3 Weeks In Vietnam Itinerary

DISCLAIMER: threeweektraveller.com is a participant in the Amazon services LLC associates program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.

Vietnam is a country known for its staggering natural beauty that is complemented by its rich culture and history. Indeed, the exotic wonders that Vietnam offers will undoubtedly compel you to pay it a visit to discover what lurks behind its surface.

I’ve created three different 3 weeks in Vietnam travel itineraries for you to choose from. But first, let’s talk about the places to see in Vietnam. You can also use the table of contents below to jump to the itineraries.

It is no surprise that Vietnam has been gaining popularity as one of the most visited tourist destinations in Southeast Asia over recent years. Its lush mountains, historical cities, and world-class cuisine attract people from all over the world.

The fact that many of its old cities have retained their time-honoured traditions is another aspect of the country’s unique identity that entices visitors. So, if you are planning a trip of 3 weeks in Vietnam, here are the essential things you need to know to have a great holiday.

THINGS TO REMEMBER BEFORE VISITING VIETNAM

4 images - traditional  vietnamese houses, blue ocean with boats and cliff mountains, train passing through a narrow street, rice paddies - 3 Weeks In Vietnam Itinerary

Vietnam is a largely cash-based society, so make sure you carry some with you at all times. Another thing to remember when you travel in Vietnam is always to keep your hotel’s business card when you go sightseeing.

Since many taxi drivers or motorbike drivers do not speak English, especially in rural towns, you can show them the card so they will know where to drive you back. Alternatively, you can install a ride-hailing app on your smartphone that will help make it easier to get around. This can also assist in keeping transportation costs down.

Additionally, the country is notorious for its busy streets filled with motorbikes. Stepping out into that dense traffic can be terrifying, so always be vigilant when you are crossing the roads. 

When to visit Vietnam

The best time to visit Vietnam is from December to February if you are visiting either the Central or South of Vietnam or both. During these times of the year, you can enjoy mild weather with little chance of rain. But the long and narrow shape of the country means that the climate can vary significantly depending on where you go. 

If you are visiting the north, it’s best to go between October to December or May to August. The north, central, and south regions each have distinctive climates, and it is essential to plan ahead, depending on which region you wish to stay in.

But, if you want to see the entire country of Vietnam for 3 weeks, I recommend you go between June to August and then from November to March.

  • When is the summer: March to May
  • When is the typhoon season/winter season: April to September, and October to late March
  • Biggest national holiday: Tet or Vietnamese New Year (either the last week of January or the first week of February, the holiday lasts for 1-2 weeks)

Visa and COVID-19 policies

Vietnam opened their borders to international visitors after closing it down for two years. However, the new entry rules are yet to be confirmed. It’s been reported that tourists who wish to visit Vietnam can now apply for a 30-day evisa. This is perfect if you want to spend 3 weeks in Vietnam.

There has been conflicting information about entry requirements such as vaccination requirements, quarantine, tests, etc. Some say you don’t need to be fully vaccinated if you can prove that you recovered from COVID-19 in the last 90 days. However, this s opposed to Vietnam’s requirement for its citizens and experts (who were allowed to enter during 2020-2021) to be fully vaccinated.

Apart from the resumption of evisa application, no information is confirmed so far, and no tourist who was able to acquire the evisa has come forward to enter Vietnam using the visa they just received.

Regardless, pre-COVID19, you only need to present your evisa letter and get a stamp upon entry without paying any other fees. This visa cannot be extended. If you get a visa on arrival (different than evisa because you get a sticker on your passport), you will need to pay a fee for the sticker. >> Learn more about Vietnam visas.

When it comes to COVID-19 policies, Vietnam has been wearing masks even before the pandemic due to air pollution in big cities like Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi. Today, it’s mandatory to wear masks out in the public, use hand sanitiser when entering a business place, and stay at home or contact health services if tested positive or suspected to be positive for the virus.

