The best 2 weeks in Vietnam itinerary: the best of the north and south

If you’re considering visiting beautiful Vietnam, planning a 2 weeks in Vietnam itinerary is the best way to see the highlights of what the country has to offer.

I’ve spent several months hopping all over Vietnam and while I feel like the more time you spend here, the more you realise there is to see, I do think a 2 week trip to Vietnam is the best itinerary for Vietnam if you want to see Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City, Ha Long Bay, Hoi An, Hue, Ninh Binh and a couple of other cool spots in between!

My partner and I have spent a month living in Hanoi, a month living in Da Nang and we’re hoping to return for another 3 months to Dalat and Da Nang in a month’s time.

So read on to find out what to do in Vietnam for 2 weeks and my top recommendations for your Vietnam itinerary.

a colourful street in Hoi An, Vietnam with yellow houses and cycling people

Hoi An, Vietnam

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Is two weeks in Vietnam enough time?

A two week Vietnam itinerary is plenty of time to see the main sights of Vietnam and a couple of less-visited spots too.

If you’re someone who really enjoys getting off the beaten path or slower travel then I would suggest either 3 weeks in Vietnam to cover the whole country, or consider spending 2 weeks in North Vietnam and Central Vietnam.

However, 2 weeks in Vietnam will allow you to see the main sights and make the most of your holiday.

boats in the water of Ha Long Bay

Ha Long Bay

 

What’s the best way to travel Vietnam in 2 weeks?

To move between major cities, the quickest way is flying - this is definitely the best option if you’re trying to maximise your 2 weeks in Vietnam itinerary.

Flights in Vietnam are very affordable, generally around £30-40 for domestic flights plus your baggage.

For day trips or overnight trips in the same region, I recommend bus or minibus transfers which are very affordable and the “limousines” in Vietnam are basically luxurious minibuses which are very comfortable to travel in.

For short trips in and around the area, I recommend you download the Grab app before you arrive in Vietnam. This is a ride-hailing app like Uber that’s used all over Southeast Asia. You can connect your credit or debit card from home to the app with no issue or you can choose the “pay with cash” option in the app when you book a Grab. Grab’s are very cheap in Vietnam, I’ve paid 300,000 VND (£10) for a 45 minute Grab ride for two people from the airport. A 10 minute ride within the city usually costs 60,000 VND or less.

 

Vietnam 2-week itinerary: when is the best time to visit?

This is tricky because Vietnam does not have the same seasons throughout the whole country (I had no idea about this before I arrived).

In general, the best weather for visiting the whole country would be in springtime: February - April. The weather will be cooler and less humid in the north (maybe a bit damp and chilly in Hanoi but not the monsoon season which hits in summer), monsoon season will have passed in central Vietnam and it’s also the dry season in the south.

That said, don’t be put off if you visit at other times. We arrived in Hanoi in the rainy season in late June and some of the downpours were torrential, but we also had some beautiful days and were lucky with the weather at Ha Long Bay.

Be aware that monsoon season arrives in central Vietnam late September - December/January and due to the low lying land, Hoi An and Da Nang are very liable to flooding. I know Hoi An is a must-see Vietnam destination for many people so I would not advise visiting during that time!

 

Is it better to start in Hanoi or Ho Chi Minh City for a Vietnam itinerary?

This is honestly completely up to you.

This Vietnam 2 weeks itinerary can be done in either order, you can do the 2 weeks in Vietnam starting in Hanoi according to this itinerary if that’s where your international flight arrives into.

Or you can do this same itinerary in reverse: as a 2 week Vietnam itinerary south to north starting in Ho Chi Minh City if that’s where your flight arrives.

The beauty of Vietnam is that it has two big international airports so I suggest shopping around for your flights to see if you can find the cheapest flights to Vietnam into Hanoi or Ho Chi Minh City. Also don’t worry if you have return flights booked from the same airport, domestic flights are around £30-40 so you can always take a short flight back to your starting airport if you don’t want to fly in and out on different tickets.

