from Hanoi to Luang Prabang

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Howdy, there! On this article, I’ll share our itinerary for two weeks in Vietnam in Laos, from Ho Chi Min Metropolis to Luang Prabang, that includes one of the best of those two wonderful nations. Laos is likely one of the most troublesome nations to go to in Asia because of the lack of worldwide flights to Laos, nevertheless it’s fairly straightforward to get there from Vietnam. Therefore, we determined to mix Laos and Vietnam in a single journey! 

Right here’s a brief overview of our itinerary for Vietnam and Laos in 2 weeks:

Days 1, 2 – Ho Chi Minh Metropolis, staying at Hammock Inn Ben Thanh

Days 3, 4, 5 – Phu Quoc island, staying at Salinda Resort

Day 6 – afternoon in Hanoi, staying at JM Marvel Lodge

Day 7 – In a single day Ha Lengthy Bay cruise – Paradise Class (Guide right here)

Days 8, 9 – Hanoi, staying at JM Marvel, non-obligatory tour to Ninh Binh

Day 10 – Vientiane, Laos, staying at S2 Boutique Lodge

Days 11-13 – Luang Prabang, Laos, staying at The Belle Rive Resort

Day 14 – Flying again to Hanoi

Earlier than we dive into our itinerary, let me tackle a few FAQs:

Vietnam and Laos in a single Journey FAQs

What’s one of the best time to go to Vietnam and Laos? When did we go to?

Vietnam and Laos are each all-year-round locations, however summer season will be scorching and humid. We visited throughout winter, in December and January, and had one of the best climate within the southern cities of Phu Quoc and Ho Chi Minh. Nevertheless, it was unusually chilly in Hanoi, with temperatures solely reaching 15-16 levels. This was an uncommon incidence as December isn’t usually that chilly in Hanoi. Vientiane was fairly scorching as effectively, and Luang Prabang was a bit colder however nonetheless a lot hotter than Hanoi. Throughout the day, it was round 24-28 levels and at night time, it was a bit chilly. 

It’s robust to pinpoint one of the best time to go to Vietnam and Laos because it actually is dependent upon what you wish to see and do. We selected December because it was the one time we may take break day for the journey over the Christmas holidays. Consequently, we labored round this time and selected locations with one of the best climate throughout the winter season. If we had travelled in October, for instance, we might have needed to modify our itinerary and select totally different locations to go to in Vietnam.

We determined to skip the center of Vietnam, particularly the Hoi An space, because it will get very wet within the winter.

What’s one of the simplest ways to journey round Vietnam and Laos?

Travelling round Vietnam is inexpensive in case you take buses and trains, however you’ll want greater than per week to take action. In any other case, you’ll spend most of your time travelling from one place to a different. If in case you have restricted time, you’ll must buy flights, which generally is a bit costly. Nevertheless, we discovered inner flights with Vietnam Airways to be dependable and good general.

To journey from Vietnam to Laos, you might want to fly. We flew with Lao Airways, and it was fairly an expertise. I like to recommend making an attempt to fly with one other airline, even when the tickets are a bit dearer. Nothing incorrect with the service – I simply felt that the airplane was not in one of the best situation and was in all probability retired by North American or European airways within the 90s and was flying in Laos since then. Fortunately for us, nothing occurred on all the three flights we had with Lao Airways, however I wouldn’t fly with Lao Airways once more. 

Additionally, you don’t must fly from Vientiane to Luang Prabang – there’s a pace prepare that connects these two cities, though shopping for tickets is considerably problematic. You may solely do it in individual (as of early 2023), and it’s exhausting to purchase them with out a native cost app (they don’t settle for money or overseas playing cards). Though, hopefully, it would change quickly!

When travelling inside cities in Vietnam, we advocate utilizing Seize, an Asian model of Uber. It’s dependable and really inexpensive. You should use my referral hyperlink to put in it.

With out additional ado, let’s begin our itinerary for Vietnam and Laos in 14 days:

2 weeks in Vietnam and Laos itinerary: from Ho Chi Min Metropolis to Luang Prabang

Days 1 and a couple of: Ho Chi Minh Metropolis

Exploring Bên Thanh and attending the road meals tour

Our flight from London to Ho Chi Minh Metropolis was direct, touchdown at 5 AM. Since we couldn’t sleep on the airplane, we booked an affordable lodge close to the airport to relaxation for a number of hours between 6 AM and 11 AM. It gave us a while to chill out and relaxation earlier than exploring the town.

We checked in early on the Hammock Ben Thanh lodge, which is located in a improbable location for exploring the town – Ben Thanh neighbourhood! It’s surrounded by cafes, eating places, and sights, and a lot of the main sights are inside strolling distance. It’s additionally fairly trendy and inexpensive! 

