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3 Week Itinerary Vietnam: How to Spend 3 weeks in Vietnam from Hanoi to Saigon

Last Updated on November 27, 2020 by queenie mak

Vietnam is one of the best solo travel destinations for female travellers. Travellers can enjoy an array of activities between cities, towns, and the coast of Vietnam. Plus Vietnam is a budget-friendly country where you don’t have to spend a lot of money. Definitely a perk for solo travellers!

So whether you are travelling with friends or alone, you can easily get around Vietnam and enjoy all the beauty Vietnam has to offer. And when you spend 3 weeks in Vietnam, you can see all the highlights of the country.

Keep reading and find out how you can see all the best highlights in my Vietnam 3 weeks itinerary. I included some of the best places in Vietnam in just a few short weeks.

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What you need to know before spending 3 weeks in Vietnam

Here are a few travel tips that you may find helpful when planning your Vietnam 3 week itinerary:

  • Vietnam’s official currency is the đồng (₫). Many places will only accept cash. You can get money from ATMs or exchange money with USD.
  • The standard voltage is 110 /220 V. The power socket types A, C and D can be used in Vietnam. Check here to determine if you need to bring a travel adapter.
  • Purchase a SIM card once you arrive in Vietnam. Learn how you can choose the best SIM card in Vietnam for all your travel needs.
  • There are many modes of transportation in Vietnam. Air travel is the fastest. Train travel is scenic but slow. Bus travel is affordable but slow. And private car is efficient but cost more. I included all 4 ways to travel in my Vietnam itinerary.

Vietnam Itinerary: 3 weeks from north to south

The best way to start your 3 weeks Vietnam itinerary is by flying into the northern city, Hanoi as your starting point. Then travel around the area before heading to central Vietnam. Then finally, finish your 3 weeks in Vietnam by exploring southern Vietnam and depart from Ho Chi Minh City.

Here is a summary of 3 weeks Vietnam itinerary:

  • Day 1: Hanoi
  • Day 2: Hanoi & train to Sapa
  • Day 3 & 4: Sapa
  • Day 5: Sapa & train to Hanoi
  • Day 6: Halong Bay
  • Day 7: Hanoi
  • Day 8: Ninh Binh
  • Day 9: Hue
  • Day 10 – 12: Hoi An
  • Day 13 – 15: Nha Trang
  • Day 16 & 17: Mui Ne
  • Day 18 – 20: Ho Chi Minh City
  • Day 21: Fly home

 

One of many temples in Hanoi, Vietnam
One of many temples in Hanoi, Vietnam

Day 1: Hanoi (1 day)

Welcome to Vietnam! Your Vietnam 3 week itinerary starts in the northern city. Once you drop off your bags at your accommodation, spend the day roaming through the Old Quarter of Hanoi and sample the local cuisine.

Solo traveller tip:

Joining a tour can make a solo trip that much easier. I joined a 7-day tour package before arriving in Vietnam. Part of the package includes airport pickup. As a solo female traveller, this is a great option especially when you are visiting at a place you’ve never been and want an airport pickup. This option is safe and organized.

Day 2: Hanoi / train (transit)

The 7-day package tour included a tour around Hanoi where you are shuttle around in a comfortable mini-bus.

That evening, the organized transport will take you to the Hanoi Railway Station to catch the overnight train to Lao Cai, which is the city closest to Sapa.

Solo traveller tip:

Probably one of the best perks of joining an organized tour is they take care of all the details for you. The tour company made sure I was picked up from the hotel, send off to the train station and showed me exactly where my sleeping berth was. This perk is a great value for any solo female traveller.

 

Glorious rice fields in Sapa of Northern Vietnam
Glorious rice fields in Sapa of Northern Vietnam

Day 3-4: Sapa (2 days)

The train journey ends during the early hours of the next day at Lao Cai Railway Station.

Again, organized transport will shuttle you to your hotel in Sapa, which was about an hour away.

Day 3 and 4 will be spent hiking in Sapa along various trails with a tour guide.

Solo traveller tip:

Another perk for joining an organized tour is meeting other travellers. Whether they are travelling in groups, pairs or as solo travellers, everyone is friendly and can offer any advice. As a solo female traveller, you won’t feel you are travelling by yourself as you are always surrounded by other like-minded people.

