Traveling around Vietnam is an interesting topic for international tourists, who wish to discover the land and experience every aspect of life throughout an amazing country, which is one of the most-visited destinations in South East Asia. Owing to stretching the length of the Indochinese Peninsula, Vietnam boasts a unique shape of an elongated S with a long coastline of 3,260km across the North, the Centre, and the South. Of which, each region offers its unique culture and unmistakable landscapes, from pristine beaches to mighty mountains, from buzzing city life to the tranquil villages, from touristy to the off the beaten track areas… Yet traveling around Vietnam is a wonderful and rare experience you may ever have, but it also can take you months (and costs you headache) without helpful guidance.
So, we suggest you read this best Vietnam itinerary in two weeks before planning a trip for your family, or with your friends. Wishing you had a perfect vacation in Vietnam. Now, let’s get it started!
Vietnam quick overview by regions and climate
Before traveling around 2 weeks in Vietnam at least you need to know the weather of the destinations, needn’t you?
The North is known for its mountainous terrain of Sapa, enchanting Halong Bay, and historic Hanoi, as well as for the diversity of its ethnolinguistic minorities. The North has two basic seasons: a cold, humid winter from November to April, and a warm, wet summer for the remainder of the year. Summer temperatures average around 70 degrees Fahrenheit (about 22 degrees Census), with occasional typhoons to keep things exciting.
The Center, also home to many ethnic minorities, is characterized by high temperature plateaus rich in volcanic soil and by spectacular beaches, dunes, and lagoons. It is also the location of the ancient imperial city of Hue and the long-standing village of Hoi An. The northern provinces of Central Vietnam share the climate of the North, while the southern provinces share the tropical weather of the South.
The South gives visitors a view on the modern Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon) and the serene Mekong Delta, wherein Can Tho and Ben Tre are typical. The weather is generally warm, the hottest months being March through May, when temperatures rise into the mid-’90s degrees Fahrenheit (low-30’s degrees Census). This is also the dry season in the South, followed by the April-October monsoon season.
How to experience the best of two weeks in Vietnam?
Day 1: Visiting Hanoi, the capital of Vietnam
Hanoi & top places to visit
Hanoi posses countless tourist attractions and famous landscapes of the 1,000-years-old capital, of which some have been listed in the UNESCO World Heritage. This city is filled with modern energetic neighborhoods while also maintaining a connection to its traditions. This French-colonial used-to-be city is a cultural mix of Eastern and Western influences that are mirrored in the style of many architectural gems in Hanoi, from remarkably preserved colonial buildings, unique museums to the world’s heritage mosaic and ancient pagodas.
Let’s dine on the wild and wonderful at every corner, sample market wares, uncover an evolving arts scene, then sleep soundly in luxury for very little cost. Meet the people, delve into the past and witness the awakening of Hanoi on the move.
1. Imperial Citadel of Thang Long
Thang Long Citadel is an attractive monument of Vietnamese history and has been recognized by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site in 2010. Also known as Hanoi Old Citadel, many antiques and items are from the middle. The 6th and 20th centuries were excavated in 2004, including the foundations of old castles, ancient roads, ponds, and wells.
The relic has a total area of 18,395ha, including archaeological sites of 18 Hoang Dieu and other relics such as Doan Mon, Hanoi flagpole, Kinh Thien electricity, D67 house, Bac Mon… If you visit on holidays, you can also enjoy special art programs such as water puppet theater, exhibitions, folk games.
2. Hoan Kiem Lake & Ngoc Son Temple
As one of the landmarks of Hanoi, Hoan Kiem Lake impresses tourists by tranquility and tranquility, away from the bustling urban life. The lake surrounds Ngoc Son Pagoda – the temple sits in the center on a small island. The temple was built to commemorate of the 13th-century military leader Tran Hung Dao, famous for his bravery in the battle against the Nguyen.
The island where the temple located is called Ngoc Island. You can come here with The Huc Bridge or the Sun bridge with wood painted in charming red in the classic design of Vietnam. The lake and the temple are probably the most famous places in Hanoi to rest and admire great views.
3. Water Puppet Theatre
The world-famous Thang Long water puppet theater in Hanoi originates from an art form dates back to the 11th century. Water puppet dancing has become a traditional art, a special creation of Vietnamese people. The tradition of the water puppet theater originates from the time when the rice fields are flooded and the villagers will entertain by standing underwater to the waist with puppets performing on the water. Using large sticks to support puppets, it appears as if they are moving on the water with puppets hidden behind the screen.