Average Cost Per Day (per person): $25-$200/day

Travelling to Vietnam is not expensive. The cost is comparable to that of Thailand, Malaysia, and most other Southeast Asian countries. There are, of course, some items that might be cheaper or more expensive in Vietnam compared to its neighbours, but in general, you should be able to survive on a budget of $25 to $200 per day.

  • On the budget: $25-$35
  • On the mid-range: $60-$80
  • On luxury: $100 and above
  • Most expensive cost: tours and transportation
  • Cheapest cost: accommodation and food

What To Pack

Knowing what to pack for Vietnam can be quite tricky. As mentioned above, different regions make up this country: north, central, and south. It can also have various landscapes–from beaches to mountains. You can determine what to pack based on what your itinerary will be like, and which activities are you planning to engage with.

Since Vietnam is both full of stunning mountains to hike, golden beaches to explore, and metropolitan cities to discover not to mention very diverse weather, this is what to pack for Vietnam to ensure you are ready for any kind of adventure. You should also look at items that you can buy when you arrive in Vietnam to save some space such as toiletries. In this way, you would have plenty of space for unique souvenirs from Vietnam.

Other basic travel tools

Below is a compilation of travel websites and services that I use when booking my travel arrangements. From accommodations, flights, and even buying travel insurance. If you plan to visit Vietnam between the end of January and the beginning of March, you definitely have to book things in advance since the TET holiday (Lunar New Year) will fall around those dates and everything will be booked up 1-2 months before.

PLACES TO SEE IN VIETNAM (with pinned map)

Click the top-right icon to enlarge the map. Credit: Map Data: Google

3 WEEKS IN VIETNAM ITINERARIES

Here is my recommended three 3 week Vietnam itinerary; you can either do the entire Vietnam, north and central only, central and south only or north and south only.

TIP: You can do this 3 weeks Vietnam itinerary and vice versa, you can either start in the North, South or even the Central of Vietnam. You can also combine Vietnam and Cambodia for a 3-week trip.

Entirety of Vietnam

  • Day 1-3: Arrive in Hanoi city, Perfume Pagoda, Ninh Binh, and Trang An – sleep in Hanoi
  • Day 3-5: Halong Bay and Cat Ba Island (doesn’t have to be both) – sleep in Halong Bay or Cat Ba
  • Day 5: Overnight train or bus to Sa Pa
  • Day 6-8: Sa Pa and Fansipan (doesn’t have to be both) – sleep in Sa Pa
  • Day 8: Travel down to Hanoi then to Phong Nha (Dong Hoi) – overnight bus or train
  • Day 9-11: Phong Nha – sleep in Phong Nha / Dong Hoi
  • Day 11-14: Hue, Da Nang, Hoi An – fly from Da Nang to Nha Trang or Da Lat or take the bus) – best to sleep in Da Nang which is between the two other towns (1-2 hours drive to either place)
  • Day 14-17: Nha Trang, Da Lat, Mui Ne – you should just choose one or two – you can fly from either Nha Trang or Dalat to Ho Chi Minh City and take a train from Mui Ne (Phan Thiet) to Ho Chi Minh City
  • Day 17-21: Ho Chi Minh City and Mekong Delta – adjust your itinerary if you want to visit Phu Quoc

North to Central Vietnam for 3 weeks

  • Day 1-4: Arrive in Hanoi City, Perfume Pagoda, Ninh Binh, Trang Ang, Mai Chau, sleep in Hanoi
  • Day 4-7: Halong Bay and Cat Ba Island – sleep in Halong Bay
  • Day 7: Overnight train or bus from Hanoi to Sa Pa
  • Day 7-10: Sa Pa and Fansipan hike
  • Day 10: take a train from Sa Pa to Phong Nha
  • Day 11-14: Phong Nga, cave exploration
  • Day 14: take a bus to Hue
  • Day 14-17: Hue, Thien Mu Pagoda, and DMZ,
  • Day 17: take a bus to Da Nang
  • Day 17-21: Da Nang and Hoi An

