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When you look at Vietnam on a world map it looks like a small country. You might think you can knock it off your Bucket List in less than a week. Not even close. You can see a couple of cities in a week, however you would be missing out on so much that makes Vietnam what it is.

Although two weeks still won’t allow enough time to see ALL of Vietnam, it will be enough to give you a good feel of the country and it’s culture. So save up those vacation days and plan a proper trip! I have the Perfect 2 Week Vietnam Itinerary for you to see all the major highlights of this amazing country.

Vietnam Travel Info

LOCATION

Vietnam is located in Southeast Asia, surrounded by China, Laos, Cambodia, and the South China Sea. It may look tiny on a map but Vietnam extends 1,025 miles (1,650 km) from north to south.

Most people either fly into it’s capital of Hanoi, located up north or into Vietnam’s largest city of Ho Chi Minh, or Saigon as the locals refer to it, located down south. They are the perfect bookends to a Vietnam trip.

Vietnam map with locations to visit

LANGUAGE & CURRENCY

Vietnamese is the official language but we found that almost everyone spoke some English. The local currency is the Vietnamese Dong and you will feel like a millionaire with all that cash.

However, a 100,000 bill is only worth $4.00 so don’t get too excited when you see it. And yes, you will need to keep cash on you at all times. Not everyone accepts credit cards. ATM’s can be found everywhere in Vietnam so you won’t have a problem taking cash out.

WEATHER

Vietnam’s weather is mostly hot and humid throughout the year with the exception of northern Vietnam from November through February. It can actually get cold and even snow up in the mountains. Other than that it will rarely get too cold.

We were in Hanoi in December and it was very pleasant. It was in the mid 70’s to low 80’s during the day but it did cool down a bit at night to the upper 50’s. Make sure you bring a light jacket or a sweatshirt if your 2 week Vietnam Itinerary takes place during that time.

Ho Chi Minh City in December was super humid and very hot. Be prepared for all types of weather. Central Vietnam pretty much rained the entire time. Yes, Vietnam does have a rainy season so when to travel is up to you. I would AVOID April – September. It wll be humid and uncomfortable. Southeast Asia weather isn’t for the meek.

TRAVEL VISA

Most people traveling to Vietnam will have to obtain a Visa to enter. For residents of 80 countries, you can get your Visa to Vietnam online (an e-Visa) before you leave home. The list of countries that are allowed to do this is here.

Visas for Vietnam are good for 30 days once you enter the country. The e-Visa costs $25 and you can apply for it here.

Another option is to get a “Visa on Arrival”. You still have to fill out the application online but the fee starts at just $17. You’ll print your approval letter and bring it with you when you land at either Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City, or Da Nang airports.

GETTING AROUND

Besides your flights into and within the country, once you’re at your destination the best way to get around is by walking. Nearly every city you’re visiting is walkable. There are some exceptions and I mention those times below.

You won’t have a problem finding a taxi because they are everywhere. But the best way to get a ride is through the Grab App. Grab is just like Uber (Uber is not in Vietnam). You don’t have to enter any credit card info although you can if you’d like. We ended up paying cash for most rides.

Cell Phone Service

Most hotels and restaurants do have wifi but the absolute best way to use your phone while in Vietnam is to pick up a sim card at the airport. It’s extremely cheap at just $10 for 30 days.

When you arrive at the airport you will see mobile carrier booths for Viettel, MobiFone, and Vinaphone. Viettel is supposed to be the best carrier to use. It’s what we used for our 3 weeks in Vietnam and we had service the entire time. TEN DOLLARS!

You’ll pay for your sim card and hand them your passport so they can make a copy of it. This is so your sim card can be registered to you. There are places that don’t do this (in the city) and there have been issues where the sim card stops working. Without proof of it registered to you there is nothing you can do.

They will also install the sim card for you and hand you your sim card that they take out. Put this in a safe place so when you head back home you can replace your Vietnam sim card. You won’t have to do anything but put your card back in and restart your phone. They should also give you a Vietnam phone number. Make sure you save this because there are times you might need it.

Visiting Temples

When you visit temples in Vietnam please be respectful. It’s a place of worship for someone else’s religion. Don’t be loud or climb on things that you know you shouldn’t be on. Make sure your clothing is tasteful. Cover your knees, shoulders, and stomach. Don’t wear anything too revealing.

