My 1-Month Vietnam Travel Itinerary

I was determined to experience as much of Vietnam as possible during my 1 month of travel through the country. My journey started in Ho Chi Minh City in southern Vietnam, and over the course of my 4 weeks there, I slowly worked my way north to Hanoi via buses and trains.

Covering a total of 7 destinations, this was definitely one of my busiest months of travel in Southeast Asia, however, I also feel that this pace allowed me to thoroughly experience Vietnam as a whole.

For anyone planning a similar trip across the length of the country, here’s a look at how I structured my month of travel in Vietnam:

Street scenes from Saigon

Ho Chi Minh City / Saigon

– 3 days –

Saigon is a city for foodies! When I wasn’t sightseeing, I was eating my way around town and one of the food highlights turned out to be pho. I had tried pho before and I always thought it was such a bland dish without very much flavour, but as it turns out, I just needed to eat it in Vietnam to enjoy the dish in all its glory. The combination of cilantro, chilli peppers, lime, Asian basil and bean sprouts was amazing!

In terms of sightseeing, since my time was limited, I decided to sign up for a 1 day tour of the city and I then spent the rest of the time wandering around on my own. (There are plenty of tour agencies across the city, so you won’t be short of options!)

My tour took me to the Vietnam War Remnants Museum for a sobering look at the lasting effects of the Vietnam War; the Reunification Palace, where the North Vietnamese crashed through the gates officially putting an end to the war; the Thien Hau Pagoda, which is a temple dedicated to the Goddess of the Sea; the Saigon Notre-Dame Basilica, which is a cathedral that was established by the French colonists; and lastly the Saigon Central Post Office, which was based on a design by Gustave Eiffel!

Cruising the Mekong Delta in Vietnam

Mekong Delta

– 3 days –

The Mekong Delta is a region in southwestern Vietnam where the Mekong River empties out into the ocean. The delta is made up of a vast network of streams and rivers, and the wildlife found in the region is truly astonishing. While I may have ended up on the nightmare tour of the Mekong Delta, this region of Vietnam is full of lush vegetation and natural beauty. In short, it is not to be missed!

My one tip is that you do your research when it comes to the company you’re going to be booking your tour with. I took a tour that looked great on paper – we were going to be visiting a lot of places – however, what we weren’t told is that most of our time would be spent sitting on a bus and that our stops would be extremely short.

“Uhh, you’re giving me 30 minutes to climb 400 steps, visit a temple, and come running back down those 400 steps?” This could be a problem…

Enjoying the beaches of Nha Trang, Vietnam

Nha Trang

– 4 days –

I wanted to squeeze in some beach time while I was in Vietnam, so a little stop in Nha Trang offered a nice seaside break. While this destination may pale in comparison to some of the lesser known islands in Southern Thailand, I thought it was a good enough spot – the waters were warm, the sand was clean, and because the beach is so spread out, sometimes I had the whole place to myself.

I will say that the town of Nha Trang doesn’t offer much in terms of culture. There are a few side trips you can take – there’s the local fishing village, the Long Son Pagoda which is home to a massive reclining Buddha, and the Po Nagar Cham Towers which were built by the Cham civilization – however, this is predominantly a beach town.

Biking to the outskirts of Hoi An, Vietnam

Hoi An

– 9 days –

I rave about Hoi An anytime people mention travel in Vietnam. This was one of those standout destinations that I’m still thinking about a year later.

Most of the historic sites in Hoi An work on a coupon system – you pay $6 and this grants you admission to a number of temples, assembly halls, and workshops. While the Old Town of Hoi An is quite small, I managed to see something new every day I was there.

If you want to get crafty and take a unique souvenir home with you, there are classes where you can learn to make lanterns and conical hats. Not only do you pick up a rather unusual skill, but it also makes your souvenir all the more special.

There were also plenty of places to visit outside of the city, like the Tra Que Herb Village, Cua Dai Beach, and An Bang Beach.

Of course, you can’t come to Hoi An and not go shopping. Despite its size, the city of Hoi An is known for the hundreds of tailor shops scattered across the city. Travellers come from far and wide to have their clothes perfectly tailored and it doesn’t cost a fortune. When it comes to picking out clothes, you can either choose a model you like in the store, or you can bring in a picture from a magazine and the tailors will recreate that look for you. I managed to walk away from my time in Hoi An with 3 new dresses!

