7 Day Vietnam Itinerary: Everything You Need to Know

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Vietnam is a colorful country, with impossibly green rice fields, bustling cities, and some seriously killer food. You could spend years exploring this incredible place, but if you just have a week in Vietnam, your best bet is to concentrate on a few areas.

In this post, we’ve outlined a 7 day Vietnam itinerary that highlights North and Central regions of the country, with time to enjoy the stunning natural beauty, numerous UNESCO World Heritage Sites, and fascinating history it has to offer. So pack your bags and grab your passport—here’s an unforgettable 7 day Vietnam itinerary, with everything you need to know to make the most of your time in this magical place. 

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Fisherman in front of Ha Long Bay in Vietnam
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Before we dive in, here’s a brief overview of where you’ll be spending your 7 days in Vietnam:

  • Days 1-2: Hanoi, the bustling capital city, where there’s a huge variety of things to do, from visiting Ho Chi Minh’s Mausoleum to eating yourself silly with the delicious street food at the Night Market
  • Day 3-4: Ha Long Bay, a UNESCO World Heritage site with enormous limestone islands, covered in lush greenery and towering out of the turquoise water of the Gulf of Tonkin
  • Day 5-6: Hoi An, a quaint city with lantern-filled alleyways and lots of old-world charm
  • Day 7: Da Nang, an often overlooked city along the country’s central coastline, with beautiful beaches and unique landmarks
People riding on motorbikes in the Old Quarter of Hanoi, Vietnam

Sounds amazing? It definitely is!

While my husband, Justin, and I had a blast exploring Vietnam, we invited our friend and Southeast Asia expert, Linda of Muy Linda Travels, to dive into this amazing itinerary. Take it away, Linda!

7 Day Vietnam Itinerary

Day 1-2: Hanoi

This Vietnam itinerary kicks off with the country’s buzzing capital, Hanoi. The city is home to the country’s second largest airport, which offers direct flights from over 60 cities in 25 countries.

And beyond its convenient airport, there’s a TON of things to do in Hanoi and its vibrant neighborhoods. For example, between your two days in Hanoi, spend one day exploring the Old Quarter and another enjoying the sites around the Ba Dinh neighborhood, in central Hanoi.

Old Quarter

No trip to Hanoi would be complete without exploring the streets of Hanoi’s historical Old Quarter. Dating back over a thousand years, this area has retained much of its old world charm, with 36 streets of shops, food stalls, and bustling bars. 

People riding motorbikes in the Old Quarter of Hanoi, Vietnam
  • Start your day by simply wandering around the Old Quarter. It’s one of the best places in Vietnam to pick up a souvenir, like silver jewelry (there’s an entire street here nicknamed Silver Street) or a traditional Vietnamese sweets, like chuối bọc nếp nướng (charcoal-grilled bananas wrapped in sticky rice—so, SO good!).

    While Vietnamese desserts are inarguably spectacular, there’s so many other food offerings here that are worth trying. If you feel a bit overwhelmed by the options, consider going on a food tour, like this small group option or this women-led option on motorbikes, where you’ll be taken to some of the very best food stalls in Hanoi by a knowledgeable local guide and learn all about some of the incredible dishes here.
Woman preparing street food in the Old Quarter of Hanoi, Vietnam
  • Once you’re done browsing the streets of the Old Quarter, head to Hoan Kiem Lake, a freshwater lake in the heart of the city. It’s quite literally the stuff of legends—local lure holds that Emperor Lê Lợi was boating across the lake when a golden turtle god emerged from the waters and asked for the emperor to return his magical sword, which was given to him by another god, the Dragon King, to defeat the Chinese.

