In May I spent two weeks traveling Vietnam from Saigon to Hanoi. The first thing I have to say is that two weeks is definitely not enough time to discover this amazing country! If you have a whole month, it’s enough time to check out all the places listed here, and even more. Here’s the perfect Vietnamese roadtrip itinerary according to me.
Saigon: Ho Chi Minh is such a crowded city but, in my opinion, it’s a great place to start discovering the country. Be careful not to get run over by a scooter, they’re everywhere and they don’t really care about safety. You can check out the War Museum, which is a harsh but good way to really understand what the Vietnamese went through. Have a walk around the city, get some amazing iced coffee on the street, try a banh mi (best sandwich in the world), visit temples on the way, wander around the markets, and go to a karaoke at night.
Dalat: Hop on a night bus from Saigon to see the lovely city of Dalat. The best thing I would recommend in Dalat is Mr. Rot’s Secret Tour. I won’t tell you what it’s exactly about, you just have to know that this is the perfect way to get to know the Vietnamese culture and history. It’s a full-day tour that will show you the true beauty of Vietnam, and I couldn’t recommend it more! Out of my 9 months traveling Asia, this experience is in my top 5. After that you can enjoy the night market and a night out where you get lost at the bar 100 roofs.
Hoi an: Explore this city, its stores and pretty streets. This is the place to go if you want to have custom-made clothes. You can get a dress exactly the way you want it and with a perfect fit for less than $40! I don’t have the exact price for suits, but trust me it’s worth it. While you’re there you can also go on a bike ride to the beach or on a boat tour.
Hue: Here’s the one place I didn’t go to but still want to introduce you to. Hue is a medieval city that got bombed during Vietnam War and had to be rebuilt. It’s full of history, traditional buildings and surrounded by walls. If you love architecture and history, definitely check it out!
Son Trach: What would Asia be without temples or caves? Book a day tour and hop on a boat that will take you to both the Phong Nha and Tien Son caves. Located in the Phong Nha Bang National Park, it’s an excursion you don’t want to miss.
Hanoi: Full of museums and religious sites, there is always something to see in the capital city. Go on a city walking tour on your first day there (most hostels, hotels or tourist agencies offer some), visit some temples and pagodas, try to find the best coffee spot around your accommodation, go on a food tour to discover traditional meals off the beaten tracks, try to bargain the price of your souvenirs and walk around the Lake.
Halong Bay: Do I need to present this place? The famous Bay is a natural wonder with massive rocks emerging from the sea. It doesn’t look impressive in the picture, but wait until you see it in person! If you can book a cruise and stay overnight in order to enjoy sunset and sunrise, it’s even better.
Sapa: Located in the north west of the country, Sapa is a trekking city with breathtaking views on rice plantations. Locals will take you around on a walking tour where you will be able to admire amazing landscapes. I recommend you book your tour carefully in order not to end up in the middle of a hundred of other tourists. Please make sure to stay with locals in order to have the best experience possible!
If you want to have the whole Vietnam experience, I recommend you buy a motorcycle in Saigon, drive all the way up to Hanoi, and then sell it to someone who will do the same road trip. It’s the best way to see all the wonders of this country and some amazing landscapes, but you should have at least two or three months ahead of you to do that properly without exhausting yourself on the road ! You will love the diversity of the country, the nature and the architecture, between traditions and modernity.
I hope that you’re already looking for flights to Vietnam; it’s an amazing country that will blow your mind! Vietnam is in my top three favorite destinations in South East Asia and I’d love to go back one day to do the three month motorcycle road trip. I miss banh mi and ca phe sua da way too much…