Experiencing Vietnam: 10 Days of Blissful Wanderlust!

In December 2022, we embarked on a remarkable journey to Vietnam, immersing ourselves in the rich cultural heritage and breathtaking landscapes of this captivating country. Over the course of 10 days, we explored bustling cities, UNESCO World Heritage Sites, and natural wonders, creating memories that would last a lifetime.

Our adventure took us from the bustling streets of Hanoi to the majestic Halong Bay, the ancient wonders of Ninh Binh, the charming streets of Hoi An, the stunning Ba Na Hills, the enchanting beauty of Da Lat and the bustling city of Ho Chi Minh City (HCMC).

Join us as we share our incredible experiences and the highlights of our unforgettable trip to Vietnam.

Useful Trivia for Traveling in Vietnam:

All our flights during our trip were with Vietjet Air, a renowned airline in Vietnam. India to Hanoi, Hanoi to Da Nang, Da Nang to Da Lat, Da Lat to HCMC, HCMC to India.

Our stay was at the following places in the same order:

Hanoi (North Vietnam – 2 nights) – Hanoi Golden Moon Hotel

Ninh Binh (North Vietnam – 1 night) – Tam Coc Moonlight Bungalow

Hanoi (North Vietnam – 1 night) – Hanoi City Backpackers Hostel

Hoi An (Central Vietnam – 2 nights) – Quynh Long Villa

Da Lat (South Vietnam – 1 night) – Tigon Dalat Hostel

Ho Chi Minh City (South Vietnam – 2 nights) – Vivian Apartment – Saigon Notre Dame

The largest community in Vietnam is the Kinh ethnic group, also known as the Viet or Vietnamese people.

To stay connected, we purchased a local SIM card of Viettel, which provided us with data and voice services throughout our journey.

Before leaving India, we downloaded essential apps like Grab for transportation, Klook for day trips / activities and Happy Cow for vegetarian food options.

To experience the local culture, consider purchasing an Ao Dai, the traditional long dress of Vietnam, and a Non La, the iconic Vietnamese hat. These items make for unique souvenirs and can also be worn to immerse yourself in the local customs.

The currency of Vietnam is the Vietnamese Dong (VND).

The official language spoken in Vietnam is Vietnamese. While English is spoken in tourist areas, it’s always helpful to learn a few basic Vietnamese phrases to enhance your interactions with locals.

Vietnam is 1 hour and 30 minutes ahead of Indian Standard Time, so be mindful of the time difference when planning your activities and schedules.

For travelers from India, an E-Visa is required to enter Vietnam. The E-Visa application can be done through the official website at https://evisa.xuatnhapcanh.gov.vn/trang-chu-ttdt or https://immigration.gov.vn/web/guest/khai-thi-thuc-dien-tu/cap-thi-thuc-dien-tu.

When in Hanoi, don’t miss the opportunity to try Bia Hoi, the cheapest beer in the world. It’s a popular local experience that you won’t want to miss out on.

Lastly, we cannot stress enough the importance of travel insurance to ensure peace of mind during your journey.

Day Wise Itinerary:

Day 1: Exploring the Charms of Hanoi’s Old Quarter

We started our trip in Hanoi’s charming Old Quarter, a bustling area filled with narrow streets and traditional architecture. We explored the vibrant atmosphere and took a break at The Note Coffee, known for its famous Egg Coffee. This unique local specialty was a delightful treat that we couldn’t resist.

Next, we visited the Literature Temple, Vietnam’s First University. We marveled at the traditional architecture and learned about the significance of this revered institution.

Continuing our exploration, we headed to the center of Hanoi to visit the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum Complex. The mausoleum holds the mummified body of Ho Chi Minh, the first president of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam and an iconic figure in the country’s history.

In the evening, we visited the magnificent St. Joseph Cathedral. Its impressive Gothic architecture and serene atmosphere were truly captivating. We made our way to the One Pillar Pagoda or Tran Quoc Pagoda to witness a breathtaking sunset.