A water puppet show in Hanoi, Vietnam

Hanoi

– 3 days –

Hanoi was the one city in Vietnam that I didn’t really click with. I think it was the combination of mad traffic, incessant honking, and the fact that I’d had a very busy month of travel through the country. While I didn’t feel very inspired to go out and explore, I did manage to visit Hoan Kiem Lake in the historic centre of town, and attend a water puppet show at Thang Long Water Puppet Theater.

Cruising and kayaking around Halong Bay, Vietnam

Halong Bay

– 2 days –

I couldn’t imagine coming to Vietnam and not witnessing the natural marvel that is Halong Bay. Also known as The Bay of Descending Dragons, Halong Bay is home to some of the most fascinating topography in the world. Rocky karst formations covered in lush vegetation rise out of the waters giving the bay an other-worldly feel.

I knew a one day tour would not be enough time to soak in this magical landscape, so I signed up for a 3 day – 2 night boat tour. The next 3 days were spent sailing the harbour aboard the junk boat (that’s just the name, the boats are not junky!), and taking part in a number of activities like kayaking in the bay, visiting caves, and hiking around some of the islands.

I can’t recommend this experience enough!

When it comes to choosing a tour of Halong Bay, you’ll want to do your research. From wild party cruises where young twenty-somethings get deserted on an island ‘Castaway-style’ to high-end luxury cruises, there is something for every type of traveller and every budget.

Also, consider what time of year you’re travelling in. I went to Halong Bay in May when it was jelly-fish season! This meant no swimming or jumping off the ship unless you wanted to get seriously stung.

Trekking in Sapa, Vietnam

Sapa

– 6 days –

The mountainside town of Sapa was another favourite of mine. This frontier town which is only a few kilometres away from the border with China, was a much welcomed retreat after a whole month of travel in the country. The cooler temperatures made it very pleasant to spend the days walking outdoors.

My time in Sapa was spent visiting the local markets, hiking to nearby villages like Cat Cat, and also doing a 2 day trek through the hill tribes with a local guide. The scenery we saw was truly breathtaking.

If my Vietnamese visa had not been about to expire, I would have gladly spent weeks here. I mean, just look at those mountains!

My 1 month Vietnam travel itinerary.

What would I change in my Vietnam travel itinerary?

  • There were a few destinations that I’ve heard many travellers rave about, that I simply didn’t have enough time to visit. The sand dunes in Mui Ne and the beaches of Phu Quoc Island are the two places I wish I’d made it to.
  • When it came to travelling the Mekong Delta, I wish I had chosen a more relaxed tour. The tour I took spent too much time rushing around from one destination to the next aboard a bus, when all I wanted to do was sail the Mekong.
  • I really enjoyed hiking through Sapa and if I’d had more time I think I would have signed up for a longer trek through the mountains. The 2 days flew by!
  • I really can’t complain about the weather in Halong Bay; while the mornings started out misty, the fog would soon clear to reveal spectacular landscapes, however, my tip for travellers is to try to avoid jelly-fish season! If you’re looking forward to a lot of water-based activities, this could put a bit of a damper on the trip.
  • More train travel. My travels in Vietnam were made up of a combination of buses and trains. The buses were probably one of the most terrifying aspects of travelling in Vietnam – imagine kamikaze-style drivers who are not afraid to swerve onto oncoming traffic in order to pass vehicles. This aggressive driving style coupled with ceaseless honking and very few bathroom breaks, made the overnight bus journeys torturous. I would suggest you take the train.

Have you been to Vietnam?
What destinations would you add to this Vietnam travel itinerary?


107 Comments

  • Mark says:

    Great write-up, thanks.

    Question: You say to avoid jellyfish season but when exactly IS jellyfish season. You were there in May, but how long does it last?

    • Audrey says:

      I’ve just googled that and it appears that jellyfish season can run anytime between May and September. I only experienced it when I was there at the end of May, so I really can’t say how bad it is during the other months…

    • William says:

      I enjoyed reading your travel story. I’m visiting Vietnam this November and am thinking of whether to take 4 or 5 weeks here. I’ve been before to Hanoi. I was going to divide the holiday between Vietnam and China bit I think it will be cold there in December. I think it is best to do Vietnam now and China another time. Do you recommend 4 or 5 weeks? My return flight home is from Bangkok.

