One Week in Vietnam
Welcome to the One Week in Vietnam Itinerary!
While one week in Vietnam is not the longest time to explore what this country has to offer, you can still make a lot out of your time there. This itinerary will take you throughout Ho Chi Minh, Hoi An and Hanoi, exploring the ins and outs of what these cities have to offer. It is a perfect itinerary for those looking to just go to Vietnam or even add it onto a longer Southeast Asia trip. There will be plenty of sites and attractions to discover and enjoy along the way.
Before diving into the itinerary be sure to check out the Helpful Tips section to get you prepared for your trip.
Take a look at the map below which shows you where each city that is part of this one week in Vietnam itinerary is located throughout the country. You will start the journey down south in Ho Chi Minh City before making your way up the coast to Hoi An and onto Hanoi, where you depart for a day trip to Halong Bay if you choose so.
One Week in Vietnam Detailed Itinerary
Now lets get on to the actual trip! The following is a detailed breakout of the daily attractions and activities on this one week in Vietnam itinerary. Feel free to scroll through and click on any more in depth posts along the way.
Day 1 – Ho Chi Minh City
You will start you trip in the southern city of Ho Chi Minh City also known as Saigon. Here you will be able to walk around this city, browse the museums and markets, as well as take some day trips. Day 1 takes you around the main attractions that the city has to offer. These include:
(1) The War Remnants Museum
(2) Reunification Palace
(3) Notre Dame Cathedral
(4) Saigon Central Post Office
(5) Ben Thanh Market
Check out the What To Do in Ho Chi Minh City Guide which gives you more info about each place mentioned above.
I would recommend staying right around the District 1 area. You will also find plenty of restaurants and nightlife options all nearby. Here are a few top rated options to choose from. You can also browse through Booking.com for a whole variety of places.
Day 2 – Cu Chi Tunnels
On the second day in HCM, you will be heading outside of the city to the Cu Chi Tunnels. You can choose from either a morning or afternoon tour lasting about 5 hours or so. I put together a Touring the Cu Chi Tunnels guide that talks about everything you will need to know about the trip.
Once back from the tour you will be dropped off somewhere in the city. You can take the next couple hours to eat and walk around a bit more. At night feel free to go back to the Ben Thanh Market, which opens up an outdoor night market after the indoor one closes.
*Note if you have an additional day in HCM you can do a tour of the Mekong River. If you do have an extra day you will then fly to Danang on day 4 and push everything a day back.
Take a look at some Vietnam guide books to better prepare you for your trip:
Day 3 – Fly to Danang/Hoi An
Try and get out early from HCM and take a flight up the coast to central Vietnam and the city of Danang. From here you will take a 30 or so minute cab to the beach town of Hoi An – one of the best there is. In Hoi An you will be able to do a variety of things from getting custom clothing made to relaxing on the beach to exploring the town. If you arrive midday into Hoi An, check into your hotel, get something to eat and relax by the beach or pool.
If interested in having clothes made, make your way into town later in the day to one of many custom made clothing shops (A Dong Silk being one of the top rated). This will be your longest visit to the store as you pick out the articles of clothing you want as well as fabrics, colors, designs etc. After spending some time here it should be time for dinner as you make your way to the river and pick a spot to grab some food and drinks. If you aren’t into the custom made clothing scene or don’t want to spend time doing that during your trip, then no worries – just more time to explore the city and relax.
You can choose to stay closer to the town or the beach. No worries which one you choose though since it is no more than a quick 15 minute drive between the two. Here are some options to choose from:
Day 4 – Hoi An
On your second day in Hoi An you can choose from a bunch of different activities depending on how you are feeling. If you did opt to get clothing made your first stop after breakfast is back to the tailor for your first fitting (yes they literally get your clothing made over night!). This time it won’t as long but they just want to make sure the clothes fit and if they have to make any additional alterations. You can then decide to rent bikes (or motorbikes) for the day and explore the city and beyond. You can either rent from your hotel or one of the local spots in town. It should just cost a few dollars to rent the bikes and you will receive a map of the different areas to explore.
Wander around to different villages, rice fields, and along the beach. It will be a great experience getting a sense of all the different scenery that Hoi An has to offer. After getting lost for a couple hours on the roads head back near the city center where we you can get some lunch and relax for a bit.
Next up is really up to you. You can head back to your hotel and hang out by the pool/beach or just continue to walk around the river area taking in the sites such as the famous Japanese Bridge or a local museum. Hoi An is a UNESCO World Heritage Site so just take it all in and wander the streets. You could also do something such as a Hoi An cooking class (you will also have the opportunity to do this in Hanoi). You would first be taken to the local markets to pick up foods directly from street vendors, prepare the food and then make it into a delicious meal. You really cant go wrong with anything you decide to do.
