We traveled through Vietnam for four weeks. From South to North. From Ho Chi Minh City to Hanoi. We covered more than 2500 kilometers on our Vietnam backpacking route and saw many different places.
In this article we have broken down our complete travel itinerary for you. We briefly reveal all the stops, the biggest highlights, our accommodations and the number of days we stayed in the different places.
In addition, you will find a small overview map and some useful tips for your own Vietnam backpacking route. Have fun reading and of course planning!
Backpacking Route Vietnam – Overview Map
Vietnam is an incredibly narrow, but extremely elongated country. To better understand where each place is located, we have created a map with all the stops on our Vietnam backpacking itinerary.
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Our individual Vietnam itinerary
During our four-week Vietnam round trip we landed at a total of 9 different places. All places are presented in the same order in which we traveled through the country.
Stop No. 1: Saigon resp. Ho Chi Minh City
We started in the biggest city of the country: Ho Chi Minh City. We have never seen so many scooters and so much chaos before. Especially during the day the traffic seems to be bursting at the seams!
Nevertheless or maybe exactly because of that we really liked Saigon. There is simply a completely different world waiting for you, which has 0.0 in common with European conditions.
But also otherwise the city has a lot to offer. For example the tough War Victims Museum, lots of historical buildings from the colonial era, a huge cafe apartment, fascinating markets or the crazy Chinatown, which is more chaotic than anything we have seen so far.
- Accommodation recommendation:The Art – G9 Homestay*
- Stay in Saigon: 3 nights
Stop no. 2: Mekong Delta
From the chaotic big city to the quiet nature of Vietnam. The Mekong Delta is a huge labyrinth of rivers in the south of the country and is on quite a few travelers' bucket list.
Unfortunately, we did not have much of the region, because it rained almost the whole time in streams and we could discover except the extremely fascinating Cai Rang Floating Market as good as nothing.
Nevertheless we enjoyed our time in the delta extremely. Especially after the chaotic Saigon, some nature and seclusion can't hurt.
Tip: We stayed a little bit outside the famous city of Can Tho in the middle of the jungle at a small river arm. There it was incredibly idyllic, quiet and despite the rain just beautiful.
- Accommodation recommendation:Green Village Mekong*
- Stay in the Mekong Delta: 2 nights (would have liked to stay 1 night longer)
Stop no. 3: Con Dao
Next stop on our Vietnam itinerary: Con Dao! A still relatively unknown group of islands in the South China Sea with lonely dream beaches, breathtaking nature, little tourism and a dark past.
Actually it is a wonder that the islands are still so unknown. Rarely before we have seen such deserted and at the same time beautiful beaches!
But also the rest of the nature is just incredible. Driving directly with the scooter along high cliffs and meanwhile looking at the sea, you can't do that every day!
However, the government is already planning the big expansion and with a small airport, unfortunately, the first step has already been made.
So if you still want to experience Con Dao in its original glory, you better hurry up. In 5 – 10 years the fun will be over for sure and the island will become the second Phu Quoc.
But until then, a lonely paradise is waiting for you, which at the same time has a lot of sad stories in store for you.
- Accommodation recommendation:Lighthouse Boutique Hotel*
- Stay on Con Dao: 3 nights (would have liked to stay 1-2 nights longer)
Stop no. 4: Quy Nonh resp. Bai Xep Beach
Leaving one beach paradise, arriving at the next one! From Con Dao we went directly to Quy Nonh at the Bai Xep Beach. Here you can do one thing above all: relax! Absolute relaxation!
Just 3-4 accommodations and two really cozy beach bars are waiting here. Since Bai Xep Beach is 10 kilometers away from Quy Nhon and there is nothing to discover except for a waterfall, you should only come here if you want to relax for 2-3 days.
We just loved the tranquility and atmosphere at Bai Xep Beach! Even though the otherwise turquoise sea was quite choppy and only suitable for swimming to a limited extent. Next time we should perhaps come in the high season.
