21 Days in Vietnam: Recommended Itineraries for the Best 3 Weeks

Set off on an enthralling exploration of 21 days in Vietnam, a country renowned for its breathtaking landscapes, deep cultural heritage, and fascinating historical tapestry. This jewel of Southeast Asia is a mosaic of experiences, ranging from the lively urban energy of Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City to the tranquil beauty of Ha Long Bay and the Mekong Delta. Through this detailed guide, we aim to enhance your 3 weeks in Vietnam, providing insights on everything from navigating local transport to selecting the perfect souvenirs. Ideal for both newcomers and seasoned explorers, this guide is your key to creating a memorable and enriching experience in Vietnam.

Why Spend 3 Weeks in Vietnam?

Vietnam, a land of profound historical significance, diverse cultural heritage, and stunning natural beauty, presents a myriad of opportunities for exploration over a 21-day journey. Although 3 weeks in Vietnam might appear to be a generous duration, you might wonder if it’s sufficient to fully delve into the vastness and diversity of this country.

21 days in Vietnam provides a deep dive into the country’s cultural tapestry. This period enables you to engage in local festivities, explore deeply the historical narratives in cities such as Hue and Hoi An, and participate in authentic culinary classes or traditional handicraft workshops.

Furthermore, beyond the essential visits to bustling metropolises like Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City, known for their lively streets and historical sites, an itinerary to Vietnam in 21 days gives you the chance to discover hidden gems. This includes embarking on adventures to less frequented locales such as the Central Highlands, the tranquil shores of Ninh Binh, or the culturally rich Mekong Delta.

Suggested Itineraries for Perfect 3 Weeks in Vietnam

Itinerary 1: 21 Days in Vietnam Exploring All Highlights

21 Days in Vietnam Exploring All Highlights

Day 1 – Arrival in Hanoi: Arrive in Hanoi and transfer to your hotel, with time to explore the city’s lakes and colonial architecture.

Day 2 – Hanoi City Tour & Night Train to Sapa: Discover Hanoi’s landmarks, enjoy a traditional cyclo ride and Water Puppet Show, then board a night train to Sapa.

Day 3 – Trekking in Sapa: Arrive in Sapa for a day of trekking through ethnic villages like Lao Chai, Ta Van, and Giang Ta Chai, with an overnight stay in Sapa Town.

Day 4 – Bac Ha Market Visit & Return to Hanoi: Visit the vibrant Bac Ha Market, explore Ban Pho village, and take the night train back to Hanoi.

Day 5 – Halong Bay Excursion: Travel from Hanoi to Halong Bay for a scenic cruise with swimming, cave visits, and an overnight stay on board.

Day 6 – Halong Bay Cruise & Return to Hanoi: Start with an early swim, explore Sung Sot cave, and enjoy brunch on the cruise before returning to Hanoi for an overnight stay.

Day 7 – Hanoi to Hue: Relax in Hanoi before flying to Hue for an overnight stay.

Day 8 – Exploring Hue City: Full-day tour of Hue’s Imperial City, Thai Hoa Palace, and Nine Dynastic Urns, with an overnight stay in Hue.

Day 9 – Thien Mu Pagoda & Hue’s Tombs: Visit Thien Mu Pagoda, Emperor Minh Mang’s tomb, Tu Duc Tomb, and Khai Dinh Tomb, with another night in Hue.

Day 10 – Hue to Danang, Visit Non Nuoc Beach: Travel to Lang Co Bay, Hai Van Pass, Cham Museum, and Non Nuoc Beach, then transfer to Hoi An for an overnight stay.

Day 11 – Hoi An Excursion: Explore Hoi An’s historical sites, including a pagoda, Sa Huynh Museum, and Tra Que vegetable village, with an overnight stay.

Day 12 – My Son Sanctuary Tour: Visit My Son, a World Heritage Site, and enjoy free time in Hoi An for shopping, followed by another night in Hoi An.

Day 13 – Hoi An to Nha Trang Beach City: Morning free time in Hoi An, then fly to Nha Trang for an overnight stay.

Day 14 – Nha Trang Sightseeing: Cruise on Nha Trang Bay, visit Tri Nguyen Aquarium, Mun Island, and Con Se Tre Island, with an overnight stay in Nha Trang.

Day 15 – Relaxation in Nha Trang: Spend a leisurely day in Nha Trang, enjoying beach activities, snorkeling, spa treatments, or simply relaxing on the white sand beach.

Day 16 – Nha Trang to Da Lat – City of Love: Travel from Nha Trang to Da Lat, known for its romantic ambiance, and explore its palaces and waterfalls.

Day 17 – Da Lat Sightseeing: Tour Da Lat’s unique attractions including Crazy House and Thien Vien Truc Lam Pagoda, with an option for a train ride to Tri Mat village.