Central to South of Vietnam for 3 weeks

  • Day 1-5: Da Nang, Hue, and Hoi An – fly into Da Nang
  • Day 5-7: Phong Nga, cave exploring – fly from Da Nang to Nha Trang or take the bus or train
  • Day 7-9: Nha Trang – snorkelling and diving – you can skip this if you don’t feel like doing these activities – if you do, you can fly from Da Nang to Da Lat
  • Day 9-11: Da Lat city
  • Day 11-13: Mui Ne 
  • Day 13-17: Ho Chi Minh City and Mekong Delta
  • Day 17-19: Cat Thien National Park
  • Day 19-21 Phu Quoc

North and South of Vietnam for 3 weeks

  • Day 1-5: Hanoi city, Perfume Pagoda, Ninh Binh, Trang An – fly into Hanoi
  • Day 5-8: Sa Pa and Fansipan hiking trip
  • Day 8: Overnight train or bus from Hanoi to Sa Pa
  • Day 9-11: Halong Bay and Cat Ba Island (island hopping, cruise, and water activities)
  • Day 11: fly from Hanoi or Hai Phong to Ho Chi Minh City
  • Day 11-16: Ho Chi Minh City and Mekong Delta
  • Day 16-18: Cat Thien National Park
  • 18-21: Phu Quoc Island – you can fly home (or next destination) or fly to Ho Chi Minh City to catch your next international flight out 

Are 3 Weeks for Vietnam

Three weeks is plenty for Vietnam and you can see lots of magnificent places. You can combine 3-4 major cities and do plenty of day trips to maximise your time. However, if you plan to do a motorbike trip throughout the entire country, 3 weeks won’t be enough since motorbiking is more of slow travel.

THINGS TO DO IN VIETNAM (by city)

Vietnam will spoil you with options on where to go and what to do. Each destination has something unique to offer, so it is essential to visit as many cities or towns as you can squeeze into the three weeks. It is vital to get to know more about each of these destinations to help you build the perfect itinerary. 

Hanoi

You can’t visit Vietnam without going to Hanoi. This city is known for its narrow yet bustling streets. Apart from being the old city, Hanoi is the capital of Vietnam. It is well-preserved, and some consider it the cultural centre of Vietnam.

3 images - Temple in a middle of a lake, rice paddies, boats on the ocean - 3 Weeks In Vietnam Itinerary

If you have been to other cities in Vietnam, such as Ho Chi Minh, you will see that the vibe here is entirely different. You will have the chance to stroll through the city and discover a lake and park right at the heart of it all.

Top attractions

Halong Bay and Cat Ba Island

Halong Bay is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is one of the most visited tourist attractions in Vietnam. In fact, it could very well be the top attraction in the entire country.

There is one major reason tourists love it–the views of Ha Long Bay are breathtaking. The region is composed of 2,000 islets or limestone rock formations that can be seen during your cruise. Many tourists who come to Halong Bay spend more than a day in the area to make the most of this site. 

In this area, you can enjoy island hopping, cave exploring, and water activities (kayaking and fishing). The best way to explore the region is through a cruise.

  • Location: It is a bay within the Quang Ninh Province in Vietnam east of Hanoi
  • Getting there: Take the bus from Hanoi to Halong city or Hai Phone (approximately three and a half hours). Once there, take the boat at the ferry pier towards Koh Gadbah Island
  • Top attractions to see: Bai Tu Long Bay, Poem Mountain, Ba Trai Dao
  • How long to stay: 2-3 days

Sa Pa and Fansipan

Sa Pa is known for its rice paddies and very warm Vietnamese tribes who are native to this region. Visitors come here to explore the rice paddies and learn about different tribes in Vietnam through home staying with the locals and hiking for days.

3 WEEKS IN VIETNAM TRAVEL ITINERARY

Fansipan is the highest point in Indochina. Many travellers would hike up to Fansipan, which takes 2-3 days. The hike requires you to be physically fit.

