I spent 3 weeks in Vietnam between 20th October and 11th November 2016. I travelled as a couple and always slept in Hostel/Train/Bus.
This itinerary is my personal taste and I didn’t use any kind of agency to book anything. I mostly used the internet to search for some logistics regarding transportation. I also used the Vietnam’s edition of Lonely Planet but you don’t really need any guide book because it’s really easy to travel in Vietnam. Just ask at the reception of where you are staying on how to get to any place and you’ll have everything in place for the next day.
- Hanoi (2 days, bus - ferry - bus to Cát Bà island, ~1 day on the road)
- Cát Bà (2 days, bus - ferry - bus to Tam Coc, ~1 day on the road)
- Tam Coc (4 days, transfer from the Guest House to the Ninh Binh's train station and caught a night train to Hué, ~8h train)
- Hué (2 days, bus from hour Guest House to Hội An, ~4 hours)
- Hội An (5 days, bus from hour Guest House to Nha Trang and another bus to Dalat)
- Dalat (3 days, night bus from hour Guest House to Ho Chi Minh City (Saigón), ~6/7 hours)
- Ho Chi Minh City (2 days, Giant Ibis bus to Phnom Penh, the capital of Cambodia, 1 day on the road)
- I bought my plane tickets in SkyScanner from Porto to New Delhi and from New Delhi to Hanoi.
- Hanoi: I went from the airport to the Old Quarter with a local bus. When you exit the airport through the front door just turn left and keep walking. You'll get to a bus station where you can get the bus number 7 or 17. To Cát Bà I had to get a bus-ferry-bus but this should be straightforward if you ask at your hostel/guest house/hotel reception.
- Cát Bà: to get to Tam Coc you need to get a bus to the port, a ferry to the other side and a bus that goes to Ninh Binh with a stop in Tam Coc. I'm not sure that you can buy all the tickets independently but if you ask at the place where you are staying it should be easy to arrange.
- Tam Coc: you have 2 options to get to Hué, the train and the bus. Bear in min that this trip takes about 7-8 hours so I recommend doing it during the night. It was the only time that I used the train in Vietnam, and despite being expensive (~30$), it was very confortable. If you choose this option you need to get to Ninh Binh first, because Tam Coc doesn't have a train station. If you choose the bus option I'm pretty sure that the bus should be able to pick you up at your hostel/guest house/hotel entrance.
- Hué: get a bus at your place to Hội An, it should take only ~4hours.
- Hội An: I recommend you to go directly to Dalat instead of stopping in Nha Trang like me. I had a pickup from my place in Hội An to the bus that took me to Nha Trang and then I got a bus from there to Dalat the next day. I totally don't recommend you to stop in Nha Trang. You can read more about it here.
- Dalat: the best way to get to Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon) is by bus. The journey takes about ~5-6 hours and you can do it during the night to save time. Once again, just ask the receptionist where you're staying to get you a ticket/pick up.
- Ho Chi Minh City: there are a LOT of bus companies that offer to take you to the Cambodia's capital, Phnom Penh. Some of them have better reviews than others, and that is how I chose Giant Ibis. It's not the cheapest option, but their service it's 5* (you can read more about it here). It costed me ~20$ for the HCMC-Phnom Penh journey with a 5$ service fee that they included in the Visa On Arrival price. If everything goes well, you should arrive in Phnom Penh in daytime.
- ~16€ per day, all included.
This does not include flights, but includes all kind of daily expenses, rooms (between 5-14€ double room except Tam Coc), food (between 1-3€ local food mostly), entrance tickets, transportation (train, bus and ferry), Lan Han Bay cruise etc…
- To get a Visa for Vietnam you need to take care of getting an approval letter in advance. Vietnamvisapro.net is one of the cheaper options and I had no problems with them, and they are the ones I recommend using. You will get your approval letter with other people's name on it, but don't be scared, it's completely fine. Once you get to the airport you just hand this piece of paper along with 25$ to the immigration counter and that's it!
- Hanoi, the Old Quarter.
- Cát Bà, Lan Han Bay cruise.
- Tam Coc, getting lost in the rice fields with my bycicle.
- Hué, Imperial Citadel.
- Hội An, chilling and walking around Old Town with a stop for lunch at the delicious local market.
- Dalat, get a scooter and go to all the waterfalls around Dalat.
- Ho Chi Minh City, nothing really...