First-timers Guide to Vietnam – Bringing you from North to South in One Week!

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Thinking of going on a cheap and short getaway? But unsure of where?

Well… we’ve got the perfect destination where you can experience both the bustling city and idyllic beaches in a week. Great for those with limited time but want to experience both.

Map of Vietnam, showing the route for this trip

This itinerary will bring you from the North to South Vietnam, starting from Hanoi and ending at Ho Chi Minh City (HCMC). We’ve also recommended some of the must-go places in Vietnam.

Day 1

The first day of the trip. Spending the day exploring Hanoi.

Hanoi, the capital of Vietnam, is known for its centuries-old architecture and rich culture with Southeast Asian, Chinese and French influences.


Hanoi Old Quarter, Vietnam

In Hanoi, Hanoi Old Quarter is one of the most popular tourist spots offering French-colonial architecture, rich food culture and a long history. It is home to lots of Hanoi’s best attractions. The ideal place if you’re looking to experience the rare sense of timelessness.

Bach Ma Temple > Dong Xuan Market > Hoan Kiem Lake > Bia Hoi Junction

Bach Ma Temple

The statue of the white horse in the Bach Ma Temple, Hanoi, Vietnam

Dating back to the 11th century, Bach Ma Temple (translating to ‘White Horse’ Temple) is widely known as the oldest of its kind in Hanoi Old Quarter.

Entering Bach Ma Temple, Hanoi, Vietnam

Since then, it has undergone several refurbishments throughout the years; where colourful murals, a red-lacquered palanquin, the shrine of Confucius and a phoenix altar were added in the 18th century.

Dong Xuan Market

How Dong Xuan Market looks on the outside, Hanoi, Vietnam

The largest market in Hanoi, Dong Xuan Market has a wide array of products over four floors. It is an imposing Soviet-style building surrounded on all sides by merchant shops and stalls; as well as a rough-and-ready market, especially on the ground floor wet market section.

Interior of Dong Xuan Market, Hanoi, Vietnam

You can find cheap printed tees, bolts of fabric, school uniforms, luggage stalls and more; available at wholesale prices. It will be quite an experience.

Hoan Kiem Lake

Turtle Tower in the centre of Hoan Kiem Lake, Hanoi, Vietnam

A scenic lake in the historical centre of Hanoi, Hoan Kiem Lake is where you’ll be able to find locals jogging, enjoying a coffee or practising Tai Chi and line dancing. It is a perfect place to have a little picnic here too.

Bia Hoi Junction

For anyone wanting to experience Hanoi’s nightlife, Bia Hoi Junction is the place to go. Widely regarded as the quintessential nightlife spot in Hanoi, this ever-bustling beer haven is located at the corner of Ta Hien and Luong Ngoc Quyen streets.

People sitting on plastic stools enjoying their drinks in Bia Hoi Junction, Hanoi, Vietnam

Here’s where you can see hundreds of people sitting on plastic stools with a pint of bia hoi (a type of Vietnamese draft beer containing about 4% alcohol) in hand.

Day 2

The second day spent in Hanoi exploring.

Ho Chi Minh Museum > Hoa Lo Prison > Hanoi Weekend Market

Ho Chi Minh Museum

The exterior of Ho Chi Minh Museum, Hanoi, Vietnam

Constructed in the 1990s, this is one of Vietnam’s most famous museums and has a comprehensive depiction of Ho Chi Minh’s life.

Statue of Ho Chi Minh in Ho Chi Minh Museum, Hanoi, Vietnam

Here, you’ll be able to get a thorough understanding of Vietnam’s national hero and what shaped Vietnam to become the country it is today; with the various collections of artefacts, written descriptions and guided tours.

Hoa Lo Prison

Hoa Lo Prison, Hanoi, Vietnam

A prison turned museum, it was previously used by the French colonists in Vietnam for political prisoners, and later by North Vietnam for US prisoners during the Vietnam War.