Next, we visited the NGOC Son Temple, a beautiful temple located on a small island in Hoan Kiem Lake. The temple was adorned with intricate details and housed various artifacts and statues of cultural significance.

Thereafter, we explored the Train Street, an extraordinary attraction where trains pass through a narrow residential street. The train timings were quite specific, so we made sure to be there on time to witness this unique phenomenon.

To end our first day, we headed to Hoan Kiem Lake, a picturesque landmark in the heart of Hanoi. The lake was adorned with scenic beauty and surrounded by beautiful parks.

Day 2: Halong Bay Cruise and Evening Exploration of Hanoi

We embarked on an exciting adventure as we booked a Halong Bay Cruise with Blue Asia Tours, specifically the Peony Cruise on Route 2. The cruise promised an unforgettable experience, and we were thrilled to explore the mesmerizing beauty of Halong Bay (UNESCO World Heritage Site & one of the 7 natural wonders of the world with limestone rock formations).

In the morning, we were picked up from our hotel in Hanoi’s Old Quarter and began our journey to Halong Bay.

Upon reaching Tuan Chau Island, we received a warm welcome aboard the Peony Cruise. The crew greeted us with genuine hospitality, setting the stage for an incredible day ahead.

In the afternoon, we indulged in a delicious Vietnamese lunch while sailing through the breathtaking landscapes of Halong Bay.

After lunch, we had the opportunity to explore the Sung Sot Cave, also known as the Surprise Cave. As we ventured into the cave, we were amazed by its immense size and intricate rock formations.

Continuing our journey, we discovered Luan Cave. Here, we had the option to choose between kayaking or taking a bamboo boat ride to explore the surroundings. We opted for kayaking. 🙂

Thereafter, we visited Titop Island. We had the chance to take a refreshing swim in the crystal-clear waters or embark on a trek to the viewpoint of Halong Bay.

As the day progressed, we enjoyed a delightful sunset party on the boat at 5 pm. Sipping on red wine and savoring fries, we witnessed the sky ablaze with vibrant hues as the sun dipped below the horizon.

In the evening, we reluctantly bid farewell to Halong Bay and returned to the harbor.

At night, we arrived back in Hanoi, filled with a deep appreciation for the natural wonders and enchanting legends of Halong Bay.

Later, we embarked on a rickshaw tour through the streets of Hanoi. This traditional mode of transportation allowed us to explore the city at a leisurely pace while immersing ourselves in the local culture.

We concluded the day by immersing ourselves in the lively atmosphere of the Night Market in the Old Quarter. This vibrant market offered a wide array of local products, handicrafts, and delicious street food.

Day 3: Exploring Ninh Binh’s Historical and Natural Treasures

On this day, we embarked on a journey to explore the historical and natural wonders surrounding Ninh Binh. You can take a Limo Shuttle Bus/Grab Cab from Hanoi to to Ninh Binh (1.45 hours).

Our first destination was Hoa Lu, the ancient capital of the Dinh and Le dynasties.

From there, we made our way to the enchanting Bich Dong Pagoda. This pagoda, nestled amidst stunning limestone karsts, is a must-visit.

Next on our itinerary was the Mua Caves, a captivating attraction that required climbing 500 steps to reach the top. The effort was well worth it, as the panoramic view from the summit was simply breathtaking. We also encountered the Lotus Pond within Hang Mua, adding an additional touch of natural beauty to the experience.

Continuing our exploration, we visited Tam Coc, often referred to as “Halong Bay on Land”. We embarked on a boat ride along the Ngo Dong River, passing through magnificent limestone formations and lush rice paddies.

Finally, we made our way to the Hang Mua Peak, a popular spot to witness the mesmerizing sunset. As the golden hour approached, we climbed up to the peak and were rewarded with a stunning view of the surrounding landscape.

