my post on Must-Have Travel Essentials to Pack before you go to Vietnam.
Travel books are great to take on a trip, so why not read Lonely Planet’s Vietnam.
Travel Vaccinations for Vietnam
If you are a seasoned traveller, you will probably already have had an armful of vaccinations to enter other countries. If not, then chances are there are a few vaccines you’ll need. You may need Hepatitis A, Hepatitis B, Yellow Fever, and Typhoid to travel to Vietnam. You will need vaccinations against dengue fever and malaria if you plan to go to the jungle or mountains.
Check with your doctor which vaccines you will need several months before travelling to Vietnam. Please do not leave it to the last minute.
UK citizens who only stay for up to 15 days are eligible for the 15-day visa exemption. A stay of more than 15 days will mean that a travel visa is required. Check with www.gov.uk for up-to-date guidance on Vietnam’s entry requirements.
You do not need a visa if you’re travelling straight to Phu Quoc Island and not visiting any other cities in Vietnam.
Your passport should be valid for a minimum of 6 months on the date you enter Vietnam.
Some British nationals have been refused entry and exit due to their passport being damaged. Make sure your passport is in good condition before you leave home.
Please use the link to IVisa.com to check whether you need to obtain a visa to travel to Vietnam from your home country.
Travel insurance is so important, and you should never travel without it. Make sure you have your travel insurance arranged in advance of your trip, and make sure you know what you are covered for if you should need it.
Dong is the currency of Vietnam and comes in colourful notes in very high denominations. You will feel like a millionaire with thousands of Dong in your pocket until you realise it is only worth around £50!
There are ATM’s in all the large cities, and I found it easy to take cash out of my account. I also had a pre-loaded Caxton money card with me. I felt this was a safer option than using my bank card for transactions.
Vietnam Time Differences (GMT)
7 hours ahead of London, England
12 hours ahead of Washington DC, USA
4 hours behind Canberra, Australia
6 hours behind Wellington, New Zealand
Make sure to book a flight that allows you to arrive in Vietnam late afternoon/early evening. This will give you time to freshen up, eat dinner and familiarise yourself with the area you will be staying in.
Getting Around Vietnam and Safety
I would not recommend getting on motorbikes in the major cities as the roads are crazy and chaotic. However, many travellers hire motorbikes when travelling through the countryside and between towns. Ultimately it is up to you to ensure you have travel insurance for any accidents.
Vietnam has Grab (it’s their version of Uber) within the major Vietnam cities such as Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh and Da Nang. I used taxis a few times, but mostly I just walked around the cities; this way, you see more.
Accommodation in Vietnam is cheap, and you get to stay in some stunning properties. I have listed the hotels where I stayed in each section of this Vietnam travel guide. The accommodation ranged from 3* to 5* properties, and all offered a comfortable and enjoyable stay. There are many hotels to choose from in each locale, so please take a look below at other places to stay in Vietnam to suit your budget.
Complete 14-Day Vietnam Travel Itinerary
Hanoi – Halong Bay – Hue – Hoi An – Da Nang
International Flight to Noi Bai International Airport in Hanoi
Days 1-4 in Vietnam / 3 Nights in Hanoi
1 – Arrive in the evening – straight to the hotel
2 – Full day exploring Hanoi’s Old Quarter
3 – Continued exploring Hanoi and the weekend night markets
4 – Headed to Halong Bay for a 2-night cruise
Check out what to do in Hanoi in my Travel Guide: The Perfect 3-Night Hanoi Itinerary.
Visit Vietnam’s capital and get ready for an assault on your senses!
Immerse yourself in Vietnamese culture, enjoy historical monuments and discover the beauty of Hoan Lake. Try out egg coffee at one of the superb coffee shops in Hanoi and feast on Vietnamese street food. At the weekend, wander around the night market (free from traffic on Fri-Sat-Sun) and pick up some Vietnamese souvenirs to take home with you.
- La Siesta Hanoi 4*
- Hanoi Pearl Hotel 4* (I stayed here) Both are located near Hoan Lake in Hanoi’s Old Quarter.
Check out from your Hanoi hotel after your first three nights but make sure you have re-booked a room for the night of your return from Halong Bay. The reason for doing this is that you will need to store your suitcases at the hotel as only one piece of hand luggage will be permitted on the cruise. After the cruise, you will return to your Hanoi hotel for one night and be reunited with your luggage, ready for your onward journey.
Road transfer from Hanoi to Halong Bay (your cruise company should arrange this)
Days 4-6 in Vietnam / 2 Nights cruising Halong Bay and Bai Tu Long Bay
No trip to Vietnam can be complete without a cruise in Halong Bay. The idyllic and unique landscape of this Unesco World Heritage Site with its limestone monoliths rising majestically out of the water will have you mesmerised.
