A land of mesmerizing natural beauty, diverse ethnic communities, ancient cultures and tempting street food, Vietnam is both alluring and fascinating. Vietnam tourism is still a gray area and there is a lot to explore.
Country in Southeast Asia and Easternmost in the Indo-Chinese Peninsula, Vietnam shared borders with Laos, Cambodia and China through land and Thailand, Philippines, Indonesia and Malaysia through sea.
Vietnam Tourism is divided majorly into 3 parts i.e. North, Center and South and to be honest you need at least 1 week for each part to explore it properly.
We explored whole Vietnam in 11 days which we felt was a little hectic and we should have given some more time to a couple of destinations. So, here I have tried to cover North and Center in 11 days which includes all the major attractions and places.
Places to Visit in Vietnam
Day 1 & 2 – Sapa
Located in the north of Vietnam, Sapa will surely mesmerize you with its picturesque views, unique cultures and beautiful valleys. Sapa is also known for its ethnic minor communities which distinguished it from other parts of the country.
If you are a stroller, trekker or looking forward to a relaxing vacation, Sapa has a lot to offer.
Few of the must-see attractions are:
- Fan Si Pan is the highest mountain in Indochina Peninsula and is located at the height of approximately 3143 meters.
- Hiking is a must-have experience in Sapa due to its huge valley of interconnected villages.
- Street Food of Vietnam and chilling weather of Sapa makes a great combination and you can enjoy the delicious barbequed food.
Checkout the Chapter 1 of my Vietnam series to know more about Sapa in detail.
Day 3 – Hanoi
The capital and the 2nd largest city of Vietnam, Hanoi is the most ancient capital city in the World. The Old Quarter of Hanoi dates back to 14th century and you can still find the well-preserved colonial buildings and uniquely designed ancient pagodas.
Despite its ancient charm, I personally didn’t like the city much due to the traffic and hustle-bustle in the city. Being the capital city, it is usual to have traffic just like New Delhi but if you are in this country for nature and peace, then you can skip this city. But there is one thing you should not miss at any cost which is its vibrant nightlife.
Ta Hien Street is one of the best places to enjoy the night life in Hanoi. This street comes alive after the sunset when all the bars, restaurants brings out the chairs on the street. An amazing place to hang out and have craft beers and local cuisine. This place is vibrant and full of food and music and chattering.
You can start from Sapa in morning, reach Hanoi in afternoon and then enjoy your night at Ta Hien Street with local beer and food.
Day 4 & 5 – Ha Long Bay
UNESCO World Heritage Site, Ha Long Bay is also known as the Bay of Descending Dragons. It is expanded over 1500 sqkm with more than 1600 Limestone Karts.
Located in the North-East part of Vietnam, Ha Long Bay is a fascinating site known for its pristine turquoise water, scattered islands, and majestic caves.
Some must-have experiences of Ha Long Bay are:
- Kayaking is one of the most famous activity in Halong Bay. Paddling through the crystal-clear waters is heart-throbbing activity.
- Titop Island is a must visit place if you want to experience the captivating 360-degree views of Halong Bay.
- Limestone Caves have gone through the countless years of transformation and has become a mesmerizing site.
Checkout the Chapter 2 of my Vietnam series to know more about Halong Bay in detail.
Day 6 & 7 – Cat Ba Island
Halong Bay is consisting of approximately 367 islands out of which Cat Ba Island is the largest and only populated island. Also know as the “Pearl Island”, Cat Ba lies in the Northeast of Vietnam in Hai Phong province and is easily accessible from Halong and Hanoi.
Some must have experiences in Cat Ba Island are:
- Cat Ba National Park is a UNESCO World Biosphere Reserve and covers approximately half of the area of Cat Ba Island
- Beaches of Cat Ba Island are interconnected with one another with beach on one side and mountain on another.
- La Han Bay is a budgeted alternative of Ha Long Bay with turquoise water, dramatic landscapes, sandy beach shores.
Checkout my Chapter 3 of Vietnam series to know more about Cat Ba Island in detail.
Day 8 & 9 – Hoi An
UNESCO World Heritage Site, Hoi An is the most decorative, alluring & atmospheric town. Being an ancient town, it has its own rustic and poetic charm which makes it one of the best places to visit in Vietnam.
This town is a perfect mix of culture, shopping, food, relaxation, and history and can make you fall in love with the surroundings and its aura.
The whole town is decorated with colorful lanterns be it the streets, cafes, restaurants or river and it comes alive after the sunset when they all glow in different hues.
