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Vietnam Solo Travel Itinerary: 3 weeks in Vietnam from Hanoi to Saigon

Vietnam is one of the best solo travel destinations for female travellers. Travellers can enjoy various activities and see cities, villages and the coastal towns of Vietnam. Plus, Vietnam is a budget-friendly country where you don’t have to spend much money. Definitely a perk for solo travellers!

When you are travelling solo in Vietnam, you can easily get around the country and enjoy all the beauty Vietnam has to offer. And when you spend 3 weeks in Vietnam, you can see the country’s best highlights.

Keep reading and find out how you can see all the best attractions in my Vietnam 3 week itinerary. I included some of the best places in Vietnam in my Vietnam solo travel itinerary so you can make the most of your time in this beautiful country.

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Before starting your solo Vietnam 3 week itinerary

Before you start your Vietnam solo travel itinerary, take a look at some of these useful travel tips for travelling alone to Vietnam:

  • Vietnam’s official currency is the đồng (₫) or VND. 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 if you need to bring a travel adapter to Vietnam.
  • Purchase a SIM card once you arrive in Vietnam. Learn how to choose the best SIM card in Vietnam for all your travel needs.

Is Vietnam safe to travel alone

I’ve been to Vietnam three times for the past eight years and spent over four months in the country. And generally speaking, Vietnam is safe for solo female travellers. But here’s what I noticed.

I felt completely safe travelling around Northern (Hanoi, Sapa, Halong Bay, Ninh Binh) and Central (Hoi An, Da Nang, Hue) and parts of Southern Vietnam (Mui Ne, Nha Trang). I felt free to walk around during the day and night and didn’t feel unsafe at any point.

But in Ho Chi Minh City, I had an incident where two guys on a scooter ripped my laptop bag from my hand during the day near a popular tourist street. Theft and pick-pocketing is a big problem in Ho Chi Minh City.

That’s only my experience couple of years ago. But at any point when you are travelling in Vietnam, always practice safety precautions so you can feel safe when travelling alone.

Tips for staying safe for solo female travellers in Vietnam

Here are some quick safety travel tips for staying safe in Vietnam:

  • Be aware of your belongings (bags, mobile phone, etc) especially if you are in a crowded area.
  • Carry a backpack instead of a messenger bag so it is harder to steal
  • Don’t wear flashy jewellery (necklaces, bracelets, earrings, etc) to attract unwanted attention.
  • Leave your passport, (large sums of) money and other valuables at your hotel.
  • Avoid poorly lit alleys at night when you are walking home at night.

How to get around Vietnam for 3 weeks

There are many modes of transportation in Vietnam. There are pros and cons for each type of transportation. Air travel is the fastest. Train travel is scenic but slow. Sleeper bus is affordable but slow. And a private car is efficient but costs more.

I included all four transportation modes in my Vietnam 3 week itinerary and they were chosen because of their schedules or availability, costs and efficiency.

Air

Vietnam Airlines, Jetstar, and VietJetAir have many domestic flights between Hanoi, Hue, Da Nang, and Ho Chi Minh City. This is the most efficient way to travel between northern, central and southern Vietnam.

Overnight train

The railway runs through the entire country. It is possible to take a train from the northern most city all the way to the south. But it will take many hours.

Sleeper bus

Many bus companies like The Sinh Tourist, operate on similar routes to popular tourist destinations. The cost is very affordable, but they make bathroom stops along the way as there are no toilet facilities on the bus. 

Shared and private transfer

There are shared bus transfers and private car transfer for customized transport. Many of these transportation modes are available in Central Vietnam.

Private transfer is not the most economical option but it can save a lot of time and you can have the ability to do things your own schedule and include side trips that were not possible with other types of transportation.

Grab

Grab car and/or bike is available in most cities in Vietnam. It is an excellent option for going to and from the airport, between Da Nang and Hoi An and within the city.

Summary: Vietnam Itinerary 3 weeks from north to south

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

Here is a summary of my 3 week Vietnam itinerary:

  • Day 1 – 2: Hanoi
  • Day 3: Ninh Binh & overnight train to Sapa
  • Day 4 – 5: Sapa
  • Day 6: Sapa & overnight train to Hanoi
  • Day 7: Halong Bay
  • Day 8: Halong Bay & Hanoi
  • Day 9: Hue
  • Day 10: Hai Van Pass & Da Nang
  • Day 11: Da Nang & Hoi An
  • Day 12 – 13: Hoi An
  • Day 14 – 15: Nha Trang
  • Day 16 – 17: Mui Ne or Dalat
  • Day 18 – 20: Ho Chi Minh City
  • Day 21: Fly home

3 weeks in Vietnam solo travel itinerary from Hanoi to Ho Chi Minh City

Day 1-2: Hanoi 

Welcome to Vietnam! Your Vietnam 3-week itinerary starts in Hanoi, the capital city of Vietnam. The city is easy to get around, but watch out for the chaotic traffic – it is somewhat organized and chaotic simultaneously.