Day 18 – Leisure in Da Lat & Flight to Ho Chi Minh City: Enjoy free time in Da Lat before flying to Ho Chi Minh City for an overnight stay.

Day 19 – Ho Chi Minh City Tour: Explore Ho Chi Minh City’s landmarks including Notre Dame Cathedral, Central Post Office, and War Remnants Museum.

Day 20 – Full Day in Mekong Delta: Visit My Tho in the Mekong Delta, explore local islands, and visit the Vinh Trang Pagoda.

Day 21 – Departure from Ho Chi Minh City: Spend your morning at leisure before concluding your trip and transferring to your next destination or returning home.

>>> Check out the detailed itinerary at our 21-Day Exploring Vietnam’s Highlights Tour.

Itinerary 2: Wonders of Vietnam in 3 Weeks from South to North

Wonders of Vietnam in 3 Weeks from South to North

Day 1 – Arrival in Ho Chi Minh City: Land in Ho Chi Minh City and enjoy a relaxed day exploring the city after being transferred to your hotel.

Day 2 – Ho Chi Minh City Tour & Cu Chi Tunnels: Discover Ho Chi Minh City’s landmarks including Notre Dame Cathedral, Central Post Office, and Reunification Palace, followed by an exploration of the Cu Chi Tunnels.

Day 3 – Mekong Delta/River Boat Trip: Journey to My Tho in the Mekong Delta, visit local islands and the Vinh Trang Pagoda, and return to Ho Chi Minh City for an overnight stay.

Day 4 – Flight to Hoi An: Fly to Hoi An and enjoy a free day to relax, explore, or shop in this charming city.

Day 5 – Hoi An Excursion/Thu Bon River Boat Trip: Tour Hoi An’s historical sites, visit a local temple and pagoda, and take a boat trip to Kim Bong Village on the Thu Bon River.

Day 6 – My Son Sanctuary Tour: Visit the UNESCO World Heritage site of My Son Sanctuary, explore the ancient Cham ruins, and return to Hoi An for lunch and free time.

Day 7 – Hoi An to Hue by Road: Travel to Hue, stopping at the Cham Museum and Ngu Hanh Son Mountain in Da Nang, and enjoy the scenic Hai Van Pass and Lang Co Beach en route.

Day 8 – Exploring Hue’s Imperial Treasures: Discover Hue’s Thien Mu Pagoda, Emperor Khai Dinh and Tu Duc’s mausoleums, the Imperial Citadel, and Thuy Xuan incense-making village, ending with shopping at Dong Ba market.

Day 9 – Flight from Hue to Hanoi: Fly to Hanoi and enjoy a leisurely day exploring the city or relaxing at your hotel.

Day 10 – Hanoi City Tour & Night Train to Sapa: Tour Hanoi’s historical sites including Tran Quoc Pagoda, Ho Chi Minh complex, One Pillar Pagoda, and the Vietnam Ethnology Museum, followed by an overnight train to Sapa.

Day 11 – Sapa Arrival and Trek to Villages: Arrive in Sapa, trek through stunning landscapes to Y Linh Ho, Lao Chai, and Ta Van villages, and return to Sapa for an overnight stay.

Day 12 – Visit Cat Cat Village & Depart Sapa: Explore Cat Cat Village and Sin Chai village, then depart Sapa for an overnight train back to Hanoi.

Day 13 – Hanoi Arrival & Depart for Mai Chau Village: Arrive in Hanoi, then depart for a scenic drive to Mai Chau Village, with cultural experiences and an overnight stay at Bakhan Village Resort.

Day 14 – Bakhan Village to Hanoi: Trek in Mai Chau, enjoy lunch at the resort, then return to Hanoi for an overnight stay.

Day 15 – Halong Bay Overnight Cruise: Travel from Hanoi to Halong Bay, embark on a cruise with visits to caves and islands, and enjoy an overnight stay on the boat.

Day 16 – Halong Bay Cruise to Hanoi: Continue exploring Halong Bay, then return to Hanoi for an overnight stay.

Day 17 – Flight from Hanoi to Phu Quoc Island: Fly from Hanoi to Phu Quoc Island, check into your hotel, and enjoy a relaxing evening on the island.

Day 18 – Phu Quoc Island Full Day City Tour: Explore Phu Quoc’s historical and natural attractions, including the Phu Quoc Prison Museum, Dinh Cau Night Market, Suoi Tranh Waterfall, Sao Beach, and Dinh Cau Rock, followed by a relaxing evening at the hotel.

Day 19 – Free Day on Phu Quoc Island: Enjoy a leisurely day on Phu Quoc Island, relaxing on its beautiful beaches, engaging in water sports, exploring the island, or sampling local seafood.

