Urban Vietnam in 10 days
Take up to 10 days to find the perfect blend of exotic food, fizzing nightlife, crazy-cheap shopping and blissful relaxation.
Book an Air New Zealand return fare to Ho Chi Minh City, then catch domestic flights within Vietnam.
If you need a 7-day itinerary, omit either Nha Trang or Hoi An from the 10-day plan.
Days 1 to 3: Ho Chi Minh City
Air New Zealand flies non-stop to Ho Chi Minh City on Wednesdays and Saturdays from 24 June to 25 October, so within half a day you can be revelling in the energy, culture and mysterious exoticness of Vietnam's number one city. If your budget's a little tight, you'll love how far your money goes here. In Ho Chi Minh City you can afford to eat, drink, shop, sightsee and party without limits.
Things to see and do in Ho Chi Minh City
- Discover mall life at Saigon Square - a two-storey wholesale fashion centre that offers some of the best prices in Ho Chi Minh City
- Get a bird's eye view of the city from the 25th floor of Bitexco Financial Tower, where you'll find an indulgent rooftop bar
- Check out the Reunification Palace, a classic piece of retro mid-century architecture
- Immerse yourself in the street drinking scene along Pham Ngu Lao in District 3, the backpacker hub of the city
- Use Google Maps to find a live music club - from laid-back jazz to Vietfunk, it's all here
- Eat banh mi and slurp cane juice at the Ben Thanh Street Food Market
- Take a day trip to the Cu Chi tunnels, an immense network of underground passages used by Viet Cong soldiers during the war
- See the Giac Lam Pagoda, believed to be the oldest temple in the city
- Explore river life on a Mekong Delta sampan cruise - dare to sip snake wine!
Days 3 to 5: Nha Trang
A short domestic flight to Cam Ranh Airport, followed by a 40-minute taxi ride, gets you to Nha Trang, a high-energy town that loves to party. It's loud and proud with great shopping, a sizzling night life and a beautiful crescent-shaped beach. A couple of days here and your happiness levels will be topped up to maximum.
Things to see and do in Nha Trang
- Indulge in a head-to-toe Vietnamese massage and discover a whole new level of relaxation
- Eat Nha Trang specialties, like grilled fermented pork roll and banh can cake
- Catch the Vinpearl Cable Car to Hon Tre Island - a three-kilometre trip through the sky
- Have a big night out at the Sailing Club, Nha Trang's iconic beachfront party destination
- Visit Po Nagar Cham Towers, a temple where Buddhists have been worshipping since the 7th century
- Shop for clothes, shoes and jewellery at Nha Trang's colourful street markets
- Hang out at beautiful Doc Let Beach, an easy day trip from Nha Trang
- Go on a street food tour, take a cooking class or visit a traditional village with a local guide
Days 5 to 7: Danang and Hoi An
An easy 60-minute flight from Nha Trang, Danang is the closest airport to Hoi An. But don't be too hasty about securing a driver for the 45-minute transfer to Hoi An, because Danang has some cool things to see and do. This area was a major R & R destination for American soldiers during the Vietnam War. Today that theme continues, with gorgeous beachside resorts, super-affordable restaurants, tranquil spas and the sort of shopping you like to do when your time is completely your own.
Things to see and do in Danang and Hoi An
- Visit mysterious Hoa Nghem Cave in the Marble Mountains
- Embark on a walking food tour of Danang, guided by knowledgeable locals
- Sun yourself by the pool, or on the white sand of An Bang or Cua Dai beach
- Lose your last shreds of stress with a luxurious Vietnamese massage at one of the many local spas
- Pick a style from a fashion magazine and have it made in the fabric of your choice at one of the amazing tailoring shops
- Eat white rose dumplings, crab cakes and pork cao lau - Hoi An specialties
- Get a manicure and pedicure, complete with intricate nail art, for just a few dollars
- Explore Hoi An's after-dark bar and restaurant scene down by the riverside
- Pedal the countryside on a bike tour, stopping to meet locals and sample village life
- Design a pair of sneakers, then have them tailormade for your feet
- Enjoy exquisite cakes, pastries and coffee at one of Hoi An's many bakeries
Days 7 to 10: Hanoi
An easy 80-minute flight from Danang, Hanoi is old and new, loud and tranquil, fast and slow. It's a bit French, a touch Chinese and a lot Vietnamese. It's a non-stop rush of scooters, merchants, laughter and nose-wrinkling scents. But it's also early morning tai chi at tranquil Hoan Kiem Lake, Buddhist chanting at Tran Quoc Pagoda and the austere grandeur of Ho Chi Minh's tomb. Come here to gather some travel stories that will last your whole life.
Things to see and do in Hanoi
- Fill your Instagram feed with picturesque pagodas and intricate temples
- Check out the notorious 'Hanoi Hilton' - a prison once occupied by US prisoners of war
- Feast on the food and music scene at the Hanoi Social Club, where anything can happen
- Eat dim sum on the 36th floor of the Lotte Tower (just make sure you arrive hungry)
- Haggle for silk embroidered robes and oil paintings at Dong Xuan Market
- Visit Ho Chi Minh's tomb, which is modelled on Lenin's mausoleum
- Wander the Hanoi Old Quarter, eating, drinking and shopping as you go
- Watch a water puppet performance, where puppets dance over a liquid stage
- See amazing Halong Bay on an overnight trip from Hanoi, then tour the bay on a junk or cruise ship
From Hanoi you'll catch a local flight back to Ho Chi Minh City in time to check in for your evening flight home to New Zealand.