How long do I need to travel Vietnam?
Vietnam has so much to offer. It could take someone 3 months to see and experience everything. Here are some suggestions that have worked for our clients in the past:
Just the the North: from Hanoi, make a two-day trip to Halong Bay and / or Mai Chau followed by a day trip to the Perfume Pagoda and /or Tam Coc. Spend the remaining time exploring the delights, foods and culture in the Hanoi capital.
Just the South: from Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon), it is possible to do a day trip to the Cu Chi tunnels and / or a two to three-day tour of the Mekong Delta (include some cycling for added adventure). The rest of the time can be spent sightseeing, eating, shopping and carousing meandering in the city.
Note that highlights of the following two options can also be combined; a typical whirlwind tour means flying into Hanoi, exploring the area (including Halong Bay and / or Sapa) then making a beeline to Hue or Hoi An before heading south to Ho Chi Minh City (or vice versa). Excursion airline tickets allowing such a routing are common, and recommended to avoid backtracking.
Just the North: follow the above one-week itinerary for the north adding a day or two here and there, then take a spin into the northwest mountains (especially Sapa & Bac Ha) and / or a trip to Cuc Phuong, Ba Be or Cat Ba National parks.
Just the South: a two-week visit to the south will allow for the one-week itinerary above adding a day or two here and there, followed by a loop up to Dalat, and back down to the beaches in and around Nha Trang and / or Mui Ne. Time permitting, you could then head to Hoi An and fly back to HCM city from Da Nang or Hue.
A month is enough time to take in most of Vietnam's major sights. Starting in the South (this itinerary can also be followed in reverse from Hanoi), follow the two-week itinerary as far as Hoi An or Da Nang before pressing on to Hue. Take a DMZ tour out of Hue, then travel on to Ha Noi. Either fly out of Hanoi or continue overland to China or beyond.
Two months will allow ample time to see everything in more detail. In addition to our other suggested itineraries, explore the Mekong Delta more thoroughly, with a side trip to lovely Phu Quoc Island. You could spend a few extra days lingering on the giant sand dunes at Mui Ne Beach (near Phan Thiet), south of Nha Trang. A trip to the western part of the central highlands should include a visit to Dalat. Don’t forget Phong Nha and Paradise Cave to the north of the DMZ. In the north and far north, you can explore remote areas such as Dien Bien Phu, Ha Giang, Cao Bang and Bai Tu Long Bay.
Tip: Arrange a vacation to Vietnam lasting at least 3 weeks so that you will have chance to discover most of the highlights.