Backpacking Vietnam in 2 Weeks - Travel Guide

Saturday, 24 March 2018

I recently got back from 2 weeks of backpacking Vietnam. It was so much fun! I thought I would share with you guys my itinerary for 2 weeks of travelling from North to South of Vietnam by bus.

Hanoi // 2 Nights

There is lots to see in the bustling city of Hanoi and tons of places to eat some amazing local food. For accommodation there is a good mix between luxury hotels, hostels and everything in between to suit any travelers budget. We spent 1 day walking around the city to all the main sights. In the old quarter everything is within walking distance, however it is very cheap to order an online taxi (Uber, Grab etc.) if you don't want to walk. 

Things to do:
  • Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum & Museum - the resting place of Ho Chi Minh, the voice of Vietnamese independence and then president. The museum is good to learn a little bit about Ho Chi Minh and the Vietnamese war.
  • Hoàn Kiếm Lake & Ngoc Son Temple - beautiful lake to walk around with small gardens around the edge. There is also a temple in the middle, you have to pay a small fee to see the temple.
  • Train Street - watch the massive trains rattle through the small streets of Hanoi, right next to people's houses and places of work.
  • Old Quarter Night Market - clothes and food.
Organising a trip to Halong Bay is defiantly a must if you're in Vietnam, we didn't end up doing it unfortunately so I can't suggest anything but you should go!

Sapa // 2 Nights

Sapa is in the high north of Vietnam, approximately 5 hours drive from Hanoi. It is famous for it's valley and mountain views and the trekking you can do with the local mountain tribe people, the Hmong, Tay and Dao.
When you arrive by bus you will be greeted by many of the local 'Mamas' who will offer you a trekking package. You can choose from a 1, 2 or 3 day trek and the Mama will out you up in her family home and you will be able to live with the locals and eat their home cooked food.
I think rather than booking thru an agent in Hanoi, you are better off leaving your arrangements until you get here. Choose a Mama you like and go with her. This way the money goes directly to them and not cut from an agent.

We ended up booked a homestay in Advance so we headed straight to there. From the centre of Sapa town we took a taxi to the village Ta Van - be aware the drive is very bumpy and windy as it goes along the side of the mountain so if you get car sick, I would suggest take a travel sickness pill before. I'm not one to get travel sick, but after the half an hour drive and bumping up and down and everywhere, I was glad to get out the car haha.
We stayed at Trường Giang Homestay & Restaurant. This was a lovely place ran by this local woman who was the best cook! Also the comfiest bed and amazing plush and warm duvet. It can get quite chilly in the night here, so having that warm bed was amazing.

We decided to rent a motorbike and drive to all the main attractions and view points ourself, this was a good plan until the gas ran out just before we got back to the town centre and the closest gas station LOL.
That was an adventure in it's self! We didn't do any trekking but the drive we took was very scenic and we got some great shots of the hills, the mountain peaks and the rice fields.

Things to do:

  • Muong Hoa Valley
  • Lao Chai Village (Black Hmong) 
  • Silver Waterfall
  • Ham Rong Mountain
  • Mount Fanspian // Highest in Indochina - You can take a cable car up to the top

Hanoi // 1 Night

Back to Hanoi for 1 night before your bus to Hoi An the next morning. Spend the day and night shopping at the local markets and enjoy the delicious street food.

Hội An // 2 Nights

Hội An was one of my favourite towns to visit it had such great character and a great vibe to it. The beach was lovely, the first one I went to in Vietnam! Hội An is known as the place to go to get clothes made for you, I wasn't planning on it but ended up getting an outfit made and i'm so glad i did, it's great quality and exactly what i wanted!
I loved walking around the ancient town, seeing all the architecture and having a romantic ride down the river on a long boat was a great experience. The old town is bustling with people and market stalls and street food vendors, it has everything you could want!

Things to Do:

  • Visit Cửa Đại beach and enjoy the soft white sand, small waves and sun.
  • Get an outfit, shirt, suit - whatever you desire hand made at the many tailors in town.
  • Visit the French Quarter
  • Take a ride down the river on a traditional boat
  • Do a cooking class - I recommend Min Hien Vegetarian Restaurant's cooking class. It was amazing! Blog post on it soon
  • Visit the Night Market
  • Visit the fresh produce market in the morning

On our last day before our night bus we drove to the Marble Mountains in Da Nang, It's an easy drive to the Mountain, only 35 minutes straight down the highway.
The Marble Mountains are a collection of 5 marble and limestone hills, they are named after the 5 elements - Kim (metal), Thuy (water), Moc (wood), Hoa (fire) and Tho (earth).
Only one is open to the public, with a Buddhist and Hindu temple located at the top and a few caves to explore with shrines inside.

Mũi Né // 2 Nights

Mũi Né is a lovely coastal town with some of the best weather we experienced during our whole trip! The whole outskirts of Mũi Né is a sandy landscape but there are 2 large sand dunes that attract visitors from all over. You can join trips for very cheap to see the dunes and also ride on quad bikes along them, it feels like you're in the dessert.
Mũi Né is also very popular for water activities, especially kite surfing! There are some lovely restaurants and bars throughout the main road of Mũi Né including lots of fresh seafood resturaunts.

Things to do:

  • Visit the red and white sand dunes
  • Visit the fishing harbour
  • Walk down the fairy stream
  • Eat fresh seafood on the beach
  • Try kitesurfing
  • Try riding a quad bike
  • Look around Linh Long buddhist temple

Ho Chi Minh (Saigon) // 2 Nights

Ho Chi Minh is a large city known for its French colonial landmarks, they even have their own version of Notre-Dame. Ho Chi Minh is a popular city for expats to settle in Vietnam and a popular spot for partying backpackers. Bùi Viện street has been compared with Koh San Road in Bangkok, Thailand. In the day time it is any normal street with hotels, restaurants and shops. But once it's night time it becomes a walking street and all the bars and restaurants lay out their table and chairs, there is music pumping from every bar and club and the bar crawl backpackers come out to play.
During the day there are lots of sights to see, the best way to explore is by foot, walking around taking in the city.
The famous War Remnants Museum is here but be warned some of the photos and stories are quite graphic, Imin and I left feeling quite depressed. However it is good to learn a bit about the war, even if it does have a very biased view.
The Cu Chi tunnels is also a famous site, something you think of automatically when you think of Vietnam - mainly the news stories of tourists who where a bit too big and decided to squeeze down the hole and not be able to get back out.
The day trip we took here was very interesting. The guide will take you around and explain the history of the tunnels, what they where used for and how they where created. You will also be able to crawl through a section of the tunnel in complete darkness...that was an experience!

Things to do:

  • Night time food markets
  • Get some local beers and enjoy the night in Bùi Viện street
  • Pick up some souvenirs at Bến Thành Market
  • Day trip to Cu Chi Tunnels
  • Visit the Independence Palace
  • Have dinner and drinks at the many Sky Bars for views of the city
  • Wander around the city by foot and explore some off the tourist trail places

I hope you enjoyed my travel guide, We stayed for 2 weeks and took over night buses and day time buses which did cut some of the time off that we had, So i would recommend staying longer than 2 weeks if you could, to fit in some more places and stay longer at others.
If there is anything else you would like to know just comment below!

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