We explored the Central Market and its fruit, tea, and sweets sections, the place we bought some edible souvenirs. Ho Chi Minh’s Metropolis Central market can also be well-known for its pretend luggage and watches. For lunch, we tried the standard Vietnamese sandwich, Bahn Mi – among the finest locations for Bahn Mi was positioned steps away from the lodge – you possibly can all the time see the massive queue exterior, nevertheless it strikes shortly and is 100% value it!

Later within the night, we loved a road meals tour on bikes with native college students, which was a improbable expertise. In case you can solely do one factor in Ho Chi Minh Metropolis, I like to recommend taking this road meals tour! You may verify the costs and availability right here.

Sightseeing & having fun with Ho Chi Minh Metropolis from above

The following day, we headed to Little Hanoi Egg Espresso to strive the standard Vietnamese Egg Espresso, a singular espresso with an egg inside (a must-try in case you eat eggs!). Afterwards, we took a stroll across the upscale a part of Ho Chi Minh Metropolis the place a lot of the boutiques are positioned – and noticed the Folks’s Committee Constructing and The Opera Home.

We visited the Bitexco Tower Statement Deck, which presents a improbable view of Ho Chi Minh Metropolis. It was Vietnam’s tallest constructing earlier than the Landmark Tower was constructed. We additionally went to the Clean Lounge Espresso Bar by Nest on the Landmark Tower and loved the cocktails and desserts with an incredible view – one of the best view within the metropolis! In addition they had one of the best cocktails and desserts we’ve tried in Vietnam! 

Our final cease in Ho Chi Minh Metropolis was the previous a part of the town, the place we visited the Sai Gon Central Publish Workplace and Notre Dame Cathedral. The put up workplace is free to go to and has a working put up workplace and memento retailers. Notre Dame Cathedral is a working cathedral that dates again to the center of the nineteenth century and is likely one of the oldest surviving buildings within the metropolis.

Days 3-5: Phu Quoc

The place to remain in Phu Quoc:

Selecting a lodge in Ho Chi Minh Metropolis was a lot simpler than selecting a resort in Phu Quoc! There have been many components to think about, from worth to location and, in the end, whether or not we needed a small lodge or a resort. Ultimately, we determined to choose a resort as a result of we simply needed to relaxation for a number of days, as Ho Chi Minh Metropolis is tiring and a bit aggravating! 

We picked a resort known as Salinda, which was voted Phu Quoc’s finest resort a number of instances. I can undoubtedly advocate it!

Issues to do in Phu Quoc: 

In case you’re trying to unwind and chill out in Phu Quoc, the Salinda Resort is the proper spot. You may spend most of your time lounging on the seaside, swimming within the sea and within the afternoon, take a stroll down the excessive road and go to a therapeutic massage or espresso store, for instance.

Nevertheless, in case you’re up for some journey, you possibly can lease a motorcycle and tour across the island. Alternatively, listed here are some prime actions to do in Phu Quoc:

  1. Go to the bustling night time market in Phu Quoc, the place you possibly can strive some wonderful Vietnamese road meals and purchase souvenirs. It’s solely a 9-minute taxi experience away from the Salinda resort.
  2. Guide a scuba diving or snorkelling tour to find the colourful coral reefs and numerous marine life round Phu Quoc. You may pre-book this tour prematurely right here.
  3. Take a guided tour of Phu Quoc Nationwide Park, a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve, to discover the luxurious forests and spot uncommon wildlife.
  4. Take a look at the historic Phu Quoc Jail Museum to be taught in regards to the island’s previous throughout the Vietnam Battle and acquire perception into the resilience of the Vietnamese individuals.

Additionally, in case you’re within the temper for some wonderful cocktails, there’s a speakeasy bar positioned simply throughout the street from the Salinda resort that we liked and extremely advocate!

Day 6: Hanoi 

On the sixth day of our Vietnam and Laos journey, we flew to Hanoi within the afternoon, leaving us with the morning to benefit from the resort and swim. The flight from Phu Quoc to Hanoi took virtually 2 hours and was longer than the one from Ho Chi Minh Metropolis to Phu Quoc. After we landed at round 3 PM, we took a taxi that we booked by means of Seize app to our lodge, JM Marvel. Nevertheless, it took a while for the taxi to reach.

In December, Hanoi’s climate will be fairly unpredictable. Throughout our keep, the temperature was 14C levels on the primary day, 16 levels on the second day, and 21 levels per week after we returned from Laos. It is strongly recommended to pack heat garments, comparable to a light-weight, packable goose climate jacket from Uniqlo. On our first night in Hanoi, we dined at Duong’s restaurant, which is a well-liked spot advisable by many journey guides. They provide conventional Vietnamese dishes with a singular twist.

After dinner, we visited the well-known prepare observe cafes to observe the trains move by. The realm is a pedestrian-only road with prepare tracks working within the center, surrounded by cafes and retailers. When the prepare approaches, everybody must clear the road and keep within the cafes/retailers because the trains move very near the individuals. We then strolled round Hanoi’s centre, loved some milk tea, and headed again to our lodge, JM Marvel, to relaxation early for our early pick-up for the Ha Lengthy Bay cruise.