 

Quick view: 2 weeks Vietnam itinerary

In a rush? Here’s an overview of the best itinerary for Vietnam:

Day 1 - Hanoi

Day 2 - Ha Long Bay

Day 3 - Ha Long Bay and to Ninh Binh

Day 4 - Ninh Binh

Day 5 - Ninh Binh and back to Hanoi

Day 6 - fly to Da Nang, Marble Mountains

Day 7 - Danang and Ba Na Hills or My Son

Day 8 - Hue

Day 9 - Move to Hoi An, see Ancient Town

Day 10 - Hoi An - ancient town, lantern making, boats etc 

Day 11 - Hoi An - coconut village, rice terraces

Day 12 - travel to HCMC

Day 13 - Cu Chi Tunnels

Day 14 - HCMC

 

2-week Vietnam itinerary: full Vietnam travel guide

Day 1 - Explore Hanoi

a busy street in Hanoi old quarter

Hanoi Old Quarter

Spend your first day in Vietnam exploring the country’s capital city. It’s a hustling, bustling metropolis with a melting pot of culture, architecture and heritage that honestly felt very overwhelming when we first arrived - and that’s before you’ve even attempted to cross the road there!

My personal recommendation for a day in Hanoi is to stay close to the Old Quarter and spend the morning exploring the vibrant and busy streets of the Old Quarter with the mix of colonial and Asian architecture.

Try the famous Hanoi egg coffee and even visit Cafe Giang to try egg coffee at the cafe which is credited with creating the unique Vietnamese coffee style - although you’ll find egg coffee in most cafes so don’t worry if you don’t have time to visit Cafe Giang.

Then take a walk around Hoan Kiem Lake and cross the eye-catching red Morning Sunlight Bridge to reach Ngoc Son Temple. Tickets are only 30,000 VND (£1)

In the afternoon, stop by St Joseph’s Cathedral to snap a couple of photos on your way to either Hoa Lo Prison Relic or the Vietnam Military History Museum. With only one day in Hanoi, I’d pick one museum-style attraction to prioritise based on your interests - you could definitely do more depending how many days you intend to spend in Hanoi, but for this itinerary, a day in Hanoi only allows one or maybe two!

In the afternoon or early evening, visit the famous Hanoi Train Street and experience the rush of a huge commercial or passenger train passing by just inches from you!

a train coming down a narrow street lined with houses and people at Hanoi train street in Vietnam

Hanoi train street

It’s a bit tricky to get into Hanoi Train Street for safety reasons, but if you go to this entrance area, you’ll see there is a guard making sure no one enters the tracks. If you stand close to the barrier, one of the train street cafe owners will approach you and invite you inside where you can walk through their homes and businesses to access the tracks - you will need to buy a drink from them but it’s still cheap - about 30,000 VND (£1) for a juice, water or beer.

There are plenty of cafes along the tracks too so once you’re in, feel free to wander around - although you’ll hear the siren warnings and will need to clear the tracks and be inside a cafe when the train is approaching.

In the evening, enjoy your first taste of local Vietnamese Pho in the Old Quarter - Pho Suong, MET Vietnamese or Timeline Restaurant are all great options.

In the evening, Hanoir really comes alive - it is a city that never sleeps and most people seem to be out in the evenings, eating late, drinking, spending time with family and friends sitting on the small plastic stools on street corners. It’s a huge city but with such intimate interactions among the chaos of it all.

If you’re the partying type, you might be interested in visiting Hanoi Beer Street in the evening. If that’s not quite your scene, I’d still suggest an experience of Bia Hoi - the incredibly cheap, homemade beer that’s popular in Vietnam. It’s very weak and only costs about 30p per glass!

You’ll see Bia Hoi signs everywhere and you can just sit down on one of the small plastic stools and someone will bring it over to you. I suggest the Bia Hoi spot labelled “Bia Hoi Corner” on Google Maps in the Old Town (it’s opposite Circle K convenience store). It’s a great spot for people watching but on the weekend, the streets around Hanoi Old Town are closed to traffic and the streets become lively pedestrian streets with huge markets and live music.

If you visit on a weekend I highly recommend enjoying the experience and atmosphere of the weekend walking street in Hanoi!

For an escape from the crowds but still in the heart of it all, I like Northern Soul Rooftop Bar, it’s in the old town, prices are good and the views of the lights, music and atmosphere in Beer Street and the Old Quarter below are a great way to see the city at night if you don’t want to be “in” it all.

yellow plastic chairs in the street in Hanoi

Bia Hoi seating in the Old Quarter of Hanoi

 

Day 2 - Travel to Ha Long Bay for overnight cruise

a bedroom and balcony overlooking the water on a cruise on Ha Long Bay

Our Ha Long Bay cruise balcony

Hopefully day 1 in Hanoi hasn’t exhausted you too much!

Day 2 of your two week Vietnam itinerary is an early start with a bus transfer to your Ha Long Bay cruise.

