6 must-see destinations when backpacking in Vietnam (plus itinerary)

I recently checked photos from my old phone and came across some pics from our travel in Vietnam and I thought “hey, why not make a blog about it” since it’s one of the most memorable trips I ever had.

So why is it memorable? First, I had to learn how to bike for this trip. Imagine, a 23-year-old lady practicing how to bike for a trip? Second, I experienced the longest land travel in my entire life in Vietnam. We took the train from Da Nang going to Hanoi for 22-23 freaking hours (left Da Nang at 11pm and arrived at Hanoi at 4/5pm). Lastly, it’s my first time backpacking a country (yey!).

If you’re also game with that kind of adventure, here are six must-see destinations that you should visit:

Ho Chi Minh City

At present, Ho Chi Minh (or Saigon) is a typical city: busy, lively, and noisy. However, if you’ll do a little research, you’ll learn that a complex history embraces the city. Ho Chi Minh actually has a pivotal role in the Vietnam war! So, if you want to know more about it, you may opt to visit the Cu Chi tunnels and the War Remnants Museum. Of course, don’t forget to have your photos taken at the iconic Notre-Dame Cathedral Saigon!

Mũi Né

Mũi Né is actually a coastal fishing town located in Bình Thuan Province. Almost five hours away from Ho Chi Minh City, it’s a popular weekend getaway for biking, kite surfing, and sailing. Going to Mui Ne? Make sure to book a tour to see the White Sand Dunes, Red Sand Dunes, Fishing Village, and Fairy Stream.

Da Nang

One of the largest cities in Vietnam, Da Nang is located in between Hanoi (north) and Ho Chi Minh (south). The city is said to be famous for its beaches such as the My Khe Beach, Non Nuoc Beach, and Bac My An Beach as well as for its French colonial buildings. Unfortunately, we didn’t go to the beach; we just booked a private car to see the Marble Mountains (including the Hoa Nghiem Cave) and then we proceed to Hội An.

Hội An

Hội An (formerly known as Fai-Fo/Faifoo) is a UNESCO World Heritage Site known for its exceptionally well-preserved ancient town. The place has no airport and train station. The only way to go here and witness the stunning yellow city is by flying to Da Nang and traveling by land thru a taxi or a private car. We don’t have many pics taken here but it’s actually my second favorite destination in Vietnam, next to Hanoi. We also got to try the best Banh Mi in the world, according to Anthony Bourdain!

Hanoi

It’s ironic how Hanoi became my most favorite destination in Vietnam when I only have pictures of cafes and selfies in the city. I don’t know, maybe it’s because we were too tired (you know coming from a 22-hour train ride) or we just chose to chill, relax, and shop in Hanoi? Hanoi, the capital of Vietnam, is actually one of the most ancient capitals in the world. Aside from shopping and café hopping around the Old Quarter, you may also opt to visit Hanoi’s more relaxing countryside and check the iconic Ha Long Bay or the Ninh Bình Province.

Ninh Bình Province

What better way to end our tour than visit the Ninh Bình Province, located in the northern Vietnam’s Red River Delta. If you don’t want to join the bandwagon, I highly recommend that you book a tour to Ninh Bình Province and experience boating in Tam Cốc (three caves), a popular destination which is part of the Tràng An UNESCO World Heritage Site, and biking in Hoa Lư, the capital of Vietnam from 10th to 11th centuries.

Here’s our itinerary (with estimated time):

Day 1

  • 10:45 PM: flight from Manila to Vietnam (1,999 PHP)

Day 2

  • 12:20 AM: arrival at Tan Son Nhat International Airport Terminal 2
  • 01:00 AM: check-in and rest at Phan Lan 2 Hotel (31.5 USD for a group of four)
  • 08:30 AM: start of Cu Chi Tunnels tour (5 USD)
  • 04:00 PM: visit the War Remnants Museum (VND 15,000)
  • 04:30 PM: take photos at the Notre-Dame Cathedral Saigon
  • 05:30 PM: travel to Mũi Né (bus at 7 USD)
  • 10:30 PM: arrival and check-in at Diem Lien Guesthouse  (24 USD for a group of four)

Day 3

  • 04:30 AM: start of Mũi Né tour (30 USD for a group of four)
    • White Sand Dunes
    • Red Sand Dunes
    • Fishing Village
    • Fairy Stream
  • 10:00 AM: eat at random restaurant
  • 11:00 AM: down time
  • 01:30 PM: travel back to Ho Chi Minh City (bus at 6 USD)
  • 10:10 PM: flight to Da Nang (VND 3,268,000 for a group of four)
  • 11:25 PM: arrival at Da Nang

Day 4

  • 03:00 AM: check-in at hotel (forgot the name)
  • 07:00 AM: eat breakfast at random restaurant and check for available city tours
  • 09:00 AM: start of tour (forgot the price)
    • Marble Mountains
    • Hội An Ancient Town
  • 11:00 PM: travel to Hanoi (153 USD for a group of four)

Day 5

  • 04:00 PM: arrival at Hanoi
  • 05:00 PM: check in at Hanoi Old Town Palace Guest House (19.25 USD for a group of four)
  • 07:00 PM: dinner at Bun Cha Huong Lien (the resto made famous by Anthony Bourdain and former US president Barack Obama)
  • 08:00 PM: drink egg coffee at Giang Cafe
  • 09:00 PM: shop around Old Quarter
  • 10:00 PM: go back to hotel to rest

Day 6

  • 07:00 AM: eat breakfast at hotel
  • 08:00 AM: start of tour at Ninh Bình Province (136 USD for a group of four)
    • Hoa Lư District
    • Tam Cốc
  • 04:00 PM: travel back to Hanoi
  • 06:30 PM: arrival at hotel to rest and freshen up
  • 08:00 PM: shop around Old Quarter & drink coffee at Trung Nguyên

Day 7

  • 01:15 AM: flight from Vietnam to Manila (3,250 PHP per person)
  • 05:40 AM: arrival at Ninoy Aquino International Airport Terminal 3

Backpacking is really an adventure. Atleast I tried it once! So Loves, what’s your must-see destination in Vietnam? Comment your answers! Of course, don’t forget to follow @loveexplores on FB and IG!

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