Vietnam Itinerary – Plan Your PERFECT 10 Days in Vietnam Trip
Vietnam has become one of the most popular backpacking destinations across south-east Asia and it’s no surprise why. The country offers a wide range of unique sights, activities, amazing food, friendly locals AND it’s super cheap. What’s not to love!? Check my 10 days in Vietnam itinerary to help you plan your time when you visit Vietnam.
If you’re planning a Vietnam backpacking adventure, then this 10 day Vietnam itinerary will let you sample the highlights of Vietnam. Including:
- Gorgeous beaches
- World-famous caves
- Historic sights
- Amazing food
- Delicious coffee
Trust me, this is the itinerary for you!
A quick few travel tips for Vietnam
Before we delve into the itinerary, here are some tips to help you navigate Vietnam with ease!
Use the bus network
Vietnam has a brilliant bus system in place from getting the whole way through the country, top to bottom. The overnight buses are comfortable, clean and surprisingly efficient. You can choose to buy buses as you go, or you can purchase a hop-on hop-off bus pass that lets you choose a set number of journeys. This is cheap at around $37-45 depending on how many stops you opt for!
Purchase an International Driver’s Permit
Before you visit Vietnam, it’s a good idea to grab an International Driver’s Permit from your home country. There’s an opportunity to rent a moped in pretty much all the cities and towns throughout Vietnam. And having your own means of transport gives you much more freedom in planning your Vietnam itinerary.
Book before your trip
After reading this guide, I recommend booking all of the flights, bus transfers and tours that you can. If you do this in Vietnam, it will not only waste time and cause delays, but probably end up costing you more money as well!
Okay, let’s get to it! 10 days in Vietnam will be enough to sample some of the best highlights that Vietnam has to offer throughout the country. But you will need to use some internal flights to speed things up. Thankfully, flying in Vietnam isn’t expensive.
Places to visit in Vietnam
Before we start on the 10 days in Vietnam itinerary, I just want to lay out all the places to visit in Vietnam. We try to fit in most of them on the 10-day itinerary. But not all!
- Hanoi: Best place to start your Vietnam Itinerary.
- Halong Bay: Perhaps Vietnam’s most beautiful spot, and close to Hanoi
- Da Nang: Great beaches AND home to the famous ‘hand bridge’
- Hoi An: The old quarter is an icon of Vietnam.
- Hue: Ancient citadel, tombs and the abandoned waterpark.
- Phong Na: UNESCO world heritage site and the largest cave in the world
- Ninh Binh: Epic scenery, different from Halong Bay, but every bit as breathtaking
More than 10 days Or starting in the south of Vietnam?
- Sapa: Vietnam’s mountain getaway.
- Phu Quoc: An island off the south of Vietnam. A new hotspot for tourism.
- Ho Chi Minh: The historic old capital. Hectic streets, museums about the war, and great coffee.
- Nha Trang: Tourist beach resort town.
- Dalat: French colonial town, also with some cool waterfall
Vietnam Itinerary; 10 Days in Vietnam
Day 1: Arrive in Hanoi & explore the city
Hanoi, the capital of Vietnam, is the country’s answer to Bangkok, and the perfect place to start your Vietnam itinerary. So spend your first day exploring the sight of this city. There are SO many things to do in Hanoi (check out my blog post to help you plan your time in Hanoi)
This includes the Thăng Long Imperial Citadel, as well as the Ba Vi National Park for beautiful views. Don’t forget to hit the many night markets in Hanoi for an introduction into amazing Vietnamese street food.
Trying the local cuisine is an experience all in itself, and offers the chance to meet the friendly locals. It helps that street food is also very cheap!
Day 2-3: Visit Halong Bay
A trip to Halong Bay is probably one of the most famous things to do when you visit Vietnam and it’s worth every penny.
You can visit Halong Bay on a day trip, but I feel like this would be rushed and you wouldn’t experience all the beauty on offer. Instead, opt for an overnight cruise.
There are lots of cruise ships available, ranging from budget to super luxurious, but a great mid-range option is with Rosa Cruises.
Regardless for who you opt for, most cruises include your transfers to and from Hanoi city, all your food onboard and excursions including kayaking around the bay or visiting local caves.
Once you’ve arrived back to Hanoi, you can head on an overnight bus to get to your next location.
Day 4: Phong Nha (or Ninh Binh)
Now the difficult choice. Phong Nha or Ninh Binh. Both are in the right direction to continue along your Vietnam itinerary, and both are amongst the best places to visit in Vietnam. So which should you chose, Phong Nha or Ninh Binh?!