There are dozens and dozens of cruises to choose from including 2 day, 1 night Ha Long Bay cruises, 2 night or even 3 night cruises. There are day trip cruises too for those really short on time. There are also very budget friendly cruises on Junk Boats or luxury Ha Long Bay cruises with on-deck swimming pools and grand suites.

It really depends on your preference, budget and trip to Vietnam - if you’re travelling for a special occasion for example!

This is the Ha Long Bay tour I did with a full review - it is very budget friendly at around £100-110 per person which is incredible value for what it included and I’d say it was a mid-budget option. You could definitely do it cheaper with a no-frills boat or more luxurious on one of the bigger cruises.

To give you an idea of what our cruise included for £110 per person:

  • Hotel pick up and drop off transfers from Hanoi

  • 2 days, 1 night onboard in a private ensuite cabin with balcony

  • 2 meals per day

  • Visit to Surprise Cave (entry fee included)

  • Visit to Ti Top Island for beach and hiking (entry fee included)

  • Cooking class

  • Sunset party

  • Squid fishing

  • Morning lagoon kayaking (kayak rental fee included)

  • Optional Tai-Chi on deck in the morning

  • Optional Karaoke in the evening

The only thing not included was the cost of any drinks (soft drinks or alcoholic drinks are available).

Aerial view of Ha Long Bay with boats in the water

Ha Long Bay

I was honestly worried that a Ha Long Bay cruise wouldn’t live up to expectations but I’m pleased to say it did - I’m so glad we did the cruise and the Bay is absolutely stunning!

Our boat also had a max capacity of around 20 people and only 16 were on our trip so we made some great friends and we enjoyed hanging out with them onboard and on the excursions.

If you’d like more details, my full experience and review of the cruise is here.

 

Day 3 - Leave Ha Long Bay cruise and transfer to Ninh Binh

a green landscape of hills with a river running between

Tam Coc, Ninh Binh

After our morning kayaking, followed by breakfast, the cruise took us back to shore for around lunchtime and instead of taking the transfer back to Hanoi as part of the cruise, I had messaged the cruise provider before hand and they were able to arrange a transfer from Hanoi to Ninh Binh directly.

If you look at Hanoi, Halong Bay and Ninh Binh on the map, they make a sort of triangle, with Halong Bay and Ninh Binh at the bottom so it made more sense for us to go directly to Ninh Binh.

However if you’d prefer to take the transfer back to Hanoi, there are also day trips from Hanoi to Ninh Binh if you’d prefer to spend longer in Hanoi and maybe only one day in Ninh Binh. Check out some of the Ninh Binh tours here.

Another point here is that everyone knows everyone who can arrange something for you in Vietnam. I felt overwhelmed by not really being able to find transfers between Halong and Ninh Binh, I just kept reading online that it was easy and possible to do.

If you’re worried about stuff like this, you definitely don’t need to stress or arrange all your transfers like that before you leave for Vietnam. We simply asked our cruise provider and they arranged it for us.

We’ve had similar experiences with hotels and hostels in Vietnam, with taxi drivers who give us their card or even tour providers helping us out with future tours. Not everyone has a website or contact method, but networking and contacts are king in Vietnam and someone will always be able to help you - as weird as that seems coming from places like the UK or USA

The travel time from Ha Long Bay to Ninh Binh is about 3-4 hours and the bus transfer dropped off directly at our hotel.

We actually stayed in Tam Coc which is a smaller suburb type town close to Ninh Binh town and in Ninh Binh province.

We wanted the small town.village feel and for things to be walkable and a slower pace so we could safely cycle around the area. We also wanted to be close to the famous Tam Coc boating rides.

Tam Coc and Ninh Binh have incredible value for money when it comes to accommodation and there are some truly beautiful hotels in and around Ninh Binh for such amazing prices.

We stayed here for £27 per night with a stunning view!

a hotel room with a view of lush green fields and cliffs

Our hotel room in Tam Coc

We arrived in the late afternoon and spent the rest of the day exploring Tam Coc and the main street through the town and around the lake. There are so many cheap restaurants and bars to choose from, you can’t go wrong!

 

Day 4 - Ninh Binh: Tam Coc and Trang An

waterways surrounded my cliffs in Trang An, Vietnam's north

Trang An boat ride

On our first full day of your time in Ninh Binh, I recommend doing one of the boat tours.

