Thursday, November 21, 2019

Vietnam backpacking itinerary

Destination: Southeast Asian, Vietnam

Season: June 2015

Length: 17 days 

Theme: Backpacking | City | Culture | Hiking | Sceneries  | Spelunking

Top Tips: Need a Visa  

This is my backpacking itinerary for Vietnam. In each Vietnamese city you can spend a day or a month depending on what type of person you are. Below is how backpacked through Vietnam, you can use this as a guidelines to give you a rough idea of how much time you need to spend in each Vietnamese city. The aim of this Vietnam itinerary is to give you an idea of what to expect in Vietnam and show you how to backpack through Vietnam, but always remember the whole purpose of traveling is to explore and discover new things about yourself and life.

Vietnam Itinerary at glance

Vietnam Itinerary at glance

Hanoi 3D →Ha Long Bay 2D → Dong Hoi & Phong Nha Ke Bang Park 2D → Hue 1D → Da Nang & Hoi An 5D → Saigon 3D

Vietnam backpacking itinerary

Vietnam Itinerary

  • The Icon for the transfer method
  • The h for the number of hour of transportation time
  • am or pm is the time of departure from the city
  • The D for the number of days i spent in the city
  • The ←→ for day trip

It very easy and cheap to travelling between the different Vietnamese cites. you have many options, you can use internal fly, train or even do it yourself on a motor bike. I used combination of all, night train are easy, cheap and good fun. However if you dont have time you can fly, alternatively if you adventurous and have enough time you can hire a bike and travel across from  Hanoi to Sigon.

Hanoi 7am3h → HaLongBay 2pm3h → Hanoi 7pm10h → Dong Hoi 6am3h ←→ Phong Nha Ke Bang Park 5pm3h   Dong Hoi 12am6h → Da Nang 6am3h → Hue 7pm3h → Da Nang 7am2h → Ba Na Hills 6pm2h → Da Nang 7pm1h → Hoi An 7am3h → Da Nang 1hFly Saigon 6am3h → Mekong Delta Saigon → See next 

Vietnam backpacking itinerary

Booking.com
  • Hanoi 3 days
  • Ha Long Bay 2 days
  • Dong Hoi & Phong Nha Ke Bang Park 2 days
  • Hue 1 day
  • Da Nang & Hoi An 5 days
  • Saigon 3 days

Need a Visa, Talk to the embassy directly. many agency offer visa online, I did not use them so I cant comment on their reliability

If you like to travel by bike you should check out Ha Giang loop

You should not drive a scooter without a helmet.

VIETNAM STEP BY STEP

Hanoi Day 1-3

After landing at Noi Bai International Airport in Hanoi, I took a short 40mint taxi to my hotel, Hanoi Royal Palace Hotel 2, Which was has a great location, only few mint from the Old Quarter, and close to many landmarks in Hanoi city.

I spent three days in Hanoi. One of the main reasons I stayed in Hanoi was to use it as a base to go to Ha long bay, However Hanoi is a large city and its very well connected to the other Vietnamese city and definitely worth a visit if you in Vietnam. Hanoi is very busy and full of life. The nice thing about Hanoi is that its full with locales, basic and its not spoiled by tourists like Sigon, So it will give you a real experience of a Vietnamese city. The city is very safe and you can easily move around, however most of the city landmarks are in located around Old Quarter, which you can just walk to. I loved walking in Hanoi street, I walked for hours every day, listing to my music and talking photos of its street and peoples with out getting bored. I loved walking along Hang Dao street and watching the huge number of motorbikes moving around in the roundabout at the end of it.

Top things to do in Hanoi

  • Thang Long Water Puppet Theater
  • Ngoc Son Temple
  • Ha Noi Railway station
  • Dong Xuan Market
  • Old City Gate
  • Hoan Kiem Lake

Accommodation in Hanoi

The most important thing to me is the location of my accommodation, therefore I always stay in a safe(just kidding) and a central location.
I stayed at Hanoi Royal Palace Hotel 2, Which was quite, clean and has a great location, only few mint from the Old Quarter, and close to many landmarks in Hanoi city. Its quite hotel and I did not meet many backpacker init, also it dose not have a common room. So its not the best place if you want to meet other traveler, good for quite working environment.

Transport Hanoi to Ha Long Bay

I highly recommend booking your tour for Ha Long Bay from Vietnam rather than online, as you will get a much cheaper deal in Vietnam, this is a general rule with few exception. Their are may tour agency in Hanoi at the Old Quarter area, just check few and make sure to get the best deal, also read some online review before booking. The tour normally pick you from you hotel and back, very easy and straight forward.

Transport Hanoi to Dong Hoi 

From Hanoi train station you can easily book a night train to Dong Hoi.