- Accommodation recommendation:Banana Homestay (at that time it was called Home of Dreamers)
- Stay at Bai Xep Beach: 3 nights
Stop no. 5: Hoi An
After a total of 6 nights in two different beach paradises we went on to Hoi An. No other place we were looking forward to so much and in the end no other place disappointed us so much.
Yes, the old town is beautiful and an absolute dream. Actually. If it wasn't for the unbelievable sale. We hardly found any real Vietnamese life in the old town, but lots of bad souvenir stores, overpriced restaurants and numerous tour groups.
From 11:00 o'clock the old town was so crowded that we quickly fled again. So extreme as here we have never experienced anywhere else. Only in the morning between 8:00 am and 10:00 am or in the evening after 9:00 pm it is much quieter and magically beautiful.
Hoi An became really great for us only outside the center. The huge rice fields in the area, the long beaches, the ancient My Son temple complex or the cute Tra Que Herb Village showed us that Hoi An has much more to offer than a crowded old town.
- Accommodation recommendation:Lama Homestay – Villa Hoi An*
- Stay in Hoi An: 5 nights
Stop No. 6: Hue
In contrast to Hoi An, Hue was an extremely positive surprise on our Vietnam backpacking route!
The old imperial city was the only place on our trip where we could really immerse ourselves in old Vietnam. An impressive citadel, huge imperial tombs and a great pagoda took us to a time long before the war.
But also outside of the historical buildings the city really grabbed us. Somehow Hue has a very special flair that is hard to put into words.
Cool bars, cozy cafes, unbelievably delicious food and even a small promenade at the big Perfume River are waiting for you!
Stop No. 7: Ninh Binh
Actually Ninh Binh was not on the plan at all. Due to bad weather, however, we left central Vietnam at short notice and headed north.
It was exactly the right decision! Ninh Binh has completely knocked our socks off. The gigantic limestone cliffs, surrounded by countless rice fields and stretching through the whole region, are endlessly impressive!
If you travel to Ninh Binh by yourself, you should not miss a boat tour through the rocky landscape. And also the impressive Hang Mua viewpoint or the huge Bai Dinh temple complex are an absolute must-see!
- Accommodation recommendation:Tam Coc Lake View Homestay*
- Stay in Ninh Binh: 3 nights
Stop No. 8: Halong Bay (Cat Ba)
We come to the penultimate stop and thus also to the biggest highlight of the Vietnam itinerary: the gigantic Halong Bay! The world-famous natural wonder is probably the biggest highlight of the entire country. And rightly so!
Passing the countless limestone cliffs by boat, paddling to lonely beaches by canoe and having the bay right in front of your nose when you wake up is incredibly special and unique!
We started from Cat Ba Island on a two-day boat tour through Halong Bay and had the two most beautiful and intense days of our whole trip during the tour.
By the way, our tour provider that we can absolutely recommend to you is called Cat Ba Ventures. Few people on the boat, cool crew, fancy cabins and really tasty food! Also, most of the time we went through rather quiet areas with few other boats.
- Halong Bay tour recommendation:Cat Ba Ventures
- Accommodation recommendation for Cat Ba:Cannon Fort Cat Ba Hotel*
- Stay in Halong Bay: 3 nights (2 on Cat Ba, one on the boat)
Stop no. 9: Hanoi
Last stop of our Vietnam itinerary: Hanoi! The capital of the country! Somehow it's even busier, more chaotic and noisier than Saigon. We really did not think that this is possible. But yes it is!
Especially the narrow, winding streets around the old town are a feast for the senses! Thousands of cookshops, cafes, stores and beer stalls are lined up, it smells of different things, honking scooters are passing by and somehow we felt very small in the middle of the big whole.
What's going on here is really hard to grasp and yes, it can be quite overwhelming in the first moment. But if you get into it, Hanoi unfolds all its magic and becomes a really awesome city!
