3 Weeks In Vietnam: 3 Itineraries with Map

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If there’s a place that I will forever recommend someone to visit – it’s Vietnam. I’ve visited this country so many times and even lived there during the pandemic border closure and had the pleasure of getting to know its culture a lot more.

I’ve travelled to Vietnam as a broke backpacker but also had the chance to travel with lavish and luxe. So, regardless of your travel style, there are various ways to explore this country according to your level of comfort and budget.

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.


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. 

Here is more information to help decide and plan your itinerary for 3 weeks in Vietnam:

When to visit Vietnam

Vietnam is the only country in Southeast Asia that actually experiences freezing cold winters – and that’s northern Vietnam. Because of its size and shape, the weather here varies a lot, so make sure to pay extra time in figuring out where you want to go and do before booking anything.

The best time to visit Vietnam is from December to February if you visit 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 going between June and 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 holidays: Tet or Vietnamese New Year (either the last week of January or the first week of February, the holiday lasts for 1-2 weeks)

Are three weeks enough for Vietnam

20 days is an ideal time to spend in Vietnam. Because of how it’s shaped, there are only two smart ways to travel around Vietnam; you either go up north or down south. In 3 weeks, you’d be able to visit at least 4-5 cities, depending on your mode of transportation.

Of course, the more time you have, the better. But having limited time doesn’t mean you can’t go to Vietnam. 20 days is plenty with good planning and mindset. The first time I went around Vietnam, it took me 3 weeks to finish Sapa to Ho Chi Minh City.

The second time, I only had 2 weeks in Vietnam, but I still managed to see my favourite locations and visit Phu Quoc Island. But for people who want to jam-pack their itinerary, 3 weeks in Vietnam, Thailand, and Cambodia is possible.

How to get around

Transportation in Vietnam is pretty easy. Download the app called Grab, which works like Uber. You can book a private car, taxi, or even a motorbike and pay with your card (link it on the app) or cash.

I recommend you download the apps before arriving in Vietnam so you can set up the payment with a card and order a ride from the airport to your hotel.

However, if you plan to motorbike around Vietnam, 3 weeks means you must travel quickly. You can also take the motorbike up to the central region of Vietnam (Hue, Hoi An, Da Nang), and then travel by bus for the rest.

Travelling by bus, train, especially by air will save you some time (if you can sleep comfortably on a bus) and make the most of your trip. 12go.asia is my favourite platform to book any transportation in Vietnam.

I recommend you always carry a copy of your hotel’s business card in case you get lost or can’t book a service, show the business card to the driver, and they’ll be able to bring you back to your hotel.


Not many nationalities can enjoy visa-free when travelling to Vietnam. In that situation, if you wish to visit Vietnam can now apply for a 30-day evisa or a 90-day visa on arrival. This is perfect if you want to spend 3 weeks in Vietnam.

For a 30-day evisa, you don’t need to pay anything extra when you arrive in Vietnam. Just get your stamp at the immigration after you show your evisa document. But if you’re applying for a visa on arrival that is over 30 days, you need to pay for a visa sticker, which is about $25 or more, depending on how many days you plan to stay.

Average cost per day (per person): $25-$200

Travelling to Vietnam is not expensive. The cost is comparable to that of Thailand, Malaysia, and most other Southeast Asian countries. Some items 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 per day
  • On the mid-range: $60-$80 per day
  • On luxury: $100 and above per day
  • Most expensive cost: flights to and from Vietnam
  • Cheapest cost: accommodation, food, transportation

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 you are planning to engage with.

Since Vietnam is full of stunning mountains to hike, golden beaches to explore, and metropolitan cities to discover, not to mention very diverse weather, this is why knowing what to pack for Vietnam ensures you are ready for any kind of adventure.

You should also look at items you can buy when you arrive in Vietnam to save space, such as toiletries. In this way, you would have plenty of room for unique souvenirs from Vietnam.

Language and currency

Vietnamese is the primary language in Vietnam, but English is quite common too. If you speak French or Mandarin, you might notice some similarities in pronunciation or words.

A lot of Vietnamese don’t speak English. However, many young people do, and the locals who work in the tourism industry do speak very good English. Vietnam has welcomed many English teachers in the past 20 years and aims to have the majority of its citizens be able to speak fluent English in the future.

I recommend you download a translation app for Vietnamese that you can use even when offline.

The currency of Vietnam is the Vietnamese Dong or VND. US$1 is around 23,000 VND. Most ATMs have a limit of 5 Million VND ($220) withdrawal limit. But if you go to VP Bank ATM and some HSBC ATM, you might be able to get up to 10 Million VND ($440).

Hotels and tour agencies accept payments in local currency and major currencies such as USD, CAD, AUD, EURO, SGD, and even KRW and JP¥. Most hotel and tour agencies will be happy to exchange your international currencies for VND as well, or you can go to a bank or gold shop for currency exchange.

Package tours

For people who prefer to book a package tour and not get stressed out in planning, creating itineraries, and booking, these tours are great. The package includes accommodation, tours, food, transportation, and even porters.