VIETNAM STEP BY STEP

Ha Long Bay Day 4-5

Ha long bay is just time for you to connect with nature and the divine, It is a peaceful quite and simply in the middle of nowhere. I did the 1 night 2 day trip, and It was absolutely worth it. I personally recommend doing the 2 night 3 day trip, but I was not sure at the time. Depend on what you want, some cruise have party all night other like mine it was peaceful and quite, its a personal choose depend on what you like.

Also as part of the trip you will stop at Dong Thien Cung cave, where you can go to the top to get a good view of Ha Long bay.

Top things to do in Ha Long Bay 

  • Swim
  • Kayaking
  • Read
  • Lesten to music
  • Take photo
  • Relax

Accommodation in Ha Long Bay

Sleep on the cruise

Transport Hanoi to Ha Long Bay

I highly recommend booking your tour for Ha Long Bay from Vietnam rather than online, as you will get a much cheaper deal in Vietnam, this is a general rule with few exception. Their are may tour agency in Hanoi at the Old Quarter area, just check few and make sure to get the best deal, also read some online review before booking. The tour normally pick you from you hotel and back, very easy and straight forward.

VIETNAM STEP BY STEP

Dong Hoi & Phong Nha Ke Bang Park Day 6-7

After returning to Hanoi from my Ha Long bay trip, I booked a night train to Dong Hoi. The journey was about 10 hours. You don’t really fell it since you will be sleep at night hopefully!. The train experience in Vietnam was special to me , as I was able to mixed with the local for long time and talk to them. Vietnamese people are very friendly and welcoming, some of the local I meet I still in touch with even now. Therefore I really recommend that you give the train a go. Back to the itinerary. Once I arrived to Dong Hoi station, I booked a taxi to my hotel (at this time I did not know that hostel exist.. old days!) Nam Long Plus Hotel, which had a very good location and very close to the Center, river and the sea. Once you arrive to the station you will see many tour agency offering you a tip to Phong Nha Ke Bang park, some people do it on arrival, I don’t recommend as you already had a long train trip. I arranged my trip with my hotel for the next day. Please know that Dong Hoi its not very big and many traveler including myself use it as a base to visit the caves at Phong Nha Ke Bang park, which was one on the highlight of my Vietnam trip. However Dong Hoi is very local and I really enjoyed it, although I only spent one night in it. So I arrived around 7am in the morning, after having a local breakfast, I had a good tour of the city and arranged for my Next day trip to Phong Nha Ke Bang park. .The next day I want to Phong Nha Ke Bang park which was nice, and at night I took a 6 hour night train to Da Nang. Alternatively you can stay in Phong Nha itself, if you like to avoid the city, you can stay at Phong Nha Eco Mountain Farmstay.

Top things to do in Dong Hoi

  • Book a day trip to Phong Nha Ke Bang national park
  • Walk along the river side at night
  • Check out the Karaoke Bars
  • Have some local food

Accommodation in Dong Hoi

The most important thing to me is the location of my accommodation, therefore I always stay in a safe(just kidding) and a central location.

I stayed at the Nam Long Plus Hotel, which had a very good location and very close to the Center, river and the sea.

Transport Dong Hoi to Da Nang

I booked a 6 hours night train from Dong Hoi to Da Nang, I was in Da Nang in the morning. Tip; If you planning to stay for a day in Hue you can take the train from Dong Hoi to Hus instead, as it is between Dong Hoi and Da Nang. I did a day trip from Da Nang to Hue.

VIETNAM STEP BY STEP

Day 8-12 Da Nang

After a lovely 6 hours train trip, full off chatting and talking to locals, from Dong Hoi to Da Nang. I arrived to Da Nang. Da Nang is unique area, because It have the feeling of a city and a resort at the same time. I stayed in Song Cong Hotel DaNang, which was in the main street of Nguyen Van Thoai, and few mint walk from mỹ khê beach, and only about 15 mint away by car from the city center, which you don’t really need spend much time around it, unless you love city more then the sea. There are many things you can do in Da Nang and around it, I based my self in Da Nang for few days to explore it and the surrounding areas. You have the best of two world beach and activity during the day and good night life at night. I spent my first day of course on mỹ khê beach and planning the my activity in that region for the next few days, which was as the following.

Day two: I want to Chua Linh Ung, the big buddha you can see it from distance its high and you get a very nice view of Da Nang from the top, you can cycle, rent a scoter or get a taxi if you are lazy. This will take few hours depending on what how you go. I did as you might guess by now by taxi. After lunch I booked a tour for 4pm to take me to Marble Mountains, which is an easy hike with some nice cave exploring and then Hoi An city. Hoi An which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of my favorites city in Vietnam. Hoi An normally open in the evening and this is the best time to visit. Hoi An is only about 30 mint by taxi from Da Nang and you should definitely visit more then once, you also can sleep their if you like, but I was told their is not much going on during the day in Hoi An.