    While you sadly won’t see any golden turtles here, it’s still a lovely little lake to stroll around, including a stop at the small island that’s home to the colorful Ngoc Son Temple of the Jade Mountain. From the lake’s shore, there’s a picturesque red bridge that leads to the island, where you can explore the temple buildings and even see one of the preserved massive soft-shell turtles that used to live in the lake.
Ngoc Son Temple of the Jade Mountain in Hoan Kiem Lake in the Old Quarter of Hanoi, Vietnam
  • Hanoi is over 1,000 years old and incredibly rich with history. Dive into its past by visiting some of its historical buildings, like the Bach Ma Temple. It’s actually rumored to be the oldest temple in the city and is associated with the relocation of the country’s capital by King Ly Thai To. Another interesting stop—and less than a 15 minute walk from Bach Ma—is the Heritage House, a restored home of a merchant from the 19th century.
  • If you’re interested in the French influence on Vietnam, head to St Joseph’s Cathedral, a stunning cathedral from the late 19th century that was built to resemble Notre Dame. The cathedral offers impressive neo-gothic architecture, twin bell towers and stained-glass windows.
St. Joseph Cathedral in Hanoi, Vietnam
  • If you need a break from visiting all the temples and cathedrals, consider a stop at the Vietnamese Women’s Museum, which has a number of fascinating exhibits about the influence that Vietnamese women have had on the country. From the traditional fashions of over 50 ethnic groups in Vietnam to women’s role in foraging, weaving, the museum highlights a side of the country’s culture that was long overlooked.
  • Next up—Train Street! This is arguably one of Hanoi’s most famous—and quirkiest—attractions where you can watch a train pass through an impossibly narrow street right next to rows of terrace houses. In fact, at the street’s narrowest section, the train passes less than a meter from some of the houses!

    If you want to see the train for yourself, make sure you time your visit with the train’s passing at:

    Monday – Friday: 7 pm, 7:45 pm, 8:45 pm, 9:30 pm
    Saturday – Sunday: 8:30 am, 9:30 am, 11:30 am, 3:20 pm, 5:30 pm, 7:20 pm, 8:45 pm
Woman smiling on train tracks on Train Street in Hanoi, Vietnam
  • For dinner, head to the Night Market, frequented by tourists and locals alike. This is an excellent place to try some more tasty street food, like pho (a savory noodle soup) or banh mi (a sandwich, consisting of fillings of protein, carrots, cucumbers, and cilantro, on a crusty baguette). 
Pssst…. If you’re interested in the local cuisine, you might want to carve out some time during your time in Hanoi to take a Vietnamese cooking class, like this option, which includes roundtrip transportation from your hotel, a visit to a local market for ingredients, and a cooking class with no more than nine other students. 
Woman standing in a food truck in the Old Quarter of Hanoi, Vietnam

Ba Dinh

The Ba Dinh neighborhood is the political center of Vietnam—in fact, it’s where Ho Chi Minh declared independence for the country in 1945. While not quite as charismatic as the Old Quarter, it actually feels a bit more authentic, with more quaint restaurants and exquisite mansions, as opposed to the busy tour offices and tchotchke shops you’ll find in the Old Quarter.

  • Kick off the day with visiting Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum. The mausoleum is famed for displaying the embalmed body of the former communist president who led Vietnam to independence in the 20th century, but it also offers a unique glimpse into the lasting impact of this beloved leader on his country.

    Visiting the mausoleum is actually sort of a pilgrimage for many local Vietnamese families, so getting there bright and early is important to beat the massive queues that develop as the day wears on. Be aware that visitors are only allowed to file past the body slowly, without stopping or taking photos.
Guards standing in front of Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum in Hanoi, Vietnam
  • The Presidential Palace is just a five minute walk from the mausoleum. It’s a grand and stately building, and although you can’t see inside, it’s worth looking at from the outside and enjoying the beautiful, lush gardens. And yes—the president of Vietnam still lives here!
  • Less than a ten minute walk away, you’ll find the aptly-named One Pillar Pagoda, an ancient temple built on a single pillar that juts out of a lotus pond.
  • Next up, head to the Thang Long Imperial Citadel, a UNESCO World Heritage site that includes the remains of ancient palaces that date back to the 7th century. The citadel is also the home of numerous archaeological sites, historic military bunkers and French colonial buildings. 
Thang Long Imperial Citadel in Hanoi, Vietnam
  • End your tour of Ba Dinh at the Temple of Literature is one of the most unique temples to visit in central Hanoi. Dating back to 1070, this temple is dedicated to the philosopher Confucius and has been a place of education for Vietnamese students for over a thousand years. When we visited, there were multiple graduation ceremonies taking place there, as well as young students eager to practice their English skills with visitors—definitely a unique experience!
Temple in Temple in Literature in Hanoi, Vietnam

Where to stay in Hanoi

Given the number of restaurants, shops, and bars in the Old Quarter, it’s definitely one of the best places to stay in the city. Better yet, there’s an excellent selection of hotels to choose from—all of which you can enjoy at a much more reasonable rate than most other bustling cities on the planet. 

