The ultimate 10-day guide to Vietnam
Vietnam has so much to offer, with a fascinating history, culture, idyllic beaches and amazing food! This 10 day itinerary will guide you through the best parts of Vietnam, starting with Da Nang, followed by Hoi An, Hanoi, Ha Long bay, finishing your trip off in the idyllic island of Phu Quoc - from cityscapes to small island castaways, best food places, how to get around and what not to miss.
How to get around Vietnam
When you are in a city like Hanoi, walking is a great option, and we walked to most places in the city centre.
One of the most convenient and cost effective ways to get around in Vietnam is on a scooter. Most places charge 150k Vietnamese Dong/day. This is especially useful in Phu Quoc.
Great for travelling between Hanoi and Ha Long bay – most people visit Ha Long bay as a day trip from Hanoi, and there are many tour companies offering online package deals including a pickup from your hotel in Hanoi.
Grab taxis are available in Da Nang, Hanoi and Phu Quoc. Prices are reasonable – a 10 minute ride costs 80k Dong. Ideal for travelling to and from the airport.
Vietnam is well connected by short and reasonably priced flights.
When to visit Vietnam
This largely depends on whether you are visiting north or south Vietnam. In general, November to April will have milder temperatures and less rain.
In December and January, it is best to visit southern Vietnam - such as the island of Phu Quoc, where you'll enjoy dry and sunny weather. Ho Chi Minh city is also a good choice. Further north in Vietnam such as Ha Long bay, the accompanying cold winter weather and mist may be less ideal.
Northern vietnam ( eg Sapa)
Between May and October, it is hot but rainy.
It tends to be cooler and drier between November and April - a good time to visit.
Central vietnam (eg Hanoi)
Summer lasts from January until August where the weather is hot and dry
Southern vietnam (eg Ho Chi Minh, Phu Quoc)
Between November and April, the weather is hot and dry - a good time to visit.
Temperatures become more extreme in June, July, August, September and October - where it is hot and rainy.
Day 1: Fly into Da Nang & Explore the beaches
Da Nang is known for its beautiful beaches. My Khe and Non Nuoc beaches are close to the city centre.
My Khe beach is a long stretch of beach with white sands that is popular for fishing, snorkelling and sunbathing.
Non Nuoc beach stretches over 5km, and is 20 minutes away from Da Nang city. There are plenty of things to do here – including sunbathing, surfing, and sampling local seafood.
Bai Bac beach is beautiful, and situated at monkey bay. It is a UNECO world heritage site, set among the forests of Son Tra peninsula. Son Tra mountain is home to many endangered species of animals, including the red shanked duocs – if you are lucky, you might spot them!
Other well known beaches include: Tien Sa beach (western end of Son Tra mountains), Xuan Thieu beach (close to Hai Van Pass) and Thanh binh beach (close to Da Nang city surrounded by many local seafood restaurants)
Bai Bac beach, Monkey bay
My Khe beach
Day 2: Visit the bridges in Da Nang
Da Nang is known as the city of bridges, so today is for exploring them!
Set off early in the morning to visit the golden bridge (also known as the giant hand bridge), which opened in June 2018 at Ba Na Hills, an hour away from Da Nang. Ticket prices are 750 k VND (adult) and 600k VND (child), and include entrance fee, cable car. Top tip: catch the first cable car at 7am to escape the crowds.
Different options of getting to the golden bridge:
Motorbike: 1hr, 80k VND
shuttlebus: from Da Nang to Ba Na hill, 8 am – 16:30 pm, 120-150k VND return ticket
Taxi: average price 350 – 500k VND (good option if there are more of you)
Join a tour: Inclusive of transport, entrance fees to Sun World, cable car ride
Visit the dragon bridge
After a day at the golden bridge, head back to Da Nang.
Don’t miss out on the dragon bridge, which is the longest bridge in Da Nang, at 666m in length. It is so unique because of the dragon that stretches out along the whole length of the bridge. It looks great at any time of the day, but if you want to watch it breathe fire from its mouth, go and visit on the weekends from 21:00 pm.
You can enjoy the view from one of many bars or cafes along the riverfront.
Day 3: Day trip to Hoi An
Go back in time and visit Hoi An, the city of lanterns. It was once a major port and is set along the beautiful riverside.
The best way to get to Hoi An is via a shuttle bus or taxi, and will take an hour.
A taxi from Da Nang to Hoi An takes costs 500k VND.
Spend the morning exploring Hoi An’s old town, filled with lanterns, old wood frame houses and Chinese assembly halls.
For lunch, try Banh Mi Phuong, a Vietnamese sandwich made famous by Anthony Bourdain. Alternatively, you can try Madam Kanh’s Banh Mi.
If you are looking for tailor made clothes, you are in the right place. It is also a great place to pick up a new pair of shoes, or bags.
You can rent a bike to explore the ancient town or grab a trishaw to get around quickly.
Visit the night market, and try the mango pancakes at the local food stalls.
If one day is not enough in Hoi An for you, stay the night! Otherwise head back to Da Nang in the evening.
