The Best 14 Day Vietnam Itinerary: See The Wonders Of Vietnam

Looking to explore Vietnam’s unique culture and charm? Here’s the perfect 14-day itinerary to see as many of the country’s attractions and beautiful natural wonders as possible.
Tran Quoc Temple
Tran Quoc Temple. Photo: Frida Aguilar Estrada on Unsplash

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Vietnam is a country with fascinating history, breathtaking landscapes, delicious cuisine, and delightfully alive energy. The country is much larger than you realize, and you could spend a long time exploring everything in Vietnam. If you only have 2 weeks to visit Vietnam, you won’t be able to see everything. We’ve put together a 14-day Vietnam itinerary to give you the best experience of seeing the wonders of Vietnam in a short period.

Halong Bay. Photo: Ammie Ngo | Unsplash

Vietnam is not difficult to get around, but you don’t want to spend too many days transferring from one city to another when your time is limited. We’ve chosen to focus this Vietnam itinerary on Hanoi, Hoi An, and Halong Bay.

By visiting these three areas, you’ll get to experience colorful city life in Hanoi, historic charm in Hoi An, and natural wonders in Halong Bay. Here’s what to do with 14 days to spend in Vietnam.

Day 1 Hanoi: Flight to Hanoi

Hanoi Skyline. Photo: Minh Luu | Unsplash

The capital of Vietnam, Hanoi is a vibrant city with a distinct mix of Southeast Asian, Chinese, and French influences. The city is packed with people and plenty of hidden spots to discover.

On your first day in Vietnam, you’ll fly into Hanoi Airport (HAN) which is about 30 miles from the city center. You’ll most likely want to stay in the area near Hanoi’s Old Quarter because it’s the closest to Hanoi’s tourist attractions. If you don’t mind being a little farther from the action, you can stay in the French Quarter instead.

Depending on when you arrive in Hanoi, you might be able to grab lunch at Bún Bò Nam Bo. The restaurant serves its namesake dish, a delicious stir-fried beef noodle plate. Spend the afternoon at the Temple of Literature. Enjoy the architecture of the 1000-year-old building and admire the elegantly-maintained gardens where scholars used to relax.

In the evening, go to Pho 10 for a simple, flavorful meal for your first dinner in Vietnam. If the first night of your trip is on a Friday, Saturday, or Sunday, be sure to visit Hanoi’s night market in the Old Quarter. If the night market isn’t open the first night you arrive, be sure to stop by later during your time in Hanoi.

Day 2 Hanoi: Old Quarter

St Joseph’s Cathedral. Photo: Hyeryeong Song | Unsplash

Begin your first morning in Hanoi by exploring the city’s Old Quarter. Start your morning at Cộng Cà Phê, one of Vietnam’s first franchises, and try out the coconut coffee. Be sure to visit St Joseph’s Cathedral, the oldest church in the city and modeled after Notre Dame.

The Old Quarter is the best area for foodies in Hanoi. Get lunch at the unassuming Banh Mì 25. The small family-run spot makes the best banh mìs in the city. Spend the afternoon exploring Hoan Kiem Lake, a beautiful lake right in the center of the city. Be sure to see the Ngoc Son Temple, walk across the Huc Bridge, and get photos of the Turtle Tower.

In the evening, take a food tour of the city. This way, you’ll be sure to get to sample all the best places in Hanoi, and you’ll have plenty of time to return on another day if you really enjoy something you try.

If you have time after your food tour ends, go see a water puppet show at Thang Long Theatre. The traditional art form dates back centuries, and the show is accompanied by Vietnamese folk music.

Day 3 Hanoi: Truc Bach

Tran Quoc Pagoda. Photo: Ha Tran Unsplash

On your 3rd day in Hanoi, you’ll explore Truc Bach, a charming neighborhood with less hustle and bustle than the rest of the city.

Start off the morning just outside of Truc Bach, at Bluebird’s Nest. Enjoy some coffee and a light snack before browsing through the cozy cafe’s book collection. Then, spend some time exploring the area around the lake. You’ll want to see Den Thủy Trung Tiên, the Puppy Temple, on the shore. Take a little time to visit Tran Quoc Pagoda as well. Try out Bo Bia, a treat with dried coconut, spun sugar, and honeycomb, from one of the bicycle vendors.

