Experience all of Vietnam's highlights in one trip with this exciting 15-day itinerary. The adventure begins in the capital of Hanoi where you'll get a walking tour of the Old Quarter. Then work your way south through small fishing villages and rice paddies, ancient temples and trading ports, and hidden charms of the Mekong Delta. Of course, there will be time to hit the beaches on Phu Quoc Island where you'll have two blissful free days at the end of the trip.


  • Cycle your way through villages, citrus gardens, and rice fields on several occasions
  • Sleep on a traditional boat in Ha Long Bay and dine on seafood
  • Explore more than 70 ruins of ancient temples at My Son Holy Land
  • Stay two nights in Hoi An, home of the UNESCO-listed Ancient City
  • Sample authentic Vietnamese food and rice wine, and even take a cooking class

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Hanoi, Explore Hanoi
Day 2 Visit Duong Lam Ancient Village, Walking Tour of Hanoi Hanoi
Day 3 Transfer to Mai Chau, Explore Local Villages Mai Chau
Day 4 Boat Tour in Tam Coc, Cycling Trip to Hoa Lu, Transfer to Ninh Binh Ninh Binh
Day 5 Overnight Cruise on Ha Long Bay Ha Long Bay
Day 6 Swimming in Ha Long Bay, Transfer to Hoi An Hoi An
Day 7 Cycling Trip to Cam Thanh, Walking Tour of Hoi An Hoi An
Day 8 Explore My Son Holy Land, Transfer to Hue Hue
Day 9 Visit the Forbidden Purple City, Cycling Trip to Thuy Bieu Village Hue
Day 10 Fly to Ho Chi Minh City, Visit the Cu Chi Tunnels Ho Chi Minh City
Day 11 Cruise along the Ben Tre River, Transfer to Can Tho Can Tho
Day 12 Visit the Cai Rang Floating Market, Transfer to Phu Quoc Island Phu Quoc
Day 13-14 Free Days on Phu Quoc Island Phu Quoc
Day 14 Depart Phu Quoc  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in Hanoi, Explore 

The Old Quarter in Hanoi
Explore Hanoi's tree-lined streets on foot, starting with the Old Quarter

Welcome to Vietnam! Upon arrival at Hanoi airport, you'll meet your driver who will transfer you to your hotel in the city for check-in.

Depending on what time you arrive, you may want to take the rest of the day to rest after the long journey. Or, head out and explore Vietnam's lively capital on foot at your own pace. A good place to get your first dose of Vietnamese culture is by strolling around the maze of streets in the Old Quarter, with its mix of Chinese and French architecture, delicious street foods, and hawkers selling their wares—just make sure to watch out for scooters when you cross the street.

Day 2: Visit Duong Lam Ancient Village, Walking Tour of Hanoi

Hanoi's Tran Quoc Pagoda is a Buddhist temple with numerous shrines

After breakfast, a driver will pick you up at your hotel for the 31-mile (50 km) transfer to Duong Lam Ancient Village, one of the oldest settlements in the country. This charming, historic area is filled with 300-year-old homes and is the native land of two Vietnamese kings whose memorials are also here. On your tour, meet a resident and former editor-in-chief of a literary journal that covers the royal history of this village. Lunch will be served at a local house before departure. 

Back in Hanoi, you'll meet a local guide for a short walking tour (about an hour and a half) of the city and Old Quarter. Then head to the Ethnology Museum to learn about the different cultural groups in Vietnam or see a water puppet show at the theater in Hoan Kiem Lake. Before dinner, consider taking a stroll around West Lake to see the Tran Quoc Pagoda, which is said to be the most ancient temple in Hanoi.

Day 3: Transfer to Mai Chau, Explore Local Villages

Biking in Mai Chau
Take an easy bicycle ride and enjoy the rice paddies and forested mountains

Get ready to head into the countryside! After breakfast in Hanoi, a driver will meet you at your hotel and drive you to the idyllic mountain town of Mai Chau (three hours). After passing Hoa Binh, you'll enter the mountainous area that is the homeland of the Muong people, an ethnic group that lives in northern Vietnam.

Lunch will be served in Mai Chau, and then you can head out on a walk or bicycle trip to visit some neighboring villages and meet members of a Thai ethnic group in Vietnam called Tai Don. In the evening, you'll have dinner in one of the villages, sip some Ruou Can (a local rice wine), and watch a traditional dance show before settling into your accommodation.