Currently, this type has been famous on stages around the world. The performance accompanied by a Vietnamese orchestra playing traditional music using drums, wooden bells, horns, bamboo flutes, and cymbals. There are also authentic Vietnamese songs that tell the story of the puppets taking place. Most programs recount Vietnamese folklore stories and legends with topics including a humorous rice harvest celebration described in a humorous way.
Most programs have the Legend of the famous King Le’s restored sword telling the story of Hoan Kiem Lake and the giant turtle. Live music is indispensable in the show and singers often shout encouraging words to puppets.
4. Hanoi Old Quarter
As being considered the city’s business hub and main tourist destination, Hanoi Old Quarter offers the French-colonial architecture, rich food culture, and a long history. One of the most common sights is that of streets packed with scooters, bicycles, and cars swarming around pedestrians like a school of fish. Then there are the many sidewalk vendors and people simply out for a stroll and the popular Old Quarter is no exception, so walking around this district is distinct from a leisurely stroll in the park. Visitors have no choice but to face the traffic in the local style but the experience of exploring the historical area is a must-do and truly well worth it.
5. Hanoi Opera House
The beautiful Hanoi Opera House was built in 1911 by the then ruling French. It’s a phenomenal piece of neo-classical French architecture featuring Gothic themes on the doors and domes with pillars, shuttered windows, balconies and a glass room. Musicians, actors, and dancers play to a 600-strong audience delivering powerful operatic and classical performances, making it a very popular theatrical attraction. The Hanoi Opera House is the biggest theatre in Vietnam and speaks volumes as historical and cultural evidence of Vietnam under French rule. The interior is even more magnificent than the exterior with many arguing it is aesthetically even more appealing than the Paris Opera House. Visitors today will be entertained at this architectural landmark which features a range of events including local Vietnamese opera, traditional folk music, ballet, and many international concerts.
You will need to purchase tickets to see the inside of the opera house, although there are usually a host of concerts to choose from including drama, ballet, and symphonies in addition to opera. The Hanoi Opera House is also the first choice for international meetings and conferences so check online when you are visiting to ensure performance is scheduled.
Day 2 & 3: Visiting Sapa, the alpine terrain of the North
Sapa & top places to visit
Sapa, one of the most breathtaking hill stations in Vietnam which reflects the signature of French architecture and colorful hill tribal cultures, is oriented to make the most of the spectacular views emerging on clear days; it overlooks a plunging valley, with mountains towering above on all sides. Views are often subdued by thick mist rolling across the peaks, but even when it’s cloudy, local hill-tribe people fill the town with color. This is Northern Vietnam’s premier trekking base, from where hikers launch themselves into a surrounding countryside of cascading rice terraces and tiny hill-tribe villages that seem a world apart. Once you’ve stepped out into the lush fields, you’ll understand the Sapa area’s real charm.
01. Sapa terraced rice fields
Terraced rice fields in Sapa were voted as one of the seven most beautiful and impressive ones of Asia and the world by readers of the US’s magazine Travel and Leisure.
Rice terraces in Sapa are slopes claimed from nature for cultivation in hilly or mountainous areas. Due to the steep feature, fertile soil thanks to it was created by weathered granite rock and mountain cliffs often stock water, local ethnic minority people can grow rice and establish terraced rice fields, one after another, from the foot to nearly the top of mountains.
When seen from afar, the terraced rice fields look like a picture of nature with heart-catching beauty keeping tourists to stay for admiration for a while. This picture, however, has its color changed seasonally, exhibiting its most alluring charm when the new crop begins, green rice grows and the field is lush with ripening rice.
02. Ham Rong Mountain
The name of Ham Rong was derived from the legend that, in the primitive age, there were a couple of dragons which became attached to each other while the deluge was rising high. Walking up, they hurriedly separated from each other but failed. They were drifted to different places.
Travelers often climb up Ham Rong mountain to enjoy a cool atmosphere and charming landscapes such as cloud ground and stone garden, gardens, the garden of medicinal plants, especially the garden of various orchids and specific houses on stilts of ethnic minorities.
Many rocks in the shape of dragon claws and fins appear to our eyes and we will think of being lost in a wonderland. The following cliff will lead us to heaven gates 1 and 2. Standing on the peak, you will enjoy particularly interesting landscapes around as much as you wish and throw your view further to make the most of the poetic beauty of Sapa town looming in clouds.
03. Fansipan Mountain
More challenging adventures are also available in Sapa and conquering the highest peak of Indochina is one of them. This will be an exciting trip for those who desire to test their strength and endurance.