Where To Start Your 2 week Vietnam Itinerary

If you’re flying to Vietnam from another country, even one next door, you’ll likely fly into Ho Chi Minh City (also called Saigon) or Hanoi. They are the two largest cities in Vietnam so those are the most likely options.

Which one you start with is up to you. Pick whichever is cheapest to fly to or is the fastest route. If you fly into Hanoi, you’ll make your way down the country. If you fly into Saigon, you’ll make your way up north. There’s really no wrong choice.

Start of the Perfect 2 Week Vietnam Itinerary

For this Vietnam Itinerary I’m going to start in the south, in Ho Chi Minh City. It’s where we started our Vietnam journey but if you’re flying into Hanoi just work your way backwards.

Our 14 day Vietnam Itinerary below will account for some travel days including flights, buses, and taxis. Here’s the break down of days and what to do and see in each place will follow.

The Perfect 2 Week Vietnam Itinerary

Ho Chi Minh City

Days 1-3 on the Perfect 2 Week Vietnam Itinerary: You’ll arrive at the Tan Son Nhat International Airport, the largest and busiest airport in Vietnam. It’s located fairly close to the center of the city, just 6km away.

Ho Chi Minh City is broken down into Districts and about 90% of the major sites to see are in District 1. Stay in District 1 and you can probably see everything in just 1 day. All the sites in District 1 are pretty close to each other so it’s very walkable. Bring some comfortable shoes!

Day 1 of the Vietnam Itinerary: Arrive in Ho Chi Minh City

You’ve arrived! If you arrive in Vietnam in the morning head straight to your hotel, store your bags until check in, and find a place to grab some lunch. If you feel up to it you can knock 1-2 things off your Day 2 list.

I would go ahead and head over to the War Remnants Museum and get that done. The museum is open until 6pm and the cost to get in is less than $2 a person. After that, find a place for dinner and drinks and then head back to the hotel. Day 2 will be a busy day so get some sleep.

Day 2 of the Vietnam Itinerary: Ho Chi Minh City

Wake up early and get ready to walk. If you’re staying in District 1 (you should!) it will be fairly easy to get from place to place. It will likely be hot and humid (VERY HUMID) so if you want to catch a Taxi or a Grab then go for it.

It shouldn’t be too expensive and you’ll likely welcome the few minutes of AC. Get some breakfast at your hotel or near your hotel and get ready for your self-guided tour of Ho Chi Minh City.

Ho Chi Minh City Bucket List

War Remnants Museum
Tan Dinh Church (Pink Church)
Ben Thanh Market
Saigon Skydeck
The Cafe Apartments
Hem Hao Si Phuong (100 yr old alley)
China Town
Saigon Central Post Office
Notre Dame Cathedral
Nguyen Hue Street (walking Street)
Jade Emperor Pagoda
Buu Long Pagoda
Bui Vien Walking Street
Cu Chi Tunnels
Mekong Delta

Vietnam History

The War Remnants Museum – Open 7:30am – 6:00pm, $1.75 per person. There are a ton of photos and some military planes and tanks. What you see at the museum is the Vietnam point of view so the info may be different than what you learned in your history class. Plan to spend 1- 1.5 hours here.

Ho Chi Minh City - War Remnants Museum

Shopping

Ben Thanh Market – Open 6am – 6pm – FREE – No Vietnam Itinerary would be complete with visiting the Ben Thanh Market. This market has anything you could possibly be looking for from luxury goods to food to small souviners.

Views and Sites

Saigon Skydeck – Open 9:30am – 9:30pm seven days a week – 240,000 VND or about $10 a person – Head up to the 49th floor for 360° views of the city. It’s definitely worth it!

The Perfect 2 Week Vietnam Itinerary - Saigon Skydeck in Ho Chi Minh City

The Cafe Apartments – Open 7am – 10pm – District 1 – An old apartment building with dozens of cute themed cafes. It is just down the street from the Saigon Skydeck along the Nguyen Hue Walking Street. You can go inside and choose a cafe to have a drink or just admire it from the outside.

Hem Hao Si Phuong – FREE – The famous 100 year old alley is home to families, has chickens running around, and plants everywhere. It’s just really cool. There are rumors that to enter you might be charged money by little old ladies sitting out front.

I wouldn’t blame them if they did but that didn’t happen to us when we went. There were three ladies sitting down and we just walked right in like we owned the place, took our photos and got out of there.

