Ultimate 7 Day Vietnam Itinerary (North and Central) 2024

Ultimate 7 Day Vietnam Itinerary (North and Central) 2024
Reading Time: 14 minutes

 

This 7 Day Vietnam Itinerary is the perfect solution for travellers who want to experience all that Vietnam has to offer in just one week. 

I’ve recently spent 3 months solo traveling all around Vietnam and WOW does this beautiful country have so much to offer! 

And, while spending several weeks in Vietnam is ideal, I know most travellers have limited vacation time. So this itinerary will help you make the most of the limited time you have!

So, I’ve used my experience to create the perfect 1 week Vietnam itinerary, focusing on the highlights of North and Central Vietnam, with plenty of options so you can customize it for you. 

Whether you’re planning a quick getaway to Vietnam or combining it with a visit to Thailand, get ready for an unforgettable journey through the wonders of Vietnam!

 

 

7 Days in North and Central Vietnam – A Travel Itinerary and Guide

Pin this 7 Day North + Central Vietnam Tour Itinerary and Travel Guide

 


PS – Useful Travel Resources to use while heading to Vietnam to tick off this 7 Day North and Central Vietnam Itinerary – 


 

7 Day Vietnam Itinerary – Overview

Begin your adventure in the bustling capital city of Hanoi, where you’ll immerse yourself in its vibrant culture and rich history. 

Next, venture to Ninh Binh with its breathtaking landscapes and ancient temples. Cruise through the stunning Halong Bay and marvel at its iconic limestone cliffs. 

Continue your journey to the vibrant city of Da Nang explore its beautiful beaches, and take a motorbike tour over the Hai Van Pass. 

Finally, visit the charming town of Hoi An and get lost in its picturesque streets and traditional architecture. 

Welcome to Vietnam | Incense Sticks in a Hanoi Temple – Photo by frank mckenna on Unsplash

 

Day 1: Arrival in Vietnam | Land in Hanoi

Upon arriving at Noi Bai International Airport (HAN) in Hanoi, the vibrant capital of Vietnam, you’ll find yourself in the cultural heart of Vietnam. Whenever I arrive back in Southeast Asia, I’m hit with a bit of culture shock – it’s so busy!

To make your way from the airport to the heart of the city, you have a couple of convenient options: taxis or public transportation.

If you prefer a hassle-free ride, take a Grab taxi or arrange a private transfer in advance. I love having a private driver waiting for me when I’m getting off a long flight.

Pro Tip: I always recommend travellers in Southeast Asia download and set up the Grab app (Southeast Asia’s most popular rideshare app) BEFORE leaving home, because they’ll text you a one-time code during set-up, and you might not have cell service when you arrive.

Once you’re settled in your Hanoi accommodation, get ready to immerse yourself in the city’s rich history and diverse culture. 

I recommend that you stay in the Old Quarter of Hanoi – you’ll probably spend most of your time here while in town. 

Navigate through its labyrinth of narrow lanes and alleyways, and you’ll find yourself surrounded by a crazy blend of sights, sounds, and aromas. 

Buy some unfamiliar tropical fruits from the street vendors and have a taste. 

Have a bowl of Hanoi’s famous Bun Cha noodle soup at Bún Chả Hàng Quạt, or if you’re not quite ready for local street food, head to Mau Restaurant and try it there. 

Or if you just want to take it all in, stop by one of the million cafes you pass and enjoy the great Vietnamese pastime of people-watching – try Vietnamese coffee, coconut coffee, or egg coffee. Just FYI, egg coffee is more custard than coffee.

To escape the bustling energy of the city, take a peaceful stroll around one of Hanoi’s picturesque lakes. 

Hoan Kiem Lake, located in the heart of the city, is a popular gathering spot for both locals and tourists, especially at sunrise and sunset. Admire the iconic red bridge leading to the Ngoc Son Temple and enjoy the serene ambiance as you watch locals practicing tai chi or simply relaxing by the lakeside.

Hoan Kiem Lake | Photo by Bergkinder on Unsplash

For an elevated perspective of Hanoi’s skyline, head up to one of the city’s rooftop bars in the evening. Sip on a refreshing cocktail or a local Hanoi beer while taking in breathtaking panoramic views. 

Exploring Hanoi wouldn’t be complete without indulging in its unique food culture. One of my favourite ways to explore a new city is by taking a food tour. Food tours are a great way to learn more about local food in a non-intimidating way – and they’re always fun and social. I went with Ha Food Tours and had a blast!

 

Day 2: Explore Hanoi

On the second day of this Vietnam itinerary, get ready for a fun-filled day exploring Hanoi. Hopefully, the jetlag isn’t too bad.

