Vietnam is an incredible country in SE Asia that’s been gaining popularity not only among the backpacker circuit, but in ALL travel circles. And, it’s not surprising why! Vietnam is bursting with fresh and delicious food, friendly locals and a beautifully diverse countryside.

10 days in Vietnam

With 10 days in Vietnam you’ll have time to hit a few highlights, and that’s it. Internal flights are quick and cheap, giving you the ability to span the country and see a few of the main cities. Here you’ll find the best 10 Day Vietnam Itinerary, with alternative options for specific regions and interests.

Is a 10 Day Trip To Vietnam Enough?

Personally, I don’t think a 10 day trip to Vietnam is enough. However, if you’re short on vacation time, or have a tight budget (although Vietnam is quite inexpensive so you dollar goes a long way), you can see enough with the right 10 days in Vietnam itinerary. I would choose to visit Vietnam for 10 days rather than not visiting at all!

Tips For Your 10 Day Vietnam Tour

  • For WAY more travel tips check out my massive Vietnam Travel Guide. The points below are just a tiny little peak at what you should know before you visit Vietnam.
  • With only a 10 day itinerary, Vietnam will have to be visited by airplane. The country is easily traversed via bus and train, but you just won’t have time to do this with 10 days.
  • To maximize your time, and minimize travel days, consider sticking to one region (see the Alternative Vietnam 10 Day Itinerary options at the end).
  • If you’re from the USA, Canada, Australia and New Zealand, you’ll need to apply for an e-Visa before your trip. I’ve used Vietnam Evisa and have recommended it others. It’s worked every time!
  • October and March are the best overall months to visit Vietnam.
  • The climate in Vietnam varies widely between the North and South. Check the weather before you go and pack appropriately…it can snow in SaPa in the winter and typhoons can rage through the country at different times of the year depending on where you are.
  • Download the Grab app before leaving home and use this Asian version of Uber to get around the cities.
  • Also download Google translate to use as needed throughout your stay.
  • And, while you’re on a downloading kick, might as well download a map with offline Google Maps or too.
  • Pick up an inexpensive tourist SIM card with VietTel before leaving the airport to stay connected during your stay for a mere $9US (prices may vary as they’re often changing).
  • electricity in Vietnam is 220V, with most outlets accepting North American and European plugs. We love our small US to Euro travel adapter that plus the Anker travel charger into the wall. This combo converts and offers surge protection for all our devices.

*kid tip – If you’re visiting with kids, make sure you check out my guide to everything Vietnam with kids in tow!

Vietnam 10 Day Itinerary

Alright, let’s get onto it…The best Vietnam 10 Day Itinerary for your Vietnam trip (I’m a bit jealous, just saying).

Day 1-3: Ho Chi Minh City

Day 4 & 5: Hoi An

Day 6 & 7: Ha Long Bay/Bai Tu Long Bay

Day 8-10: Hanoi with Day Trips

Alternative 10 Day Vietnam Itineraries

Day 1 – Ho Chi Minh City (HCMC)

I’m not going to lie, Ho Chi Minh (HCMC) is NOT my favourite city in Vietnam. However, it’s full of history, culture and incredible day trips, so it’s definitely worth a visit.

On your first day, arrive in the morning and take a Grab car to your accommodation to drop your bags. If you can check in, start with a short nap (not too long or you’ll never sleep tonight), if not, head out into the crazy streets as the sensory overload is sure to keep you awake for at least a few hours.

*expert tip – grab a VietTel unlimited tourist SIM card from the airport.

Wander up Cong Vien 23 Thang 9 street to Ben Thanh market, and head straight to the back of the market for some sustenance (and an incredibly fresh fruit smoothie…yumm!!). Get lost in the craziness of the market and haggle over souvenirs with the many vendors.

Ben Thanh Market:

When you’re ready to move on from the market, head East a few blocks along Ham Nghi (road) to Saigon Sky Deck in Bitexco Financial Tower. You’ll be rewarded with sweeping 360 degree views over the city. You can either pay the entrance fee, or visit the cafe for a drink (and save the entrance fee, although the drink will come at a premium price!).