Even though the climbing equipment is not necessary, you will have to trek for the whole day carrying basic essentials and rest in simple accommodation. On the way, tourists will encounter a great number of mountain scenes and wild animals if you are lucky. After a long and difficult trek, the breathtaking view on the top will be the best natural reward for any traveler. However, do not worry if you are not fit enough because there is Fansipan Legend, a cable car which transfers you to the top of the mountain.
04. Silver Waterfalls
Sapa is famous for its waterfalls and one of these is Silver Waterfalls. This is a collection of gushing cataracts that tower to a height of some 200 meters.
Located just up the path from Silver Waterfalls is the beautifully named Love Waterfall which is a place that is steeped in local legend. Locals will tell you that fairies used to bathe in the waters here and although it is a long trek to both waterfalls it is more than worth it for the pretty scenery.
05. Fairy Cave
For those looking for a place to cool off near Sapa, then please look no further than the Fairy Cave or Hang Tien. This is a lesser-known and non-touristy spot located on the bank of Chay River, just outside of Bac Ha District – Sapa. Fairy Cave, which is surrounded by mountains and forests, boasts a broad system of limestone formations with stalactites and stalagmites of all shapes and sizes. It is called “The tiny version of Halong Bay” by the local people thanks to its harmonious combination of limestone cliffs and water.
To get to the Fairy Cave, the best way is to take a boat trip on Chay River to also contemplate the majestic landscape in Sapa.
06. Lao Chai Village
Lao Chai village is 6 km away from the center town, you will see Lao Chai village where the black H’mong people are living, it is also the beginning of a valley which is called Muong Hoa valley. From a high point of the main road 8 Km from Sapa town, a great view of the whole village opens wide to offer the marvelous panorama of the village, backed by high mountains and facing the river. Here you will enjoy the fresh air, see terrace fields, stream, visit and discover some of the H’mong’s families, three large villages with over 100 families of the Black H’mong ethnic, and people here are quite hospitable. In this village which you will have a welcoming feeling at any house of the hospitable people there. You can interact with them, learn about their culture and customs.
07. Cat Cat Village
The charmingly named Cat Cat Village is one of the oldest villages in the Sapa region and it is also known for being
the home of the H’mong ethnic group.
The village is famous for its traditional industries such as flax and cotton production and there is a strong tradition of weaving here. When travelers visit, they can learn all about these traditional techniques as well as spend time studying the H’mong culture.
08. Tram Ton Pass
The Pass is often referred to as Heaven’s Gate, as its picturesque landscapes and magnificence resemble a gate to Heaven.
The road between Sapa and Lai Chau crosses the Tram Ton Pass on the northern side of Fansipan, 15km from Sapa. At 1900m this is Vietnam’s highest mountain pass and acts as a dividing line between two weather fronts. The lookout points here have fantastic views. Most people also stop at 100m-high Thac Bac (Silver Waterfall), 12km from Sapa.
When reaching the end of Tram Ton Pass, you will finally be at the peak of Hoang Lien Son Mountain, which is called Heaven Gate. It is where you come to understand why Sapa is a must-visit place in Vietnam after seeing the massive landscapes covered by lush foliage and terraced rice paddy fields. What’s more, if you are there on a clear day, you can even see the shining and stunning Thac Bac Waterfall while standing at Heaven Gate. Moreover, Heaven Gate is where you can truly see and feel the majestic grandeur of Mountain Fansipan, which can be a great motivation for you to conquer this high and mighty mountain. One special thing about Tram Ton Pass is how drastic climate change can be. On the Sapa side, the weather is cold, foggy and occasionally drizzly. On the other hand, on the Lai Chau side, it is getting warmer and you can see the shining blue sky over there. It is not a common experience that you can have in other places in Vietnam.
09. Notre Dame Cathedral Sapa
Located at the heart of Sapa mountainous town, Sapa Stone Cathedral is surely one of the must-see points of interest in Sapa. Indeed, you can easily encounter it when setting foot in Sapa thanks to its unique appearance. The church was built in the early twentieth century by some of the finest French architects. One of the most impressive things about the church is its material. Not like other churches in Vietnam, Notre Dame Cathedral Sapa is mostly built from stone, creating a solid look and beauty for the church.
Notre Dame Cathedral Sapa usually opens on weekends and every evening for local prayers and tourists. However, you will also have a lot of great photo opportunities when visiting it in the daytime, when it is surrounded by colorful-dressed ethnic children and fruiterers.
