Vietnam is one of the best travel destinations in South East Asia. The country is home to some of the most unique scenery and landscapes in the world and will certainly leave you impressed. If you want an experience rich in culture and nature, you should add 7 days in Vietnam to your South East Asia itinerary.
With 7 days in Vietnam, you can experience the rich history and culture, incredible nature and scenery, delicious food, friendly locals and lively nightlife.
First of all, if you are planning a trip to Vietnam, this is EVERYTHING you need to know before arriving, from visas to flights, weather, sim cards, accommodation and more. Then it is time to plan your itinerary for Vietnam.
This 7 day Vietnam itinerary will take you to the best places in North Vietnam. For other places to visit in Vietnam, see this Vietnam Bucket List.
7 Day Vietnam Itinerary – Day 1 – Hanoi
The capital of Vietnam is a great starting point in the country.
After flying into Hanoi, spend your first day exploring the city. Hanoi is known for its Southeast Asian, Chinese and French-influenced architecture, food and culture and has lots to see and do.
Aside from the gorgeous architecture, Hanoi is home to a number of museums that will fill you in on the country’s history. Be sure to visit some of the city’s traditional Vietnamese monuments, such as temples and pagodas and eat as much Vietnamese food as you can – Hanoi is known for its delicious food scene.
You will never be stuck for things to do in Hanoi. Some of the top things to do in Hanoi include the Imperial Citadel, Water Puppet Theatre and the Old Quarter.
Day 2 -3 – Ninh Binh
On your second day in Vietnam, travel two hours south of Hanoi to Ninh Binh. Ninh Binh should act as your base as you spend the next two days exploring the surrounding area, which is home to some of the most unspoilt parts of Vietnam.
During your two days in Ninh Binh, you must explore Tam Coc, which you will find just outside of Ninh Binh. Tam Coc is home to some of Vietnams best scenery. Similar to the scenery in Halong Bay but with towering limestone formations overland instead. Tam Coc was a highlight of my trip and a destination that I recommend everyone adds to their Vietnam itinerary.
Some other areas to visit in the region include Trang An, Van Long, Cuc Phuong and Hoa Lu.
Getting from Hanoi to Ninh Binh
You have three options for getting from Hanoi to Ninh Binh: Bus, train or taxi. All great options and dependent on your budget.
The easiest way to travel to Ninh Binh is by bus. You can book a bus that will pick you up and drop you off for only $10USD.
Another option is to catch a train to Ninh Binh railway station. This journey will cost as little as $5USD however keep in mind that you will have to arrange additional transportation to and from your accommodation.
Alternatively, you can book a private taxi from Hanoi to Ninh Binh. This option is more costly, at around $68USD however you will not have to wait for other pick-ups and can travel straight to Ninh Binh in two hours.
Day 4-5 – Halong Bay
On day 4 in Vietnam, head northeast to Halong Bay, where you will spend the next two days surrounding by some of the most stunning scenery in the country.
Halong Bay has to be the most popular tourist destinations in Vietnam, and it’s really no surprise why. The emerald waters and thousands of towering limestone islands topped by rainforests create some of the most impressive landscapes in the world and make for great photo opportunities.
There are so many different things to do in Halong Bay. Some of the Top 10 Things to do in Halong Bay include taking a cruise through the bay, visiting the Bai Tho Mountain Lookout and kayaking.
Getting from Ninh Binh to Halong Bay
To get from Ninh Binh to Halong Bay you can either catch a bus or private taxi.
Several local buses run between Ninh Binh and Halong Bay each day. Travel time will be between 4-5 hours and cost around $10USD.
Alternatively, you can travel via tourist bus from Ninh Binh to Halong Bay. Travel time for this option is slightly less at 3.5-4 hours and will cost up to $20USD.
Another option is to catch a private taxi to Halong Bay. This is the most expensive option, costing around $135USD however is the fastest and most comfortable way to get to Halong Bay.
Day 6 – Cat Ba Island
On day 6 in Vietnam, travel to and spend the night on Cat Ba Island.
Cat Ba is an island in Halong Bay known for caves, hikes, lush rainforest and mountainous terrain. Exploring Cat Ba is a great way to experience more of what Halong Bay has to offer.
Key attractions on Cat Ba include the Hospital Caves, Cat Ba National Park and Cannon Fort lookout.
Getting from Halong Bay to Cat Ba Island
To get to Cat Ba from Halong Bay you will first need to catch a 30 minute ferry, which will cost you $3.50USD. To get from the port to Cat Ba Town, you can then catch a bus, which will cost between $2-$5USD.
Day 7 – Head back to Hanoi
On your final day in Vietnam, make your way back to Hanoi. The cheapest and fastest way to travel from Cat Ba to Hanoi is via ferry and bus, which will take between 3-5 hours and cost around $15USD.
Once back in Hanoi, spend your last day soaking up as much Vietnamese culture as you can and explore any attractions that you missed on your first day in the city.
This 7 day Vietnam itinerary will take you to the best places in North Vietnam. It will be a busy 7 days but will leave you with a taste of all the country has to offer.
Visa for Vietnam
You will need a tourist visa to visit Vietnam. Click here to arrange a visa.
Book accommodation in Vietnam
Vietnam 7-day budget guide
If you’re planning a 7 day trip to Vietnam, you’re probably wondering how much you will spend. The cost of travelling around Vietnam depends on how you want to travel.
The cost of staying in a hostel starts at $3-$7 for a dorm bed to $7-$15 for a private room. For a mid-range hotel, expect to pay $40 – $100 and for luxury, anywhere above that. I recommend using booking.com to search for accommodation.
A meal costs between $3–$15 depending on where and what you eat. If you are on a budget, eat local food at local restaurants. Western food always costs more. You can get a beer for $1–$2.
Flights around Vietnam start at $30 and buses are generally around $10-$20 between major locations. A ferry to Cat Ba costs $3.5 USD. Bike hire generally costs $5–10 USD per day, depending on your location.
Not including flights to Vietnam, I would expect a 7-day budget to be around $300 for budget travellers and upwards from that depending on how you want to travel. For help creating your budget, get my guide to affording travel.
Book a tour in Vietnam
Get Travel Insurance for Vietnam
I recommend taking out travel insurance before your trip to Vietnam. I recommend World Nomads.
Packing for 7 days in Vietnam
When travelling around South East Asia and Vietnam, I highly recommend packing light. You will be moving often so the less you have with you, the easier it will be to get around.
These are some essentials for Vietnam:
- Sunscreen and a hat – Vietnam is a hot country.
- Insect repellent – mosquitos are very common.
- Swimmers and a sarong – because you will want to swim every time you get a chance.
- A reusable water bottle and coffee cup – Vietnam doesn’t need any more rubbish.
- Summer-appropriate, but conservative clothing.
- A light jacket for nights.
- A portable phone charger.
- A good book for the time you spent in transit.
Other tips for Vietnam
- Don’t drink the tap water in Vietnam.
- Always carry cash as some destinations won’t have easy access to an ATM.
- USD and Vietnamese Dong are accepted.
- Insect spray is a good item to carry with you.
- Haggling for the best price in markets is common.
- Check out this guide to tipping in Vietnam.