The medieval guillotine that causes Hoa Lo Prison to top the world’s most feared prison, Hanoi, Vietnam

It is such a nerve-wracking experience walking through the museum; feeling the shivers down your spine as you pass through the prison cells.

Hanoi Weekend Night Market

Night Market in Hanoi, Vietnam

End the night with some shopping at Hanoi Weekend Night Market for the best late-night shopping experience.

Look how busy it is in the Hanoi Weekend Night Market, Vietnam

A busy, bustling gathering of stalls and vendors; it runs through the Old Quarter, starting from Hang Dao Street and running north to the edge of Dong Xuan Market. Over here, there’re just so many interesting and exotic things to try here.

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Day 3

The third day of the trip; travelling from Hanoi to Halong Bay.

Halong Bay, Vietnam

A beautiful natural wonder in northern Vietnam, Halong Bay is a UNESCO World Heritage Site; with plenty of things to do. You can kayak around the myriad of islets and grottos to visiting a cave.

With so many things to do, you might be at a loss hence we’ve shortlisted a few places that you ought to go.

Virgin Cave > Sung Sot Cave > Ba Hang Fishing Village

Virgin Cave

How beautiful does the Virgin Cave look!, Halong Bay, Vietnam

The Virgin Cave is one of the most famous caves in Halong Bay; probably best known for its shrine.

Virgin Cave, Halong Bay, Vietnam

Legend has it that a beautiful woman was being exiled to an uninhabited island where she suffered from hunger and exhaustion, for refusing to marry an old Mandarin. At that time, she already had a lover. On one frightening night, she turned into a stone.

Sung Sot Cave

Located on the same island as the Virgin Cave, Sung Sot Cave is one of the most spectacular grottoes of Halong Bay.

Doesn’t this look magical!, Sung Sot Cave, Halong Bay, Vietnam

There are two partitions in the cave. There are two partitions in the cave housing stalactites and stalagmites as well as a ‘royal garden’ with a clear pond. Spotlights of varied colours are also placed, to add to the enchantment of the grotto.

Ba Hang Fishing Village

Floating Fishing Village in Halong Bay, Vietnam

Being one of the four floating fishing villages in Halong Bay, here, you’ll be able to experience the rustic and well-preserved fishing village as well as the fishermen’s simple way of life.

Day 4

Fourth day into the trip, where you’ll be heading to Da Nang from Halong Bay.

A beautiful coastal city, Da Nang is known for its mesmerising sandy beaches and history as a French colonial port.

Marble Mountains > My Khe Beach > Dragon Bridge

Marble Mountains

Pretty view of Marble Mountains, Da Nang, Vietnam

One of Da Nang’s most popular tourist attractions, Marble Mountains is a mystical cluster of five marble and limestone hills. They are named after the natural elements (metal, wood, fire, water and earth).

Buddhist statues in the Marble Mountains, Da Nang, Vietnam

While climbing these mountains, there are some Buddhist sanctuaries, pagoda temples and caves for you to check out.

My Khe Beach

Regarded by some as the most picturesque beach in Da Nang, My Khe Beach is famous for its blue sky, smooth white sand and clear water.

My Khe Beach, Da Nang, Vietnam

With the lack of large waves and warm water all year round, it makes it an ideal and safe place for both adults and children to swim at any time of year.

Dragon Bridge

If you’re a first-time visitor to Da Nang, you should definitely give the Dragon Bridge a visit. It is the longest bridge in Vietnam, offering a dazzling display of lights, fire and water. As the name suggests, it is constructed in the shape of a golden dragon.

The Dragon Bridge’s performance – ‘Dragon breathing fire’, Da Nang, Vietnam

On weekends and annual festivities, you’ll also be able to see it spit water or breathe fire from its mouth. How cool is that!

Day 5

Spending the fifth day fully exploring Da Nang, seeing what it has to offer.