  • Awesome itinerary, Audrey. I will definitely be using this to help plan my trip to Vietnam in the fall! Love your pictures. If you could pick one place to have spent more time, which would it be?
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    • Audrey says:

      That’s awesome that you’re heading out to Vietnam! That was one of my favourite countries to travel through in Asia. In terms of places to linger, I really enjoy smaller towns with a laid-back feel, so Hoi An and Sapa were 2 of my favourites. I would have gladly spent more time in either of those 2 places. 🙂

    • Pham Tuyen says:

      Hi Mark,

      Jellyfish season occurs from June to end of September. Be cafeful when swimming then.

  • Charlie says:

    Totally agree about the buses, they were horrific!!
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  • Angela says:

    I really want to go to Vietnam. Must have been great to take your time to tour around even if it looks like you guys were always on the move. I love that type of travel. See as much as you can!
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    • Audrey says:

      Yeah, it was a busy month, but I’m glad we had a quick pace because it allowed us to see quite a bit of the country. 🙂

  • Looks like you guys had fun! By the way, Halong Bay looks a lot like Phang Nga Bay in Thailand to me.
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    • Audrey says:

      That’s nice to hear! I didn’t make it to Phang Nga Bay in Thailand, so this makes me feel like I didn’t completely miss out. 😉

  • Nancy says:

    yes cannot agree more…Vietnam is such a beautiful place to go. Took me 3 separate trips to cover the whole of Vietnam ie. South, Central & North….i prefer the Central & Northern part of Vietnam

  • Maria Falvey says:

    Looks amazing or maybe that’s because of you and Sam. Definitely on the list!
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  • Carmel says:

    We spent a month in Vietnam, too, but were stuck in Saigon for 2 weeks dealing with a visa issue. However, the rest of the time we spent exploring was unforgettable. We loved central Vietnam. We sadly weren’t able to take the train because we were there during Tet and with our changed plans, it was too late to get a train ticket, so we had to fly. We missed out on North Vietnam, so it just gives us another reason to go back!
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    • Audrey says:

      That’s too bad that you encountered visa problems in Vietnam, but on the bright side, I guess Saigon isn’t such a bad place where to wait. They had such a great foodie scene there!

  • Karyn @ Not Done Travelling says:

    Thanks for the tip about jellyfish season! I had no idea there even was a jellyfish season!

    Was there also a lot of rubbish in Ha Long Bay? I’ve heard there is.
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    • Audrey says:

      I honestly didn’t see a lot of garbage in Halong Bay, but I guess it could all depend on the tides and the season.

  • Agness says:

    There are so many great things to do in Vietnam and so many amazing places to explore that one month is not enough to see it all. However, you highlighted the most important spots which I have been to and miss a lot these days. Hanoi was my favorite followed by Ninh Binh. 9 days is just the minimum to see these spots :).
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    • Audrey says:

      Wow, I just looked at photos of Ninh Binh and it looks amazing! I had honestly never heard of this place until you mentioned it. The landscape look surreal – a bit like Yangshuo, but more of a rural feel. 🙂

  • Ollie says:

    Good read! I Have been living in Vietnam now for a year and a half. The whole place just clicks for me! I am currently based in Nha Trang due to the warmer climate here and the vast amount of expats. But as a whole it is probably one of the least desirable places to live in ‘Nam. I would like to add though that there are a few more great things to do in this area; You could nip down to Bai Dai (long beach) which is only a half hour trip south of the city center, 20km of perfect untouched beach with some beautiful little shacks serving great food and great company (My Hung is my choice, but sample a few). You also have Doc Let, an untouch, non-tourist beach aprox 1.5 hours drive directly north, whilst you are heading that way, why not check out Ba Hoa waterfalls? 9 tiers and a bit of walk but get there early to catch the warm rays!

    I am so glad you enjoyed Vietnam. A lot of tourist I have spoken to this year feel like the Vietnamese treated them badly and a few said that they had been ripped of to the point that i was gobsmacked!

    But learn the basic langauge of where your heading and make sure you venture outside the normal tourist routes and trails. You’ll be pleasantly surprised at how friendly they are!

    Have great travels!

    • Audrey says:

      Thanks for all the great suggestions, Ollie! It’s nice to know that there are a few more attractions to check out around the Nha Trang area. I’m sure travellers reading through here for tips will appreciate the advice of someone who’s living there and knows the area by hand. Cheers!