At lunch, check out State-Run Foodshop Number 37 (Cửa Hàng Ăn uống Mậu dịch số 37). The owner has recreated a state-run canteen from the wartime era. Afterward, take a ride on one of the swan paddle boats on Truc Bach Lake. Walk through the authentic Chau Long wet market and browse through The Bookworm, one of Hanoi’s best book shops.

Truc Bach is well-known for pho cuon, rice batter spring rolls filled with beef and coriander, and pho chien phong, deep-fried rice batter with meat and vegetables. Try some at Phở Cuốn Hương Mai for dinner. Head back to Tran Quoc Pagoda in time to watch the sunset.

Day 4 Hanoi: Major Attractions

Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum. Photo: Hans-Jürgen Weinhardt | Unsplash

There are a few sites you absolutely have to visit in Hanoi. Begin the day by going to the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum, the resting place of the Vietnamese leader. Just behind this site, you’ll find the One Pillar Pagoda, a Buddhist temple dating back to 1042. Spend the rest of the morning on Phan Dinh Phung street where you’ll find beautiful French mansions. Stop by Tired City to pick up artwork by some of Vietnam’s rising artists.

Head to one of the multiple locations of Pizza 4P’s. It may sound like an odd recommendation, but the pizza rivals what you’ll find in Italy. Then, visit the Vietnamese Women’s Museum showcasing women’s role in Vietnam’s history and culture. While not quite as inspiring Hoa Lo prison is also another important museum you can visit nearby.

Before dinner, grab a beer from one of the many bia hois. You can find a large pocket at the corner of Ta Hien & Luong Ngoc Quyen streets, but you can easily run across a bia hoi on any street. Enjoy a delicious Asian fusion dinner at Luk Lak Vietnamese Restaurant to finish up the night. 

Day 5 Hanoi: Final Day in Hanoi

Hoan Kiem Lake. Photo: Nhat Nguyen Hoang | Unsplash

On your last morning in Hanoi, get up early to watch the sunrise from Long Bien Bridge. Stop by Giang Cafe to try out the egg coffee. Then, spend the morning visiting the Imperial Citadel of Thang Long, one of the city’s UNESCO heritage sites. This impressive fortress was built in the 11th century and reflects the influences from China in the north and the Kingdom of Champa in the south. 

Depending on when your flight leaves, you may or may not have time to get lunch in Hanoi. There are no direct flights to Hoi An, so instead, you’ll take a flight from Hanoi to Danang. Then, take a 30-minute shuttle or taxi from Danang to Hoi An.

For your first time visiting, Hoi An Old Town is the best area to stay. The picture-perfect area is full of colorful streets, small shops, and restaurants with delicious dishes.

Day 6 Hoi An: Old Town

Night lanterns in Hoi An. Photo: Steven Wilcox | Unsplash

In 2019, Hoi An was named the best town to visit in the world by Travel and Leisure magazine, and it isn’t hard to see the charm in this cozy town. The town was used as a trading port from the 15th to 19th centuries. As a result, the city has a unique mix of indigenous and foreign influences. Today, the city still retains many of its original cultural and historic features and the city’s Old Town is a UNESCO World Heritage site.

Get up early to have the Old Town streets to yourself. They’ll fill up quickly as the day goes on. Have breakfast at the 92 Station Restaurant and Cafe. Then, make your way to Kim Hien to have a custom outfit made that you can pick up the next day. Hoi An is full of outstanding tailors and dressmakers.

Stroll through the Old Town and have lunch at Little Faifo Restaurant. You’ll have 5 stubs attached to your ticket to enter the Ancient Town. You can always get another ticket to see more than 5 places but start with these 5 attractions: the Japanese Covered Bridge, Cantonese Assembly Hall, Phung Hung Old House, Tan Ky Old House, and Fujian Assembly Hall. 

Go to Cale’s Restaurant for a taste of excellent local cooking. Then, head over to the An Hoi neighborhood to visit the Hoi An Night Market and enjoy the area’s nightlife.