Best things to do in Hanoi

During your two days in Hanoi, wander around the capital city and see these attractions on foot:

  • Walk around Hoan Kiem Lake and visit Ngoc Son Temple in the middle of the lake
  • Visit Ba Dinh Square and see Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum, Presidential Palace and Ho Chi Minh’s Stilt House
  • Watch the train go by at the narrow Hanoi Train Street
  • Try Ca phe trung aka egg coffee at one of many coffee shops in Hanoi
  • Indulge in some of the best food in Hanoi

Where to stay in Hanoi

Book 2 nights at Concon House in Hanoi. This is an excellent boutique hotel in the middle of the Old Quarter and within walking distance of all the main attractions.

Also, book another night for day 8 (after the Halong Bay cruise).

Day 3: Ninh Binh & overnight train to Sapa

On day 3, take a day trip to Ninh Binh and see rural areas of Northern Vietnam. The village is also known as “Halong Bay on Land” because of its limestone mountains and serene rivers that is reminiscent of Halong Bay.

Best of Ninh Binh attractions

When you book a full day tour in Ninh Binh or a day tour to Tam Coc or any other day trip to Ninh Binh, you can see a combination of these attractions:

  • Tour around Bai Dinh Pagoda, the Buddhist Centre of Vietnam
  • See the bronze Buddha Sykamuni statue, the biggest and heaviest statue in Vietnam
  • Cruise around the limestone systems and caves with the Ecotourism Trang An Boat Tour
  • Take a Sampan river boat ride on the Ngo Dong River and visit three limestone caves
  • Climb 500 steps to the top of Mua Caves and see panoramic views of the countryside

Overnight train to Sapa

You don’t need to book any accommodation for day 3 because you’ll hop on an overnight train to Sapa.

All you have to do is meet at 9pm at the train station for the 10pm train to Sapa. Your accommodation for the night is one of the 4 sleeping berths in the cabin.

Day 4-5: Sapa 

The overnight train from Hanoi arrives at Lao Cai Railway Station at 6am. Then a minibus will shuttle you to your hotel in Sapa, which is an hour away.

Day 4 and 5 will be spent hiking in Sapa along various trails with a tour guide.

What to see in Sapa with a tour

When you book a Sapa tour similar to this one, the price includes overnight train transportation there and back, a shuttle to and from the train station to Sapa, one night accommodation and a local guide for both days.

Here’s what you will see on the two day Sapa trek:

  • Small farms and waterfalls in Cat Cat Village in Muong Hoa Valley
  • Cascading rice fields and traditional H’Mong homes along the trek
  • Y Linh Ho village which is inhabited by the H’Mong minority group
  • Lao Chai Village and Ta Van Village

Where to stay in Sapa

When you book a tour, the accommodation is included in the price. FYI – Mine included a stay at the Golden Villa Hotel. But the hotel was overbooked with other tours, so I stayed at the Sapa Freesia Hotel, which was much newer and nicer.

For day 5, is an additional day that is not part of the tour. Make sure you tell your tour operator that you are staying an extra day so they can include you for the transportation (shuttle and train) for the next day.

For the extended stay, choose Pistachio Hotel Sapa, a 4-star hotel in Sapa city centre with nicely decorated rooms.

Day 6: Sapa & overnight train to Hanoi

I definitely think it’s worthwhile to stay an extra day in Sapa after the 2-day organized Sapa tour. As I mentioned, make sure you let your tour group know that you are staying an extra day so they can organize all the transport for you for the following day.

Other things to do in Sapa

On the last day in Sapa, there are a few things you can do on your own:

  • Visit Mount Fansipan, the highest peak in Indochina. Either do a one-day hike up the highest peak or take the cable car ride
  • Wander around the town of Sapa
  • Get a massage at one of many spas in Sapa

Overnight train to Hanoi

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

Day 7: Halong Bay

You will arrive at Hanoi Railway Station very early in the morning. Return to your hotel and wait for a shuttle pick-up at 8am for Halong Bay. There’s some time to get breakfast before hopping on the minibus.

After a few hours, you’ll board your overnight cruise boat at Tuan Chau International Marina.