10. Love Market
If you happen to visit Sapa on any Saturdays, wandering around the Love Market is definitely an experience you should not miss. The Market is not about selling and trading stuff, this is the place where ethnic youngsters in Sapa come, gather to find their other halves. It is a super cool place where you can see ethnic couples hanging out, dancing, eating, playing folk games together. To catch the girl’s attention, Hmong ethnic boys often blow a local instrument called “Khen” while dancing around their potential lovers. At the end of the day, these ethnic couples often promise to meet in the next sessions of Love Market to understand more about each other. The love market is surely one of the top places to visit in Sapa.
Day 4: Visiting Halong Bay, a UNESCO World Heritage Site
Halong Bay is the most visited destination by tourists who visit Vietnam every year, with a lot to explore and see in the hundreds of beautiful tiny islands in the area. Halong Bay is in the northern path of Vietnam east of Hanoi and is well known for thousands of towering limestone of unique shapes, height, and exotic beaches. There are many things to do here, from scuba diving, rock climbing and hiking to adventuring deep into the caves of the bay.
Halong Bay & top places to visit
01. Cat Ba Island
Cat Ba Island is the most popular attraction, also the biggest island in Halong Bay. The island sits around an ancient fisherman’s port and as such has a relaxed atmosphere that makes it the perfect place to spend an afternoon. One of the best things to do here is to rent a bicycle and ride to the idyllic countryside just outside the main town. This is also the spot where many of the boats leave for island trips so it makes a good place to base yourself while you are in Halong Bay.
02. Lan Ha Bay
Lying south and east of Cat Ba Town, the 300 or so karst islands and limestone outcrops of Lan Ha are just as beautiful as those of Halong Bay and have the additional attraction of numerous white-sand beaches. Around 200 species of fish, 500 species of mollusk, 400 species of arthropods, and numerous hard and soft coral live in the waters here, while larger marine animals in the area include seals and three species of dolphin. Due to it being a fair way from Halong City, not so many tourist boats venture here, meaning Lan Ha Bay has a more isolated appeal. Sailing and kayak trips here are best organized in Cat Ba Town.
03. Monkey Island
Monkey Island, aka Cat Dua, is a great spot if you are looking to take a boat trip in Halong Bay. There is an idyllic private beach here and you can spend your time topping up your tan on the white sand or go swimming and snorkeling in the azure seas. If you are feeling adventurous, then you can also go sea kayaking here or you can hike across the island as there are a huge number of scenic trails that take you through the lush greenery.
04. Trinh Nu Cave
The Virgin Cave (Hang Trinh Nu) is one of the most famous caves in Halong Bay. It is probably best known for its shrine. Legend claims that a beautiful woman committed suicide in the cave, unable to return home after being forced to marry an old Mandarin. Here her body turned into stone. Another similar legend says this girl escaped from a Mandarin that forced her to marry him because her father could not pay a debt. When fishermen found her body, they buried her here and built a small shrine inside the grotto.
05. Bai Chay Market
If you want to sample some of the local products in Halong Bay, then one of the best places to do this is at Bai Chay Market. This is a local Vietnamese market where you will find huge heaps of fresh fruit and vegetables, as well as plenty of seafood. You can also buy other local items like clothing and textiles, so this is a good spot to visit if you want to stock up on souvenirs.
Day 5: Visiting Hoi An, the coastal ancient town in the Center
Hoi An, which was UNESCO-listed by its culture and history, lies on the banks of the Thu Bon River and 30km away from Da Nang. The face of the Old Town has preserved its incredible legacy of tottering Japanese merchant houses, Chinese temples, and ancient tea warehouses. In fact, between the 15th and 19th centuries, Hoi An was a prominent Vietnamese trading port for silk, porcelain, pepper, cinnamon, and medicinal plants. Nowadays, lounge bars, boutique hotels, travel agents and a glut of tailor shops are very much part of the scene here.
Hoi An & top places to visit
01. Hoi An Riverside
Hoi An Riverside is considered as the major landmark in Hoi An. This site is where both modern and traditional boats drop their anchors and where local people go shopping at the wet market daily morning.
The town is reintroducing the presence of colorful and gorgeous hand-crafted lanterns. Especially, on the special nights a month, hundreds of them hang on windows and verandas as they normally did more than 300 years ago. Hoi An Riverside is where you could sample good coffee, seafood, home-caked, and international food as well. Travelers can enjoy the pleasant waterfront region which is the most popular for tourists to dine.
