17 Days in Vietnam – A Whirlwind Tour of Beauty and Culture


Vietnam is a beautiful country to visit, with several magnificent places to discover and numerous dishes to savor. In this article, we will guide you through how to maximize your 17 days in Vietnam. Whether you’re a first-time visitor or a returning enthusiast, the itineraries are designed to ensure you hit the high notes of Vietnam travel and uncover a few hidden melodies along the way. Strap in and prepare for a journey that will tickle your senses and enrich your soul.

Is 17 Days in Vietnam Enough?

17 days in Vietnam strike a delicate balance between a swift sojourn and an extensive expedition. While a full appreciation of Vietnam’s intricate history, vivid culture, and stunning vistas could span a lifetime, a well-spent 17 days in Vietnam can meaningfully uncover the country’s rich tapestry. This period is ideal for transcending the well-worn tourist trails, letting you absorb the vitality of urban Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City as well as the pastoral peace of Sapa’s rice terraces and Hoi An’s historic avenues.
In this span, you can engage with Vietnam’s layered identity—sampling its culinary delights, from buzzing street food markets to interactive cooking classes, and exploring the regal remnants in Hue. Although 17 days may not unveil every hidden gem, they allow for a profound journey through Vietnam’s soulful landscapes and spirited cities. It’s ample time to encounter the rhythm of Vietnamese life, savor the highlights, unwind amidst its natural beauty, and leave enchanted by an allure that will surely lure you back.

The Best Time to Visit Vietnam

When planning a 17-day journey through Vietnam, timing is everything. Vietnam’s diverse climate means certain months may offer a more comfortable and visually spectacular experience than others. The ideal window to embark on a country-wide trip is during the spring (February to April) and autumn (August to October). During these months, the weather is most likely to be mild and pleasant across the majority of the country, with reduced rainfall and a comfortable temperature range—making it conducive for the range of activities you might have in your itinerary.

Seasons in Vietnam

Ideal Itineraries for 17 Days in Vietnam

Itinerary 1: Discover Vietnam from North to South

Day 1: Arrival in Hanoi includes airport pick-up, a stroll through the Old Quarter, dinner, and a tour briefing.
Day 2: A full-day Hanoi city tour featuring historical sites and a water puppet show, concluding with an overnight train to Lao Cai.
Day 3: Journey from Lao Cai to the mountainous Sapa, a hub for ethnic minorities and a former colonial retreat.
Day 4: Explore local markets and minority villages around Sapa, with optional homestay experiences.
Day 5: Enjoy Sapa’s tribal villages before boarding the night train back to Hanoi.
Day 6: Begin a scenic Ha Long Bay cruise among limestone islands, including activities like cave exploration and kayaking.
Day 7: Continue the immersive Ha Long Bay experience with a full day aboard the cruise.
Day 8: Conclude the Ha Long Bay cruise and return to Hanoi, with optional evening activities in the city.
Day 9: Fly from Hanoi to Hue for a moto tour of historical sites and an optional DMZ tour.
Day 10: Spend the day in Hue visiting the Imperial Citadel, and emperors’ tombs, and taking a boat ride on the Perfume River.
Day 11: Travel along the coast to Hoi An, stopping at Marble Mountain, with time for an early dinner in town.
Day 12: Discover Hoi An’s historical charm and take a day trip to the ancient My Son temples.
Day 13: A free day in Hoi An for personal exploration or relaxation.
Day 14: Fly to Ho Chi Minh City and visit key historical and cultural sites by cyclo.
Day 15: Bicycle and boat trip in the Mekong Delta with an overnight homestay experience.
Day 16: Visit the Cu Chi Tunnels and the Cao Dai temple, with optional evening activities in Ho Chi Minh City.
Day 17: The trip concludes in Saigon, leaving with lasting impressions of Vietnam.

North of Vietnam

Itinerary 2: Explore the Southern Vietnam

Day 1: Arrival in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, with a welcome dinner and exploration if time permits.
Day 2: Historical tour of Ho Chi Minh City landmarks with the afternoon free for personal exploration.
Day 3: Excursion to the Cu Chi Tunnels with an insight into Vietnam’s wartime history.
Day 4: A boat trip in My Tho and sightseeing in Can Tho, including a visit to Turtle Island and local orchards.
Day 5: Morning boat trip to the Cai Rang floating market followed by a visit to significant cultural sites in Sadec.
Day 6: Journey to Cao Lanh with a boat tour of Xeo Quit’s revolutionary base and an afternoon of ecotourism activities.
Day 7: Exploration of Tram Chim National Park to observe rare birds, followed by a return to Saigon.
Day 8: Travel to Cat Tien National Park with a boat trip and an afternoon park exploration, offering optional nocturnal wildlife spotting.
Day 9: Jeep tour of Cat Tien National Park for bird-watching and orchid spotting before heading to Da Lat.
Day 10: Da Lat city tour featuring visits to botanical gardens, a monastery, and historic residences.
Day 11: Transfer to Dac Lak with free time and an optional evening of traditional Gong music.
Day 12: Sampan tour and elephant ride in Dac Lak, with a visit to local villages before heading to Buon Me Thuot.
Day 13: Drive to Nha Trang, visiting cultural landmarks along the way and checking in at a beachside hotel.
Day 14: Island-hopping tour in Nha Trang with snorkeling, fishing, and a seafood lunch on Bamboo Island.
Day 15: Optional tour to visit Po Nagar Cham Towers.
Day 16: A free day to relax and enjoy the beaches of Nha Trang.
Day 17: Head back to Ho Chi Minh City for Departure