  • Julio Moreno says:

    This looks great. In the past, I spent 2 weeks in Vietnam and did Saigon, Mui Ne, and Phu Quoc. By far Phu Quoc was the highlight of my trip.
    My friend who lived in Vietnam for a year did the same length you did but on motor bike. She lived in Saigon, bought a motorcycle and sold it in Sapa.
    Man, I really want to go to Halong bay after looking at your pictures 🙂
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  • Hayley says:

    I totally did your trip but minus Sapa and adding Hue, but it seems like Sapa is the better choice. Hue was great for the historical-side of things but not much else in my opinion! This is an awesome idea though, the travel itinerary. Thanks 🙂 x
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  • Sam says:

    This sounds like an ideal trip through Vietnam, a country I’m still eager to visit (maybe early next year…?!). I’ll definitely be coming back to this itinerary when planning my own…eventually!
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  • Unfortunately, I didn’t have time to get to Sapa, and I would have loved to get to Dalat, where the local crafts are said to be fantastic. I completely agree with you on the other places, right down to not resonating with Hanoi – give me HCMC over Hanoi any day! Plus, I’d add Hue and maybe DaNang, home of the Marble Mountain, which is truly magnificent. Just writing this makes me think I need to go back 🙂
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    • Audrey says:

      Thanks for sharing your tips, Barbara! It’s too bad I missed out on Hue because I’ve had several people recommend that as a cultural destination, and the Marble Mountains also sound like a pretty cool place to visit. 🙂

  • Ollie Higgins says:

    Great article! I’m doing a pretty similar trip right now, just got a couple more days in Ho Chi Minh, is crossing the road on foot an extreme sport all over Vietnam, or is it just this bad in the capital?

    • Audrey says:

      Hahaha, I know what you mean! It’s almost better to close your eyes and just let the scooters swerve around you. It was just as bad in Hanoi…best of luck out there! 😉

  • Naomi says:

    Wow, this is a great itinerary! I will sure to bookmark this for when I finally do make it there. A potentially stupid question as it may already be in the post but how long was travel time between the places? Could you do most of it overnight?
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    • Audrey says:

      Hi Naomi, I can’t give you a precise time between destinations because it obviously varies from one place to the next. Some stretches of travel were only 6 hours, while others involved taking overnight buses and trains.

  • Tyler says:

    Great rundown! Will definitely help Anaïs and I when we get to planning the Vietnam section of our journey. Many thanks!
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  • Anna McPherson says:

    Hi Audrey
    I love Vietnam so much! Interesting that you didn’t click with Hanoi – we were the same upon our visit, and as such only stayed one night. We were advised to skip Nha Trang too, but ended staying five days! Thanks for taking me back there virtually 🙂 Great wrap up.
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  • Thanks for this detailed itinerary! I’m planning to visit Vietnam this coming September with friends, but I’ll only stay there one week the longest. Now i think i know which part i should go to first 😀
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  • Rachel of Hippie in Heels says:

    I’d like to go to Vietnam this monsoon! I’ll have to bookmark this for later.
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  • Emy says:

    I’ve never been to Vietnam but that’s definitely somewhere I want to go! I’d love to volunteer there after my bachelor’s degree next year! It looks like your trip was … exhausting! Great but intense!
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  • I wish I had seen more of Vietnam when I went. I only visited Saigon and the Mekong delta, but I’d love to see Sapa and Halong Bay too. Guess I will have to return to Asia one day. 🙂
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    • Audrey says:

      Yes, I highly recommend visiting the northern part of the country if you get the chance! The landscapes there were amazing! 🙂

  • Simone says:

    Thanks for this! We are currently trying to figure out our itinerary as we head to Saigon on April 10th. This has been helpful in figuring out the amount of days to stay in each town since our plan is fairly similar except with Mui Ne instead of the Mekong.
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    • Audrey says:

      Mui Ne sounds like a nice choice! It’s kind of cool that you can find a ‘desert oasis’ in Vietnam.

  • Heather says:

    Lucky you, having a whole month to explore that fabulous country! We only had 10 days so had to make some hard decisions about what to see and do. We spent 5 days in HCMC, saw the Cu Chi Tunnels, and had a day trip planned for the Mekong Delta that we ultimately had to cancel due to food poisoning. From HCMC we flew to Hanoi for a few days and then took a Halong Bay cruise. It’s too bad you didn’t click with Hanoi, I just loved the crazy energy of the old quarter!
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  • Lauren says:

    This is a super informative wrap-up! I love seeing how people spend their time in countries. Usually there isn’t enough time to see everything or you find out about places you missed. But, there’s always next time to catch up with those spots, or re-visit the places that you loved the most! I’m saving this blog post for future reference 🙂

  • Alison says:

    Great itinerary! I would also recommend Ba Be National Park. It is off the beaten path, which can be hard to do in Vietnam. The park is stunning and we were able to do a trek through many different ethnic minority villages. We were the only tourists on the entire trek! Definitely a must do.
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    • Audrey says:

      Thanks for sharing your recommendation, Alison! Ba Be National Park sounds like a wonderful part of the country to experience. I really enjoyed my trek in Sapa, so this one sounds like a lot of fun.