02. Japanese Bridge
The Japanese Bridge is the only covered bridge in the world to house a Buddhist temple and was built in the 16th century as a symbol of goodwill between Chinese and Japanese merchant communities. Unlike most other buildings in the old town, which are decorated according to flamboyant Chinese and Vietnamese architectural styles, the Bridge has retained a distinctively Japanese character, with subdued ornamentation and references to Japanese history.
03. Cua Dai Beach
Cua Dai Beach means the “big sea mouth”, which is over 3 km in length and up to 300m in width. The beach is closest to Hoi An and is an incredibly long beach with a lot of space to wander off for a bit of personal relax, which is hard to find in Vietnam nowadays.
Being long and wide, Cua Dai beach has clear water with tropically blue waves that are gentle enough for floating and swimming around. Tourists will discover a few changing huts along with a couple of bungalows on this beach. Cham Island could be spotted from a distance on a sunny day with its willow tree supplying tourists with shade to enjoy the view. A few water sports are set up at this beach, not to mention a lot of deckchairs, parasols and a lovely line of trees giving shade; hence, it is not necessary for you to worry about spending many hours under the sun without being able to cool down. It is very great to visit this beach at sunrise and witness the fishermen and their boats trading what they have caught.
04. Cham Island
One of the most beautiful Hoi An attractions is Cham Island. This picturesque coastal spot offers tourists a chance to visit stunning beaches, lush forests, and a cute village, making their day trip to the island really worthwhile.
Just about 27km away from Hoi An coast, Cham Island is reckoned as a pristine paradise which is at best during the summer months, from April to September. Especially, during those months, tourists can witness to some storm activities. In the cooler months, diving tends to be less worthwhile. In addition to the amazing beaches and breathtaking views, Cham Island also boasts itself as a popular diving and snorkeling spot. There are a few companies based out of Hoi An offering day trips to this island. Tourists should decide whether they would like to go for snorkeling or diving, or simply enjoying the island itself with its impressive beach and village.
05. Hoi An Night Market
This Hoi An Night Market is a must-stop spot for all the shopaholics. If you want to pick up some souvenirs that are traditional to the Vietnamese culture then you are definitely at the right place. You can be sure that you will find something of interest in this huge space that is filled with shops on different sides of the streets. The hawkers and the shop owners are extremely friendly. The shops are all numbered for your convenience. You will be required to haggle a bit in most of the shops but if you are lucky you will get a steal deal in some of them. There are thousands of different varieties of products available in the markets. The jade figures sold in some of the shops are a must-have from this market.
Day 6: Visiting Hue, the former Imperial Capital of Vietnam
Hue & top places to visit
If history sets your travel heart aflutter, then Hue is calling. As once was the Imperial capital of the Nguyen Dynasty and now listed as a World Heritage site, Hue boasts magnificent citadels, pagodas, and royal tombs dating back to the 19th century. This ancient city, smack-dab in the middle of the country, is truly a living museum. Sitting on the banks of the delightful Perfume River you will find amazing citadels, fabulous palaces, and royal tombs. Wandering the war-ravaged ruins of the Imperial City, you will learn about the political past of a city that suffered one of the bloodiest battles during the Vietnam War. Many of the sites can be reached by river and this makes an excellent way to see the city.
01. Thien Mu Pagoda
This is an iconic monument located at the background of the Hue City symbolizing the imperialism of the ancient city. One of the best places to visit in Hue, this seven-storied pagoda is an icon of traditional Vietnamese architecture. Even after being destroyed a number of times, the charm and beauty of this place have not faded at all. It is still considered as a religious heritage and one can easily locate monks wandering here and there.
02. Tombs of the Ancient Emperors
One of the biggest draws in Hue is the tombs of the Ancient Emperors and this is the main reason why so many visitors travel here every year.
Anyone with an interest in ancient architecture and history needs to visit the tombs which were built in honor of famous emperors of Hue. The tombs mostly date from the 19th and 20th centuries and are carved to tell the stories of Buddhist legends. Some of the main tombs not to miss include the Tomb of Tu Duc, the Tomb of Minh Mang and the Tomb of Khai Dinh.
03. The Imperial City
Also known as Hue Citadel, the confined fort once served as the administrative capital of Southern Vietnam during the 17th and 18th centuries. Most of the structure of this monument was damaged during the battle, but the restoration process is going on. One of the famous Hue tourist attractions, it is still a worthwhile place to visit. The base of the palace is secured with remarkable trenches packed with water lilies. Once you enter the premises, you can find the buildings in three forms: original, restored and damaged.