By the way, on weekends a part of the old quarter becomes a walking street and is closed for cars and scooters. Instead, locals stroll around the lake, kids play soccer in the middle of the street, a few stalls are set up and pretty much everyone seems to enjoy the peace and quiet in the middle of the city center.
Helpful tips for your Vietnam backpacking itinerary
At the end we have summarized some useful information for an individual Vietnam backpacking route, which will hopefully help you a little bit with your planning.
How to get from A to B
To get from A to B during your Vietnam round trip there are four options:
By bus: Definitely the cheapest option! It takes a long time, it is not always comfortable, but it is a real adventure. We went by bus several times and thought it was pretty cool.
We have booked the bus tickets either in advance at 12go or in advance at the airport.Asia*, Baolau* or directly on site in one of the numerous travel agencies.
By train: Especially for long distances, the train is more expensive than the bus, but still cheap. In addition, the four-person sleeping cabins are cozy and you will always come into contact with locals.
Once we were invited directly in the morning at 10:00 o'clock by two Vietnamese to drink beer and got coffee and sweets from a family. Such encounters are simply wonderful again and again!
By the way, the train and the bus don't have much time difference. Both take a long time and both should definitely be done. Also, always book train tickets in advance at 12go.Asia* or Baolau.com*, as they are often sold out.
By plane: The plane is of course the shortest, but also the most expensive option. In addition, there is a lack of adventure and great, intense encounters are rather rare.
If you still want to travel from A to B by domestic flight, we recommend the booking portal Skyscanner*. We also search our flights over and over again.
By boat: Especially if you want to go to islands like Con Dao or Phu Quoc, the only option besides flying is to take a boat.
We booked our tickets for the boat directly by mail at the provider Superdong, which not only go to Con Dao, but also to Phu Quoc.
How long to plan in Vietnam?
If you like our individual itinerary through Vietnam and you plan to make about the same stops, then you should definitely take 30 days.
If this is not possible and you have only two or three weeks for Vietnam, then it is better to choose the south or the north. Even a month was calculated for the entire country too tight and we had to skip some corners unfortunately.
Especially the transfers from one place to another eat up a lot of time by train and bus. In Vietnam everything goes a bit slower than in other countries. In addition, many places are usually hundreds of kilometers away from each other.
Accommodation in Vietnam
Never before have we traveled in a country with such reasonable accommodation prices. Often you can get a simple double room already for under 10 €.
If you want something really nice, 15-30 € per night is usually enough and everything above that is almost luxury class in Vietnam!
We always booked all our accommodations a few days in advance via Booking.com*. But it is also no problem to look for something suitable on site. Even in the high season many hotels are not fully booked, because the supply often exceeds the demand in most regions.
- Reading tip:Hotels in Vietnam – Our accommodations, recommendations and tips
Travel guide for Vietnam
You can find a lot of tips about Vietnam on us and other travel blogs, but a great travel guide is always much more detailed and has many other corners and information in store.
In addition, you can quickly look up something and are not always dependent on your smartphone and working Internet.
Stefan Loose travel guide Vietnam* – Stefan Loose has published an unbelievably large work with over 700 pages on Vietnam. Not only North, South and Central Vietnam are covered in detail, but a lot of general travel information will help you with your planning.
Lonely Planet travel guide Vietnam* – The Lonely Plant travel guide is the direct competitor to Stefan Loose. Also here on more than 580 pages countless places, cities and regions are presented including useful travel tips. Which of the two travel guides you choose in the end is a matter of taste.
Fascination Vietnam* – The travel guide of the well-known travel blog Fascination Southeast Asia goes less into individual regions, cities and places. But it is a huge collection of important tips and travel information that will help you with your general preparation and on the spot.
Do you have any further questions about our Vietnam backpacking route or would you like to add some points?? Then post it in the comments! We are looking forward to your message!
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