Travel Itinerary and Budget for 1 Month in Vietnam

Fruit seller in the old quarters of Hanoi, VIetnam
While 1 month in Vietnam isn’t nearly enough time to see everything, it is a decent amount of time to travel from one end of the country to the other, getting a taste of the natural beauty, beaches, culture, and more. In this guide, I start in Ho Chi Minh City and head north, but this can easily be switched to north-to-south.

The information about each city comes from my $20/day Budget Travel Vietnam Guide. If you want to extend your trip for longer than 1 month, I suggest visiting the guide and adding the Mekong Delta, Da Lat, Sapa, and whatever else looks good to you. The great thing about Vietnam is that travel is cheap. You can take a bus across the entire country for only 900,000 VND (about $40). Mind you, it takes about 38 hours and it would probably be a horrible experience, but the price is pretty amazing — less than 4 cents per mile. Of course, it’s easy to customize this itinerary to your liking. Perhaps, you want less beach time and more time in the cities. For the most part, I’ve included 3 days per city, which I think is just enough time to get to know a place.

Please let me know if you like the guide, if you have any questions, or have any suggestions. My goal is to make travel in Vietnam easier, and more enjoyable. Enjoy your 1 month in Vietnam!

Day 1-4: Ho Chi Minh City

Time lapse photo of motorbikes on a busy street in Saigon, Vietnam
Motorbike madness in Saigon, Vietnam
Ho Chi Minh City, or Saigon, is the largest city in Vietnam. You could spend weeks exploring all the tiny streets. Unfortunately, you only have 1 month, so 4 days will have to do. I’m including a bit of extra time for getting settled in, in case you are coming off of a long flight. I suggest splitting your time between the backpacker area, where you can walk to most of the tourist attractions, and Cho Lon (Chinatown) which offers a more authentic Vietnamese feel and plenty of interesting sights around every turn.

Hungry in Ho Chi Minh? Here are my favorite Vietnamese dishes and where to try them in Saigon!

Day 5-6: Mui Ne

Fairy Stream Mui Ne, Vietnam
The colors of Fairy Stream in Mui Ne, Vietnam
You only need a short stay in Mui Ne. This resort town is great for relaxing by the ocean and eating seafood. It’s only a few hours from Saigon, so you can get in midday and take the rest of the day to wind down after the chaos that can sometimes be Ho Chi Minh City. On your second day, try renting a motorbike and going for a drive around the area. Mui Ne is a pretty good place to test your motorbiking skills. Head out to the sand dunes, and stop at Fairy Stream for a unique stroll.

Day 7-8: Nha Trang

Nha Trang, Vietnam beach
Nha Trang is the most popular seaside destination for Vietnamese people.
After a 5 hour bus ride from Mui Ne, you’ll arrive in Nha Trang, where you can get some of the best seafood the country has to offer. Spend your Nha Trang day by strolling the beach, watching people, or head to Vinpearl Land and cool off at their water park. After 2 days (really only a day and a half), it’s time to move on. I know the beach is hard to leave, but luckily Vietnam has plenty of beach left.

Day 9-10: Quy Nhon

Quy Nhon, Vietnam beach with fishing boats
Fishing boats along Quy Nhon beach.
There isn’t that much to do in Quy Nhon, but it’s a pretty laid back city that doesn’t see a lot of tourists, so you can get a good Vietnam-vibe as you stroll the promenade, jump into a cafe, and down some beers/food at the night market. You wouldn’t really miss much if you skipped Quy Nhon, but the 11 hour bus ride from Nha Trang to Da Nang would be hell. You would be better off taking the 8PM sleeper train that arrives in Da Nang at around 6AM.

Day 11-14: Da Nang and Hoi An

japanses bridge hoi an vietnam
The Japanese Bridge in the ancient town of Hoi An, Vietnam
Since these two places are so close together, you’ll save time if you stay in one and take a day or two-day trip into the other. It’s easier to get to Danang from Quy Nhon, but you’ll have to go through Danang to get to your next stop, so it’s more convenient to go to Hoi An first. Personally, I would stay in Da Nang and take a day trip to Hoi An. I think Da Nang has more to offer for its authentic Vietnamese city life. Not that there’s a lot to do there, but I prefer hanging out and people-watching to most tourist-packed attractions, and Hoi An is tourist-packed. It’s famous for shopping, specifically for having custom made clothing done. If you want to partake in this activity, you should probably stay in Hoi An so you can pop-in for alterations and to pickup your outfit when it’s done. If you do only take a day trip to Hoi An, make sure you stay until night when the city lights-up with colorful lanterns.