Consider:

  • Budget: Hanoi Paradise Hotel and Spa, in the heart of the Old Quarter, offers small but impeccably clean rooms (some of which have charming balconies!); an onsite restaurant, serving up Vietnamese coffee; and friendly staff that are happy to provide tips about exploring Hanoi.
  • Mid–Range: The Hanoi Graceful Hotel is a good mid-range hotel in the Old Quarter. I stayed here during my time in Hanoi and loved the thoughtful decor, including the intricately carved headboard and the decorative balcony overlooking the tree-lined streets below. 
  • Luxury: For a more bougie option, the Oriental Jade Hotel is a small boutique hotel, with an outdoor pool, spectacular views of the city, and top-notch service.
View of Hoan Kiem Lake and the Hanoi skyline in the Old Quarter of Hanoi in Vietnam

Day 3: Ha Long Bay

On the third day of your Vietnam itinerary, you’ll visit Ha Long Bay, one of the most jaw-droppingly beautiful destinations in the country. 

This UNESCO World Heritage Site is famous for its enormous limestone karsts, covered with lush greenery, that can tower over 1,000 feet above the emerald water of the Gulf of Tonkin. This landscape is absolutely stunning (it’s the reason I wanted to go to Vietnam in the first place!) and is a must-visit for any traveler. 

Limestone islands in the Gulf of Tonkin in Ha Long Bay in Vietnam

The most popular way to get to Ha Long Bay is by booking a tour from Hanoi for an overnight cruise, like this all-inclusive option or this option, with rooms with their own private balconies (yes, please!). 

Packages usually include transfer by bus from your hotel in Hanoi to your cruise boat, which departs from the shores of Cat Ba Island. By early afternoon, you’ll be out on the water enjoying the otherworldly scenery of Ha Long Bay. 

Man looking out a window on a boat in Ha Long Bay, Vietnam

Overnight accommodation in a private cabin on board the boat is included, along with all meals, non-alcoholic drinks, and activities, like kayaking around the impressive islands or visiting one of the floating villages of fishermen in the bay. And if cruising without a beer in your hand sounds just plain wrong, not to worry—you can purchase alcoholic drinks aboard.

Day 4:  Ha Long Bay

You’ll spend the morning aboard your cruise boat, participating in the cruise’s included activities and taking in the spectacular views. By lunchtime, the cruise will return to the dock and you’ll be back to Hanoi by the early evening. 

Fishermen at dawn in Ha Long Bay Vietnam

From here, catch an evening flight to Da Nang in Central Vietnam. The flight takes around one and a half hours and it’s a 45-minute shuttle ride from Da Nang to the charming town of Hoi An, a quaint village that’s quite the change from the sprawling capital of Hanoi.

Pssst…. if you can’t find an evening flight from Hanoi to Da Nang, you might want to check if there’s an earlier one from the Cat Bi International Airport on Cat Ba Island instead. Instead of riding with your tour company all the way back to Hanoi, you can simply just grab a taxi from the boat to the airport and be in Da Nang several hours earlier. Score!

Day 5: Hoi An

Hoi An is a gorgeous historical town along the central coast and is a highlight for any Vietnam itinerary. 

From the 15th to the 19th century, Hoi An was an integral trading port for Vietnam. Because of the constant influx of the new cultures and traditions here, its Old Town is a captivating mix of architectural styles and eras, with wooden Chinese shops and assembly halls, sitting next to French colonial buildings and Japanese pagodas. It’s so captivating, in fact, that it was named a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1999.

Chinese building in Hoi An Vietnam

Today, Hoi An is a favorite destination for shopping and sightseeing, with lush rice fields, stunning beaches, and historic architecture. At night, the Old Town becomes even more magical, with hundreds of flickering lanterns along the streets and its river.

There are so many things to do in Hoi An during your visit. For this Vietnam itinerary, we suggest:

  • Spend the morning wandering around the yellow walls of the Old Town. The streets are packed with shops, housed in French terrace houses and traditional wooden Vietnamese houses that offer wares like silk scarves, jewelry, paper lanterns and tea sets.