Day 20 – Another Free Day on Phu Quoc Island: Spend another day at your own pace on Phu Quoc Island, with options for shopping, island excursions, snorkeling, or simply unwinding on the beach.

Day 21 – Departure from Phu Quoc to Ho Chi Minh City and International Flight: After breakfast, check out from the hotel, fly back to Ho Chi Minh City, and connect with your international flight, concluding your memorable beach vacation in Vietnam.

Itinerary 3: Discover Hidden Gems & Famous Sights in Vietnam in 3 Weeks

Discover Hidden Gems & Famous Sights in Vietnam in 3 Weeks

Day 1 – Arrival in Hanoi: Arrive at Noi Bai Airport, transfer to your hotel in Hanoi, and spend the evening exploring the city at your leisure.

Day 2 – Hanoi City Tour – Night Train to Sapa: Explore Hanoi’s landmarks including Tran Quoc Pagoda, Ho Chi Minh Complex, One Pillar Pagoda, and the Temple of Literature, followed by an evening train to Lao Cai for Sapa.

Day 3 – Trekking in Sapa: Arrive in Lao Cai, transfer to Sapa, and trek through Lao Chai, Ta Van, and Giang Ta Chai villages, experiencing ethnic minority cultures. Overnight in a homestay.

Day 4 – Sapa to Bac Ha and Ha Giang: Visit Bac Ha Market (if Sunday), interact with locals, then drive to Ha Giang for an overnight stay at a Tay ethnic homestay.

Day 5 – Ha Giang to Dong Van: Travel through spectacular landscapes to Dong Van, visit the H’mong King’s Palace, and stay overnight at a local hotel.

Day 6 – Dong Van to Bao Lac: Explore Dong Van Market, visit the French Fortress of Pu Lo, and drive to Bao Lac for an overnight hotel stay.

Day 7 – Bao Lac to Ba Be Lake: Visit Lo Lo village in Bao Lac, then drive to Ba Be National Park for an overnight stay at a Tay ethnic homestay.

Day 8 – Ba Be Lake to Ban Gioc Waterfall: Drive to Cao Bang, visit Phuoc Sen village, explore Ban Gioc Waterfall and Nguom Ngao Cave, and stay overnight in Cao Bang.

Day 9 – Cao Bang to Halong Bay: Drive from Cao Bang to Halong Bay, embark on a boat cruise, and choose between exploring Vung Vieng fishing village or Ban Chan Beach. Overnight on the boat.

Day 10 – Halong Bay to Ninh Binh: Morning Tai-chi session on the sundeck, explore Thien Canh Son Cave, and cruise back to the harbor for a transfer to Ninh Binh.

Day 11 – Ninh Binh to Hue: Explore Ninh Binh with a boat trip in Van Long and visit Hoa Lu Ancient Capital, then catch a night train to Hue.

Day 12 – Hue City Tour: Full-day city tour in Hue, visiting the Royal Citadel, Forbidden City, Royal Museum, Dong Ba market, Thien Mu pagoda, and the Tombs of King Minh Mang and Tu Duc.

Day 13 – Hue to Hoi An: Travel from Hue to Hoi An, passing Hai Van Pass and Lang Co, visiting Cham Museum and Marble Mountains, and staying overnight in Hoi An.

Day 14 – Hoi An Excursion: Full-day exploration of Hoi An, visiting historical sites, a temple, pagoda, Sa Huynh Museum, and a boat trip to Kim Bong Village.

Day 15 – Da Nang to Nha Trang: Transfer from Da Nang to Nha Trang for a relaxing beach day.

Day 16 – Nha Trang to Ho Chi Minh City: Enjoy leisure time in Nha Trang before flying to Ho Chi Minh City.

Day 17 – Ho Chi Minh City Tour: Full-day tour in Ho Chi Minh City, visiting China Town, FITO Museum, Ben Thanh Market, War Remnants Museum, Presidential Palace, Notre Dame Cathedral, and Post Office.

Day 18 – Ho Chi Minh City to Mekong Delta: Drive to Mekong Delta, enjoy a boat trip and visit An Binh Island, then drive to Can Tho.

Day 19 – Can Tho to Phu Quoc Island: Visit Can Tho floating market, then fly to Phu Quoc Island.

Day 20 – Phu Quoc Island: Relax and explore Phu Quoc Island, known for its sandy beaches and clear waters.

Day 21 – Phu Quoc to Ho Chi Minh City Departure: Free time in Phu Quoc before flying back to Ho Chi Minh City for departure.

How to Transport in Vietnam in 21 Days?

Means of Transportation in Vietnam

When planning a trip across Vietnam in 21 days, understanding and utilizing the country’s diverse transportation options is crucial. Vietnam’s transportation network is extensive, offering you various modes to suit different travel styles and budgets.

