Vietnam is one of my favourite countries. The shape of it – long and thin – and the spacing of the best places to go, means that if you only have one week, Vietnam is a fantastic place to go.
This one time, I cycled from Hanoi, down to Ho Chi Minh City, which is basically the route you need to take. Here I’ll take you through the best 7 day Vietnam itinerary so you can have the most memorable trip possible.
This Vietnam travel guide will help you plan your time wisely. If you only have one week in Vietnam you’ll want to know the best things to see and do, and in what order. It’s all here!
Whether you’re in a Vietnam for a week as a standalone holiday, or you’re visiting as part of a longer South East Asia trip, then this is what I’d recommend you do to get a good flavour of the country.
Vietnam is wonderful. Expect to see crazy roads, fun nightlife, caring locals and incredible food – also, cheap beer. And in this week Vietnam itinerary, you’ll see it all.
So, here’s my exact 7 day Vietnam itinerary, complete with costs, reasoning, hotel recommendations and links to my experiences in more depth. I hope this helps and if you have any questions, just ask in the comments box below.
How to Spend Vietnam itinerary 7 days – all tried and tested!
What to see in Vietnam in one week, South to North
Day 1 & 2. Ho Chi Minh City – Cu Chi Tunnels, Mekong Delta, markets
Day 3 & 4. Hoi An – shopping, beaches, great food and drink
Day 5 . Hanoi – shopping, water puppet show, the lake
Day 6. Halong Bay – one night on a Junk Boat
Day 7. Back to Hanoi – chance to pick up on what you missed before
And then home… or maybe… somewhere else?
– This one week Vietnam itinerary contains affiliate links. If you book through them I will earn a few pennies (literally) at no charge to you. You can read my disclosure here.
If, by any chance, you have longer in Vietnam than one week, I’d totally recommend visiting Phu Quoc. It’s a small island off the south coast and a really beautiful and relaxing place to be. Pop over there for a few days. I ended up staying a week!
Ever thought about cycling from Ho Chi Minh City to Hanoi?
I did that.
How to see Vietnam in one week
Day 1: Arrive in Ho Chi Minh City
Your first stop on your week in Vietnam is to fly into Ho Chi Minh City. This is the main airport for flights coming into Vietnam, although you do have Hanoi in the north too.
Get a taxi from Ho Chi Minh City Airport to the centre of the city. Use a Mai Linh or Vinasun taxi for safety. I’d recommend staying at the Bich Duyen Hotel, it’s in a great location at the intersection of Pham Ngu Lao and De Tham streets.
If not the Bich Duyen Hotel, then I’d definitely recommend booking your hotel in this area.
Pham Ngu Lao is about a 30-minute drive away from the airport and cost us 170,000 dong to get there in the taxi (£5).
Depending on your flight time here are a few things I’d recommend you do, on your first day of your 7 days in Vietnam.
- Go shopping at the Ben Thanh Market
- Eat some pho – the absolute must eat dish of Vietnam
- Drink cocktails up at the Duc Vuong Hotel (approx £2.50 each x5)
- Visit Grand Independence Palace
- Go on a half day trip to the Cu Chi Tunnels (you really don’t need any longer)
- Visit Reunification Palace
- Check out the War Remnants Museum
- Go to Museum of Vietnamese History
- See the Ho-Chi-Minh Museum
- Hang out in Saigon Square
Your Vietnam one week itinerary is going to start with you hitting the ground running. You need to be prepared to fit in a lot in a short amount of time. Stay with me!
Day 2: Mekong Delta tour
Oh, you totally have to go on a Mekong Delta tour when you’re in Ho Chi Minh City, which is why I’ve dedicated day two to it. Book it locally and you can save money, rather than trying to book something online beforehand. There’ll be plenty of options.
You can expect to spend a few hours on your Mekong Delta tour, so you’ll still have the afternoon to explore more of the Ho Chi Minh City.
– You have to include the Mekong Delta on your 7 day Vietnam itinerary!
The bus took us and around 10 others out to the Mekong Delta where we:
- Rode a lot of different boats wearing the traditional hat
- Ate elephant fish
- Went to a cotton candy factory
- Saw some beekeepers
- Held a snake
- Saw a water buffalo
We left the Mekong Delta area at about 5pm and were back at our hotel for 7pm (there are shorter tours). There are so many places to eat in Ho Chi Minh City, especially in the Pham Ngu Lao area, but we chose to have dinner on De Tham Street at Five Oysters. Such good food – and a great price too. The food was yum, and I would definitely recommend.