The Perfect 2 Week Vietnam Itinerary - 100 year old alley in Ho Chi Minh City

Chinatown – Cholon is Vietnam’s largest Chinatown, located in Districts 5, 6, and 11. It’s very colorful and has a mix of old and new shops. Here you will get a look into Chinese culture and architecture. You’ll find temples, food stalls, fabric, lacquerware, and more. The 100 year old alley is also located here.

Saigon Central Post Office – Open 7am – 7pm (6pm on weekends) – FREE – District 1 – the Central Post Office was built in 1886 and has a Colonial French Architecture style. Inside you’ll find a working post office and a lot of shops.

The Perfect 2 Week Vietnam Itinerary - Ho Chi Minh City Post Office

Churches and Temples

Notre Dame Cathedral – FREE – District 1 – Yes, same name as the one in Paris and very similar in style. It’s over 100 years old and sits right in the middle of the city. The church is next to the Central Post Office so plan on seeing these two at the same time.

Nguyen Hue Street Walking Street – FREE – District 1 – The street has a modern feel with lots of high rise buildings as well as shops, bars and restaurants.

Tan Dinh Church aka The Pink Church – FREE – A Catholic Church in the heart of Saigon. The Pink Church is unique and beautiful but it’s also a working church. If you want to go inside you’ll have to go between 8am – 12pm or from 2 – 5pm. Most people just walk around the outside.

Head across the street to Cong cafe for some delicious coffee and great views from the balcony.

Jade Emperor Pagoda – Open 7am – 5:30pm, 7 days a week – FREE – An ancient temple built of bricks and tile, this Chinese style temple has a pagoda, statues, incense, and alters. The temple is located in the North of the city so you’ll definitely want to take a taxi there.

Don’t forget to mind your clothing. No shorts or bare shoulders.

Buu Long Pagoda – Open 8am – 6pm – FREE – District 9 – Getting there will be about a 45 minute ride from District 1 so only add it if you have time. It’s a beautiful temple with a mix of Vietnam, India, and Thailand architecture.

Nightlife

Bui Vien Walking Street – another walking street however this one is more lively. It’s known as backpackers road (there’s a lot of those in Southeast Asia) because it’s an affordable area to stay in and has a busy nightlife scene.

Day 3 of the Vietnam Itinerary: Ho Chi Minh City

Your 2 week Vietnam Itinerary should definitely include a tour that will take you outside the city to experience the Cu Chi Tunnels and a boat ride on the Mekong Delta.

I would suggest booking with either Get Your Guide or Viator. Both are very reputable companies. You’ll be picked up at your hotel (in District 1) and take you to learn all about the tunnel system used by the Vietnamese during the Vietnam War.

You’ll also enjoy a boat ride on the Mekong Delta. Prices for the tour range from $55 – $80 and includes all transportation, lunch, snacks, English speaking guide, and entrance to the Cu Chi Tunnel as well as the boat ride.

It will be an all day tour of about 10 hours but you’ll be back in the city in time to go out for dinner.

Da Nang

Days 4-5 on the 2 Week Vietnam Itinerary: Today you’ll leave Ho Chi Minh City and fly to Da Nang. It’s just a short 1.15 hour nonstop flight. Get a morning flight so you’ll have time in the afternoon for exploring.

Da Nang Bucket List

Marble Mountains
Da Nang Dragon Bridge
Golden Hand Bridge – Ba Na Hills
Linh Ung Pagoda – Lady Buddha

Day 4 of the Vietnam Itinerary: Da Nang

Marble Mountains – Open 7am – 5pm – about $1.70 to enter – You’ll arrive in Da Nang (hopefully by noon), head to the hotel to drop your bags off and get a Grab or Taxi to go to the Marble Mountains. Wear comfortable shoes because there is hiking involved.

You’ll be climbing up and down stairs and into caves. The steps will be slick, especially if it rains. The caves do have water dripping so it will be slippery no matter what. Plan to spend 2-3 hours here.

You’ll find food stalls at the Marble Mountains so you can grab some lunch before exploring.

Da Nang Dragon Bridge – FREE – You can visit it anytime but on the weekend at 9pm the dragon comes to life and breathes fire. The whole show is about 15 minutes long.

