DOMESTIC VIETNAM TRAVEL ROUTES

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DOMESTIC VIETNAM TRAVEL ROUTES

 

Whether you are visiting Hanoi or Ho Chi Minh City or following a Vietnam backpacking route, a visit to Vietnam will leave you mesmerized by its natural beauty, its culture and its people. You will want to focus your energy and time on absorbing everything around you and not worrying about where to go next. Allow Travala.com to help plan your Vietnam travel route.

 

If time and finances allow, you will want to consider planning a multi-stop tour of Vietnam, using our Vietnam travel guide and Vietnam travel advice and our suggested routes and itineraries.

 

Take a quick ride on a plane, spend the night on a sleeper train, hop on a bus or risk your sanity on the back of a motorbike taxi. Exploring Vietnam is as frantic as it is fun. In this guide we will provide you with information on the main modes of travel around Vietnam and between and its cities, towns and resorts.

 

Enjoy relaxing around white sandy beaches and azure seas, trekking mountainside rice fields, gazing at tum-melting waterfalls, sauntering along lazy canals and cruising on iconic rivers.

 

Marvel at ancient palaces and shrines, appreciate colonial architecture, learn about Vietnam’s culture, its history and its personality and spend as much time as you possibly can sampling its cuisine and its coffee.

 

Start in the north of Vietnam with Hanoi, Halong Bay, Sapa and Ninh Binh or in the south with Ho Chi Minh City, the Mekong Delta, Mui Ne and Nha Trang, but don’t forget the delights of Hue, Hoi An and Phong Nha Ke Bang in central Vietnam.

 

How to travel in Vietnam

If your intention is to travel from north to south or south to north, the quickest way to travel between Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City is by air. At just over two hours flying time and at about $45 each way, it is ideal for those with limited time. Make sure that you check out the offers at TravelByBit.com for flight travel in Vietnam and Travala.com for your stay in Vietnam.

 

An alternative is to travel by bus or train with possibly only the most adventurous taking the former. While it takes over thirty hours longer than the plane, the bus is only $10 less expensive and you will spend much of this time sitting in extremely congested traffic or bouncing along poorly maintained roads.

 

Possibly the best way to travel around Vietnam is by train. Although not much faster than the bus, the Reunification Express from Hanoi to Ho Chi Minh City is air conditioned and follows a much more scenic route. You can also save on the cost of a hotel room by taking the overnight train and booking a soft berth on one of the four berth cabins for $90. Open tickets can be bought for both the bus and the train and these allow you to make multiple stops.

 

Within the cities themselves, other than walking, the main ways to get from A to B are by motorbike, taxi or cyclo. Agree the cost before you set off and do not be afraid to haggle. However, possibly do be afraid to ride pillion on one of the Xe om motorbike taxis. Translated it means “hug vehicle” and it involves you literally hugging the driver as you weave along your route. It’s a hugely popular means of transport. A cyclo ride for two is a more sedate (but slower) way to commute and will cost you about $5 per hour. Taxis are cheap at under $2 for a five kilometre journey. 

 

TIP: Download the Grab app to book and pay for taxis and motorbike taxis.

 

Famous domestic travel routes in Vietnam

 

With so much to see and do in Vietnam you may want to carefully plan your domestic travel routes around this spectacular country. 

 

If time is on your side, you could easily spend a whole month travelling the famous route south from Hanoi to Ho Chi Minh City or vice versa. Using Travala.com and TravelByBit you can plan, book and save on your accommodation and flights for the longer legs of the journey. Combine this with the bus and the train for shorter legs and make sure to make time to relax in several of the coastal resorts. 

 

In our Vietnam travel routes guide we have compiled a full 30 day itinerary for you to consider along with 14 and 10 day Vietnam highlight packages. Use our Vietnam city guides to decide where you would like to go and where you might want to spend more time.

 

Alternatively, you might prefer to focus on specific regions of Vietnam as you will undoubtedly want to return. 

 

In our guide, we have prepared domestic travel routes and itineraries in Vietnam’s northern, southern and central regions along with a list of our recommended multi-day excursions from both Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City. 

