The ultimate seven day Sri Lanka itinerary for those seeking a unique adventure!
The hype surrounding Sri Lanka is real, sadly, tourism in the country has taken a massive hit since Easter 2019. The country is doing all they can to bolster tourism once again, from hip new beach resorts opening to critically-acclaimed restaurants. But, what good are these cool new openings if nobody is going to visit. So, I’m here to persuade why Sri Lanka should be top of your bucket list. And also let you in on seven cool spots to add to your seven day Sri Lanka itinerary.
We spent just over three weeks in Sri Lanka & our highlights included seeing a baby elephant in the wild and walking secluded golden beaches at sunset. There’s certainly something for everyone in this South East Asian island. And what’s more Sri Lanka is 100% one of the most photogenic places we’ve been to.
So, without further ado here are our picks for the best seven day Sri Lanka itinerary!
Day 1 – explore Colombo
Colombo is likely where you will arrive on the first day as it where the Bandaranaike International Airport is located. Colombo is a busy and vibrant city. It is divided into 13 districts, with Colombo 1 or Fort Area being the center of the city. Spend the day here visiting the National Museum, have lunch in the Old Dutch Hospital, before getting your cultural fix at theTemple of Sri Kailawasanathan Swami Devasthanam Kovil. For some great street food in the evening visit the Galle Face Green area.
Getting to your next stop | Take the train the next morning to Kandy, which takes roughly 3 hours.
Day 2 – take the train from Kandy to Ella
Regularly dubbed as the ‘most beautiful train journey in the world’ by the media. The Kandy to Ella train is certainly a train-ride not to be missed. As a result, of its famed status this train is typically packed to the rafters. The best spots on board are the public areas between carriages. Here you can hang out of the doorways (be cautious though) to get that all-important Instagram photo!
My only advice is to book first class or reserved second class to avoid the sweaty jam-packed journey in third-class like we did.
Day 3 – Nine Arches bridge, Ella
There are two options for you to get to Nine Arches Bridge – you can walk or get a tuk-tuk. A tuk-tuk from Ella town costs approx. 300LKR, ask them to drop you at the tunnel and walk a little way to the bridge itself. Luckily, there are a few walking routes from Ella town to the bridge.
How to get there:
You can walk the road towards Adam’s Peak and turn left at the small colorful temple. It is a bit of a tricky route but the easiest way to find the bridge on this route is to google map Lake Front Cottages (map linkhere), the bridge is a short walk from here.
From Ella, follow google maps to Art Cafe Umbrella, at the parking lot a couple metres from this Cafe (map linkhere) you will find a jungle path. Follow the path for 10 minutes for a gorgeous view of the bridge.
The quickest way is to walk the main ‘Nine Arches track’ towards the tunnel. Note – this is the busiest walking route.
Day 4 – Uva Halpewatte tea factory, Ella
This was a unique highlight of our Sri Lanka itinerary. We visited the Uva Halpewatte factory hidden high in the hills surrounding Ella. Aa tuk-tuk here from Ella town costs just $7 one-way. You can also pay your driver a little extra for him to wait for you & bring you back to Ella. We learned so much about the tea-making process. The views from the balcony are to-die-for.
Day 5 – Udawalawe National Park
My favourite part of our Sri Lanka trip was seeing elephants in the wild at Udawalawe National Park. Sure, there are lots of amazing national parks in Sri Lanka but I did my research before arriving and decided on Udawalawe because it has the highest number of elephants (over 250). Udawalawe is also less-crowded than the more famous Yala or Minneriya national parks. We stayed at the lovely Elephant Trails on the outskirts of the park.
Getting here | we had two get two local buses, the first from Ella to Wellawaya and the second from Wellawaya to Udawalawe from here we caught a tuk-tuk to our hotel. A very cheap way to do it – max. $15 each.
Running the length of Galle town is 36 hectares of fort walls, it is along these walls that the famed Galle lighthouse stands proud. Be sure to get here for sunrise (and avoid the crowds) or sunset for the best photo opps.
Getting here | we took a taxi from Udawalawe to Galle, this was arranged through our hotel. The journey took under 3 hours and cost us $60. You can ask your accommodation to arrange a shared taxi, for a cheaper price.
Day 7 – The colourful fishing boats on Rekawa beach
We stayed at the gorgeous Seven Turtles Resort and every morning and evening walked the length of the beach out front. It is here we spotted the colourful fishing boats and the colourful characters who own them.
