Vietnam has been top of our list. We actually made a booking before the pandemic and we were sad that our trip got canceled in 2020. However, it did not stop us from scheduling it again in the last quarter of the year 2022. Vietnam is an ideal destination for backpacking because of its cheap accommodation and delicious Vietnamese cuisine. And it is also a nice place to be after all the lockdown that happened during the peak of COVID-19. As a matter of fact, Vietnam’s COVID-19 response is considered to be successful because they’re able to effectively control the infections by keeping them low. Their government was preventive in terms of contact tracing and quarantine strictly being implemented at the time which other countries have failed to do so. It is exciting to travel again internationally since 2019 before the coronavirus started.
Before getting to the 3 weeks itinerary in Vietnam, we would just like to inform you about the visa conditions and health insurance required to enter Vietnam. Please note for the currency exchange rate we based on this blog: 1 USD = VND 24,000.00; 1 USD = PHP 57.00 Exchange rates always change on a daily basis
For PHILIPPINE Passport holders, VIETNAM is a visa-free country. Meaning you do not need to apply for any visa if you are only traveling as a tourist for leisure and holiday vacation. Filipino citizens are allowed to stay up to 21 days maximum in Vietnam. You can just go directly to the airport by bringing your Philippine passport.
But if you wish to stay longer as a tourist, you may need to get a visa for real. Also, if you are planning to work in Vietnam, you must comply with the visa rules at their Embassy. You must not enter as a tourist in Vietnam if your intention is to look for work because immigration may tag you as blacklisted. This is a reminder to everyone.
Another thing, be careful when scammers offer you a tourist visa, it is 100% not true. Again, having a Philippine passport is already sufficient in entering Vietnam. For other nationalities, better to check online with your embassy.
As much as we want to enjoy our holiday, every time we travel, purchasing health insurance is perfectly the right thing to do especially if you are in another country and there are so many possibilities of unfortunate events that could happen like getting sick, food poison, dog bites, etc. Having health insurance reduces or eliminates your worries and gives you peace of mind. We purchased health insurance with 10,000 USD coverage for hospitalization and COVID-19. You can find health insurance for 3 weeks of travel in Southeast Asia ranging from USD 20-USD 40 per person per policy. It was mandatory in Vietnam as soon as they opened their borders and accepted visitors. Although, the immigration did not actually check our documents for it. Still, it is safe to get insured than sorry, right?
Our 3 Week Vietnam Travel Itinerary from North to South
Hanoi – Da Nang – Hoi An – Ho Chi Minh
Days of Travel and Destinations:
We started our backpacking journey in Vietnam from Manila, Philippines. We took a 3-hour International flight with Cebu Pacific airline to Hanoi city, Vietnam arriving in Noi Bai International Airport and stayed there for 5 days, then we headed to Da Nang, Vietnam by taking a Domestic flight for 1-hour and 20 minutes with Vietravel Airlines and stayed there for 4 days.
We decided to go to Hoi An by shuttle bus for more or less 1-hour travel and stayed there for 6 days. Went back to Da Nang airport to fly to Ho Chi Minh City with a Domestic plane, arriving at Tan Son Nhat International Airport in Ho Chi Minh City. Note that the old name for Ho Chi Minh City is Saigon. We stayed in Saigon or Ho Chi Minh city for 4 days. That’s a total of 19 days of travel (We just did not fully maximize the 21 days allowance).
The good thing about our itinerary is that the schedule does not have to be too tight and it is relaxed. You do not have to rush things and exhaust yourself. Plus, you will get to enjoy Vietnamese culture in the span of 3 weeks.
FIRST STOP: HANOI CITY ( NORTH VIETNAM) – 5 DAYS
Hanoi is our favorite destination throughout our entire Vietnam trip, especially staying in Old Quarter district. As the capital city, you will be amazed by this vibrant place day and night filled with visitors from all over the world. You will always look forward to authentic Vietnamese food and cheap prices. The Old Quarter district has a rich culture and ancient architecture. Among the places we’ve visited in Vietnam, only Hanoi has the real “Vietnamese” old vibe to it where you can see Vietnamese women who are vendors wearing cone-shaped hats every time. We also like the weather in Hanoi. It is not too humid or hot. And at night, bars and restaurants come alive and are fun to experience in Hanoi.
Check-out Also: Things to do in Hanoi, Vietnam ( 5 days itinerary )
Read more: Foods to try in Hanoi, Vietnam
Our total spent in Hanoi for food, drinks, and tours: VND 2,256,000.00 / USD 94.00 for 2 persons
Our Accommodation in Hanoi: SERENITY VILLA HOTEL Address: 28 Ngo Huyen Street, Hoan Kiem, Hanoi, Vietnam
Accommodation price per night: VND 410,916.00 / USD 17.00 ( 1 King size bed with private bathroom + City view booked for 2 adults )
Airfare cost from Manila, Philippines – Hanoi, Vietnam: PHP 4,249.75 inclusive of taxes / USD 75.00 ( one-way per person )
SECOND STOP: DA NANG CITY (CENTRAL VIETNAM) – 4 DAYS
Our second stop is going to Da Nang located in Central Vietnam by domestic plane. It can also be reached by a sleeper train or busses from Hanoi, but traveling is very lengthy up to 16 hours or more for almost 800 kilometers in distance. Alternatively, trains and busses could be a cheaper option during peak season. However, comfort is not guaranteed.