 

30-day Vietnam Itinerary

 

Hanoi – Halong Bay – Sapa – Ha Giang – Ninh Binh – Phong Nha Ke Bang – Hue – Hoi An – Nha Trang – Dalat – Mui Ne – Ho Chi Minh City – Mekong Delta – Phu Quoc

 

 

 

Itinerary details:

 

Hanoi – We recommend 2 days in this bustling and thriving city. Explore on foot or make use of a motorbike taxi to explore its boulevards and discover its markets and monuments.

 

Halong Bay – To make the most of a tour of the idyllic Halong Bay, book a two or three day tour that includes an overnight stay on a boat and/or Cat Ba Island.

 

SapaTravel northwest by train and bus for two days in the gorgeous town of Sapa. A former French hill station, it is now renowned for its terraced rice fields and wonderful hiking.

 

Ha Giang – Spend a few days in the forested granite and limestone mountains of Dong Van Karst Plateau Geopark. North west of Hanoi it combines with winding roads and trails to make this a trekking paradise on the border with China.

 

Ninh Binh – South of Hanoi is arguably one of Vietnam’s most memorable experiences and worthy of two days of exploring. Slowly cruise between the towering karsts of Tam Coc and caves of Trang An and visit the Bich Dong pagoda.

 

Phong Nha Ke Bang – Get off the beaten track and discover the vast caves and mountains and the tigers, bears and elephants of this jaw droppingly beautiful region  Stay for at least three nights and join a group tour unless you can afford a private tour.

 

Hue – Travel to central Vietnam and step back in time with at least one night’s stay. Explore the ornate and imposing citadels, palaces, shines and protective walls of Hue.

 

Hoi An – Da Nang – Swap the busy boulevards of Hanoi for the calming canals of Hoi An, a preserved coastal city where time slows down before making your way to the sandy beaches and pristine waters of Da Nang for two or three days of pure relaxation.

 

Nha Trang – Fly further south to the tantalizing Nha Trang for two to three days of lazing on golden beaches or diving in pristine waters. (Optional, bypass Nha Trang if beach resorts are not your priority)

 

Dalat – For a change of scenery and possible the best climate in Vietnam, take the bus (no connecting trains) from Nha Trang. to this charming and European looking resort in the central highlands of Vietnam.

 

Mui Ne – Only four hours by train from Ho Chi Minh City, this popular coastal resort favoured by water sports enthusiasts due to its steady winds in the dry season (November to April). Join those looking for a weekend escape from the city for two days. 

 

Ho Chi Minh City – Spend two days learning about Vietnam’s recent history with The War Remnants Museum and the Ho Chi Minh City Museum providing an uncomfortable, distressing but poignant history of the Vietnam War.

 

Mekong Delta – Take a day tour from Ho Chi Minh City and sail along the  Mekong Delta A maze of rivers and islands and rice fields, it is home to floating markets and ancient pagodas.

 

Phu Quoc – If  in need of some rest and relaxation, travel to the palm tree lined beaches of the idyllic island of Phu Quoc. Spend two or three days enjoying its mountains, tropical rainforests and pristine beaches.

 

Other alternatives:

 

After a visit to Sapa or Ha Giang, you can try Ban Gioc Waterfall. If worried about the masses of boats in Halong Bay, opt instead for the quieter but just as stunning Bai Tu Long Bay.

 

Vietnam two-week itinerary 

 

Hanoi – Halong Bay – Sapa – Phong Nha Ke Bang – Hue – Danang – Hoi An – Nha Trang – Ho Chi Minh City – Mekong Delta 

 

 

Itinerary details:

 

 

Hanoi – We recommend 2 days in this bustling and thriving city. Explore on foot or make use of a motorbike taxi to explore its boulevards and discover its markets and monuments.

 

Halong Bay – To make the most of a tour of the idyllic Halong Bay, book a two or three day tour that includes an overnight stay on a boat and/or Cat Ba Island.

 

Sapa –  Travel northwest by train and bus for two days in the gorgeous town of Sapa. A former French hill station, it is now renowned for its terraced rice fields and wonderful hiking.

 

Phong Nha Ke Bang – Go off the beaten track and discover the vast caves and mountains and the tigers, bears and elephants of this jaw droppingly beautiful region  Stay for at least two days and join a group tour unless you can afford a private tour.

 

Hue – Travel by train to central Vietnam and step back in time with one day in the ornate and imposing citadels, palaces, shines and protective walls of Hue.

