Have 10 days in Vietnam? Follow this 10 day Vietnam Itinerary to see all the amazing places there.
Vietnam is probably one of the most underrated countries in Southeast Asia. While most of the tourists flock to Thailand or Singapore, I loved my trip to Vietnam and would highly suggest visiting this beautiful country. Vietnam has a diverse landscape, spanning from the North to South, including mountains, rivers (and bay), rice terraces, the largest cave in the world, and beaches. It also offers both modern cities and ancient towns. I didn’t have time to visit all the cool places in Vietnam however, so if you have more time, definitely check out Sapa, Hue, Da Nang, and the biggest cave in the world, Son Dong (if you have the time AND money). If you were like me and only have 10 days in Vietnam, use my Vietnam itinerary as a guide to plan your trip there! Regardless of how much time you spend in Vietnam, I am still super jealous of all the great experience and food you will have on your trip.
Things To Know Before Visiting Vietnam
- Vietnam requires a visa to visit (at least for British and Americans). Make sure to check the visa requirement before you go
- Currency is Vietnamese Dong and 1 USD is about 23000 Vietnamese Dong
- Make sure to have cash with you; most places do not accept credit card
- Don’t drink the tap water in Vietnam; buy water but make sure the bottles are properly sealed
Best Time To Visit Vietnam
The best time to visit Vietnam is spring and fall. Since the country is very “long”, the different parts of Vietnam have very different climates. In Northern Vietnam, bordering China, it gets cool and dry in the winter months and hot and humid in the summer.
If you are thinking about visiting Halong bay during your 10 days in Vietnam, it’s best to visit Spring, Summer and Fall. The Halong Bay area tends to get a lot of rain and fog weather in the winter (I went in February and pretty much couldn’t see anything).
As you travel down to Southern Vietnam, the weather gets warmer and warmer year round, this includes Ho Chi Minh City, the island of Phú Quốc, etc.
Safety In Vietnam
Vietnam is a pretty safe country for tourists, even for female solo travelers. However, like any Southeast country, there are petty crime such as pick pocketing in Vietnam. Be sure to watch your bags/wallets closely, especially in crowded areas (and if you do not look Asian). I have heard stories from friends that their purses were slashed from behind when they were shopping at street markets in Hanoi.
For those who are not familiar with the traffic conditions in Vietnam, you will need to watch out for cars and motorbikes. Motorbikes are the main transportation in Vietnam and in cities like Hanoi. It can get quite overwhelming and the drivers will try to avoid you (they are very good at that!), but use caution when crossing the street. Try to follow locals when crossing the street in Vietnam.
How to Spend 10 Days in Vietnam From North to South
Vietnam Itinerary Day 1: Hanoi
Start your journey in Hanoi, the capital city of Vietnam and the largest city in Northern Vietnam. Hanoi is very different from Ho Chi Minh City in that it’s less modern and during the Vietnam Warm, it was fighting on the Communist side. There are A LOT of motorbikes around but that in itself is a thing to see.
What to see in Hanoi: A few famous places in Hanoi you can check out include Hoan Kiem Lake, night markets (beware of pickpockets), Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum, Ho Chi Minh Museum and Thong Nhat Park.
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Where to stay in Hanoi: I stayed at the Hanoi Golden Moment Hotel in the center of Old Quarter. The hotel kept upgrading us because they had vacancies and also helped us book all of our day trips to Tam Coc and Ha Long Bay overnight cruise. I would highly recommend Hanoi Golden Moment Hotel because of the services they provided to us.
Vietnam Itinerary Day 2: Tam Coc (Ninh Binh) Day Trip From Hanoi
We took a day trip from Hanoi the next day to Tam Coc, otherwise known as Ninh Binh. I didn’t know anything about Tam Coc before this visit and oh boy, Tam Coc probably the best day trip I’ve taken! Tam Coc is known as “Halong Bay on land“. It’s an area with rice paddies and Ngo Dong River running through limestone caves and mountains. It’s located 90 km from Hanoi but it’s way less crowded than Hanoi or Halong Bay.
