Vietnam

2 weeks in Vietnam: itinerary and budget

Vietnam was not really on the agenda for this long-haul trip. From the Philippines, I imagined going directly to Cambodia. And then I met Trang, a Vietnamese expatriate in Manila, who was kind enough to welcome me to Couchsurfing in the Philippines. When she offered to join her for her return to her family for her few days of vacation, I didn't hesitate for long. Opportunities like these, we don't have them every day.

So I take a ticket on the same plane as her. And that's a good thing because his departure falls just before the end of my Philippine visa.

My itinerary

2 weeks in Vietnam: itinerary and budget

My stages in Vietnam

Ho Chi Minh

Also called Saigon,the Vietnamese economic capital has something to baffle more than one. With, in my humble opinion, as many scooters as inhabitants,the city gives rise to unlikely situations where to avoid traffic jams, drivers take all the sidewalks and bits of bitumen available… which also become clogged! Crossing the street as a pedestrian is scary at first… and then we quickly understand how to do it… moving slowly, step by step.

So that's where I spent a few days with Trang and his family. In addition to the discovery of the delicious Vietnamese cuisine that was like a deliverance after the unethed dishes of the Filipinos, I took the opportunity to visit the city. First of all, the unmissable war museum that allows you to better understand the painful history of the country. You will find countless photos that show the atrocities that the population has experienced. Some can be shocking, be warned. Then head to the colonial-style post office as well as the town hall and cathedral.

Learn more about my time in Ho Chi Minh.

Vietnam War Museum Ho chi minh

War Museum in Ho Chi Minh

Mui Do

For my second stop in Vietnam, I wanted to be close to the sea and get some fresh air. Direction Mui Ne, a very small town where the main activity is kitesurfing. If you are not a fan, there are many other things left to do around Mui Ne: the fairy river, the white and red sand dunes and the fishing village with its basket boats.

My accommodation recommendation in Mui Ne: Mui Ne Garden (dormitory: 100 000 VND / 3,70€)

Learn more about my visit to Mui Ne.

Mui Ne Fishing Village

The fishing village of Mui Ne and its basket boats

Nha Trang

Nha Trang is also by the sea but it is a much larger city than Mui Ne. Possibility to go diving or snorkeling,I stayed on land to visit the surroundings: the Gothic Cathedral of Christ the King, the Long Son Pagoda and the Po Nagar Temple.

The accommodation I recommend in Nha Trang: Backpack Hostel (dormitory: 100,000 VND)

Learn more about my visit to Nha Trang.

Le temple Po Nagar de Nha Trang

Le temple Po Nagar de Nha Trang

Hoi An

Hoi An is an authentic and extremely charmingsmall town. Its architecture is a mixture of genres between Japanese, Chinese, and European culture. The old town was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1999. Once a merchant port, it has preserved the remains of the time: wooden buildings, canals, bridges… More and more travellers enjoy spending a few days away from the chaos of Vietnam's major cities.

The accommodation I recommend in Hoi An: Hoi Pho (dormitory: 100,000 VND)

Hoi An Japanese Bridge

The Japanese Bridge in Hoi An Old Town

Hue

Hue is known for its imperial city. For my part, I did a tourism of a very different kind, going to venture into an abandoned water park.

The accommodation I recommend in Hue: Kim's Homestay (dormitory: 100,000 VND with dinner and breakfast)

More info about my visit to the abandoned water park.

Abandoned Park Hue Vietnam

The slides of the abandoned park

Hanoi

I then head to Hanoi, a city very similar to Ho Chi Minh by its size and the number of scooters per square metre but with more charm. A must see: sword lake and Ngoc Son temple, the historic district, the museum of ethnology, the temple of literature. You also have to go see the railway that crosses the city and its houses. The inhabitants live almost on the track, as if nothing had happened while the trains were still passing. Incredible! Do not miss also the street food and markets that explode with colors and flavors.

The accommodation I recommend: Hanoi Backpackers Hostel (dormitory: 90,000 VND with unlimited beer during happy hour)

What to do in Vietnam

The railway that crosses the city

Halong Bay

From Hanoi, I go to Halong Bay where I will spend 2 days and 1 night admiring these extraordinary landscapes. Halong Bay is one of the 7 new wonders of nature… and we quickly understand why, apart from the many tourists present on the site.

Learn more about my stay in Halong Bay and how to choose an agency.

Choosing an agency in Halong Bay

Halong Bay, a hell of a panorama!

Ninh Binh

Also called the land halong bay,the landscapes are impressive. There are indeed the same types of karst rocks as on halong Bay. The must do is to take a rowing boat to sail along the river. Don't be surprised, here we row with our feet! I also visited some temples but due to lack of time I could not do more. Be aware, however, that this is the ideal place for a bike ride.

Ninh Binh

In the land halong bay, rowing with the feet

My opinion on my own itinerary

My itinerary was day by day,following the recommendations of the people I met and what I was reading on the Internet. With a little hindsight, there are things that I would change in this itinerary if it were to be done again and that I had the knowledge that I now have about the country. For example, I would choose to stay only 2 days in Ho Chi Minh and not go to Nha Trang which I did not really like. I would replace this stage with Dalat and its mountains. If I had more time, I would also go to Sapa,in northern Vietnam, on the border with China. For the rest, no regrets.

To be sure to optimize your time and have the best possible itinerary, you can use an à la carte travel agency with Comptoir des Voyages. They offer themed stays according to your desires and your way of travelling: itinerant, slow, family, 100% local or even for a honeymoon.

Budget for 2 weeks in Vietnam

Currency: Vietnamese Dong (VND)
Conversion rate at the time of travel 1 – 27000 VND
[Edit Janvier 2019 : 1€ = 26308 VND]

On-site transportation (mainly by bus) 2,337,000 VND ($87)
Housing 768,000 VND (28 euros)
Meal 2,000,000 VND ($74)
Activities 2,257,000 VND ($84)

TOTAL on site

7,371,000 VND (€273)

Flight Manila to Ho Chi Minh City

$112

So I spent 273€ on the spot for a trip from the South to the North of Vietnam (not counting flights).

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Vietnam was THE destination in Southeast Asia where I found the lowest cost of living. Transport is very modern, comfortable and cheap. On average, 1 euro per hour of travel… Unbeatable!

The accommodations are also very inexpensive, around 4 € for a bed in a youth hostel. Buses mostly have berths, which will save you hotel nights for long journeys, while being able to actually sleep.

Street food is a good option for those who monitor their budget. It is not only cheap but also delicious. On average, you can expect 1 to 2 euros. At the restaurant,count a little more… between 3 and 5 euros for a well-stocked meal. On the other hand, imported products are expensive… a packet of Pringles will cost, for example, not far from 2 euros.

As for the activities,they are not expensive either. Only my stay on Halong Bay blew up my budget with a cost of 67 euros for 2 days and 1 night. It's still reasonable.

A question? Reaction? Don't hesitate to post me a comment below…

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2 weeks in Vietnam: itinerary and budget

This article was written in partnership with Comptoir des Voyages. The editorial content is entirely mine.

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