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The Ultimate 30 Day Itinerary in Vietnam

Why 30 days? Because that's how long the E-VISA lasts!

It doesn’t matter how many times I visit Vietnam, I still want to return because I haven’t seen all the places I want to! The country has so many different regions, cities, and villages to explore. Each one with its own characteristics, culture, and charm.

To get a good feel the differences between each region of Vietnam, I’d recommend staying for a month. However, time is, usually, of the essence, so a 14 day itinerary is on its way!

Or you can follow this itinerary as a guide and skip out the places you don’t have time to travel to, or that don’t interest you. We all have our own preferences after all!

Day 1/2


You can also arrive in Ho Chi Minh City, in which case, you could always do this itinerary in reverse.

Spend a couple of days exploring the country’s capital, getting used to the busy city, and trying the food!

At the end of day 2, take the night bus up to Sapa. As a mature traveller, you want to experience Vietnamese life, but in comfort, right? Night buses are comfortable, and whilst it might not sound glamorous, it actually saves you precious exploring-time. Opt for the highest class bus when requesting times from your hotel reception.

Don’t worry about spending more time in Hanoi, you’ll be returning in between more night bus journeys!

Day 3


Sapa lies at an altitude of 1,500m above sea level, making the climate chillier than the capital so, grab a bowl of pho for breakfast to warm up!

Then, after dumping your luggage at your accommodation, visit Fansipan, the highest point in Vietnam. Walk to the monorail station that takes you to the cable car station. You could hike up, but it would take you 6-8 hours to get to the 3,142m peak. If you’re up for that, go for it!!

Otherwise, you’ll have 600 steps to get your heart rate up when you get to the top, as there are stone stairs which lead to the top of the “Roof of Indochina”.

In evening, head to the night market for street food, and after sun atmosphere Sapa-style.

Day 4/5

Trekking in Sapa

After breakfast, grab a taxi to the entrance of Y Linh Ho Village at the main road using Thuyen May Homestay as a reference. Walking down the path, you’ll be greeted with a view of the lush, rice fields. And perhaps, some black Hmoung people trying to flog their products!

You can trek until Ta Va, and then walk back to the main road to grab a taxi, and head back to Sapa town. Or, you can continue, find a homestay, and experience village, rural life!

Day 5

Sapa -> Hanoi

Either continue exploring the rural fields of Sapa villages or grab a taxi on the main road and head back to Sapa town. Grab some lunch and rest before the long journey back to Hanoi.

Day 6

Hanoi -> Cao Bang

Spend the day enjoying Hanoi and then get a night bus to Cao Bang. Unfortunately, there’s no direct way of going to Cao Bang directly from Sapa. The mountainous lands that separate the regions are too rural, and the lack of roads mean that fast transport between bigger cities isn’t possible without heading back to the capital.

Before the overnight trip, you can shop, eat, visit a museum, or relax and get a cheap, but good massage!

Day 7, 8, 9

Cao Bang

Check-in, or leave your luggage at your accommodation. Make sure you book your accommodation for Cao Bằng before arriving, especially if you happen to be arriving during a weekend. Cao Bằng has become extremely popular with Vietnamese tourists from the south, and when we arrived in October, all of the hotels were fully booked! After checking several, we managed to find one that showed availability online. Phew!

Cao Bằng city is a lively place (especially during the evenings at the weekend), but it’s mainly a base to explore the regions natural wonders nearby.

Check out my guide on what to see in Cao Bằng Province.

On the evening of day 9, grab a taxi to take you to the bus stop for the night bus back to Hanoi.

Day 10


Enjoy the day in Hanoi. Or you can go directly to day 11!

Day 11

Ninh Binh

Set off early in the morning to the waters of Ninh Binh. Visit Hoa Lu Ancient Capital, before lunch. After lunch, head to the Mua Caves where you can walk off lunch by climbing up to the top of Mua Cave where a great stone dragon sits. Head to your accommodation for the night to relax and go through all the great photos you took!

Stay at a local homestay to experience home cooked Vietnamese food.

I'd highly recommend Tam Cốc Việt Hà Homestay

The rooms were on the boojie side, clean, and the food was really good.

Day 12

Ninh Binh Day 2

In the morning, wake up to a local breakfast and rocky limestone or paddy field views.

Visit the Bái Đính Temple, then take a boat trip to sail through the Tràng An Scenic Complex. Hailed as a UNESCO Heritage Site in 2014, enjoy the boat ride through limestone cliffs, lush green plants, and caves. You’ll notice that all of the rowers are women here, and they’ll use their feet and legs to row, rather than their arms. When we arrived for our ride, our rower told us that she’d been in the queue since the early morning before she got her first customers - us! As we finished our trip, darkness was falling. Any rowers still in the queue would leave their boat there to maintain their position in the queue, in the hope of getting customers in the morning. They’re also not allowed to ask for tips, so if you want to, you have to offer first.

In the evening, head back to Hanoi.

Day 13, 14, 15

Hanoi -> Ha Giang Loop

Relax, enjoy the capital and book your spot on a trip to experience the Hà Giang Loop. I’d highly recommend going with Epic Tours/Cheers Hostel. You can book through their website/whatsapp, it's really easy!