    Even if you’re not much of a shopper, the Old Town is worth exploring for its beautiful historic structures. For example, the Japanese Covered Bridge was built in the 16th century by a Japanese merchant and features a temple to Trấn Vũ, a deity in Taoism. Another favorite stop is the Fujian Assembly Hall Hoi An, a 17th century assembly hall with intricate Chinese architecture.
Chinese Assembly Hall in Hoi An, Vietnam
  • For lunch, head to the food hall at the Central Market to choose from a variety of food stalls. If you’re looking for more of a sit down experience, Morning Glory dishes up traditional Vietnamese dishes, in a colonial building decorated by colorful lanterns.
  • In the afternoon, grab a taxi or rent a bicycle and head to An Bang Beach, a long stretch of white sand with palapas. Vendors usually mosey by with a cooler of beers, so grab a lounger and a cold one and soak up the sun!
Woman smiling in the waves at An Bang Beach in Vietnam
  • As the sun starts to sink into the East Vietnam Sea, head back into town. Hire one of the lantern-lit boats that wait along the river banks, to be gently paddled past the Old Town. Whether you’re a solo traveller in Vietnam or traveling with a romantic partner, it’s definitely a dreamy experience to float down the river, surrounded by dozens of boats, lit up only by lanterns!
Boat lit up with lanterns in Hoi An, Vietnam
  • To cap off your night, head across the bridge to the town’s Night Market to shop around for souvenirs and delicious street food.

Where to stay in Hoi An

Budget: I stayed at the Green Apple Hotel and LOVED it. The rooms are spotless and new, and the service was excellent. Plus, this hotel has a pool, a shuttle bus to the Old Town and on-site bicycle hire.

Yellow buildings in Hoi An, Vietnam

Mid-Range: The Hoi An Sincerity Hotel & Spa is a modern lodging, with spacious rooms, a swimming pool, and, best of all, a tasty free breakfast. 

Luxury: For a more upscale choice, Allegro Hoi An Luxury Hotel & Spa has exceptional reviews for its comfortable rooms, stunning décor and attentive service.

Day 6: Day trip from Hoi An

While Hoi An is definitely worth a visit, it’s also surrounded by several fascinating sites that are perfect for day trips. 

For example, consider a day trip to the Imperial City of Hue, like with this small group tour or this private tour.

Temple in the Imperial City of Hue, Vietnam

This UNESCO World Heritage Site was once the capital of Vietnam and still retains its stunning Imperial City, an Emperor’s Residence and several impressive royal tombs. One of the most unique experiences you can enjoy in this ancient city is to cruise down the Perfume River and arrive at the Ming Mang Royal Tomb, the final resting place of second ruler of the Nguyen Dynasty in the early 1800s.

Alternatively, take a day trip to My Son, yet another UNESCO World Heritage Site, that’s one of the most impressive clusters of ancient Hindu temples in Southeast Asia. To get there, you can join this small group tour, where you’ll cruise back to Hoi An from My Son on a boat, or this other small group option, where you’ll get to enjoy the temples, which date back to the 4th century, bright and early before the crowds descend.

Temple ruins at My Son Sanctuary in Vietnam

If you have some extra time in the afternoon, consider exploring the stunning natural landscape around Hoi An, like cycling through the lush rice paddies surrounding the town or kayaking down the beautiful Thu Bồn River, through dense mangrove forests. You can even join a tour, like this one, where you’ll be led through some of Vietnam’s most beautiful landscapes by a knowledgeable guide, both by bicycle and kayak, and get to watch the sunset from the water.

Woman kayaking in mangroves in Hoi An, Vietnam

Day 7: Da Nang

On the final day of this 7 day Vietnam itinerary, make your way to the nearby city of Da Nang for a day of sightseeing. Your hotel in Hoi An should be able to set you up with a private driver for the day or, alternatively, there are a number of private tours that will take you from Hoi An to some of the best sites in and around Da Nang, like this option or this option (just make sure to ask if they can drop you off in Da Nang at the end of the tour!).

Marble Mountains is a cluster of limestone and marble hills, located between Hoi An and Da Nang. Each of these mountains have a series of hidden caves in them—they’re so secluded, in fact, that they were used as a military hospital during the Vietnam War. Nowadays, you can explore the caves, which are home to unique Buddhist sanctuaries, as well as the shaded pathways and overlooks along the mountaintops. 

Woman walking down stairs at the Marble Mountain in Vietnam

The city of Da Nang is quite large—actually, the fifth largest in the country. Accordingly, there’s a number of sites to enjoy in the city. For example, visit the Lady Buddha, which is the tallest Buddha statue in the entire country (17 stories high!!) or the Dragon Bridge, which is the world’s largest dragon-shaped steel bridge and has weekly performances when the bridge spouts actual fire and water from its month!

