Vietnam Itinerary: Get The Most Out of 2 Weeks in Vietnam

This post likely contains affiliate links. By booking through these links I may make a small commission (which I am very grateful for!) at no extra cost to you.

I didn’t really know how I would feel about Vietnam. It seemed to be one of those places that people either love or hate. I was worried about the traffic, intrigued by the food, and looking forward to the natural beauty. I didn’t expect to fall in love with it, but over my time in the country that is exactly what happened. It could be tricky at times, there were definitely language barriers and I got lost repeatedly. But, I left with tons of great memories and tips to share. So if you are looking for a Vietnam itinerary, then I’ve got you covered. I spent nearly a month traveling solo in Vietnam but I’m going to be sharing how to make the most out of 2 weeks in Vietnam. Here’s what you need to know.

How to Get to Vietnam

Vietnam has a number of airports but if you are coming from overseas, then chances are the cheapest deal will be to fly in and out of Ho Chi Minh City in the south. This is fine and works well with my Vietnam itinerary for 2 weeks in Vietnam, however, at the end, you will need to fly back to Ho Chi Minh City. If possible, to save time see if you can fly into Ho Chi Minh City and out of Hanoi. This will be easy for those travelling around SE Asia as flights are cheaper and more frequent from neighbouring countries. 

If you are already in SE Asia, you can also enter Vietnam by land. I did this from Cambodia; there are a number of bus companies that will take you from Phnom Penh and across the border to Ho Chi Minh City. It’s an inexpensive and reliable way to enter the county. Ask your accommodation in advance if they can help you book with a reputable company.

It is also possible to travel from Laos to northern Vietnam. However, this is a very long (20+ hour) bus journey and is known to be pretty uncomfortable. Given on how inexpensive flights are in this part of the world (especially if you book in advance) I’d suggest just flying in.

Getting Around Vietnam in 2 Weeks

Man on motorbike in Vietnam

Vietnam is actually quite easy to get around, and there are a number of options to choose from. If you are particularly adventurous, you can rent a motorbike and drive through Vietnam. It’s very scenic but I do not recommend it unless you have previous motorbike experience.

Public transit in the form of busses and trains are another popular and affordable option. For long distances, such as Ho Chi Minh City to Hoi An, there are overnight buses. This is a popular method of transportation among backpackers and budget travellers thanks to the small cost, however, some people hate them. The driving can be reckless and more than one person has ended up sick instead of sleeping.

Given that I can’t sleep on busses (or planes, or cars- sigh.) I chose to fly for the long for the long trips (Ho Chi Minh City to Hoi An (Danang Airport) and Hue to Hanoi). For less than $50 CAD I was able to book a seat a day or two before I wanted to leave and was in my next destination in a little over an hour. Much faster, easier, and smoother though it is more expensive. That being said if you, like me, value your sanity and sleep more than an extra $30 bucks then flying is the way to go. Especially if you only have 2 weeks in Vietnam.

The Best Time of Year to Go to Vietnam

Vietnam isn’t as much of a seasonal destination as other countries, you can visit year-round however there are a few things that you will want to keep in mind, especially if you only have 2 weeks in Vietnam. First off, the climate varies a lot through Vietnam. The south is hot and humid but the north, around Sapa, can actually get snow in the winter. So keep that in mind while you pack! Spring and Fall, as the shoulder seasons, tend to be the most popular times to go. The temperature is moderate without being cold and rainy or really hot and humid, and you skip the summer student crowds.

Vietnam Market

Getting a Visa for Vietnam

First off, chances are that you DO need a visa. However, citizens of many countries (including Canada, the USA) CANNOT get a visa on arrival.

Obtaining a visa for some nationalities can be done ahead of time online through embassies or through reputable online visa providers. Since visa restrictions and requirements are always changing, please do yourself a favour and don’t leave sorting your visa until the last possible minute. Travellers can apply for a Vietnam visa online here. 

2 Weeks in Vietnam: My Vietnam Itinerary

Ho Chi Minh City: 1 Day

Ho Chi Minh City

Have you ever seen those videos of the insane traffic in Vietnam? That’s Ho Chi Minh City. This city is a bit of a crazy introduction to Vietnam, but I actually liked it for a short visit. The war museum is a must and there are a few other impressive buildings as well. Check my guide for one day in Ho Chi Minh City for the details. 

If you have more than 2 weeks in Vietnam, it’s worth it to an extra day or even two in Ho Chi Minh City and take a day trip to the Cu Chi Tunnels or Mekong Delta.

Find Accommodation in Ho Chi Minh City

Hoi An: 3 Days

Hoi An Lanterns

Hoi An is pretty much everyone’s favourite place in Vietnam. The charming old town with the historic buildings and Japanese covered bridge, the lanterns that line the streets at night, and of course the fact that you can get custom-made clothing at a minimal price. Hoi An really is a must on every Vietnam Itinerary and while 3 days may seem like a lot if you only have 2 weeks in Vietnam, there is more than enough to keep you busy.

