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How to spend 10 days in Vietnam

| Words by Ellena Johnstone |

See the best that Vietnam has to offer on this 10-day itinerary covering north, south and a few places in between

For a country with as much variety as Vietnam, planning a trip that introduces you to its many highlights takes some doing. Whether you’re sampling street food in Hanoi, cruising around the enigmatic limestone islands of Halong Bay or wandering through the streets of a bygone era in Hoi An, you’ll be amazed how quickly your ten-day trip will fly by. To help you decide where to go, we’ve put together this comprehensive itinerary that takes you to the very best places that this fascinating country has to offer in ten days. Click here to see the full itinerary of our ten-day Highlights of Vietnam small group tour.

Ten days in Vietnam map and itinerary.

Days 1-3: Saigon and the Mekong Delta

Get a feel for Vietnamese life in the lush Mekong Delta.

Kick off your trip to Vietnam by exploring Saigon, now known as Ho Chi Minh City. Orientate yourself with a wander along Dong Khoi Street (previously known as Rue Catinat), the buildings of which tell the story of the city’s colonial past. A good place to gain an understanding of the country’s plight during the Vietnam War is the War Remnants Museum, but few experiences can give you a better idea of living conditions for the soldiers themselves than heading underground into the intriguing Cu Chi tunnel network, two sections of which are open to the public.

After the claustrophobic tunnels, head for the Mekong Delta to get out in the open air and sample fresh, locally grown produce from the floating markets that continue to be held here much as they have always done. Cruising the Delta, you’ll get a feel for the sights, sounds and smells of a traditional Vietnamese way of life, supported by the lush greenery and rich diversity of life that thrives at the mouth of the mighty Mekong.

Days 4-6: Hue and Hoi An

Drink in the atmosphere of Hoi An’s historic streets

For the next stop on your tour of Vietnam, hop on a plane to Hue, a fascinating city that was once the imperial capital and is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Though it sadly lost many of its architectural gems during the war, there’s still plenty to see on a ramble through Hue’s sprawling ancient Citadel. Chief among the city’s other highlights are the peaceful Thien Mu Pagoda and the Tombs of the Emperors, the latter of which are atmospherically located on the banks of the Perfume River. Another place worth visiting in Hue is the Spiral Foundation, an organisation that sells eco-friendly crafts produced by deaf and mute artisans, who can guide you through the process of making your own souvenir.

The journey from Hue to Hoi An will take you through the picturesque Vietnamese countryside as well as giving you some tremendous views of the coastline. When you get there, the best thing to do is simply wander the historic streets and see what you find in this exceptionally well-preserved former trading port town. That way, you’ll imbibe the atmosphere as well as being able to admire the traditional architecture that speaks of the town’s heyday. Don’t miss Hoi An’s famous Japanese Bridge.

Days 7-10: Halong Bay and Hanoi

The best way to experience the spectacle of Halong Bay’s thousands of islands is by boat.

Now that you’ve had the chance to enjoy some of Vietnam’s architectural scenery, it’s time to experience the country’s natural beauty with a journey to the famous Halong Bay. Flying from Danang to Haiphong, you then drive through pleasant farmland to reach the Bay. The best way to appreciate the incredible spectacle of its thousands of limestone islands is by boat; try an overnight cruise and enjoy the views over a delicious meal of freshly caught fish.

End your trip with a visit to Hanoi, the exotic Vietnamese capital, where you’ll have the chance to stroll down the elegant tree-lined boulevards of the Old Quarter and visit fascinating places such as the ancient Temple of Literature and the mystical Hoan Kiem Lake. Hanoi is also one of the best cities for sampling street food and catching a traditional water puppet show - the perfect, delightfully Vietnamese way to bring your time in Vietnam to a close.

If this post has inspired you to visit Vietnam, book yourself a place on our Highlights of Vietnam tour today.