It was a good feeding for our overnight train trip that night.
With just a 1 week trip to Vietnam, you’re going to need to spend a night travelling by train to get to your next destination, if you want to travel by train.
At 10pm we went and picked up our bags and took a taxi to the train station (70,000 dong/£2). Here we had an ice cream for dessert and got some water for the journey from the shop.
At 11pm the train left the station for Danang. It was $37 each (£23) through Vietnam Impressive for a 4-berth soft bed. Click for more on the trains in Vietnam, but let’s just say for now it was an adventure!
If you’re planning a trip to Vietnam there’s definitely a well trodden Vietnam backpacking route you can follow.
Trains for your week in Vietnam
I’d strongly recommend you book your trains in advance – you don’t want a busy train to ruin your week trip to Vietnam. You can book your trains on baolau.com easily and cheaply. I’ve done my research and it’s the cheapest place to find rail tickets for Vietnam IMHO.
Fill in your request here to find out the latest prices… and timings.
Best way to get from Ho Chi Minh City to Hoi An
You can also fly from Ho Chi Minh City to Hoi An, well, to Da Nang, and then get a taxi to the incredible Hoi An. This is much quicker. It takes 1 hour 20 minutes to get from Ho Chi Minh City to Hoi An, and will cost from around £35.
I’d recommend this way, if you only have 7 days in Vietnam.
– If you only have 7 days in Vietnam, getting around by train is too slow
If you want to travel from Ho Chi Minh City to Hoi An by train, then you can. It’ll take around 17 hours though, and cost around £20. Probably not the best idea if you only have a week in Vietnam.
Day 3: Arrive in Danang to travel to Hoi An
A taxi from Danang to Hoi An costs around 800,000 dong/£25 and takes just over an hour.
You absolutely need to go to Hoi An during your week in Vietnam. You can walk by all the tailor shops, go for a coffee along the river and just hang out in the European feel city.
Great Vietnamese food here. Make sure to try the White Rose that Hoi An is famous for, and some summer rolls too. Take a boat ride along the canal too.
Enjoy the markets and get stuck into the shopping. We got quite carried away with three dresses, three necklaces, a tie, a top, a bag and two pairs of shoes between us, all made bespoke and for great prices. And remember, always barter.
The river in Hoi An is absolutely incredible by night and a definite must. You’ll find people setting off lanterns along the water and compared to the quietness in the day the town is buzzing with people. Pay a few dong and you’ll get to send a lantern out, and make a wish.
Hoi An is absolutely beautiful and definitely needs to be on your Vietnam itinerary.
Check out the best things to do in Hoi An for your 1 week in Vietnam itinerary
Day 4: Enjoy the shops and beach in Hoi An
The roadside coffee though, now wow, that’s a different thing all together. For next to nothing in a shabby looking coffee bar we had the best coffee I’ve ever tasted. Go for it.
Vietnam is famous for its coffee, especially the weasel poo coffee that’s infinitely expensive the world over, but perfectly affordable here. I tried it!
Today is the perfect opportunity to hire a bike, or a moped, and go and explore the beaches of Hoi An. And pick up those clothes you ordered yesterday.
Get ready to leave tonight. You won’t want to!
Other attractions in Hoi An you could see: My Son, Quang Ngai, Tra Que Village, Hai Van Pass, China Beach, motorbike tour, Marble Mountain, Huyen Khrong Cave, Chua Ong Pagoda, Chinese Assembly Hall, Imperial Citadel, Cua Dai Beach
Take a look at all the things to do in Hoi An on Viator.
How to get from Hoi An to Hanoi
You can travel by train from Hoi An to Hanoi but it will take around 17 hours. Up to you.
I’d recommend flying for your week Vietnam itinerary, 7 days just isn’t quite long enough to be worried about any delays on the trains. I’d get a taxi back to Da Nang Airport and then get an hour and 20 minute flight up to Hanoi. Quicker, easier and could actually even be cheaper.
Day 5: Collect shopping and go to Hanoi
Book onto the earliest flight possible from Hanoi – it’s time to get on to your next adventure.
We arrived at Danang Airport to find there was only a Burger King available. Ah well, cheeseburger it is then. One meal off the pho won’t do us any harm. Obviously the change in cuisine was a taste sensation, just as a one off. We took a Jetstar, which seemed quite luxurious – and I have no complaints…
We arrived in Hanoi and got another taxi. I hadn’t done any research on this one and it took ages, maybe 90 minutes to get to the centre of Hanoi where we were staying. We passed some pretty dodgy places and were both getting worried, but it all turned out ok in the end. We later found out it was because we’d hit rush hour, and I just didn’t realise our hotel on Lo Sun was so far away.
