Vietnam

7 Days Trip to Vietnam: A Traveler’s Journal (2024)

Venturing on a 7 days trip to Vietnam promises an immersive journey through a land where ancient traditions smoothly merge with vibrant modernity. From the bustling streets of Hanoi, resonating with the echoes of its rich history, to the tranquil beauty of Halong Bay’s emerald waters and the bustling markets of Ho Chi Minh City, every step unfolds a new chapter in the captivating tale of Vietnam.

With a blend of cultural gems, culinary delights, and breathtaking landscapes, this week-long adventure is a collection of experiences waiting to be stitched together for your travel memories. Join me as we travel through this enchanting Southeast Asian gem, where each day unfolds a new layer of Vietnam’s unique charm and attraction.

A friend and I embarked on a journey to Vietnam when this Southeast Asian gem had not gained widespread popularity, particularly among Indian travelers. It raised eyebrows and sparked surprise when we announced our plan to spend our annual Christmas vacation exploring Vietnam.

Despite its then-lesser-known status, Vietnam charmed us with its beauty, a charm that still endures. Over time, many curious individuals have contacted me to learn about our itinerary and the details of our 7-day adventure in Vietnam.

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About Vietnam

Nestled in Southeast Asia, Vietnam has a rich culture, breathtaking landscapes, and a tumultuous history that has shaped its vibrant identity. With a population exceeding 97 million, Vietnam is known for its warm hospitality and resilience. The capital city, Hanoi, exudes an old-world charm with its ancient temples, bustling markets, and French colonial architecture.

Ha Long City

Ho Chi Minh City, formerly Saigon, is a dynamic metropolis in southern Vietnam, pulsating with modern energy amidst historical remnants. The country’s natural wonders include the stunning Halong Bay, a UNESCO World Heritage site adorned with limestone karsts and emerald waters.

The nation’s history is marked by colonial rule, war, and reunification periods. The Vietnam War, in particular, left an indelible impact, and remnants like the Cu Chi Tunnels are an example of the country’s resilience.

Today, Vietnam embraces economic growth and globalization while preserving its cultural heritage. From Sapa’s terraced rice fields to Hoi An’s bustling streets, Vietnam captivates visitors with its beauty, warmth, and harmonious blend of tradition and progress.

How to Get to Vietnam?

Getting to Vietnam is straightforward and accessible, with various international flight options. Most travellers arrive by air, and major cities like Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City are well-connected to major international airports. Two primary entry points are Tan Son Nhat International Airport in Ho Chi Minh City and Noi Bai International Airport in Hanoi.

Numerous airlines operate direct flights to Vietnam from major cities worldwide. For instance, airlines like Vietnam Airlines, Qantas, Singapore Airlines, and Emirates offer direct routes. Budget airlines like AirAsia and Jetstar also provide affordable options.

Visitors can choose from various flight classes and carriers based on their preferences and budgets. Booking flights well in advance is advisable to secure the best deals.

Jetstar is the affordable airline linking Sydney to Ho Chi Minh City, with local Vietnamese carriers facilitating connections between Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi. Despite these options, my choice for the journey was Virgin Australia. The one-way flight ticket amounted to approximately AUD 675.

Where to Stay in Vietnam?

Vietnam offers diverse accommodation options to suit various preferences and budgets. Here are some notable choices in famous destinations:

Hanoi

The areas to consider when staying in Hanoi are:

  • Old Quarter: This historic area is known for its charming streets, local markets, and cultural attractions. It offers a mix of budget hostels, boutique hotels, and guesthouses.
  • French Quarter: Featuring colonial architecture and a more relaxed atmosphere, this area offers mid-range luxury hotels.

