Our Recommended 12-Day Vietnam Itinerary

Amazing Vietnam
Amazing Vietnam

We embarked on an unforgettable journey to Vietnam, spanning from December 25, 2019, to January 5, 2020—twelve captivating days that left an indelible mark on our travel memories. During this time, Vietnam was still emerging as a sought-after travel gem, a far cry from its current status as a favorite destination among Indians.

Lately, we've been inundated with numerous inquiries regarding the must-visit places in Vietnam, the ideal duration for a Vietnam trip, and the itinerary we recommend based on our personal experience.

Our fascination with Vietnam began two years before we set foot in its mesmerizing landscapes. If you're keen on delving into the intricate details of how we meticulously planned our most cherished expedition to this enchanting country, you can find a comprehensive account in the blog 'Planning Our Most Memorable Trip Till Date To Amazing Vietnam'.

Our expedition across Vietnam spanned twelve captivating days, and below you'll find an outline of our meticulously crafted itinerary:

  • Day 1: Tam Coc (Fly from Kolkata to Hanoi; Drive from Hanoi to Tam Coc)
  • Day 2: Tam Coc
  • Day 3: Tam Coc
  • Day 4: Hanoi (Drive from Tam Coc to Hanoi)
  • Day 5: Halong Bay (Drive from Hanoi to Halong Bay)
  • Day 6: Hanoi (Drive from Halong Bay to Hanoi)
  • Day 7: Ninh Thuan (Fly from Hanoi to Nha Trang; Drive from Nha Trang to Ninh Thuan)
  • Day 8: Ninh Thuan
  • Day 9: Phan Thiet (Drive from Ninh Thuan to Phan Thiet)
  • Day 10: Phan Thiet
  • Day 11: Saigon (Drive from Phan Thiet to Saigon)
  • Day 12: Saigon (Fly from Saigon to Kolkata)

This meticulously planned itinerary allowed us to experience the diverse facets of Vietnam, from the tranquil beauty of Tam Coc to the breathtaking allure of Halong Bay, the captivating essence of Ninh Thuan, and the enchanting landscapes of Phan Thiet. Each day brought new adventures, ensuring that our exploration of Vietnam was nothing short of a remarkable odyssey.

Our Recommended Itinerary

If you find yourself with approximately 12 days to explore Vietnam, here's a curated list of destinations we wholeheartedly recommend:

North Vietnam

Ninh Binh/Tam Coc: Embracing Landscapes and Local Charms

Indulge in the enchanting allure of Ninh Binh and Tam Coc, where captivating limestone karsts adorn the land. For an authentic and serene experience, we recommend a stay in Tam Coc, a once-tranquil haven that exudes local charm. During our journey, we found solace at the Tam Coc Horizon Bungalow, where the owners, Tony and Anna, became cherished friends who enhanced our experience.

The region is a treasure trove of attractions, including the mystic Bich Dong caves, the historic Hoa Lu site, and the panoramic view from Hang Mua peak. A hidden gem that stole our hearts is the Thung Nham Bird Park, a sanctuary that still remains off the beaten path, offering an intimate encounter with nature's winged wonders.

As for dining, the options are tantalizing. Feast on delectable barbecues and indulge in the culinary delight of spring rolls, capturing the essence of local flavors. Ninh Binh and Tam Coc are a symphony of beauty and authenticity, promising a journey beyond imagination.

Hanoi: A Gastronomic Paradise and Night Market Delights

No journey through Vietnam is complete without a stop in Hanoi, a city that dances to the rhythm of its street food culture and vibrant night markets. Prepare to be tantalized by an array of culinary treasures.

While here, make a pilgrimage to Pho 10 for a bowl of their legendary Pho. Don't be daunted by the queues; the experience is well worth the wait. Embrace the local camaraderie by sharing a table with fellow enthusiasts, whether locals or fellow travelers.

Indulge your taste buds further at Banh Mi 25, a culinary haven famed for its delectable Banh Mi. While perhaps not the pinnacle of Vietnam's Banh Mi offerings, it stands among the finest in the northern region, an explosion of flavors waiting to be savored.

For a unique twist on beverages, venture to Cafe Giang for the original egg coffee and egg beer. These concoctions are a testament to Vietnamese innovation in the realm of gastronomy.

While you're in Hanoi, don't miss the opportunity to savor Vietnamese coffee from a local roadside seller. The authenticity of the experience transcends the ambiance of any cafe, providing a genuine taste of Vietnam's coffee culture.

Hanoi's street food and night market scene is a symphony of flavors and experiences, an adventure you won't want to miss during your exploration of this captivating city.

Halong Bay: Majestic Limestone Karsts Amidst the Waters

Halong Bay, while often touted, still retains a magical allure thanks to its remarkable limestone karsts rising from the tranquil waters. While opinions vary, witnessing these natural wonders is an experience that remains etched in memory.

During our own journey, we chose the Pelican Cruise to explore this picturesque bay. Opting for the Captain's View room, we were treated to an exceptional vantage point that kept us captivated throughout our stay. The panoramic scenes that unfolded before us were a testament to the bay's unparalleled beauty, offering an uninterrupted connection with the surrounding landscapes.

