If you are planning a holiday, traveling to Vietnam is surely a great idea because Vietnam is one of the most exciting destinations in Asia. Additionally, as the world recovers from the Covid-19 pandemic, Vietnam is becoming an even more popular choice for travelers.
Spanning over 2,000 km from north to south, Vietnam boasts an impressive expanse from the capital city of Hanoi to the bustling economic hub of Ho Chi Minh. To truly experience the magic of this dragon-shaped country, we recommend embarking on a Vietnam 14 day itinerary.
In this comprehensive guide, we'll answer the essential question of what to do and where to go during your Vietnam tour. We've curated a list of must-see attractions for a first-time visitor to Vietnam, along with suggested activities for each destination. Furthermore, we'll provide an ideal itinerary that connects these destinations for a seamless 14-day journey throughout Vietnam. With this guidance, you will have a clear idea of which places to visit and how long to spend at each stop to make the most of your Vietnam travel experience.
Should a package of Vietnam 14 day itinerary start from?
We recommend you should travel from North to South for two reasons:
- Chronology of Vietnam: The first Vietnamese kingdoms were born in the Northern Red River Delta. Over time, Vietnam grew and eventually absorbed the Cham kingdoms in the center in the 17th century and then conquered the Mekong Delta in the late 18th century. So a tour from North to South Vietnam allows you to easily understand the history of Vietnam while visiting historical sites, old cities, temples, pagodas.
- Vietnam Climate: The climate of Vietnam is very different between the north and the south. If the north has four distinct seasons, the south where it is hot all year round has only two, dry and rainy seasons. A trip from the North to the South of Vietnam allows you to slowly adapt to the cool climate of the North for the first few days. And in addition, it allows you to take advantage of the seaside stays on the sunny beaches to end your trip in Vietnam before flying home.
This is our recommendation about the must-sees for Vietnam 14 day itinerary.
Recommended places for Vietnam 14 day itinerary
- Hanoi city
- Ninh Binh - the Halong bay on land
- Halong Bay - the Word Heritage site
- Hoi An ancient town
- Hue city
- Ho Chi Minh city
- Mekong Delta river
Pick up from Noi Bai international terminal and transfer to the city center, it is 30km and takes about 45 minute transfer.
What to do in Hanoi?
Hanoi is the thousand-year-old capital of Vietnam, also the cradle of Vietnamese civilization, and is known for its rich cultural and historical heritage. Hanoi awaits you with many remarkable monuments to visit, museums, the old quarter, temples, pagodas...
- The historical monuments of Ba Dinh, the historical and political heart of Vietnam with the most important buildings of the Vietnamese government, the seat of the Parliament, the Presidential Palace, the mausoleum of President Ho Chi Minh and his house on stilts.
- The One Pillar Pagoda, a few minutes away from Ho Chi Minh's mausoleum, erected in 1049 in the shape of a lotus, is one of the emblems of Hanoi
- The Temple of Literature created in 1070 by King Ly, reputed to be the first university in Vietnam, is not to be missed.
- The French Quarter in Hanoi was built by the French in the early 20th century. There are monuments that have remained intact despite the passage of time: Hanoi Opera House, Hanoi Railway Station, Saint Joseph's Cathedral, Metropole Hotel…
Hanoi old quarter - a must see place in the Vietnam 14 day itineary
- The imperial citadel of Thang Long, built in the 7th century in the Dinh - Tien Le period. Experiencing many ups and downs of history, now, Thang Long Imperial Citadel is a place that attracts many domestic and foreign tourists to admire and explore.
- Hanoi Ethnography Museum: the fruit of Franco-Vietnamese cooperation which is an attractive site for visitors wishing to discover the cultures of 54 ethnic groups of Vietnam.
- Hoa Lo prison: also known as the Hanoi Hilton that should not be missed. A place built by French colonialists and later Northern Vietnam used it for US prisoners of war.
- Tran Quoc Pagoda dating from the 6th century, located on the West Lake (Ho Tay), is one of the first pagodas of Hanoi
- Quan Thanh Temple, not far from the Tran Quoc pagoda, is one of the four most important temples, supposed to protect the Vietnamese capital.
- Hanoi old quarter or the famous district of the 36 guilds which are specialized in artisanal trades. This place fascinates by its unique atmosphere and also by its street food.
- West Lake, with an area of 500 ha, is dotted with traditional villages and centuries-old temples and pagodas.
- Hoan Kiem Lake, or the legendary Little Lake of the Returned Sword, is the soul of Hanoi's old town.
- Long Bien Bridge, a former Paul Doumer Bridge built in 1902, which spans the Red River is also emblematic of Hanoi.