Notable luxury and 5-star hotels in Hanoi are:

  • JW Marriott Hotel HanoiLocated near the city center, this hotel combines modern luxury with traditional Vietnamese touches. It features spacious rooms, a range of dining options, and a serene spa.
  • InterContinental Hanoi Landmark72 – Situated in Hanoi’s tallest building, this InterContinental property offers stunning panoramic views of the city. It epitomizes sophistication with luxurious rooms, fine-dining restaurants, and a rooftop bar.
  • Sofitel Legend Metropole Hanoi – A historic landmark, this hotel exudes French colonial charm. It features well-appointed rooms, exquisite dining options, and a lush courtyard. The hotel has been welcoming guests for over a century.
  • Hanoi Legacy Hotel – Throughout our Hanoi visit, we stayed at the Hanoi Legacy Hotel. I thoroughly enjoyed our stay, appreciating the cleanliness of the room and the amiable nature of the staff.

Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon)

The areas to consider when staying in Ho Chi Minh City are:

  • District 1: The central district is bustling with shops, restaurants, and nightlife. It provides a variety of accommodation options, from budget to high-end hotels.
  • Pham Ngu Lao Street: Ideal for budget travellers, this area is famous for its backpacker-friendly hostels and guesthouses.

Notable luxury and 5-star hotels in Ho Chi Minh City are:

  • Park Hyatt Saigon – Located in District 1, Park Hyatt Saigon is renowned for its elegant design and sophisticated ambience. It features luxurious rooms, a spa, and multiple dining options.
  • InterContinental SaigonSituated in the city’s heart, this InterContinental property boasts contemporary design and panoramic views. It offers well-appointed rooms, a rooftop pool, and diverse dining choices.
  • Caravelle Saigon – A historic landmark, Caravelle Saigon combines French and Vietnamese architectural styles. It features luxurious rooms, a rooftop bar with city views, and multiple dining options.
  • The Reverie Saigon – Known for its luxury, the hotel offers lavish rooms with Italian-inspired designs. The hotel boasts a spa, an outdoor pool, and several dining venues.
  • Sheraton Saigon Hotel and Towers – With a central location, Sheraton Saigon Hotel & Towers provides modern comforts and upscale amenities. It features spacious rooms, a rooftop bar, and a variety of dining options.
 

Hoi An

The areas to consider when staying in Hoi An are:

  • Ancient Town: Known for its well-preserved architecture, this area offers charming boutique hotels and guesthouses. It’s a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
  • An Bang Beach: For a more relaxed atmosphere, consider staying at the beach area with resorts and homestays.

Notable luxury and 5-star hotels in Hoi An are:

  • Four Seasons The Nam Hai, Hoi An – Nestled along Ha My Beach, this resort offers luxurious villas with traditional Vietnamese designs. It features beachfront dining, infinity pools, and a serene spa.
  • Anantara Hoi An Resort – Situated along the Thu Bon River, Anantara Hoi An Resort combines colonial architecture with modern comforts. It offers spacious rooms, a riverside pool, and dining with a view.
  • Silk Sense Hoi An River Resort – Located near the ancient town, this resort provides a tranquil escape with stylish rooms, a spa, and a riverfront restaurant. It’s within walking distance of Hoi An’s historic attractions.
  • Hotel Royal Hoi An – MGallery – Embracing a blend of French and Vietnamese influences, this MGallery hotel offers elegant rooms, a rooftop pool, and a central location for exploring Hoi An.
  • Vinpearl Resort & Golf Nam Hoi An – Combining luxury with golf amenities, this resort features spacious villas, a golf course, and a range of recreational facilities. It’s a short drive from Hoi An’s ancient town.

Da Nang

The areas to consider when staying in Da Nang are:

  • My Khe Beach: A popular beach destination with various resorts and hotels offering seaside views.
  • City Center: The city centre provides various accommodation options for those seeking a mix of city life and coastal attractions.

Notable luxury and 5-star hotels in Da Nang are:

  • InterContinental Danang Sun Peninsula Resort – Perched on a hillside overlooking the sea, this resort is known for its breathtaking architecture. It features luxurious villas, private pools, and a range of dining options.
  • Fusion Resort and Villas – Emphasizing wellness and tranquility, Fusion Resort offers pool villas with spa facilities included. Guests can enjoy serene surroundings, a beachfront pool, and personalized spa treatments.
  • Melia Vinpearl Da Nang Riverfront – This hotel offers spacious rooms, private pools, and a variety of recreational facilities. It provides a luxurious beachfront retreat.
  • Pullman Danang Beach Resort – With a prime beachfront location, this resort features modern rooms, a large swimming pool, and multiple dining options. It’s ideal for both leisure and business travellers.
  • Hyatt Regency Danang Resort and Spa – Nestled along the coast, Hyatt Regency Danang offers contemporary rooms, a stunning infinity pool, and diverse dining choices. It provides a luxurious escape with easy access to attractions.