Day 4: Boat Tour in Tam Coc, Cycling Trip to Hoa Lu, Transfer to Ninh Binh

River flowing through Tam Coc
Let a local guide row you down this river in Tam Coc

Today a driver will pick you up at your accommodation for the transfer to Ninh Binh. En route, you'll stop in Tam Coc for a guided rowing trip on a flat-bottomed sampan that takes you past rice paddies and dramatic limestone mountains.

The adventure doesn't end there. After the bout tour, take a picturesque bicycle ride from Tam Coc to Hoa Lu (one hour), the ancient capital of Vietnam in the 10th and 11th centuries. Learn more about Hoa Lu's history by exploring its two surviving temples: Dinh Temple, dedicated to the Dinh dynasty, and Le Temple, dedicated to the monarch Le Dai Hanh. Spend a few hours wandering around the ruins and then transfer to your accommodation in Ninh Binh, a small city with plenty of restaurants for dinner.

Day 5: Overnight Cruise on Ha Long Bay

A traditional boat sailing on Halong Bay
Take an overnight cruise on a traditional boat on Ha Long Bay

After breakfast at your hotel, a guide will pick you up and transfer you to the famous Ha Long Bay. But first, you'll make a stop in a traditional village to visit the wooden Keo Pagoda, a masterpiece of traditional architecture.

Once you reach Ha Long City, you'll head to the pier and embark on a sailing trip around the bay on a traditional wooden boat. This cruise allows you to get up-close views of the limestone islands that rise out of the bay's emerald waters. You'll also explore a beautiful grotto such as Me Cung Cave before heading back to shore for the opportunity to climb up the 340 steps up Ti Top Mount, from which you can get a stunning panoramic view over the bay. 

Back on board, you'll cast anchor in the bay and stay overnight in your comfortable sleeping quarters. Sit back and enjoy a freshly prepared seafood dinner on board as the sun sets.

Plan your trip to Vietnam
Chat with a local specialist who can help organize your trip.

Day 6: Swimming in Ha Long Bay, Transfer to Hoi An

Beach at Ti Top Island
Spend the morning swimming and kayaking on Ti Top Island

Today, if the weather permits, you'll have the opportunity to spend a few hours swimming and relaxing at the white sand beaches of Ti Top Island. You can also paddle a kayak to get inside Luon Cave, which is considered one of the smallest caves in Ha Long Bay.

Around noon, you'll return to the port and transfer back to Hanoi airport for your direct flight to Da Nang. Upon arrival, a driver will pick you up from Da Nang airport and transfer you to your hotel in Hoi An. Head out and explore the city's colorful and well-preserved Ancient Town on foot tonight and get a glimpse of why this historic trading port from the 16th century is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Day 7: Cycling Trip to Cam Thanh, Walking Tour of Hoi An

Hoi An's Ancient Town
Hoi An's charming Ancient Town is a UNESCO World Heritage Site

Fill up on breakfast this morning as you'll have an exciting day with two hours of cycling, an hour or so of walking, and multiple boat rides. First, you'll cycle to a nearby dock and take a boat to the Cua Dai sand dune where you can watch local fishermen cast their nets. Then continue to Cam Thanh Village where you'll have a brief introduction to the village's history before taking a basket boat along the river of water coconuts. At the Cam An wharf, you can enjoy local Vietnamese specialties for lunch.

After your meal, cycle back to Hoi An and take a walking tour of the Ancient Town where your guide will point out the traditional homes of historical merchants and traders, as well as the 400-year-old Japanese Covered Bridge, the Phuc Kien Chinese Temple, and more.

Day 8: Explore My Son Holy Land, Transfer to Hue

My Son Holy Land
Spend the morning wandering around the ancient religious relics of My Son Holy Land

It's time to depart Hoi An! Today you'll drive to My Son Holy Land, which was the capital city of the Champa Kingdom between the fourth and 12th centuries. My Son Holy Land is a large complex of religious relics that is comprised of more than 70 architectural works including temples and towers that are connected with complicated red brick designs.

Grab lunch around midday and then transfer to Hue along one of the most beautiful roads in Vietnam, the Mandarin Road. Passing through Hai Van Pass (Ocean Cloud Pass), you'll drive over a mountainous highway that offers splendid views over the South China Sea outside of Hue. Once you get to your hotel, enjoy some free time to have dinner and explore at your own pace.