Getting here | we got a tuk-tuk from Galle, approx. $20.
There you have it a short but sweet overview of our seven day Sri Lanka itinerary. There’s certainly a lot more that could be added to this itinerary. On that note – is there anywhere I’ve missed? I’d love to hear your feedback in the comment section below!
Our unique list of the top seven Instagram spots in Hong Kong! We were lucky enough to spend five days in this cosmopolitan city. Here are what we believe to be the most instagrammable spots in Hong Kong.
Dare I say it, Hong Kong is my favourite city in Asia. Now that’s a big statement considering there are so many great cities on this continent like Hanoi, Bangkok and Kuala Lumpur. I went to Hong Kong not expecting a whole lot and left well, I left not wanting to leave. It’s a mad city, crazy-busy streets, sky-high buildings, stinking humidity and Michelin-starred restaurants on every corner.
At night, the city comes alive it almost bursts with energy. This energy radiates from the pavements and you can’t help but embrace the fast-paced nature of the city. As I’ve said, I loved Hong Kong and hopefully this piece will make you fall in love with it too.
Hong Kong is instagram’s darling with many of the cities landmarks swarmed with selfie-taking tourists, in this piece I’ll show you a couple of off-the-beaten track spots that will be sure to up your Instagram game! Whether you’re spending 2 days in Hong Kong or longer you’re sure to fit some if not all of these awesome places into you itinerary!
Here’s the list of our seven best Instagram spots in Hong Kong (scroll down for more information):
Choi Hung Estate, Choi Hung
Monster Building, Quarry Bay
Harbour City Carpark
Lok Wah South Estate
Markets in Kowloon
Hong Kong red taxi
#1 – Choi Hung estate, Choi Hung
Okay, so this one isn’t so off-the-beaten track. Choi Hung estate and in particular its colourful basketball court is one of the most popular instagram spots in all of Hong Kong. The buildings are actually council flats and back in the 70’s the council decided to paint them all different colours to lift the residents spirits. I wonder did they foresee how popular it would become with tourists? But mostly I wonder how the residents feel about the hoards of tourists photographing their homes. If you do visit, please respect the fact that people live here. Be mindful of the local residents and try not to intrude on their privacy!
How to get here (from Jordan station) –
Hop on the Tsuen Wan Line (the red line) to Mong Kok station. Change to Kwun Tong Line (green line) to Choi Hung. Take exit C4 then walk 7 minutes to Choi Hung estate. Luckily they have little signposts now pointing you in the right direction. You will see a carpark, go up the stairs next to the carpark. The basketball courts are on top of this carpark.
#2 – Monster building, Quarry Bay
Recognise this place? If you’ve seen Transformers: Age of Extinction this building will look familiar. This is certainly one of the best instagram spots in Hong Kong! And a lot less-crowded than I expected. Yick Cheong building or the Monster Building, as it’s been nicknamed by locals, isn’t actually a single building, but a complex composed of five connecting structures. They were built during a population boom in the 60s to offer government-subsidized housing for low-income residents.
As amazingly-cool as it is this has been a little bit tricky for me to recommend as the locals have banned photographers from snapping here without a permit. They have even put banners around the shops on the ground floor. FYI – these had been taken down when we visited but they may be back up again. Just be warned if you do visit here soon, you may not be able to take photos. As always, be respectful of the locals – this is their home.
How to get here (from Jordan station) –
Hop on the Tsuen Wan Line (red line) to Admiralty station, then hop on the Island Line (blue line) to Tai Koo station. Get off at Tai Koo and take Exit B. The buildings are but a four minute walk from here.
#3 – Sunset from Harbour City carpark
On the right evening Hong Kong’s sunsets can be spectacular. And one of the best places to catch a glimpse is Harbour City mall in Tsim Sha Tsui. Right by the Victoria Harbour. There are many vantage points from Harbour City to capture the approaching dusk but our favourite was from the roof of the multi-storey carpark. It’s also a great place to watch the Hong Kong light show.
#4 – Lok Wah South estate
Just off of Chun Wah Road in Kwun Tong is Lok Wah South Estate, a series of public rental housing estates that are not much to look at save for a few fun & quirky elements. The colorful children’s playground has proven to be excellent stomping grounds for curious Instagrammers. And the roof of the parking garage is Lok Wah’s most photographed asset. The roof hosts turquoise-colored concentric circles that serve as both a bizarre subject and a fascinating backdrop.