04. The Perfume River
Slowly making its way amidst Hue, the tranquilizing Perfume River gives a stark contrast to the hustle and bustle of the city life. The river is named after the tropical aromas which it attains from the rich flora and fauna. The river is fenced by historic monuments of the city and the cool breeze and flowing water help in creating an enchanting aura. While you can see joggers running by the banks in the morning, small shops and restaurants open up in the evenings. Families come here to spend some quality time while some musicians play lovely music.
05. Bach Ma National Park
A renowned national park is located at an elevation of 1450 meters at the Bach Ma Mountain. Because of the cool climate and lush greenery, the French folks constructed some 100 villas over here. This park is well known for its biodiversity and an assortment of habitats which makes it one of the most recommended places to visit in Hue. This park is bifurcated into sections: tropical evergreen monsoon forest which is located below the height of 900 meter and sub-tropical evergreen forest which is located at a height of above 900 meters. They consist of waterfalls, decomposing French Villas, hiking trails.
Day 7 & 8: Visiting Ho Chi Minh City, the leading economical city of Southern Vietnam
Ho Chi Minh City & top places to visit
Welcome to the once southern capital of Vietnam, Ho Chi Minh City (aka Saigon), where the streets are lively and the scents are enticing, from chili to garlic, ginger to coriander. Vietnam’s center of commerce, the modern metropolis, wraps around the Saigon River bringing a vibrant skyline to the soothing waterway. Through a blend of tradition, modernity, colonial history, and reunification, the wonder of Vietnam has begun.
01. The War Remnants Museum
If there is one museum that should be visited in Saigon, that’s the War Remnants Museum. Its collection includes a number of pictures taken by world-famous photographers; documents; uniforms worn by soldiers and more – all from the time of what in Vietnam is known as The American War.
Visiting the War Remnants Museum is one of the unmissable things to do in Saigon, because it is a great place to learn about the difficult history of the country, including about the devastating effects of Agent Orange, whose use was widespread during the war. Be ready to get emotional and to leave infuriated.
02. Ben Thanh Market
This is a huge food and souvenir market in the heart of Ho Chi Minh city. It used to be the place where the locals could buy/sell groceries and textiles, but nowadays it’s a very touristy place.
All the goods are overpriced, so bargain a lot. The market is open during the whole day, but after 1 pm the stalls selling meat, fish and fresh veggies start to close. After dark, the action happens on the street beside the market, food restaurants, and clothes shops take the whole lane and they will try to convince you to buy handmade crafts and t-shirts.
03. Cholon District
Cholon is Vietnam’s largest Chinatown with roots dating back to 1778; it’s also a place of great historical and cultural importance. Chinese minorities hid here from the Tay Son and subsequently had to rebuild the area twice following an attack with as many as 70% estimated to have died trying to escape on boats. Those who survived settled and began selling a variety of Chinese products. During Vietnam, War Cholon was a thriving black market for US soldiers trading in American Army issue supplies. The area today is a popular site for those on the tourist trail and also attracts many Taiwanese and Chinese visitors. Cholon is an interesting place to see classical Chinese architecture reminiscent of years gone by with plenty of Chinese restaurants. The Binh Tay market at the center is busy, crowded and messy with small aisles selling all manner of goods. This market sometimes disappoints tourists when compared to other markets in Ho Chi Minh as the products are not that varied, but the main draw to Cholon is not to shop, but to enjoy the authentic Chinese atmosphere that has existed here for hundreds of years. It’s a wonderful place to experience at night.
04. Independence Palace
Independence Palace has stayed in the minds of many generations of not only Vietnamese but also foreigners. It is known as the famous historical witness that passed through the two fierce wars against the French and American colonists. Its architecture is a blend of traditional ritual and modern architecture, typical of the 60s’. However, the design of the complex is not as appealing to tourists as all the historical events related to this building. Wandering around its rooms, visitors may be reminded of various important moments in the past of Vietnam, especially the war command room with its huge maps and old communication equipment, as well as the basement labyrinth.
05. Central Post Office
Ho Chi Minh Central Post Office dates from 1891, some people and historical websites tell it was designed by Gustave Eiffel, others say it was Alfred Foulhoux, the fact is that the Post Office is an important landmark in the city.
Inside the building, you can admire the marble floor, the paintings and even the old telephone boxes are still there.
