12 Days In Vietnam: The Best Places To Visit in 12 Days

Nga Do
"Vietnam is probably one of the most underrated countries in Southeast Asia. While most of the tourists flock to Thailand or Singapore, I loved my trip to Vietnam and would highly suggest visiting this beautiful country for at least a week to 12 days if not more." - travellers share.

A detailed plan makes a perfect trip. 12 days - more than a week - surely is a good option for a journey around Vietnam. Located at the edge of the Indochina region, Vietnam keeps lots of attraction and things to do all over the country reasoned by the affection of Mother Nature, so it is not that easy as you can possibly travel in a rush.

Other Itineraries you may be interested in the Vietnam Itinerary - 3 days - 4 days - 5 days - 7 days - 8 days - 9 days - 10 days - 14 days - 16 days  - 3 weeks.

Have 12 days in Vietnam? Follow this 12 days Vietnam itinerary to see all the amazing places there.

12 Days In Vietnam: The Best Places To Visit in 12 Days
Photo by François Guerraz


Vietnam has a diverse landscape, spanning from the North to South, including mountains, rivers (and bay), rice terraces, the largest cave in the world, and beaches. It also offers both modern cities and ancient towns. You don't have time to visit all the cool places in Vietnam however, so if you have more time, definitely check out Hanoi, Halong bay, Sapa, Hue, Da Nang, and the biggest cave in the world, Son Dong (if you have the time AND money).

If you were like some other travelers and only have 12 days in Vietnam, use my 10 Day Vietnam itinerary as a guide to plan your trip there! Regardless of how much time you spend in Vietnam, I am still super jealous of all the great experience and food you will have on your trip.


The best time to visit Vietnam is spring and fall. The different parts of Vietnam have very different climates. In the North of Vietnam, bordering China, it gets cool and dry in the winter months and hot and humid in the summer.

If you are thinking about visiting Halong Bay in Vietnam, it’s best to visit Spring, Summer and Fall. This area tends to get a lot of rain/cloudy weather in the winter.

As you travel down South in Vietnam, the weather gets warmer and warmer year round, this includes Ho Chi Minh City, the island of Phú Quốc, etc. For example, Phu Quoc in February, it was perfect beach weather there whereas it was chilly and rainy in Halong Bay.

12 Days In Vietnam: The Best Places To Visit in 12 Days


Make sure to check the visa requirement before you go

Currency is Vietnamese Dong and 1 USD is about 23,000 Vietnamese Dong

Make sure to have cash with you in Vietnam; some places do not accept credit card

Don’t drink the tap water in Vietnam and try not to get ice cubes with your drinks; buy water but make sure the bottles are properly sealed.


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Photo by Bonjin/凡人[ラナ]


Start your 12 days Vietnam journey in Hanoi, the capital city of Vietnam and the largest city in Northern Vietnam. Hanoi is very different from Ho Chi Minh City in that it’s less modern and during the Vietnam War, it was fighting on the Communist side. There are A LOT of motorbikes around in Hanoi but that in itself is a thing to see.

What to see in Hanoi: A few famous places in Hanoi you can check out include Hoan Kiem Lake, night markets, Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum, Ho Chi Minh Museum and Water puppet show.


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Photo by pxhere
Start moving to Sapa from Hanoi by a night train. The trip promises a lot of interesting things because Sapa is the most famous destination in Vietnam that any tourist wants to visit when coming to Vietnam.

Sapa is known as “city of the mist“. It’s an area with terraced rice fields and spectacular landscape with mountains and ethnic minorities. It’s located about 320 km from Hanoi.

Home to diverse hill tribes, breathtaking landscapes, harlequin green rice terraces and the highest mountain in Vietnam, the Tonkinese Alps of northwestern Vietnam have an abundance of attractions to offer. The Sapa region is notable for its picturesque mountain landscapes and the distinct cultures of many tribes such as the Hmong, Red Dzao and Phù Lá ethnic groups.

Things to see in Sapa

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Photo by Vietnam Typical Tours
Trek and visit fascinating tribal villages: Tribal trekking is commonplace in Sapa wherein visitors are guided through the many villages to immerse in authentic cultural experiences, enjoy local cuisine and surround themselves with the beautiful folds of rice terraces.

Marvel at the beautiful and romantic Love Waterfall: Places are made of a thousand stories – the legend behind the Love Waterfall is one that should not be missed.

Bask in the terraced rice fields of Muong Hoa Valley: No trip to Sapa is complete without treading on the bright terraced rice fields – a manifestation of the livelihood of the Sapa hill tribes who are heavily dependent on rice cultivation.

Savour the flavour of traditional Hmong-style cuisine: Ah, food! Time to replenish your energy! You can enjoy traditional Hmong-style cuisine at The Hill Station Signature Restaurant, renowned for its spring rolls, tofu, traditional Hmong pork confit, smoked buffalo and black pudding. Unwind with some house wine and craft beer if you’d like!

