I have already written an article about the beautiful landscapes of Vietnam here.
Here is the itinerary that I recommend if you want to visit Vietnam in 3 weeks. The destinations are rather touristic, but I assure you, even the Vietnamese go there. Some new popular local destinations are Co To, Binh Lap, Binh Ba… but Vietnamese people rent a car to go there, or pay an agency to get there, there is no open bus for that yet.
The links go back to my travel diaries.
The links to the bus or train schedules refer to the site 12go.asia, a very famous Singaporean site.
Although it is a very good site, I don’t recommend you to book online, you will find better rates on the spot.
It’s a very sporty program, you will take a lot of buses.
The good news is that
(1) Buses and planes (from Vietnam Airlines) generally have few delays.
(2) the services are excellent, it is possible to find the buses I’m talking about the day before, just by talking with the reception of your hotel. The buses come to pick you up at your hotel. To check the bus schedules and have a small idea of the prices, you can look at 12go.asia, a reliable Singaporean website (but you will find for less on the spot)
If you have less time than that or prefer to take your time, don’t run, stop at Hoi An and don’t go down to the South anymore. For that, I concocted a very relaxing program of 19 days on site here
The beaches of Da Nang and Hoi An are beautiful enough to give you an idea of the Vietnamese beaches.
And come back to Vietnam a second time to discover the South 😀
Consult all my travel books, guides of all kinds on Vietnam by clicking here
- Find a flight to Vietnam at the best price with Skyscanner
- 1€ = 25 000VND
- A 1L bottle of water at the supermarket: 10 000VND
- Excluding transportation and visits: 40€/day for two (20€ per double room, 10€ per meal in local restaurants). If you prefer to eat in the street and drink only water, the budget increases to 30€/day for two people. If you eat in the street, drink only water and stay in a homestay or youth hostel, the budget is only 20€/day for two people. Vietnam is a little more expensive than the neighboring countries because the Vietnamese executives are rich (moreover, they aren’t stingy with tips).
- Transportation: count 3€ to 5€/person/bus trip between the big tourist cities
- Visits: rates are rather low (about 1€/person). Excursions cost between 10€ and 20€/person
- Care budget
- massage: 10€/person/1h of massage. Vietnamese people only pay 130,000VND (5€/hour) but in this case, you have to move away from the city center
- face : 10€/face care. The Vietnamese pay only 110,000VND (4€/hour) but in this case, it is necessary to move away from the city center
- Tour Ha Long: 2 days 1 night on the boat, in the 3,000,000VND/person (110€), 3 nights 2 nights count 150€/person minimum, up to 230€ for cruises +++.
- Sapa Tour: 4 days, 3 nights including 2 in the train with bunk (very comfortable even if the bed is a little short) : 100€/person
For the hotels, I advise you:
- Hanoi: a hotel in the old quarter, next to the Lake of the Restored Sword (Ho Guom), for example Essence Palace Hotel & Spa (51€, booking link) or Hanoi Tomodachi House (14€, booking link). On weekends, the whole area around the lake is pedestrian, it is very pleasant.
- All the other cities have decent hotels for cheap, except Huê’, where it is better to take a 3 stars hotel otherwise you will die of heat (they are stingy in air conditioning). The hotels in Hue aren’t in very good condition (the city is poor)
- Hoi An is the least authentic place in Vietnam, but tourists, like you, like it because the outside is authentic (old houses, everybody in traditional costume…). The hotels are all touristic, we liked our stay at Green Apple (free bikes, swimming pool, Booking link). Read our Hoi An guide here
- Da Lat: I recommend Edensee (Booking link) (view on lake awwwwwrrggh) and the homestay
- Nha Trang: I recommend Vinpearl (booking link) (at least one night but full board otherwise the round trip to the city takes too much time). It is better to choose the hotels near Tran Phu street otherwise you have to walk too far to go to the beach.
- Ha Long : one night on the boat + one night on Cat Ba island OR one night on Reu island where is located the 5 stars hotel Vinpearl Ha Long (link Booking) More infos, advices and rates about Ha Long here
For the agencies, I advise you:
- Sinh Café but only in HCM city, Sinh Café in Hanoi are copies
- Open bus Sinh Café or Phuong Trang Bus or Viet Nhat Bus (some buses are with bunks, very comfortable)
- Don’t book buses online, they are more expensive than on the spot
- Saigon Tourist, Hanoi Tourist: these are very well known agencies in Vietnam (high quality but more expensive) if you are looking for agencies with a guide (French and English speaking). You can contact them directly on Facebook.
- You can also book everything through the hotels, the commissions they take are minimal (1€ each time)
- Terre Annam : the agency where my girlfriend Huong works. To contact her, write to indochina [at] terre-annam.com (replace [at] by @). I recommend to go through her for tours in Sapa or to book a boat to Ha Long, it’s easier and cheaper than booking yourself.
Some cities to avoid because of water pollution: Cua Lo, Ly Son, Thien Cam
For more info on Vietnam, see my other article: 10 things to know before you leave