Day 5: Sapa / train (transit)

It is possible to stay an extra day in Sapa if you wish. Simply request the tour company to add an extra day and you can continue the rest of the tour the next day. It is a great way to see more of Sapa and enjoy the scenery.

That evening, take the shuttle bus from Sapa to Lao Cai via a very windy road. Then take the train back to Hanoi via the overnight train in the comfortable sleeping berths.

Spend a day or two cruising around the islands of Halong Bay
Spend a day or two cruising around the islands of Halong Bay

Day 6: Halong Bay (1 day)

You will arrive at Hanoi Railway Station very early in the morning. The tour company arranged for transportation from the railway station back to the hotel.

You will have a chance to have some breakfast, freshen up and continue onto the next leg of the journey.

By 8 am, you will be already on your way to Halong Bay via a mini-bus. This four-hour journey is comfortable and relaxing.

Then board your overnight cruise boat, and spend the remaining day caving, hiking and beaching.

Solo traveller tip:

One of the best things about joining the organized tour is that they allowed me to use the hotel facilities even though I was not staying for the night. I was able to freshen up and leave some belongings behind that I didn’t need to take with me to Halong Bay. I thought it was very thoughtful for taking care of these types of details. As a solo traveller, you will feel that you are taken care of and don’t have to worry too much about these details.

Day 7: Hanoi (1 day)

Waking up on the boat in Halong Bay is one of the best experiences. Then spend the morning cruising around the bay, look for wildlife in the secluded islands, and take the scenic route back to the harbour.

At the end of the day, organized transport will take you back to your hotel in Hanoi, Golden Sun Palace Hotel.

Experience the rural side of northern Vietnam in a town called Ninh Binh
Experience the rural side of northern Vietnam in a town called Ninh Binh

Day 8: Ninh Binh (1 day)

There is so much to see in Northern Vietnam. You can see the biggest pagoda to the best limestone caves in Ninh Binh.

Solo traveller tip:

Using Hanoi as a base, you can explore many parts of Northern Vietnam. Whether you are going on a day trip like Ninh Binh or multi-day trips like Sapa, Hanoi is an excellent hub for all your excursions. Also, Hanoi is a great spot for solo travellers as accommodation is abundant and affordable.

Intricate designs of the temples at Royal Palace in Hue, Vietnam
Intricate designs of the temples at Royal Palace in Hue, Vietnam

Day 9: Hue (1 day)

Visiting central Vietnam is a must during your 3 weeks in Vietnam. The highlights of this region were not to be missed. To save some time, fly from Hanoi to Da Nang on a short flight instead of taking the bus or train.

It is also worth having a private car to drive you from Da Nang International Airport to Hue and then to Hoi An the following day. If you choose this option, make arrangements ahead of time.

Solo traveller tip:

Hiring a private car during this part of the trip was one of the best decisions I made. I was able to see sites along the way and stop at local restaurants. But most of all, I was able to do everything I wanted on my own time and schedule. It might not be the most affordable option for a solo traveller, but it is one of the most efficient options. But if you meet other travellers and are going the same way, consider hiring a private car.

Temples at Marble Mountain near Hoi An, Vietnam
Temples at Marble Mountain near Hoi An, Vietnam

Day 10-12: Hoi An (3 days)

Spend the day and explore Hue. Make sure you sample all the flavours of this ancient city!

Then your private car will be ready by around 3 pm to take you to Hoi An. During your journey to Hoi An, you can stop at Marble Mountain.

Spend a few days exploring Hoi An. Enjoy the lanterned filled city and get custom clothing made for very little money.

Solo traveller tip:

I’ve been to Hoi An before, and it is one of those places that I cannot get enough of. It was great to spend a sufficient amount of time in a place where I call my happy place. I usually like to stay two to three days (depending on schedule) for places that I want to explore.

Taste authentic Vietnamese street food in Nha Trang, Vietnam
Taste authentic Vietnamese street food in Nha Trang, Vietnam

Day 13-15: Nha Trang (3 days)

The best way to get to Nha Trang from Hoi An is by flying directly from Da Nang International Airport. The flight is short, only an hour and is very affordable.

