While I’d love to spend months on end exploring a country, it’s not always that easy for most of us to juggle study, work & travel. I spent 10 days in total in Vietnam and have received so many questions about what the ideal travel itinerary is, where to start, and how to maneuver your way around.
I would have loved an extra few days to explore Northern Vietnam and wandering around Sapa but we just didn’t have time. I was really happy with the way we planned out trip though and and the amount of time spent in each place. When I travel to a new place, I love to know that I’ve done it well as I hate the feeling of feeling rushed or feeling like I missed out on a lot of things on my list.
Without further adieu, here is out Vietnam Itinerary which was done all by air, due to time constraints! You might consider traveling by rail or road if you’ve got a bit longer.
Air Asia is now flying out of Auckland which makes it so easy and affordable to connect to Asia. I flew from Auckland to Kuala Lumpur, with a quick connection in the Gold Coast (where I conveniently picked up Gabi) and then once arriving into KL in the morning, connected onto Ho Chi Minh where by mid morning, we were in our taxi and soaking up the warm tropical air.
Air Asia’s flights were comfortable & on time (the two most important things, in my opinion) and had snacks, drinks and meals available on board to purchase.
Their in-flight service had everything we needed and they served up some of my favourite Malaysian dishes too which was an added bonus (Nasi Lemak, & Mee Goreng!) The staff on board were really helpful, despite the fact that we kept bugging them to purchase water every ten minutes (gotta stay hydrated, am I right?) Gabi and I had a spare seat between us and spent hours chatting before getting in a good nights rest.
The best part about these flights is that I left Auckland in the evening and arrived into Kuala Lumpur by morning. This is my favourite way to fly as I love waking up in a new destination with a full day ahead of me. I love the flights where by you wake up as the sun is rising and get to enjoy a morning coffee in the golden skies, and this flight in particular was one of those.
If you’re feeling fancy, you can also purchase an which is loaded with tv shows and movies. I opted to squeeze in as many hours sleep as I could but had this been a day flight, I’m all about catching up on all the movies i’ve missed.
Make sure to bring: a good book, cash for meals and an eye mask if you’re a light sleeper like me.
DAY 1, 2, 3 – HO CHI MINH
We started in the South and made our way North, so flying into Ho Chi Minh was ideal (Air Asia also flies into Hanoi, so you could also do this itinerary the opposite way around, and travel down the country from North to South, if you preferred).
Ho Chi Minh is a big city, and you’ll want to give yourself a few days to get around it. There’s so much to see and do, and as the traffic can get pretty nuts here, it sometimes takes longer than you hope to get from A to B. Three days was ideal because it gave us time to settle in and explore much of the city.
DAY 4 – MEKONG DELTA
As we were short for time, we explored the Mekong Delta on a day trip, though if you’re keen to explore more of this region, 2-3 nights would be best! I’m so glad that we were able to fit this trip in. The Mekong Delta is an essential part of Vietnam’s produce & crop industry, providing the country with much of it’s food. It’s a stunning region which is an instant retreat from the hustle and bustle of Ho Chi Minh.
DAY 5, 6, 7- HOI AN
Hoi An is an absolute must do and three days here felt like the perfect amount of time to explore and also get a few items tailored for ourselves. Everyone who I asked for Vietnam tips told me I couldn’t pass up a visit to Hoi An, and they were right. The town is charming, colourful and easy to navigate. It’s a place that’s not hard to fall in love with.
We flew from Ho Chi Minh to Da Nang in order to get down to Hoi An (a 30 minute cab ride from Da Nang Airport). It’s popular to travel by train/road in Vietnam, though this would suit those with longer itineraries.
DAY 8, 9- HANOI
We flew from Hoi An into Hanoi which is a short and easy morning flight that takes about an hour.
We had two full days in Hanoi to eat and wander, and any less would have felt really rushed. There’s simply just too many meals to try to squeeze in! Make sure to give yourself a full day in the Old Quarter with no plans but to just explore the laneways and try dishes you’ve never had before.
DAY 10- HALONG BAY
A UNESCO World Heritage Site, I couldn’t help but squeeze in a day trip to Halong Bay from Hanoi. It’s a 6 hour return journey but worth every second, and sailing up close to the limestone mountains and caves was a day I won’t forget.
From Hanoi, we flew back direct to Kuala Lumpur and then onto the Gold Coast and then Auckland. Do yourself a favour and check out Air Asia’s deals to this bustling region of the world, their fares are pretty hard to resist!