10 Days in Vietnam: Itinerary Options for Every Traveller

While we're not supposed to have favourites, when it comes to countries in Southeast Asia, Vietnam is pretty high on our list. Boasting taste bud-tingling cuisine, uber-friendly locals, untouched villages, natural adventure and breathtaking scenery, it truly has something for every traveller.

A view overlooking the green coloured rice fields of Vietnam

10min read

Published 6 December 2023


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While we're not supposed to have favourites, when it comes to countries in Southeast Asia, Vietnam is pretty high on our list. Boasting taste bud-tingling cuisine, uber-friendly locals, untouched villages, natural adventure and breathtaking scenery, it truly has something for every traveller.


Long story short, if you're writing a bucket list for Southeast Asia, make sure Vietnam is at the top.

The thing with Vietnam is that it is a long country with vast experiences on offer between north and south. You could easily spend six months traversing the country, uncovering the hidden gems and immersing yourself in bustling streets along the way.

Unfortunately, most of us have to work, which means six months looks more like two weeks leave (give or take a few days). With this in mind, we recommend a 10-day itinerary for first-timers visiting Vietnam.

Is ten days enough in Vietnam? Yes and no. Just under two weeks is still plenty of time for you to embark on city tours and urban adventures, sampling fragrant pho and tasting banh mi from north to south. It's the perfect amount of time to get a taste of this magnificent country, explore Vietnam's culture and ignite a spark that will no doubt have you dreaming about your next amazing trip.

A small fishing boat floating on a lake with stunning mountain scenery in the background
A small fishing boat floating on a lake with stunning mountain scenery in the background
A small fishing boat floating on a lake with stunning mountain scenery in the background

Why Visit Vietnam?

A gem of South East Asia, Vietnam is a safe, affordable and experience-rich country suitable for travellers of all ages and abilities. Bursting with untouched local villages, UNESCO World Heritage Sites and fresh, fragrant local food that will blow your socks off, Vietnam is the perfect place to experience a world that seamlessly blends ancient towns with cosmopolitan cities.

Travelling with kids? No stress, Vietnam is a great family holiday location, with ample opportunities for your little ones to learn, get back to nature and understand a simpler way of life. Backpacking? Not only is Vietnam super easy to travel through, but it is cheap. Like $1 beers cheap.

Adventure seeker? How does hiking through rice paddies and exploring the biggest cave in the world sound? Shopaholics, just wait until you read about Hoi An.

What about those who prefer the finer things in life? With luxury cruises and 5-star experiences on offer throughout the country, there is no shortage of opulence to keep you satisfied.

The Best Ways To Explore Vietnam

Whether it's your first or 50th time to Vietnam, here are a few tried and tested ways to see the country.

  • Join a group tour. A broad network of providers offer a variety of tours based on your age, interests and budget. Whether you're a solo traveller nervous to explore on your own, are seeking adventure or simply want to taste everything, speak to our travel experts about options best suited to your travel style. As a general rule of thumb, we recommend smaller group tours that give back to the community and focus on sustainable travel practices.

  • Rent a motorbike. If you have the skills, experience, confidence and travel insurance, then a motorbike is an ideal way to travel the length of Vietnam. Not only will you fit in with the locals, but a motorbike gives you the freedom to travel when and where you please.

  • Backpacking. Travelling on a budget as part of a broader Asian adventure? Grab your backpack and take advantage of the bevy of trains, buses, cheap flights and car transfers on offer throughout the country.

  • Cruising. Feel like the world is best seen from the water? There are a wide range of river and ocean cruises that visit the shores of Vietnam. Popular options include junk boat cruises on Halong Bay and a single or multi-day river cruise down the Mekong Delta.

  • Custom itineraries and holiday packages. Want to curate your own itinerary with the help of an expert? Contact the team at Flight Centre and work with one of our Vietnam experts to create a Vietnam holiday package that works for you.

