Vietnam travel itinerary for 3 weeks
I am not saying this is THE BEST you can do in Vietnam as I don’t believe there is something that is “best for everyone”. It really depends on your interests, type of travel, whether you are an adventure searching type of traveller, backpacker, luxury traveller and so on. But I think it is an itinerary that is suitable to many styles of travel and which you can of course adjust and customise. It is always easy to have a starting point. This was actually PERFECT for me! …and I suffer of FOMO! yup!
⇒ For an extended itinerary through Southeast Asia you should check my most popular post here.
So if you are reading this, you are either thinking about going or you know you are going and just need an idea of a Vietnam travel itinerary. First of all, you made the right choice by choosing to visit Vietnam, which is one of my favourite countries now. And… you came to the right place here to get an idea about an itinerary. So thank you for your trust! ‘
But let’s just get straight into it. Here you go: my PERFECT 3 weeks Vietnam travel itinerary:
Hanoi (3 days)
The flight from Vientiane, Laos to Hanoi was approximately one hour. Arriving in Hanoi, was quite a shock to my system. Whilst Vientiane is known as the sleepiest city of Southeast Asia (although it is a capital city!), Hanoi is one of the most hectic ones. You must have seen a few scenes with motorcycles going in all directions and alongside people, rickshaws, bicycles and god knows what else.
I spent 5 days in Hanoi out of which, 2 days in Halong Bay, but being based in Hanoi. I really enjoyed my time in Hanoi and I would certainly love to go back, but, after 3 days of hectic traffic I was ready to move on.
Halong Bay (2 days)
As I said, I was based in Hanoi, from where I took a bus to Halong Bay where I took a cruise for 2 days and one night. The road from Hanoi and back was terrible because of the traffic and mostly because of the very uncomfortable seats in the bus.
I would say a cruise like this is perfect for Halong Bay as you get to see and enjoy this unique place properly. There are a lot of debates as to which cruises are better or even whether you should take one or not but I was really happy with my choice.
There are many ways to reach Hoi An from Hanoi and one of the most popular is by mortobike. You usually either rent one and ride yourself or you hire someone and ride with them. However my rolling suitcase was not the best for a motorbike ride so that was not an option for me. Another option was to take a bus or a train, but you never know how long they take (even if they give you a timing). And because the flights are really cheap in Asia with loads of options, I decided for the plane. The closest airport to Hoi An is in Da Nang, about 20 km from Hoi An. The flight took 3.5 hours, so quite a bit.
5 days in Hoi An was the right amount of time for me. Initially I had planned to stay for 3 days but I really loved the city. It was actually my favourite place in Vietnam!
Check here to see what to do in Hoi An and why it is such a charming place!
Hue (2 days)
Many people go to Hue as a day trip from Hoi An and if you are short on time you can certainly do that. It is better than skip it altogether as some people do and it is a pity. Hue is totally different than the rest of Vietnam as it is where the Imperial City is located, home of emperors, palaces, shrines and a Forbidden Purple City.
You can easily reach Hue by bus from Hoi An. Your hotel or guest house can organise that for you.
Da Lat (3 days)
From Hue I stopped in Da Nang, where I spent the night and took a flight to Da Lat (also spelled Dalat) the next day. The flight took approximately 1.5 hours. Da Nang is really nothing to write home about and I just wanted to spend a night there to rest but I am sure you can also find some things to do there as well.
Dalat is not amongst the most popular destinations in Vietnam, but in my opinion this place is very underrated. Many people don’t know that Vietnam has many waterfalls and that most of them are around Dalat. And this was my reason for going there. I have been looking at a photo on my wall, dreaming to go to that place and photograph it myself one day. You know that photo with 4 monks walking over the waterfall? That place was Pongua waterfall in Da Lat.
But waterfalls were not the only interesting thing in the region. I discovered a very interesting city with beautiful surroundings. In fact the Dalat region is the so called “the breadbasket” of Vietnam. It is where all the fruit, vegetables and flowers are grown and shipped throughout the whole country.
Ho Chi Minh City (4 days)
This was one place in Vietnam which I knew I would for sure not skip. I have been intrigued by Saigon (the former name of HCMC) since a long time. Because of its appearances in movies or reading about it or hearing about it, I don’t know exactly where from, but I knew this was one of the highlights of my Southeast Asia trip! And it did not disappoint. I think I would have stayed longer there had I not bought my ticket to Japan already. I was flying out to Tokyo in 11 days, which left me with only 7 days to visit Cambodia as well. And I could not cut Cambodia itinerary shorter than that!
But I would say 4 days should be enough to get a taste of the city, unless you fall in love with it just like me.
So there you have it: my 3 weeks Vietnam travel itinerary!
As you can see, I chose to skip Sapa valley, which is a very popular destination. I guess you can squeeze it in these 3 weeks, but I preferred to actually take my time and get to really know and experience the places I visited, rather than ticking items off my list.
Mekong Delta is another big item missing from my list, as well as the popular beach resort of Mui Ne, which I would have liked to see mainly to take some pics, as I heard that otherwise is packed with tourists.
But then again, I need to keep some places for next time too right? 😉
Like I said, Vietnam was one of my favourite countries from my Southeast Asia trip and I had a great time there. And usually I do not post pics with me in my post, but….oh well!
I think that if you really want to see Vietnam, 3 weeks is a good amount of time to spend there. You get to see a lot and at a decent pace. I would not recommend doing this itinerary in less than 3 weeks.
If you are planning to go there and have any additional questions or need any tips just let me know in a comment below or send me an email