Da Nang Vietnam Dragon Bridge

Day 5 of the Vietnam Itinerary: Da Nang

Golden Hand Bridge/Ba Na Hills – Open 8am – 5pm – $40 – This will likely be one of the most expensive things you do in Vietnam. You’ll ride to the top of the mountain in one of the longest cable car rides in the world taking approximately 30 minutes to reach the top.

Your entrance ticket includes the cable car ride, the Golden Hand Bridge, and entry to the “amusement park” that is designed to resemble a European Village. It’s kind of a mix of a European/Disney/French Village theme.

There are some rides along with over 30 restaurants to choose from. The Golden Bridge is really the main star here. We did not stay to experience all of Ba Na Hills. We only went to see the Bridge. To get here you can call a Grab or taxi to take you.

Ba Na Hills Golden Bridge - Hand Bridge in Vietnam

Linh Ung Pagoda – Open 6am – 9pm, 7 days a week – FREE – See the tallest Buddha statue in Vietnam, a female Buddha. The Linh Ung Pagoda is located about 9km from the Da Nang city center. This large complex sits on the Son Tra Peninsula so you can watch the sunset on the water as well.

Hoi An

Days 6-7 on the Perfect 2 Week Vietnam Itinerary: You’ll leave Da Nang and get a taxi or Grab to Hoi An, just 30 minutes south. There is so much to explore in Hoi An so you’ll want to leave Da Nang early so you can make the most of your first day there.

The city of Hoi An is a mix of Vietnamese, Chinese, and Japanese architectural styles. It’s a charming town with colorful buildings, rivers, and lanterns decorating the streets everywhere you look. The town is on the UNESCO list. There’s a lot to fit in to two days so get ready!

How to get around Hoi An: Hoi An is a walkable town. If you’re staying further away from the main sites then you can grab a taxi to take you to the Old Town and walk from there. Most hotels also have bikes that are free for their guests to use.

Hoi An Bucket List

Explore Old Town
Japanese Covered Bridge
Cantonese Assembly Hall
Quan Cong Pagoda Temple
Quan Cong Temple
Fujian Assembly Hall
Phuc Kien Assembly Hall
Eat a Banh Mi
Hoi An Night Market
Take a spin in a Thung Chai boat
Have custom clothing made
Visit the Thu Bon River at night

Day 6 of the 2 week Vietnam Itinerary: Hoi An

If you want to have custom clothing made you’ll find tailors everywhere that do that. You’ll want to do this first so there’s time to get it made before you leave Hoi An.

You’ll be spending most of your time in Old Town. This is the ancient part of Hoi An. There are a lot of temples and old stuff to see but to see some of them you’ll need tickets.

So the first thing you’ll want to do is purchase a Hoi An Old Town Ticket Book. This ticket is required to enter some of the city’s ancient sites. It’s not that expensive at just $5 and it will get you into five different sites.

There are 22 sites that require a ticket to enter so if you decide to see more than the 5, you’ll have to purchase another set of tickets. The money goes towards continuing the preservation of the buildings. A pack of tickets can be purchased throughout the city.

There is one right next to the Japanese Covered Bridge.

Some of the best sites to explore with the Old Town Ticket is the Japanese Covered Bridge, Cantonese Assembly Hall, Quan Cong Pagod Temple, Quan Cong Temple, Fujian Assembly Hall, and the Phuc Kien Assembly Hall.

They’re all very pretty with interesting architecture. All of them are close to each other so you can walk to each one and plan to spend 15 – 30 minutes at each place.

Day 7 of the Vietnam Itinerary: Hoi An

There’s a lot to see in Hoi An. Explore more of Old Town, eat a Banh Mi at Bánh Mì Phượng made famous by Anthony Bourdain when he showcased it on his show. You can also head over to the river in Old Town and take a spin in a Thung Chai boat.

If you decided to have some custom clothing made on your first day then it should be ready to pick up.

Ninh Binh

Day 8: Fly to Hanoi – travel by bus to Ninh Bin

Days 8-10 on the Perfect 2 Week Vietnam Itinerary: I’m sounding like a broken record here but once again try to pick a morning flight. It’s going to be a long day of travel. You’ll leave Hoi An by car for the Da Nang airport.

Your flight time to Hanoi will be about 1.5 hours long. You’ll need to arrange for travel ahead of time from the Hanoi airport to the city of Ninh Binh by bus. This will take approximately 1.5 – 2.5 hours.