We were picked up by the driver from our Hanoi hotel in the morning and after 2 hours on the road, we got to Tam Coc.
The tour started off the day with a tour of the models of temples of ancient capital of a Vietnamese Kingdom. After visiting the temles you can do a short hike up the mountain to see the view of this area.
After touring the temples and hiking up to the view point, we got to ride in the traditional boat down the Ngo Dong River for 2 hours enjoying the amazing view. During the boat ride the boat on the river you will run through some of the grottoes. Make sure to lower your head while going through these tunnels.
What’s interesting about the boat ride on the Ngo Dong River is that the rower of the boats are local ladies who use their feet to row the boat. They are so good at it that it feels like they’ve been doing it forever. I suppose it’s just a lot easier to row with your legs/feet instead of arms.
After lunch, the Tam Coc tour continues into a biking tour around the rice paddies for about an hour before you finish your day and return to Hanoi. This was an amazing surprise during our 10 days in Vietnam and I am so glad our Hanoi hotel suggested this to us. The whole area looked like it’s straight out of a paining and when we went it wasn’t really that touristy or crowded so we pretty much had the entire place to ourselves.
Vietnam Itinerary Day 3 & 4: Halong Bay Overnight Boat Cruise
Halong Day is famous for its thousands of limestone islands in the emerald water. It’s located in Northern Vietnam about 4 hours from Hanoi. Most people take an overnight boat tour on Ha Long Bay because it’s simply too far from Hanoi to do a day trip.
Our Hanoi hotel helped us book an overnight luxury boat tour for about USD 200 per person including food and accommodation. After getting picked up from the hotel, our bus took us to Halong Bay. We had to wait in line for at least 30 minutes to get organized, wait for people from other buses and eventually embarked on our Halong Bay cruise at around 12pm. Once on board, you get time to chill in your room followed by a feast of traditional Vietnamese cuisine for lunch.
In the afternoon you will have the chance to take a smaller boat to see a cool floating market on Halong Bay. You also get to step on shore and hike up for an amazing view of Halong Bay. Unfortunately we were there in February and it was rainy and foggy. If you go in the summer, you will have an amazing view and can probably go into the water since it will be warmer. Other activities you can do include kayaking and scuba diving.
There aren’t many things to do on the Halong Bay boat at night but we were able to watch some movies and do shrimp fishing which was fun. Next morning the boat tour also includes a fun cooking class on traditional Vietnam food. After the morning cooking class you will get to visit a cool cave in Ha Long Bay and having lunch on the boat before heading back to shore.
There are 2 night luxury cruises that you can take on Halong Bay. But honestly I felt that one night was enough especially in the winter when it was rainy and foggy. But if you go in the summer and would like to fully explore Halong Bay, then I would suggest staying longer. Even though the weather was bad when I visited Halong Bay, I actually felt the cruise was the most part of our entire 10 day Vietnam itinerary. Everything was arranged and you just relax on one of the most beautiful bodies of water in the world. You also get to try some Vietnamese wine and beer on the boat with this view, so what more could you need?
Vietnam Itinerary Day 5 & 6: Hoi An Ancient Town
After spending a few lovely days in Northern Vietnam it was time to start traveling south to the middle of Vietnam. Hoi an is an ancient town located in the middle of Vietnam (near the water on the eastern side of the country). It’s one of the most well known towns in Vietnam due to its well preserved historical center and the colorful lanterns and buildings. It used to be a major trading port from the 15th to 19th century. Since it is an UNESCO World Heritage Site, you will get to experience how life looked like back in the days.
Traveling from Hanoi to Hoi An: To travel from Hanoi to Hoi An, the fastest way is to fly. There are trains and buses to Hoi An but they take much longer. Since most of locals take the train/bus, it is actually very easy to get tickets to fly. I flew Jetstar Pacific but you can also fly Vietnam air. Hoi An does not have an airport of its own, so travelers need to fly from Hanoi to Danang (which is also a cool place to visit, it has a beach!). There are over 20 flights from Hanoi to Da Nang everyday and it’s a short flight about 1.5 hours. Once you land, look for the bus station to Hoi An. Alternatively you can take a taxi or have your hotel pick you up. Our hotel offered to pick us up at 315.000vnd/car, which is about 15 USD.