How to get here (from Jordan station) –
Walk to Tsim Sha Tsui police station from here get the 213x bus. Get off at Lok Wah South estate. Walk two minutes to the carpark (70 Chun Wah road)
#5 – The neon signs on Nathan Road
No visit to Hong Kong would be complete without a snapshot of the city’s famous neon lights. Apparently, in the next few years the shops of Hong Kong are slowly making the transition to LED lights, which do not have the same magic as neon. Other than Nathan Road you can photograph the glimmering lights of Hong Kong on Jordan Road, Tung Choi Street, and Lockhart Road.
#6 – The varied market stalls across Kowloon
There are hundreds if not thousands of market stalls scattered across Hong Kong. They remain a staple in everyday Hong Kong society and the locals use them to buy anything from meat to beauty products. Watch with fascination as locals and stall-holders barter over the price.
At night is when you will get the best photos of these colourful and brightly-lit stalls. Our favourite markets to photograph included Ladies Mile and Temple Street Night Market.
#7 – Hong Kong’s famed red taxis and buses
Again, no visit to Hong Kong could end without a photograph of the city’s famed red taxis. Oh, and the city’s oh so colourful buses. Catch both of these treasures throughout the city. FYI – photographing the taxi’s at a crossing when they’re all lined up seems to have the coolest effect for instagram.
Phew, and that’s it, my top picks for the best instagram spots in Hong Kong! If you’ve visited Hong Kong what did you think? Would you add anywhere else to the list? I’d love to hear them – let me know in the comments below.
Top things to do in Sri Lanka blog. Listing 10 of our favorite things to do in Sri Lanka!
We spent two weeks in Sri Lanka en-route to Europe. And, while we did like Sri Lanka we didn’t love it. Let me explain why –there’s been some serious hype surrounding Sri Lanka, on Instagram all you have to do is search #SriLanka and you’ll be inundated with images of yellow sand beaches, turquoise oceans and colorful cities. Update: since the terror attacks in Colombo on Easter 2019, tourism to the country has taken a massive hit.
Every travel influencer and their mother seems to have visited Sri Lanka of late, and so as a result the world wide web is chocka-block with articles waxing lyrical about Sri Lanka. The truth is we believed the hype, were overly excited by it, and so expected too much from Sri Lanka and were left feeling a little underwhelmed.
Would we visit Sri Lanka again?
Yes, we probably would but we would do it a little differently. For us, Sri Lanka is one of those countries that you will really enjoy if you have money, and we were on a tight budget considering we still had two months of travel ahead of us. Honestly, it was a lot more expensive than we expected. There’s some gorgeous hotels on the island but they are pricey, expect to pay up to about $100 a night for a nice hotel. As you may have heard, we didn’t have much luck with Sri Lanka’s famous train journeys. So, if we were to return, we would be inclined to pay for private transfers the majority of the time. An exception to this rule is the Kandy to Ella journey, which truly is gorgeous.
Anyways, despite our mixed view on Sri Lanka I urge you to go and see it for yourself – it is beautifully colorful with epic beaches and friendly locals. And who knows it may turn out to be one of your favorite places in the world.
Without further ado, here are our top suggestions of things to do in Sri Lanka.
The famous train journey from Kandy to Ella
This trip for us didn’t go quite as we planned it. We booked a first class ticket after our sweaty/ packed like sardines experience on a second class carriage from Colombo to Kandy a few days before. We showed up to the train station bright and early and took our comfy seats in the air-con carriage. When, 30 minutes after we were scheduled to depart there was still no sign of movement I got up to see what the delay was. Turns out the engine was broken. Queue lots of panicked workers running back and forth trying to fix it. Alas, after two hours it was determined it couldn’t be fixed and so we had to wait on an incoming train from Colombo to take its engine. We eventually departed about four hours late.
Oh well, the journey to Ella was as gorgeous as predicted and we took lots of photos. However, be warned one silly girl dropped her phone while hanging out the doorway to take photos and we were told by a local that a couple of people have fallen out trying to take the perfect photo. They were unhurt thankfully.
Relax on Rekawa beach
Instead of choosing the crowded beaches of Tangalle or Mirissa we suggest spending your lazy days on Rekawa beach. Particularly, the gorgeous Seven Turtles Resort – the beach here is pretty much deserted save for a few local fishermen and through the months of October to April you may be lucky enough to witness baby turtles hatch.