There are multiple ways to get from Hanoi to Ninh Binh including private car, bus, and even by taxi. Transportation services run all day long and into the evening. Book your transportation for 1-2 hours after your scheduled landing time.

If you plan to take a bus to Ninh Binh and happen to arrive earlier than your scheduled travel time, you might be able to get on an earlier bus since they like to fill up all the seats. The cheapest way to travel is by bus. It starts at $19 per person.

A taxi will cost around $60. You can find a bus travel option here.

Ninh Binh Bucket List

Trang An Boat ride
Van Long Nature Reserve
Bich Dong Pagoda
Hoa Lu Ancient Capital
Hang Mua Viewpoint

Day 8 of the 2 week Vietnam Itinerary: arrive in Ninh Binh

You’ll likely arrive in Ninh Binh in the evening so check in to your hotel and go out for something to eat. Although you’re traveling to Ninh Binh, most people don’t actually stay in the city of Ninh Binh.

There are a ton of places to stay in the surrounding area but the most popular area to stay in (and what I recommend) is Tam Coc. The buses from Hanoi will drop you off here. It’s a cute small town with a lot of restaurants and shops. It’s also pretty close to the main sites you’ll be visiting.

Day 9 of the 2 week Vietnam Itinerary: Ninh Binh

Since you have two full days here there’s no need to rush to get up early. You’ll have plenty of time to see everything. If your hotel offers breakfast than go ahead and eat that but if not, or if you want one of the BEST breakfasts in Vietnam, head over to An Tam Coc Restaurant. It’s on the main strip right near the water and I swear you will not be disappointed! The Smoothie Bowl is soooo good! And the owner is super sweet.

You’ll need some form of transportation to get to the sites. All the sites are spread out so riding a bicycle will take up a lot of your day. I would not choose that option. You can easily catch a taxi to and from everything and the price shouldn’t be too bad. The other option is to rent a motorbike. This is always our favorite choice of transportation when we travel!

I do NOT recommend doing this in the big cities of Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City but for the smaller towns it’s a great affordable option. For about $5 a day you’ll be able to drive yourself everywhere. Chose a motorcycle that doesn’t involve shifting gears. You just get on and go.

Once you figure out your mode of transportation, head over to Trang An for the boat tour through the mountains and caves. It’s a very scenic and beautiful ride. The boats are paddled by women (usually) and the tour lasts about 2.5 – 3 hours.

There are several stops where you get out to look around at the temples and there are restrooms at every stop. You can book this through a tour but there’s really no need to do that. It’s pretty simple to walk up and buy the tickets yourself.

Trang An Boat Tour

Cost: 250,000 VD per person, about $10.65 per person
Open: 7:00am – 4:00pm

Trang An options: Once you arrive in Trang An, you’ll chose between three different boat routes. We picked route 1 since it had the most caves and temples but I heard the other routes were great too.

The first route takes you through 9 caves and 3 temples: Boat Wharf → Trinh Temple → Toi Cave → Sang Cave → Nau Ruou Cave → Tran Temple → Ba Giot Cave → Seo Cave → Son Duong Cave → Khong Cave → Khong Temple → Bao Hieu Pagoda → Tran Cave → Quy Hau Cave

The second route will take you through 4 caves and 3 temples: Boat Wharf → Lam Cave → Thanh Cao Son Temple → Vang Cave → Thanh Truot Cave → Suoi Tien Temple → Dai Cave → Vu Lam Royal Steps Temple

Route three takes you through 3 caves and 1 temple: Boat Wharf → Trihn Temple → Dot Cave → Van Cave → Suoi Tien Temple → Dai Cave → Vu Lam Royal Steps Temple

The Perfect 2 Week Vietnam Itinerary - View of the water, limestone mountains, trees, and Lotus flowers

After you finish the Trang An Boat Tour, head over to Hoa Lu Ancient City. It’s just 6 minutes from the Trang An Boats and there’s a lot to see there. You might even get lucky and run into a Water Buffalo! This man was nice enough to let us get some photos with one.

Day 10 of the 2 week Vietnam Itinerary: Ninh Binh

Today you’ll hike the Hang Mua Viewpoint. Hang means cave and Mua means dancing. This place sits on the grounds of the Hang Mua Ecolodge and once you pay to get in you can spend some time there on the grounds, hiking, and even walk out on the boardwalk through the Lotus Field (they bloom from August to November).