There are two to choose from:

Tam Coc boat ride - often called Ha Long Bay on land, the stunning waterways wind though rice fields and limestone mountains with caves and incredible rock formations to see. This tour is the shorter, cheaper and also more traditional of the two options. More traditional because your guide will row the boat with their feet! 

This is the traditional way of navigating the waterways in this area of the country. A boat ride takes around 1-2 hours and costs 390K per boat. However we also read on some reviews that tipping requests were fairly aggressive (?) based on some people’s experience.

We actually planned to do the Tam Coc boat tour (which is our reason for staying in a hotel so close to it) but unfortunately they decided to close the facility without notice on the day we arrived!

So we took a Grab taxi ride 10 minutes up the road to Trang An.

Trang An boat ride - Trang An is definitely more of a structured tourist experience, there is a large facility with ticket offices, restaurants and gift shops, but they also have a strict no tipping policy so you don’t need to worry about getting hassled for a tip.

The boat ride is 3 hours and costs 250k VND per person. There are three Trang An routes to choose from and the price is the same for each.

Trang An is an absolutely stunning and vast complex of waterways, caves, rivers, mountains and idyllic pagodas tucked into lagoons and rock faces. The dramatic landscape and caves are really stunning.

Trang An is a UNESCO World Heritage site and there are over 30,000 years of history. The complex waterways makes navigation difficult and we completely lost our bearings during the 3 hours - thank goodness for the guide!

For this reason, Trang An was used for centuries as a defensive position. King Tran Thai Tong used the complex terrain, caves and maze of waterways to hide from and attack the Yuan-Mongolian invaders.

We still talk about this trip fondly as one of our favourite ever experiences in Vietnam and our time in Tam Coc/Ninh BInh in general was just magical and just a contrast to the chaos of Hanoi!

TOP TIP: if you visit Trang An in the summer, go early or later in the day, bring lots of water and wear sunscreen. There is almost no shade in the Trang An waters and even though the boat comes with umbrellas for shade - July was incredibly hot and I’d probably avoid that time of year or at least avoid the midday heat if you choose to visit then.

In the afternoon, it’s your choice! Relax and enjoy your hotel and pool or take a bike and explore the rice fields and other things to do around Ninh Binh.

Roads here are rural, quiet and safe to cycle on.

Many hotels, including ours, provide bikes for free. If yours doesn’t we were recommended NIkel Travel bike rental for our stay.

So we set out to cycle to Bich Dong Pagoda which was about 10-15 minutes cycling from Tam Coc. This is a historic pagoda on the outskirts of Tam Coc and it’s free to visit - you’ll just need to pay 10 or 20K to park your bike at the entrance.

Helena walking across a stone bridge to an ancient pagoda archway surrounded by cliffs

Bich Dong Pagoda

The pagoda is accessed across a stone bridge over a small river with a beautiful stone entrance tucked below a rocky cliff.

Once instead you’ll find a main courtyard to explore but also steps up to a cave area and pagoda on the cliffs which are very unique and the cave itself was once lived in - you can still see the house here!

It’s not a huge place to visit, we were there maybe half an hour or so, but cycling through the rice fields at golden hour, visiting the free pagoda and enjoying the peace and serenity was beautiful!

In the evening back in Tam Coc we discovered Chookie’s Beer Garden which is a western-style taproom and pizzeria which has an outdoor pool! 

Obviously prices here are not as cheap as local places (but still cheaper than prices at home in the UK!) but it was such a fun atmosphere to sit in the cabins by the pool, have a dip, enjoy the music, great pizza and of course, craft beer (anyone who’s read my articles before knows my love of craft beer and I’m always on the hunt for taprooms and breweries when I travel!)

Day 5 - Morning hike to Hang Mua Cave and travel back to Hanoi

aerial view of a rock mountain surrounded by green fields

Mua Cave viewpoint

On our last day in the Ninh Binh area, we made an early start to Mua Cave.

We used the free bicycles from our hotel and Google Mapped our way through the rice fields on the walking paths which took us about 20 minutes from Tam Coc to Mua Cave.

There are loads of people hassling you and telling you that you have to park your bike along the road as you approach the entrance. They’re just trying to get money from you and you can cycle right up to the entrance gate and park your bike there for around 20k.

Entrance to Mua Caves is 100k VND.

There’s a lot more to the Mua Cave complex than just the famous lookout point. There’s restaurants, ponds, small pagodas and also a large wooden walkway through a beautiful field of lotus flowers which bloom in June-July.