Although we decided to forgo the organized activities, our room alone provided an immersive experience that surpassed expectations. For those seeking an elevated perspective, I wholeheartedly recommend investing in this premium option when booking your cruise. The splendor of Halong Bay's limestone formations is truly something to behold, and the Captain's View room offers an extraordinary way to savor this enchanting landscape.

Sapa: A Regrettable Omission Due to Time Constraints

While crafting our itinerary, the allure of Sapa's breathtaking landscapes and cultural richness beckoned us. However, the constraints of time compelled us to make a difficult decision. Regrettably, we had to forgo the opportunity to explore Sapa during this particular journey.

Sapa's misty valleys, terraced rice fields, and vibrant local communities create an experience that's as visually stunning as it is culturally enriching. For those who can allocate additional time to their Vietnam expedition, Sapa promises an adventure that ventures beyond the ordinary and immerses travelers in the heart of Vietnam's diverse heritage.

While we were unable to include Sapa in our itinerary, we wholeheartedly recommend it as a destination for those with the luxury of time. Its magnetic pull is undeniable, and it remains a cherished option for future travel endeavors.

Central Vietnam

Da Nang, Hoi An, Hue: Tempting Alternatives Worth Exploring

While our travel plans faced a setback due to unfavorable weather in December, we couldn't help but be intrigued by the allure of Da Nang, Hoi An, and Hue—destinations that graced our shortlist. These captivating locales offer a captivating blend of historical charm, cultural richness, and breathtaking landscapes.

Da Nang: A Modern Marvel Da Nang stands as a testament to Vietnam's progress and modernity. Its pristine beaches, iconic Golden Bridge, and vibrant nightlife create an exciting contrast to the country's traditional offerings. Exploring this dynamic city promises a glimpse into Vietnam's contemporary pulse.

Hoi An: Timeless Elegance Hoi An is a treasure trove of historic elegance and cultural significance. Its UNESCO-listed Old Town enchants visitors with its lantern-lit streets, charming architecture, and artisanal heritage. This well-preserved gem offers a journey back in time, making it a must-visit for those seeking to connect with Vietnam's history.

Hue: Imperial Grandeur Hue, the former imperial capital, exudes an aura of regal grandeur. The city's historic citadel, sprawling palaces, and ornate temples provide a captivating glimpse into Vietnam's royal past. Hue's captivating blend of history and architecture paints a vivid picture of its former glory.

While these destinations were on our radar, circumstances led us to choose a different path. However, we encourage fellow travelers to explore Da Nang, Hoi An, and Hue—a trio that promises an enriching and diverse experience. The beauty of travel lies in its unpredictability, and these alluring alternatives exemplify the breadth of Vietnam's offerings.

South Vietnam

Ninh Thuan: A Hidden Gem Unearthed

We take immense pride in having stumbled upon the hidden gem that is Ninh Thuan back in 2019, a testament to the remarkable connections we cultivated while meticulously planning our Vietnam escapade. This paradise, often overlooked, became an essential part of our journey, enriching our experiences and memories.

Bau Truc, Kalan Po Klong Giarai, and Hang Rai are just a few of the captivating sites that beckon explorers. These locales offer a glimpse into the region's rich cultural heritage, with traces of history etched in every stone and landscape.

But Ninh Thuan has even more to offer than meets the eye. For the wine connoisseurs among us, it's an unexpected delight. The presence of vineyards in Vietnam, including Ba Moi, defies expectations and opens new avenues for exploration. Our own collection of aging wine bottles from this region is a testament to the memories woven into every sip.

Our abode during our time in Ninh Thuan, the Hon Co Cana seaside resort, was a true revelation. Beyond its idyllic private beach and delectable seafood offerings, it offered an unparalleled sense of tranquility. For those seeking the ultimate indulgence, booking a suite promises an experience that lingers in memory long after departure.

Ninh Thuan's beauty and allure captivated us, underscoring the value of venturing off the beaten path and embracing destinations less explored. It's a reminder that some of the most precious travel memories are crafted in the most unexpected places.

Read about our Experience of Flying Business in Vietnam’s Youngest and Only Hybrid Airline 

Phan Thiet: A Secluded Haven Beyond Mui Ne

Phan Thiet, a serene haven that graciously shares its coastline with Mui Ne, emerges as an enticing alternative for those seeking respite from the crowds. While Mui Ne can become quite bustling, Phan Thiet offers a different kind of allure, where luxury resorts gracefully line the beach, inviting relaxation and rejuvenation.

Our personal retreat, the Poshanu resort, stands as a testament to Phan Thiet's charm. Inspired by the elegant architecture of the Cham civilization, the resort transports guests to a world of tranquil beauty.

Phan Thiet unveils its treasures through every turn, and among them, the Fairy Stream stands as a poetic marvel. This gentle watercourse, winding through whimsical hues, creates an enchanting journey that feels like something out of a dream.