Again, we used Minh and Viasun taxis, as we’d repeatedly been recommended.
We arrived at Gia Bao Grand Hotel at about 8pm and they welcomed us in. Although, they did tell us we had a free upgrade and only had to pay $10 for the pleasure. We said we didn’t need it and they said we could have it anyway. It was very odd. But we got a huge and comfy room for just $40 (£25) per night.
Unfortunately that’s shut down now so I’d recommend The Hanoian Hotel which looks fantastic and is around the same price.
We went on the search for some food and were directed to the backpacker district near the Old Quarter. The first place we saw was 72 Ma May Restaurant. We were led upstairs to what luckily for us turned out to be our own private balcony overlooking the street.
We were soon joined by two backpackers who we ended up having a really good night with, lots of chat and fun and I was sad when they left. You have to find this restaurant if you visit Hanoi.
Then we went and had a few drinks in the are and ended up seeing one of the weirdest things in Hanoi.
I hope that you will arrive a bit earlier so you can really make the most of the many, many cool things to do in Hanoi.
Day 6: Sightseeing in Hanoi
Ok, you have a choice today. You can either book your trip to see Halong Bay, so you can have a full day and night there, and pick the city up again when you get back. Or go tomorrow. I’d probably recommend you book it in today, but that depends on whether you have 7 days in Vietnam, or 8.
So, in short, today and tomorrow can be swapped around if you prefer, depending on your flight outta there. Or, you might have to drop today all together. I’m just giving you the options.
You’ll do lots of walking today. Here are a few of the best things you can do in Hanoi, on one of your last days in the city.
Day 7: Take a day trip to Halong Bay
Halong Bay is absolutely stunning, and a great place to spend the last day of your one week in Vietnam itinerary.
We were picked up at 8am from our hotel by the guys from Golden Lotus Tours. It was a 5-hour journey out to beautiful Halong Bay, so bring your headphones and snacks.
On arrival we took a smaller boat out to the junk boat. We sailed for a bit and then parked up and went to the Cave of Wonders. It was incredible in there, and the name was no exaggeration.
After the Cave of Wonders, we went to a beach which was surrounded by the incredible limestone cliffs. You could climb up them for amazing views across the bay.
In the evening we had a cooking class and learned to make spring rolls. I have to say mine were pretty amazing. This was followed by more booze and a karaoke party, which was basically the boat staff and a tone deaf Spanish girl belting out stilted English.
If you prefer, you can travel from Hanoi to Halong Bay by bus.
Day 8: Canoeing and back to Hanoi
We woke up a little hazy from the night before at 7am. Then it was time to go kayaking. There were some awesome caves to kayak in, in Halong Bay.
Back on the boat after an hour and we had a semi-delicious English breakfast – it was the beans on toast that excited me. Then it was a three-hour scenic trip back to the mainland.
When we touched the shore we had lunch at a tasty restaurant on the coast line, which was included in the price. This was to give us the energy for our 5-hour journey to Hanoi, which I pretty much slept through. Again, we stopped once at a different disabled centre and bought and wrote out some postcards to pass the time.
Finally back in Hanoi it’s your last night before your Vietnam one week itinerary comes to an end.
Book your flight for tonight, or for the next morning, to really make the most of your 1 week in Vietnam.
Hanoi airport hotel
If you need an airport hotel, we stayed at the Avi Airport Hotel which was just ten minutes from the airport. This was an awesome idea, as there was no stress and who knows how long it would’ve taken in the morning rush hour. The Airport Hotel was pretty skanky, but we had a room, and a bathroom. Wi-Fi didn’t work, we had to climb 5 flights of stairs (the poor bell boy carried our bags) and the TV had no English channels, but it did the job and the staff were super friendly.
Nothing better to do than sleep, so we were well rested for our early morning flight.
Top tips for seeing Vietnam in 1 week
This one week Vietnam itinerary is perfect if you’re short on time.
Obviously you will have missed out on some pretty big places to see in Vietnam – like Sapa, Hue, Nha Trang and Phu Quoc. But hey, if one week is all you have, then yeah, it’s all you have. Time is all about what you do with it, right?
- Haggle and barter on everything.