Start with this Motorbike City Tour (a tour company that mainly hires women tour guides!) and visit some of the attractions that make Hanoi unique. They offer both a city tour (that’s the one I did) and a countryside tour. Take both if you want!

Tours are the best way to see a lot in a short amount of time. And they’re great for solo travellers like me – I make friends on almost every tour I take!

Hanoi Train Street | Photo by Silver Ringvee on Unsplash

Stop by Hanoi 1990s TrainStreet Coffee to watch trains pass through narrow streets with close-knit houses and shops, and explore the Ho Chi Minh Complex to see the preserved remains of Uncle Ho and learn more about Vietnam’s history.

As night falls, complete your day with a traditional water puppet show. These shows are unique performance art pieces that tell tales from Vietnamese folklore accompanied by live traditional music and singing. Be sure to check out Thang Long Water Puppet Theatre for an unforgettable experience!

 

Day 3: Ninh Binh Day Trip

For travellers looking to further explore the beautiful nature of Vietnam, a day trip to Ninh Binh, which is also one of the Top Bucket List Experiences in Vietnam,  should be on their itinerary. 

A guided group tour is the best way to fully experience this region in a short window of time – many companies offer day tours from Hanoi. 

The beauty of Ninh Binh

This one is a small-group tour to Tam Coc – located about 2 hours from Hanoi – that includes transportation, a riverboat tour, and a stop at Hoa Lu.

Hoa Lu served as the ancient capital and political center of the country in the 10th and 11th centuries. Today, it’s renowned for its enchanting landscapes, cultural heritage, and fascinating ancient relics. Visitors to Hoa Lu can explore the remnants of the imperial palace, admire the stunning pillars and temples, and immerse themselves in the rich history of this once-thriving capital. 

The boat tour (rowed by a local, often with their feet on the oars) is a must-do for any traveller coming to Ninh Binh! Witness limestone mountains rising out of emerald waters, and explore ancient caves and temples as you journey through unbelievably beautiful riverside scenery. 

No matter how you choose to spend your day in Ninh Binh which is also popularly referred to as Halong Bay on land, you will leave with an unforgettable experience full of stunning views and newfound knowledge about Vietnamese culture.

 

 

Day 4: Overnight in Halong Bay

Halong Bay is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and it’s easy to see why. It truly is an amazing sight, with thousands of limestone islands rising out of emerald-green waters. You’ll definitely want to add this stop on your 7 day Vietnam itinerary.

An overnight journey on a traditional junk boat, a classic Chinese sailing vessel, is the best way to experience this spectacular natural wonder.

There are cruises available for all budget ranges, from luxury liners to more casual day trips. 

Halong Bay | Photo by Fuu J on Unsplash

Most visitors will want to take an overnight cruise for the full Halong Bay experience and enjoy discovering hidden lagoons and exploring ancient caves or kayaking along the coastline at sunrise.

Halong Bay has gotten much more crowded now that it is so famous, but the overnight boats go a bit further from shore into less busy parts of the bay. Alternatively, you can look at exploring Cat Ba, or Lan Ha Bay, and this Lan Ha Bay travel guide, will help you with your Vietnam trip plan.

No matter how you choose to spend your time here, you can count on making memories that will last a lifetime – from watching the sunset over the water while sipping a cocktail in your boat’s outdoor lounge area to sharing stories around a bonfire as you drift through secluded coves late into the night.

If you’d rather visit more off-the-beaten-path bays that are just as gorgeous, head to Bai Tu Long Bay, near the Chinese border. This area is much less visited and has some of the same limestone formations as Halong Bay but without the crowds. 

You can also take a boat tour to nearby Yen Duc Village, where you’ll be able to get an up-close look at traditional Vietnamese fishing villages and explore mangrove forests.

 

Day 5: Fly to Da Nang / Hoi An

Alright, it’s time to head back to the airport in Hanoi and leave Northern Vietnam. Or, if you’d rather spend longer, check out the alternatives at the end of the post – you can customize the itinerary however you want!

You’ll fly to Central Vietnam via Da Nang International Airport (DAD). It’s a quick 1-hour flight, and then another 1-hour drive to Hoi An.

Hoi An is a charming riverside town known for its colorful lanterns and is one of the most popular places to visit in Vietnam. 

Welcome to Hoi An

One reason why Hoi An is so famous is because it has more than 500 tailor shops – you can get custom-made clothing in any style you like! People especially love getting custom suits and formal wear made here. I had 6 different pieces made at Two Ladies Tailor and wish I could have had at least 6 more.