Day 4: Fly from Da Nang to Hanoi
Catch a flight from Da Nang to Hanoi, which will take 1h20min, and costs approximately £30-35 on average.
Hanoi is well known for its famous train street, where you can watch trains speed by in the narrow streets of Hanoi’s Old Quarter. It is located between Le Duan street and Kham Thien street. Security is a lot tighter now than it used to be and the train street is officially closed– there are guards sitting at various entrances to train street, and to enter you either have to be a local or a customer at one of the cafes here and escorted by one of the shop owners..
There are several trains throughout the day – please be careful. These were the train times that were running when we visited:
Monday-Friday: 19:10, 19:20, 19:40, 20:00, 20:20, 21:10, 21:30, 22:10, 23:00
Weekend: 08:45, 09:30, 11:30, 15:30, 16:20, 17:40, 18:20, 19:10, 19:20, 19:40, 20:00, 20:20, 21:10, 21:30, 22:10, 23:00
Day 5: Explore Hanoi
In the morning, make your way to Hanoi Lotte observation deck which offers beautiful panoramic views of the city. We recommend going on a clear day, before 10 am – to avoid the crowds and enjoy the views to yourselves!
Ticket prices: (50% off between 09:00-10:00; 22:00 – 23:00)
Adults 230, 000 VND
Children 170, 000 VND
For lunch, try Pho 10 in the city which is famous among tourists and locals, where 1 bowl of Pho costs 60k D.
After lunch, take a stroll around Hoan Kiem lake, which surrounds Ngoc Son temple, a pagoda that sits in the middle of a small island accessible by a bridge. The temple is open between 08:00 and 17:00 every day.
Visit St Joseph’s Cathedral, just a 10 minute walk from Hoan Kiem lake. It is a 19th century church which was inaugurated in 1886!
Day 6: Day Trip to Ha Long Bay
The most convenient way to visit Ha Long bay is on a combination guided tour and boat cruise. Ha Long bay has become one of the most popular tourist destiations in Vietnam, known for its otherworldly towering limestone islands, caves and floating villages.
Choose a tour that suits you best – whether it is a half day, full day or overnight cruise. We opted for the full day cruise.
There are numerous cruises to choose from, that fit different budgets. In general, you get what you pay for. For a day cruise – expect to pay about £30.00 per person. To find the best cruise, check out klook or Viator.com.
Typical stops will include (for an 8am start)
Hang Sung Sot cave: this involves a 700m walk through a cave, requires some stair climbing
Water cave: Where you can kayak or be rowed through a cave into a large lagoon
Lunch: Usually on the boat
Titop island: A small island standing at 110m. To see beautiful views of Ha Long bay, climb its 450 steps to reach the top – you won’t regret it! Refreshments are available on the island, and you can rent a sunchair by the beach and go for a dip.
When you get back, enjoy sunset at the bay just in front of Bai Tho mountain.
The entrance to the mountain view point used to be open to the public, but not anymore since some tourists set a fire.
Day 7: Fly to Phu Quoc
From Hanoi, take a 2 hour flight to Phu Quoc - there are direct flights available.
Phu Quoc is a relatively small island filled with unspoilt beaches.
We would recommend staying either along the stretch of Long beach, or in Duong Dong.
Duong Dong is the main town of Phu Quoc, with plenty of hotel and restaurant options with a busy nightlife.
Long beach also has plenty of accommodation options, and has the advantage of being less congested and polluted than Duong Dong.
Rent a bike to get around the island, which you hotel/airbnb can help you arrange. It should cost 150,000 VND/day.
Day 8: Hit the beaches in Phu Quoc
Bai Sao beach in the south of Phu Quoc, home to 2 dreamy palm tree swings.
You could easily spend the entire day here – there is a restaurant with good food and drink options. There is a parking fee, but if you spend a minimum sum of 100,000 VND at the restaurant, parking is free.
Bai Sao beach is popular for sun bathing and water sports including kayaking, snorkelling, sailing.
Day 9: More beaches + Check the night market out
Phu Quoc starfish beach is named after the hundreds of starfish that live here! It is quite a long stretch of beach, accessible by a very long, bumpy and unpaved road. There are only a few cafes scattered along the beach, so bring your own food as choice is limited. There are however, plenty of coconuts to choose from!
Vung Bau beach was recommended to us by our hotel – it is an undeveloped and unspoilt stretch of beach where you’ll come across only a handful of locals. It is quiet and peaceful, a perfect beach to escape the crowds elsewhere.
Ong Lang beach is another popular beach – this one is much more crowded than the above 2 beaches mentioned. There are several hotels and restaurants here.
Explore the Dinh Cau night market in Phu Quoc, famous for its rolled ice cream, banana pancakes, and fresh seafood. It opens daily from 17:00 – 00:00, at Vo Thi Sau street in Duong Dong.
Day 10: Home!
Time to head home after 10 full days in Vietnam. If you have a few more days to spare, why not fly to Ho Chi Minh which is just an hour away? Ho Chi Minh is full of history - head down to the museum of Vietnamese history, the Notre Dame cathedral, the War remnants museum, and take a tour of the Cu Chi Tunnels.