Han Market > Sun World Asia Park > Han River Bridge

Han Market

Local market in Da Nang, Vietnam

Begin your day by visiting the Han Market for an extremely local shopping experience. The right place to go if you’re looking for some handsewn clothing, handicrafts or local produce to gift your family or friends back home.

Sun World Asia Park

It is Da Nang’s renowned amusement park, with family-friendly rides.

The entrance to Sun World Asia Park, Da Nang, Vietnam

There’s also a massive Ferris wheel marking the entrance to the Asia Park. This is the perfect place for anyone looking to have an adrenaline-filled afternoon.

Han River Bridge

Night view of Han River Bridge, Da Nang, Vietnam

End off the night with a stroll along the Han River Bridge, Vietnam’s very first swing bridge. Over here, you can admire the night view of Da Nang and the beauty of the bridge. Do remember to snap some pictures for keepsake too.

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Day 6

The second last day and last stop of the trip, where you’ll be heading to Ho Chi Minh City (HCMC).

Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam

Ho Chi Minh City (HCMC), also commonly known as Saigon, is a city in southern Vietnam famous for the pivotal role it played in the Vietnam War.

Ben Thanh Market > War Remnants Museum > Saigon Central Post Office > Chill Skybar

Ben Thanh Market

Exterior of Ben Thanh Market, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam

A large marketplace right in the heart of HCMC, Ben Thanh Market has everything you could ever want; from local handicrafts and souvenirs to branded goods to food.

Some of the items sold in Ben Thanh Market, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam

War Remnants Museum

A visit to the War Remnants Museum, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam

Previously known as the ‘Museum of American War Crimes’, it contains exhibits about the Vietnam War. Definitely a must-go if you’re a history lover.

People looking at exhibits in the War Remnants Museum, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam

Saigon Central Post Office

Built in the 19th century, the Saigon Central Post Office is a beautifully preserved remnant of the French colonial times.

Saigon Central Post Office, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam

It is one of the most iconic tourist destinations with its architecture and ornate decorations.

The beautiful interior of Saigon Central Post Office, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam

Here, you can also choose to send a postcard to your family and friends. And not forgetting taking photographs of this charming place.

Chill Skybar

Amazing view of Ho Chi Minh City at Chill Skybar, Vietnam

The first and original skybar in HCMC, Chill Skybar is fantastic for a night out; where you can get stunning views of the entire city and awesome sunset.

Day 7

The last day of the trip, check out some areas in Ho Chi Minh City before flying back home.

Cu Chi Tunnels > 42 Nguyen Hue Street

Cu Chi Tunnels

The guide showing the way to go into the Cu Chi Tunnels, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam

Now a popular tourist attraction, the Cu Chi Tunnels are part of a massive war museum in Ho Chi Minh. They are an immense network of underground tunnels where military campaigns were held during the Vietnam War.

What it looks like in the Cu Chi Tunnels, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam

You can experience the underground life of Vietnamese soldiers too, by crawling through the tiny underground tunnels.

42 Nguyen Hue Street – The Cafe Apartment

The Cafe Apartment on Saigon’s Walking Street, Vietnam

An abandoned building turned into a shopping centre in HCMC, it is an absolute hidden gem.

Sneak peek of a cafe in The Cafe Apartment, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam

There are various shops ranging from trendy boutiques to minimalistic cafes. It is truly every hipster and cafe lover’s paradise, thus highly recommended for you to visit this place.

Amazing view of Vietnam at nighttime

This marks the end of the entire one week Vietnam trip.

Tempted to visit this wonderful country now?!

Vietnam should totally be on every traveller’s bucket list. There’s just so much to see and do that one week is definitely not enough.

Travel on a Budget & Friendly Customer Service with WeekendGoWhere! Whatsapp +65 9457 2440 OR call +65 6358 4231 (9am to 6pm). Quote “SingaporeGo” as your source.

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