The Perfect 2 Week Vietnam Itinerary - A boardwalk over the water and field of Lotus Flowers

Cost: 100,000 VD per person, about $4.25 per person
Open: 6am to 7pm

There are actually two peaks to climb. You’ll walk up the main steps and about halfway up there will the option to go left or to go right. The left will take you up to the dragon (the most crowded) while the right goes up to the pagoda that is less crowded.

Getting up and around the pagoda is really easy and there’s a lot of room to maneuver around. It’s also less crowded. The dragon is a different story. It will be more crowded and you actually have to climb up a bit to get next to the dragon. It’s a little harrowing.

Looking at one of the Viewpoints at Hang Mua in Ninh Binh Vietnam

Bich Dong Pagoda

After your hike, head back to Tam Coc and over to Bich Dong Pagoda. It’s very picturesque, free, and there’s a lot to see. There’s several levels up some stairs (not a bad climb) so don’t forget to keep going to the top. Afterwards, spend some time relaxing in Tam Coc.

I have an article all about visiting Ninh Binh Vietnam that has information on what to do and see there.

Ha Long Bay

Day 11: Travel from Ninh Binh to Ha Long Bay

Days 11-12 on the Perfect 2 Week Vietnam Itinerary: You’ll leave Ninh Binh today for Ha Long Bay. You need to arrange to leave on the first bus out. It will take a little under 4 hours and you’ll need to be in Ha Long Bay ready to board your cruise by noon.

You can book this through Bookaway for just $15 a person. The 7am bus will have you in Ha Long Bay by 10:30am which will give you time to make your boat. Here’s another option on Bookaway for $18.

The Perfect 2 Week Vietnam Itinerary - Ha Long Bay Vietnam

Before you leave home for Vietnam you’ll need to book your Ha Long Bay Cruise. There are a lot to choose from so read through the options they all offer and book it online. The boats are all similar but some are better than others. They all have check in times around noon and they arrive back at Ha Long Bay the next morning.

You can find a cruise through Booking.com, Get Your Guide, or Viator. Make sure you read all the details carefully so you know when and where to arrive, and when you get back to land.

Hanoi

Days 12-14 on the Perfect 2 Week Vietnam Itinerary: You’ll arrive back on land and head for your final stop of Hanoi.

Day 12: Travel from Ha Long Bay to Hanoi

You’ll get back on land on Day 12. The times vary from morning to the afternoon. It just depends on which tour you choose. Some will even have transportation service to Hanoi when your done.

If the one you chose does not offer that then you’ll need to arrange for transportation to Hanoi. You can book it online when you book your cruise. The ride to Hanoi will be about 2.5 hours.

Hanoi

Depending on what time you arrive in Hanoi you should be able to conquer a few things on the Hanoi Bucket List. Most of the sites are in the Old Quarter and that is pretty walkable. There is also Grab and you’ll find taxis everywhere to take you from place to place if you prefer.

If you’re interested in hanging out at a bar or getting some good food, check out my article on 11 Bars you have to visit in Hanoi. Some serve food as well.

Hanoi Bucket List

Train Street
Hoa Lo Prison (Hanoi Hilton)
Temple of Literature
St Joseph’s Cathedral
Tran Quoc Pagoda
The Old Quarter
Ta Hien Beer Street
Hoan Kiem Lake/Ngoc Son Temple
Hanoi Trompe L’Oeil Murals
Long Bien Bridge
Imperial Citadel
Ho Chi Minh’s Mausoleum
Water Puppet Show
Dong Xuan Market

Day 12 of the Vietnam Itinerary: Hanoi

Depending on what time you arrive in Hanoi, you’ll be able to do a few things in the afternoon and evening. Let’s assume you don’t arrive until 4pm. If you arrive sooner then you can add a few more things to your Day 12.

After you check in and drop your bags off, it’s time to head out. All of the things I’m including on Day 12 are things you can do in the evening and night.

Hanoi Sites

St. Joseph’s Cathedral – Free – Located in the Old Quarter – The inside is only open during services or for special ceremonies. We did not enter the inside but walked around the outside. It’s a beautiful Gothic Style Church similar to Notre Dame in Paris. Plan to spend about 15-30 minutes here.

Hoan Kiem Lake/Ngoc Son Temple – You can walk around Hoan Kiem Lake and admire the red bridge for free, 24 hours a day but to go on the bridge and into the Ngoc Son Temple you’ll have to pay 30,000 VND (about $1.25) and be there during the opening hours of 8am – 6pm. Plan to spend about 1.5 – 2 hours here.