Many of these tours are not for 20 days, though. However, that could also be good if you want to have some days on your own and plan to see specific places.

Other basic travel tools

Below is a compilation of travel websites and services I use to book 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.

This is because 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


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 (check schedule/price)
  • 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 – best to sleep in Da Nang which is between the two other towns (1-2 hours drive to either place), you can take the train for 6 hr and 30 min
  • Day 14-17: Nha Trang, Da Lat, Mui Ne – you should just choose one or two – fly from Da Nang to Nha Trang or Da Lat or take the 11-hour bus
  • Day 17-21: Ho Chi Minh City and Mekong Delta – adjust your itinerary if you want to visit Phu Quoc, 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

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 – check the schedule and price
  • 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 from Hue
  • Day 17-21: Da Nang and Hoi An

Central to South 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 a very long bus or train journey
  • 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 take a minibus for 3 hours
  • Day 9-11: Da Lat city
  • Day 11-13: Mui Ne – you can take a 4-hour minibus from Dalat to Mui Ne
  • Day 13-17: Ho Chi Minh City and Mekong Delta, there’s a sleeper bus between Mui Ne and HCMC (it takes 4 hours)
  • Day 17-19: Cat Thien National Park
  • Day 19-21: Phu Quoc

North and South 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), best if you book a tour with a transport service
  • Day 11: Fly from Hanoi or Hai Phong to Ho Chi Minh City – check the flight prices
  • Day 11-16: Ho Chi Minh City and Mekong Delta
  • Day 16-18: Cat Thien National Park
  • Day 19: Travel to Phu Quoc Island from Cat Thien (by air through Ho Chi Minh City)
  • Day 19-21: Phu Quoc Island – there’s an international airport in Phu Quoc


Vietnam will spoil you with options for where 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 know more about each destination to help you build the perfect itinerary. 


You can’t visit Vietnam without going to Hanoi. This city is known for its narrow yet bustling streets. Apart from being an 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.

  • Location: in the north of Vietnam, the closest big city that borders China
  • Getting there: Hanoi being the capital receives many flights from Asia, Europe, and even North America
  • How long to stay: 3-4 days
  • Must-do: book an airport pick-up (there are taxi scams around the airport)

Top attractions

Halong Bay and Cat Ba Island

Halong Bay is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of Vietnam’s most visited tourist attractions. 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 comprises 2,000 islets or limestone rock formations that can be seen during your cruise. Many tourists to Halong Bay spend more than a day in the area to make the most of this site. 

You can enjoy island hopping, cave exploring, and water activities (kayaking and fishing) in this area. 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 Phong (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 ethnic groups in Vietnam by staying at a local’s house overnight and hiking for days.


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

Not long 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.

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 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 an overnight bus or train 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


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 served 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 or train from Dong Hoi to Hue (travel time: 3 hours). From Da Nang to Hue by bus or train, the travel time is also about 3 hours.
  • How long to stay: 1-2 days

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 as 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 has an international airport that caters to domestic and international flights. Read this is Da Nang safe guide if you’re curious about it and want tips on how to stay safe.

This is a great place to start your trip or end one, depending on your time.

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, well-preserved town.

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. 

The paper-lantern hanging around everywhere, especially in the Old Town will make you feel like you are in old-time Vietnam. Not to mention it’s filled with locals cycling around the city and lots of walking paths.


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.

Top attractions

Nha Trang

This city in 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 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 other Southeast Asian countries
  • How long to stay: 1-2 days

Top attractions


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 coffee in Vietnam comes 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

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.

  • Location: It is located in the south-central area of Binh Thuan province. 
  • Getting there: You can take the bus from Dalat to Mui Ne, which will take about 4 hours, alternatively, you can take a bus from Ho Chi Minh City, a train ride is also an option, but the train will arrive in Phan Thiet which is 10 km from Mui Ne, about a20-minute drive
  • How long to stay: 2 Days

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: 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, and 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

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 by ferry or a domestic flight. 

  • How many days to say: 2-3 days
  • How to get there: Phu Quoc Island has an international airport, and you can also take a ferry from Bai Vong Port near Duong Dong

Top attractions:



Ho Chi Minh City

Halong Bay/Cat Ba

Da Nang

Hoi An


Nha Trang


Mui Ne

Phu Quoc

Sa Pa


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 various types of meat, such as beef and seafood. Rice, like most other Southeast Asian countries, is also a staple in Vietnam.

Many fine dining restaurants are in major cities such as Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi. On the other hand, street food is an integral part of the country’s culinary landscape. 

Pho – it’s best to try those on the street


Vietnamese pho is probably the single most popular dish in the country’s cuisine. This signature food comprises 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 various 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 initially, 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


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. Whether you’re motorbiking around Vietnam, going on a backpacking experience, or celebrating the honeymoon with your significant other – Vietnam is definitely a great choice.


Vietnam, a land of staggering natural beauty and cultural complexities, offers bustling cities, hill-tribe villages, ancient monuments, and lush landscapes. Enjoy its vibrant street life, exquisite cuisine, and a rich history that spans centuries. via @threeweektraveller