    Covering Vietnam flights, accommodation, insurance, transfers, day tours and more, we will happily sort out the nitty gritty while you focus on the more important things (like researching where to find the best banh mi).

Must Try Vietnamese Cuisine

We can almost guarantee that one of the main highlights of your trip to Vietnam will undoubtedly be the cuisine. Think fresh, fragrant dishes, favouring flavours like fish sauce, lemongrass, ginger, chilli, soy and coriander. The French influence also means there is no shortage of soft bread and delicious pastries.

Here's a hitlist to get you started:

  • Pho - brothy noodle soup

  • Bánh Mì - Vietnamese sandwiches

  • Bánh Xèo - Vietnamese pancakes

  • Com Ga - chicken and rice

  • Bun Cha - charcoal pork, noodles and herbs

  • Egg Coffee - a Hanoi speciality

  • Coconut coffee

  • Condensed milk coffee

  • Rice paper rolls

  • Cao Lầu (only served in Hoi An)

Feeling brave? Order balut, an Asian delicacy that is popular during Lunar New Year. Two words: duck embryo.

Vietnam Itinerary - 10 Days For Every Traveller

Ready to start planning your trip? We've compiled three different itineraries that span 10 days in Vietnam. Feel free to use these as a guide, chopping and changing to suit your holiday style and travel goals.

Note: All of these options start in Ho Chi Minh City (formally known as Saigon) in Southern Vietnam and head north up to Hanoi. They can all easily be flipped and completed in reverse if you'd prefer to head from north to south.

10-Day Vietnam Itinerary Option 1 - Classic Vietnam

Day 1-  Arrive in Ho Chi Minh City
Day 2 - Free day in Ho Chi Minh City & Mekong Delta or Cu Chi Tunnels
Day 3 - Fly Ho Chi Minh City to Hoi An
Day 4 - Free day in Hoi An
Day 5 - Travel Hoi An to Hue (option to add Hai Van Pass)
Day 6 - Fly Hue to Hanoi
Day 7 - Transfer from Hanoi to Halong Bay or Sapa
Day 8 - Cruise through Halong Bay or trek Sapa
Day 9 - Transfer from Halong Bay or Sapa to Hanoi
Day 10 - Depart Hanoi

10-Day Vietnam Itinerary Option 2 - Including Central Vietnam

Day 1-  Arrive in Ho Chi Minh City
Day 2 - Free day in Ho Chi Minh City & Mekong Delta or Cu Chi Tunnels
Day 3 - Fly Ho Chi Minh City to Hoi An
Day 4 - Free day in Hoi An
Day 5 - Travel Hoi An to Hue (option to add Hai Van Pass)
Day 6 - Morning transfer from Hue to Phong Nha
Day 7 - Overnight train from Phong Nha to Ninh Binh
Day 8 - Free day in Ninh Binh & Tam Coc
Day 9 - Transfer from Ninh Binh to Hanoi
Day 10 - Depart Hanoi

10-Day Vietnam Itinerary Option 3 - Slow Down And Relax 

Day 1-  Arrive in Ho Chi Minh City
Day 2 - Free day in Ho Chi Minh City & Mekong Delta or Cu Chi Tunnels
Day 3 - Fly Ho Chi Minh City to Phu Quoc Island
Day 4 - Free day on Phu Quoc Island
Day 5 - Fly Phu Quoc to Hoi An
Day 6 - Free day in Hoi An
Day 7 - Fly Hoi An to Hanoi
Day 8 - Transfer Hanoi to Halong Bay 
Day 9 - Halong Bay cruise
Day 10 - Depart Hanoi

Must-See Cities During Your Vietnam Trip

No trip to Vietnam is complete without a stop at these iconic cities and cultural hubs.

Ho Chi Minh City

A bustling city steeped in French and Asian influences, Ho Chi Minh City is worthy of a few days in your Vietnamese itinerary. Allow yourself plenty of time to stroll past French Colonial architecture, sample street food, explore hidden alleyways and learn more about wartime history.

