One Week Vietnam Travel Guide

When you hear Vietnam, you think of Pho. But Vietnam is more than just its flavorful Pho and beautiful beaches. This Southeast Asian beauty is full of history, mouth-watering cuisine, and culture. And let me add crazy cheap beer!

Visiting Vietnam means getting tanned, enjoying the outgoing locals, eating outdoors, and enjoying the nightlife. If you’re planning to visit Vietnam, here’s a solid travel guide to get the most out of your trip.

Touchdown Hanoi

Hanoi is the perfect starting point to travel the country from north to south. You can fly to Hanoi, Vietnam’s capital and second-largest city, and start your leg here.

You can walk around Old Quarter and start with mouth-watering dishes around the street kitchens. Don’t miss the opportunity to try bún chả, grilled pork, noodles, and herbs with a dipping sauce. This dish is trendy in Hanoi.

Hanoi is Vietnam’s art capital. The cultivated Fine Arts Museum accommodates the nation’s major exhibitions, such as ancient Cham artifacts and impressionist pieces. Head for Manzi or the Vietnam Art Gallery for something more contemporary.

You can also stroll at Hoan Kiem Lake and enjoy the locals enjoying walks, yoga classes, or watching the sunset. Detour towards Ngo 224 Le Duan, an Instagram wonder filled with roadside bars and cafes packed along a single train track. The train runs across this track once daily, so if you want to experience that, check their schedule. Hint: It’s usually in the evening.

You can check out Ta Hien at night for its vibrancy and great-smelling street delights. Before you embark on a long journey to another city, try their local massages. They’re affordable and very relaxing—a great idea before a whole walking week.

Find serenity in Ninh Binh, Tam Coc.

You can find this gem of nature just a hundred km from Hanoi. You can go biking and enjoy the awe-inspiring limestone mountains, rural villages, rice paddies, and incredible landscapes.

Enjoy authentic Vietnamese delicacies and take the sampan boats to visit Mua caves on the river. Visit Tam Coc by bamboo boats. Don’t forget to include Hoa Lu temples of the Dinh and Le Dynasties in your itinerary.

Locals say that lotus and waterlilies are ubiquitous in every part of Ninh Binh, especially in Tam Coc Grotto. You can enjoy Ninh Binh on a day trip.

Cruise over the picturesque Ha Long Bay

One hundred miles east of Hanoi is the famous Ha Long Bay. Halong Bay is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Ha Long Bay features an expansive range of biodiversity, while the unreal scenery has served as the magical setting of diverse scenes in multiple feature films.

Joining a 2-day, 1-night Ha Long Bay cruise(boats) is recommendable for first-time visitors. Such journeys enable you to uncover the bay’s various islets, villages, beaches, and caves.

These cruises feature swimming, kayaking, fishing, snorkeling, and trekking stops. You can unwind and marvel at the breathtaking view if you’re not a fan of outdoor activities.

Ha Long Bay cruises vary by season and weather. One popular stop is Cat Ba Island. It features floating villages, restaurants, hotels, and bars against the lush mountains. The island is home to endangered species, such as Cat Ba langurs, black giant squirrels, southern serows, and civet cats.

Dau Be Island is another island on Ha Long Bay, located 28 km from Bai Chay Port. It’s famous for its swimming and diving spot with deep caverns, a rich coral system, and six inland lakes. However, you can only visit the caves by boat during low tide. Spot golden monkeys and flying squirrels on the island too!

Enjoy a few days at the cultural marvel of Hoi An

I was blown away by Hoi An’s exquisite beauty. A place I didn’t reasonably expect, with its unique historical sites, beautiful art, culture, and wonderful beach. Hoi An is a scenic and bright town and a UNESCO World Heritage site.

Its architecture was laboriously impacted by the Japanese and Chinese, as Hoi An integrated those cultural elements. Still, to this day, that is an essential part of the city’s self-identity.

Take a photo of Fujian or Phuc Kien, a temple that worships the sea goddess Thien Hau. Peek through the Japanese Bridge Chùa Cầu and the Ba Mu Temple Gates – three gate pagoda.

Hoi An is a colorful city and is an Instagrammer’s dream. Colorful structures and beautifully painted houses with streets full of lanterns adorn this exciting street. Stop by some cafes and try the Vietnamese egg coffee – Ca Phe Trung, a bitter coffee to perk you up.

By cycling, you can also spend a few more days exploring the green rice fields and quaint little villages. The An Bang beach is also convenient by bike. Most accommodations rent out a bike for free or for a small fee so you can enjoy cycling around Hoi An freely.

Before leaving Hoi An, be sure to try the Mot tea. It is a blend of ginger, lemongrass, and lemon and is very iconic in this part of the country. Try the native dish of Hoi An, Cao Lau. It is native because they can’t replicate it elsewhere due to its different local ingredients.

Lastly, take Banh Mi Phuong a try. It is a classic Vietnamese baguette that got quite famous after Anthony Bourdain’s visit a few years ago.

Night lights and city stroll at Ho Chi Minh City

Ho Chi Minh s the central city of Vietnam. You can take any transport from Ho Chi Minh to any nearby city. Formerly known as Saigon, Ho Chi Minh is relatively hot compared to the other cities.

Explore the city and head towards Nguyen Hue, the main city street famous for its French colonial architecture. Head towards Ben Thanh Market to grab local food, souvenirs, clothes, and accessories. You can grab a drink at the rooftop bars or enjoy ca phe sua da (local iced coffee) at a curbside cafe.

With enough energy, Ho Chi Minh has plenty of nightlife activities. You can go to Bùi Viện for a pub crawl or visit some acoustic bars and clubs along Bùi Thị Xuân.

A fair warning, though, in Ho Chi Minh, crossing streets can be challenging. You have to cross it without stop lights and motorcycles not stopping for you. It is a matter of dodging them while you walk on the pedestrian.

Travel Tip: Take the Vinasun or Mai Linh taxi. Other taxis may be overpriced.

Vietnam is a beautiful country worth visiting. Make sure you head to Vietnam around March to April when rain is low, and temperatures are milder. For more travel ideas, check out my Instagram page or send me a message!