A not long time ago, Vietnam introduced an easy way to get to the peak of Fansipan through a cable car ride. Many older people and travellers who have small children or are not physically fit to hike for days can take a cable car for a fee.

  • Location: north of Hanoi, located at the town called Lao Cai
  • Getting there: you can either take a bus, train, or private car or van
  • How long to stay: 2-3 days
  • Where to stay: Boutique Hotel and Spa or Eco Hills Homestay

Phong Nha or Dong Hoi

This central part of Vietnam is known as the cave capital. Many beautiful caves in Vietnam can be found here, including the biggest cave in the world called Hang Sơn Đoòng Cave which is very pricey to visit while the tickets are often sold out. So, if you want to visit this cave, plan this in advance.

  • Location: It is a bay within the Quang Ninh Province in Vietnam east of Hanoi
  • Getting there: Take the bus from Hanoi to Dong Hoi or motorbike, bus or motorbike from Da Nang or Hue
  • Top attractions to see: Hang Sơn Đoòng Cave, Paradise Cave
  • How long to stay: 2-3 days

Hue

Known as the food capital of Vietnam and the gateway to the central of Vietnam. Hue is popular as the origin of many delicious and famous Vietnamese food. It is also the home of the biggest DMZ field that serves during the Vietnam War in the 1970s.

To understand more about the history and culture of Vietnam Hue is an excellent spot as it is one of the oldest cities, it’s where you will find the Imperial City is located.

  • Location: it is 600 km south of Hanoi and 102 km from Da Nang City, where the nearest international airport is located
  • Getting there: Take the bus from Dong Hoi (travel time: 4-5 hours) and bus, motorbike, private car, or taxi from Da Nang City (travel time: 3-4 hours)
  • Top attractions to see:
  • How long to stay: 1-2 days
  • Where to stay: Vinpearl Hotel or Stop and Go Boutique Homestay

Top attractions

Da Nang

2 images - traditional houses, river, and parked boats, bright long bridge with a dragon arches - 3 Weeks In Vietnam Itinerary

Da Nang is one destination in Vietnam that has recently risen to fame, thanks to it being known where the north of Vietnam meets the south. Many travellers think it’s the place where you can feel the warm culture of the north and the vibrant and active atmosphere of the south.

As the fifth-largest city in the country, it is conveniently located between Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi, which also have an international airport that caters to both domestic and international flights.

This is a great place to either start your trip or end one depending on how much time you have.

  • Location: It is located along the coast of the South China Sea and at the mouth of the Han River
  • Getting there: You can fly into Da Nang International Airport, bus or motorbike or taxi from Hue (2-3 hours) and bus or taxi from Hoi An (50 mins-1hour)
  • How long to stay: 2-3 days
  • Where to stay: White Sand Hotel and Apartment or Grand Sunrise Boutique Hotel

Top attractions

Hoi An

3 weeks in Vietnam must include Hoi An or the Ancient City of Hoi An. It is emerging as one of the favourite destinations for tourists who come to Vietnam. It is hard to blame them since Hoi An is a charming town that is well-preserved. Going there would make you feel like you are stepping back in time. The atmosphere is indescribable as it is one of the best cultural destinations in the country. It is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site. 

3 WEEKS IN VIETNAM TRAVEL ITINERARY

This town is also known as the silk city and tailoring capital, many visitors of Vietnam would go to Hoi An simply to buy silk or have dresses, bags, shoes, suits, and swimsuits customised for a very affordable price with high quality.

  • Location: It is located on the central coast of Vietnam within the province of Quang Nam
  • Getting there: bus or private car or motorbike from Da Nang (50min-1hour) or bus from Nha Trang (11-13 hours)
  • How long to stay: 1-2 days
  • Where to stay: La An Central Boutique Villa or Cozy Savvy Boutique Hotel

Top attractions

Nha Trang

This city of Vietnam is known for having a lot of Russian tourists. When you come here, you will see how many stores, restaurants, hotels, and locals speak Russian and Russians who work here.