Hue

The area to consider when staying in Hue is:

  • Imperial City: Stay near the historic citadel for easy access to cultural sites and traditional experiences. There are both budget and mid-range options.

Notable luxury and 5-star hotels in Hue are:

  • TTC Imperial Hotel Hue – Centrally located along the Perfume River, Imperial Hotel Hue offers opulent rooms, a rooftop pool with panoramic views, and proximity to Hue’s historic sites.
  • La Residence Hue Hotel & Spa – MGallery – Housed in a colonial-era mansion, this MGallery hotel exudes elegance. It features stylish rooms, a saltwater pool, and a spa, offering a luxurious retreat along the Perfume River.
  • Pilgrimage Village Boutique Resort & Spa – Surrounded by lush gardens, this resort provides a tranquil escape with spacious villas, a spa, and multiple dining options. It’s a short drive from Hue’s city centre.
  • Indochine Palace – Offering grandeur and sophistication, Indochine Palace features luxurious rooms, a large outdoor pool, and a spa. It reflects the regal history of the imperial city.
  • Banyan Tree Lang Co. – Located between Hue and Da Nang, this resort offers pool villas with modern amenities. Nestled along the coast, it provides a serene retreat with scenic views.
 

Nha Trang

The area to consider when staying in Nha Trang is:

  • Tran Phu Beach: A coastal city known for its beaches, this area offers a mix of luxury resorts and more affordable guesthouses.

Notable luxury and 5-star hotels in Nha Trang are:

  • Vinpearl Luxury Nha Trang – Situated on Hon Tre Island, this resort offers overwater villas, a private beach, and a range of recreational facilities, including a golf course.
  • Evason Ana Mandara Nha Trang – Nestled along the beachfront, this resort features beachfront villas and stylish rooms surrounded by tropical gardens. It offers multiple dining options and a spa.
  • Six Senses Ninh Van Bay – Accessible by boat, Six Senses Ninh Van Bay offers private pool villas amidst lush vegetation. The resort focuses on sustainability and provides a tranquil escape.
  • Amiana Resort Nha Trang – Located on a private peninsula, Amiana Resort offers spacious villas with private pools, a beautiful beach, and multiple dining venues.
  • Sheraton Nha Trang Hotel & Spa – Centrally located along the beach, Sheraton Nha Trang Hotel & Spa provides modern rooms, a rooftop pool, and a spa. It’s within walking distance of the city’s attractions.

Phong Nha-Ke Bang (for exploring caves)

The area to consider when staying in Phong Nha-Ke Bang:

  • Phong Nha Town: Base yourself here to explore the stunning caves in the region. Guesthouses and hostels cater to different budgets.

Notable luxury and 5-star hotels in Phong Nha-Ke Bang are:

  • Phong Nha Ke Bang Homestay – While not a traditional 5-star hotel, some homestays in the area provide a charming and immersive experience, allowing visitors to connect with the local community.
  • Chay Lap Farmstay & Resort – Positioned near Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park, Chay Lap Farmstay & Resort offers comfortable rooms and bungalows in scenic countryside. The resort provides a peaceful retreat.
  • Sun Spa Resort & Villas – Located a bit outside Phong Nha town, Sun Spa Resort & Villas offers a range of accommodations, including villas with scenic views. The resort features a spa, outdoor pool, and other recreational facilities.
  • Phong Nha Lake House Resort – Nestled along the Son River, this resort provides picturesque views and a tranquil atmosphere. The rooms and villas offer a blend of comfort and natural beauty.
  • Oxalis Home – While more of a guesthouse, Oxalis Home is affiliated with Oxalis Adventure, which is known for cave tours. It provides a cozy setting for travellers interested in exploring the unique landscapes of Phong Nha.
 