Known for its beaches and mountains, it also has the best local food market and night market we have experienced so far. Despite its modern structures, we can say that it has a mixed nature and urban feel. Other tourists may skip staying long in Da Nang for some reason, but we decided to give it a try to stay for 4 days to tour the city. There are modern theme parks and museums you can visit. It is very different compared to Hanoi. In Da Nang, we have spent so much money using Grab car (a shared-ride app popular in Southeast Asia). It’s because the attractions are usually distant from each other.
Check-out Also: Things to do in Da Nang, Vietnam ( 4 days itinerary )
Read more: Foods to try in Da Nang, Vietnam
Our total spent in Da Nang for food, drinks, and tours:
Our Accommodation in Da Nang:
ROSETTA HOTEL – Address LOT 63 Duong Dinh Nghe, An Cu 2, An Hai Bac Ward, Son Tra District, Da Nang, Vietnam
YEN VY HOTEL – Address 24-26 An, Thuong 30, Bac My Phu, Ngu Hanh Son, Da Nang, Vietnam
Accommodation price per night: VND 183,708.00 / USD 8.00 ( 1 King size bed with private bathroom + City view booked for 2 adults )
Airfare cost from Hanoi-Da Nang: VND 618,640.00 / USD 25.00 ( one-way per person )
THIRD STOP: HOI AN CITY, QUANG NAM PROVINCE (CENTRAL VIETNAM) – 6 DAYS
An hour away from Da Nang by land travel, Hoi An is a top tourist destination for visitors. Known for its UNESCO World heritage of mixed French, Japanese, and Chinese colonial houses and beautiful beaches, Hoi An is a must-see ancient city for a unique experience. An ancient town with wonderful boat lanterns and lantern-lit streets at the Thu Bon river. It is where you can drink a great coffee as Hoi An offers plenty of cute and Instagrammable cafes.
If you are looking for custom tailor-fit clothing, Hoi An is definitely the best place to shop. Hoi An also features the best Banh Mi in Anthony Bourdain’s TV show. The weather can be hot outside in Central Vietnam and there will be a lot of walking and biking when you come to Hoi An. We suggest putting your sunscreen on lotion always.
Check-out Also: Things to do in Hoi An, Vietnam ( 5 days itinerary )
Read more: Foods to try in Hoi An, Vietnam
Our total spent in Hoi An for food, drinks, and tours:
Our Accommodation in Hoi An: PHUC AN HOMESTAY Address: 111 Nguyen Phuc Tan, Minh An, Hoi An, Vietnam
Accommodation price per night: VND 225, 000.00 / USD 9.00 ( 1 King size bed with private bathroom booked for 2 adults near Thu Bon river )
Shuttle bus cost from Da Nang – Hoi An: USD 6.00 ( one-way per person )
FOURTH STOP: HO CHI MINH CITY OR SAIGON (SOUTH VIETNAM) – 4 DAYS
Our last stop is Saigon. After staying in Hoi An, we returned to Da Nang by car quickly and flew from Da Nang airport going to Ho Chi Minh city. Note that Hoi An doesn’t have the main airport that goes to Ho Chi Minh city. As the largest city in Vietnam, Saigon has historical museums that display the events during the Vietnam war. You will also appreciate its French colonial architecture. If you are planning to visit Mekong Delta river, then you must come from Saigon. Or if you are planning to travel to Cambodia, then there are many available sleeper busses you can book from here. In this part of Vietnam, it is usually humid throughout the day. Sometimes it rains suddenly. Better to have your raincoat, umbrella and cap when you travel. With our overall experience, Saigon is a bustling city where you will stuck in a traffic, plenty of visitors, crowded streets as it has a more urban vibe to it. You can also see many commercial stores and Western influences especially with the food all over Saigon. But you can still experience the “Southern Vietnamese” culture in here.
Check-out Also: Things to do in Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam
Read more: Foods to try in Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam
Our total budget in Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam for food, drinks, and tours:
Our Accommodation in Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam: THANH HA GUEST HOUSE Address: 241/39 Pham Ngu Lao, District 1, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
Accommodation price per night: VND 301,445.00 / USD 12.00 ( 1 King size bed with private bathroom + City view booked for 2 adults )
Airfare cost from Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam – Manila, Philippines: PHP 4,249.75 inclusive of taxes / USD 75.00 ( one-way per person )
Getting around Vietnam is relatively cheap as a country. There are many options for transportation and travel tours. In major cities, you can take public city buses. In a small city like Hoi An, you can rent a scooter or bike to get around. There is a ride-sharing app such as Grab car for your convenience and the fare prices are reasonable. It is very convenient to use especially around Da Nang and Ho Chi Minh city. Having offline Google maps being downloaded in your phone is a big help. You can also download Vietnam’s public transportation app such as BusMap.
Traveling from North to South Vietnam, we have learned the differences in the way of life of the Vietnamese people and the attractions they offer. There are plenty of amazing destinations in Vietnam to visit in the future. We plan on going back and exploring more of North Vietnam particularly.
3 weeks is not really enough to see it all but it’s definitely worth it at a calm pace to see exciting stops along the way from North to South. This itinerary will serve you as a guide. Please share this blog on your social media account if you find this blog helpful.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the unpredictable global economic situation, the updated prices, schedules, and other information stated in the blog may change and vary. Kindly anticipate inflation and other factors that contributed to price differences. Please do your due diligence to verify with official sources. This blog may contain affiliate links and ads. However, the brands mentioned as of this writing do not sponsor this blog. It is only published based on my personal knowledge and actual experience. Please help us improve this post by letting us know your feedback in the comment section.
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