There are about 500 steps up to the Hang Mua viewpoint and they are uneven stone steps and are very steep in some places. I recommend wearing good footwear and visiting early in the day or later in the afternoon to avoid the midday sun and temperatures.

Hang Mua is one of the most famous caves in Vietnam, although the cave is in the mountain, the viewpoint from the top is what most people come to see. You can see across the beautiful landscape of Tam Coc with karst mountains and winding rivers.

At the top there are several viewpoints. I'd allow 30 minutes at least to see all the views and have a drink before you start the climb back down.

Once back at your hotel, take the bus back to Hanoi. We were able to easily organise a minibus transfer through our hotel in Tam Coc who told us there were departures every hour.

We were picked up directly from our hotel and dropped off in central Hanoi. The transfer cost around 300k for two (I can’t remember the exact figure!).

 

Day 6 - fly to Da Nang, optional afternoon visit to Marble Mountains or Lady Buddha

a white sandy beach and blue sea with straw parasols on the beach surrounded by palm trees and blue sky

My Khe Beach, Da Nang

Domestic air travel is quick and affordable within Vietnam. Take an easy flight from Hanoi to Da Nang which takes around 1 hour.

Da Nang airport is very close to the city centre, only about 15 minutes drive, so you can easily get a Grab taxi from the airport to your accommodation.

In the afternoon, visit one of the nearby attractions which are in Da Nang. Depending on your flight time and how tired you are, it’s possible to do both. But if you only have a couple of hours in the afternoon after your flight, I’d suggest picking either the Marble Mountains or Lady Buddha.

The Marble Mountains in Da Nang are about 20 minutes outside the city centre. The 5 mountains represent the 5 elements of the universe and the whole complex of caves and pagodas tells famous stories in Vietnamese mythology. The entrance fee is 40K and you can either climb to the top by 186 steps or pay an additional 15k to take the elevator. Allow 2-3 hours here depending on how many of the caves you want to go into and explore.

a huge cave with steps down to a pagoda inside in Marble Mountains on a Vietnam itinerary

Marble Mountains Cave

Lady Buddha is a great option if you’re looking for free things to do in Da Nang. You’ll probably spot the white Lady Buddha statue on the Da Nang peninsula from the Da Nang beaches. The huge statue looks out across the coast and offers spectacular views of the Da Nang coastline and mountains beyond. There’s also the Am Linh Dai Can Khon pagoda and several sculptures and statues to explore. You will need around 1 hour here.

Helena standing in front of a huge white  lady buddha statue in Da Nang Vietnam

Lady Buddha on Da Nang Peninsula

If you’re looking for Da Nang food recommendations, I highly recommend Thia Go for authentic, affordable Vietnamese food. The staff are lovely and they also have a sister restaurant in Chiang Mai.

a bowl of vietnamese pho

Pho at Thia Go

 

Day 7 - Danang day trip to Ba Na Hills or My Son Temple

There are so many Da Nang day trips to choose from, it can be hard to narrow them down!

Ba Na Hills is the location of the stunning Golden Bridge where the giant stone hands hold up the bridge, which is often shrouded in clouds. The bridge is part of the Ba Na Hills SunWorld Theme Park which is full of attractions, a recreated French village and gondolas with incredible views of the mountains. Tickets to SunWorld cost 900K VND (around £30) so it’s not cheap, especially if you’re a family or group. Plus you’ll need to arrange transport there.

There are some shuttle bus options such as this one, or you can arrange a private transfer through your hotel.

If you would prefer not to spend that amount on tickets to SunWorld, a visit to My Son Sanctuary Is another great day trip option where you can see the incredible runs of the temples of the Champ people. The temple complex is a UNESCO World Heritage site.

I would say that if you’ve been to Angkor Wat, you might be a bit underwhelmed by My Son. It’s amazing to see but they are not as well preserved, especially after damage in the war and the temple complex is considerably smaller.

Find My Son day trips from Da Nang below:

 

Day 8 - Full day trip to Hue

a line of red doorways with ancient carving detail and Helena standing in front

Hue citadel

The day trip I highly recommend from Da Nang is to visit Hue. Hue was the capital of Vietnam until the last monarch abdicated in 1945.

Hue is known as the Imperial City and you can visit the spectacular fortified Citadel and the Forbidden City as well as Emperor Khai Dinh’s spectacular Tomb and the Thien Mu Pagoda.

This is the tour I did from Da Nang - it includes hotel pick up and drop off, lunch, all the sights above plus stops at Hai Van Pass and Lang Co Beach. Alternatively you can organise a private tour with your hotel.

