10 min read21st Feb '24Vietnam

Welcome to Vietnam, a country that captivates with its unique experiences, blending rich history, vibrant culture, breathtaking nature, and a culinary scene that's nothing short of a flavor explosion. Nestled in Southeast Asia, Vietnam is a tapestry of traditions, resilience, and natural beauty that beckons travelers to explore its diverse landscapes.

While several itineraries are available for Vietnam and there are as many holiday packages to choose from when planning for Vietnam, we ended up planning only two major areas in Vietnam for the 10 days we were there - Hanoi and Hoi An.

Hanoi serves as an excellent hub for launching multi-day excursions to enchanting destinations like Ninh Binh, the stunning Ha Long Bay, or the picturesque Sapa. Notably, the Hanoi night market comes alive every Friday to Sunday. If possible, plan your visit to Hanoi around these days to immerse yourself in the vibrant atmosphere of the night market.

In contrast, Hoi An is undeniably a tourist hotspot, yet it gracefully retains its allure as an ancient town. Renowned for its impeccably preserved architecture, Hoi An further entices visitors with its daily night market, ensuring continuous engagement for tourists. Take the opportunity to leisurely explore the charming old streets of Hoi An or partake in countryside activities for a more authentic local experience.

Our 10-day itinerary 

Day 1 (Hanoi): Arrive in Hanoi and kick off your journey with an evening stroll around the serene Hoàn Kiem Lake. As night falls, immerse yourself in the vibrant atmosphere of the local night market, where you can explore stalls brimming with Vietnamese crafts, street food delicacies, and lively cultural performances. Do try the BBQs on the street.
Note - The night market at Hanoi only takes place Fri-Sun.

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Day 2 (Ninh Binh): Embark on an unforgettable Ninh Binh Day Tour from Hanoi, discovering the historical marvels of Hoa Lu, the natural beauty of Trang An, and the spiritual ambiance of Bai Dinh Pagoda. Marvel at ancient temples, cruise through breathtaking landscapes, and soak in the tranquility of this picturesque region. This was a splendid welcome to the Vietnamese natural wonders.

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Snaking around Limestone mountains
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Views from the past

Day 3-5 (Hoi An): Head to the charming town of Hoi An for an extended stay spanning three days. Explore its remarkably preserved ancient architecture, stroll through the captivating old streets adorned with lanterns, and delve into the vibrant daily night market. Take this time to engage in local activities, whether it's learning to cook traditional Vietnamese dishes, experiencing a road trip through the countryside, or simply relishing the unique ambiance of this tourist-friendly yet authentic destination. Experience the Hoi An memories show in the evening and catch the history of Hoi An. 

Day 6-7 (Ba Na Hills): Venture to Ba Na Hills for a one-night escapade filled with panoramic views, lush landscapes, and exciting attractions. Marvel at the Golden Bridge, explore the French Village and enjoy thrilling rides and entertainment. This was a unique experience for us as we had not visited such fantasy parks or resorts.
Note - Take a jacket or rain coat - it's always misty on the top.

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Day 8-9 (Halong Bay): Embark on a journey to the iconic Halong Bay for a two-day exploration of its mesmerizing landscapes and emerald waters. Cruise through the bay's stunning limestone formations, visit floating markets and relax on pristine beaches. Indulge in the rich seafood offerings and witness unforgettable sunsets over this UNESCO World Heritage Site.

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Lan Ha Bay

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Day 10 (Hanoi): Return to Hanoi for the final leg of your journey. Use this day to revisit favorite spots, indulge in any last-minute shopping, or explore hidden gems you may have missed during your initial visit. Reflect on the diverse experiences gained throughout your travels in Vietnam.

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Note Cafe
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Despite the option to consolidate Hanoi-based plans for time efficiency, the decision to spread out the itinerary allowed us a more relaxed and immersive exploration of each destination. This intentional pacing ensured a deeper connection with the diverse regions of Vietnam, from its bustling cities to its tranquil landscapes, creating lasting memories of a truly enriching journey.

Where to stay?

  • Hanoi: 
    In the bustling city of Hanoi, numerous hotels dot the landscape, particularly in the charming Old Quarter. A helpful tip: Opt for accommodation in the Old Quarter to make the most of your time in Hanoi. Due to our well-spaced itinerary, we had the opportunity to experience stays at various hotels in the city. A standout recommendation is the Solaria Hotel Hanoi, offering not only top-notch services but also valuable local insights for a truly enriching stay.
  • Hoi An:
    Hoi An provides a plethora of accommodation options, ranging from hotels to homestays, catering to various preferences from basic to luxurious. One noteworthy choice is the Laluna Hoi An Riverside Hotel & Spa, ensuring a delightful and comfortable stay amidst the charm of this ancient town, just under 400m away from the center of the town.
  • Ba Na Hills: 
    For a unique experience at Ba Na Hills, the Mercure Ba Na Hills French Village stands as the singular option. Though slightly higher in price, the exclusivity it offers allows for an enjoyable escape to Ba Na Hills without the usual crowds. The investment is well worth the tranquil experience.
  • Halong Bay: 
    Halong Bay presents a multitude of cruise options, allowing you to tailor your experience. With numerous choices available, you can select a cruise that aligns with your preferences and budget, ensuring a memorable exploration of this UNESCO World Heritage Site.

What/Where to eat?

The cuisine in Vietnam is an exciting street food scene, with intriguing culinary delights, and world-famous dishes that dazzle hungry travelers. Dive into the best Vietnamese dishes through a cooking class, food tour, market meanderings, and street food grazing.

Read my blog on - Savoring Vietnam: A Food Lover's Journey

Street Food

Vietnamese Cuisine - Main course

Our go-to restaurant in Hanoi was - MeT Vietnamese Restaurant & Vegetarian Food, which has several branches in the Old Quarter and serves a good spread of traditional cuisine.

  • Pho (The comforting noodle soup)
  • Spring rolls
  • Cha Ca (Hanoi grilled fish)
  • Ca Kho To (caramelized and braised fish)
  • Bun Cha
     
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Bánh mì
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Barbeque on the streets
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Cha Ca (Grilled fish with dill and turmeric)
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The famous Egg coffee (Cà phê trung)

There's no right itinerary for Vietnam, and you would always feel something got missed. Vietnam has a lot to offer from places to food for everyone. As we reflect on the gastronomic delights, the charm of Hoi An, and the mesmerizing beauty of Halong Bay, Vietnam beckons us for future explorations. In parting, we leave with a sense of gratitude for the memories made, the flavors savored, and the warmth of Vietnam's embrace—a land that invites, captivates, and promises a return to its extraordinary allure.

Our Google map -


About me!

Choti Aankhe; Bade Sapne 🙄! I welcome bribes in the form of good food.
When not eating or traveling - I like to create products :) !

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