  • Too bad you missed Phu Quoc Island — it was pretty special.
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  • budget jan says:

    We spent one month in Vietnam in April 2011. We visited the same places as you and were sad to miss Mui Ne and Phu Quoc. We loved Hanoi (it was our first stop) – We went to Cat Bay Island and Lan Ha Bay (similar to Ha Long), Sapa and Bac Ha, Ninh Binh, the Mekong Delta (could have been longer) and of course Hoi An (our favourite). We stayed 5 days there and others have said they thought that too long, so I was happy to see you stayed 9. We also loved Nha Trang where we rode bicycles, snorkelled, went to My Son and relaxed. I also wished we could have visited Dalat.
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  • Taylor says:

    You got to get a lot done during your time there! Even though you didn’t get to see and do everything, at least that’s an excuse to go back again and visit. I’ve never really done to much research about Vietnam and didn’t know there was so much to do. Now I know, and I really want to go!
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  • Jo (The Blond) says:

    Looks great! I only visited the north. I would really like to go to the south. I hope to this year. Fingers crossed!
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  • Hanoi is a very nice city once you get used to it. I totally loved seeing the legendary sea turtle of the lake, it’s HUGE!
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  • Felicia says:

    Hi!
    I’m currently in Vietnam right now working my way upp to Hanoi and Sapa. Your posts on Vietnam and your way up is a great fun to read. What I find difficult is to find good angencies to travel with when it’s hard to do the trip by yourself bit you seem really pleased with your trekking tour i Sapa and the boat Cruise in Halong Bay, and i wondered if you could recommened the agencies. I too vad a real bad experience IF the mening delta, horrible and i just really don’t won’t to do the same mistake again. I really enjoy your blog by the way!!! 🙂 hope you can help me out with some tips!
    /Felicia

    • Audrey says:

      Hi Felicia,

      I booked my tour of Halong Bay with a company called ET Pumpkin that has its offices in Hanoi’s Old Quarter. I also booked my train travel to Sapa through them. In terms of accommodations in Sapa, I booked the Mountainview Hotel independently once I arrived, and I also booked my trekking tour through the hotel.

      I hope that helps! Have a great trip out there.

  • Mr. N says:

    Hi,
    Thanks for a wonder blog and many youtube videos
    I have read your post here. I think you forgot to visit Con Dao island – south of vietnam, the best place in vietnam from my many vietnamese locals, not many tourists know this place. Besides, Ca Mau to see its beautiful sunset, Da Lat for many beautiful lakes, Mui Ne for famous sand hills, Hue for history… If you have a second chance to come back vietnam, Con Dao is the must see place.

  • Veronica says:

    This looks amazing! I love posts like this with a summary and tips of where to go. I’d love to go back and make sure to check out the places you’ve mentioned!
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  • Nadja says:

    Thanks for this post! I’ll be in Vietnam in the end of the year so that post is perfect for me:) Great pictures and tips:)
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  • Shikha (whywasteannualleave) says:

    I absolutely loved Hoi An – there weas something about it that was so friendly and warm! Did you get a chance to visit this little tea house there? http://wp.me/p3Lian-7H
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  • Tom Ho says:

    I have checked your itinerary, but could not find Hue city. the old capital of Vietnam. You missed it. It’s beautiful city with the romantic river flowing through the city; the best street food in Vietnam.

  • Bex says:

    Hey Audrey, I have just come across your blog. It is fantastic! I leave for a 12 month trip around the world next Wednesday, and after a brief stop in Singapore, we head to Hanoi to start our trip in Vietnam. It is so helpful reading your articles, not to mention interesting! I look forward to following you from now on. Thanks! Bex

    • Audrey says:

      That’s great to hear, Bex! I’m happy to hear the articles have come in handy with planning your trip. 🙂 Wishing you fun travels all around the world!!!

  • Im Vietnamese says:

    I’m Vietnamese. I was very touched when you write about us. I hope, Vietnam beauty will make you happy.

