Vietnam’s pre-pandemic visa disbursement policies have been reinstated. All previous visa restrictions are no longer in effect. Furthermore, the Vietnamese government no longer requires a negative Covid-19 test prior to entry into Vietnam, and the medical proclamation stipulation for all international arrivals has been suspended. Within Vietnam, there are no limitations on high speed trains or interstate travel.
Vietnam has a various landscape that stretches from north to south and includes mountains, rivers (and bays), rice terraces, the world’s largest cave, and beaches. It also has both past and present cities. I didn’t have time to visit all of the cool places in Vietnam, so in case you have more time, undoubtedly go to Sapa, Hue, Da Nang, and the world’s largest cave, Son Dong (in case you have the time AND money).
If you only have 10 days in Vietnam, please enjoy Vietnam travel itinerary 10 days to help you plan your trip! I’m still jealous of all the great experiences and food you’ll have in Vietnam, no matter how much time you spend there.
THINGS HAVE TO PREPARED BEFORE GOING TO VIETNAM
To visit Vietnam, you must obtain a visa (at least for British and Americans). Check the visa requirements before you travel.
The Vietnamese Dong is the currency, and 1 USD equals approximately 23,000 Vietnamese Dong.
In Vietnam, carry cash because most places do not accept credit cards.
Do not drink tap water in Vietnam, and avoid getting ice cubes in your drinks; instead, buy water but ensure the cans are stored properly.
THE MOST WONDERFUL TIME TO GO TO VIETNAM
Spring and autumn are the best times to visit Vietnam. Because Vietnam is so “long,” the climates in various regions of the country vary greatly. The weather in northern Vietnam, which borders China, is cool and dry in the winter and hot and humid during the summer.
If you want to visit Halong Bay in Vietnam, the best seasons are spring, summer, and fall. This area experiences a lot of rain and cloudy weather in the winter (I went in February and couldn’t see anything).
As you travel south in Vietnam, the weather is warmer all year, including Ho Chi Minh City and the island of Ph Quc. For example, I went to Phu Quoc in February and it was perfect beach weather, whereas Halong Bay was chilly and rainy.
Even for female solo travelers, Vietnam is a relatively safe country for tourists.
However, as in any Southeast country, petty crime such as pick pocketing exists. Keep an eye on your bags/wallets, especially in crowded areas (and if you do not look Asian). Friends have told me that their purses were slashed from behind while shopping at Hanoi’s street markets.
Those unfamiliar with Vietnam’s traffic conditions should keep an eye out for cars and motorbikes. Motorbikes are the primary mode of transportation in Vietnam, and they can be quite enormous in cities such as Hanoi.
Even if drivers will try to avoid you (and they are very good at it! ), use caution when crossing the street. When crossing the street in Vietnam, try to follow the locals.
WHAT TO DO IN VIETNAM FROM NORTH TO SOUTH IN 10 DAYS?
VIETNAM TRAVEL ITINERARY 10 DAYS
DAY 1: HANOI
Begin your 10-day Vietnam adventure in Hanoi, Vietnam’s capital and largest city in Northern Vietnam. Hanoi is very distinct from Ho Chi Minh City in that it is less modern and fought on the Communist side during the Vietnam War. There are a LOT of motorbikes in Hanoi, which is interesting to see.
You will notice that Hanoi is a cultural melting pot of Western and Eastern impacts, with many well-preserved colonial architecture and primitive pagodas.
What to see in Hanoi: The Hanoi Old Quarter, Temple of Literature, Hoan Kiem Lake, night markets (beware of pickpockets), Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum, Ho Chi Minh Museum, visit pagodas and Cathedrals, and Thong Nhat Park are all popular attractions. You can also go to the Opera House to see a show, see a water puppet show in Hanoi, and shop at the famous Dong Xuan Market.
The Hanoi Train Street, where you can watch an actual train speed by along a cramped street full of cafes and shops, is a very famous Instagram worthy thing to do in Hanoi (although some cafes may have closed due to government order and the pandemic).
