This year’s escape from the January blues involved a 3-week adventure from the South to North Vietnam. With big, bustling cities, beaches, caves, lakes and mountains – there was a lot to cram in. Here’s a run down of what you can realistically fit into a 3 week trip to Vietnam.
- Saigon/ Ho Chi Minh City – 2 days
Jet lag can be an issue on arrival, but you can still fit a lot into two days in Saigon, where surviving a road-crossing can feel like the achievement of a lifetime. War history, eating, negotiating in the market and cocktails at sunset are just a few things not to miss.
2. Fly to Con Son island – 3 days
Spend a few days beating the jet lag and really switching off with the beautiful and simple way of life on this peaceful island.
3. Return to Saigon – 1 day
A morning flight from Con Son will allow you another day to finish exploring this exciting city. Take a sunset cocktail before boarding the overnight train to the beach.
4. Overnight train to Nha Trang
I slept really well on the overnight trains so was ready for the next day. On arrival in Nha Trang, walk or taxi to the beach to watch the sunrise and locals’ early morning exercise routine. It will make you want to get your zumba on!
5. Beach time – 2 days
Unless you are a Russian package holiday tourist, I wouldn’t really recommend staying in Nha Trang. But there are lots of other beautiful spots along this bit of coast, especially if you hire a moped.
6. Overnight train to Da Nang for a visit to Hoi An
7. Hoi An – 3 days
Cycle between beach and village, take a cooking class, visit the historic sites, eat safe street food in the market and get a tailored suit. You won’t want to leave Hoi An!
8. Motorbike tour to Hue – 2 days
The most popular way to travel between Hoi An and Hue is by motorbike. Travelling through the mountain roads in this area gives a unique view of small villages dotted between the spectacular views. I took a two day tour that included staying overnight in Prao with a surreal night singing Kareoke with the locals. A one day tour would also be sufficient.
9. Hue – 1 day
One day gives time to visit the main citadel and take a boat ride on the lake.
8. Train to Dong Hoi for some days in Phong Nha Ke Bang National Park
This is a short train ride, so take the soft seater carriages and hang out with the locals.
9. Phong Nha Ke Bang National Park – 2 days
I chose to go here instead of Halong Bay because the weather is more reliable at this time of year. Visit stunning caves and limestone as well as hiking and kayaking if that is your thing. We stayed in a lakeside resort to allow some chill out time.
10. Overnight train to Hanoi
11. Hanoi – 2 days
Getting lost wandering in the old town is the best way to spend your time in Hanoi. Find your way out to see the water puppet theatre show, temple of literature and the military museum too! I recommend spending the evening people watching while sipping a bia hoi in one of the old town’s street bars.
12. Fly back to Saigon for your return flight – 1 day
Boo – it’s always rubbish going home. It’s good to return to this exciting city after seeing the rest of the country. I fitted in visiting the Cu Chi tunnels as well.
On this trip…
- I was backpacking on a budget
- I travelled as a couple.
- I travelled end of December 2015 to January 2016 – the weather is different throughout the year in Vietnam, so check it fits the activities you want to do before you travel!
- I took trains, planes, taxis and a motorbike tour
Have you been to Vietnam? What was your route?