 

Hoi An – Walk alongside the gentle canals of Hoi An and explore on foot or bike this preserved coastal city where time slows down and where two days will be filled with sightseeing, shopping and dining.

 

Da Nang – This halfway point between Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City is famous for its sandy beaches and pristine waters but also as the gateway to the Bà Nà hills and their stunning views.

 

Nha Trang – Fly further south to the tantalizing Nha Trang for golden beaches or diving in pristine waters. (Alternatively, bypass Nha Trang if a resort life is not for you and instead fly direct to Ho Chi Minh – 3 days, can try Mekong Delta for 1 day)

 

Ho Chi Minh City – Two days should be enough to immerse yourself in the city’s history. Both The War Remnants Museum and the Ho Chi Minh City Museum provide an uncomfortable, distressing but poignant history of the Vietnam War.

 

Mekong Delta – Take a day tour from Ho Chi Minh City and sail along the  Mekong Delta A maze of rivers and islands and rice fields, it is home to floating markets and ancient pagodas.

 

10 days in Vietnam

 

Hanoi – Halong Bay – Hue – Hoi An – Ho Chi Minh City

 

 

Itinerary details:

 

Hanoi – We recommend 2 days in this bustling and thriving city. Explore on foot or make use of a motorbike taxi to explore its boulevards and discover its markets and monuments.

 

Halong Bay – To make the most of a tour of the idyllic Halong Bay, book a two or three day tour that includes an overnight stay on a boat and/or Cat Ba Island.

 

Hue – Travel by train to central Vietnam and step back in time with a stay in the ornate and imposing citadels, palaces, shines and protective walls of Hue.

 

Hoi An – Walk alongside the gentle canals of Hoi An and explore on foot or bike this preserved coastal city where time slows down and where two days will be filled with sightseeing, shopping and dining.

 

Ho Chi Minh City – Two days should be enough to immerse yourself in the city’s history. Both The War Remnants Museum and the Ho Chi Minh City Museum provide an uncomfortable, distressing but poignant history of the Vietnam War.

 

North Vietnam Highlights

 

Hanoi – Halong Bay – Sapa  – Dong Van Plateau – Mai Chau – Ninh Binh

 

Duration: Classic tour: 10 days – 14 days

 

 

Itinerary details:

 

Hanoi –  We recommend 2 days in this bustling and thriving city. Explore on foot or make use of a motorbike taxi to explore its boulevards and discover its markets and monuments. Make sure to visit the Ho Chi Minh’s Mausoleum, the Vietnam National Museum of History and Hoa Lo Prison.

 

Halong Bay – To make the most of a tour of the idyllic Halong Bay, book a two or three day tour that includes an overnight stay on a boat and/or Cat Ba Island. On Cat Ba island, hire a kayak and paddle your way around the bay, taking care to avoid boats and looking out for caves to explore.

 

SapaTravel northwest by train and bus for two days well spent in the gorgeous town of Sapa. A former French hill station, it is now renowned for its terraced rice fields, wonderful hiking and a growing base of luxury accommodation for you to spoil yourself in.

 

Dong Van Plateau – To the northeast of Sapa lies the stunning vistas of the Dong Van Plateau with its breathtaking landscape of karsts, green pastures and winding rivers. 

 

Mai Chau – A quieter and arguably less developed version of Sapa, Mai Chau is laid back and packed with charm. Stay for one or two nights unless you enjoy hiking and want to explore the valleys.

 

Ninh Binh – Situated only 130 km south of Mai Chau is the mesmerizing Ninh Binh. Accessible by train, bus or even bike for the more adventurous, it is a must see during any visit to north vietnam. Spend at least two days taking in Tam Coc, the caves of Trang An and the Bich Dong pagoda.

 

Off-the beaten track options: Bai Tu Long, Cat Ba National Park, Mu Cang Chai, Pu Luong Nature Reserve, Ban Gioc Water Wall, Moc Chau.

 

Add more off-beaten track destinations, the itinerary can be 25 – 30 days.

 

Central Vietnam Highlights

 

Phong Nha Ke Bang – Hue – Danang – Hoi An – Nha Trang – Dalat

 

Suggested Duration: 10 – 14 days

 

 

Itinerary details:

 

 

Phong Nha Ke Bang – Get off the beaten track and discover the vast caves and mountains and the tigers, bears and elephants of this jaw dropping beautiful region. Stay for at least three nights and join a group tour unless you can afford a private tour.

