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  • Writer's pictureBianca

7 Days in Vietnam: 5 Epic Itineraries Tailored to Your Style

Updated: Jan 25

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As I've mentioned time and time again - Vietnam is my absolute favorite country in this whole world (so far). I've visited this incredible country in Southeast Asia on three separate occasions and wanted to share all of the best places with you guys so I created a 3-week Vietnam itinerary, mostly with backpackers in mind.


On each of my visits to this must-visit destination, I came across backpackers on a several month-long adventure so it was a no-brainer that I create a lengthy itinerary. However, I realized that there are a lot of people (like me) who aren't backpackers and likely have a lot less free time to spare. With that in mind I wanted to create a 7-day itinerary for Vietnam.


But how could I narrow down all the absolutely amazing locations into one perfect itinerary? It's impossible. Instead, I've decided to create more than one 7 day Vietnam itinerary categorized by what kind of vacation you're looking for. That way, no matter which one you choose it'll be the perfect Vietnam trip for you. 


7 Day Vietnam Itinerary for Beach Lovers

If the subheading didn't give it away, this itinerary is for those who want a beach vacation. Considering that those looking for a beach holiday usually want to chill and not go go go, there are only 2 (okay technically 3, but the first one doesn't really count) locations in this itinerary to ensure you have the best time. 


Ho Chi Minh City/Mũi Né (Days 1-3)

Mũi Né, a coastal gem in southern Vietnam is an absolute haven for beach lovers. This paradise on the shore seamlessly weaves together the charm of traditional fishing villages, cultural heritage, and the exhilaration, making Mũi Né the perfect place for beach lovers and explorers alike.


Day 1

Unfortunately, Mũi Né doesn't have its own airport, so you'll need to fly into Ho Chi Minh City first. Arrive in the morning of day one and spend the first part of the day exploring the bustling city. Next, you'll take a 4-5 hour bus ride to Mũi Né where you'll check into your accommodation (highly recommend selecting a beachfront location). You can chill in the evening and take a stroll around the Phan Thiet night market and enjoy some tasty Vietnamese street food.



Day 2

In the early morning on your second day, take a tour to the White Dunes. Here you can take in the dunes, relax, and watch a beautiful sunrise (or so I've heard - I slept in and went in the afternoon). After taking in the sunrise, ride dune buggies and go sandboarding. Next, head over to the Fairy Stream. The trek through Fairy Stream is extremely mild (believe me, I'm not one for trekking - this is a maybe 30 minute stroll with calm waters lapping at your feet) and at the end you can take a dip in a small pool with a mini waterfall. 


Head to a beachside cafe for lunch and when you're ready to get back up and about, try your hand at kitesurfing or windsurfing on a local beach. Don't worry, they offer lessons for beginners! After your surfing sesh, relax on the beach for a spell. Once the late afternoon hits, head over to the fishing village and Red Dunes with a tour guide to watch the sunset. Once you've taken in golden hour find a spot for dinner and end the night.


Day 3

Spend another day taking up a water sport. I've been told that it takes several lessons for them to really sink in. When you're done, chill on the beach for a bit. This evening, check out of your accommodation and take a night bus to Nha Trang. The night bus takes about 7-8 hours and will run you 200K-400K vnd ($8-16 usd). Unfortunately there aren't any airports in Mũi Né, so the night bus is realistically your best option, unless you want to shell out for a private driver for the long drive. In my opinion this would actually be less comfortable than the night bus as night buses actually have beds and blankets for you to sprawl out completely and relax.


Nha Trang (Days 4-6)

Day 4

Check in to your accommodation in the early morning before joining a boat tour for island hopping. On your tour, you can explore Hon Mun Island and the Hon Mun Marine Protected Area. This protected area is known for its unique black rock caves and colorful coral reefs. The crystal clear waters here make it the perfect place for snorkeling. Once you're done, you can relax on the beaches of Hon Mun.


Day 5

Have a quick morning lounge on the beach before grabbing lunch. Afterwards, you can be a use the afternoon to learn about some of Nha Trang's rich culture. Explore the Po Nagar Cham Towers, an ancient temple complex. These temples are dedicated to Yan Po Nagar, the goddess of the Cham people, a group indigenous to Central Vietnam. Following this excursion, head back to Nha Trang Bay for a sunset cruise!


Day 6

On the second to last day of your 7-day Vietnam tour, experience a sunrise yoga session before indulging in a relaxing morning at Thap Ba Hot Springs and Mud Baths. Afterwards, head to Doc Let Beach for a quieter coastal experience and sunbathing. Eat lunch at a beachside seafood eatery and in the evening, hit up some beach bars for a laid-back evening. End the night with dinner with a view at a rooftop restaurant.