Saigon Sky Deck:

Finally, make your way back to your accommodation to get picked up for an evening street food tour. This will introduce you to the best street food in HCMC, and give you a good introduction to ensure you choose safe and delicious food options on the streets of Vietnam.

Street Food Tour:

Saigon Street Eats offers a few different food tours, but I’d recommend Street Food 101. You’ll travel between stalls on a xe om (motorbike taxi), in true HCMC style! The tour typically starts at 5:30pm and was $49US per person at the time of writing. Check out their website for the latest info (and to book).

Day 2 – HCMC

Today is all about the Vietnam War (or the American War as they refer to it in Vietnam). Start the day visiting the Cu Chi Tunnels and experience what it would’ve been like to be a Viet Cong soldier in the war. It’s easiest to visit as part of a group tour or with a private guided tour.

*expert tip/kid tip – If you’re claustrophobic or visiting with young kids, this might be worth skipping. The tunnels are small and can get very hot.

Cu Chi Tunnels:

If you’ve booked a private tour, have them drop you off near the Independence Palace. You’ll be ready for lunch, and what better place to eat on your “war tour” day than Propaganda! It’s located a block away from the entrance to the Independence Palace, so you won’t have far to go. The food’s delicious, although it’s not quite as authentic as the nearby street food stalls!

After lunch, make your way back down the street to the Independence Palace, home of the Southern Vietnamese General Nguyen Van Thieu during the war. Stand in the very location where a Northern Vietnamese Army tank crashed into the front gates, effectively ending the war in 1975. Spend a few hours digging deeper in the history of the war by exploring the artifacts, maps and bunker found throughout the museum.

Independence Palace:

Finish your “War tour” just up the street at the War Remnants Museum. In my opinion, this will leave the biggest impression and provides the best insight into the Vietnam War and it’s impact on the country. The horrific photos displayed throughout the museum tell a haunting tale of just how awful this war was.

*kid tip – The photos inside can be quite disturbing to adults, let alone kids. It may be worth skipping the inside of the museum and just exploring the military equipment outside.

War Remnants Museum:

For dinner, walk 20min North of the War Remnants Museum to my favourite restaurant (in ALL of Vietnam!), Banh Xeo 46A. I learned about this incredible restaurant from the late Anthony Bourdain, and I honestly visit HCMC JUST to eat here! The Banh Xeo are incredible, and I also recommend the spring rolls!

After a filling dinner, take a Grab car back to your accommodation for a well deserved sleep!

Day 3 – HCMC

After a couple busy days in the city, it’s time for a bit of a break from the noise, pollution and just general sensory overload of HCMC! Today you’ll head out early to visit the Mekong Delta and it’s famous Floating Markets.

The Mekong Delta seems another world away from HCMC and will transport you back in time. Life along the river is slower paced and FULL of fresh foods. The best place to experience this is at one of the floating markets. They can get a little busy, and feel a bit touristy, but there’s still enough of a local vibe to make it feel (mostly) authentic.

The easiest way to maximize your time in the Delta is by taking an organized tour. These tend to leave early in the morning and last most of the day!

Once you return from the Mekong Delta, find a food stall near your accommodation for dinner, then head to bed. It’ll be an early flight tomorrow to Hoi An!

Where To Stay In HCMC

It’s best to stay in either District One (the backpacker district) as this is the most central to everything. There are a TON of decent guesthouse and hotel options available here. We’ve stayed at a few but none have been so amazing I’d go out of my way to recommend them (although they haven’t been bad either).

Search here for your best option in HCMC based on your own budget and availability.

Day 4 – Hoi An

Catch an early flight to Danang this morning, and pre-arrange pick up from the airport through your accommodation. It’s 100% possible to take public transit from Danang to Hoi An, but if you only have 10 days in Vietnam you won’t want to waste the extra time needed for this. The hour drive with private pickup is long enough!

Drop off your bags then make your way to lunch at Cafe 43. This reasonably priced, delicious restaurant is just outside of Old Town and right down the street from the Lantern-making class you’re headed to in the afternoon. Enjoy a Vietnamese iced coffee (my FAVOURITE!!) and white rose dumplings, a Hoi An specialty.