 

Hue Travel to central Vietnam and step back in time with at least one night’s stay. Explore the ornate and imposing citadels, palaces, shines and protective walls of Hue.

 

Da Nang – It is famous for its sandy beaches and pristine waters but also as the gateway to the Bà Nà hills and their stunning views. 

 

Hoi An – Invest two days wandering by the gently flowing canals of Hoi An, a preserved coastal city where time slows down.

 

Nha Trang and Dalat – Combine the sophistication and excitement of Nha Trang with the serenity and charm of Dalat for four days of sheer bliss. Dive in the waters of Nha Trang and submerge yourself in the beauty of Dalat lakes and waterfalls.

 

 

South Vietnam Highlights

 

Ho Chi Minh City – Mekong Delta – Phu Quoc – Con Dao – Mui Ne

 

Suggested Duration: 7 – 10 days

 

 

Itinerary details:

 

 

Ho Chi Minh City – Spend two days in this city packed with history with both The War Remnants Museum and the Ho Chi Minh City Museum providing an uncomfortable, distressing but poignant history of the Vietnam War. You might possibly be screaming for air conditioning and a respite from the incessant buzz of motorbikes but Ho Chi Minh City is the place to party.

 

Mekong Delta – Take a day tour from Ho Chi Minh City and sail along the iconic  Mekong Delta, a river which starts in the distant Himalayas.  A maze of rivers and islands and rice fields await you while it is also home to floating markets and ancient pagodas. 

 

Phu Quoc –  If you are in need of some rest and relaxation, take the ferry to the palm tree lined beaches of the idyllic island of Phu Quoc to escape the energy of Ho Chi Minh City. Enjoy its mountains, tropical rain forests and pristine beaches and watch two or three days float by and your worries float away.

 

Con Dao –  On the other side of the Ca Mau peninsula lie the unspoiled beaches and turtle breeding grounds of Con Dao islands. Flying from Ho Chi Minh City takes about one hour and once there, you’ll want to explore on foot, by boat and even by bike for at least two days.

 

Mui Ne – Only four hours by train from Ho Chi Minh City, this popular coastal resort favoured by water sports enthusiasts due to its steady winds in the dry season (November to April). Join those looking for a weekend escape from the city for two days. 

 

Short multi-day tours for those departing from Hanoi

 

Hanoi – Halong Bay

To make the most of a tour of the idyllic Halong Bay, book a two or three day tour that includes an overnight stay on a boat and/or Cat Ba Island.

 

Hanoi – Ninh Binh

South of Hanoi is arguably one of Vietnam’s most memorable experiences and worthy of two days of exploring. Slowly cruise between the towering karsts of Tam Coc and caves of Trang An and visit the Bich Dong pagoda.

 

Hanoi – Sapa

When the daily hustle and bustle of Hanoi become too much, take a 200km trip northwest to the gorgeous town of Sa Pa. A former French hill station, it is now a top tourist destination. 

 

Hanoi – Hoi An

Swap the busy boulevards of Hanoi for the calming canals of Hoi An, a preserved coastal city where time slows down.

 

Hanoi – Hue

Travel to central Vietnam and step back in time with a stay in the ornate and imposing citadels, palaces, shines and protective walls of Hue.

 

Short multi-day tours for those departing from Ho Chi Minh City

 

Ho Chi Minh City – Hanoi

Travelling north to Hanoi is arguably one of the world’s great train journeys. Taking approximately 31 hours, you can opt for an overnight carriage or make stops along the way.

 

Ho Chi Minh City – Hoi An

Swap the busy boulevards of Hanoi for the gently flowing canals of Hoi An, a preserved coastal city where time slows down.

 

Ho Chi Minh City – Phu Quoc

If you are in need of some rest and relaxation, travel to the palm tree lined beaches of the idyllic island of Phu Quoc. Enjoy its mountains, tropical rain forests and pristine beaches.

 

Ho Chi Minh City – Nha Trang – Dalat

Combine the sophistication and excitement of Nha Trang with the serenity and charm of Dalat. Dive in the waters of Nha Trang and submerge yourself in the beauty of Dalat.

 


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