Vietnam Itinerary: 5 days In The North, Center Or South 2023

Vietnam has quickly become one of the world’s most popular tourist destinations. It’s a country that’s able to offer a lot of different experiences for travellers, ranging from amazing natural landscapes, beach resorts, sprawling cities, delicious street food and tiny villages.

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If you’ve only got 5 days to explore Vietnam, this is the guide for you. Whether you want to explore the beautiful scenery of the North, beaches of the center or the trendy South, we’ll give you the best things to do for a 5 day Vietnam itinerary.

Vietnam Itinerary: 5 days

Vietnam is a massive country, so it’s impossible to hit all the best spots in only 5 days. We recommend choosing a region: North, center or South to focus on.

1. Northern Vietnam Itinerary – 5 days exploring Hanoi, Halong Bay, and Ninh Binh

Spend 5 days exploring the highlights of Northern Vietnam, including a 2-day cruise, street food tour, and visiting cultural highlights.

How to get to Northern Vietnam: Fly into Noi Bai International Airport in Hanoi

Northern Vietnam 5 Day Itinerary Summary

Day One

On your first day, you’ll be exploring Vietnam’s capital city, Hanoi. A blend of Vietnamese, French, and Chinese culture, you’re sure to fall in love with it. Famous for street food and ancient culture, you’ll be visiting some historic sites and museums so you can get to know its history and culture.

First, head to the market – 36 lively trading streets filled with all sorts of goods for sale. Then explore some of the cultural sights – the Temple of Literature, Tran Quoc Pagoda, and One Pillar Pagoda are all good options. When you’re done, head to Hoan Kiem lake for a relaxed walk. Visit the temple there and get some ice cream from a nearby gelateria!

Day Two

After a busy day in Hanoi, today you’ll be traveling to Halong Bay where you’ll be spending the night on board a cruise. There are a lot of different cruises on offer, but most will take you to the same sites, so just check the reviews before you book! They will pick you up from your hotel and drive you to the port.

The cruise will gently drift you down past the fantastic limestone islands of the Gulf of Tonkin, passing amazing lagoons, forests, and grottos. You’ll be dropped off at Ti Top Island, a mini paradise with serene views. Spend your time here, swimming, sunbathing, or exploring.

You’ll get dinner on board, and maybe even the chance the catch some squid!

Day Three

Today your cruise will take you back to the port. Make the most of your final hours on the boat, before you make the journey back to the city. You’ll arrive back about 5pm, so you’ll have time to refresh before heading out for dinner and drinks.

Day Four

Today you’ll be traveling to Ninh Binh, which is 90km from Hanoi. This is a real hidden gem a bit off the main tourist path but has a lot to offer. Ninh Binh features some amazing natural landscapes, with limestone cliffs and gorgeous rice paddies. Here you can tour 10th-century palaces and pagodas. Take a wooden boat called a sampan along the tranquil water, going past riverbanks lined with rice paddies and limestone mountains.

Day Five

Spend your final day of the trip ticking off your Hanoi bucket list and visiting everything that you couldn’t get to on your first day.

2. Central Vietnam Itinerary – 5 Days exploring Hoi An, My Son and Hue

Hoi An and Hue are the two most popular tourist cities in Vietnam after Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh. On this trip, you’ll explore beautiful beaches, historical sites and delicious food! 5 days is enough to fully explore each of these cities which both feature UNESCO World Heritage sites, as well as the ruins of My Son sanctuary.

How to get to Central Vietnam: Fly into Da Nang International Airport

Central Vietnam 5 Day Itinerary Summary

Day One

After you land at Da Nang airport, you’ll have to make a short transfer to the magical town of Hoi An. Famous for its yellow buildings, tailors, and beautiful lanterns that line the streets, the town is the perfect combination of architecture, food, and beaches. It’s a very unique looking town, making it a must visit in your Vietnam trip. Spend your first day getting your bearings, exploring the boutique stores, and watching as the town transforms at night.

Day Two

For your second day in Hoi An, you have a few options. There’s a lovely beach here where you could easily spend the day. If you want to get more of a cultural experience, then head to Tra Que Village in the countryside. This is full of lush fields, water buffaloes and hard-working locals. Take a walk around the village, or even get involved with a cooking course or tour.

Day Three

Today you’ll be taking a day trip to My Son, a beautiful cluster of abandoned Hindu temples. This is an amazing place to explore and soak in the heritage. It’s 1.5 hours away from Hoi An, so you can travel to and from here easily in a day.

Day Four

Today we’ll be heading to the major city of Hue, located on the banks of the Perfume River. The city is recognised as a World Heritage Site, and combines the old and new. This is the perfect place to learn more about Vietnam’s history and is filled with Buddhist temples, pagodas and palaces.

Day Five

For your final day, take a tour of the Hue Imperial Citadel, the Thien Mu Pagoda and some of the Royal Tombs around the city. We would recommend hiring a local tour guide for this, who will be able to drive you around the sites and fully explain the history of each location.

3. Southern Vietnam Itinerary – 5 Days Exploring Ho Chi Minh and Mekong Delta

Your time in the south will be centered around the bustling city of Ho Chi Minh. You’ll be exploring the vibrant city, as well as visiting sites from the Vietnam War and travelling along the Meking Delta.

Southern Vietnam 5 Day Itinerary Summary

Day One

For your first day you’ll be immersing yourself in Ho Chi Minh, which used to be known as Saigon. It’s an amazing city home to French-colonial landmarks, and is the economic and cultural hub of the country. We would recommend visiting Notre Dame Catheral, the Reunification Palace, Ben Thanh Market, Saigon Central Post Office and the War Remnants Museum.

Day Two

Today you’ll be immersing yourself in history as you take a day trip to the Cu Chi Tunnels. This is a massive network of tunnels used in the Vietnam war, featuring underground chambers and booby traps. It’s over 100 miles long, and was used by 16000 soldiers in the war. It’s a definite must visit during your 5 days in Southern Vietnam.

Day Three

Today, do a day tour that takes you down the Mekong Delta by boat visiting riverside villages and local artisans. This is a chance for you to get an insight into the local life of the Vietnamese countryside.

Day Four

After all the exploring, today will be much more chill. Vung Tau is a beach city only a couple of hours away from Ho Chi Minh, with sandy beaches and beautiful transparent water year round. The most popular beaches here are Bai Sau and Bai Truoc, where you can swim, watch the sunset and enjoy delicious seafood. There is also a few historical sights here if you want to break up the day. Visit the White Palace or Thang Tam Temple for your culture hit.

Day Five

Spend your last day in Ho Chi Minh further exploring the sights of the city and ticking everything off you haven’t got to see yet. We would also recommend doing a food tour if that’s something you would enjoy, which will take you round the best street food in the city.

Vietnam Itinerary: 5 days Summary

Vietnam is a country that has something for everyone, with amazing natural scenery, beautiful architecture, great food, and stunning beaches. It’s not an easy decision to choose how to spend 5 days in Vietnam, but we hope this guide has given you some ideas. Of course, please tweak our itineraries to suit you and your budget!

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