- Be prepared for the heat.
- Drink lots of coffee.
- Eat the Vietnamese street food.
- Don’t be scared of walking around, but don’t be stupid either.
- On the way back we had a 9-hour stopover in Qatar, which was interesting…
And that’s it for your 7 day Vietnam vacation itinerary for now!
Let me know if you have any questions below, and let me know if you go too. If you want to know what I really thought of the trip, check out What Vietnam Was Like, For Me. It’s all in there.
I’d love to know if this epic guide has helped you at all…
How to Book This 7 days in Vietnam
You need to fly in to Hanoi and out of Ho Chi Minh City to follow this Vietnam 1 week itinerary. It might be cheaper to buy a round trip to one of the cities, and then buy your ongoing flight cheaper.
So, a round trip to Ho Chi Minh City, and then a separate flight up to Hanoi.
Check out netflights.com to compare flight prices to Vietnam.
I flew with Qatar Airways for £675 which sounds like a lot now I think about it. It could be because I went in August.
Flights to Ho Chi Minh City should start at around £400.
Accommodation in Vietnam
I booked all my accommodation through Booking.com which is my favourite hotel booking site. Mainly because they have good pictures, the site is set out in an easy to read way, and the bookings are all free to cancel. This is great when you’re on the move and not 100% sure.
I’ve used Booking.com for 85% of my travels, and then HostelWorld for the other 10%. Very occasionally if I can’t find what I want on those, I’ll use Hotels.com.
Where we stayed:
– HCMC: Saigon Mini Hotel 5 – awesome but shut down, try the Bich Duyen Hotel nearby.
– Hanoi: Huy Hoang Garden Hotel – don’t stay here, try the Hanoian Hotel instead).
– Halong Bay: Golden Lotus Tours – awesome.
Or you could try the Azaela Cruise, the Mon Cheri Cruise (above) or the Uni Charm Cruise if you’d like a bit of lux in your life. All come very highly recommended on Booking.com by past guests. You have to go on a boat trip in Halong Bay, so why not stay overnight and really make the most of it?
– Hanoi Airport: Hanoi Avi Airport Hotel – this was cheap, cheerful and perfect for the airport, but not necessarily a nice experience. You could try the VATC Sleep Pod instead. It’s in the airport so you’ll be ready for action as soon as your flight is.
– HCMC: Ruby River Hotel – super awesome, stay there!
And if you’re looking for somewhere a bit fancier for your 7 days in Vietnam, check out The Best of the Unique Places to Stay in Vietnam
I booked our train tickets before I went on baolau.com. If you have a set date and time you want to travel I’d strongly recommend you book in advance – you don’t want a full train to scupper your travel plans on your two-week Vietnam itinerary.
Travelling by trains in Vietnam is one of the most fascinating ways to get around – I’d definitely recommend you try it out.
If you want to book on the Halong Bay Day tour, or a rice paddies tour in Sapa, I’d definitely recommend you book in advance. Check out the tours on Viator for the latest prices.
Vietnam tours 7 days
If you’re just doing the odd day trip or food tour then just book when you’re in your location in Vietnam though. You’ll get a better rate and all the money will go to who it’s meant to. If there’s a group of you you may also be able to get a good deal.
You’ll find Tourism Information offices readily available in the bigger cities.
Top 3 questions about one week in Vietnam
Can you do Vietnam in a week?
Yes. If you follow my itinerary you’ll find you can have a great time in Vietnam in just a week. The main tourist sites are well signed, easy to find and easy to see. There are many tourist routes on trains, buses and planes, and the taxi drivers are used to tourists. You can definitely get a good flavour of Vietnam in a week.
Is 7 days in Vietnam enough?
Yes, and no. The first time I went to Vietnam I stayed for two weeks, and the second time I was there for a month. But if I was to go back, I’d probably go for a week. As I’ve said, you can see a lot of Vietnam in a week, but as always, there’s still a lot more to see. Vietnam is a wonderful country, with a lot to see, but if you stick to my Vietnam itinerary above you’ll get to see a lot of the country.
How much money do I need for a week in Vietnam?
The cost of 1 week in Vietnam varies. I’d suggest upwards of £420. That’s £140 for accommodation – £20 a night. Then the same again for your daily food – so we’re up to £280. And add another £140 for activities and transport, so £420. If you want to do Vietnam for a week on a budget you can definitely get that number down, but if you want a comfortable week holiday in Vietnam then £420 is the magical base figure.