In the evening, we also attended a captivating and colorful water puppet show at the Thang Long Water Puppet Theatre. This traditional art form originated in the villages of the Red River Delta and showcased Vietnamese folklore and legends.

Moving on, we crossed the iconic Red Bridge to reach Ho Guom, a charming bridge situated in the middle of the lake. This scenic spot offered panoramic views of the surrounding area, and we took some memorable photographs while enjoying the serene atmosphere.

After a day filled with historical sites, natural beauty, and vibrant celebrations, we returned to our accommodation, reflecting on the diverse experiences and memories we had gathered throughout the day.

Day 4: Trang An Boat Ride and Bai Dinh Pagoda – Exploring Nature and Spirituality

We embarked on an exciting day of exploration, beginning with a boat ride along Route 2 of the Trang An complex. This enchanting journey lasted approximately 3-4 hours, taking us through a maze of waterways surrounded by stunning limestone karsts and lush greenery.

Following our boat ride, we made our way to Bai Dinh Pagoda, a sprawling Buddhist temple complex. Spending approximately 3 hours here, we were in awe of the grandeur and spiritual significance of this revered site.

The pagoda is known for its intricate architecture, including the massive bronze Buddha statue and the stunning array of ornate decorations.

As the sun set, we boarded a shared Limo bus that would take us back to Hanoi. This convenient and comfortable mode of transportation ensured a pleasant journey, allowing us to relax and reflect on the day’s adventures.

Day 5: Hoi An – Exploring Ancient Temples, Markets, and Lantern Town

We started our day by taking a flight from Hanoi to Da Nang, followed by a pleasant transfer from Da Nang to Hoi An (which means a peaceful meeting place), which took approximately 45 minutes.

Once we arrived in Hoi An, our first stop was the Cau Temple. This historic place of worship, also known as the Bridge Temple, captivated us with its intricate architecture and serene atmosphere.

Thereafter, we explored Quan Kong Temple, an ancient Chinese temple, a testament to Hoi An’s multicultural heritage, with its elaborate decorations and statues honoring the Chinese deity.

Later, we visited Linh Ung, a magnificent Buddhist temple, offered breathtaking views and a serene atmosphere, allowing us to connect with the spiritual side of Hoi An.

Continuing our exploration, we ventured into the Ancient Quarter of Hoi An. Our first destination was the Ong Pagoda, a stunning Buddhist temple dedicated to the Chinese general Quan Cong. The vibrant colors, delicate carvings, and peaceful ambiance made our visit truly memorable.

One of the highlights of the Ancient Quarter was the 200-year-old Tam Ky ancestral house. Stepping inside this well-preserved residence allowed us to appreciate the traditional architecture and gain insights into the lives of past generations.

As the sun began to set, we made our way to Chua Cau, the famous Japanese Bridge. This iconic landmark is a symbol of Hoi An and represents the historical connection between the Vietnamese and Japanese communities.

Afterward, we explored Hoi An Market, a bustling hub where locals and tourists alike gather to buy fresh produce, handicrafts, and souvenirs. We indulged in some local street food, sampled exotic fruits, and haggled for unique items to bring back as mementos.

To end our day in Hoi An, we immersed ourselves in the enchanting Lantern Town ambiance. The streets were adorned with colorful lanterns, creating a magical atmosphere.

We took a lantern boat ride near the An Hoi bridge on the Thu Bon River, gliding through the gentle waters surrounded by the mesmerizing glow of the lanterns. It was a truly romantic and unforgettable experience, offering a unique perspective of the town’s beauty.

It was a day that allowed us to truly appreciate the charm and allure of this UNESCO World Heritage Site which is also one of the most romantic cities in the world!

Day 6: Ba Na Hills – Golden Bridge, French Village, and Alpine Adventures

We began our day by taking a cable car ride from Hoi An Station to Ba Na Hills. The 15-minute journey provided us with stunning views of the surrounding landscapes.