The old Long Bien bridge by the modern city
Explore Hanoi surrounding:
There is no shortage of ideas to discover the surroundings of Hanoi, some 50 km from the city center. A day trip allows you to see some cultural attractions with temples, pagodas and traditional villages.
- Duong Lam ancient village with its many traces of the past is an exceptional historical relic. Located 40 km from Hanoi, Duong Lam preserves about fifty traditional Viet houses with communal houses, temples and especially its Mia pagoda sheltering hundreds of Buddha statues.
- Bat Trang pottery village, 20 km from Hanoi, specialized in porcelain is a place for family or friends to discover.
- Nom ancient village, 30 km from Hanoi, is worth a visit with its magnificent pagoda and ancient houses.
- Pagodas of Tay Phuong (Western pagoda) and Thay (Master) which are original traditional architectures.
Ninh Binh is a well-known place in northern Vietnam. Located 100 km away from the south of Hanoi.
In Ninh Binh, there are some places to explore such as:
- Hoa Lu - Tam Coc - Bich Dong pagoda.
- Bai Dinh pagoda - Trang An nature reserve,
- Phat Diem Cathedral,
- Thien Ha - Thung Nham bird park,
- Van Long nature reserve.
What to do in Ninh Binh which is considered as the terrestrial Halong Bay?
Former capital of Vietnam in the 10th century, this region is seduced by its postcard landscapes with limestone rocks emerging between rice fields and rivers.
- Sampan boat ride in different areas between limestone formations: Trang An landscape complex, Tam Coc valley, Van Long nature reserve, Thien Ha - Thung Nham valley.
A boat trip among the stunning landscape of Tam Coc - Ninh Binh
- The bicycle ride in the countryside of the Red River Delta.
- Hoa Lu ancient capital with the Dinh and Le Temples dating from the 10th century.
- Phat Diem Cathedral built more than 100 years ago, impressed by its original architecture of stone and wood which mixes Western and Vietnamese styles.
- Bai Dinh Pagoda, one of the biggest and the most important pagodas in Vietnam.
- Visiting the Ninh Van stone carving village.
It is about 170 km from Hanoi capital. Visitors can travel there by local bus, private car or by cruise's shuttle bus.
Halong Bay is the top site that is always included in your Vietnam trip. It is recognized as a World Heritage Site for its exceptional beauty and geological value.
There are several excursions in Halong Bay.
1 day trip: a departure from Hanoi, and a cruise in 4 hours or 6 hours to explore the bay as well as the caves. This excursion is quite short and in rush, it is for someone with very limited travel time.
2 day cruise: this trip is the most chosen by travelers to discover the bay. They will stay 1 night on cruise
3 day cruise: if you have more time, it is advised to do this cruise in order to fully enjoy your stay in Halong Bay and explore deeply inside the bay.
Crystal water in peaceful Halong Bay
What to do in Halong Bay?
- Stay on the cruise to enjoy sightseeing of the countless karst islands and islets with strange shapes: a pair of rooster and hen, finger, dog, sail, turtle…
- Kayaking between karst islands and islets
- Caves filled with magnificent stalactites and stalactites
- The villages of fishermen living in floating rafts
- Swimming on sandy beaches in summer.
Hoi An, once a thriving trading port from the 15th to the 17th century, is now a cherished cultural gem that has stood the test of time. With its captivating blend of ancient houses, temples, and pagodas, the city offers a glimpse into its rich heritage, which has remained untouched for centuries. The city's hospitality and warmth add to its charm, making it an idyllic destination to explore. Additionally, Hoi An's stunning beaches, including Cua Dai, Ha My, and An Bang, are a testament to the city's natural beauty, making it a truly paradisiacal destination.
What to do in Hoi An?
There are numerous things to explore in this charming ancient town, this is the recommended list things to do in Hoi An
- Chinese congregations: Phuc Kien, Trieu Chau
- The old wooden frame houses: Tan Ki, Quan Thang, Phung Hung
- Japanese bridge: a famous covered bridge of Hoi An with its small temple next to it
- Boat trip on the Thu Bon river to admire the sunset at Cua Dai
- Handicraft villages: Thanh Ha porcelain village, Kim Bong woodcarving village, Tra Que vegetable farming village.
Japanese bridge is an umissable beauty sport in your Vietnam 14 day itinerary
- The basket boat ride at the Bay Mau coconut village.
- Bike or motorcycle excursions to visit the countryside of Hoi An.
- Enjoy the beach break at Cua Dai beach, Ha My beach, An Bang beach.
- Exploring Cham Island: a day to spend swimming and snorkeling.