Your tailor will talk to you about what you’re looking for, sketch out a design, measure you, and help you select fabric. A few hours later, your clothes will be ready for a fitting! Then a few hours after that or by the next day, they’ll make adjustments as needed and your clothes will be ready to take home. It’s like magic!

The streets are lined with cafes, noodle shops, and banh mi stands, so you won’t go hungry. My favourite place to try Hoi An’s famous White Rose dumplings and Mi Quang noodles is Quán Cao lầu Bá Lễ.

Hoi An also offers plenty of ways to explore the local culture. You can wander around the ancient town to see historical architecture, or take a boat tour through nearby mangrove forests and traditional Vietnamese fishing villages. 

 

 

Day 6: Hoi An

For those looking for adventure, this Hai Van Pass motorbike tour is the perfect way to explore Marble Mountain and the Hue countryside. You’ll see stunning views from the top of Hai Van Pass and feel the wind in your hair as you make your way through small villages along the coast. 

This tour was my first time using an “easy rider” – an experienced motorbike rider does the driving and you play the part of passenger princess enjoying the views – and I loved it! No stress and all fun. 

We made a bunch of stops in the most scenic places including a beachside seafood restaurant for lunch, a beautiful natural spring to cool off, and a photo session at the Big Buddha in Da Nang.

Another option for Day 6 is to stay in Hoi An itself and take part in a traditional Vietnamese cooking class in Hoi An. Learn about traditional Vietnamese cuisine and create dishes that you can enjoy with your friends or family later on in your travels. Many classes also offer market tours where you’ll learn about local ingredients used in traditional Vietnamese cooking.

If you’re looking for a relaxing day, there’s always a beach day! The nearby Cua Dai Beach offers endless opportunities to soak up some sun, take a dip in the ocean, or just relax with a good book. There are also plenty of shops and restaurants nearby if you need something to eat or souvenirs to bring home with you.

Or you can do the BaNa Hills and Golden Bridge Day Tour from Hoi An.

Golden Bridge – BaNa Hills | Photo by Andreea Popa on Unsplash

Or, the My Son Temple and Sanctuary Tour. If you like visiting such archeological sites and ruins, you should definitely add the UNESCO World Heritage site of Angkor Wat, in Cambodia to your South East Asia Itinerary. And this 7 Day Cambodia Travel Itinerary, will answer all your queries, and help you tick off one of the most popular attractions in the World.

My Son Temple and Sanctuary | Photo by Steve Douglas on Unsplash

No matter what activity you choose to do on Day 6, it’s sure to be an unforgettable experience during your travels in Vietnam!

 

Day 7: Departure from Vietnam

On the last day of this 1 week Vietnam itinerary, you’ll head back to the Da Nang International Airport for your flight out of Vietnam. 

Before saying goodbye to Hoi An, stop for one last banh mi before you go. 

Once you’re all set with everything ready for departure, check in at least two hours before your flight and head towards security. The airport has plenty of shops and eateries if you want to pick up anything as a souvenir or just grab something quick before takeoff.

As you board the plane and look at Da Nang from above, remember that this journey was full of experiences that made this week unforgettable! 

Whether it’s visiting old temples, exploring stunning beaches, or trying new cuisine – Vietnam has left its mark on you. 

Now it’s time for a new destination – or maybe even home – in the next chapter of your adventure!

 

Things to Add to Your Vietnam Itinerary

Ha Giang

Ha Giang is a great option for travellers looking for something off the beaten path. It’s quite far from Hanoi – about 6 hours – so not ideal for a 1 week itinerary, but a perfect addition to an extensive South East Asia travel itinerary.

Ha Giang  | Photo by Phuong Anh on Unsplash

With its dramatic hills, limestone formations, and tranquil rice terraces, it’s one of the best places in Vietnam to experience nature and traditional culture. 

You can take slow hikes along the mountainside or opt for a more challenging trek up Fansipan, Vietnam’s highest mountain. Either way, you’ll be rewarded with stunning views and a unique glimpse into local life.

 

Mekong Delta

To explore the Mekong Delta region, Ho Chi Minh in south Vietnam is the perfect starting point. 

Mekong Delta Day Trip from Ho Chi Minh City | Photo by Tomáš Malík on Unsplash

The city itself offers plenty of attractions such as the Cu Chi Tunnels, the War Remnants Museum, and lively night markets, which are just some of the Best Things to do in Saigon / Ho Chi Minh city. But beyond that lies an incredible chance to experience rural Vietnam through boat trips down winding canals and treks into lush jungles.

 

Extra Night in Halong Bay

Finally, an extra night in Halong Bay is an opportunity not to be missed! 

A UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1994, this stunning bay is composed of nearly 2000 islands jutting out of emerald waters – many topped with rainforests filled with exotic wildlife. 

I spent 2 nights and 3 days on a junkboat and will never forget it.

 

Thailand

A lot of travellers visiting Vietnam head straight to Thailand after their 7 days in Vietnam as it’s only an hour and a half flight away!

From the vibrant capital of Bangkok to the renowned beaches of Koh Samui and Phi Phi Islands, there are endless places to explore. My personal favourite place in Thailand is the northern city of Chiang Mai – not to be missed!

If you plan on adding Thailand to your South East Asia Tour Itinerary, we recommend that you check out this 7 Day Phuket Dive + Travel Itinerary along with this Bangkok Weekend Travel Itinerary and Chiang Mai 3 Day Itinerary, which will help you plan for your trip to Thailand. Furthermore, you should also check out the Best Hotels and Resorts in Thailand and the Best Tours and Activities in Phuket, to have a hassle free vacation in Thailand.

 

Where to Stay in Vietnam?

Vietnam is one of the Cheapest Travel Destinations in the World. What that means, is that there are plenty of amazing hotels and resorts for you to choose from, at a fraction of the price, compared to other destinations.  Having said that, here are our recommendations that you can check out – 

Top Hotels and Resorts in Hanoi – Kén Hotel by Connek | Silk Hanoi Moment Hotel & Spa | Eliana Signature Hanoi Hotel | Hanoi Paradise Center Hotel & Spa

While booking your hotel in Hanoi, try booking one which is in the Old Quarter or at walking distance from the Hoan Kiem Lake (the heart of Hanoi), and all our recommendations are near Hoan Kiem Lake.

Top Hotels and Resorts in Hoi An – Long Life Riverside Hotel | BAY RESORT HOI AN | Anantara Hoi An Resort 

While booking your hotel in Hoi An, try booking one which is in Hoi An Ancient Town, as that’s where all the action is in the evenings, and all our recommendations are in Hoi An Ancient Town only.

Or you can simply enter your dates, and hit the search button in the box below, to search and compare prices for the Best Hotels in Vietnam, based on your needs.

 

 

Top Vietnam Tours and Activities

Top Hanoi Tours and Activities – Hanoi Jeep Tours | Hanoi Street Food Tour | Hanoi Motorbike ToursFull Day Ninh Binh Day Tour from Hanoi | 2 D/ 1 N All Inclusive Halong Bay Cruise 

Top Hoi An Tours and Attractions – Hoi An City and Countryside Tour | Coconut Forest Basket Boat Ride | Hoi An Street Food Tour on Motorbike | My Son Sanctuary Half Day Tour | BaNa Hills and Golden Bridge Day Tour | Marble Mountain and Monkey Mountains Sunset Tour from Hoi An

 

7 Day Vietnam Travel Itinerary – Summary

Day 1 – Arrival in Hanoi | Explore Hanoi

Day 2 – Full Day Hanoi Exploration

Day 3 – Ninh Binh Day Trip from Hanoi

Day 4 – Hanoi – Halong Bay | Stay in Halong Bay / Cat Ba

Day 5 – Halong Bay – Hanoi | Fly to Da Nang | Da Nang – Hoi An

Day 6 – Explore Hoi An

Day 7 – Fly out from Da Nang | Departure from Vietnam

This 7 day Vietnam Itinerary is the perfect way to experience the best of what this diverse country has to offer and shows you why Vietnam is one of the best Southeast Asian countries to visit. 

You’ll experience the preserved Vietnamese culture of Hanoi, the beauty of Halong Bay, and the serene countryside of Hue. You’ll visit historical sites like Hoi An Ancient Town and relax on one of the most beautiful beaches in the world. And you’ll eat some of the best food you’ve ever had in your life.

With a mix of history, nature, and culture, this itinerary offers unique experiences for everyone and allows them to make lifelong memories. 

So if you’re looking for an adventure-packed week full of surprises and excitement, you’re ready to go!

This 7 Day Vietnam Tour Itinerary was thoughtfully drafted by Cat from Cat is Out of the Office. Cat is a very hungry solo female traveler in her 30s, who left a 6-figure job in NYC to travel (and taste!) the world. Cat is determined to prove that there are ways to backpack the world on a budget without fully sacrificing the “grown-up” lifestyle you love. 

Don’t forget to Pin this Vietnam Travel Guide and Vietnam Trip Planner featuring an exhaustive 7 Day North and Central Vietnam Travel Itinerary, carefully crafted and curated by a travel expert, which will help you in planning for your trip to Vietnam.

7 Day Trip to Vietnam | Best of Vietnam | Travel Itinerary and Guide

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