Enjoy a longer cruise to Bay Tu Long Bay, relax on golden beaches, and marvel at sea caves and fishing villages scattered around the calm waters.
Check out what it is like to take a Vietnamese cruise around the Halong Bay area in my Travel Guide: Cruising Halong Bay and Bai Tu Long Bay.
- Indochina Junk Dragon’s Pearl Cruise
Road Transfer from Halong Bay back to Hanoi (arranged by cruise company)
Day 6-7 in Vietnam / 1 Night in Hanoi
Return for one night to the Hanoi Pearl Hotel to pick up your left luggage.
Internal Flight from Hanoi to Hue
My internal flight from Hanoi to Hue was with Vietnam Airways. I chose to fly between these two places for speed as I wanted to see as much as possible during my 2-week Vietnam trip. You can also travel by train or road between Hanoi and Hue, but it will take longer than flying.
Days 7-10 in Vietnam / 3 Nights in Hue
7 – Arrive mid-afternoon – Relax by the pool
8 – Explore the Imperial City of Hue
9 – Explore the Royal Tombs of Hue
10 – Check out and travel by road to Hoi An
Once the ancient capital, the Imperial City of Hue is now one of the Unesco world heritage sites in Vietnam. There is plenty to keep any culture vultures satisfied with fascinating ancient royal palaces, historic tombs, and not forgetting a cruise along the Perfume River.
Combine your visit to the city with a spot of relaxation at one of Hue’s luxury resorts, and you will have the perfect balance for this part of your trip around Vietnam.
Road Transfer via the Hai Van Pass with a stop at The Marble Mountains
My road transfer between Hue and Hoi An was taken with Hura Cars.
Days 10 – 13 in Vietnam / 3 Nights in Hoi An
10 – Arrive mid-afternoon – Relax by the pool
11 – Head into Hoi An’s Ancient Quarter
12 – Day at An Bang Beach
13 – Morning in Hoi An, then head to Beach Resort in Da Nang
Hoi An is a Unesco heritage site in Vietnam. It is known as the “City of Lanterns” because of the hundreds of lanterns illuminating it at night. It is a charming place to wander around, soak up its history and culture and enjoy great food, fantastic coffee shops and artisan shops. If you coincide your trip with the monthly lunar cycle, you will experience Hoi An’s Lantern Festival.
Enjoy romantic evening boat rides on the lake, hire cycles and ride along the winding alleyways and discover the Hoi An heritage trail with its ancient temples and bridges.
Stay in Hoi An’s ancient quarter and explore the town first thing in the morning when it isn’t crowded. Sit back with a coffee at one of the riverside cafes and soak up the atmosphere in this unique little town.
There is also a beautiful beach at An Bang, a short distance from the town centre to top up your tan.
Road Transfer from Hoi An was arranged by the Naman Retreat Resort.
Days 13 – 15 in Vietnam / 2 Nights in Da Nang
13 to 15 – Final 2 days of the trip spent relaxing at the resort.
Check out Naman Retreat in my Travel Guide: Naman Retreat Review – The Best Boutique Resort in Da Nang.
Da Nang is not far from Hoi An, so enjoy the last days of your holiday by simply relaxing by the pool or on the beach, enjoying the spa and the marvellous amenities at this resort. However, if you still have plenty of energy left, there are many things to do in Da Nang and some great tours that you can book.
- Naman Retreat (I stayed here)
Da Nang Day Tours
Hotel Shuttle Transfer to Da Nang Airport at the end of two weeks in Vietnam
I hope that my Vietnam travel itinerary has inspired you to consider a trip to this wonderful country. As you can see, its beauty can leave a lasting effect on you just as it has on me. I love Vietnam so much I want to return in the future to re-visit Hanoi and Hoi An and to explore some of the other hidden gems in Vietnam that I have on my travel bucket list.
My Vietnam 14-day travel itinerary was independently researched and planned by me; however, Urban Adventures is an excellent company to use if you want to book guided Vietnam tours during your trip.
You may want to add a few more days to this Vietnam travel itinerary. If so, Ho Chi Minh City and the Mekong Delta is a short 90-minute flight from Da Nang.
I didn’t visit Ho Chi Minh on this trip; however, I will put it on my next Vietnam trip itinerary. I can’t wait to check out the city’s ancient history, once known as Saigon.
Things to Do in Ho Chi Minh City
Things to Do in the Mekong Delta
- Vietnam’s Hidden Gems: 10 incredible destinations off the tourist trail
- Vietnam’s 8 UNESCO World Heritage Sites
- How to visit the Marble Mountains in Da Nang
- Hai Van Pass: the best route by road from Hue to Hoi An
- Discover the Hoi An Lantern Festival
- Naman Retreat Review: the best boutique resort in Da Nang