06. Notre Dame Cathedral
In front of the post office is the Notre Dame Cathedral, a huge church in the heart of a Buddhist city, another legacy from the French. Being built in the 1880s, it was originally called Saigon Church. However, in 1959, after the installation of the statue “Peaceful Notre Dame”, the name was changed. Nowadays, it’s called Saigon Notre Dame Cathedral Basilica, one of the religious and historical Ho Chi Minh attractions.
07. Vinh Nghiem Pagoda
If you are still looking for some exciting place to visit in Vietnam then this is definitely the best option for you. Vinh Nghiem Pagoda is a pagoda in a range of 6,000 square meters. This is the main pagoda in Vietnam to be an inherent Vietnamese customary engineering style however with cement. Two Vietnamese ministers, Thich Tam Giac and Thich Thanh Kiem, initially conceptualized fabricating a substantial Buddhist focus in Southern Vietnam.
08. Saigon Opera House
The Saigon Opera House is a grand colonial interface that was built in 1897. It is regarded as one of the most recognizable buildings in the city. Officially, it is known as the Municipal Theatre and several kinds of performances attract the attention of people in large numbers.
The essence of France’s essence is captured in the Opera house. Right from ballet to modern musicals and dance, lots of performances are carried out here. AO Show is a popular event hosted here, and it is a combination of dance, music, and acrobatics. It also showcases traditional Vietnamese dance using bamboo. Live performances attract the attention and interest of large numbers of people.
09. Cu Chi Tunnels
Connecting the underground tunnels located in the Cu Chi district of Ho Chi Minh City of Vietnam, the Cu Chi Tunnels are a wide network as well as a part of a much larger network of tunnels that underline the country. As per the history and origin of these tunnels are concerned, these originated during the Vietnam War and were the location of various military campaigns. Also, these were the base of the Viet Cong’s base of operations for the Tet Offensive in the year 1968. The Viet Cong soldiers used these tunnels as hiding spots during combat. At the same time, these served as communication and supply routes, living quarters, hospitals, food and weapon caches for numerous North Vietnamese fighters. These played a key role in curbing the American forces and helped to foster the growth of American Military effort.
10. Can Gio Mangrove Biosphere Reserve
Can Gio Mangrove Biosphere Reserve is a wetland and is listed in the biosphere reserve by UNESCO. It is an important wildlife sanctuary and it is characterized by mangrove forests and many rare species. The Reserve gives the opportunity to carry out advanced environmental protection ranging from coastal areas to the boundaries of the city. Mangrove dwelling invertebrates along with fish and shellfish can be found here. In recent times, it has become a popular point of attraction and it is said to be the green lungs of the city.
Day 9: Visiting Can Tho, the rice basket of the whole Vietnam
Can Tho & top places to visit
Located at the heart of the Mekong Delta, Can Tho province is the main source country’s sustenance and a potential landscape service for tourists. It is a buzzing town with an interesting, lively waterfront lined with the sculpted gardens, a harmonizing mixture between wide boulevards and narrow backstreets, and maybe the greatest concentration of international people in the Delta. Also, this place is the perfect base for those nearby floating markets, which are the main draw for travelers coming here to boat along many canals as well as rivers leading out of the city.
01. Cai Rang Floating Market
Only about 6km far away from Can Tho city, Cai Rang floating market is the biggest floating market in the Mekong Delta. A bridge here can serve as an ideal vantage point for taking photos. This market is the most crowded from 6 am to 6 am. You should visit here early in order to beat the boatloads of travelers. Being a wholesale market, the market features with products tied to the long pole above the boats. These products also are what sold to the smaller traders.
Every early morning, a hundred boats gather together where their owners sell agricultural products. To be recognized easily, they hang out product samples on a long bamboo in front of the boats, so that they do not need to cry about their wares as farmers do in the mainland market. The market also has most services of a normal market such as food, grocery sales, repairing service, fuel station…
02. Bang Lang Stork Garden
Bang Lang, about 46 km northwest of the city of Can Tho, is a magnificent bird sanctuary of 1.3 hectares with surprising views of thousands of the resident snowy egrets and storks. There are also other species making it their homes such as black-crowned night heron, little cormorant, and greater coucal heron. If you want to view this incredible scene, choose to go there at dawn or dusk.
03. Ninh Kieu Wharf
This is a symbol of the youth and development of Can Tho City. Ninh Kieu attracts tourists due to charming river scenery and the views towards Hau River. Located on the bank of Hau River, right at the confluence of Hau River and Can Tho river, Ninh Kieu wharf is famous for not only being a place for walking and relaxing, but also a place for young people and tourists hang out, gather and dining in restaurants.