Our first stop was the lower part of Ba Na Hills, where we visited the magnificent Linh Ung Pagoda and Giant Buddha Statue. The pagoda emanated a serene atmosphere, and we marveled at the intricate details of the Buddha statue.

Thereafter, we were greeted by the awe-inspiring Golden Bridge. This iconic attraction offers panoramic views of Da Nang City and the surrounding landscapes. We couldn’t resist taking memorable photos while standing on the bridge, which seemed to be suspended in mid-air.

Exploring further, we discovered the enchanting French Garden, Le Jardin D’Amour, located near the Linh Ung Pagoda. We leisurely walked through the nine different gardens, each offering its own unique beauty and charm.

Next, we explored the historic Debay Wine Cellar, which has a remarkable 100-year history. We learned about the wine-making process and had the opportunity to taste some of the local wines.

Moving on to the upper part of Ba Na Hills, we experienced an exhilarating ride on the Alpine Coaster. The roller coaster provided us with breathtaking views of the mountains as we zoomed down the tracks.

We then spent time at Fantasy Park, a vibrant theme park filled with thrilling rides and engaging games. We had a blast trying out different attractions and enjoying the lively atmosphere.

The charming French Village beckoned us next. Its picturesque architecture and European ambiance transported us to a different time and place. We leisurely strolled through the streets, taking in the beauty of the village.

In the late afternoon, we decided to relax at the Beer Garden. We savored refreshing drinks while enjoying panoramic views of the surrounding landscapes.

Our evening concluded with the mesmerizing Dragon Bridge Fire Show. We were captivated by the spectacle of fire and water as the dragon-shaped bridge came alive with vibrant displays.

Note: We highly recommend booking the Ba Na Hills day tour through a reliable travel platform like Klook for a seamless and enjoyable experience.

Day 7: Exploring Da Lat – Crazy House, Clay Tunnel, Alpine Coaster, Pagodas, and Flower Garden

We took a flight from Da Nang to Da Lat, eager to explore the enchanting Fairytale Land. The scenic flight provided us with aerial views of the picturesque landscapes.

Our first stop was the renowned Crazy House, a unique architectural masterpiece resembling something out of a fairytale. We were amazed by the whimsical design and intricate details of this unconventional attraction.

Next, we ventured into the Clay Tunnel, a fascinating underground gallery showcasing intricate clay sculptures. We marveled at the creativity and craftsmanship displayed throughout the tunnel.

Later we explored Fairytale Land which is a captivating park that showcases the region’s unique specialties in a whimsical fairy tale setting. Inspired by the charm of Hobbiton Tours in New Zealand, the village’s landmarks symbolize the diverse natural products of Vietnam, inviting visitors to immerse themselves in a magical world where local delights come to life.

To add some excitement to our day, we embarked on an alpine coaster ride to Datanla Waterfall. The thrilling ride through the lush forest offered adrenaline-pumping moments and breathtaking views of the surrounding nature.

Our exploration continued with a visit to Linh Phuoc Pagoda, also known as the Dragon Pagoda. The pagoda’s intricate mosaic artwork and unique architecture left us in awe. We took our time to admire the exquisite craftsmanship and soak in the serene atmosphere.

Our next stop was the Da Lat Flower Garden, a colorful oasis brimming with a diverse array of flowers and plants. We strolled through the vibrant gardens, taking in the captivating scents and enjoying the picturesque setting.

As the day neared its end, we savored the delightful atmosphere of Da Lat, perhaps exploring the charming streets lined with shops and cafes or savoring a local delicacy at one of the city’s renowned restaurants.

We recommend staying for 2 days in Da Lat.

Day 8: Exploring Cu Chi Tunnels, Mekong Delta, and an Eggshell Factory

Embarking on a full-day trip from Ho Chi Minh City (HCMC) to the Cu Chi Tunnels and Mekong Delta was an adventure that left us in awe of Vietnam’s rich history and natural beauty.