TOP TIP: If you’re a woman, make sure you either wear long trousers or bring a long skirt or trousers to put over the top when you visit Emperor Khai Dinh’s tomb. They have some skirts available but you won’t be allowed in if your knees are on show.

a stone warrior statue

The stone army at Emperor Khai Dinh’s Mausoleum

 

Day 9 - Da Nang beaches, move to Hoi An, see Hoi An Ancient Town

a white sandy beach and blue sea with the city skyline of Da Nang in the distance

Da Nang, Vietnam

I’m sure you’ll see the beautiful beaches in Da Nang and it would be wrong not to enjoy them! Whether you’re choosing to stay by the beach here or in Hoi An, these stretches of white sandy beach were probably the biggest surprise to me when I arrived in Da Nang - I never expected such beautiful beaches in Vietnam!

My Khe and My An are the two main beaches in Da Nang, they’re on the waterfront, close to lots of hotels and free to access. There are lifeguards on duty during the summer as well as plenty of beach bars and restaurants.

In the afternoon, move over to Hoi An which is just 30 minutes down the road from Da Nang. A Grab ride there will cost you around 300K or you could arrange a transfer with your hotel.

walking down the ancient streets of hoi an with lantern decorations

Hoi An Ancient Town

The afternoon and evening are the best times to explore Hoi An ancient town. The temperature is cooler and as the sun sets, the lanterns come on and give the Ancient town a warm, magical glow.

Ride a traditional sampan boat in the evening on the Thu Bon River and light candles to float in the water. Sampan boat rides cost 150K for 1-3 people in a boat and last for 20 minutes. You can find the boats along the riverside next to An Hoi Bridge.

traditional wooden boats decorated with lanterns on the river at dusk in Hoi An, streets with lanterns in the backgroun

Sampan boats in Hoi An

For dinner in Hoi An, I recommend Pho Xua or Com Linh, both are traditional Vietnamese restaurants close to each other on Phan Chu Trinh road.

Make sure you try Mot too, it’s a traditional herbal tea drink and you’ll see people queuing for it at Mot Hoi An.

 

Day 10 - Explore Hoi An: Lantern Making and tailoring

a wall of colourful lanterns at a lantern shop in Hoi An vietnam

Hoi An lanterns

There is so much to see and do in Hoi An Ancient Town, spend the day exploring.

If you’re interested in having clothing tailored, make sure you start this process asap. Some places can turn around an item in 24-48 hours so if you have something in mind - visit a tailor as soon as you arrive. The more complex something is, the longer it will take. Something like a shirt or a simple sundress can be completed in a day.

Tailors in Hoi An are famous for their talent and skills which date back to the days of Hoi An being a busy trading port. While you should expect ridiculously cheap prices for big items, you can easily get a quality 3-piece suit for example, for around £80-100 depending on the detail and material - still much cheaper than at home!

There is also a Hoi An Old Town pass available from selling points around the Ancient Town and it gives you access to several of the most famous landmarks in Hoi An, you can visit an unlimited number of them in a 2 hour period. I would recommend visiting the Assembly Hall of Fujian Chinese (Hoi Quan Phuoc Kien) which is a centuries old buddhist temple. Also the Japanese Bridge, the Old House of Tan Ky and the Hainan Assembly Hall. The pass costs 120K per person.

I also highly recommend a lantern making class in Hoi An. You will see so many stores selling lanterns but there’s something very special about learning how to make them and taking them home for yourself. Don’t worry about the shape - they collapse down and can easily be stored in your bag.

If you’re looking for a tea house or coffee stop, check out Faifo Coffee for rooftop views of Hoi An. Also Reaching Out Teahouse is a great social initiative cafe which provides jobs to people with disabilities to allow them to gain employment skills.

Helena sitting on a rooftop looking across terracotta roofs of Ho An ancient town

Faifo Coffee Shop

Spend the evening wandering around the old town, the colours, the famous night market, the lanterns and the traditional architecture are truly so magical and it’s hard to believe how idyllic it is - Hoi An is definitely a must-have experience for your two weeks Vietnam itinerary.

 

Day 11 - Hoi An: Cam Thanh coconut village and rice terraces

a man spinning a basket boat in the water in vietnam

Famous basket boats at Cam Thanh Coconut Village

Cam Thanh Coconut Village is a must do while in Hoi An. Visit the traditional fishing village and see the famous basket boats which were once used by fishermen but are now available for tourists to go boating in.