Some must-have experiences of Hoi An are:
- Japanese Covered Bridge is constructed over a canal and comes alive in the evening when all the lights are turned on.
- Nightlife in Hoi An is magical with its alluring and gorgeous cafes and restaurants.
- Street Food of Hoi An, just like other parts of Vietnam is a must try.
- An Bang Beach is an amazing and beautiful shoreline stretched on the South China Sea.
Checkout the Chapter 4 of my Vietnam series to know more about Hoi An in detail.
Day 10 & 11 – Da Nang
From metropolitan city and its modern bridges to nature’s bestowed mountain and sparkling beaches, Da Nang has everything which a tourist place can offer.
Some must have experiences in Danang are:
- Ba Na Hills is one of the most attractive tourist spots in Da Nang. It is like the Disneyland of Da Nang offering adventure activities, panoramic views, fantasy park, spiritual points and many more. Click here to know about Bana Hills in detail.
- Dragon Bridge is one of its kind which looks exactly like a dragon and changes colors constantly. How cool is that!
- My Khe Beach with its warm and golden sands is a place to relax after tiring but most amazing Ba Na Hills trip.
Checkout the Chapter 5 of Vietnam Series to know about Da Nang in detail.
Other Useful Information
Best Time to Visit Vietnam
May to October is the monsoon season in Northern Vietnam whereas June to November is the monsoon season in Central and Southern Vietnam.
Considering that December to February is the best time to visit Vietnam with pleasant climate throughout the country.
Best Way to Explore Vietnam
Like you know, Vietnam tourism is majorly divided into 3 parts i.e North, Center and South. So, considering that:
- Flying is the most convenient and faster way to travel from North to Center to South Vietnam.
- Buses/Trains are the best way to travel within each part
- You can buy train tickets from train stations and alternatively you can buy from official train ticketing site (https://dsvn.vn/#/) of Vietnam.
- Buses run regularly between top destinations and you will find many tour operators running comfortable buses.
- Motorbikes can be rented for short journeys which are priced from Rs 300 to Rs 1000 depending on the quality.
Accommodation in Vietnam
All types of accommodation options from luxurious to budgeted are available in Vietnam.
We used to get a nice and decent hotel at the average price of Rs 1,000 and some of those even had breakfast and swimming pool included in that price.
If you are on a luxury trip, you will get ample of options to enjoy your stay.
Vietnam Visa for Indians
There are 2 ways to get Vietnam visa for Indians, which are:
- Vietnam Visa on Arrival – you must fill the visa application form online, receive a letter of approval and get visa stamped at Vietnam airport. Price of this type of visa is $17 + $25 stamping fee.
- Vietnam E-Visa – You can apply for e-visa from here which takes approximately 2 days to get approved. Price of this type of visa is $25
According to me, 2nd one is the preferred way because it is cheap, and you don’t have waste 2-3 hours at Vietnam airport to get your visa stamp.
Though the local language of Vietnam is Vietnamese, but English is favoured as the second language due to the increasing number of tourists.
- Many Hotel and Restaurant staffs knows English, so you won’t face any problem.
- Local shops and street vendors don’t understand English so that is where you can face a little challenge.
Google Translator was our friend in translating the language for us.
Vietnam is a heaven for non-vegetarians offering many delicacies. Sea Food, beef and pork are the most commonly available items, but you can also get chicken at many places.
Vegetarians can face a little challenge in finding the food for themselves. “An Chay” is the word you should summon in mind which means “Vegetarian”. This word can is like a boon for vegetarians and you will have to use to every now and then while in Vietnam.
- New Delhi to Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh to New Delhi = Rs. 13,000
- E-Visa = Rs. 2,000
- (Rs. 1,000 X 10 nights) / 2 People = Rs. 5,000 (we stayed at friend’s place for 2 nights)
- Hanoi to Sapa to Hanoi (Bus) = Rs. 2,800
- Hanoi to Da Nang (Flight) = Rs 1,700
- Da Nang to Hoi An to Da Nang (Cab) = Rs. 1,500
- Da Nang to Nha Trang (Flight) = Rs. 1,800
- Nha Trang to Ho Chi Minh = Rs. 1,700
- Ho Chi Ming to Can Tho to Ho Chi Minh (Limousine) = Rs. 2,500
- Ha Long Bay Tour = Rs. 2,800
- Sapa Fan Si Pan = Rs. 2,400
- Ba Na Hills = Rs. 2,400
Food and Miscellaneous = Rs. 16,000
Total Expense = Rs. 55,600
So this was my experience in this amazing country. Please let me know your thought in comments and share it with you friends who are planning a trip to Vietnam.