  • Domestic Flights: For covering long distances quickly, domestic flights are ideal. Vietnam’s main cities, including Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City, Da Nang, and others, are well-connected by airlines like Vietnam Airlines, VietJet Air, and Bamboo Airways. Booking in advance can often secure you better rates.
  • Trains: Vietnam’s railway system offers a scenic and relaxing way to travel, especially along the coast. The Reunification Express, running from Hanoi to Ho Chi Minh City, is a popular choice for its picturesque views. Sleeper trains are available for overnight journeys, providing a comfortable and time-efficient travel option.
  • Buses: Buses are the most economical way to travel and are great for short to medium distances. Vietnam has a comprehensive network of buses, including comfortable sleeper buses for longer routes. Local buses are also an option for short trips within cities or to nearby towns.
  • Motorbikes and Bicycles: Renting a motorbike or bicycle offers the freedom to explore at your own pace. It’s a popular choice in regions like the Central Highlands or the coastal roads of Central Vietnam. However, ensure you’re comfortable with Vietnam’s traffic conditions and have the necessary driving permits.
  • Taxis and Ride-Sharing Apps: In urban areas, taxis and ride-sharing services like Grab are convenient for short distances. They’re affordable and can be hailed easily on the street or booked via apps.
  • Private Car Hire: For ultimate comfort and flexibility, you can consider hiring a private car with a driver. This is particularly useful for families or groups and for visiting off-the-beaten-path destinations.

By understanding these transportation options, you can plan an efficient and enjoyable 21 days in Vietnam, experiencing the full breadth of what this beautiful country has to offer.

Ideal Souvenirs to Bring Home after 21 Days in Vietnam

After spending 21 days exploring the vibrant culture and stunning landscapes of Vietnam, you’ll undoubtedly want to bring home souvenirs that capture the essence of your journey. Vietnam offers a plethora of unique items that reflect its rich heritage and craftsmanship. Take a look at some of the best souvenirs that you should never miss out on.

Traditional Vietnam Clothing

Ao Dai – The National Costume of Vietnam

The Ao Dai, Vietnam’s national garment, is a perfect souvenir. This elegant and form-fitting tunic worn over trousers is not only a symbol of Vietnamese culture but also a beautiful piece of art. You can find Ao Dais in various fabrics and designs, from silk to cotton, adorned with intricate embroidery or hand-painted patterns.

Handicrafts and Art

Vietnamese Handicraft

Vietnam’s handicrafts are renowned for their quality and creativity. Lacquerware, a traditional Vietnamese art form, makes for a stunning gift. These beautifully decorated items, ranging from vases to jewelry boxes, are made using a unique process that involves several layers of lacquer. Similarly, silk paintings and hand-embroidered art from ethnic minorities are exquisite and unique.

Coffee and Tea

Vietnamese Packaged Coffee

Vietnam is the world’s second-largest coffee producer, and its robusta beans are famous for their strong flavor. Bringing home Vietnamese coffee, especially from the Central Highlands, is a must for coffee enthusiasts. Don’t forget to include a traditional Vietnamese drip filter for the authentic coffee experience. Additionally, Vietnam’s diverse range of teas, including lotus tea and green tea, are also worth taking home.

As your adventure to Vietnam in 21 days comes to an end, you find yourself enriched with a myriad of memorable moments. From the vibrant hustle of Hanoi to the tranquil beauty of Ha Long Bay, and from the historical allure of Hue and Hoi An to the lively essence of Ho Chi Minh City, each destination has etched a profound mark on your heart. As you get ready to depart, you carry with you a fragment of Vietnam’s intricate mosaic – a nation that seamlessly merges its traditions with modernity, and its enigmatic charm with hospitality. Feel encouraged to begin planning your trip, and remember, we are always available to help you design an ideal travel itinerary, so feel free to reach out to us whenever you wish.

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Yes, Vietnam offers a variety of vegetarian and vegan options, thanks to the Buddhist influence. Look for restaurants with “Chay” (vegetarian) in their name. Major cities like Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City, and Hoi An have numerous vegetarian restaurants. Traditional dishes like pho, banh mi, and spring rolls are often available in vegetarian versions. Street food vendors and local markets also offer fresh fruits and vegetable dishes.

Yes, Vietnam is quite well-connected. Most hotels, cafes, and restaurants offer free Wi-Fi. SIM cards with data plans are affordable and can be purchased at airports or local shops; just ensure your phone is unlocked. Major cities have excellent coverage, while remote areas might have weaker signals.

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Phuong Khanh

Hello, my name is Khanh, I'm a travel blogger at IDC Travel. After my adventures and what I've learned on my trips and from my research, I will help you with planning your trip to Vietnam & Southeast Asia and make your journey remarkable.

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