Where: Southern Vietnam
Places to see: The War Remnants Museum, Cu Chi Tunnels, Reunification Palace, Notre Dame Cathedral, Saigon Central post office, Ben Thanh Market, Mekong Delta Day Tour.
Best place to stay: District 1
 

Day tour options:

  1. Learn more about the Vietnam War with a trip to the Cu Chi Tunnels, Reunification Palace & War Remnants museum

  2. Wise up on street food with a tasty tour through each district

  3. Take a Mekong Delta tour to experience village life, taste traditional food, soak up the scenery and snap pics of traditional pagodas.

Hoi An & Da Nang

If there is one city you visit in Vietnam, make it Hoi An. A destination all in itself, Hoi An is a UNESCO World Heritage Site that oozes charm with colourful buildings, lantern-lit alleys, lovely cafes and delicious cuisine. Serving as a mecca for history buffs and shopaholics alike, Hoi An is also close to popular beachside hangs.

Note: when visiting Hoi An, you'll need to fly into Da Nang and take a short car transfer. Da Nang is a major trading port in Vietnam, and while it is popular among local tourists, we recommend spending no more than a few hours there. Trust us, Hoi An is worth more of your time.

Where: Central Vietnam
Places to see: Ancient Town, Japanese covered bridge, Hoi An Night Market, An Bang Beach, Chua Cau, My Son temple complex & Marble Mountains (day tour).
Best place to stay: Cam Pho, Ancient Town, An Hoi or An Bang Beach.
 

Top things to do:

  1. Shop 'till you drop. Hoi An is renowned for having world-class tailors that will quickly make custom outfits, suits, dresses and more. There is no shortage of tailors available, so do your research and be sure to shop around. You can also find custom-made leather goods like boots, sandals, handbags and belts, and knock-off sporting apparel.

  2. Take a lantern boat ride at night. We know it looks busy, but it's popular for a reason.

  3. Join a cooking class. Most classes in Hoi An will include a visit to local markets, a ride through palm trees in a traditional basket boat, and a chance to cook a number of traditional dishes.

  4. Snorkel Cham Island. Need to cool off? Join a boat tour out to Cham Island and snorkel amongst the coral and marine life.

Tip: Getting clothes made? Stay at least two nights and visit the tailor on your first day. That way, there is plenty of time for them to make the garments and perform any alterations.

Hue

Rich in history and home to the Imperial City, Hue is the old capital city of Vietnam. Serving as a home to Vietnamese empowers, this river city is a great stop during your travels.

Where: Central Vietnam
Places to see: Thien Mu Pagoda, Mausoleum to the Emperors, Perfume River, Dong Ba Market.
Best place to stay: Phu Hoi & City Centre
 

Top things to do:

  1. Visit the UNESCO-listed ancient citadel.

  2. Take a dragon boat trip along the Perfume River.

  3. Visit Bach Ma National Park.

Hanoi

Known for its centuries-old architecture and mix of Southeast Asian, Chinese and French culture, Vietnam's capital of Hanoi is a sensory explosion. At it's heart, you'll find the bustling Old Quarter.

Serving as a meeting point for locals and tourists alike, the Hanoi Old Quarter wraps around the Hoan Kiem Lake and offers winding streets filled with cafes and shopping delights.

Hanoi day trips are also a fantastic way to see more of what Northern Vietnam has to offer.

Where: Northern Vietnam
Places to see: Old Quarter, Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum, Ngoc Son Pagoda, Vietnam Military History Museum, Halong Bay (day tour), Ninh Binh (day tour)
Best place to stay: Old Quarter & Hoan Kiem District
 

Top things to do:

  1. Explore the Old Quarter, filling your suitcase with bargains.

  2. Join a Hanoi city tour to get your bearings and learn more about it's unique history.

  3. Enjoy the coffee culture. Hanoi is the home of egg coffee, after all.

  4. Visit the iconic Train Street. Keep in mind that this area is quite strict. Your best bet to dine trackside is to contact any of the restaurants directly, and they will escort you in.