What to Eat in Vietnam?

Vietnam’s cuisine is a gastronomic delight, renowned for its diverse flavours and aromatic spices. Pho, banh mi, and fresh spring rolls are just a glimpse into the country’s culinary treasures.

Recognizing the significance of food in unravelling a country’s culture and traditions, I believe that embracing local cuisine enhances the travel experience. Hanoi’s vibrant street food scene beckoned us to indulge in local flavours, an essential experience in this bustling city.

However, for vegetarians or vegans journeying through meat-centric countries, this can pose a challenge. Personally encountering such a situation in Vietnam, where my diet includes chicken alongside vegetarian choices, I encountered difficulties finding plant-based options in remote areas. To aid fellow travellers, here is a guide to vegan food in Vietnam, shedding light on restaurants and diverse vegan dining options nationwide.

7 Days Trip to Vietnam

Note: We had Hanoi as our base throughout our travel.

Embarking to a new country can be daunting, especially when venturing solo. However, fear not, as here is the best way to plan for Vietnam.

Travel to Vietnam provides comprehensive information to equip you with everything you need to know before embarking on your journey to this spectacular country. Additionally, discover a detailed guide for travelling within Vietnam.

Day 1: Hanoi

Hanoi, Vietnam’s capital, charms with its handicrafts and captivating architecture. A favourite among tourists, the city encapsulates Vietnam’s cultural essence. You can also explore Hanoi in one day, discovering its vibrant markets, historical landmarks, and immersive traditions. The city’s unique blend of ancient charm and modern energy offers a condensed yet fulfilling experience for travellers seeking a taste of Vietnam’s cultural and architectural marvels.

I touched down in Hanoi on the first day. I flew in from Sydney when my friend arrived from Bangalore. Given our arrival on the same day, we relaxed and refrained from any activities.

Day 2: Ha Long City

After enjoying breakfast, we went to Ha Long City to embark on the Paragon Cruise for an overnight stay in the mesmerizing Ha Long Bay—a UNESCO World Heritage site with over 1600 islets.

Our exploration in Ha Long City included visits to symbolic sites such as the Drum and Virgin caves, representing love and faithfulness. The Man’s Head Islet, also known as Dau Nguoi Islet, standing 25 meters high, captured our attention with its distinctive man’s head shape. We also marvelled at the Turtle Islet and explored Fairman’s Cave.

Drum and Virgin caves

Later, we ventured to Van Gia Fishing Village for kayaking, an activity that led to an unexpected adventure. Around 3:30 PM, we found ourselves lost in the vast expanse of Halong Bay.

“I think we need to go this way, Akshata,” I suggested.

“No, Raksha! Trust me, we are going the correct way,” replied my friend.

Relying on her judgment, we continued paddling, but our novice kayak attempts became a struggle. After a half-hour ordeal, we finally reached the kayak meeting point, relieved and somewhat exhausted.

Our kayaking misadventure began around 2 PM, part of a scheduled two-hour tour. Initially thrilled, we soon realized the physical challenge involved. We found ourselves at the wrong point as the clock neared 4 PM, the designated meeting time. There were two kayak meeting points, and we had unwittingly chosen the wrong one.

By 5:30 PM, we returned to our boat to bemused faces. Our guide jokingly mentioned they were considering a rescue team, and fellow passengers, though relieved, couldn’t help but laugh at our unexpected escapade. This incident added an unexpected twist to our journey, making us unintentional celebrities among our fellow travellers.

Van Gia Fishing Village Kayaking

Hanoi has many breathtaking destinations perfect for day trips, offering unparalleled beauty and wonder. Explore the best day trips from Hanoi to discover the spectacular and scenic wonders beyond the city limits.

Day 3: Bai Tu Long Bay

We started our morning leisurely on the third day, embracing a laid-back atmosphere. Cruising on our boat, we traversed the stunning Bai Tu Long Bay, relishing a delightful lunch amidst the captivating scenery of islets and the bay.