The Perfect 2 Week Vietnam Itinerary - The red bridge on Hoan Kiem Lake that leads to the Ngoc Son Temple

Hanoi Shows

Water Puppet Show at the Thang Long Theater – Located right across the street from the Huc Bridge (the red bridge on Hoan Kiem Lake), shows cost between $2-5 depending on the seat you choose. It lasts about 50 minutes and the last show of the day is 8pm. 1 hour.

Hanoi Nightlife

Train Street – You’ll want to take a cab ride here to make sure you get a place to sit before the train comes by. There are very specific rules about entering. In the past you used to be able to just walk on the tracks on your own and find a cafe. Now, you have to wait for someone to come over and escort you in to a cafe.

You also must be a paying customer. You cannot just walk in, take your photos, and leave. Buy a drink and you’ll be allowed to take photos. The train comes through multiple times a day. Plan to spend about 1-2 hours here.

Beer Street – Everyone HAS to experience Beer Street at least once. Where else can you get a beer for just .25 cents!?! But if you don’t like that you can still purchase a regular drink for a little more money. There’s plenty of places for food as well so sit back and people watch while you relax!

Day 13 of the 2 week Vietnam Itinerary: Hanoi

Today is your last full day in Vietnam and there’s a lot to pack in today. You’ll want to get an early start to fit everything in!

Dong Xuan Market – Free – You’re not necessarilly going here to buy anything. You’re going for the experience. There will be cars, trucks, motorcycles, and people EVERYWHERE. The chaos is crazy and it’s something you have to witness. Just walk around and take lots of photos and videos. It’s quite an experience! Spend about 30 minutes here.

Hanoi Trompe L’Oeil Street Murals – Free – Just a 6 minute walk from the Market, make your way over to the street murals of scenes of Vietnam. Some of them are interactive so get some photos! Spend about 20 minutes here.

Hanoi History

Hoa Lo Prison – costs 30,000 VDN or $1.25 a person – Open 8am – 5pm – most Americans know this as the Hanoi Hilton, the place where American Pilots were held as Prisoners of War during the Vietnam War. It’s history goes back much further than that. Plan to spend about 1 hour here.

Temple of Literature – costs 30,000 VDN or $1.25 a person – Open 8am – 5pm – If you like temples and cool architecture then head over to this 1000 year old ancient Academy dedictated to the Chinese philosopher Confucius.

Imperial Citadel – costs – 30,000 VDN per person – Open 8am – 5pm – The Imperial Citadel dates back to the 7th century. You can walk the grounds, admire the architecture, and view archeological finds in the museums. Spend 1.5 – 2 hours here.

Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum Complex – A complex dedicated to Vietnam’s leader, Ho Chi Minh. There are several different things to see here including Ho Chi Minh’s body embalmed and in glass, museums, his house, the One Pillar Pagoda, and more.

Some parts are free while other areas cost less than $1. Hours also vary. If you want to view his body you can only do so on T-W-Th-Sat-Sun from 7:30am – 10:30am. You have a very short window of time to go. Everything else is open from 8am – 12pm and 2pm – 4:30pm.

Pagoda/Temple

Tran Quoc Pagoda – Free – Open 8am – 4pm – Located on West Lake north of the main touristy area of Hanoi. This is the oldest Pagoda in Hanoi at more than 1500 years old. You’ll want to take a Grab or Taxi there and back to save time.

Quan Thanh Temple – Costs 10,000VND, about .50 cents. Open 8am – 5pm daily – This temple is also located on West Lake and is about 1000 years old. It’s one of the Four Sacred Temples that protects the city from evil spirits.

Other Hanoi Sites

Long Bien Bridge – A historic bridge that connects two Districts in Hanoi. It’s best viewed from the Rooftop of the Serein Cafe. Drinks are pricey here but you don’t have to purchase anything. The sunset views are spectacular!

The Perfect 2 Week Vietnam Itinerary - Long Bien Bridge in Hanoi Vietnam

Does the perfect 2 week Vietnam Itinerary exist? I think this is pretty darn close! There are a lot more places in Vietnam to see but these 6 cities are a good mix of the modern Vietnam and the ancient way of life. You’ll definitely leave Vietnam feeling like you got to really experience the most that this country has to offer.

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