This was unsurprisingly Paul’s favourite activity of the trip, being an englishman he LOVES his tea. It was fascinating to see tea processing up close, plus we got a behind-the-scenes look at the factory at work. We got to try all different types of teas and the tasting room has epic views of the valley. We could have sat there all day sipping our tea (fruit tea only for me) and admiring the view. You can find more information here
See Sri Lankan elephants in the wild
Udawalawe National Park was my number one reason for visiting Sri Lanka . I’m beyond obsessed with elephants and I’ve never seen one in the wild, that was until Udawalawe, where we saw not one but 30 elephants and even a teeny-tiny baby that was just one month old. Udawalawe is home to over 250 Sri Lankan elephants and is the third most visted national park in Sri Lanka behind Yala National Park and Minneriya.
Udawalawe absolutely lived up to its hype, seeing these gorgeous animals in their natural habitat was one of the best moments of my life to date. You can read more about Udawalawe here
Get lost in the cute & colourful streets of Galle
Galle is a fortified city built by the Portuguese and many of its buildings show the influence of Portuguese architectural style on Sri Lankan traditions. It is certainly a unique place and so inherently different to other cities in Sri Lanka. Galle is a UNESCO heritage site and if you’re to add any city in Sri Lanka to your itinerary it must be Galle.
Walk along the famous Nine Arches bridge in Ella
Surrounded by lush green jungle, the famed Nine Arches bridge is truly a sight for sore eyes and well worth the uneven, sometimes steep hike there. There was a swarm of deadly bees terrorising tourists on the tracks below so we didn’t quite make it all the way across the bridge for obvious reasons. Oh and Paul got bitten by a leech. Anyways, we got some great photos but missed the train coming across the bridge which would have made for an incredible snap.
Spot some ‘photogenic’ local fishermen
Sri Lanka is famed for its stilt fishermen (I’m sure you’ve seen the photos on Instagram/ Pinterest and the likes), unfortunately, we didn’t get to witness this on our trip but we did see these guys catching fish in the middle of Udawalawe National Park and this epic example of team work on Rekawa beach. Anyways, supposedly the stilt fishermen is a scam – read more here
We spent the majority of our time in Negombo watching the sunset from our hotel balcony. And honestly, of our entire two-week trip we watched the sunset every night as they are so spectacular in Sri Lanka.
Best area’s to watch the sunset in Sri Lanka
Adam’s Peak in the Central Highlands of Sri Lanka
Arugam Bay on the east coast
Sigriya Rock – also known as Lion’s Rock
Galle Fort, Galle
Do we regret visiting Sri Lanka?
No, not a single bit. It is a beautiful country I will give it that, but our one mistake was believing the instagram hype before we’d even stepped foot in the country. We sure won’t be doing that again. If you do visit Sri Lanka – take it for what it is, enjoy the madness and forget about getting that insta-perfect shot. Although we did get some pretty pictures eh?!
Tell me – what did you think of our things to do in Sri Lanka blog?
Hoping to get started on that backpacking adventure of yours, then I highly recommend Vietnam. Lush green landscapes, beautiful beaches, the friendliest people in South East Asia plus yummy and healthy food. So, what are you waiting for? Here’s our ultimate one month itinerary for Vietnam.
Our one month Vietnam itinerary
We started this leg of our trip in Cambodia and came into Vietnam via a city called Rach Gia. In Rach Gia we were the only guests in a 500 room hotel, but we had a massive circular bed, so we forgot about the creepiness of the scenario pretty quickly. The first stop on our month itinerary for Vietnam was Ho Chi Minh city (or Saigon as it’s more commonly known). Over the course of one month we worked our way through seven destinations ending the trip in Hanoi.
“I beg young people to travel. If you don’t have a passport, get one. Take a summer, get a backpack and go to Delhi, go to Saigon, go to Bangkok, go to Kenya. Have your mind blown, eat interesting food, dig some interesting people, have an adventure, be careful. Come back and you’re going to see your country differently.” – Henry Rollins
As I said, for anyone thinking of joining the world of backpacking – you HAVE to check out Vietnam, I think it’s a fantastic country to find your travelling groove in because:
Vietnam is very affordable
Vietnamese people are really friendly and it’s a relatively safe country
Vietnam looks, smells and sounds foreign enough to feel like a challenge for us westernized folks.