Delve into Beautiful Beaches

Itinerary 3: Delve into Beautiful Beaches

Day 1: Arrival in Hanoi.
Day 2: A full day in Hanoi includes cycling around West Lake, visiting historical sites, experiencing local cafes, exploring modern creative spaces, and absorbing the Old Quarter’s vibrant atmosphere. Overnight in Hanoi.
Day 3: A relaxed morning followed by an afternoon walking tour focused on Hanoi’s street food, and ending with a traditional Water Puppet Show. Overnight in Hanoi.
Day 4: Travel to Ha Long Bay for a cruise through its stunning karst landscapes and enjoy onboard activities, meals, and accommodations. Overnight on the cruise.
Day 5: Continue exploring the lesser-known parts of Ha Long Bay with activities like Taichi, kayaking, and visiting islands. Overnight on the cruise.
Day 6: Morning activities on the bay, followed by a return to Hanoi and a flight to the historical city of Hue. Overnight in Hue.
Day 7: Discover Hue by cycling, visiting the UNESCO-listed Imperial Citadel and the famous Thien Mu Pagoda, and exploring the tombs of Emperors Tu Duc and Khai Dinh. Overnight in Hue.
Day 8: Drive from Hue to Hoi An, with optional stops at Da Nang’s highlights, then enjoy Hoi An’s ancient charm and a unique evening food tour by military jeep. Overnight in Hoi An.
Day 9: Morning cycle to the Duy Hai fishing village and Kim Bong carpentry village, followed by a river cruise with lunch on the Thu Bon River. Overnight in Hoi An.
Day 10: Engage in a Hoi An Eco-Tour to learn about local fishing techniques, try bamboo basket boating, and savor a fisherman’s meal, followed by free time in the afternoon.
Day 11: Enjoy a leisurely day in Hoi An with the chance to explore the town at your own pace.
Day 12: Travel from Hoi An to Saigon via Da Nang, explore the Cu Chi tunnels, and experience Ho Chi Minh City’s nightlife on a Vespa food tour.
Day 13: Discover the historical and modern contrasts of Ho Chi Minh City, with visits to key landmarks, a secret weapons store, and panoramic views from Landmark 81.
Day 14: Embark on a private sampan cruise in Cai Be, visit local markets and historical sites, and dine by candlelight at an ancient house.
Day 15: Option to visit Cai Rang floating market, followed by a flight to Phu Quoc Island for a relaxed afternoon.
Day 16: Spend a free day at your leisure on Phu Quoc Island, exploring beaches and local culture.
Day 17: Depart from Phu Quoc, flying back to Ho Chi Minh City to connect with your onward travel, marking the end of the tour.

Vietnam abstract

Best Vietnamese Food to Savor in Vietnam 17 Days

Pho – Noodle Soup with Beef or Chicken

Having a chance to spend 17 days in Vietnam, don’t miss the chance to savor the most famous Vietnamese dish, Pho, or Noodle Soup. Made with a robust and aromatic broth, typically simmered for hours with spices like star anise and cinnamon, pho is poured over flat rice noodles and crowned with slices of tender beef (Pho Bo) or juicy chicken (Pho Ga). It’s a dish customizable with a variety of fresh garnishes such as basil, lime, chili, and bean sprouts, allowing diners to tailor the taste to their palate.

Pho in Vietnam

Banh Mi – Vietnamese Baguettes

Another dish that you should never miss out on is Banh Mi. Banh Mi is a vibrant testament to Vietnam’s culinary fusion and historical French influence. Traditional versions feature succulent slices of pork, pâté, and cured ham, but there are countless variations including chicken, beef, and tofu for vegetarians. The fillings are accented with fresh cilantro, crunchy pickled carrots, daikon radish, slices of cucumber, and fiery chilies, offering a complex tapestry of flavors—tangy, spicy, salty, and sweet—all in one bite.

Banh Mi – Vietnamese Baguettes

Com Tam – Broken Rice with Grilled Pork

During 17 days in Vietnam, if you happen to travel to Ho Chi Minh City, Com Tam is a not-to-miss dish to savor! This humble dish makes use of fragmented rice grains that were once discarded after the milling process. Now these bits have found their fame as the foundation of Com Tam, providing a unique, softer texture than regular rice. Typically served as a platter, Com Tam is topped with a variety of accompaniments such as grilled pork (either ribs or shredded), a prawn paste cake, a fried egg, and finely sliced cucumber and tomato. The flavors are brought together with a drizzle of sweet and savory fish sauce-based dressing. This dish is a delicious example of Vietnamese resourcefulness and is cherished for its comforting simplicity and depth of flavor.

Com Tam – Broken Rice with Grilled Pork

Goi Cuon – Fresh Spring Rolls

Besides the Fried Spring Rolls, Goi Cuon, or Fresh Spring Rolls, is also a must-try dish in Vietnam in 17 days. This is a refreshing appetizer and a celebrated dish in Vietnamese cuisine. These rolls are a harmonious blend of verdant greens, crisp vegetables, fresh herbs, and usually a protein like shrimp or pork, all wrapped tightly in translucent rice paper. Goi Cuon is often served chilled, accompanied by a rich, nutty hoisin sauce or a zesty fish sauce-based dip, which perfectly complements the subtle flavors of the roll. Not only are they a delight to the palate with their fresh, clean flavors, but also to the eyes, with the rice paper offering a window to the vibrant, colorful ingredients nestled inside. Gỏi cuốn embodies the fresh and healthy aspects of Vietnamese cuisine, making them a popular choice both within the country and beyond its borders.
We hope the details provided will assist you in planning your 17 days in Vietnam. Why wait? Start planning today! Should you require assistance in crafting your perfect trip, don't hesitate to reach out. We’re ready to help design a personalized itinerary that suits your tastes. We greatly appreciate you taking the time to consider this information!

(Source: IDC Travel)

Goi Cuon – Fresh Spring Rolls

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