Suggested Travel Itineraries in Vietnam
Luong © 2001
The following itineraries are based on my personal experience of
more than three months of travel in Vietnam. They cover the main
sites and assume that your time is limited and your
are interested in seeing as many sites as possible. However, remember
that the more you can slow down, the better.
When to come
Vietnam is quite spread out from South to North, so the climate can be surprisingly
different in different parts of the country. Because of that, there
is always an area with nice weather at anytime of the year.
- The South has relatively nice weather year round.
From May to November it is
the monsoon season. Skies are dramatic, the country is very green.
The precipitations are mostly brief but intense afternoon
showers, however mud can make travel more difficult.
December and January are very nice. From February to April, it gets
progressively more hot and humid, and I don't recommend this period
due to the uncomfort and the fact that the Delta landscape looks too dry.
- In the Center, From November to January, it can rain continuously and
floods are frequent. Dryer weather begins in February, and it gets
pretty hot starting from June.
- In the North, the best period is also in spring.
Summers are hot and more rainy. Winters are relatively dry, but often
overcast and drizzly (which is OK for many subjects)
with temperatures getting below freezing in
Three Days (in Saigon)
Visit the temples and markets (wholesale markets are most active in
the morning), especially in the Cho Lon
district, return by following the Saigon Arroyo. Hang out around the
town hall for the night atmosphere (the terrace of the Ritz is good
too), especially on Saturday evenings.
- Spend an evening and morning in Vung Tau (the hydroplane boat
is considerably faster than the road). Enjoy the beaches, and take a
tour around the peninsula by renting a bicycle or a motorcycle to see
traditional fishing villages.
- Attend the noon ceremony at the great Cao Dai temple in Tay
Ninh. Many people combine this visit with the Cu Chi tunnels.
Three Days (in Hanoi)
- Starting at sunrise, stroll around the Hoang Kiem lake to see
the locals practicing morning exercises, visit the Ngoc Son temple,
then stroll in the old city for interesting shops and street life.
Visit the temple of literature, the West Lake, and the complex around
the Ho Chi Minh mausoleum. End up the evening at the water puppets theater.
- Visit either the Halong Bay (karstic landscape, bay trip),
the Perfume Pagoda (karstic landscapes, river trip,
temples) or Ninh Binh (historic
architecture, river trip, karstic landscapes). By rushing you might be
able to do two visits, each as a long day trip.
One week (in the South)
Add to "Three days in Saigon" one of the two options:
- Dalat (old hill station, hikes to lakes and waterfall, ethnic
minorities) then Nha Trang (beach, take a cruise to fishing villages on
- Can Tho (floating markets), Chau Doc (temple complex, floating
houses, ethnic muslim/cham minorities), Ha Tien (fishing town, temples)
Hong Chong (undeveloped beach and fishing village, limestone
One week (in the North)
Add to "Three days in Hanoi" the following four day trip:
One week (in the Center)
Add to any of the "Three days" itineraries the following four day trip:
- Fly into Danang. Marble Mountains. Cham Museum. Hoi An. My Son.
Danang to Hue through the Hai Van pass and Lang Co, maybe the most
beautiful stretch of road in Vietnam.
- Hue: visit the
citadel. Take a river trip on the perfume river to visit the imperial
tombs and the Thien Mu pagoda. Attend a night concert of traditional
music on the water. Fly out of Hue.
Two weeks to a month
Combine the previously described itineraries. Three weeks to a
month will allow you to see all sites listed on this page.
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