Vietnam is a beautiful country filled with stunning landscapes, rich culture and delicious cuisine. In this 2 week itinerary, I will take you on a journey through some of south and central Vietnam’s most iconic destinations, including Ho Chi Minh City, Hoi An, Da Nang and Phong Nha ke-bang National park. From exploring ancient temples to cycling through rice fields, this itinerary will give you a taste of all that Vietnam has to offer. As one of the most popular tourist destinations in Southeast Asia, Vietnam has something for everyone.
In 2022 I travelled to Vietnam for 2 weeks and spent months trying to work out where I should go and what I should see. I developed this great backpacking Vietnam itinerary that gave me the full experience of city, culture, beach and relaxing nature.
Everyone has their own must-see destinations so if you don’t follow this exactly, I hope it helps you in planning your own amazing holiday.
Because Vietnam is so large, I knew I couldn’t see everything. As I was landing in Saigon, it made sense to focus on the South and Central areas of Vietnam. Next time I’ll do the North!
This itinerary incorporates Ho Chi Minh City (city), Hoi An (culture), Da Nang (beach) and Phong Nha (relaxing nature). It’s a relaxing itinerary and not too busy.
Summary of 2 week Vietnam itinerary
Day 1: Travel to Vietnam and arrive in Ho Chi Minh City
Day 2: Ho Chi Minh City
Day 3: Ho Chi Minh City
Day 4: Fly to Da Nang and transfer to Hoi An
Day 5: Hoi An
Day 6: Hoi An
Day 7: Hoi An
Day 8: Transfer to Da Nang
Day 9: Da Nang
Day 10: Train to Dong Hoi going over the Hai Van Pass
Day 11: Transfer from Dong Hoi to Phong Nha
Day 12: Phong Nha
Day 13: Phong Nha
Day 14: Transfer to Dong Hoi airport and get on a plane to Ho Chi Minh where you travel home from there
2 Week Vietnam Itinerary in Detail
DAY 1 – HO CHI MINH CITY
Land into Saigon and get transport to your accommodation. I used a Grab and ordered one when I landed. You can also ask your accommodation to arrange transportation.
At 11pm, my Grab was 180,000 VND ($11 AUD, $7 USD, $7 EUR) from the international airport to a District 1 Hotel.
DAY 2 – HO CHI MINH CITY
Start your day early by grabbing some vegan friendly food and by exploring the sights of Saigon.
Visit The Reunification Palace, the War Remnants Museum, Nguyen Hue walking street, Cafe Apartments, Ho Chi Minh Statue, City Hall, Notre Dame Cathedral of Saigon, Saigon Central Post Office and Book Street.
DAY 3 – HO CHI MINH CITY
You can choose to stay in the Saigon city area or plan a day tour to the Mekong Delta or Cu Chi Tunnels.
I had a city day and wandered around Saigon more.
I walked up Hai Ba Trung and stopped at Kafka Cafe for a vegan bagel and some aircon! Continued walking and saw Tan Dinh (the Pink church) while having a drink at Cong Caphe.
Wandered around the local Tan Dinh market and checked out a secret base of the people’s army in the Vietnam War.
Walked down very busy Tran Quang Khai to the Jade Emperor Pagoda.
Ordered a Grab to Ben Thanh Market then spent the evening enjoying the night life of Nguyen Hue walking street.
DAY 4 – Transport day to HOI AN
Fly to Da Nang from Ho Chi Minh City domestic terminal.
Ask your Hoi An accommodation to organise transport from Da Nang airport to Hoi An.
Or a Grab. (Around 400,000 VND when I arrived at 12:30pm).
Spend the afternoon and night wandering around the old city.
DAY 5 – HOI AN
Wake up early and head into the old city before 6am. It’s so quiet and lovely.
Hire a bicycle and cycle south out of Hoi An to explore the villages.
Come back to your accommodation in the afternoon to rest and swim in the pool.
Cross the An Hoi bridge before dinner to explore.
DAY 6 – HOI AN
Hire a bicycle again and cycle north and east to An Bang beach. See water buffalos, rice fields and beautiful beaches.
In the afternoon, visit the Precious Heritage Art Gallery Museum.
Nighttime is wandering around the old city.
DAY 7 – HOI AN
Book a day trip to My Son Temples or Cham Islands.
Another option is taking a Grab back to An Bang beach or spend your day relaxing in a pool.
DAY 8 – Transport day to Da Nang
Ask your accommodation to arrange a transfer after checkout to Da Nang. Or order a Grab. Find a nice place to have lunch before you check in to your Da Nang hotel. In the afternoon, watch the sunset over My An beach and take yourself to the awesome Dragon Bridge before 9pm (on Saturday and Sunday only) to see the fire and water show.
DAY 9 – Da Nang
Early morning start as it’s time to explore Marble Mountains. Watch the sunrise over the beach first! Then take a Grab (around 83,000 VND) to Gate 1 around 7am and expect to be there for a few hours.
Back to your hotel to freshen up and get some lunch.
In the afternoon head to the Lady Buddha Pagoda area and Son Tra Peninsula.
DAY 10 – Transport day to Dong Hoi
Exploring Vietnam by train is always a great experience. Book tickets beforehand (I used 12Go.Asia) for the Train to Dong Hoi. It’s roughly a 6 hour journey. I didn’t want to travel to Phong Nha during the night as a solo female so I stayed overnight at the yellow hotel opposite the train station in Dong Hoi. The name of the hotel is Nhà Nghỉ Lan Hương
DAY 11 – Transport day to Phong Nha
DAY 12 – Phong Nha
It’s cave day! Explore Paradise Cave and Phong Na Cave. There’s also the Dark Cave to see if you’re an adventurous person and love ziplining. Check out my Best Things to do in Phong Nha for more ideas!
DAY 13 – Phong Nha
Hire a bicycle first thing in the morning and go on an independent adventure cycling around Phong Nha
DAY 14 – Transport day to Ho Chi Minh City
Ask your accommodation to arrange transport to Dong Hoi airport or hop on the public bus (B4) back to Dong Hoi.
The only flights that arrive and leave from Dong Hoi airport are direct to Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi. Airlines that fly into and out of Dong Hoi airport include: Vietnam Airlines, VietJet Air, Bamboo Airways, Pacific Airlines and SmartLynx.
DAY 15 – Leave Vietnam
Last minute shopping and sightseeing then order a Grab to Ho Chi Minh International Airport. In August 2022 my Grab from District 1 to the airport was 118,000 VND (about $7 AUD).