Things to See in Hoi An
The most famous site in Hoi An is the Japanese Covered Bridge, it’s a historical piece of Japanese architecture . If you want to walk through the bridge then you have to pay an entrance fee, so most visitors actually opt to just take a photo in front of the Japanese Covered Bridge.
Assembly Hall of the Fujian Chinese Congregation is a temple for the worship of Thien Hau, a deity from China. I visited during the Chinese new year so it was very festive inside the Assembly Hall.
Other things you should do in Hoi An include walk through the ancient town, find the lamp shops, eat from street vendors, visit the local markets, rent a bike to bike around, enjoy the night scene and light a lantern and put them in the river.
Vietnam Itinerary Day 7 & 8: Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon)
Ho Chi Minh City is the largest city in Vietnam by population. It’s located in the Southern part of Vietnam and has a tropical (wet and dry season) climate. Ho Chi Minh City played an important role during the Vietnam War (it’s anti-communist). Before that it was ruled by the Japanese and French, so that’s why most of the architectures you see in Ho Chi Mihn City are of French influence.
You can fly to Ho Chi Minh directly on Jetstar from Da Nang.
What to do in Ho Chi Minh City: some of the things you can do in Saigon include the Cu Chi Tunnels (underground tunnels used during the Vietnam War), Binh Tay Market and Ben Thanh Market, Independence Palace, War Remnants Museum, Cao Dai Temple, Jade emperor Pagoda, Saigon Notre-Dame Basilica, bar hopping at Pham Ngu Lau Street, visit a rooftop bar.
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If you have time, you can also do some excursions outside of Ho Chi Minh, such as a visit to the Mekong Delta, the Cai Be Floating Market, etc.
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Where to Stay in Ho Chi Minh: if you are looking to stay at a hostel, check out this post on hostels in Ho Chi Minh.
Vietnam Itinerary Day 9 & 10: Beach At Phú Quốc
After the hustling and bustling of Saigon, it’s time to relax on the beach! Most people don’t realize that Vietnam has nice beaches (at least I didn’t know) but I was pleasantly surprised by the island of Phu Quoc.
Phu Quoc Island s located off the coast of Cambodia and is known for its white sand beaches and resorts. It’s a hidden gem because most tourists go to islands in Thailand so it’s not nearly as crowded as Thailand.
Even though it was February but since the island is so south that it was actually a nice beach weather. There is a direct flight from Ho Chi Minh City to Phu Quoc so it was perfect for our itinerary.
Where to stay in Phu Quoc: we stayed at a 3 star resort called Arcadia Phu Quoc Resort. Vietnam is a cheap country so it was less than 50 USD a night! The hotel also picked us up from the airport which was nice.
What to do in Phu Quoc: BEACH!! Our resort was walking distance to the beach so that was nice. There are some beaches in Phu Quoc such as Truong Beach, Vung Bau Beach, and Sao Beach. The most famous one would be the Sao beach. We also took a boat tour to see some other parts of the island and did some snorkeling which was nice. You can ask your hotel to book them, or if you prefer to book online, Viator has some that you can look into. But it’s a lot cheaper to book the tours when you are there.
Concluding Our 10 Days in Vietnam
There are a lot of things you can do in Vietnam. 10 days in Vietnam simply is not enough to see everything, but if that’s all the time you have, then you get to see most of what Vietnam has to offer. But if you are short on time, I actually advise you to skip Ho Chi Minh City because it’s not as unique as the other places you get to visit in Vietnam. If I could do this Vietnam itinerary all over again, I would spend some time in Sapa (Northern Vietnam) to see all the rice terraces and spend some time in Hue, an ancient Vietnam capital in Central Vietnam.
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