The ultimate map for a once-in-a-lifetime Vietnam cross-country trip

Vietnam is a country in Southeast Asia with a rich history and culture, known for its delicious cuisine, stunning landscapes, and friendly people, and utterly a popular part of many cross-country travelers’ wish-list.

Embarking on a cross-country trip through Vietnam can be a once-in-a-lifetime experience, offering a chance to explore the country’s diverse landscapes, rich history, and vibrant culture. Planning such a trip can be overwhelming, and that’s where this ultimate map comes in, providing a comprehensive guide to some of Vietnam’s most breathtaking and off-the-beaten-path destinations. 

With so much to see and do, a well-planned itinerary is essential to make the most of your journey. Let us walk through this journey from the North to the South.

Northern Vietnam Traveling Cities – Hanoi, Mai Chau, Ninh Binh, and Halong Bay

Northern Vietnam is a region rich in culture, history, and natural beauty. A trip through the area allows travelers to explore bustling cities, breathtaking countryside, and stunning natural landmarks. 

Ha Long Bay landscape in the sunset - Vietnam
Ha Long Bay landscape in the sunset – Vietnam

The journey begins in Hanoi, the capital city of Vietnam. This vibrant metropolis is a blend of ancient traditions and modern innovation, with winding alleyways, bustling markets, and grand colonial architecture. Visitors can explore the Old Quarter, with its narrow streets and historic temples, or visit the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum, which honors the country’s most famous leader. 

From Hanoi, travelers can venture west to Mai Chau, a picturesque valley nestled in the mountains. Here, visitors can immerse themselves in traditional village life, with opportunities to stay in homestays, hike through the lush countryside, and witness the daily routines of local communities. The region is also known for its vibrant textiles and handicrafts, offering visitors a chance to shop for unique souvenirs.

Mai Chau Thung Khe Pass
Mai Chau Thung Khe Pass

Heading south from Mai Chau, the journey continues to Ninh Binh, a region known as the “Halong Bay on land.” Here, visitors can explore the stunning natural scenery, with limestone karsts jutting up from the emerald-green rice paddies. One of the most popular destinations in Tam Coc, where visitors can take a boat ride through winding canals surrounded by towering cliffs and lush vegetation. 

Finally, the journey ends with a visit to Halong Bay, one of the most iconic landmarks in all of Vietnam. This stunning natural wonder features thousands of limestone islands rising from the turquoise waters, with caves, beaches, and floating villages scattered throughout. Visitors can take a cruise through the bay, explore hidden lagoons, visit local fishing communities, and witness some of the most breathtaking sunsets in the world.

Central Vietnam Traveling Cities – Da Nang, Hoi An and Hue 

Three of the most popular destinations in the region are Da Nang, Hoi An, and Hue. A trip through these cities promises a unique experience that captures the essence of Vietnam.

Da Nang is a coastal city that boasts some of Vietnam’s most beautiful beaches. One of the top attractions in Da Nang is My Khe Beach, which stretches over 20 kilometers of white sand and crystal-clear water. Visitors can sunbathe, swim, and enjoy water sports like jet skiing and parasailing. Another must-see attraction in Da Nang is the Dragon Bridge, an impressive structure that lights up at night and spews fire and water from its mouth, that is a symbol of the city’s modernization and development.

Da Nang Golden Bridge
Da Nang Golden Bridge

From Da Nang, it’s only a short drive to Hoi An, a UNESCO World Heritage Site that is famous for its charming old town and traditional lanterns. Hoi An is a place where time seems to stand still, with its narrow alleys, ancient houses, and Chinese-style temples. The town is especially beautiful at night when the lanterns light up the streets, creating a romantic and nostalgic atmosphere. 

After exploring Hoi An, head north to Hue, the former imperial capital of Vietnam. Hue is a city that is steeped in history and culture, with its citadel, tombs, and pagodas. The most iconic landmark in Hue is the Citadel, a massive complex once the Nguyen dynasty’s home. The Citadel has several palaces, temples, and gardens that are worth visiting, including the Thai Hoa Palace, the Halls of Mandarins, and the Forbidden Purple City. 

Southern Vietnam Traveling Cities – Ho Chi Minh City and Mekong Delta 

Traveling in southern Vietnam is a unique and exciting experience that takes you through some of the country’s most vibrant and diverse destinations. 

Our first stop, Ho Chi Minh City – or known as Saigon by the locals, is the largest city in Vietnam and a hub of commerce and culture in the region. It’s a city of contrasts, where the old and the new coexist in a frenetic blend of street vendors, high-end shopping centers, colonial architecture, and skyscrapers. Here, you can explore the city’s history at the Reunification Palace and the Cu Chi Tunnels or wander through the bustling streets of District 1 and soak up the local atmosphere. 

Ho Chi Minh city Park Hyatt Saigon Hotel
Ho Chi Minh city Park Hyatt Saigon Hotel

From Ho Chi Minh City, it’s a short trip to the Mekong Delta, a vast network of rivers, canals, and islands that covers much of southern Vietnam,  known for its lush green rice paddies, fruit orchards, and floating markets, where vendors sell everything from fresh produce to handicrafts. Another must-visit destination in the Mekong Delta is Can Tho, the region’s economic and cultural center and Cai Rang floating market, one of the largest and most colorful in the Delta, where vendors sell everything from fresh fruits and vegetables to clothes and household items. 

Final thoughts

A cross-country trip through Vietnam is an incredible adventure that offers a unique opportunity to explore the country’s diverse landscapes, vibrant culture, and rich history. From the robust city life to the tranquil atmosphere of the village, from the colorful culture scene to the nature beauty, Vietnam has everything you are looking for in an adventure of a lifetime. If you wish to explore this idea map completely, Viland Travel’s 15-day 14-night Ideal Vietnam Vacation is your complete solution for a hustle-free cross of your wish list. The tour offers a comprehensive service to some of Vietnam’s most breathtaking and off-the-beaten-path destinations. 

Book now and experience the beauty of Vietnam through the Ideal Vietnam Vacation cross-country tour.