Here’s how we planned our one month Vietnam itinerary and packed in seven stops.
The biggest city in Vietnam and very different to any city I’ve visited. Firstly, there isn’t much footpath for you to walk on because the market stalls have taken them. So, most of the time you walk on the road – which is an experience in itself. There are motorbikes and mopeds speeding past you in every direction. Continual noise of honking horns and screeching brakes.
If you’ve ever been to Vietnam or any Southeast Asian country you will know exactly what I’m talking about. Crossing the road in Vietnam is asking for a death wish.
But besides the lack of footpaths and dangerous road-crossing experiences, Ho Chi Minh is an exciting and bustling city. Filled with excellent restaurants, quirky coffee shops, great shopping (they even have a Topshop). Luckily too, if you’re solo-backpacking there are lots of other like-minded backpackers for you to hang with.
What to do in Ho Chi Minh
Our stay in Ho Chi Minh included a visit to the Vietnam War Remnants Museum, which gives an in-depth look at the Vietnam War. The War Remnants Museum showcases photographs, documents and artefacts from the Vietnamese War. We recommend spending 2 hours here.
A day trip to the Chu Chi Tunnels, is a must-do whilst in Ho Chi Minh. The Chu Chi Tunnels is 120km long underground city if you will, built as protection for the Vietnamese people during the Vietnam war. The tunnels feature trapdoors, living areas, kitchens, storage facilities, armoury, hospitals, and command centres. During the tour you can crawl through some of the tunnels (not recommended if you’re claustrophobic). I got to shoot a real gun here, which was terrifying. A half-day tour to Chu Chi Tunnels costs from VND 825,000 (or $35 USD)and upwards.
And lastly we popped by Saigon Central Post Office, which was built by Alfred Foulhoux, who also constructed the Eiffel Tower. The Post Office is an exquisitely preserved french-colonial style building that attracts a lot of photographers. It is known as the most beautiful post office in South East Asia.
Where to stay in Ho Chi Minh
Considering it’s the largest city in Vietnam, there are lots of hotels to choose from in Ho Chi Minh. There’s something for every budget, if you wish to splurge on a nice hotel – here’s a list of the best.
2. Mui Ne
We recommend spending 3 nights in Mui Ne
Mui Ne, is best described as a little town in the desert. A big contrast to the hustle and bustle of Ho Chi Minh. Mui Ne is very laid-back and most of the hotels and restaurants line the town’s beach. The beach in Mui Ne is very popular for kite-surfing.
We only had 3 nights here, so we packed as much as we possibly could into such a short time frame. First on the list was a half day-tour to the Fairy Springs just a 10 minute drive from Mui Ne town. The scenery here is outstanding and it does feel pretty magical, hence the name. We recommend arriving to the Fairy Springs early in the morning (before 9am), which is when the tour buses arrive. The entrance fee to the Fairy Springs is super-cheap, just 5,000 VND or 25 cent!
We also took a half-day sunset tour to the Red and White deserts of Mui Ne, this tour departs daily at 2pm from Mui Ne. The cost is approximately $25 USD per person. Here, you can climb massive sand dunes and slide down them on your bum, or pay a little extra money for a quad bike tour. The half-day tour also includes a stop at a small fishing village.
Where to stay in Mui Ne
Whilst in Mui Ne we stayed Muine Sports Hotel, clean and basic accommodation with an outdoor swimming pool. Plus, its just 100 metres from the beach.
Here’s a list of the best restaurants in Mui Ne because good food makes every trip more enjoyable!
We recommend spending 3 nights in Dalat
High up in Vietnam’s central highlands lies the town of Dalat. Dalat is very different to the rest of Vietnam, to me it felt more like being in the mountains of Nepal. But it’s well worth the bumpy bus journey up, the food and people are uniquely different to other parts of Vietnam. It’s colder up here too, especially at night so make sure to pack a jumper and jeans.
We booked a full day tour of Dalat through our hotel as we were limited to time. It cost approximately $25 USD per person, the tour included stops at:
Bao Dai’s Summer Palace– which was the Summer home of King Bao Dai, the last king of Vietnam feudal court. The palace was built from 1933 – 1937, and is art-deco in style.