After lunch, it’s time for a lantern making class. I highly recommend Hoi An Handicraft Tours, a cute little family run shop near Old Town. We made lanterns here with our kids, but it’s not just for kids! They were so patient and helpful, there was a decent selection of fabrics and it’s a great souvenir to bring home!

Drop your lanterns off at your accommodation, then it’s time to head out and explore Hoi An. Start at the central market. Walk down the outside of the market on the East side to watch the ladies hand-making noodles. Buy some lovely fresh fruit or souvenirs from the vendors inside before ending along the riverbanks in the (stinky) fish section!

Wander along the riverbank to the heart of Old Town. Head one block past the “Bridge of Lights” then turn right and head one block to the Japanese covered bridge for a photo op. Spend the rest of the evening getting lost in Old Town (make sure you cross the Bridge of Lights to the island as well), and stay well beyond sunset to enjoy the lanterns lit-up at night.

* Dinner suggestionSecret Garden or Hoi An Night Market.

Day 5 – Hoi An

One of the best things about Hoi An (Vietnam in general) is the food! In my opinion, no trip to Vietnam would be complete without taking a cooking class, and Hoi An is a great place to do this. There’s quite a selection of different classes, many combining a market tour, round-boat ride, or bike tour through the rice fields and surrounding countryside.

We did our class with Hoi An Eco Coconut Tour and highly recommend them. Choose the one that appeals the most to you, and make sure to book ahead!

Spend the afternoon pampering yourself amongst the rice fields at the Calm Spa, one of the best spas in Vietnam. Choose one of the packages, which includes lunch/dinner (I recommend the summer fresh rolls) and a glass of wine. They offer pick-up and drop-off from your accommodation in Hoi An.

When you’re done with your pampering, have your accommodation organize transportation back to Danang to catch a late flight to Hanoi.

Where To Stay In Hoi An

Unlike HCMC, we did stay at an absolutely fantastic place in Hoi An that I’m happy to recommend. The Fig Tree Boutique Villa is family run with impeccable rooms, a lovely pool and includes a delicious breakfast each morning.

It’s located part way between Old Town and the beach, but was an easy 10-15min walk into Old Town. I loved the location because I enjoyed being able to escape the crazy, touristy-ness of Old Town and find a bit of peace & quiet (and some local life!).

If you’re looking for something closer to Old Town, or just different in general, check here for other accommodation options in Hoi An, including availability and up to date pricing.

Day 6 – Ha Long Bay/Bai Tu Long Bay Cruise

There are a LOT of options for visiting Ha Long Bay, but I highly recommend booking your tour with Indochina Junk. They’re one of 2 operators who have a permit to visit Bai Tu Long Bay, the less-crowded (but similar landscape) neighbour to Ha Long Bay.

Pick up will be from your Hanoi hotel quite early in the morning, so I recommend staying at The Aquarius Hotel, right across the street from their Old Town office.

The drive to the cruise port is about 3 hours, so settle in and enjoy the countryside out the window. You’ll board your boat around noon and enjoy a late lunch as you cruise past the crowded Ha Long Bay to the magnificent, uncrowded, Bai Tu Long Bay.

In the afternoon you’ll be able to kayak around the limestone karats, relax on the beach, or enjoy a relaxing swim in the ocean. Watch the sunset back aboard your ship, and enjoy a late dinner before settling in for the night, letting the quiet lull of the boat rock you to sleep.

Day 7 – Ha Long Bay/Bai Tu Long Bay

Savour your morning cup of coffee (or tea) and breakfast amongst the spectacular island karsts. After breakfast you’ll sail through the secluded bays to Thien Canh Son Cave, one of the most popular stops on any Indochina junk itinerary. After walking up the stairs to the entrance, make sure to look out over the water for a birds-eye view of the bay.

Get off the ship around noon (after lunch, of course!) and visit Yen Duc Village on the road back to Hanoi. You may be able to enjoy a traditional water puppet show or rice harvest demonstration in this small village.