  5. Taste your way through the city with a street food tour.

  6. Watch a traditional water puppet show.

Vietnam Itinerary - 10 Days: Tailor Your Travels With These Popular Attractions

With the bones of your trip sorted, consider sprinkling your itinerary with these destinations and experiences to make the most of your time in Vietnam.

Hai Van Pass

Nestled between Hoi An and Hue, the Pass was made popular by Top Gear. This winding mountain road is best seen on the back of a bike and serves as a scenic transfer route between north and south.

Perfect for: travellers keen to ride past breathtaking scenery on the back of a motorbike.
 

Travel notes:

  • If transferring between Hoi An and Hue, you can expect a 5-6 hour journey that also visits the Marble Mountains, fishing villages and a pearl farm.

  • If you don't wish to do a full day trip, you can easily do it as a day trip from Hoi An or Da Nang

  • If riding, ensure you book through a trusted, experienced and insured tour operator.

Ha Long Bay

Unless you've been living under a rock, it's likely you're aware of the picturesque haven that is Halong Bay. Home to limestone karsts, pristine beaches and calm waters, a Ha Long Bay cruise is a must for any traveller.

Perfect for: anyone keen to float amongst emerald water and limestone cliffs from the comfort of a cruise.
 

Travel notes:

  • Choose from a day trip, one-night or two-night cruise with transfers from Hanoi

  • There are a range of boat options, from the budget-conscious to 5-star luxury

  • Most cruises will include kayaking, squid fishing, cooking demonstrations, all meals, a visit to a local floating market and village and plenty of scenic cruising.

  • Longer cruises may even include a visit to Cat Ba Island

Tip: Look for an overnight cruise that also visits the less crowded and equally beautiful little sister of Halong Bay, Lan Ha Bay.

Sapa

Hiking on your mind? Head to the lush rice terraces and remote mountain villages of Sapa for some peace and quiet among the serene beauty of Northern Vietnam.

Perfect for: travellers keen to hike amongst the rice paddies and experience life in the mountains.
 

Travel notes:

  • There are a range of tour options available for varying trip lengths and traveller abilities

  • Most tours will include a transfer from Hanoi via bus or an overnight train, plus all trekking, accommodation and food.

  • Sapa's high altitude will provide a welcome relief from the heat. However, this means it can get pretty chilly in winter.

  • Stay in a homestay for the best chance to meet locals and learn about village life.

  • If you're keen to see the rice paddies at their best, opt to visit between May and September when the terraces are filled with water and the plants are lush and green.

Phong Nha

Adventure seekers and nature lovers alike will love Phong Nha. Nestled into the Ke Bang National Park protected area in North-Central Vietnam, Phong Nha is home to lush mountains, tropical forests, underground rivers and a vast network of caves.

Despite being one of the country's top adventure destinations and home to the biggest cave in the world, Phong Nha is still relatively untouched, so now is the perfect time to visit.

Perfect for: travellers seeking adventure and untouched beauty.
 

Travel notes:

  • Book a homestay along the river or amongst the rice fields.

  • If you're keen on caving, visit outside of the wet seasons, as most caves are inaccessible between October and December.

  • Visiting the world's biggest cave? This four-day expedition is booked out months in advance, so make sure you book early.

  • Take a day trip to Paradise Cave. Trust us, you won't regret it

Ninh Binh & Tam Coc

Often referred to as 'Halong Bay on land' Ninh Binh and Tam Coc offer travellers endless rice fields, towering limestone cliffs and surreal landscapes on tap. If you don't have time to hike Sapa or aren't keen on cruising the Bay, this could be the perfect alternative.