Day 5 – Hoi An / Travel to Hanoi
On your last day in Hoi An, the first thing you will do once again is head back to the tailor to pick up your finished product. After trying it on one last time, you can either take the clothing with you if it isn’t too much to fit in your suitcase or you will also have the opportunity to ship it back home for an additional fee. If your flight/travel plans are early AM then make sure you let the tailors know and head back for a final fitting on the night of Day 4. If you didn’t end up doing tailors altogether then just relax in the AM until your flight.
If you have a later flight to Hanoi and you have already ventured the city enough, you can head outside the city for a couple additional activity options:
1) About an hour or so outside the city is My Son. If you have already been to Angkor Wat then this might just be more of the same for you but it is a complex filled with numerous temples and structures that will be well worth the half day trip. You can easily book a group tour through your hotel for a reasonable price (~$15). You will get picked up from your hotel, make the hour or so drive and then have a few hours to explore the groups of ruins. Your guide will give you some good background info about the ruins and you can ask questions along the way (note that the tours usually leave early AM so if you need to go back to the tailor it will have to be after the 4-5 hour tour).
2) Another option to spend some time around Danang (where you will departing later in the day anyway). Here you can spend some time checking out this city and/or heading to the Marble Mountains – a place filled with amazing views and caves & tunnels to explore. It is only about 15/20 minutes away from the city center of Danang so you can hire a driver who can take you from Hoi An to the Marble Mountains and then off to the airport after. There are five mountains to explore but feel free to head out to as many as you would like.
So all depending what time your flight is there are a bunch of options either in Hoi An, Danang or further out. You will then arrive in Hanoi at some point on day 5 – it could be early afternoon or later in the evening. If you have some time feel free to explore the city, checking out restaurants, and browsing the markets.
Here are some great options to choose from that are all around the Old Quarter of Hanoi:
Day 6 – Hanoi
You have now made it to the northern capital of Vietnam – Hanoi. On your first day in Hanoi be prepared to start exploring. Surrounding the Hoan Kiem Lake is the Old Quarter of Hanoi. There are winding streets with thousands of motorbikes, cars and pedestrians crossing at will. It is a great place to just wander around, check our some markets, eat some street food and get a sense of the city. Make sure to also head over to the lake and take a walk around it where you will be able to relax a bit from the craziness of the city itself.
After wandering around a bit make your way to Hoa Lo Prison (also known as the Hanoi Hilton). Originally it was used when the French occupied Vietnam. After that it was used by the northern Vietnamese during the Vietnam War and where they would hold American prisoners – the most famous of which was John McCain. Here you will find a similar type of propaganda that you might have seen at other museums around the country. There is also a whole section about John McCain, with pictures of his capture and even his original Air Force uniform that he wore when his plane was shot down.
*You might have time to take a cooking class this afternoon/evening here if you have not done one already in Hoi An. Similarly you will be able to go out to the market with your chef and purchase different ingredients for the multiple dishes that you will make. You then will head back to the kitchen where your chef will take you through the cooking process for everything from spring rolls to pho. Once you complete your dishes you will then be able to taste and enjoy them. Who knows, maybe you will use your cooking skills when you are back home!
Day 7 – Day Trip Options
On your last day in Vietnam you can choose between several different day trip options:
(1) Halong Bay
(2) Tam Coc
Option 1 – Halong Bay: This 7 day itinerary only has a one day tour of Halong Bay. If you want to cut another day out of this trip or add another day in Halong Bay, go for it. It is a beautiful place to explore and everything from the 1 day option to the 3 day / 2 night option will give you a great experience. Take a look at the Halong Bay guide I put together to get an idea of what to expect. For a one day option you can assume it is similar to the first day mentioned in the guide.
Option 2 – Tam Coc: After arriving in the Tam Coc area you will be able to see a couple ancient temples (Dinh King and Le King), check out some nice viewpoints, and take a couple hour boat ride down the river with a local. The boat ride will pass by a few grottos as you make your way down the river surrounded by limestone cliffs and rice fields. Your local driver might even be paddling the boat with their feet! You might also have an opportunity to bike ride around the area as you explore the city on two wheels. If you are up for it you can even climb to the top of Hang Mua (about 500 steps to the top of a spectacular viewpoint).
Option 3 – Vietfarm: The last option here is to head off to a Vietfarm – a place where you will be able to live like a local Vietnamese farmer. You will have a full day of interacting with a family, work the rice fields and explore the surrounding areas. After meeting the family, they will give you local farming clothes to wear as you plow and rake the rice fields. You will learn all about the rice making process and even get a little bit of a cooking lesson from the family. You will then have the opportunity to bike ride with some of the locals as they give you a tour around the area.
That about does it for one week in Vietnam. It is now time to depart as you make your way back home sometime on day 8. Check out some more Vietnam itineraries and guides, and feel free to comment below with any questions.