600km from Halong Bay, it’s an extremely different landscape to both the city and the beautiful waters of Ha Long Bay. This is rural Vietnam and it’s home to the UNESCO world heritage site of Phong Nha-Kẻ Bàng National Park.
This beautiful area is packed with limestone mountains riddled with gigantic caves. It’s home to one of the largest caves in the entire world: Hang Sơn Đoòng. You can explore lots of caves in the region on a day trip and you’ll be amazed at the sheer vastness of them, and the beauty. After you finish, you’re just 200k, and 3 hours from your next stop, Hue.
Just 4 hours (225km) from Halong Bay, but then 450km to Hue after you’re finished.
Karst scenery, epic cliffs, rice fields and boat rides, and all from the gorgeous town of Tam Coc where you’ll base yourself.
Day 5 & 6: Hue
After visiting the caves, you can take the bus to historic Hue. The bus journey is around 5 hours, and you can opt for an overnight ride or an early morning one. Once in Hue, there are lots to see so you’ll need to dedicate a couple of days here.
Some of the highlights of Hue include:
- Exploring the famous Imperial Citadel: this amazing sight was built back in the early 1800s under the orders of Gia Long who was the very first ruler of the Nguyen Dynasty. There is so much history to discover here and you could spend an entire day exploring.
- Explore the many historic tombs: there are lots of tombs to discover including, Tomb Of Minh Mang and the Tomb Of Tu Duc (Khiem Tomb)
- Visit the Hue Abandoned Water Park (Known also as the Ho Thuy Tien Lake).
Day 7: Da Nang
After you’ve finished exploring the sights of Hue, it’s time to hop on a bus to Da Nang.
This area of Vietnam will give you a taste of some of the best sandy beaches on offer.
Take some time to relax on the beaches, take a cooking class in the city and visit the now-famous Dragon Bridge!
You should also rent a moped and explore the amazing Marble Mountains for more awesome caves to explore and the chance for a panoramic view of Da Nang city.
Day 8 & 9: Hoi An
Only a short drive from Da Nang, it’s time to explore the cultural explosion that is Hoi An. Hoi An Old Quarter is one of the most scenic and tranquil places in Vietnam.
The most iconic thing about this spot is the lanterns that set off once the sun goes in and darkness sets in. Here, the sky will transform into a beautiful display of lights.
Find a seat at one of the many restaurants dotted along the water and enjoy the experience.
On your second day in Hoi An, you should take a day trip to Cham Island for kayaking, swimming, plus diving and snorkelling amid tropical coral reefs.
Other awesome things to do in Hoi An include:
- Exploring all the sights of Hoi An Ancient town
- Visit the Phung Hung Ancient House
- Wander across the Japanese Bridge
- Hit the markets for some souvenirs
Day 10: Heading back to Hanoi
It’s time for an end to our 10 day Vietnam itinerary and now it’s time to head back to the airport and fly onto your next destination.
From Hoi An, just jump in a bus, or a taxi to Da Nang and get a flight to either Hanoi or Ho Chi Minh, whichever one is easier for a return flight home!
Internal flights are only around $20-30 in Vietnam, so this is a cheap and efficient way to get back to one of the main travelling hub airports.
10 Days in Vietnam Itinerary Route Map
Best Time to Visit Vietnam?
Another important factor to consider when you’re planning your Vietnam itinerary is the season you visit. March to May is typically the best time to visit the entire country when days are pleasant, temperatures are bearable and there isn’t much rainfall.
However, if you can handle the heat, and you don’t mind the risk of rain, then Vietnam is possible to visit year-round.
Travel Insurance on Your Vietnam Travels
Don’t travel without insurance. I now exclusively use Safety Wing. It only costs me $10 a week, and with 1 click I can pause or cancel it when I’m not traveling. The process takes just 2 seconds. It covers ALL of Vietnam too (even renting a scooter!). I reviewed it as my choice for digital nomad insurance in-depth here, but you can sign up for it here. Don’t make the same mistakes I did. I’ve already claimed and had a pay-out with these guys.
Final Thoughts On My 10 days in Vietnam Itinerary
There is so much more to see in Vietnam that’s not included in this 10-day itinerary, but this will give you a taste of what Vietnam has to offer. Trust me, you’ll be planning your return as soon as you leave!
Remember, never travel without travel insurance! And never overpay for travel insurance!
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