Day 7

On your final day in Vietnam, check out of your accommodation and spend one final day lounging on the beach before your flight. Luckily, Nha Trang has its own airport so you can fly directly from here to your next destination.


Pro tip: You can usually ask the reception at your hotel or hostel to hang onto your luggage if you have a lot of time between check out and your flight.



7 Day Vietnam Itinerary for Adrenaline Junkies

This itinerary is for the thrill seekers among us. Every day is full of adrenaline-rushing activities and you'll be sure to have a blast if you choose this itinerary for your Vietnam travel plans.


Ho Chi Minh City (Days 1-2)

Day 1

Your first stop is in the largest city of Vietnam - Ho Chi Minh City, which is still sometimes referred to by its former name, Saigon. Use this first day to check into your accommodation and take in the rich history of Vietnam at the War Remnants museum. Visit the Ben Thanh market in the afternoon and take a street food tour in the evening - you won't regret it!



Day 2

Take a full day tour of the Mekong Delta and Cu Chi tunnels which will take you back in time to the Vietnam War. This is one of the many locations where Viet Cong soldiers hid during combat. You can actually go into a couple of the tunnels yourself, but be warned if you are claustrophobic you might want to stay away as they are extremely tight. And bear in mind this is even after they've made the tunnels bigger for tourists! During your tour, you'll also be able to try your hand at the shooting range. Along with getting to see the Cu Chi tunnels, you'll also take a boat ride along the Mekong River and stop by some towns where you can catch a glimpse of local life.


Da Nang/Hoi An (Days 3-4)

Day 3

On the morning of day three, take a flight to Da Nang - this city is quite a distance from HCMC, so the best options for getting here are domestic flights. The journey will only be about an hour and a half, so you won't have to worry about wasting a precious day traveling. You can also opt to fly in the night before depending on when the latest flight time is. From here take a 30 minute taxi to Hoi An (we'll revisit Da Nang later and if you take a look at a map of Vietnam, I promise this weird route will make sense). 


Check into your accommodation in Hoi An and then set off to An Bang beach where you can take part in some water sports like jet skiing. Another fun thing for you to try at An Bang beach is parasailing. Honestly, there's no shortage activities that'll get your adrenaline pumping at this beach!


Day 4

Rent a motorbike and make sure that you can return it in Da Nang or Hue because you'll be motorbiking to these two cities! Don't worry about your stuff - the rental company can show you how to secure it to your bike or if your bag's really too big, they can have it sent over to the next town.


Spend the morning biking around Hoi An and feeling the wind in your hair (jk you better be wearing a helmet). In the afternoon, you can go rock climbing or pot for canyoning at Thac G'rang Falls about 2 hours west of Hoi An (lucky for you, you've got a motorbike to get you there).



Da Nang (Days 5-6)

Day 5

Grab some breakfast and then check out of your accommodation. You'll be taking your motorbike to Da Nang - don't worry you won't have to get up too early, the ride only takes about 50 minutes.


Once in Da Nang, you'll notice several tourist agencies around. Walk into one and ask about what full day or half day tour options are available depending on what time you get in. There are plenty of treks, canyoning, paragliding, and similar type activities you can choose from. Da Nang is an adrenaline junky's dream come true! Plus if you don't like the prices, you can haggle down or check out the other agencies and compare prices (they're all selling the same excursions).


Day 6

Take an early morning motorbike ride to the Marble Mountains, the most famous mountains in Vietnam. These mountains are home to a series of caves, tunnels, and pagodas that you can explore. You can go as early as 7am (which is probably the best time to go since the air is much cooler and you'll avoid large crowds). 


Once you've finished up your tour of the Marble Mountains, you're ready for the best part of the trip (in my opinion)! Today you'll be biking the Hi Vân pass over to Hue which'll take 4-6 hours depending on your speed and how often you stop. This pass is one of the most scenic routes in Southeast Asia and it is 100000% worth the ride. If you're a newbie to motorbiking, don't worry too much as it's also an extremely easy ride with very few turns. You'll want to stop a few times to really take in the scenery - you won't be the only one!


Huế (Day 7)

The final day of your Vietnam visit is meant to be a bit of a cooldown following the whirlwind 6 days. In Huế, you can visit the imperial city and learn some more about Vietnam's history or, if you have more time before your flight, make it over to the abandoned water park. Just note that you may have to bribe "security" roughly $20 usd to get in since technically no one is allowed inside!