Day three: Was unique I want to one of the coolest city I have seen, its a real city on the top of the mountain at an elevation of 1485 meters, Ban Na Hill. It was one of the highlight of Da Nag and its only about 1h drive from Da Nang. You can see some snap of Ban Na Hill on the photo section in the left hand side. Its very classic and fancy it was founded by French colonists in 1919. It totally worth spending a day their. You go to the city by cable car which is an experience by itself. In the evening I explored Da Nang city more and I checked out Dragon Bridge which look very nice at night you can also check out the Sun Wheel Hòa Cường Bắc, The Wheel was out of service when I was their so I cant tell you anything about the view from the top

Day four: I did a trip to the Imperial City, Huế. Using the train, which was very simple and much more cost effective then doing a tour. The city was nice and I stayed all the day in Hue from early morning till around 8pm. Make sure to set by the river for the sun set, their are many local cafe around their. you should surly put it on your list. If you have time and you like locals and quite city I suggest you stay for one night their explore the city then leave the next day.

Day Five, was a back to the water day. I did a day trip to Chàm Islands, Its a nice small island with some nice beaches and good sea view. Its good for relaxing and getting away from the city. in the evening I want back to Hoi An city to explore it more, after that I want one last time to the beach at night to say good bay to the sea before packing my bag to go to my next destination on my itinerary Saigon.

Top things to do in Da Nang and surrounding area 

  • Mỹ khê beach
  • Chua Linh Ung, the big buddha
  • Marble Mountain
  • Hoi An city
  • Ban Na Hill
  • Dragon Bridge & Sun Wheel Hòa Cường Bắc
  • Chàm Islands
  • Huế Imperial City
  • My Son Sanctuary, I should be nice but I run out of time, so I did not mange to see it unfortunately

Accommodation in Da Nang

The most important thing to me is the location of my accommodation, therefore I always stay in a safe(just kidding) and a central location.

I stayed in Song Cong Hotel DaNang, which was in the main street of Nguyen Van Thoai, and few mint walk from mỹ khê beach, and only about 15 mint away by car from the city center.

Transport Da Nang to Saigon

It was a nice one hour fly from Da Nang International Airport to Tan Son Nhat International Airport in Saigon

VIETNAM STEP BY STEP

Day 13-15 Saigon
Saigon was completely different from what I expected. I expected to see another Hanoi but the truth I saw something closer to Bangkok. Saigon is very developed with skyscraper top end shops and a lot of night life activity. The city simply don’t sleep. The city have two names Saigon as what local like to call it or you can call it by its official name Ho Chi Minh City.You can find all sort of things in the city, plus you can book a tour to any part of Vietnam including Ha long bay from the tour agency which available through out the city. I stayed in District 1 in Nguyen Hue Street which I highly recommend due to the very good location and its within walking distance from all the main streets in Saigon. I treated myself in Saigon and stayed in Palace Hotel Saigon which was good four star hotel. I spent 3 days in Saigon, but you can easily spent more if you have the time.

Day One: The first day was mainly wondering around in Saigon, you should defiantly check out the city and its culture. I really enjoyed; Ben Thanh market, Ben Thanh Street Food Market. I also loved the view of Saigon from the top of Bitexco Financial Tower, never mind the over priced drink at the eon51 bar. Actually you have two option, either pay to go for the view point or go to the eon51 bar located at the 52 floor of the tower. I want with the second option. Also if you interested you can visit Ho Chi Minh City Hall.

Day Two: Was one of my favorites trip in Vietnam, I visited Mekong delta. It is such a nice place where you can really appreciate the value of a simple life, away from all the nonsense we have in the cities. In the tour I enjoyed a nice boat ride in the Mekong river, then I had a nice tour in some of the local neighbourhood in the delta. The tour will take most of your day. I think one day is enough and their are no need to stay over. Unless you planing to keep moving South-West.

Day Three: was an unforgettable experience of visiting the Cu Chi Tunnels. Which in my opinion is a most do thing if you visiting Saigon, The tour will tell you a lot about the history of the country and the suffering of its peoples. Plus you can have the experience of entering inside the tunnel yourself. I am sure their are many war tunnels around the world, but Cu Chi Tunnels and Meluta tunnel in Lebanon are unique from my experience.

Top things to do in Saigon and surrounding area

  • Ben Thanh market & Ben Thanh Street Food Market
  • Bitexco Financial Tower
  • Ho Chi Minh City Hall
  • Mekong delta
  • Cu Chi Tunnels

Accommodation in Saigon

The most important thing to me is the location of my accommodation, therefore I always stay in a safe(just kidding) and a central location.

I stayed in District 1 in Nguyen Hue Street which I highly recommend due to the very good location and its within walking distance from all the main streets in Saigon. I treated myself in Saigon and stayed in Palace Hotel Saigon which was good four star hotel.

Transport Saigon

if you staying in District 1, almost everything is with in walking distance to you. but taxi, bus and toc toc are all over the place.

Saigon was my last stop on this trip. From Saigon I flu back to Hanoi, I stayed for few more days in Hanoi then back home.

VIETNAM STEP BY STEP