If you are looking to get custom clothes, start this process right away. The tailors usually need 3 days to complete your order and do the fittings. There are literally hundreds of tailors in Hoi An, some of which are better and more reputable than others. I highly recommend BeBe Tailors for both men and women. I had a few items made here that are fantastic quality and I know that it’s a proper business, not a sweatshop which, sadly, many other ‘tailors’ are.

Aside from the scenic old town and tailors, Hoi An also has a nearby beach to enjoy as well as the My Son ruins which are a fun day trip to explore. 

Other fun things to do in Hoi An include:

Insider tip: One of the best foods in Vietnam can only be found in Hoi An. It’s called Cau Lau and is said to be made from special water in the area. Head to the Public Market to grab some for lunch, you won’t be disappointed!

Find Accommodation in Hoi An

Hai Van Pass: 1 Day

Hai Van Pass

The Hai Van Pass was probably my favourite day on my Vietnam trip and should definitely be included in your Vietnam itinerary. You can rent a motorbike and do it on your own or, you can do what I did and go with an easy rider program. This is when you hire someone to drive and you ride on the back- getting to enjoy the amazing views without the stress of driving a motorbike in a foreign country. I have a whole post on taking the Hai Van Pass from Hoi to Hue so be sure to give it a read. 

Hue: 1 Day

Hue, Vietnam

Hue has a ton of history, but you can definitely see the best of it in one day. The Imperial City is a must; once a beautiful walled palace, it was sadly destroyed by bombings. Parts of it have been rebuilt and the colourful gates are beautiful.

Another highlight of Hue is the Imperial tombs. These impressive buildings look like palaces but are actually mausoleums. Each one is unique and different and while you won’t have time to visit them all, you can see a few. The tombs of Emperor Khai Dinh, Emperor TuDuc, and Emperor Minh Mang are the most impressive and definite must-sees. Make sure to get the discount pass that includes all three on one ticket.

For those interested in the history, consider joining a local guide on a Imperial City walking tour.

Find Accommodation in Hue

Hanoi: 2 Days

Vietnamese Coffee in Hanoi

Hanoi is another highlight on your Vietnam Itinerary and while you could spend longer, 2 days in Hanoi is perfect if you only have 2 weeks in Vietnam. The Old Quarter is full of winding streets that are perfect for exploring. You’ll notice that some of these streets are dedicated specifically for a certain item, for example, shoes.

Hanoi is also known for bun cha, another one of my favourite Vietnamese dishes. Its typically a lunchtime meal and I found some great street vendors serving it near St. Joseph’s Cathedral. If you love coffee, then be sure to track down Café Dinh. It’s located down a small alley by building number 13 on Dinh Tien Hoang. It’s a small local spot that is supposed to serve up some of the best Vietnamese coffee in the city. I’m not a coffee drinker but I went with my friends anyway and they loved it. Foodies should definitely consider taking a street food tour here (check out this one).

Finally, at night (especially on weekends) head to the Walking Street area which turns into a fun local hangout with markets, games, food, and more. We played tug-o-war with the locals and won! (Though I think everyone was more excited about the idea of three white girls willing to play with them than having a competition.) Another interesting cultural activity to check out is the Water Puppet Theatre. 

Find Accommodation in Hanoi

Sapa: 2 Days

Sapa, Vietnam

Sapa is a hiking paradise in northern Vietnam. The hills, often shrouded in mist or covered partially by cloud, are teeming with local villages and scenic rice paddies. There are even a few waterfalls and a number of viewpoints. I found Sapa itself to be a bit too touristic and built up for me, so I went to one of the smaller towns in the valley called Tavan. There were plenty of great hiking trails, no guides required and it was one of the highlights of my 2 weeks in Vietnam.

Insider tip: You can either bus or train to Sapa from Hanoi. I took the overnight train, however, it doesn’t go the full way and requires you to take a minibus for the last leg which will only depart when it is full and comes with an additional fee.

If you want to do a guided hike you can often find someone while you are there. But if you would prefer to book in advance, take a look at this waterfall and local village trek.

Find Accommodation in Sapa

Ha Long Bay: 3 Days

Halong Bay, Vietnam

Halong Bay is a UNESCO World Heritage site and for good reason: it truly is stunning. The most popular way to experience it is by taking a Ha Long Bay Cruise which I highly recommend you include on your Vietnam itinerary. There are dozens of companies and cruises to choose from, but if I can offer any advice it would be to splurge a bit. The cheap cruises are cheap for a reason while the more expensive ones offer better accommodation, food, and go a little further afield to escape the swarms. I also recommend doing a 2-night cruise, I found the 1 night cruise was way too short especially since this was one of the best parts of my 2 weeks in Vietnam. Make sure to book your Ha Long Tour in advance as they book up quickly. Note that your tour should include transportation both from and back to Hanoi.