Perfect for: travellers keen to hike through surreal landscapes and fill their feed with out-of-this-world snaps.


Travel notes:

  • Once you arrive, you can choose to stay in Ninh Binh or slightly outside of town in Tam Coc.

  • Consider taking an overnight train to get here! It's a great way to experience life like a local.

  • Rent a bike and hit hotspots like Hang Mua Viewpoint, Bich Dong Pagoda and Trang An.

  • Ninh Binh is close enough to Hanoi to work as a day tour if time doesn't permit an overnight stay.

Phu Quoc Island

Nestled off the coast of Cambodia in the Gulf of Thailand, Phu Quoc is known for its white-sand beaches and luxurious resorts along the palm-lined southwest coast. The Island is also home to the Phu Quoc National Park, which features lush mountain ranges, dense tropical jungle and wildlife galore.

Perfect for: travellers seeking a beach holiday and epic hiking trails.
 

Travel notes:

  • Public transport is limited on the island, so consider renting a motorbike or car to get around.

  • Visit between December and March for less chance of rain.

  • Duong Dong is the largest town on the island and the most popular spot for first-time visitors.

Travel Tips for Anyone Visiting Vietnam

With your itinerary sorted, here are a few extra tips to ensure smooth sailing once you touch down.

  • Vaccinations. If you have not already been vaccinated, we recommend seeing your doctor and enquiring about a jab for hepatitis A, tetanus and typhoid. Beyond that, your doctor will be able to recommend any further immunisations based on your health and itinerary.

  • Visas. As a rule of thumb, all Aussie travellers require a valid visa for Vietnam. You can easily apply for an eVisa online that is valid for up to 90 days. Passport holders from countries outside of Australia should consult with the Vietnamese immigration website to confirm what visa is required for your visit.

  • Staying safe. While Vietnam is considered a very safe place for travellers, there is still the risk of petty crime, pickpocketing and scams against visitors. We recommend doing some research, checking sites like Smart Traveller, staying aware and practising common sense while you travel.

  • Best time to visit Vietnam. The weather in Vietnam can be split by region, with Hanoi in the north experiencing a different climate to Ho Chi Ming City in the south. Here's a quick guide to follow when planning your trip:

    Winter (December to March) - Best for visiting the cities to avoid humidity and sticky summer heat. Just keep in mind it will be pretty chilly up north. This is also a great time to explore the Mekong Delta and the island of Phu Quoc.

  • Shoulder seasons (April - June & September to November) - Best for avoiding crowds and saving money. You'll likely experience a mix of sunshine and rain, so make sure you pack accordingly.

    Peak season (July & August) - Best for ideal beach weather on the central coast and warm days across the country. Just keep in mind you may experience some monsoon downpours to help ease the humidity. Note: if you're keen to trek through Sapa, avoid travelling through the rainy season, as trails will be washed out.

  • Foreign Currency. Vietnam is still very much a cash-based society. While USD is accepted in some areas, we recommend having plenty of Vietnamese Dong (VND) on hand. Take a travel card and use a trusted ATM to withdraw more cash once you arrive.

  • Airconditioning. It's hot and humid - make sure you're accommodation has an air conditioner or fan. Trust us, this is a must.

  • Accessibility. As with most Southeast Asian countries, Vietnam is not ideal for travellers with accessibility requirements. Limited infrastructure and crowded streets make it a mission to travel with a wheelchair or mobility aid.

    Despite this, there are a range of tour operators and providers that have tailored Vietnamese itineraries for those in wheelchairs. Speak to your travel expert to learn more.

Ready To Book Your Vietnamese Escape?

Suddenly craving a big bowl of pho? We don't blame you. Start planning your 10 days in Vietnam with the help of an expert, and chat with one of our team members today.

Offering everything from flights to accommodation, insurance and the best street food tours across the country, Flight Centre's travel experts are ready to take your Vietnamese itinerary to the next level.


Explore our Vietnam holiday packages today!

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