Halong Bay attractions

For the 2-day Halong Bay cruise, here is what you will see:

  • Bon Hon Island, one of the largest island chains in the region
  • Two large grotto chambers at Sung Sot (Surprise) Cave
  • Panoramic view of Halong Bay at the top of Ti Top Beach

Day 8: Halong Bay and Hanoi

Waking up on the boat in Halong Bay is one of the best experiences. Then spend the morning cruising around the bay, see limestone islands and wild monkeys at Luon Cave and take the scenic route back to the harbour.

After lunch, the cruise boat will return to the marina where you can catch your minibus back to Hanoi.

Make sure you book an extra night at your chosen hotel in Hanoi for day 8 so you can get a good night sleep before flying out in the morning.

Day 9: Hue

The most efficient way to travel from Northern Vietnam to Central Vietnam is by flying. To save time, fly from Hanoi to Hue on a short flight instead of taking the bus or train.

Once you drop off your bag, start exploring Hue, an ancient city and was once the capital of Vietnam for 150 years. Many people visit Hue to see historical buildings and monuments and to try Hue’s unique local cuisine. Food in Hue is different from other regions in Vietnam due to its cultural food preparation traditions that stemmed from the Nguyen dynasty.

Things to do in Hue

When you spend an entire day in Hue, here’s what you can expect to see and do:

  • Try a bowl of bun bo hue, Hue’s most famous dish
  • Visit the Hue Imperial City, a UNESCO World Heritage Site
  • Take a tour to see the tombs of Emperor Minh Mang, Khai Dinh and Tu Duc
  • Take a boat ride on the Perfume River
  • Walk around and have a drink at Hue Night Walking Street

Where to stay in Hue

Stay 1 night at the Alba Spa Hotel. I really liked this hotel for its design and location.

Day 10: Hai Van Pass and Da Nang

Day 10 is a travel day to Da Nang but also a sightseeing day in Central Vietnam. You’ll have to select one of the many shared bus transfer and private car transfer options between Hue and Da Nang with an option that includes Hai Van Pass and Lang Co Beach.

Things to see at Hai Van Pass

Hai Van Pass is a 21km windy and scenic mountain pass on National Route 1 between Da Dang and Hue. It is Vietnam’s highest pass (at 500m above sea level) and an excellent road for motorbiking.

  • Panoramic views from Hai Van Pass
  • Lang Co Beach 
  • Opportunity for a seafood lunch at a lakeside restaurant called Hải sản Bé Thân near Lang Co Beach 

Things to do in Da Nang

When you arrive in Da Nang in the afternoon, there’s still a bit of time to explore the city. Follow the second half of my Da Nang itinerary so you can see part of the city today. Here’s what you will see:

  • Visit My Khe Beach, one of the most beautiful beaches in all of Vietnam
  • Eat and shop at Son Tra Night Market
  • See the Dragon Carp Statue
  • Watch the Fire and Water show at the Dragon Bridge (on the weekend)

Where to stay in Da Nang

Spend 1 night at Bare Han – Bare Boutique Stays. This is a really nice studio apartment in the centre of the city.

Day 11: Da Nang & Hoi An

In the morning, see the rest of the Da Nang itinerary before you order a Grab car and head over to Hoi An, which is only 28km away.

Things to do in Da Nang

  • Visit local Da Nang markets like Con Market and Han Market
  • See the pink Da Nang Cathedral
  • Visit the Da Nang Museum of Cham Sculpture
  • Try one of several local food specialities in Da Nang

Things to see in Hoi An

Hoi An is a well-preserved town with centuries-old houses that are still intact today. The old town has many lanterns lining the streets, and Hoi An is completely walkable. For the day in Hoi An, walk around Hoi An Ancient Town, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and soak in the atmosphere.

Where to stay in Hoi An

Stay 3 nights at Cozy Savvy Boutique Hotels Hoi An. The 3-star boutique hotel has modern design aesthetics mixed with traditional materials and furniture. The complimentary breakfast buffet is really good.

Day 12-13: Hoi An

There are two more days to really enjoy Hoi An. Follow my day 2 and 3 of my Hoi An itinerary and see the following:

Best things to do in Hoi An

  • Get tailored clothing made at one of the clothing store
  • Visit Thanh Ha Pottery Village and Terracotta Park
  • Take a paddleboat ride at Cam Thanh Coconut Village
  • Learn how to cook Vietnamese food at Gioan Cookery School
  • Relax and suntan at An Bang Beach
  • Cycle to Tra Que Vegetable Village and around the rice fields

Day 14-15: Nha Trang 

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

Geographically speaking, Nha Trang is a great jumping-off point for exploring Southern Vietnam. It is a pretty coastal town with lovely beaches and many things to do.