Day 7 Hoi An: An Bang Beach

An Bang Beach. Photo: Huong Chi | Flickr

Just four miles north of Hoi An is An Bang Beach, a lovely place to spend the day. Spend the morning lounging on the beach. In some areas, the beach chairs are free, but you’ll need to order drinks or food from the nearby restaurant. 

An Bang is one of Vietnam’s most popular beaches. As the day goes on, more and more local families will visit the beach to swim, so you’ll see fewer crowds the earlier you arrive.

Get lunch at Hai Cay Me, and try the avocado salad if it’s in season. If you’d like a change from lounging on the beach, you can spend the afternoon at the Shore Club. Purchase a drink or two and take a dip in the pool overlooking the beach.

Watch the sunset from the Salt Pub and Restaurant, an Aussie-owned bar right next to the water. Then, take a taxi back to your hotel to end the night.

Day 8 Hoi An: Cooking Class and River Cruise

Thu Bon River. Photo: bckfwd | Unsplash

On your next morning in Hoi An, take a cooking class. It’s a fun activity, but also a great way to experience more Vietnamese culture. Most cooking classes will begin with a trip to the local market in the morning. Some classes will also include a fishing trip, and of course, you’ll eat during the class as well.

In the afternoon take a Thu Bon River cruise. Watch the sunset as you glide along past palm trees and beautiful buildings. You’ll want to talk lots of photos as you pass by.

The Thu Bon River flows from the Ngoc Linh Mountain to the South China Sea. Its presence contributed to Hoi An’s growth as a port city. The river played a large role in Hoi An’s traditional and historic heritage, and it continues to be an important part of life for many of the city’s residents today.

Day 9: Day Trip to Hue

The Imperial City of Hue. Photo: Veronica Reverse | Unsplash

Get ready for a day trip from Hoi An to the ancient city of Hue. Vietnam’s capital until 1945, the “Imperial City” is full of well-restored palaces and shrines. It’s also home to the royal Citadel. Hue might be one of Vietnam’s most underrated cities for visitors.

The easier way to arrange this day trip is to book a tour leaving from Hoi An. Then, you won’t have to worry about transportation, and you’ll have a guide to make sure you see the best sites in this historic city. The Citadel alone is massive. While you definitely expect to enjoy the historic sites in Hue, you’ll be surprised that the cuisine options there are also excellent.

While in Hue, you’ll see the Thien Mu Pagoda, the Forbidden Purple City, and the Tomb of Khai Dinh. The city was named a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1993. The area is less crowded than Hoi An, but equally as impressive.

Day 10: Travel to Ha Long Bay

Halong Bay. Photo: Lewis J Goetz | Unsplash

Have a lovely, tranquil start to your morning at Reaching Out Tea House. There is no need for talking inside the tea house. Instead, you’ll communicate silently with the staff for the things you need as you enjoy relaxing in the beautifully-decorated environment.

You’ll appreciate the peaceful morning before traveling from Hoi An to Halong Bay. Neither city has an airport, so you’ll need to use a combination of private transfers and planes.

Arrange for a pickup from Hoi An to the Danang airport. Then, take a direct flight to the Hoi Phong airport which usually takes between 1 and 1.5 hours. When you arrive in Hoi Phong, take a private transfer from the airport to Halong Bay. Expect the travel from the airport to Halong bay to take about 1.5 hours.

Stay at one of the hotels in Bai Chay Beach. Families enjoy walking along the Bai Chay Bridge in the evening. It’s a peaceful activity for you to do as you wind down for the night after having dinner at one of the nearby restaurants.

Day 11 Halong Bay: Bai Chay Beach

Sun World Ha Long Park. Photo: Ho Long | Unsplash

The largest beach in Halong, Bai Chay beach is a stunning artificial beach with clear blue water and a relaxing atmosphere. Spend the morning enjoying the views and the calming sea breeze. As you might expect, you can find excellent seafood in nearby restaurants. Nhà Hàng Cua Vàng Bãi cháy has some of the most unique offerings with flavor you won’t find anywhere else.