Our first stop was the Cu Chi Tunnel, a remarkable historical site that took us back to the Vietnam War era. As we explored the vast network of underground tunnels, we were amazed by the ingenuity and resourcefulness of the Vietnamese soldiers who used them as hiding spots, supply routes, and even living quarters. Our knowledgeable guide shared captivating stories and insights, allowing us to truly appreciate the resilience and determination of the Vietnamese people.

After our enlightening visit to Cu Chi, we made our way to the enchanting Mekong Delta. Cruising along the labyrinthine waterways, we were greeted by picturesque landscapes adorned with emerald-green rice paddies and swaying coconut trees.

One of the highlights of the day was visiting a traditional village in the Mekong Delta, where we learned about local crafts such as coconut candy making, egg shells paintings and rice paper production. It was fascinating to observe the skill and precision with which these artisans created their products, showcasing centuries-old traditions passed down through generations.

Overall, our full-day trip to the Cu Chi Tunnels and Mekong Delta was a captivating experience that combined history, nature, and cultural immersion.

Day 9: Exploring HCMC Delights: A Day of Culture, Coffee, and Night Market Magic

We started our day by visiting the iconic pink Tan Dinh Church, marveling at its stunning pink exterior and immersing ourselves in the peaceful atmosphere inside.

Afterward, we made our way to Cong Caphe to enjoy their famous coconut coffee, savoring the unique blend of strong Vietnamese coffee and creamy coconut milk.

For lunch, we ventured to 2D Café and indulged in their signature Milk Mix Cream. The delightful combination of flavors and textures left us craving for more.

Next, we explored the historic Thien Hau Pagoda, taking in the intricate architecture and immersing ourselves in the spiritual ambiance of this revered temple.

We continued our journey to the HCMC Opera House, where we admired the grandeur of the French colonial architecture and appreciated its significance as a cultural venue.

The War Remnants Museum was next on our list, offering a poignant and thought-provoking experience as we learned about the Vietnam War through photographs, artifacts, and exhibits.

As the sun began to set, we immersed ourselves in the vibrant atmosphere of the Ben Thanh night market. Exploring the bustling stalls, we savored a variety of local food, shopped for handicrafts, and enjoyed the lively ambiance.

To end our day, we headed to Bui Vien walking street, where we embraced the vibrant nightlife. Live music, bustling bars, and a wide array of dining options added to the energetic atmosphere of this popular street.

Day 10: Exploring HCMC’s Magnificent Icons: City Hall, Cathedrals, Temples, and Local Delights

We kicked off our day by visiting the impressive HCMC City Hall, awed by its striking French colonial architecture and the serene beauty of the surrounding gardens.

Next, we made our way to the iconic Notre Dame Cathedral, where we marveled at its breathtaking facade, intricate stained glass windows, and took a moment to soak in the peaceful ambiance inside.

Just a short stroll away, we entered the Saigon Central Post Office, stepping into a world of elegance and nostalgia. We explored the grand interior, admired the old telephone booths, and sent postcards from this historic landmark.

To satisfy our appetites, we indulged in a delectable lunch at a local eatery, savoring the flavors of authentic Vietnamese cuisine.

Our next stop was the Cao Dai Temple, located on the outskirts of HCMC. Immersed in the unique Cao Dai religion, we witnessed the vibrant ceremonies and admired the colorful architecture of this fascinating temple.

Taking in the cultural ambiance and reflecting on our visit, we returned to the city center to head to the airport for our night flight back to India.

Our 10-days adventure in Vietnam was nothing short of extraordinary. From the bustling cities to the tranquil countryside, we witnessed the harmonious blend of tradition and modernity, immersing ourselves in the vibrant culture, breathtaking landscapes, and mouthwatering cuisine. Vietnam left an indelible mark on our hearts, with its warm hospitality, captivating history, and natural wonders.

As we bid farewell to this beautiful country, we carry with us cherished memories, newfound knowledge, and a deep appreciation for the diverse and captivating beauty that Vietnam has to offer. Until we meet again, Vietnam! 🙂

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