7 Day Vietnam Itinerary for Foodies

I love to eat and Vietnam has some of my favorite local cuisine in Southeast Asia (it's real close between Vietnam and Malaysia)! If all you wanna do on your 7-day Vietnam tour is chow down, then I've got you covered. Be warned that there are quite a few domestic flights included in this itinerary, so if you decide to just stick to one or two locations, you can! You'll still enjoy the food, don't worry.


Hanoi (Days 1-2)

Day 1

On the first day of your trip, you'll arrive in the capital of Vietnam, Hanoi. Have a famous egg coffee and explore the Hanoi Old Quarter. In the evening, make sure that you hit up a street food tour in the same area. A few dishes Hanoi is famous for: ch, a freshwater fish served with dill and turmeric; bún ch (my personal favorite), mouthwatering barbecue pork in a light broth served with vermicelli noodles and an assortment of greens; and of course ph, the ever famous noodle soup that you'll find yourself slurping down even on the hottest days.


Day 2

Of course you'll probably want to do something in addition to eating on your Vietnam trip, so on your second day take a morning visit to Hoan Kiem Lake and Ngoc Son Temple. In the afternoon try your hand at a cooking class to learn how to prepare traditional Vietnamese dishes. Northern Vietnam is known for having the best food in the country, so Hanoi is a great place to take lessons.



Hội An (Days 3-4)

Day 3

On the morning of day 3, fly from Hanoi to Da Nang (flight duration: approximately 1.5 hours). From the airport take a taxi or private transfer from Da Nang to Hi An which will take about 45 minutes. Check into your accommodation. In the afternoon, you can choose to take a walking food tour in Hi An's ancient town where you can try delicacies unique to the area. This city's local delicacies are cao lu (my favorite - I ate it for just about every meal here lol), which is made up of marinated char siu pork slices with fresh veggies and herbs served on a bed of rice noodles; bánh bao bánh vc aka white rose dumplings, which are translucent rice flour dumplings filled with minced shrimp and pork and served topped with deep fried shallots (fun fact - there's only one family that makes these dumplings in all of Hi An!); and mì qung, seafood noodle dish from this province.


Day 4

Rent a bike and take an early morning ride around the city (your accommodation might offer bike rentals or even have it for free). Afterwards, head to An Bang beach for some water sports. You can try jet skiing, parasailing, surfing, and more! Once you've worked up an appetite, hit up a local restaurant for lunch. You can go to the ancient town following lunch and try the famous spinning boat ride! If you are prone to puking though, maybe ask them not to spin you...

In the evening, have an outdoor riverside dining experience with lantern-lit views.



Ho Chi Minh City (Days 5-7)

Day 5

Take a taxi to Da Nang International Airport and fly to Ho Chi Minh City (flight duration: Approximately 1.5 hours). Make your way over to your hotel for check in and then spend the afternoon exploring Ben Thanh Market and the surrounding street food stalls. Scope out a rooftop spot for dinner to enjoy a panoramic view of the city.

Famous foods in Saigon include banh mi, a stuffed sandwich in a small, flaky baguette that you can find on any street corner; cơm tấm, a Saigon classic made of broken rice, grilled pork, fried eggs, pickled vegetables, and fish sauce; and hu tieu, a soup made from broth that's been simmered for hours with pork bones, dried squid and shrimp, and root vegetables which can be considered HCMC's answer to north Vietnam's pho.


Day 6

In the morning, roam the streets until you find a banh mi vendor (shouldn't be too hard). Mark my words, you'll be hooked. After your banh mi breakfast, visit the War Remnants Museum to learn more about Vietnam's rich history. You can also check out the nearby Notre Dame Cathedral which was designed by French colonists and looks remarkably similar to its namesake in France. In the afternoon, sign up for a motorbike street food tour with GetYourGuide.

Relax in the evening and perhaps check out Bui Vien street aka backpacker street. It's super lively and not everyone's cup of tea, so be warned!


Day 7

Sadly this is the last day of your whirlwind Vietnam tour, but if you have a late flight you can sign up for a half day or even full day tour depending on how late your flight is. If you opt for the half day option, make sure you get out to the Cu Chi tunnels!


If you have an early flight, just take a stroll and grab some final street food bites before setting off for the airport.



7 Day Vietnam Itinerary for Nature Lovers

South Vietnam is fun, but North Vietnam has some of the most incredible natural beauty I have come across in my travels. This itinerary is designed for those who are into scenic landscapes while on vacation. It's almost impossible to narrow it down to only a few locations, but alas we only have 7 days to work with.