Geographically, Nha Trang is a great spot as the jumping-off point for exploring Southern Vietnam. It has beaches and plenty of things to do locally.

Solo traveller tip:

Domestic flights are great options when you want to save some time for travelling long distances. The cost of the flight is affordable and not too much more than the train or bus option. Also, if you are not sure about travelling long distances via bus or train overnight due to safety reasons, flying is the best alternative transportation mode. There are a few airlines that fly domestically; I chose Vietnam Airlines because of the schedule and the cost.

Mui Ne is all about beaches, kitesurfing and sunsets
Mui Ne is all about beaches, kitesurfing and sunsets

Day 16-17: Mui Ne (2 days) – beach option

Through reading many travel blogs and other research, I just knew that Mui Ne has to be part of my Vietnam 3 weeks itinerary.

One of the unique things about Mui Ne is the Fairy Stream and the White and Red Sand dunes. And not to mention spending some relaxing time on the beach.

Solo traveller tip:

There are different ways of experiencing the White and Red Sand dunes. One way is to join a local jeep tour where they take you to both sand dunes for very little money. Because I was running out of time and wanted to see everything, I opted to hire a taxi instead. It is a more costly option, but if you meet other travellers on the road, sharing a car might be a great idea.

Day 16-17: Dalat (2 days) – waterfall option

Another option is to visit a popular hilly town, Dalat, and see the magnificent waterfalls including Pongour Waterfall, Elephant Falls and Datanla Falls. These are some of Vietnam’s best waterfalls and they are all in Dalat.

Solo traveller tip:

Bring an extra layer of clothes when you are visiting Dalat. The town is 1,500 meters above sea level so it tends to be a bit cooler and not as humid as the coastal Vietnamese towns.

Experience the hustle and bustle of Ho Chi Minh City or Saigon
Experience the hustle and bustle of Ho Chi Minh City or Saigon

Day 18-20: Ho Chi Minh City (3 days)

You cannot leave Vietnam without seeing Ho Chi Minh City, and of course, it is where you will fly out as well.

Spending a few days in HCMC (also known as Saigon) is sufficient to see all the attractions. Also, spend a day on an excursion like Cu Chi Tunnel or Mekong Delta.

Solo traveller tip:

Whenever you are in a big city, always be cautious with your belongings. Lock all your valuables and passport in your accommodation. And take extra care of your belongings when you do go out. Petty crime, pick-pocketing and snatch theft is a problem in Ho Chi Minh City. It could happen to anyone even seasoned traveller like me, so please do take care of your belongings.

Day 21: Fly Home

All good things must come to an end. Catch your flight from Ho Chi Minh City and make your way back home.

Want to take a road trip in Vietnam? Read about how you can ride a bike from Hanoi to Saigon

Are you ready to spend three weeks in Vietnam?

My Vietnam 3 week itinerary included all the best cities and activities across the entire country. I did exactly everything mentioned in this blog (I chose the beach option) during my 3 weeks in Vietnam. I hope you enjoyed reading my post!

If you can’t travel for three weeks, check out the 10-day Vietnam itinerary and see all the highlights in over a week’s time.

And if you are travelling through Southeast Asia, definitely include Vietnam in your itinerary, especially if you are spending an extended time. Check out one of the best Southeast Asia 4 month itinerary which includes Vietnam.

Let me know what you think of this itinerary. If there are other suggestions, please do let me know in the comment section below.

Like this blog post? Pin it on your Pinterest board!

Have you always wanted to visit Vietnam but not sure where to go? Here is the ultimate three week itinerary from north to south of Vietnam. Don't forget to pin in on your Pinterest travel board. #solotravel #vietnam #itinerary #solotravelguide
About Author

Hi, my name is Queenie, and I've been a solo traveller for 18+ years and currently based in Hong Kong. Follow me on my adventures through Instagram and my blog!

2 Comments

  • Peter
    April 12, 2020 at 9:57 am

    I Love your article. If you have change visit Vietnam, I hope can have change for meeting you!

    Reply
    • queenie mak
      April 12, 2020 at 2:36 pm

      Thanks so much! Vietnam is such a wonderful country – wish I can be back soon!

      Reply

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