Arrive back in Hanoi late in the afternoon. Check into your hotel then head out to Ta Hien (Beer street) for dinner. Ta Hien street from Hang Bac to Hang Buom is quiet during the day, but comes alive at night (after about 5pm). The sidewalks are covered with plastic tables and chairs from a huge variety of food vendors, and the streets fill up with both tourists and locals.

*expert tip – hang on to your belongings, the street is busy and pick-pocketing is a common occurrence.

Day 8 – Hanoi

Spend the morning strolling around Hoan Kiem Lake. Visit the Temple of the Jade Mountain (open daily from 8am-6pm, 30000VND/$1.70CAD entry) and enjoy a Vietnamese coffee (or two) at one of at the many cafes along the lake. When you get around to the North side, stop by Thang Long Water Puppet Theatre to buy tickets for the 8pm performance this evening.

Head a few blocks West of the lake to Pho 10 for lunch. This is (potentially) the best “off-street” Pho soup in Hanoi…just beware of the chili peppers, they’re CRAZY spicy! If you want to be more adventurous (which I highly recommend), find a busy Pho stall and pull up a plastic stool for a delicious lunch instead.

After lunch, call a Grab car to the Temple of Literature. This Temple of Confucius was built in 1070 and was the first National University in Vietnam. It’s beautiful gardens and ancient buildings feel a world away from the hustle and bustle of Hanoi.

*expert tip – pick up the audioguide to get the most out of the experience.

Temple of Literature:

If you’re tired of walking, call a Grab to head back to Old Town. If you’re up for the walk, go east on Tran Phu to the train tracks. This tiny street has caused a lot of controversy recently as tourists frequently (and unsafely) line up to watch the train rumble down the tracks through the narrow gap in the houses. Although the train is a sight to see, try to avoid train times (and be respectful that this is still a working train!) and just wander up the tracks imagining how incredible it is that these people lives quite literally revolve around the train tracks.

If you’re looking for something other than Vietnamese food for dinner (I’m not sure why…but sometimes it’s nice to have something different), try the pizza at Pizza 4P’s. There are 2 locations around Hoan Kiem Lake – Bao Khanh and Trang Tien. I’ve only eaten at the Trang Tien location, but I’m sure the other is just as good (and close to Thang Long Water Puppet theatre!).

Finish the day watching a traditional water puppet performance at the Thang Long Water Puppet Theatre. Performances last about an hour and are great for all ages (kids to adults). Water Puppetry has been performed in Vietnam for centuries and has evolved from the rice field to the stage. Although it would be fascinating to see it in a rice field, the theatre is far more comfortable!

Thang Long Water Puppet Show:

Alternatively, you could join a half or full day tour of the Old Quarter so you don’t have to see the sights on your own!

Day 9 – Hanoi

Hanoi is surrounded by a variety of great day trips, and today I’d suggest you get out of the city. It’s best to organize this in advance, either through your accommodation or online. With only one day available, my suggestion would be to visit either Tam Coc (with Hoa Lu &/or Bai Dinh Pagoda &/or Mua caves) or the Perfume Pagoda.

Trang An Grottoes (in Tam Coc)

Both are great options but if I had to pick, I’d probably choose Tam Coc (Ninh Binh area). The drive is a bit further, but it offers more variety if you include a visit to the ancient city of Hoa Lu, or a visit to the Mua Caves. That being said, visiting the Perfume Pagoda includes a boat ride, cable car, and beautiful pagoda perched up high in the mountains. It was significantly less touristy when we visited, which is also a bonus!

Cable car to the Perfume Pagoda

When you return from your day trip, head to my favourite Pho restaurant in Hanoi – Pho Suong. You don’t eat on plastic stools on the street, but it’s the closest you’ll get to street food without begin on the street, and it’s not quite a full blown restaurant.

Day 10 – Hanoi

Unfortunately today is your last day in Vietnam, so you’ll want to make the most of whatever time you have. Hopefully you don’t fly out too early, giving you at least part of the day to enjoy the city (or buy some last minutes souvenirs!).