04. Tay Do Night Market
Tay Do Night Market is approximately 1km far from the heart of the Can Tho City. This market is not only well-known as the trading center of the Can Tho, but also an attractive tourism destination. Tay Do Night Market is designed in accordance with the landscape around and expresses the Southern style. The market is divided into many stalls of clothes, handicrafts, jewelry, food… which can meet all the demands of local and tourism. In addition, there are many interesting activities like games and traditional music shows.
05. Phuong Nam Monastery
Truc Lam Phuong Nam monastery is located on an area of 4 hectares in My Khanh Commune, Phong Dien district. The landscape and architectural culture from Ly – Tran period in this largest temple in the Western region will leave many imprints and a sense of peace and quietness in tourists.
Visiting this monastery, contemplating the landscape around, and praying for safety will give you a memorable pilgrimage. It is because the cultural and spiritual values imbued in every little corner of the monastery will surely bring tourists the feeling of peace of mind.
Day 10: Visiting Ben Tre, the major agricultural supplier in Mekong Delta
Ben Tre & top places to visit
The picturesque little province of Ben Tre was always one ferry beyond the tourist traffic of My Tho and consequently has developed at a more languid pace, although new bridges connecting Ben Tre with My Tho and Tra Vinh funneled more visitors into the area. The town’s sleepy waterfront, lined with aging villas, is easy to explore on foot, as is the rustic settlement across the bridge to the south of the center. This is also a good place to arrange boat trips in the area, particularly for those wanting to escape the tour-bus bustle. Plus, the riverside promenade and the narrow lanes on both sides of the river are ideal for two-wheeled exploration.
01. Ham Luong River
Cruising along Ham Luong River allows you to observe the lush tropical islet and relish the cool breeze here. Not only that, the trip was a great chance to visit traditional workplaces where locals make their own products from coconuts, such as activated charcoal, brooms, and souvenirs. It is difficult to express how comfortable and delightful you will be while being rowed under the shadow of palm trees on the calm water by a small boat. It is definitely an amazing activity you must try, so a premier group tour to Ham Luong should be included in your journey to Vietnam.
02. Vam Ho Bird Sanctuary
This spectacular place contains many wild forests with a great variety of trees including water coconut, date, mangrove, reed and Avicenna. This is a favorite destination of many animals, especially birds, to which the region is dedicated. Inside the Vam Ho Bird Sanctuary, visitors have a chance to travel around by boat, penetrate the submerged forest and step along narrow bamboo bridges to fill their chests with the purified air of a well-preserved wetland. Also, travelers can rest under the shadow of the forest or visit relics of resistance from the Vietnamese – American War.
03. Turtle Islet
Turtle Islet – Ben Tre Province is one of the four outstanding islets in Mekong Delta (aka Southwestern Vietnam) and draws lots of people no matter if they are domestic or international because of its rustic and delightful charm. The islet’s name is based on one of the four mascots according to the Vietnamese’s cultural tradition, including turtle, unicorn, dragon, and phoenix. It will be an advantage for you to take a boat trip around the Turtle Islet while relaxing in the temperate atmosphere and observing local activities.
04. Cai Mon fruit orchard
Cai Mon fruit orchard is a must-visit spot in your list of things to see and do in Ben Tre. Actually, anyone who set foot in this fruit plantation will be dazzled due to the abundance and diversity of fruits like durian, sweet mango, longan, purple mangosteen, rambutan, others. Additionally, an attractive feature of the orchard is that it is the home of artists who have the ability to plant valuable plants and designing them in unique shapes.
05. Ben Tre Revolutionary Museum
Set in a classic two-story yellow building with blue shutters and white detailing, the grand tree-filled grounds here are a favorite hangout for canoodling locals whiling away the slow hours in each other’s arms—the Ben Tre Museum is also well worth a look. Unusually for Vietnamese provincial museums, the Ben Tre Revolutionary Museum is reasonably well captioned in both Vietnamese and English. There are also displays of some of the ghastly traps Viet Cong soldiers would hide hoping to main and kill their enemy. The captioning on some of the photos here is far from fairly–minded, but a walkthrough is sobering.
Planning a trip can be time-consuming and sometimes tedious, especially when all these new names, cities and activities you’ve never heard of are overflooding your reading. But luckily, you have known how to travel around Vietnam in 14 days (or the best Vietnam itinerary in two weeks). In case you wish to have your own travel agent, who can offer a wonderful and hassle-free trip, please hesitate not to contact us for the tailored request.