DAY 2: TAM COC (NINH BINH)
Tam Coc is dubbed “Halong Bay on Land.” It is a rice paddock area with the Ngo Dong River running through limestone caves and mountains. It’s 90 kilometers from Hanoi, but it’s much less crowded than Hanoi or Halong Bay.
We were picked up by the driver from our Hanoi hotel in the morning and arrived in Tam Coc after 2 hours on the road.
The day began with a tour of the models of temples from the ancient capital of a Vietnamese Kingdom. After visiting the temples, take a short hike up the mountain to see the view of the surrounding area.
We got to ride in the traditional boat down the Ngo Dong River for 2 hours after touring the temples and hiking up to the view point. During the river boat ride, you will pass through some of the grottoes. While passing through these tunnels, keep your head down.
DAY 3 & 4 IN VIETNAM: HALONG BAY OVERNIGHT BOAT CRUISE
Halong Day is well-known for its thousands of limestone islands surrounded by emerald water. It’s about 4 hours from Hanoi in Northern Vietnam. Most visitors to Ha Long Bay take an overnight boat tour because it is simply too far away from Hanoi for a day trip.
Once on board, you’ll have time to relax in your room before feasting on traditional Vietnamese food culture for lunch. What I liked best about our overnight Halong Bay cruise was that it was a small boat with only a few rooms. This meant that the cruise wasn’t overpopulated, and we got a lot of one-on-one attention.
DAY 5 & 6 IN VIETNAM: HOI AN ANCIENT TOWN
After a few relaxing days in Northern Vietnam, it was time to head south to the heart of the country. Hoi an is a historic town in the heart of Vietnam (near the water on the eastern side of the country).
Because of its well-preserved historical center and colorful lanterns and buildings, Hoi An is one of Vietnam’s most well-known towns. From the 15th to the 19th centuries, it was a major trading port. Because it is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, you will be able to see how life used to be.
Moving from Hanoi to Hoi An: Flying is the quickest way to get from Hanoi to Hoi An. There are trains and buses that will take you to Hoi An, but they will take much longer. Because most locals try taking the train/bus, it is definitely very easy to acquire airline tickets. I flew Jetstar Pacific, but Vietnam Air is also an option.
Because Hoi An does not have its own airport, visitors must fly from Hanoi to Danang (which is also a cool place to visit because it has a beach!). There are over 20 flights per day from Hanoi to Da Nang, and the flight takes about 1.5 hours. When you arrive, look for the Hoi An bus station. You can also take a taxi or have your hotel pick you up. Our hotel offered to pick us up for 315.000vnd per car, or about $15 USD.
DAY 7 & 8: HO CHI MINH CITY
Ho Chi Minh City is the most populous city in Vietnam. It is located in southern Vietnam and has a tropical climate (wet and dry seasons). Ho Chi Minh City was crucial during the Vietnam War (it is anti-communist). Prior to that, it was ruled by the Japanese and French, which explains why most of the architecture in Ho Chi Minh City is of French influence.
What to do in Ho Chi Minh City: Visit the Cu Chi Tunnels (underground tunnels used during the Vietnam War), Binh Tay Market and Ben Thanh Market, Independence Palace, War Remnants Museum, Cao Dai Temple, Jade Emperor Pagoda, Saigon Notre-Dame Basilica, go bar hopping on Pham Ngu Lau Street, and visit a rooftop bar.
2 FINAL DAYS: SPEND TIME IN PHU QUOC
It’s time to unwind on the beach after the hustle and bustle of Saigon! Most people are unaware that Vietnam has beautiful beaches (at least, I didn’t mind), but the island of Phu Quoc pleasantly surprised me.
Phu Quoc Island is known for its white sand beaches and resorts and is located off the coast of Cambodia. Because most tourists go to Thailand’s islands, Phu Quoc is not nearly as crowded as Thailand.
Even though it was February, because the island is so far south, the weather was perfect for a day at the beach. It was ideal for our itinerary because there is a straightforward flight from Ho Chi Minh City to Phu Quoc.