  • Bob Usher says:

    It partly comes down to how long you’ve got! All the places you mentioned , in addition, Hue, must do, Ninh Binh, both the river and the temple, and I’m suprised no one mentioned Phong Nha, as good a cave system as you will see anywhere in the world. Beyond the unmissable Hoi An my personal favorite is Ha Noi, takes a while to get used to but has a great laid back atmosphere.

  • Marko says:

    Hi Audrey. Your post is really great.
    I’m planning to go to Vietnam in the middle if December for 1 month with my wife. Is this a good time for travelling? Your itinerary looks perfect for us… Maybe just opposite direction.What do you think: new year eve in Hui or on the beach (like Nha Trang)?
    How much money do we need for this (budget travellers)?
    Marko

    • Audrey says:

      Hi Marko,

      December is a good time to travel in Vietnam and Southeast Asia in general. It can get a little chilly up in the hills in the northern part of the country (namely Sapa). In terms of budgeting, it really depends on your travel style. My partner and I were spending a total of $1000-1200 per month in SE Asia, but we weren’t there during the high season so prices might be a little higher over the Christmas and New Years holidays. I hope that helps a bit!

      • Marko says:

        Thank you Audrey.
        One more question: did you make reservations for sleeping and transport in advance?

  • Mary @ Green Global Travel says:

    Wow, what a trip! Even if it’s a month, no matter how long you’re somewhere, it’s always not enough! Thanks for sharing!
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  • Audrey, It is an awesome article! It’s great to know that you have visited all highlights of Vietnam. Instead of going to Sapa with 8 hours overnight on the train, just take an 4 hours trip by bus to Mai Chau which is great to check out. Mai Chau is a 139km trip from Hanoi through mountainous terrain, in a valley about 10km from the Song Da River and only 150 meters above sea level. The village of Ban Lac is in an idyllic and charming, rural valley which is nestled between two towering cliffs surrounded by emerald green paddies and is an enchanting sight as you wind down the cliff side.

    Going off the beaten path to Hanoi countryside to do eco tours which is unique and memorable experience, you can gain an insight into Vietnam and have a chance to farm, fish, cook with locals.

    I do recommend those places Mai Chau and eco tours in Hanoi.

  • Abbi says:

    Great Itinerary Audrey. I’ll have about 2.5 weeks to see as much of Vietnam as possible. I’m going to skip out Nha Trang, and go to Mui Me for a little longer. I sadly may have to skip Sapa too, as I spent more time in Laos and Cambodia than I thought I would. The World is just too big. I wish I had more time/money to see a lot more.

  • Ruby says:

    Hey Audrey,
    You’re itinerary looks great, I was just wondering what accommodation you stayed in when you were in Sapa, it looks perfect 🙂

  • Faron says:

    Seems like you guys have had quite the holiday in Vietnam! Your experience would definitely serve as a great source of information for all those travellers wanting to head over to Vietnam. Hoi An deserves a special mention as it is home to an UNESCO World Heritage Site which should be checked out. Also for accommodation, do consider Anantara Hoi An Resort from where the very essence of Vietnam can be enjoyed.

  • Minh Anh says:

    Nice story about Vietnam travel and i am really surprised to read that you ve been 9 days in Hoi An -)) I know Hoi An is very imteresting but i never thought spend more than 4 days there -)) Nice blog and beautiful pictures

  • Dania says:

    Thanks a lot for the awesome itinerary and the tips! sounds so much fun! I planned to go to Vietnam next year. Do you think I should booked the train ticket ahead or the tickets can be bought on the same arrival day? Is it cheap and easy to buy the train ticket?

    • Audrey says:

      Hi Dania, I usually booked my train tickets a few days in advance when I was already in the country. You can easily book tickets through a travel agency or a tour operator. Just try to avoid travelling during major holidays like Tet, because then tickets will be very hard to come by.

  • Christopher says:

    Hey there, did you fly out of Hanoi or did you have to go back to Saigon? I am trying to book flights, and round trip is so much cheaper it seems…So it would be more economical to do a round trip, but seems to mess with itineraries I find.

    • Audrey says:

      Hi Christopher,
      I arrived in Saigon (HCMC) and worked my way north by bus and train. Then when I finished my trip, I flew out of Hanoi. It didn’t make a lot of sense to backtrack all the way south. If you’re only travelling in Vietnam and you have a round-trip ticket, you may have to backtrack regardless, but if you’re doing a bigger loop around SE Asia, it’s easy to buy one-way tickets and keep moving. I hope that helps!