Hanoi (Days 1-2)

Day 1

Hanoi is a great starting point for taking various day trips, so the best way to see northern Vietnam is often to use Hanoi as a base to set off from and return to. Once you arrive, take a stroll around the old quarter of Hanoi and walk through Hoan Kiem lake for a peaceful introduction to the beauty of northern Vietnam. In the evening, catch a bus (roughly 2-3 hours) to Ninh Binh aka Ha Long Bay on land.


Ninh Binh (Days 2-3)

Day 2

Indulge in a relaxing breakfast at a cafe in sight of the impressive karsts. Afterwards, rent a motorbike or take a taxi to explore Trang An Scenic Landscape Complex, a UNESCO World Heritage site. Here you can take a boat cave tour and take in the rice fields. The scenery here is so jawdroppingly gorgeous, it has to be at the top of your list!


In the afternoon, you can visit nearby Tam Coc, famous for its limestone karst formations. Bike along the paths and really take in the scenery! You can also take a boat and cave tours here. Explore Bich Dong Pagoda and enjoy the tranquil surroundings.

Day 3

Make a day trip to Cuc Phuong National Park, approximately 2 hours from Ninh Binh. If you don't want to sort out how to get there on your own, you can book a tour with GetYourGuide and they will organize it all for you including the entrance ticket, minivan pickup and drop off to your hotel, lunch, and an English speaking guide. Cuc Phuong National Park is home to diverse flora and fauna as well as the well kept Endangered Primate Rescue Center. In addition to the endangered primates, this park houses a number of other endangered species.

Head back to Hanoi in the evening so you can get ready to leave again in the morning.


Ha Long Bay OR Sapa (Days 4-6)

Both of Ha Long Bay and Sapa are relaxing, scenic locations and it'll be hard to choose, but given the shortened itinerary you can only pick one!


Day 4 (Ha Long Bay)

Leave from Hanoi and take a bus to Ha Long City which will take between two and a half to three hours. Here you will transfer to your chosen cruise ship. Check-in, and get started on a memorable cruise through the breathtaking landscapes of Ha Long Bay. In the afternoon, you'll enjoy a delicious lunch onboard as you sail among the iconic limestone karsts and islets. Visit Sung Sot Cave (Surprise Cave), one of the most extensive and stunning caves in the bay. Next up, you can check out Titop Island, where you can climb to the summit for panoramic views or relax on the beach. 


Dinner will be served on the cruise with a variety of seafood. Take part in onboard activities such as squid fishing, karaoke, or simply stargazing on the deck.


Day 5 (Ha Long Bay)

Begin your day with Tai Chi, yoga, or whatever is offered on the sundeck. Make the most of the views by getting started early! Your Halong Bay cruise will likely go to Lan Ha Bay, a less crowded but equally beautiful bay adjacent to Ha Long Bay. Here you can explore the Dark and Bright Cave by bamboo boat or kayak.


In the afternoon, head to Bai Tu Long Bay, known for its tranquil and pristine atmosphere. Visit Vung Vieng Fishing Village, where you can interact with local fishermen and explore the floating houses. Return to the cruise for a relaxing evening and enjoy dinner on the cruise. Unwind with evening activities.


Day 6 (Ha Long Bay)

Participate in another invigorating morning session on the sundeck. Visit Thien Canh Son Cave, an otherworldly cave with stunning stalactites and stalagmites. Return to the cruise for brunch while cruising back to Ha Long City. This afternoon you'll disembark from the cruise and transfer back to Ha Long City. Take a bus back to Hanoi in the evening.


Hanoi

Day 7

On the final day of your 7-day itinerary, explore Hanoi. Check out the train street and the famous Note Cafe if you've got time before your flight. And definitely grab one last Vietnamese meal before leaving the country!


Day 4 (Sapa)

Leave from Hanoi via bus to Sapa which will take around 5 hours. After checking into your chosen accommodation, have lunch at a local cafe with a view of the picturesque mountains. Following lunch, visit the Cat Cat Village, known for being the most strikingly beautiful village in the northwest of Vietnam. This must-visit destination is home to the Hmong ethnic minority who are known for their unique traditional houses and terraced rice paddies. Return to Sapa in the early evening and enjoy the rest of the night at your leisure.


Day 5 (Sapa)

Enjoy breakfast at your accommodation or a local cafe. Next you'll take a trek to the Muong Hoa Valley. You'll recognize it as where many of the iconic photos of Sapa's stunning terraced rice fields are taken. You can also check out Lao Chai Village and Ta Van Village, which have a similar vibe. Have lunch in one of these local villages or opt for a picnic in the midst of the breathtaking landscapes. Return to Sapa town in the late afternoon where you can indulge in a local spa or enjoy a hot bath to unwind after a long morning of trekking.