Bai Tu Long Bay
Bai Tu Long Bay

Following lunch, our journey led us back to Ha Long City, where we boarded a bus bound for Hanoi. En route, we stopped in Hai Duong province, situated in the northern region of Vietnam within the Red River Delta. Hai Duong originates from the Sino-Vietnamese word for “ocean sun.”

Day 4: Hanoi

Hanoi boasts plenty of attractions and activities, making it a must-visit destination in Vietnam. Embarking on a day tour of Hanoi city proved to be a captivating exploration of one of Vietnam’s must-visit destinations. Our itinerary included:

  • Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum: A solemn tribute to the revered leader, Ho Chi Minh.
  • Ancient Temple of Literature: Founded in 1070 during the reign of Emperor Ly Thanh Tong, this historical temple is a treasure trove of cultural significance.
  • Lake of the Restored Sword: A picturesque water with a fascinating history.
  • One Pillar Pagoda: A unique architectural marvel with a distinct structure and spiritual significance.
  • Hanoi Opera House: An elegant and iconic cultural venue.
  • History Museum: Unveiling the rich history of Vietnam.
  • Fine Arts Museum: Showcasing the nation’s artistic heritage.

Among these, the Temple of Literature left an indelible impression, exuding a magical aura.

For those with an extra day to spare, visiting the charming city of Ninh Binh, just two hours from Hanoi, is highly recommended. Explore the complete guide for an enriching excursion to Ninh Binh and discover all its wonders.

Day 5: Hao Lu

Venturing into the ancient city of Hoa Lu, which served as the capital of Vietnam during the 10th and 11th centuries, provided us with a historical journey. We travelled to Tam Coc, where we marvelled at the three limestone caves stretching along the Ngo Dong River.

Tam Coc - 7 Days Trip to Vietnam

Day 6: Ho Chi Min City

In the morning, we boarded flights to Ho Chi Minh City and spent the day exploring the city on foot. After visiting renowned museums and popular tourist spots, we caught a return flight to Hanoi later in the day. Our time in Ho Chi Minh City was limited to just one day, but for those with more time, a highly recommended bucket list thing to do in Vietnam is to visit the Cu Chi Tunnels, accessible from Ho Chi Minh City.

Day 7: Yen Stream, Thien Tu Pagoda

We embarked on a scenic boat journey down the Yen Stream with Ben Duc’s boat, revelling in the unfolding beauty. Additionally, we hiked up to the main Pagoda, concluding our tour with a visit to the Thien Tru Pagoda.

Yen Stream, Thien Tu Pagoda

Expenses for 7 Days Trip to Vietnam

Traveling in Vietnam proves to be budget-friendly. I secured a voucher from Viator at AUD 399 per person (twin sharing), covering a comprehensive 7-day package with transfers and accommodation.

Additional expenses included round-trip tickets between Sydney and Vietnam and the Ho Chi Minh City tour with return flight tickets between Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City. Unfortunately, the specific details of these extra costs are not currently available in my recollection.

Is Vietnam Safe for Solo Female Travelers?

Indeed, Vietnam is one of the safest countries for solo female travellers. The rich cultural tapestry and the warmth of the people created an environment where my friend and I felt secure throughout our journey. We didn’t encounter any issues with anyone during our travels. Nevertheless, as with any country worldwide, it’s prudent to exercise caution during nighttime to ensure a continued sense of safety.

Ha Long Bay Views

Closing Notes

Vietnam is undeniably an incredible and picturesque country. The allure of its beauty and charm has left a lasting impression on me. I have a strong desire to return one day, armed with the growth and insights gained as a seasoned traveller, eager to explore Vietnam with a fresh perspective on life. There is much more to discover in Vietnam than I experienced during my travels.

While I’ve shared as much information as my memory allows, considering the passage of time, I welcome you to reach out for additional details at Solopassport@gmail.com. I am more than willing to delve into my archives to provide any further information you may seek about this remarkable destination.

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