This is a great place to relax, lie on the beach, go snorkelling or diving, and explore the amusement park called Vinpearl Land. This part of Vietnam is a little more expensive than the rest. Regardless, this town is a great place to party on the beach and enjoy a lazy holiday.

  • Location: It is located in the province of Khanh Hoa, on the coast of the South China Sea
  • Getting there: bus or motorbike or train or flight from anywhere in Vietnam or flight from Russia and other Southeast Asian countries
  • How long to stay: 1-2 days
  • Where to stay: DTX Hotel or Panorama Start Beach

Top attractions

Dalat

two images Pine trees and lake, rock formation and a stream - 3 Weeks In Vietnam Itinerary

Dalat or also known as the Flower City is a city located on top of a mountain in the province of Lam Dong. This is a popular destination for locals for its amazing cold weather. In the past, many Emperors and French officials would come to Dalat during summer to cool off (between 12C-24C all-year-round).

This region is also famous for rafting, water-repelling, and visiting many fantastic waterfalls. If you are a coffee lover, Dalat is the place for you – most coffees in Vietnam came from this city.

  • Location: Lam Dong Province, 130 km west of Nha Trang
  • Getting there: you can fly here from domestic airports or take the bus or private car or motorbike from Nha Trang (3-4 hours)
  • How long to stay: 1-2 days
  • Where to stay: Golf Valley Hotel or Raon Villa

Top attractions:

  • Pongor Waterfalls
  • Elephant Waterfalls
  • Datanla
  • Xuan Huong Lake
  • Tuyen Lam Lake
  • Crazy House
  • Explore Dalat on a package tour

Mui Ne

If you want to spend more time in a quiet beach town, Mui Ne is for you. This place is teeming with hotels and luxury resorts that provide quick access to the beach. It is the perfect choice for travellers who want a quiet escape as it is not as visited as other destinations in Vietnam. It is also a famous destination for avid kite surfers.

3 WEEKS IN VIETNAM TRAVEL ITINERARY
  • Location: It is located in the south-central area of Binh Thuan province. 
  • Getting there: There is no airport in Mui Ne. You can take a flight via the Ho Chi Minh City Airport. From there, you can take the train from Phan Thiet railway station. You can also take a bus or taxi to this railway station, which is 45 minutes away from the city centre. 
  • How long to stay: 2 Days
  • Where to stay: Hoang Ngoc Beach Resort or Muine Bay Resort

Top attractions

Cat Tien National Park

A quiet national park just 2 hours from Ho Chi Minh city. You can either take a private tour from Saigon or a motorbike to reach Cat Tien. A perfect place to escape the bustling city and get away from the very busy metropolitan of Ho Chi Minh City which is only 2-hours away.

You can reach Cat Tien National Park by booking a tour or driving a motorbike yourself. You can stay at Green Hope Lodge or Green Bamboo Lodge

Ho Chi Minh City

Having three weeks in Vietnam means you can see both Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City, As the biggest city in Vietnam, you simply cannot skip a visit to Ho Chi Minh City or also known as Saigon. Formerly known as Saigon, it has plenty to offer tourists as this is the largest city in the country. It has an electric pace with a business vibe.

two images - cable car over the ocean, city lights and skyscraper - 3 Weeks In Vietnam Itinerary

The nightlife in Ho Chi Minh is particularly vibrant. The best part is that there are many notable tourist attractions to visit as well. From here, you can also join a day trip to the famous Mekong Delta.