Marvel at the architectural design of the Holy Rosary Church of Sapa: The church flaunts a rustic exterior and a colonial architectural design that take us back to the French colonial period in Vietnam. It is opened only on the weekends and while you may not get a glimpse of the church’s interior, the beautiful exterior is worth a snap!  Furthermore, it is fascinating to observe the activities in town and people-watch at the nearby Quang Truong Square.

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Photo by mini nguyen


Halong Day is famous for its thousands of limestone islands in the emerald water. It’s located in Northern Vietnam about 4 hours from Hanoi. Most people take an overnight boat tour on Ha Long Bay because it’s simply too far from Hanoi to do a day trip.


After spending a few lovely days in Northern Vietnam it was time to start traveling south to the Central Vietnam. Hoi an is an ancient town located in the middle of Vietnam (near the water on the eastern side of the country).

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Photo by nguyenkhacqui
Hoi An is one of the most well known towns in Vietnam due to its well preserved historical center and the colorful lanterns and buildings. It used to be a major trading port from the 15th to 19th century. Since it is an UNESCO World Heritage Site, you will get to experience how life looked like back in the days.

Traveling from Hanoi to Hoi An: To travel from Hanoi to Hoi An, the fastest way is to fly. Hoi An does not have an airport of its own, so travelers need to fly from Hanoi to Danang (which is also a cool place to visit, Ii is home to the famous Golden Bridge.!). It’s a short flight about 1.5 hours. Once you land, look for the bus station to Hoi An. Alternatively you can take a taxi or have your hotel pick you up.

Things to see in Hoi An

One of the most famous site in Hoi An is My Son – the Holyland surrounded by the marvelous mountains, 48km west of Hoi An. My Son was chosen as a religious center, built in the late 4th century under the Cham’s King Bhadravaman. It is a huge religious complex with over 70 towers and temples of different architectures. Wander through the elaborate carvings and sculptures of the Cham people, tourists are welcomed at the Old Tower of the Cham.

Boat trip in Thu Bon river: You could visit the living of the local people and feeling the fresh air. You will have soft lunch on the boat and see the beautiful views along the river. 

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Photo by xiquinhosilva

Things to see in Hue

Take a full day to discover Hue: visit Emperor Minh Mang’s Mausoleum, Emperor Khai Dinh’s Mausoleum, Performing Programs Of VO KINH VAN AN – Vietnam Traditional Kungfu and Emperor Tu Duc ’s Mausoleums. Stop on the way to see how conical hats and incense sticks are made.

Visit Imperial capital during Nguyen Dynasty and the seven – storey Thien Mu Pagoda on the riverbank. Return by boat on the gentle Perfume River and do not miss the sunset on the river.

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Photo by shankar s.


Ho Chi Minh City is the largest city in Vietnam by population. It’s located in the Southern part of Vietnam and has a tropical (wet and dry season) climate. Ho Chi Minh City played an important role during the Vietnam War (it’s anti-communist). Before that it was ruled by the Japanese and French, so that’s why most of the architectures you see in Ho Chi Mihn City are of French influence.

What to do in Ho Chi Minh City: some of the things you can do in Saigon include the Cu Chi Tunnels (underground tunnels used during the Vietnam War), Binh Tay Market and Ben Thanh Market, Independence Palace, War Remnants Museum, Cao Dai Temple, Jade emperor Pagoda, Saigon Notre-Dame Basilica, bar hopping at Pham Ngu Lau Street, visit a rooftop bar.


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Photo by Thế Dũng
After the hustling and bustling of Saigon, it’s time to relax! Do a excursions outside of the city, a visit to the Mekong Delta. 

The Mekong Delta is a network of distributaries in southwestern Vietnam, between Ho Chi Minh City and Cambodia. The river itself starts in the Himalayas and passes through China, Myanmar, Thailand and Cambodia before reaching Vietnam, which partly explains why the waters are so murky.

Life in the area revolves around water, from the famous floating markets to the vast agricultural industries. An amazing variety of fruits, flowers and livestock grow in the region. The Mekong River Delta is the rice basket of Vietnam, providing the sustenance for millions.

Things to see in Mekong Delta

- Visit Cai Giang colourful floating market in Can Tho

- Visit local home factories to watch workers make rice paste, rice pop corn, coco candies and more

- Discover beautiful landscapes along the river and observe the typical Mekong delta rural life

- Enjoy a dinner of traditional Northern Vietnamese cuisine at a local home

There are a lot of things you can do in Vietnam. 12 days in Vietnam simply is not enough to see everything, but if that’s all the time you have, then you get to see most of what Vietnam has to offer. Regardless what you decide to do in Vietnam or how long you will be visiting, Vietnam will amaze you in every way!

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