If you’re looking for a shopping fix, head to Dong Xuan market, on the north edge of the Old Quarter. It’s much more geared towards locals than tourists (especially compared to Ben Thanh in HCMC), and looks a bit rough around the edges, but it offers an authentic market experience

*expert tip – make sure you haggle! I always feel like it’s okay to overpay a bit as a tourist (I think of this as a “tourist tax”), but you don’t want to pay WAY too much. Haggle as much as you’re comfortable and ensure you feel like you’ve paid a fair price for everything you purchase.

Another option is to visit Ho Chi Minh’s mausoleum. I wouldn’t recommend going inside (the lineups are often incredibly long), but the surrounding complex is a beautiful place to wander. It contains Ho Chi Minh’s stilt house, where he lived on & off from 1958-1969, and the rebuilt One Pillar Pagoda, originally built in 1049 (but destroyed by the French in 1954).

Ho Chi Minh’s Mausoleum

You can also head to the Imperial City of Thang Long (also known as the Citadel of Hanoi). It was built in the 11th century, and is a UNESCO world heritage site. It’s a bit of an oasis of calm amidst the chaos of Hanoi, and is a lovely place to spend a couple hours

*expert tip – download the app ahead of time for a self-guided tour (keyword “Hoang thanh Thang Long” on Google Play or the Apple App Store).

Imperial City of Thang Long

One last thing you should do while in Hanoi is drink an Egg Coffee at Old Town Garden Cafe. Egg Coffee is a very distinct Hanoi specialty (although nowadays it can be found throughout the country) and is best enjoyed here, with a view over Hoan Kiem Lake.

There’s a hidden staircase through one of the silk shops. Order downstairs then climb up 3 floors to the roof where you can drink your egg coffee (a Hanoi specialty) with a beautiful view of Hoan Kiem Lake.

Old Town Garden Cafe

Make sure to give yourself lots of time to get to the airport as traffic in Hanoi can be a bit crazy! You can either pre-arrange transportation through your accommodation (which will be more expensive) or call a Grab car (my recommendation).

Once you get to the airport, you’ll likely want to start planning your next Vietnam trip. I wouldn’t blame you!! There’s so much to see and do in this country, and the food….it’s worth coming back for.

Where To Stay In Hanoi

You’ll definitely want to base yourself in Old Quarter for your time in Hanoi. This is close to (almost) everything you’ll want to do, and has the best vibe and the most tourist-friendly eating spots in the city.

Aside from spending your first night in Hanoi at The Aquarius Hotel (prior to heading to HaLong Bay), there are lots of great options for accommodation in Hanoi.

Look here for the best accommodation in Hanoi based on your budget and “standards”!

Alternative 10 Day Itinerary Vietnam

You’ll make the most of your time if you stick to one region. If it was to do a 10 day trip to Vietnam, I’d choose the North! The countryside’s more rugged, with a richer culture, and friendlier people (my personal opinion!).

South Vietnam: Ho Chi Minh (3 days) – Mekong Delta (2 days) – Da Lat (2 days) – Mui Ne (1 day) – Nha Trang (2 days)

Central Vietnam: Hoi An (3 days) – Da Nang (2 days) – Hue (2 days) –  Phong Nha (3 days)

Northern Vietnam: Hanoi (3 days) – Tam Coc (1 day) – Ha Long Bay (3 days) – SaPa (3 days)

You could also choose to plan your 10 day Vietnam tour based on your interest. There’s truly something in Vietnam for everyone! If you do it this way you’ll spend more time traveling between places, but you’ll make the most of your 10 day tour of Vietnam.

City Lovers: Ho Chi Minh City (3 days) – Hoi An (2 days) -Da Nang (2 days) – Hanoi (3 days)

Nature Lovers: Mekong Delta (2 days) – Phong Nha (3 days) – Tam Coc (2 day) – Ha Long Bay (3 days)

History Lovers: Ho Chi Minh City (2 days) – Hoi An (3 days) – Hue (2 days) – Hanoi (3 days)

Off The Beaten Path: Da Lat (2 days) – Phong Nha (3 days) – Ha Giang (5 days)

Beautiful Ha Giang

If you’re heading to Vietnam, don’t forget to PIN THIS for later!!

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