Day 9: Visit the Forbidden Purple City, Cycling Trip to Thuy Bieu Village

The entrance to the Forbidden Purple City
The 19th-century Forbidden Purple City once housed Vietnam's royal family

Hue is an important cultural destination in Vietnam, and you'll start your exploration by touring the Forbidden Purple City, a moated and walled citadel from the 19th century. Then take a 4-mile (8 km) bicycle ride to Tu Duc Tomb and Thuy Bieu Village, a traditional village in the countryside of Hue with garden homes. Admire the rice fields, citrus fruit trees, and vegetable gardens between the communal homes. 

Once you cycle to Thuy Bieu, take a cooking class with a local chef and help prepare lunch for your group. Then relax and digest your meal while soaking your feet in water infused with medicinal herbs—a traditional therapeutic practice in Vietnam. Next is a cruise along the Perfume River where you'll visit the Thien Mu Pagoda, which was built in 1610. Finish this epic day back at your hotel in Hue and enjoy some free time.

Day 10: Fly to Ho Chi Minh City, Visit the Cu Chi Tunnels

View of Ho Chi Minh City
Spend one night in Ho Chi Minh City, formerly Saigon, with its modern skyline

After breakfast in Hue, a driver will pick you up at your hotel and transfer you to the airport for your flight to Ho Chi Minh City. Upon arrival, you'll be welcomed by a local guide and driver who will transfer you to your hotel where you'll check in and leave your luggage.

In the afternoon, make your way to Cu Chi to explore the Cu Chi Tunnels, a complex system of underground tunnels stretching over more than 150 miles (250 km) that were used by Viet Cong soldiers during the Vietnam War. You'll learn how these cleverly constructed tunnels were key in achieving victory, and what Viet Cong life looked like during these times. Return to your hotel and save some energy to explore the buzzing, high-octane streets of Ho Chi Minh City at your own pace. 

Day 11: Cruise on the Ben Tre River, Transfer to Can Tho

Ben Tre River
Meet local artisans as you cruise down the Ben Tre River

After breakfast, a driver will pick you up at your hotel and transfer you to Ben Tre. This is where you'll embark on a boat cruise along the Ben Tre River, one of the tributaries of the Mekong River.

There will be several stops to give you a picture of how the local economy works, including a brickworks, where bricks are made by hand; a coconut processing workshop, where you can sample fresh coconut; and a mat-weaving house, where straw mats are woven using a handloom. The boat will then make a longer stop in a quiet village where you can walk around and experience daily life in the Mekong Delta. In the afternoon, take a final transfer to your hotel in the city of Can Tho and spend the rest of the night as you wish.

Day 12: Visit the Cai Rang Floating Market, Transfer to Phu Quoc Island

Watch the sellers in action at this colorful floating market

After an early breakfast at your hotel, you'll visit Cai Rang Floating Market, one of the most bustling floating markets in the Mekong Delta where hundreds of small boats jostle for space as owners attempt to sell their goods. Pick up some souvenirs before you continue to Rach Gia Pier for your speedboat cruise to Phu Quoc Island. Upon arrival in Phu Quoc, transfer to your hotel via shuttle and begin your tropical island getaway!

Day 13-14: Free Days on Phu Quoc Island

Snorkeling on Phu Quoc Island
The crystal clear waters surrounding Phu Quoc Island provide excellent snorkeling opportunities

The next two days are wide open for you to enjoy Phu Quoc Island at your own pace! Facing the Gulf of Thailand, just south of Cambodia, this Vietnamese territory is a tropical paradise with white sand beaches, forested mountains, and a range of activities like snorkeling, scuba diving, kayaking, and hiking trails in the Phu Quoc National Park, not to mention all the fresh seafood you can eat. 

Day 15: Depart Phu Quoc

Fit in one more dip in the Gulf of Thailand before departure

The day has come to say goodbye to Vietnam! Enjoy any last hours of your time relaxing on the beach. At the appointed hour, you'll transfer to Phu Quoc airport for your departure flight. Safe travels!

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Looking for more inspiration for your trip to Vietnam? Check out these other Vietnam itineraries, explore more ways to spend 15 days in Vietnam, or discover the best time to visit Vietnam.

A note on diacritical markings: In order to support the best technical experience and search functions, diacritical markings have been omitted from this article.


Map of Best of Vietnam: Hanoi, Ha Long Bay, Ho Chi Minh City & More - 15 Days
Map of Best of Vietnam: Hanoi, Ha Long Bay, Ho Chi Minh City & More - 15 Days