Nha Trang Attractions

Here are some things you might want to check out while visiting Nha Trang:

  • Dip in hot and cold pools or take a mud bath at Thap Ba Mud Bath
  • Visit the temple complex at Ponagar Temple
  • Spend some time on the best beaches in Nha Trang
  • Go diving or snorkelling around the islands around Nha Trang
  • Visit the warm water pools at Ba Ho Waterfall
  • Try banh can, tiny rice flour pancakes cooked in circular claypans

Where to stay in Nha Trang

Stay 2 nights at December Hotel, a new 5-star hotel with modern contemporary rooms. The best part is the hotel is within walking distance of the city centre and the beach.

Day 16-17: Mui Ne (beach option)

Mui Ne is a small coastal town in southeast Vietnam. It is part of Phan Thiet in Binh Thuan Province and is known for its beautiful sand dunes and kitesurfing.

During your first day in Mui Ne, either hire a taxi or join one of the local jeep tours to some of the best Mui Ne attractions. Then, on the second day, visit several historical sites nearby.

Best things to see in Mui Ne

Here’s what you will see when you spend two days in Mui Ne:

  • See natural red sand and rock formations at the Fairy Stream
  • Take a wild jeep ride or sandboard down the slopes at the White Sand Dune
  • Eat a seafood meal at Mui Ne Harbour
  • Take a kitesurfing lesson at the beach
  • Watch a beautiful sunset from the beaches of Mui Ne
  • Visit Ong Hoang Hill and see historical structures like Prince’s Castle, Po Shanu Cham Towers and Thap Po Sah Inu and Victoria Statue on the way to the top

Where to stay in Mui Ne

Stay 2 nights at the Sailing Club Resort Mui Ne, a 4-star luxury hotel that has amazing bungalows and a fantastic spa facility. And not to mention the beachfront restaurant!

Day 16-17: Dalat (waterfall option)

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

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 slightly cooler and not as humid as the coastal Vietnamese towns.

Things to do in Dalat

While you are in Dalat, here’s what you can do:

  • Wander around Bao Dai’s Summer Palace
  • See the intricate design of Linh Phuoc Pagoda
  • Find out why Hang Nga Guest House is called the Crazy House
  • See over 1000 shops at the Dalat Market
  • Visit some of the best waterfalls around Dalata, including Pongour Waterfall, Elephant Falls and Datanla Waterfall

Where to stay in Dalat

Book 2 nights in the Attic Room at Pi Hostel Dalat and get all the comforts of a private room in a hostel. It is right in the middle of the city centre, and the room has a gorgeous view of Dalat.

Day 18-20: Ho Chi Minh City

And finally, spend a few days in HCMC and either join a half day tour to Cu Chi Tunnel or a full-day Mekong Delta tour.

Things to do in Ho Chi Minh City

These are some of the best things to do in Saigon in 3 days:

  • See the most well-known building in HCMC, Saigon Central Post Office
  • Try authentic southern Vietnamese food and buy souvenirs at Ben Thanh Market
  • See artifacts and government offices at the Independence Palace
  • Drink cheap beer at Bui Vien Walking Street (Beer Street)
  • Watch the A O Show, an acrobatic show at the Ho Chi Minh City Opera House or watch a water puppet show at the Golden Dragon Water Puppet Theatre

Where to stay in Ho Chi Minh City

Book 3 nights at The Myst Dong Khoi, a luxury hotel with eclectic decor and furnishings. This is the perfect hotel to end your solo trip in Vietnam.

Day 21: Fly home from Ho Chi Minh City

All good things must come to an end. Catch your flight from Ho Chi Minh City and return home. Hope you had a great time in Vietnam and it was everything you wanted to be.

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

Are you going to follow my Vietnam solo travel itinerary?

My solo Vietnam 3 week itinerary included all the best cities and activities across the country. I did exactly everything mentioned in this blog (I chose the beach option) during my time in Vietnam.

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

And if you are travelling through Southeast Asia, definitely include Vietnam in your itinerary, especially if you spend 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 Vietnam solo travel itinerary. If there are other suggestions, please let me know in the comment section below.

Thank you for reading my Vietnam solo travel itinerary

You might also like these other posts on solo travel in Vietnam:

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About Author

Hi, my name is Queenie, and I've been a solo traveller for 20+ years and currently based in Hong Kong. Follow me on my adventures through Instagram and my blog!

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