With beautiful scenery from top to tail, to see the best of Vietnam, you should take your time. Embrace all that the country has to offer and enjoy what each destination has on a Vietnam itinerary of 3 weeks.
In addition to the well-trodden destinations such as Ho Chi Minh City, Hanoi and Hoi An, there are a bountiful number of places that could show you the diversity of Vietnam. From the dunes of Mui Ne to the limestone karsts of Ninh Binh and Phong Nha; it’s the diversity of the landscapes of Vietnam that will show you what this country is all about – nature!
When to Go on Your Three Week Trip to Vietnam
To begin your trip, you need to decide whether or not you start in the north or south of Vietnam, this can depend on when you choose to visit and what you are looking to get out of your three weeks in Vietnam.
If you are looking for warmer temperatures, you could stay in Central and Southern Vietnam, as it is hot for the majority of the year. If you are looking for cooler adventures on your three-week trip to Vietnam, the north has mountains and all the cold temperatures that come with them.
No matter what you are looking for in your three-week Vietnam itinerary, you should look to visit Vietnam at a time when there is not a lot of rain. In the Spring (March to May) and Autumn (September to October) months, you’ll have perfect temperatures across the country from dusk till dawn. Vietnam has some of the highest rainfall in Southeast Asia – if you do not get some rain during your trip, you will be lucky!
The hottest time of the year, particularly in Central Vietnam, is between May and August when temperatures can reach as high as 45C (117) and above. However, you can expect the odd electrical storm – welcome to the tropics!
Your Perfect Vietnam Itinerary 3 Weeks
This Hanoi to Ho Chi Minh City itinerary in 3 weeks covers all of the essentials while visiting the country, showcasing a taste of the magnificent landscapes of Vietnam.
A Vietnam itinerary in three weeks can either take you from north to south or vice versa. This one starts in Hanoi in Northern Vietnam and goes to Halong Bay before moving to Central Vietnam, where you’ll visit Hoi An Ancient Town and the ancient capital, Hue.
Where to Stay
The first week on your Vietnam three-week itinerary will see you staying on cruises, in city hotels and in quaint countryside guest houses that demonstrate the diversity of the country as much as the landscapes do.
Vietnam is one of the cheapest countries in the world. You’ll be surprised by what you can get for your money. However, it is worth noting that star ratings are not quite the same. When booking accommodation, chat with one of our Local Designers in Vietnam and do a little research before making the big leap.
What You’ll Do
You’ll be welcomed to Vietnam by arriving in the capital, Hanoi. Your three weeks in Vietnam starts with a little chaos, which will initially overwhelm you. You’ll quickly get to grips with Hanoi as you are shown around some of the most famous buildings in the country.
You cannot leave Hanoi without making the journey out to the New Wonder of the World, Halong Bay just four hours from the city. Boarding a cruise, you’ll spend 24 hours between limestone karsts, exploring caves and hopping between scenic viewpoints, a highlight of your Vietnam itinerary for three weeks.
Back in the city, you’ll take a short flight down to Hoi An, via the city of Da Nang. A few days in Hoi An is a stark contrast to the hustle of Hanoi, where motorbikes are swapped for bicycles, and narrow tube houses are substituted for the iconic yellow and blue colonial houses.
Hoi An is one of the most iconic spots and a must on a 3-week tour of Vietnam. While here, you will be introduced to the famous Central Vietnamese cuisine with a cooking class on the river.
This part of your Vietnam route in 3 weeks finishes in Hue, the ancient capital of Northern Vietnam. Exploring the ancient citadel, you’ll see the architecture left behind by former dynasties. The ruins of the citadel have a lingering reminder of the American War when the majority of it was destroyed in the Tet Offensive, 1968.
Your trip for three weeks in Vietnam will take you down to the metropolis of Ho Chi Minh City, where you’ll learn a little more about the war in the south and see the sights. You’ll then explore the mighty Mekong before heading out to Mui Ne to kick back and relax.
Where to Stay
In Ho Chi Minh City, you’ll start at the centre of the action to kick start the second part of your Vietnam travel itinerary for three weeks. Staying in District 1 of the city, you’ll be just moments from all the attractions.
While in the Mekong, you’ll immerse yourself in river life in a rustic bungalow surrounded by trees and rice paddies.
What You’ll Do
The second leg of your Vietnam itinerary in 3 weeks is action-packed. You’ll visit the fascinating Cu Chi tunnels that are part of a much more extensive network of tunnels where the Viet Cong were hiding during the war.
You’ll then jump between the most famous sites of the city before leaving the city for the winding Mekong River. You’ll stop by coconut candy workshops, gaze across rice paddies and learn about life in the Mekong as you cross questionable bridges and spend most of your time on a boat, just as locals do.
The Mekong is famous for its food and is known to locals as “the rice bowl of Vietnam”. To finish your time on the river, you’ll visit Cai Rang Floating Market, the most famous of the markets in this region. You can have breakfast while watching the locals come and go on boats. The colours of this market are what makes it so interesting, as are the pop-up floating restaurants!