Cam Thanh is only a 10 minute grab journey from Hoi An. Alternatively, you can take a basket boat all the way along the waterways from Hoi An to Cam Thanh.

Some people also choose to cycle through the rice fields to Cam Thanh and the scenery is beautiful, you might spot water buffalo too! Although I wouldn’t recommend cycling in the heat if you’re visiting in the summer months!

A ride in the basket boat is 100K per person and lasts for 40 minutes. They’re a lot of fun and you’ll see them being spun in the water, often to music - there’s a really fun vibe here and there’s even floating karaoke stations out on the main waterways! Your guide will ask you if you want to spin the boat you’re in too - it’s a lot of fun but I wouldn’t recommend it if you get motion sick!

Enjoy a cooling drink at one of the cafes along the waterways in the shade of the coconut groves. Check out the market stalls and you can even take a cooking class if you want to!

If you’d prefer to book a trip to Cam Thanh as part of a tour with transfers from your hotel, check out this option.

Spend your last afternoon and evening in Hoi An - maybe pick up your tailoring or get some souvenirs from the night market around the river and enjoy the street food there too.

 

Day 12 - travel to Ho Chi Minh City

Helena stnading on a balcony looking across the street at a pink church

View of Tan Dinh church from Cong Cafe terrace

Fly to Ho Chi Minh City from Da Nang for the last leg of your trip.

We also used a Grab taxi to get from Ho Chi Minh Airport to Ho Chi Minh City (HCMC).

I recommend staying in District 1 to make the most of the location and spend the afternoon visiting the main sights including:

  • Saigon Central Post Office

  • Notre Dame Cathedral Saigon

  • Ho Chi Minh City Book Street (these first three are all very close together)

  • War Remnants Museum

  • Tan Dinh Church (pink church)

book street in saigon, lined wih bookstores in ho chi minh city

HCMC book street

Helena standing in front of a yellow post office in Ho Chi Minh City

Saigon Post Office

For dinner I recommend Pho Quynh for my favourite Pho in Ho Chi Minh City. The food court at Ben Nghe Street Food Market is also great with a huge selection of foods although more expensive than normal Vietnamese street food.

In the evening, I highly recommend walking down Bui Vien Walking Street. Even if you’re not someone who enjoys a drink or a party, the lively atmosphere is really something fun to experience and very different from the nightlife in Hanoi!

the colourful bui vien street lit up at night in Ho Chi Minh City, busy with people

Bui Vien walking street, Ho Chi Minh City

 

Day 13 - Day trip to the Cu Chi Tunnels

Helena emerging from a hole in the ground

Cu Chi Tunnels (getting in is optional!)

I’ve always felt that we were not taught enough about the Vietnam War at school in the UK, whereas my partner is from the US and he obviously knows loads about it. So we decided to visit the famous Cu Chi Tunnels used by the Viet Cong during the war and it was one of my favourite day trips ever.

I loved it because I learnt more about the war on this day than I’d ever known before and the tiny tunnels, incredible warfare tactics and the violence that happened in this area was mind blowing for me to see and learn more about. For my partner, he knew so much of this information already but it was amazing for him to actually see the tunnels and the famous locations he’d been taught about at school but only seen in textbooks.

My point is, whether you know a lot or a little about the Vietnam War, this really is an incredible day trip.

This is the exact Cu Chi Tunnels tour we did which included a tour guide, hotel pickup and drop off in the city, lunch and entry to the tunnels, plus a Mekong Delta boat ride and tour too which I really loved as well.

sitting in a boat in a traditional vietnamese cone hat sailing down the mekong delta surrounded by palms

Mekong Delta boat ride from Ho Chi Minh City

In the evening, if you’re a craft beer fan, HCMC is great for the craft beer scene. I recommend Pasteur Street Brewing, East West Brewing and Heart of Darkness - all of which are Vietnamese craft breweries.

 

Day 14 - Last day exploring Ho Chi Minh City before flying home

Spend your last day in the city visiting any of the attractions and sights you weren’t able to see on the first day..

Depending on your flight time, the museums in Saigon are really insightful and have a lot of history to share. We also enjoyed the Museum of Fine Arts.

a busy nightlife street in Ho Chi Ming City, Vietnam

HCMC

 

Essential packing list for two weeks in Vietnam itinerary

For your 2 weeks in Vietnam itinerary, you’ll need to be aware that the country has several different climates. For example when it's the rainy season in Hanoi (July-August) this is also the dry summer season for Da Nang and Hoi An.

