Vietnam is a long country with tons to explore, but as a teacher with only about two weeks of winter vacation and a ton of end-of-year parties, I usually only have about one week to explore any given country on vacation. So, I’ve gotten pretty good at stuffing as much of what I can into a one-week vacation itinerary as possible.
When I travel, I tend to focus on the experiences rather than solely on seeing the “famous places,” and that includes eating and just walking around just to exist in the culture around me. Although my one-week trip only took me to Hanoi, Hoi An and Ho Chi Minh, it was full week. If you’re lost for ideas on what to do on your travels in Vietnam, this itinerary should give you some insight on what you can do there.
Before checking out this one-week Vietnam itinerary below, if you haven’t already seen my ultimate guide on Vietnam, it will offer you some helpful tips on how to get to Vietnam and how to stay traveler-smart while there.
Overview: One-Week in Vietnam
Day 1-3: Hanoi and Ha Long Bay
Day 3-4: Hoi An
Day 5-6: Ho Chi Minh
Day 1-3: Hanoi
Day 1: Fly into Hanoi in the morning and check into your hotel located in the Old Quarter.
→ Explore the Old Quarter.
→ Eat dinner at Bun Cha Ta Hanoi (vegetarian friendly).
→ (Optional) Visit the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum and the Hanoi Hilton (POW Camp)
Day 2: Wake up early for your group cooking class with Apron Up.
→ Go back to your hotel to take a short nap after eating a full-course meal.
→ Visit the Hanoi Train Street.
→ Eat at the famous restaurant where Obama and Anthony Bourdain ate, Bun Cha Huong Lien (maybe get a little lost along the way).
Day 4-5: Hoi An
Day 4: Fly into Da Nang in the morning.
→ Take an airport shuttle to your hotel in Hoi An and check in.
→ Eat brunch at Annen Yoga & Vegetarian. Eat Cau Lau.
→ Explore the city center.
→ Find a tailor and get something made at Quoc Huy Silk.
→ Get your nails done by Tina (It’s a long story.).
→ Go to the night market. Shop and eat street food.
I have to say, getting my nails done wasn’t in the plan at all, but while we were looking at the other shops around the tailor, she came out of nowhere and took me (dragged me) to her shop! She ended up being really nice, and even called her daughter over to do our nails in her shop. It was definitely one of the most unexpected experiences I had in Vietnam. If you’re ever at Cloth Shop No. 41 (where I got my Áo Dài made), then go to the back of the shopping complex and ask for Tina.
Day 5: Wake up early, but not too early.
→ Eat Banh Mi at Banh Mi Phuong (there may be a line at the door).
→ Go back to the tailor and pick up your clothing.
→ Head to Da Nang airport by shuttle.
→ Fly to Ho Chi Minh in the early evening.
→ (Optional) See the Golden Bridge at Ba Nan Hills, visit the Imperial City, and drive along the Hai Van Pass
Day 6-7: Hoi Chi Minh
Day 6: Visit the Independence Palace, the War Remnants Museum, and the Ngoc Hoang Pagoda.
→ Go to Ben Thanh (Day) Market
→ Get shown around by a local.
→ Buy food souvenirs at a local supermarket.
→ Eat dinner at Hum Vegetarian Cafe and Restaurant. It’s more touristy, but it’s vegetarian-friendly.
The Independence Palace and the War Remnants Museum are not just a hop-and-a-skip away, but they are within walking distance. The pagoda, on the other hand, required a bus (and a private and spontaneous city tour by a local).
Day 7: Get up super early for your last day.
→ Do a Mekong Delta Tour. This can be booked ahead of time or when you arrive in Ho Chi Minh.
→ Visit Ben Thanh Night Market
→ Fly back home at night.
Ben Thanh Night Market can feel busy and full of locals just trying to buy ingredients for the day’s lunch. By night, it’s filled with tourists and locals alike buying and selling food and clothes along the street.
If you’re interested in doing the Mekong Delta Tour, you can actually book it when you arrive in Ho Chi Minh. My friend was able to find a company right across the street from our hotel that allowed her to join the tour for the next day. On the day of, she met them at the company location with the other people on the tour and they were taken to the Mekong Delta by charter bus.
With this itinerary, you should be able to see a slice of what the country has to offer. It should start you off on a wonderful time in Vietnam.