Crémaillère Railway Station – a wonderful art-deco train station. Here you can ride a quirky little train to Trai Mat, 30 minutes away. It costs approximately $5 USD.
Dalat Flower Gardens – the Flower Gardens were established in 1966 and is home to over 300 different species of flowers. The Gardens are particularly popular with domestic tourists.
Datanla Falls – is one of the most visited waterfalls in Vietnam. But perhaps the best activity at the Falls is the rollercoaster that you control yourself. With a lever, you are able to control your own speed completely.
Crazy House – a backpacker favourite in Dalat. Unique and Alice in Wonderland like is the best way to describe it. You need to experience this treasure for yourself.
Nha Trang to my European followers is the Costa del Sol of Vietnam (or Cancun to Americans I guess). Nha Trang to put it simply is a super-touristy beach resort. It is very popular with Russian tourists especially. Nha Trang is a great place to stop and relax before setting off to explore the remainder of your one month Vietnam itinerary.
We really enjoyed our time here. There are lots of Italian and Greek restaurants to get your food fix from home but our favorite restaurant was a local one called Yen’s. At Yen’s, we ate some of the best Vietnamese food we’d ever eaten.
What to do in Nha Trang
My husband just HAD to visit VinPearl Land. VinPearl Land is a massive theme park and water park combined, which is only reachable by ferry or cable car. Honestly, VinPearl Land is such a fun day out. If you have kids or a ‘big kid’ like I do it’s definitely worth the trip and the $$$. The entrance fee including the cable car there is 500,000 VND or $25 USD.
We also booked a full-day snorkelling tourand even though it was a great day out, the underwater sightings are nowhere near as impressive as the Great Barrier Reef or the Hol Chan Marine Reserve in Belize. Pick-up for the tour is early – 7:30am from most hotels in Nha Trang. The day includes a seafood feast on board the boat for Lunch. The average cost for a tour like this is $25 USD.
We also paid a visit to the Thap Ba Hot Springs, which has become a quintessential Nha Trang experience. You sit in a private mud bath for about 15 minutes and then rinse off in a mineral shower. Your skin is sooo soft after! The ticket price is 150,000 VND or $7 USD.
Where did we stay in Nha Trang
We spent 5 nights in total at Nha Trang Beach Hotel, a 3-star hotel featuring a small outdoor swimming pool. Small-sized but clean rooms and just a 20 metre walk from the beach. Nha Trang Beach Hotel is very reasonably priced at approximately $25 USD per night.
5. Hoi An
We recommend spending 4 nights in Hoi An
My favourite stop in Vietnam! Hoi An is a UNESCO world heritage site that is both incredibly beautiful and unforgettable.
If you want to get some clothes made, make sure you add Hoi An to your Vietnam itinerary. Some of the best tailors in the world line the streets of this small town. We got lots of beautiful things (including 3 x Suits and some dresses) for a very reasonable price. All were of made that are of top-notch quality. Here’s a comprehensive list of the best tailors in Hoi An
We hired a bike for the day from our hotel and spent a full day cycling the surrounding area. We cycled through rice paddies filled with water buffalo and down, stopped for lunch at a little cookery school and finally down to the mile-long beach.
Most of the historic sites in Hoi An work on a coupon system. This means, 75,000 VND (or $5 USD) gets you a ticket that can be used to enter five attractions: one museum, one museum, one old house, one assembly hall, the handicraft workshop, and either the Japanese Covered Bridge or the Quan Cong Temple. These tickets are sold at various entry points into the Old Town.
Best restaurants in Hoi An
We spent our days in Hoi An wandering the cobble-stoned streets of the old town and stuffing our faces with amazing food. Hoi An is a foodie’s heaven. The ‘Banh Mi Queen‘ is here – a little old lady who makes the best Vietnamese rolls in the world for $1 USD. Other restaurants in Hoi An which we give our seal of approval include Home and Little Flower.
Where to stay in Hoi An
We spent 4 nights at Hoi An Garden Villas a 3-star hotel on on Nguyen Duy Hieu road. It features a lovely outdoor pool and clean and cool rooms. It is reasonably priced for Hoi An at $40 USD per night.
We recommend spending 3 nights in Hue
Hue for us was a stopover to break up the long journey between Hoi An and Hanoi. You will find lots of other backpackers in Hue for this reason. As a result there are lots of backpacker-friendly bars. The party is definitely in Hue!