Aside from your normal packing list, I would recommend the following specifically for Vietnam:

  • A light rain jacket (pack-a-mac is great or you can buy a poncho when you’re there)

  • Flip flops or sandals

  • Walking shoes or trainers with good grip

  • Sunscreen

  • Bug spray

  • Cover ups (for women in particular visiting temples)

  • Sun cap and sunglasses

  • A cross body bag or belt bag to keep your belongings close and hands free - easy and convenient!

  • Thin, breathable clothes for humid climates

  • Imodium or similar stomach upset tablets

  • For women - if you expect to need sanitary items while on your trip, bring them from home, most sanitary pads in Vietnam contain menthol which is a very odd (?) sensation

I also recommend downloading the following before your trip:

  • Grab - ride hail app
  • Airalo - esim app for mobile data abroad
  • Google Translate - offline Vietnam language
  • Google Maps - offline maps
 

2 week itinerary Vietnam: FAQs

How long to visit Vietnam for?

A Vietnam 2 week itinerary is the ideal length of time to see a variety of Vietnam, experience the north and south of Vietnam as well as a good mixture of city, nature and beach.

 

How much spending money do I need for 2 weeks in Vietnam?

This really depends on your budget, preferred travel style and number of people travelling in your group. Vietnam is a very cheap country compared to a lot of western countries. You can find affordable luxury hotels for £30-50 per night, budget hostels or hotels from £2-15 per night.

For two people eating out in the evening at a mid-range restaurant, we usually spend £8-10 for both people including drinks. 

It is easily possible to do Vietnam for under £50 per day for accommodation and food. You will then need to add the price of tours and attractions on top of that which are also very affordable.

 

Is two weeks long enough in Vietnam?

Vietnam in two weeks is plenty of time to see the variety and diversity that the country has to offer, from the north to the south, from nature and mountains to beaches and coastal towns.

If you had longer, I would recommend 3 weeks in Vietnam and you could include Sapa, Ha Giang or visit Phu Quoc island which is just a 1 hour flight from Ho Chi Minh City.

 

When is the rainy season in Vietnam?

Vietnam has several climates which means there is no single rainy season in Vietnam. Generally the rainy seasons are:

North Vietnam: June-August

Central Vietnam: October-December

South Vietnam: May-October

 

Is Vietnam or Thailand cheaper?

Vietnam is cheaper than Thailand

Thailand is still very cheap compared to western countries such as the UK, US and Europe but Thailand is more expensive than Vietnam. To give a quick example, we spent £8-10 for a meal for two in Vietnam, a similar meal would cost £12-15 in Thailand. Beer in Vietnam is £1 or less sometimes. Beer in Thailand is more like £2, based on my experiences in Bangkok, Phuket and Krabi.

 

Which is better Hanoi or Ho Chi Minh City?

Neither city is “better” than the other. Northern Vietnam generally is more traditional, Hanoi retains more traditional culture and is a lot grittier as an experience. Ho Chi Minh City feels more metropolitan and I suppose you could say you can see more western influences on the city there.

Hanoi is an amazing base for a lot of incredible trips in north Vietnam such as Sapa, Ha Giang Loop, Ha Long Bay. But Saigon can also offer Mui Ne, Mekong Delta, Cu Chi Tunnels and flights to Phu Quoc island.

 

Summary: 2 weeks in Vietnam itinerary and travel guide

Hopefully this 2 week Vietnam itinerary has given you plenty of inspiration for the best places to travel in Vietnam for 2 weeks and helped you with how to plan a trip to Vietnam. I aim to cover the diversity of Vietnam in this itinerary, so you can experience the cities, nature, beaches, mountains, coastal towns and also get a taste of both the north and south of Vietnam.

Of course this is a Vietnam suggested itinerary, 2 weeks is enough to cover the main sights but you can adapt or change it to suit your needs, travel style and budget. I hope you have an amazing trip!

Pin for later to plan your trip!

The ultimate 2 weeks in Vietnam itinerary covering the north and the south of Vietnam, with beaches and mountains, plus iconic sites like Halong Bay and Hoi An | vietnam travel itinerary | vietnam itinerary north to south | 2 week vietnam | vietnam i
The ultimate 2 weeks in Vietnam itinerary covering the north and the south of Vietnam, with beaches and mountains, plus iconic sites like Halong Bay and Hoi An | vietnam travel itinerary | vietnam itinerary north to south | 2 week vietnam | vietnam i