  • Mic says:

    Which cruise did you take in halong bay and which motel is that pictured in sapa? I am traveling there in March 2015 and I love that sapa motel room view.

    • Audrey says:

      Hi Mic, we booked our Halong Bay tour through ET Pumpkin (they have their offices in Hanoi’s Old Quarter). And the hotel we stayed at in Sapa was called “Mountain View Hotel” – it’s worth upgrading to the balcony room for views like that. Enjoy our travels!

  • Tony says:

    thank you!

  • Eunjin Kim says:

    I’m leaving to Vietnam tmr and haven’t planed out anything yet. ’cause I just finished my final papers. This helps me out a lot. Thanks tons!!!

  • Khánh Ly says:

    I’m Vietnamese. I live in Ha Noi capital. I work in General Department of Taxation. I really happy if Audrey come back to Vietnam. If any one intend to travel to Vietnam – Hanoi and need me to be your travel guide in Ha Noi. Please call me and send email to tkly01@gdt.gov.vn (+844 904 367781). I’m willing to help any one. You don’t have to pay money because I really want to advertise my country to you anh all other from other country. Thanks.

  • Keith says:

    Hi I done end to end Vietnam by train in Late 2012 and early 2013 on my way to and from China.

    Train travel in Vietnam is the way to go, cheap, comfortable, safe reliable, and you get the magnificent scenery on the way. I started in HCMC and finished in Hanoi, Then the reverse on the way home. I stopped in Nha Trang, great if you speak Russian, I met a Russian guy there who was disappointed as he felt it was too much like being back home! Street crime is bad there. Beautiful city though.
    Then it was DaNang nice beach city and found the river front very interesting! Then of course Hoi An, beautiful old town wonderful markets, watch out for rubbish includes Broken bottles buried in the sand at the beach! Ouch. :(. beautiful fresh sea food and local dishes!
    Then to Hanoi only saw the old quarter of the city, but really enjoyed the combination of Vietnamese hospitality and the best of European dining, French baking, chocolate, beer. And best of all is the price, stuff is so cheap!

    I am due to fly back there tomorrow night for another month, fell in love with the place, I can forgive the traffic and the noise in the big cities, did not like the street crime and drug scene in Saigon so was glad to leave. So will head for Nha Trang. 🙂

  • yardena says:

    hi..awesome piece…
    i am thinking of traveling to Vietnam in September for three weeks.
    any thoughts about the weather there this time of year?
    thanks

  • Cam says:

    Thank you so much, as I am researching for my trip I noticed many bloggers praising the bustling city life in Vietnam and the excessive partying. It’s nice to get a more relaxed outlook on history and sights.

  • sandhya says:

    Hi Audrey…Lovely post.
    I wish i could also do a month trip…But i have only 9 days for Vietnam. Planning to go there for our anniversary. Please suggest a doable itinerary.
    It will be more of a backpack trip. Appreciate every bit of a suggestion.

    • Audrey says:

      Hi Sandhya,
      If you only have 9 days, I would suggest either focusing on the Northern or Southern part of the country. If you head south you can do HCMC and the Mekong Delta, and if you head north you could cover Hanoi, Halong Bay and maybe even Sapa.

  • Apple Mudge says:

    Hello,

    Your article is very informative! i wonder how much did you spend for the entire month of touring Vietnam?
    Apple Mudge recently posted..The Picturesque Can Tho Bridge in VietnamMy Profile

  • Gaurav Gupta says:

    Hi,

    Is it advisable to cover North Vietnam in early December ?

  • Marc says:

    It looks like an amazing place to visit. My friend is leaving for Vietnam in few weeks and he’s going on a bike ride and thanks for the great write-up.
    Marc recently posted..Scenic 17-Mile DriveMy Profile

  • Maayan says:

    Hi, this is an extremely useful guide that i plan to follow very soon! Was wondering what you did regarding the visa, I am unsure of how to get a visa of more than 15 days??
    Thankyou so much

    • Audrey says:

      I applied for my visa while I was in Cambodia. They had it processed in 2 days. I’m not sure where you’ll be prior to Vietnam, but I suggest asking around at a few tour agencies.