Day 6 (Sapa)

Take the Fansipan Cable Car to the summit of Fansipan, the highest peak in Indochina, and one of the most famous mountains in Vietnam for breathtaking views (weather permitting). Take the day to navigate the surroundings of Fansipan, and admire the mountainous landscapes. Descend back to Sapa town and take an evening bus back to Hanoi.


Hanoi

Day 7

On the final day of your 7-day itinerary, explore Hanoi. Check out the train street and the famous Note Cafe if you've got time before your flight. And definitely grab one last Vietnamese meal before leaving the country!


7 Day Vietnam Itinerary for History Buffs

This one's for the history lovers! Vietnam is loaded with a deep, rich history and if you're American (like me), odds are you weren't taught about most of it in your social studies classes.

Hanoi (Days 1-2)

Day 1

The first day of your Vietnam trip will take place in Vietnam's capital city! Depending on how early you arrive, you can check out the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum Mausoleum, Ho Chi Minh Stilt House, and One Pillar Pagoda. The mausoleum acts as the final resting place of the Vietnamese revolutionary leader and President Ho Chi Minh, while the stilt house is where he lived on and off from 1958 to 1969. The stilt house is still used to this day for official receptions and unfortunately isn't open tot he general public, but you can still walk on the grounds. 

Meanwhile, the One Pillar Pagoda is completely unrelated to Ho Chi Minh, but rather was erected by a previously childless emperor who married a peasant that finally gave birth to his first son. He had the pagoda built to express his gratitude.


Day 2

In the morning, you can take a visit to the Vietnam Museum of Ethnology which focuses on the traditions, customs, and art of the 54 recognized ethnic groups of Vietnam. Afterwards, grab lunch in the Hanoi Old Quarter and take the afternoon to explore the area, stopping by Bach Ma Temple (the oldest temple in the city) and the Ancient House at 87 Ma May Street (one of only 14 remaining ancient houses in Hanoi which retain their original features). 

In the evening, you can unwind by enjoying an evening water puppet show, which is a traditional Vietnamese art form.

Huế (Days 3-4)

Day 3

In the early morning, take a flight from Hanoi to Huế (approximately 1.5 hours) and check into your accommodation once you arrive. Huế is home to much of Vietnam's rich history and you can take a walking tour with GetYourGuide to the Imperial City and Forbidden City to get a peek into the past. If you have time in the afternoon, visit the Thien Mu Pagoda and take a boat cruise along the Perfume River.


Day 4

On day four of your Vietnam excursion, you can take a day trip to the Royal Tombs, including the Tomb of Minh Mang and the Tomb of Khai Dinh. The royal tombs are a testament to Vietnam's past and tells the story of some of the country's most interesting historical periods from national reunification to military conquest to French colonization.


Ho Chi Minh City (Days 5-7)

Day 5

Fly from Hue to Ho Chi Minh City, the final destination of your 7-day Vietnam tour (approximately 1.5 hours). After checking in, visit the War Remnants Museum and Reunification Palace, both of which will give you a deeper understanding of Vietnam during the Vietnam War. Following this excursion, you can check out the Notre-Dame Cathedral Basilica of Saigon and the Central Post Office. Lastly, take a stroll through Dong Khoi Street which prominently French colonial architecture.


Day 6

Take a full day tour of the Mekong Delta and Cu Chi tunnels which will take you back in time to the Vietnam War. This is one of the many locations where Viet Cong soldiers hid during combat. You can actually go into a couple of the tunnels yourself, but be warned if you are claustrophobic you might want to stay away as they are extremely tight. And bear in mind this is even after they've made the tunnels bigger for tourists! During your tour, you'll also be able to try your hand at the shooting range. Along with getting to see the Cu Chi tunnels, you'll also take a boat ride along the Mekong River and stop by some towns where you can catch a glimpse of local life.


Day 7

On your last day, you can head to Saigon's Chinatown, which is home to many historical temples and vibrant markets. Depending on how much time is left before your flight, take the afternoon to do some last minute shopping or further exploration.

 

No matter which Vietnam 7-day itinerary you choose, you are sure to have the time of your life in this amazing country. In my opinion, Vietnam is the ultimate destination for whatever kind of trip you have in mind (well...maybe not like a ski trip). Make sure you find your way here at some point in your life - you won't regret it!

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