If you have time at the end of the day, consider hitting up one of the beaches, like Nuoc Beach and Khe Beach, largely considered some of the best places to surf in the country. Even if you don’t know how to catch a wave yourself, it’s always fun to watch surfers out on the water while you soak in the last bits of the Vietnamese sun.

Aerial shot of a beach in De Nang, Vietnam

Where to Stay in Da Nang

Depending on when your flight out of Vietnam is, it might make sense to stay the night in Da Nang—which means more beach time, baby! Consider staying at:

Budget: Hanami Hotel Da Nang offers a location that’s both close to the beach and the town center. Plus, there’s tasty breakfast, enormous rooms with beautiful rooms, and friendly staff.

Mid-range: If you love a good rooftop pool, like me, the Monarque Hotel should definitely be on your list. This four-star hotel has lots of incredible perks, like complimentary afternoon tea and onsite spa—the perfect place to wind down after such a busy week!

Luxury: Why not spend your last night in Vietnam splashing out at the Pullman Danang Beach Resort? Located directly on the shores of Bac My An Beach, each room has a private balcony, overlooking the ocean or the infinity pool(!!!), and there’s a bar, right on the beach, where you can enjoy cocktails at sunset. 

Palapas on a beach in central Vietnam

How to Get Around Vietnam

If you’re wondering how on Earth you’re supposed to get around Vietnam, we got your back! 

Most of the cities themselves are pretty walkable—for example, to walk to all six of the recommended points of interest in the Old Quarter in Hanoi, it’s less than a six kilometer walk (which would take about an hour and twenty minutes). 

Of course, if you’d prefer not to walk that much, there’s rideshare apps that you can use, including Grab, Vietnam’s equivalent of Uber or Lyft. The rates are incredibly affordable and I’ve never had a negative experience with a driver!

Woman walking in front of colonial buildings in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam

In terms of getting from one city to another, it’s important to understand that Vietnam is maybe larger than you think—it would take over thirteen hours to drive from Hanoi to Da Nang (and a whopping 28 hours if you wanted to drive from Hanoi to Ho Chi Minh!). Accordingly, with just a week in Vietnam, you should prioritize expediency in getting from Point A to Point B and fly. 

Luckily, Vietnam has many budget air carriers, like VietJet Air, Jetstar Pacific and Bamboo Airways—it cost me about $30 to fly from Da Nang to Hanoi, so getting around the country definitely won’t break the bank!

People on motorbikes in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam

When to Go to Vietnam

Vietnam spans 1,650 kilometers from the north to the south and, accordingly, has rather dynamic weather in different parts of the country. 

Given this 7 day Vietnam itinerary focuses on the northern half of the country, the best time to visit is in March and April when the weather in this region is warm and dry. I visited Vietnam in March and had Goldilocks weather. Not too cold, not too hot—just right!

Couple sitting on motorbikes in the Mekong Delta in Vietnam

If you’re considering adding some time in Southern Vietnam to your itinerary, just be aware that it might be a bit warm during that time frame, especially as you get later on in April. You can expect average temperatures around 30° C (86° F).

In general, the best time to visit Vietnam is the dry season, which ranges from November to April. These months will give you the best all-round weather in Vietnam. 

Other Options for Vietnam Itineraries

With 7 days, you’ll see the highlights of North and Central Vietnam and get a taste of the fascinating culture. 

But if you want to build in enough time to stop in Ho Chi Minh City, I’d suggest carving out at least 10 days to explore the country. You could follow our 7 day Vietnam itinerary above and tack on three additional days to see the country’s largest city and the incredible landscape around it, like the Mekong Delta.

Woman boating down the Mekong Delta in Vietnam

If you REALLY want to dive in, we’d suggest planning for at least two or three weeks in Vietnam, which would give you enough time to add on Ho Chi Minh City and the Mekong Delta, as well as exploring some of the other amazing destinations in Vietnam, like the Ha Gaing Loop (the most popular motorbike loop in the country); Ninh Binh, which looks like a land-based version of Ha Long Bay (and is, like, REALLY pretty); and Sapa, a mountainous region with gorgeous rice paddies.


I hope you have a better idea of what to do during your time in this incredible country! Do you have any questions about our 7 day Vietnam itinerary? Let us know in the comments below!

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