In the afternoon, visit the nearby Sun World Ha Long Park in the center of Halong Bay. The park consists of three distinct areas: Dragon Park, Typhoon Water Park, and Queen Cable Car & Mystic Mountain

You can enjoy all the amusement park attractions including the fastest roller coaster in Vietnam at Dragon Park. Be sure to ride the Queen Cable Car for unique views over the islets, caves, and cliffs of Halong Bay. Make time to ridge the Sun Wheel, a large Ferris wheel that’s become iconic in Halong’s skyline.

At night visit the Bai Chay night market. Here you’ll find stalls selling everything including local cuisine, souvenirs, and clothes. The market is most active in the evening from 9 pm to 12 pm. Try squid rolls, made with added seasoning and then fried until deliciously crisp. Squid rolls are a bit pricey, but you can’t miss out on trying them.

Day 12 Halong Bay: Day Cruise

Halong Bay. Photo: Steven Lasry | Unsplash

Get up early to see the sunrise and have a quick breakfast. The best way to see as much of Halong Bay as possible in a short period of time is with a day cruise, so that’s what you’ll do on this day in Halong Bay.

Multiple companies offer cruises and tours around the UNESCO World’s Natural Heritage site. Spend an entire day visiting the area’s caves and grottos which can only be explored from the water. Your cruise trip should include meals as well. This is a reasonably priced way to have a memorable day exploring with a guide who’ll be able to explain the different highlights along the way.

Some cruises have kayaks, so you can get an even closer look at the beautiful natural features of the bay. If this sounds interesting to you, look for cruises offering kayaks, swimming, or even hiking during your tour.

After returning from the cruise, spend the evening enjoying more views from one of the harbor view cafes in Halong. One of the most beautiful lounges in Halong is the Sky Bar on the 16th floor of the Royal Lotus Hotel. The Rooftop Cafe & Bar is another good option for watching the city sparkle at night.

Day 13 Halong Bay: Cat Ba Island

Lan Ha Bay, Cat Ba Island. Photo: Ashim D’Silva | Unsplash

On your last full day in Halong Bay, you’ll head to Cat Ba, the Bay’s biggest island. Get there in the morning by taking the public ferry from Tuan Chau. Even though the ferry’s main purpose is transportation, you’ll enjoy getting to see the scenery on your way to Cat Ba.

Lan Ha Bay is less crowded than Halong Bay, so it’s the perfect place for kayaking around to enjoy the natural wilderness without running into too many other tourists. You’ll also be able to enjoy quieter beaches than in Halong Bay.

If you have time hike to Ngu Lam Peak in Cat Ba National Park. You’ll take a gently slopping uphill path most of the way until the last stretch which gets a little more difficult. Stop at the lookout tower for your first viewpoint and continue on to the second viewpoint for the perfect panorama over Cat Ba. When you finish your descent after, you’ll enjoy the fact that the restaurant at the bottom serves cold drinks.

Another spot to visit on the island is the Hospital Cave. This normal-looking cave was used as a hospital during the Vietnam War. It’s just a quick stop, but it will give you an idea of how things were during that time period even in a place as remote as Cat Ba.

Day 14: Return to Hanoi

Long Bien, Hanoi. Photo: Long Bún | Unsplash

As you wrap up your time in Vietnam, you’ll likely need to return to Hanoi for your flight home. The best way to get from Halong Bay to Hanoi is to take a shuttle bus between the two cities. It will take about 2.5 hours. A shuttle bus is only a little more expensive than a local bus, but is more comfortable and faster. A private car or taxi is also an option. It’s several times the price of a shuttle bus, but can be worth it if you are traveling with family or in a group.

Make sure you arrive in Hanoi in time to catch your flight home. Double-check your departure time and give yourself extra time for delays. You don’t want to end a wonderful trip through Vietnam with a stressful departure.

Final Thoughts

Hanoi. Photo: Thijs Degenkamp | Unsplash

Spending 14 days in Vietnam will allow you to experience just a little bit of the best the country has to offer. You’ll go home with lovely memories of perfect cups of coffee, bustling streets, impressive architecture, and serene scenic views. After you’ve visited Vietnam once, this captivating country will have you planning your next trip as soon as your plan departs.

See more of our guides and itineraries for Vietnam for more inspiration on planning your visit to Vietnam. If you want to explore more of Asia after visiting Vietnam, we also have guides to nearby countries China and Cambodia.


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