  • Location (address if applicable): It is located in southeastern Vietnam and near the Saigon River. 
  • Getting there: To get to Ho Chi Minh City, you must book a flight via Tan Son Nhat airport. It is the busiest international airport in Vietnam with daily international flights from Asia, North America, or Europe
  • Top attractions to see: Independence Palace, Cu Chi Tunnels, Ben Thanh Market, Notre Dame Cathedral of Saigon, Saigon Central Post Office, Mekong Delta
  • How long to stay: 2-4 days
  • Where to stay: Maison Royal or The Hammock Hotel Fine Arts Museum

Top attractions:

Phu Quoc

For a great beach experience, I highly recommend Phu Quoc, an island south of Ho Chi Minh. If you look at the map, you’ll say that it’s part of Cambodia, which it was until the 1970s when Cambodia gave it to Vietnam or Vietnam took it from Cambodia.

Regardless, Phu Quoc is a popular destination both for locals and foreign tourists. You can reach this island through a ferry or a domestic flight. 

Top attractions:

What to Eat in Vietnam

3 weeks in Vietnam is not complete without doing a tour to discover its cuisine. Vietnamese food is one of the most popular cuisines in the world. It is known to be robust in flavour while being healthy, too. It is characterised by its combination of fresh herbs and a variety of meats such as beef and seafood. Rice, like most other Southeast Asian countries, is also a staple in Vietnam.

Many fine dining restaurants can be found in major cities such as Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi. Street food, on the other hand, is an integral part of the country’s culinary landscape. 

3 WEEKS IN VIETNAM TRAVEL ITINERARY
Pho – it’s best to try those on the street

Pho

The Vietnamese pho is probably the single most popular dish in the country’s cuisine. This signature food is comprised of rice noodles in a flavorful soup with meat (typically beef) and topped with bean sprouts, fresh basil or mint, and lime wedges. Pho is often served with a side of chilli sauce or fermented fish. This dish can be eaten at any time of the year, but mostly for breakfast. 

  • Where to try: Pho Gia Truyen in Hanoi, Pho Quynh in Ho Chi Minh City 
  • How much does it cost: $1

Banh Mi

Banh Mi is a famous dish in Vietnam with some influences from French cuisine. It is perfect for anyone looking for a quick meal that they can enjoy on the go. This dish is made with a toasted baguette and filled with pickled vegetables, paste, soy sauce, butter, meat, and cilantro. When it comes to the type of meat used as a filling, there are a variety of options. Some of these include fried eggs, roasted pork belly, poached chicken, and grilled pork loin. 

  • Where to try: Phi Banh Mi, Madam Khanh
  • How much does it cost: $.60

Vietnamese Spring Rolls

Goi Cuon, or Vietnamese spring rolls, is another must-try dish. It consists of a roll filled with vermicelli rice noodles, shrimp, pork slices, lettuce, and fresh basil. These ingredients are wrapped tightly into translucent rice paper. The spring rolls have a subtle yet sublime flavour, so these are typically served with a hoisin-based dipping sauce. 

  • Where to try: Tan Dinh Market, Ba Chieu Market
  • How much does it cost: $1

Egg Coffee

You cannot travel to Vietnam without trying the world-famous Vietnamese egg coffee. It might sound weird at first, but those who’ve tried it can attest that it is good. This coffee is made with egg yolks, condensed milk, and sugar. This is a decadent beverage that is thick enough inconsistently that you can drink it with a spoon.

  • Where to try: Café Giang in Hanoi
  • How much does it cost: $0.65-$1.30

SUMMARY OF 3 WEEKS IN VIETNAM

Vietnam is a travel destination characterised by diversity, culture, and a sense of adventure. Whether you are looking for good food, natural beauty, or a stroll down history, you can find that at nearly every corner. 

I hope that this 3 weeks in Vietnam itinerary has helped you shape your own route. If you have any questions, recommendations or suggestions, let me know in the comment section below.

SAVE THIS ITINERARY ON YOUR PINTEREST:

There are very few countries where 3 weeks for a trip is just perfect, and that includes Vietnam. You can explore the entire country in just 20 days. Here's a 3-week Vietnam itinerary. via @threeweektraveller

Share this itinerary: