These one-week itineraries can be done on their own or combined to create the ultimate adventurous Vietnam itinerary. This is an amazing country, so grab our itinerary suggestions and get planning your trip!
Unless you’ve got months and months to explore Vietnam, I suggest you plan your Vietnam travel route for a specific region. There’s far too much to see to pack north, south, and central Vietnam all into one quick visit.
We’ve spent more than 6 months in Vietnam during the last 2 years and there’s still have so much we haven’t seen.
Our Vietnam itineraries are designed for mindful and adventure travellers who want to immerse themselves in the local culture, experience the varied landscapes of Vietnam, and, above all, not spend their entire time flying from one city to the next! We assume you will be taking trains and busses in Vietnam but it’s also the ideal country to see by motorbike.
With that in mind, here are our suggested…
Vietnam Travel Itineraries for 1–4 Weeks
For the best Vietnam travel itinerary, link all three itineraries together and add an extra week or two for spontaneous detours and additions.
Vietnam Itinerary: One Week in Northern Vietnam
We’ve had so many adventures in Northern Vietnam that we absolutely love this part of the country. If you’re new to Vietnam and want to combine outdoor activities with the bustle and culture of Hanoi, this is the itinerary for you.
- Hanoi, 2 days. You’ll want at least 48 hours to explore amazing Hanoi. Don’t miss out on a Hanoi food tour.
- Trekking in northern Vietnam, 2 or 3 days. Go trekking in Sapa or try one of these less touristy alternatives to Sapa.
- Halong Bay, 2 or 3 days. Take a cruise on Halong Bay or Bai Tu Long Bay, the quieter alternative.
- Mai Chau, 2 days. Stay overnight with locals in Mai Chau.
- Tam Coc, 2 days. Take a boat trip through the karst landscapes in Tam Coc. You’ll enjoy it more if you stay overnight and do your boat trip in the early hours, before the day trippers arrive.
(Don’t miss: Interested in a Vietnam bike tour? Here’s what you need to know) →
North Vietnam Itinerary Notes
- If you only have one week, you’ll have to choose between trekking in the mountains and sailing in Halong Bay, so we suggest extending your stay in Northern Vietnam to 10 days at least.
- You might not have time to do both Mai Chau and Tam Coc. Choose Mai Chau for culture and Tam Coc for nature.
- You can easily spend 2-3 weeks in northern Vietnam and not run out of things to do.
- From Tam Coc, you can get a bus to Phong Nha if you want to continue into central Vietnam from the north.
- Here’s a great guide to taking the sleeper train from Hanoi to Sapa by MapTrotting
(Related: Here’s the most adventurous way to get to Laos from Northern Vietnam) →
Want more Vietnam travel advice? We recommend these books:
Vietnam Itinerary: One Week in Central Vietnam
Last year, I took a solo trip to central Vietnam and Stephen was devastated to miss it. Central Vietnam has culture, caves, and some of the best vegan food in Vietnam. Central Vietnam is often overlooked but it might just be my favourite region of Vietnam.
- Phong Nha, 2 or 3 days. Go on a cave tour in Phong Nha.
- Hue, 1 day. See the imperial city and then eat your way around Hue which has a fascinating culinary history and is filled with amazing restaurants, many of which are vegan.
- Hoi An, 2 or 3 days. Immerse yourself in the charm of Hoi An.
Central Vietnam Travel Itinerary Notes
- Even if you can’t drive a motorbike, we highly recommend you make the trip from Hue to Hoi An by motorbike. Here’s Jane’s review of her motorbike adventure from Hue to Hoi An with Le Family Riders.
- If you’re heading south from Hoi An, you can take an overnight bus or train to Nha Trang. Or consider breaking the journey by stopping in Qui Nonh, a gorgeous beach community which doesn’t make it onto most travellers’ Vietnam itinerary.
Vietnam Itinerary: One Week in South Vietnam
Our last couple of trips have been to Vietnam’s diverse southern region, which offers plenty of beach escapes, plus the lush Mekong Delta and vibrant Ho Chi Minh City.
If you’re coming from the north, reverse this itinerary to start in Nha Trang and finish in Ho Chi Minh city.
- Ho Chi Minh City, 2 days. Soak up the culture in Ho Chi Minh City, take a a day trip to the Mekong Delta, and leave time to explore the amazing craft beer scene in the city.
- Mui Ne, 2 days. Retreat to the beach, try your hand at kite surfing, and visit the Mui Ne Sand dunes.
- Nha Trang (instead of Mui Ne), 2 days. Nha Trang offers a similar experience to Mui Ne, with a little more city and a little less beach bum vibe. You can safely limit your visit to one or the other. While you’re there, don’t miss the mud baths.
- Dalat, 2 days. Experience Dalat and the surrounding mountains. Don’t miss the Dalat Crazy House. You can even stay there.
- Central Highlands, 2 or 3 days. Hike or bike the Central Highlands of Vietnam.
South Vietnam Travel Itinerary Notes
- If you only have one week in the south, choose between beach time in Mui Ne and visiting Dalat. In all honesty, neither destination is a must-see in our opinion!
- Unless you’re thrilled at the idea of mud baths (which are a fun cultural experience), then Nha Trang is not essential either. Leave more time for the central highlands instead.
- Though it’s a popular destination, we have not included Phu Quoc in our southern Vietnam itinerary because by most reports it is overdeveloped and doesn’t seem to appeal to people who like adventure, responsible, and mindful travel. If you want adventurous island time in Vietnam, try the Con Dao Archipelago instead. If you’re heading to Cambodia, skip Phu Quoc and visit Koh Ta Kiev in Cambodia instead.
Here’s Even More Help Planning Your Vietnam Travels
If you have any doubts or questions about your Vietnam travel itinerary, feel free to get in touch. We’re happy to answer any questions you might have. Or read our other Vietnam travel guides.
- Read our complete guide to travel in Vietnam →
- Find out where to eat with our guides to vegan and vegetarian food in Hanoi, Hue, and Hoi An →
- Find out where to stay with our guides to the best hotels for every budget in Hanoi, Hue, and Hoi An →
♥ Happy mindful adventures, Stephen & Jane
Some of the links in this post are our own personal affiliate links. That means that if you buy something using one of these links we’ll earn a little commission at no extra cost to you. We’re not getting rich off of this but it does help encourage us keep this blog going, so thanks in advance! –S&J