For those who find solace in the embrace of nature, the White and Red Sand Dunes beckon. As the first rays of dawn kiss the horizon, the White Sand Dune takes on an ethereal glow, casting a magical spell on all who bear witness.

Immerse yourself further in the local culture by exploring the nearby fishing village. This simple, yet profound, encounter with the livelihoods of the sea-bound communities offers a fresh perspective on life's rhythms.

Phan Thiet's allure lies not just in its splendid landscapes but in the experiences that unfurl within its embrace. It's a destination that encourages slowing down, savoring the present, and finding beauty in the subtleties—a philosophy that aligns perfectly with the essence of travel itself.

Saigon (Ho Chi Minh City): A Vibrant Necessity

Saigon, a city teeming with life and energy, is an absolute must on any Vietnam itinerary. Our advice? Settle into accommodations near the Walking Street for an immersive experience that encapsulates the city's pulse. During our stay, we found a cozy haven at Saigon Voyage—an Airbnb that nestles right on the Walking Street, allowing us to be in the heart of the action.

For an unforgettable culinary experience, we wholeheartedly recommend venturing to Banh Mi Hang Hoa, a haven for the best Banh Mi in all of Vietnam. The flavors and textures of this delectable street food offering are certain to enchant your taste buds.

And then there's Noir, an exceptional dining experience that offers more than just culinary delight. Here, you have the opportunity to dine in complete darkness, served by visually impaired staff. It's a profound encounter that heightens your senses and provides a unique perspective on the world. If this piques your interest, we can help connect you with the owners.

Read about our Noir. Experience of 'dining in the dark' in Vietnam

Allocate at least two nights in Saigon; we learned firsthand that underestimating the city is a regrettable mistake. The vibrant tapestry of Saigon's history, culture, and modernity awaits your exploration, and we encourage you to immerse yourself in its magnetic charm.

Islands of Vietnam

Phu Quoc: Island Escapade Beckons

The allure of island life calls out to adventurers and dreamers alike, and Phu Quoc presents itself as an enticing option for those who yearn for such an escape. A short flight away from the mainland, this gem holds the promise of sun-soaked shores, azure waters, and a slower, more tranquil rhythm.

Regrettably, we had to forgo the opportunity to immerse ourselves in the embrace of Phu Quoc's beauty due to time constraints. However, its reputation as a haven for relaxation and exploration echoes far and wide.

Phu Quoc offers a variety of experiences, from pristine beaches perfect for lounging to opportunities for diving and snorkeling, revealing the vibrant marine life that thrives beneath the waves. It's a place where time seems to slow down, and the worries of the world fade away with the ebb and flow of the tides.

While our journey didn't lead us to Phu Quoc, we recognize its allure as an idyllic island retreat. For those with the luxury of time, it promises an experience that captures the essence of island life—a treasure trove of memories waiting to be unearthed.

Flavours of Vietnam

Vietnamese Cuisine: A Symphony of Harmonious Flavors

One of the most captivating aspects of Vietnamese cuisine is its intricate layers of flavors, seamlessly woven together in a symphony that's not only delightful to the palate but also a feast for the eyes. Our journey through Vietnam was not just an exploration of its landscapes, but also a culinary odyssey that revealed the essence of the country's culture and traditions.

From savoring dishes prepared by street-side vendors to indulging in the creations of upscale restaurants, we embarked on a gastronomic adventure that left an indelible mark. Each bite was a revelation—a revelation of flavors that danced in harmony, a testament to the mastery of Vietnamese culinary artistry.

Our previously written blog, 'Flavours of Vietnam', delves deeper into this culinary journey, capturing the essence of our most recommended foods. We invite you to join us as we relive the aroma of pho simmering on street corners, the crunch of banh mi as we wandered the bustling markets, and the delight of discovering hidden gems that encapsulated the heart of Vietnamese cuisine.

Whether you're a seasoned food enthusiast or simply curious about the flavors that define Vietnam, our blog holds a seat at the table for you. Come, explore the culinary magic that makes Vietnam a destination that not only enchants the senses but also captures the essence of a rich and diverse culture.

Your Vietnam Travel Partner: Navigating the Journey Together

Embarking on a journey to Vietnam is a voyage of discovery, where every corner holds a new adventure and every flavor tells a story. If you find yourself preparing to set foot on this enchanting land, know that you're not alone. Our firsthand experience, meticulously gathered insights, and heartfelt connections allow us to extend a helping hand to fellow travelers.

Whether you're seeking the perfect hotel that encapsulates the essence of your travel dreams or craving restaurant recommendations that promise an authentic taste of Vietnam's flavors, we're here for you. Crafting itineraries that reflect your interests and aspirations is our passion, and we're eager to share the hidden gems that we've uncovered during our own journey.

When you journey with us, you journey with a partner who understands the nuances of exploration, who appreciates the value of a well-curated experience, and who is dedicated to making your sojourn through Vietnam as memorable and magical as possible.

Reach out to us, and together, let's embark on a voyage that transcends the ordinary, revealing the extraordinary beauty, flavors, and stories that Vietnam has to offer. Your adventure awaits, and we're here to guide you every step of the way.

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