From the Mekong, you’ll go back to your base, Ho Chi Minh City, for one more night before making your way to the sandy paradise of Mui Ne. On your final night, you may want to dip into Ho Chi Minh City’s nightlife which ranges from quiet street-side beers to booming multi-storey bars.
At this point in your trip, you can change it up to make a Vietnam and Cambodia 3-week itinerary. However, if you are looking to chill out by a pool or at the beach, this next week is for you as you head out to Mui Ne.
Where to Stay
There are a plethora of resorts, hotels, homestays and hostels in Mui Ne, so much so that you cannot see the beach from the road! However, you should not let this deter you.
As accommodation is cheap, you can find yourself a villa in Mui Ne for as little as 15 dollars a night. Equally, there are many five-star resorts for those looking to live a life of luxury.
What You’ll Do
Your time in Mui Ne has been created for you to relax and make the most of the sunshine on the final week of your Vietnam three-week itinerary. Mui Ne has a long stretch of orange sand that faces onto beautiful clear waters. Due to its coastal positioning on the corner of Vietnam, the beach can be very windy, which attracts kitesurfers to its shore. With this in mind, your beach days may be substituted for pool days.
When you are not sunning yourself by the pool, there are many activities to fill your days.
The most famous attraction, and the reason that Mui Ne is a popular spot for travellers backpacking Vietnam in 3 weeks, is the sand dunes. Just outside of the town, there are both red and white sand dunes.
A tour from the town will take you on the back of a jeep to visit both of them; you can choose to go at sunrise or sunset, either time will be truly spectacular. You’ll visit both sand dunes, where you can hire an ATV or a slightly cheaper sheet of plastic to skid down the sand from the local ladies and kids who will be eagerly waiting for you.
Another option for an easy-going activity to add to your Vietnam itinerary for 3 weeks is the Fairy Springs. This long shallow river takes you past fascinating rock formations and small riverside vendors to reach a waterfall. It’s best to visit the Fairy Springs at midday, when not many people are around.
Another option for the adrenaline seekers is to learn how to kitesurf; there are many schools set up on the beach, run by locals and expats who have moved to Mui Ne for the waves. You can shop around for the best price according to your requirements.
Alternatives for Your 3 Weeks in Vietnam
Your 3 weeks in Vietnam could be broken up to add on one of the neighbouring countries with borders crossing to Laos, China and Cambodia. Your trip can easily hop across the border to delve into the cultural differences of Vietnam’s neighbours.
A Vietnam and Cambodia itinerary in three weeks could start or finish in Cambodia, where you’ll have the chance to visit Angkor Wat and the capital, Phnom Penh before flying to Ho Chi Minh City. From the city, you’ll journey from south to north.
Alternatively, your three weeks in Cambodia and Vietnam could add in Laos. Starting in Hanoi, you’ll visit the impressive giant caves of Phong Nha before hopping across the border to Laos. Then, it’s down to the famous Angkor Wat to finish your Vietnam and Laos itinerary for three weeks with Cambodia.
Travel Tips for 3 Weeks in Vietnam
What to Pack
Clothing: It is best to pack for every eventuality for your three weeks in Vietnam. In the north, it can be cold and rainy – much colder than you would expect in Vietnam! Yes, you will be surprised.
Bring a light rain jacket, as you might need it in another destination on a Vietnam itinerary from Hanoi, as well as a jumper and comfortable, covered shoes. Further south, shorts and t-shirts will suffice. A light jacket may be required if you are going into the mountains.
Mosquito Spray: Another essential, no matter where you go in your 3 weeks in Vietnam, is mosquito spray. Whether you are in the mountains, in cities or by the beach, they are everywhere. Peak times for mosquitos are early morning and from sunset into the evening.
While light clothing may deter them, it will not stop them; apply mosquito spray regularly. The most effective sprays are made from citronella oil and lemongrass. It’s important to note that Malaria is low-risk in the coastal region of Vietnam. However, Dengue is prevalent across all cities.
Sun Cream: While Vietnam has a lot of rain, it also has incredibly high UV rays because of its positioning to the equator. To avoid skin damage, apply sun cream regularly and be conscious of just how much time you are spending in the sun.
Safety: Crossing the road may be the scariest thing that you encounter throughout your Vietnam three-week itinerary. However, there is a special method to this madness: stay calm and confident, walk slowly and steadily, and whatever you do, do not run back! The drivers will go around you. This rule applies everywhere in Vietnam.
In popular tourist areas, pick-pocketing is common, particularly in big cities such as Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City with their crowded tourist areas.
To stay safe:
- Split your money into big notes and small notes and keep the big ones in your bag and small ones in your pocket.
- Do not carry your purse out on the street, if you do need to, make sure you are as far into the side of the road as possible.
- Try to avoid having your mobile phone out on busy streets and store it in your pocket or the main part of your bag.
To begin planning your 3 weeks in Vietnam, contact one of our Local Designers to begin putting together your dream trip. Whether you are looking to incorporate Cambodia or Laos, by working with our Local Designers, you will be able to customise your trip to make your 3 weeks in Vietnam one to remember!