  • Carmen B says:

    Great itinerary!
    We backpacked for 3 weeks in Vietnam and loved it… one place I would recommend adding is Tam Coc, aka Inland Halong, the landscapes are gorgeous 🙂
    Check out our blog for more inspiration and tips:
    http://bonatravels.com/2015/09/28/country-summary-vietnam/
    Carmen B recently posted..A paradise island called Eue’ikiMy Profile

  • minto says:

    Would you recommend sapa or the mekong as i will only manage 2 nights ?

    • Audrey says:

      It depends on where you are. If you’re closest to Hanoi, then Sapa makes sense. If you’re closest to HMCH, then touring the Mekong would be your best bet.

  • Chris R says:

    Thanks for the stories, Audrey. We are heading to Vietnam in April and following an itinerary similar to yours, so your comments and suggestions are very helpful.
    Looking forward to the train travel up the coast from HCMC to Hanoi.
    Thanks again

  • Alvin says:

    Great write up. Sorry if it have been asked before, what is the estimated spending for the trip?

  • Wouter says:

    Great article on Vietnam,

    I sure love the culture and nature in Vietnam! Great diversity as well! My favorites were Sapa and Hoi An!

  • Ed says:

    You make sapa sound so beautiful i will be making my way up north and will have to check out sapa. thank you for sharing it really helps.

  • Lorraine says:

    Hey girl,

    love your blogging!!

    just wondering how much did your trip cost

    xx

  • Ha My says:

    Hi, I really enjoy your blog and I am going to Vietnam in August for a month, too. How did you manage it with the booking. Did you just asked for a room when you were in the place or did you book on the internet?

    greetings from Germany 🙂

  • Nhac Cho Viettel says:

    Oh I live in Ho Chi Minh City but I don’t know that fact that Saigon Central Post Office was constructed by Gustave Eiffel. The awkward moment when a tourist know your place better than you :D.

  • Pham Tuyen says:

    Not so many people having that much time- 1 moth to see Vietnam. But it is recommended to spend at least 2 weeks so you can cover almost all the best of this beautiful country.

    Great stories and photos. Thank you !
    Pham Tuyen recently posted..Unusual Vietnam travel tipMy Profile

  • Oanh Nguyen says:

    Hello guys. I am very sorry to bother you guys for a moment. Currently we have compiled an ebook about the famous street foods in Saigon, the selling popular snack locations, we also raised by processing instructions and how to make that dish. Because our ebook is bilingual book so that the tourists as well as foreigners also can read and reference. So, With the hope that can help a part in the process of introducing the culinary culture of Vietnam to international friends. I hope that you guys can help us share the link to download this ebook on your fanpage. We very appreciate your help. Thank you so much and have a great weekend!
    Link download: http://www.khoaxuatban.com/mua/vat-sai-thanh

  • Adam says:

    Good post and thank you for the tips. We are heading off to Vietnam later this year and had been looking for a motorcycle tour company that gets visitors to the country off the beaten track. Seems just what we need.

  • Chelsea Stanford says:

    What a great read Audrey and such an exciting adventure! 🙂 Makes me even more excited now for our Vietnam trip in February 2017. We’re riding the Ho Chi Minh Trail by motorbike over 4 weeks, with a week in Cambodia, stopping at Mekong Delta, Mui Ne, Da Lat, Nha Trang, Hoi An, Hue, Hanoi, Ha Long Bay and Sapa, but I’m struggling to decide how long to stay in each destination. Can you recommend?

    We’re also hoping to visit Phu Quoc first from HMC but I just don’t think this is feasible 🙁

  • Steven Lee says:

    Enjoyed reading your blog on Vietnam, Audrey. I myself will be in Vietnam in February riding motorcycle from Saigon to Hanoi within a month. Love your comments & suggestions column, gave me some ideas what to expect. Thanks.

  • Teodora says:

    Hi! Amazing itinerary! I am wondering bout the camera you used to take your pictures? They are so colourful and gorgeous. My boyfriend and I will be making our way to Vietnam in May, and will definitely be referring to your itinerary! Thank you for sharing 🙂

    • Audrey Bergner says:

      Hi Teodora,
      Wishing you a great trip to Vietnam! I can no longer remember the name of that camera as it was several years ago, but it was a pretty simple point and shoot. I’m currently using the Canon G7X, which is also a point and shoot. I like that it’s compact, takes great photos, and it’s perfect for vlogging thanks to the flip up screen. Maybe one to consider. I edited those photos on Picasa at the time, so I’m sure you can get a similar feel regardless of the camera.
      Happy travels,
      Audrey

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