Ultimate Vietnam Guide- Ho Chi Minh to Hanoi (2 week itinerary)

Bich Dong temple, Ninh Binh in vietnam

Ultimate Vietnam Guide

Vietnam is a beautiful, diverse country with adventures suitable for everyone. Party in Ho Chi Minh, explore the incredible landscapes of Ninh Binh, fall in love with Hoi An’s charm or immerse in the hustle and bustle of Hanoi. Vietnam is a must visit destination.mua caves in Ninh Binh, vietnam

In this post I will share all my tips on travelling South to North of Vietnam in 2 weeks. Here is my 2 week guide with everything you need to know.

Before you go

You can visit Vietnam for up to 15 days without needing a visa. Your passport will be stamped on arrival in Vietnam and you must leave on or before your 15th day. If you plan to stay in Vietnam for longer than 15 days you will need to apply for a visa before you visit or get a pre-paid E-visa.

Getting to Vietnam

There are many ways to travel to Vietnam but if you are backpacking the cheapest way is via bus. There any many bus companies that travel from various destinations to various locations in Vietnam. The route we did was Phnom Penh to Ho Chi Minh which is an average of 6 hours including the stops. The bus costs varies between $8- $15 per person. The bus stops at the Cambodian border where you are stamped out of the country and then at the Vietnam border where you take your luggage to be security checked via scanners and they will also check your passport/visas.  It is a stress free journey and you will be prompted on what to do etc along the way.

giant lily pads at Binh quoi village in ho chi minh, vietnam

Day 1-2 in Ho Chi Minh

Getting around Ho Chi Minh is relatively easy. There are endless tours but if tours aren’t for you, grab a taxi or hop on the back of a scooter.

Top things to do:

  • Notre Dam Cathedral of Saigon
  • War Remnants Museum
  • Cu Chi Tunnels
  • Tanh Dinh Sacred Heart Church (pink church)
  • Binh Quoi Village/Botanic garden (giant lily pads)
  • Party on Bui Vien Street

pink church in ho chi Minh

Where to stay

For the best location close to all the action click here

Day 2-4 in Nha Trang

The best and cheapest way to travel to Nha Trang is via sleeper bus. The sleeper bus costs an avg of $8- $12 and takes 10-12 hours. You can book your bus in Ho Chi Minh.

Tip- Check out Trang Num Travel on Pham Ngu Lao Road- their sleeper bus was proper luxury and the best we’ve used. (Not sponsored).

Getting around in Nha Trang wasn’t the easiest, it’s surprisingly not very tourist friendly in terms of transport and eating out options are pretty limited. However it’s not to be missed.

Top things to do in Nha Trang:

  • Baho waterfall
  • Surf at Bai Dai beach
  • Scuba Diving

Baho waterfall in ha trang, vietnam

Where to stay

For a little bit of luxury on a budget and sea view click here

Day 4-6 in Hoi An

Hoi An is an absolute must visit when travelling through Vietnam. The cheapest way to get here is again via sleeper bus, it takes 10.5 hours and costs around 250,000 VND. The other option is train or plane which are more expensive. You will need to purchase a ticket at Hoi An gate which will allow you to visit 5 attractions for 120,000 VND ($5). Someone will tear off a page from your ticket once you have visited a certain attraction. I have put a ‘ * ‘ next to all the attractions within the Ancient Town (via Hoi An Gate).

Top things to do in Hoi An:

  • Hire bikes to explore Hoi An Ancient Town (quickest and best way to see everything)
  • Japanese covered bridge*
  • Phuc Kien Assembly hall (Temple)*
  • Basket boat tour (Avg $12 pp)
  • Night market to see the magical lanterns*
  • My Son Temple Ruins. Bus to My Son costs $12 pp and the entry cost is 150,000 VND

colourful lanterns in hoi an, vietnam

Where to stay

For the friendliest, budget stay click here

This is also where we hired our bikes ^

Day 6-8 in Da Nang

Da Nang is roughly an hour away from Hoi An via taxi and costs $60. You can visit Da Nang on a day trip from Hoi An but it’s definitely worth staying a night or two. To get around Da Nang it’s best to hire a scooter or book a taxi. However the cheapest option would be to go on a tour to the attractions.

Top things to do in Da Nang:

  • Dragon Bridge
  • Ba Na Hills (Golden Hand Bridge). Entry costs 700,000 VND per person
  • The Marble Mountains

golden hand bridge at ba na hill, da nang, Vietnam

Where to stay

For a clean, comfy & budget stay click here

Day 8-10 in Hue

Hue is home to the ancient Imperial City, a place rich with history and was capital of Vietnam for 143 years. To travel here via train takes 3 hours from Da Nang and costs 110,000 per person. Ensure to book your seats in advance as the train sells out fast.

Top things to do:

  • The Imperial City
  • Royal Tomb of Khai Dinh King
  • Thuy Then Lake aka the abandoned waterpark. Entrance is not guaranteed so be prepared to bribe a guard to enter.
  • Eat at Nook Eatery. (Amazing veggie & vegan options)
  • Try some Banh Mi

Dragon at abandoned water park Hue, Vietnam,

Where to stay

For a friendly and budget stay click here

Day 10-12 in Ninh Binh

Ninh Binh has the most incredible and stunning scenery and is an absolute must visit. Cheapest way to get here is via sleeper bus from Hue. It takes 10 hours and costs $13. Easiest way to get around Ninh Binh is by hiring a scooter, it’s cheap and the roads are safe & quiet (unlike pretty much everywhere else in Vietnam).

Top things to do in Ninh Binh:

  • Mua Caves
  • Bich Dong Pagoda
  • Explore the stunning landscape of Tam Coc & Ninh Binh via scooter.

Bich Dong temple, Ninh Binh in vietnam

Where to stay

For a really friendly, budget stay in the wilderness with a cute dog and 2 cats click here

Day 12-14 in Hanoi

Hanoi, the new capital of Vietnam and slightly quieter city compared to Ho Chi Minh has plenty to offer for all interests and budgets. The quickest way to get here is by taxi and this costs an avg of 180,000 VND per person from Ninh Binh.

Top things to do in Hanoi:

  • Train Street in the old quarter
  • Ngoc Son Temple on Hoan Kiem Lake
  • Temple of Literature
  • Day trip to Ha Long Bay. (It’s not cheap and a long day but great if you don’t have a lot of time in Vietnam).


train street in Hanoi, Vietnam

Where to stay

For a good location that’s a 20min walk to city centre and great budget click here


I hope this guide helps you in planning your Vietnam adventure. If you’d like to read about what we got up to whilst in Vietnam click here

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Guide to travelling Vietnam in 2 weeks


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