Pick up is from Cheers Hostel, right by the Cathedral. They offered us free tea, and were so friendly even though we'd arrived an hour early!

I’d also recommend booking a night in this hostel for the return journey. You’ll arrive late afternoon, and Cheers Hostel will look after your luggage whilst you’re away. Also, their accommodation is clean, and the staff are really friendly. I wish we had stayed there!

The 3 day tour will give you a great taster of life on a motorbike, and you’ll cruise around the most beautiful lands in Vietnam.

For more information, check out my guides and review on the tour.

Possible Day 16-22
Hang Sơn Đoòng

The world’s largest cave is worth taking out several days of your itinerary. The last time I visited Vietnam, I really wanted to go there, but it was rainy season, and the caves were too dangerous. So, if you’re up for an adventure, check out Hang Sơn Đoòng, and let me know how it was! I’ll be planning a trip there next time!!


Day 16, 17, 18

H Long Bay

Time to explore one of the most popular gems of Vietnam - Ha Long Bay. At a small basic school in the villages of Cao Bang Province, my mum learnt about the Rocky Mountains of Ha Long Bay, but never did she believe that she’d one day see it herself!

I’d highly recommend going LUXE on this. I’ve been twice and both times I booked with Indochina Junk to explore Bái Tử Long, the bay less travelled. The accommodation on the junk boat is clean and comfy, the staff are extremely polite, and Bái Tử Long is incredible. It’s further out than Ha Long Bay which means there are less boats, therefore, it’s quieter and just mystical.

Day 19, 20


Get the night train down to Huế to spend a couple of days exploring the old national capital. Get a xich lo to the 19th century Citadel, Đại Nội where you’ll see the Imperial City (although much of it was destroyed during the war against France), shrines and palaces. Make sure to check out Emperor’s Reading Room just for it’s mosaic roof!

Don’t forget to taste Huế’s delicacies; bun bo Hue (Huế’s spicy version of pho), banh beo (savoury cakes made from rice flour), and bánh khoái (Huế’s pancake).

Day 21, 22

Hai Van Pass & Hoi An

Head south to Hội An. We took a very-touristy open-top-bus tour from Hue to get to Hội An because this allowed us to travel along the Hai Van Pass. The Hai Van Pass is a famous mountainous route made famous by a Vietnam-special episode of the TV show Top Gear. As well as being able to enjoy the route, we also got to stop off at Marble Mountain and go up one of the mountains named after water. It’s a shame we didn’t have more time to explore the area, as it would definitely have been worth it.

Hội An may be one of the most touristy cities in Vietnam, but it really is one of the most beautiful. And if you’re here during a full moon, it’ll be even more special. As daylight fades, offerings are laid out on doorsteps and incense sticks are lit to send wishes to the ancestors.

For a guide on what to eat in Hội An, check out the last part of my guide on Vietnamese food.

Day 23, 24

Ho Chi Minh City

Grab a taxi to drive you back up to Da Nang and catch a flight down to Ho Chi Minh City.

Spend a couple of days exploring this chaotic city. You can visit the markets, try the southern food, or find some peace and quiet in the botanical gardens. If you’re interested in learning more about the country’s darker times of war, the War Remnants Museum. It may be biased but displays show the disturbing effects of the war against the USA, and it’s sure to mention how the USA were defeated in men ‘in black pyjamas’.

For souvenirs and food, check out Bến Thành Market in the centre of the city. It’s a favourite of ours! If you’re interested in jewellery shopping, check out An Dong Market, where you can find a large selection of solid gold pieces at great prices too. You can also bring your old solid gold pieces to sell/exchange, and they’ll trade at current prices. If you do buy anything, make sure to get a certificate, as most places will write one up.

Photos: Gold certificate being drawn up, weighting and testing of gold, jewellery adjustments

Day 25, 26

Can Tho

Take a bus from Ho Chi Minh City to Can Tho, the city in the Mekong Delta region.

The main reason for visiting this city is to visit the floating market. And I mention this as an optional stop, because I’d only recommend coming here during ‘fruit season’. This is when there is more of an atmosphere, there is more trade, and more to see. However, even then, the floating market isn’t what it used to be. With technology allowing people to travel by cars, trucks, lorries, it’s not necessary to travel along the river in order to sell fruit or flowers. Therefore, the trade that you do see on the Mekong Delta, is mostly for the purpose of tourism.

We visited outside of fruit season, so we were extremely disappointed by the lack of trade on the boats, and the tourist shops we were taken to on the river banks. However, we did get to experience buying pho from a lady who had a whole kitchen on her boat, and buying some fresh fruit from boat venders!

If you visit during the weekends, the city centre is buzzing. There is a street market with venders selling food, juices, and fruit. We also happen to come across street performances and music!

Day 26, 27, 28, 29

Phu Quoc Island

Catch a flight from Can Tho airport to Phú Quốc Island.

Phú Quốc is a popular island for those seeking a little peace, beach time, and chill time before heading back to real life. Here, you can lux-it-up in a fancy resort, stay humble in a modern, wooden cabin, or glamp in a beach hideaway.

Day 29/30


Head back to the capital for last minute souvenir shopping, street food, and to catch your flight back home.



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