- Discover the ruins of My Son, a treasure of the Champa kingdom in the past.
- Hoi An ancient town is an unmissable destination in the Vietnam 14 day itinerary.
Hue, a former royal capital of Vietnam from 1802 to 1945, is a city steeped in history and culture. As the last Vietnamese feudal dynasty, the city has witnessed both triumphs and struggles throughout its past. Nestled along the picturesque Perfume River, Hue boasts a rich cultural heritage that is embodied in its many historic monuments, ancient houses, temples, and pagodas. From the iconic Imperial City to the tranquil Thien Mu Pagoda, Hue's architectural wonders provide a glimpse into Vietnam's fascinating past. As a romantic and enchanting city, Hue invites visitors to immerse themselves in its unique blend of history, culture, and natural beauty.
What to do in Hue?
There are many amazing places in Hue that allure visitors, we recommend the best ones among them:
- Hue citadel which included the imperial city, the royal palaces and museums and the old temples.
- The Heavenly Lady pagoda (Thien Mu), dating from 1501.
- Peaceful Tu Hieu pagoda
- The tombs of emperors such as Minh Mang, Tu Duc, Khai Dinh
Impressive statues lines in Khai Dinh tomb
- Handicraft Thanh Tien village making paper flowers and Sinh village making folk painting
- Thuy Xuan village making incense sticks.
- Thuy Bieu ancient village by the Perfume river.
- An Nhien garden ancient house.
- Thanh Toan tile-roofed bridge.
- Enjoying boat trip on the Perfume River.
This is another “ must see" destination in your Vietnam 14 day itinerary. The city, known as the economic capital that never sleeps, offers a vibrant atmosphere that you can't miss. Despite being a relatively young city with a history of just over 300 years, it has an impressive heritage that includes numerous colonial-era buildings and former government structures of South Vietnam before the war.
What to do in Ho Chi Minh city?
There are a ton of things to do in Ho Chi Minh city, we recommend some highlights:
- Notre Dame Cathedral of Saigon: built by a French colonists in the late 1880s that reminds us of a small Paris in the Far East.
- Saigon central post office: A beautiful preserved remnant of French colonial time and this maybe the grandest post office in Southeast Asia
- Reunification Palace or Independence Palace which is the former palace of the president of the Republic of South Vietnam before 1975.
- The War Remnant Museum of the city, one of the most visited museums of the city which exhibits pictures about the Vietnam war.
Do not forget the war remnant museum in your Vietnam 14 day itinerary
- Ben Thanh market which is the big market where you will find all the handicraft products of Vietnam
- The Chinese district with its Cho Lon market and its Thien Hau temple.
- Emperor Jade( Ngoc Hoang Pagoda): known as one of the most beautiful pagodas in Ho Chi Minh city that worships the Jade Emperor and other gods in the oriental religion.
The surroundings of Ho Chi Minh city:
Cu Chi tunnel: located 50 km from the city, Cu Chi is a famous site during the Vietnam war. The Vietcong built a 250 km tunnel system to fight against the Americans. This site symbolizes the patriotism, the courage of the Viet Cong soldiers.
Tay Ninh Holy See ( Cao Dai temple): 100 km from the city, this religious site is known as the seat of the most important religion in the South with more than 2 million followers. Caodaism is a religion which mixes all the religions, the beliefs existing in Vietnam.
The Mekong Delta, known as Vietnam's largest rice basket, is a verdant area encompassing rice paddies, fruit orchards, winding waterways, and traditional villages. One of the region's highlights is its bustling floating markets, which offer an opportunity to experience the local way of life.
Boat trip in Mekong Delta river
For a chance to explore the orchards and sample exotic fruits such as banana, dragon fruit, mango, we suggest embarking on a 1 or 2-day Mekong River cruise.
However, we advise against opting for a trip that lasts longer than 3 days as the scenery along the river tends to be repetitive.
A recommended Vietnam 14 day itinerary
Day 1: Hanoi arrival - Pick up and strolling in the old quarter
Day 2: Hanoi full day to explore the highlights in the city
Day 3: Hanoi - explore Ninh Binh
Day 4: Ninh Binh - Transfer to Halong Bay - check in cruise
Day 5: Halong Bay - transfer to airport for flight to Danang - pick up to Hoi An town
Day 6: Hoi An city tour
Day 7: Hoi An countryside tour
Day 8: Hoi An beach break
Day 9: Hoi An - Transfer to Hue
Day 10: Hue Tour
Day 11: Hue - city exploration - Fly to HCM city.
Day 12: HCMC - City tour
Day 13: HCMC - Mekong Delta River.
Day 14: HCMC - Transfer to airport for flight home.