If you really can’t afford a cruise or have no interest, then instead head to Cat Ba island. It’s more of a backpacker type scene but is cool to explore and offers day trips in the bay.

Find Accommodation on Cat Ba Island

Vietnam Safety Tips

I felt safe in Vietnam, but like every county in the world, you do need to be cautious. One of the biggest problems in Vietnam is theft which often happens in the street. Normally the perpetrator is on a motorbike and will snatch your belongings; phone, purse, wallet etc. out of your hand as they drive by. One poor girl I met had her crossbody bag snatched as she was walking, but the strap didn’t break and she was dragged as the bike drove away. After hearing that story I made sure to have my cross body bag facing away from the street, and tried to walk closer to the buildings and storefronts rather than by the curb. I also made sure to keep my cell phone in my bag as much as possible and instead relied on a paper map.

2 weeks in Vietnam

Must-Have Items for 2 Weeks in Vietnam

      • A reusable water bottle: Tap water is not safe to drink in Vietnam, but you can help cut down on costs of bottled water by buying one of the big jugs that you can keep in your room and refill your bottle from that.
      • A locking daypack: As mentioned above, robbery is a problem in Vietnam so keep your belongings safe by making sure your day bag is something you can lock. A backpack is a good pick because it’s more secure to you than a purse or shoulder bag.
      • Activated charcoal: Vietnamese food is delicious, but it’s not always agreeable to everyone. Help avoid major tummy troubles with activated charcoal.
      • Gravol: If you get car sick, then definitely make sure to bring Gravol. The roads in Vietnam are windy and the driving is… interesting to say the least.
      • Sunscreen: It’s hot in Vietnam and you can easily burn. Protect your skin with a good, sunscreen. I like to recommend this one because it’s also reef safe- perfect for if you plan on swimming.
      • Mosquito repellant: mosquitos are everywhere and Vietnam is no exception. Since dengue and malaria can both be found in Vietnam, do yourself a favour and make sure you are protected.
Psst: Wondering what my must-have travel items are? Here’s what you’ll always find in my bag.

Vietnam is an incredible place to visit. This Vietnam itinerary will give you a taste of what it has to offer and I can only hope you love it as much as I did. Your 2 weeks in Vietnam will go by quickly but should leave you with some incredible memories.

A Note on Travel Insurance in Vietnam

Please, do NOT travel without travel insurance! I’ve had to rely on mine multiple times. While the cost may seem annoying and better spent elsewhere, trust me when I say you’ll be sorry if you don’t have it. For just a couple bucks a day, you can save yourself a whole lot of stress and money. I like to recommend SafetyWing for travel medical insurance as they are one of the most affordable options I’ve found, plus, they are who I use and I have had great experiences with them. Learn more about the importance of travel insurance here.

Looking for a great Vietnam itinerary? From South to North, here's the best of 2 weeks in Vietnam. #Vietnam


  1. Primrose on August 28, 2018 at 9:17 am

    Vietnam cuisine! I love the street food! Great tips!

  2. […] who had never been on a plane. I’ve stayed with local, non-English speaking families in Vietnam and bartered my way through Egypt. I’ve driven motorbikes around the temples of Bagan and scuba […]

  3. […] backpackers reading in hammocks or having an afternoon beer by the pool. After the frantic rush of Vietnam, and the mass crowds in Chaing Mai for Yi Peng festival, Luang Prabang seemed like a peaceful slice […]

  4. […] am not an avid hiker. This doesn’t mean that I don’t hike at all- I do and have in places like Vietnam, Banff, some spots in Europe (like the 1300 crumbling steps to the fort in Kotor, Montenegro), as […]

  5. […] visiting Paris will never be ‘cheap’, especially in comparison to places in Southeast Asia like Vietnam, but it can be affordable. Here are 8 ways to explore Paris on a […]

  6. […] never done an Ocean cruise, only a European River Cruise with Viking, a short Halong Bay Cruise in Vietnam, and a 5 day Nile River cruise in Egypt. While I loved all of these experiences, they were very […]

  7. […] it’s not on par with Thailand or Vietnam, Portugal is pretty affordable when it comes to travelling in Western Europe; even in the Azores, […]

  8. Mike Murphy on August 29, 2020 at 10:36 am

    Thank you for this information. I hope to travel to Vietnam next year. I may be going alone and want to see as much as possible.

Leave a Comment

Dreaming of Adventure?

Sign up to the Eat Sleep Breathe Travel mail list and stay up to date with all the latest travel tips and stories.