We filled our days in Hue visiting To Mieu Temple Complex(a beautiful walled complex which houses shrines to past Emperors), wandering across the city’s beautiful bridges, and shopping at the street markets.
One thing we didn’t get to do in Hue that I now regret is DMZ or Vinh Moc Tunnels. A larger version of the Chu Chi Tunnels near Ho Chi Minh city. It’s supposed to be a great experience but it’s a couple hours travel from Hue and we were coming to the end of our trip and so very exhausted.
We recommend spending 6 nights in Hanoi
Hanoi, you may not have known is the capital city of Vietnam. We both preferred Hanoi to Ho Chi Minh. I loved the rustic feel of the city, a lot of the buildings in Hanoi are very French-colonial in style. And we even began to fall in love with the the craziness of the traffic in Hanoi. I will admit that we had become pro’s at navigating the traffic in Vietnam after a month here.
Hanoi feels more like a big town than a city and I guess that’s why I liked it so much, being a small town girl myself. Plus, our favourite restaurant in the country is in Hanoi – Minh Thuy’s Family Restaurant. The Chef/Owner was a contestant on Masterchef Vietnam. The menu is delicious and super-affordable too. We visited Minh Thuy’s restaurant three evenings of our six night stay.
What sights did we visit in Hanoi?
I’m glad you asked. We spent a whole 6 days in Hanoi and so we tried not to pack too much into our days here.
We spent hours walking around Hoan Kiem Lake. Fun fact: every morning at 6am a big group of locals practice Tai Chi on the shore.
Visited the National Museum of Vietnamese History. The Museum highlights Vietnam’s pre-history up to 1945. It is very large and is home to over 200,000 exhibits. Which is why we recommend spending a half-day here.
Spent half a day at the Ho Chi Minh Masoleum Complex.Ho Chi Minh (former President of Vietnam) is buried here and it’s considered a pilgrimage site to the local people. They come from all over Vietnam every day to pay their respects, so, as a result expect long queues.
And finally we attended a Water Puppet Show at Thang Long Water Puppet Theater. Such fun! Water puppetry is an art form that dates back to the 11th century. This tradition comes from a time when rice paddy fields were flooded and villagers would make entertainment by standing in the waist-deep water with the puppets performing over the water.
Where to stay in Hanoi
We spent 6 nights at Hanoi Old Quarter Hotel, a beautiful colonnaded hotel in the Old Quarter of the city. The rooms here are very spacious with beautifully tiled floors and some rooms feature exposed brick on the walls. The hotel is a short walk to Hoan Kim Lake.
8. Halong Bay
We spent a whopping 0 nights in Halong Bay! One of the natural wonders of the world, majestic, beautiful, like something from a James Bond movie. We booked a two day one night cruise on a Junk Boat. Unfortunately, we only ended up staying on the boat a couple of hours as there was a massive storm coming. Queue some very disappointed faces. Thankfully, we did get to kayak in the bay, had a champagne lunch and got a quick glimpse at our would-be bedroom onboard.
When it comes to choosing a tour of Halong Bay, you’ll want to do your research. From wild party cruises where young twenty-somethings get deserted on an island ‘Castaway-style’ to high-end luxury cruises, there is something for every type of traveler and every budget.
Lonely Planet guide ‘Southeast Asia on a shoestring’;
A decent pair of walking shoes (crossing Vietnam’s notorious roads in flip-flops is not recommended);
A cute shawl (in a lot of museums & temples you have to cover your shoulders so this will come in handy);
A good book to read or playlist to listen to on those long bus journeys;
Patience (for crossing the road & for bus journey’s that take 5 hours longer than you were told).
Our one month Vietnam itinerary – a summary
And there you have it a lengthy and detailed insight into our one month Vietnam itinerary. We spent a lot of time researching the best route for us, you may choose to spend more or less time in the places I recommend above. But, whatever route you choose for your one month Vietnam itinerary, I am certain you will have a fantastic vacation. Vietnam is a very special country, and we can’t wait to return.
Looking for an adventurous way to explore Vietnam? This 17-day adventure, takes you from Ho Chi Minh to Hanoi through Dalat, Hoi An, Hue and Halong Bay. Probably the coolest part though is the 5 days motorbike ride through the countryside from Dalat to Hoi An!
Tell me – what did you think of our one month Vietnam itinerary? I’d love to hear your thoughts and suggestions in the comment section below.