Day 15-18: Hue

imperial city palace in Hue Vietnam
A quiet and shady place to relax inside Hue’s Imperial City.
There are a lot of really cool tourist attractions in Hue. You have to go to the Hue Citadel and explore its maze like structures. You should also hire a boat and spend a day on the river seeing one or two tombs. Hue is also the food capital of Vietnam, so be sure to eat authentic Vietnamese food when you’re in this part of the country, especially bun bo Hue, central Vietnam’s most popular noodle soup.

Day 19-21: Tam Coc and Trang An

Women doing laundry in Tam Coc's lake.
Woman doing laundry at the lake in Tam Coc.
I gave you an extra day in Hue, because we are saving some time by traveling at night. Take the sleeper train from Hue to Ninh Binh. It’s the perfect part of the journey to try out this unique experience. From Ninh Binh you’ll immediately take a taxi to Tam Coc, where you can enjoy the many gorgeous natural beauties. There are boat tours, ancient temples, and many tiny streets to walk or bicycle around. Tam Coc is often visited by tours coming from Hanoi for the day, but a few nights here is a much better way to experience this special part of Vietnam.

Day 22-25: Cat Ba Island and Ha Long Bay

Lan Ha Bay Vietnam
Lan Ha Bay and a fishing village.
Cat Ba Island is a great place to see Ha Long Bay from. Instead of taking a tour from Hanoi or Ha Long City, you’ll get to take a boat through Lan Ha Bay, make a stop at Monkey Island, and then head to Ha Long. Although, Cat Ba town isn’t much, it’s better than Ha Long City and, if you jump on a scooter, you’ll have access to some great sights. Just the drive alone is great, but you can also stop at Cat Ba National park for some hiking, Hospital Cave to see Vietnamese ingenuity, Cannon Fort for a bit of history, and one of the many hidden beaches that you might have all to yourself. You can also rent kayaks and have a paddle around, getting up and close with the island’s rocky cliffs.

Day 26-29: Hanoi

Hanoi Vietnam old quarters.
The old quarters in Hanoi, Vietnam
If I’m giving Ho Chi Minh City 4 days, I have to give the same to Hanoi. It’s like having children with these two cities — you can’t choose a favorite. There’s a bit of a rivalry between them, but the truth is: Saigon and Hanoi are very different. You can automatically devout a day to wandering around the ancient quarters of Hanoi. Ho Tay, the giant lake, is also a great area to explore for a day. There are a few tourist attractions you might want to go to: Ho Chi Minh Museum/Mausoleum, the Hanoi Hilton, the Temple of Literature, the Royal Citadel, maybe the Fine Art Museum or the Museum of Ethnography. I’d probably devout a day to hanging out at beer hoi places — drinking, eating, and people watching. There’s also a lot of food you should try in Hanoi — 4 days, 4 meals a day. That’s 16 meals… that should cover it.

Day 30

I’ve kept this as a just-in-case day. In case you get sick, or are feeling tired. In case you love a place and just need to stay an extra day. In case you meet someone who only has one day before they’re shipping out. Yes, it’s nice to be organized so you can make the most out of your time and money, but keeping a little spontaneity in travel is a good thing. That’s why this guide should be used as an outline and not necessarily an itinerary. You never know what’s going to happen, who you’ll meet, or when the highlight of your vacation will happen.

1 Month in Vietnam Budget

Notes: This only covers the essentials. Any attractions, bike rentals, booze, snacks, etc. are extra.
*Travel = cost to get there

CITY FOOD HOTEL TRAVEL* DAYS Cost for 1 Cost for 2
Saigon 165,000 250,000 0 4 1,660,000 2,320,000
Mui Ne 175,000 340,000 135,000 2 1,300,000 1,920,000
Nha Trang 140,000 420,000 139,000 2 1,398,000 1,956,000
Quy Nhon 120,000 270,000 165,000 2 1,110,000 1,680,000
Da Nang 100,000 425,000 160,000 4 2,740,000 3,780,000
Hoi An 145,000 (sample) 356,000 (sample) 20,000 (sample) 0 Sample: not included
Hue 170,000 335,000 60,000 4 2,260,000 3,180,000
Tam Coc 175,000 380,000 600,000 3 3,465,000 5,790,000
Cat Ba 170,000 335,000 360,000 4 3,460,000 5,580,000
Hanoi 170,000 350,000 220,000 4 2,960,000 4,520,000
TOTALS 1,385,000 3,105,000 1,839,000 29 20,353,000 30,726,000

The total cost for 2 comes out to 30,726,000 VND or 15,363,000 each. That’s $688.26 per person for 1 month in Vietnam.