7-day itinerary for Vietnam.

Day 7: In a single day Ha Lengthy Bay Cruise 

Reserving your Ha Lengthy Bay cruise prematurely is essential, as many cruises can promote out weeks prematurely. After we tried to ebook the Athena cruise a month forward of time, there was no availability, so we went with the Paradise Class cruise as a substitute. The company supplied a free switch service to the cruise and again, which was very useful, and the minibus was fairly snug.

We had been picked up from our lodge foyer round 8:25 AM after which drove to a different lodge close by to choose up one other couple. The journey to Ha Lengthy Bay took round 2-2.5 hours, with a technical cease on the Pearl Museum, the place you possibly can go to a museum, a big pearl store, a number of cafes, and a bathroom.

After arriving on the lodge for check-in at 11:20 AM, we obtained totally different colored bracelets that dictated your boarding time. Since we bought black bracelets, we had been among the many final ones to board at 12:20 PM and needed to wait within the lodge foyer for an hour. On board the Excellence Ha Lengthy Bay cruise, there have been 2-3 actions out there on the primary day and 1 exercise on the second day.

We determined to skip the kayaking and pearl farm go to because of the chilly climate however loved the go to to Titov Island, which included a pleasant seaside and nice views of Ha Lengthy Bay. There was a free cooking class throughout sundown and stay music after dinner. The following morning, we visited the most important and most well-known collapse Ha Lengthy Bay, adopted by breakfast and checkout by 9:30–10 AM.

Total, the 2-day, 1-night Ha Lengthy Bay cruises are extra like 24 hours, and we had been again in Hanoi by 1:30 PM. In case you’re fascinated about reserving the same cruise, you possibly can verify the costs and availability right here.

Days 8-9: Hanoi

On our final 2 days in Vietnam, we had loads of time to discover Hanoi, so we determined to do some sightseeing. Listed here are a number of the landmarks that I like to recommend visiting:

  • The Imperial Citadel is likely one of the oldest and most spectacular buildings in Hanoi. It was the political centre of Vietnam for over 13 centuries and served because the capital of the nation throughout the Ly, Tran, and Le dynasties. Contained in the Citadel, you’ll find palaces, temples, and residences constructed in several intervals, every reflecting distinctive architectural kinds and cultural influences.
  • The Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum is the ultimate resting place of Vietnam’s most well-known chief. Guests will pay their respects to Ho Chi Minh and study his life and legacy.
  • The Temple of Literature is a historic temple devoted to Confucius, with gorgeous structure, tranquil gardens, and a wealthy historical past. This web site is a must-visit for anybody fascinated about Vietnamese tradition and historical past.

Another locations I like to recommend visiting in Hanoi embody Hoan Kiem Lake, surrounded by stunning parks, temples, and historic buildings, and the Outdated Quarter, a glimpse into Hanoi’s previous and an incredible place to expertise the town’s vibrant tradition.

In case you nonetheless have time and vitality left, I recommend visiting the Vietnam Museum of Ethnology, the place you possibly can be taught in regards to the nation’s 54 ethnic teams by means of interactive displays and demonstrations and take a road meals tour to pattern the native delicacies and expertise the bustling environment of Hanoi’s night time markets. Nevertheless, in case you already took road meals in Ho Chi Minh Metropolis, it is likely to be somewhat bit repetitive. In case you want to take a sightseeing tour, this wonderful Hanoi tour by classic bike is likely one of the best-rated within the metropolis!

You too can take a day tour to the gorgeous Vietnamese countryside – to Ninh Binh – probably the most stunning locations in Vietnam! You may verify the costs and availability right here.

Day 10: Exploring Vientiane

In your tenth day of the Vietnam and Laos journey, it’s time to lastly fly to Laos! There are flights to each Vientiane and Luang Prabang from Hanoi, so you possibly can choose whichever works higher for you after which modify the itinerary based mostly on that. 

Laos could be very totally different from Vietnam regardless of being so near it. Laos resembles Thailand far more – the languages are very comparable, and the tradition can also be a bit comparable (and so is the meals). 

Vientiane is a really quiet capital – it doesn’t have that many vehicles and it’s fairly calm general (in comparison with Hanoi, which by no means sleeps). We spent a day in Vientiane and did a little bit of sightseeing. We picked S2 Trendy Boutique Lodge as our in a single day lodge, and it was fairly inexpensive however very removed from in all places. Nevertheless, distances in Vientiane are massive (the town could be very unfold), so no matter the place you keep, you’ll have to ask for a number of taxis. 

Listed here are a number of the finest issues to see in Vientiane:

  1. Pha That Luang: This golden Buddhist stupa is crucial nationwide monument in Laos and a logo of the nation’s Buddhist religion. It’s believed to include a relic of the Buddha and is surrounded by stunning gardens.
  2. Patuxai: Referred to as the “Arc de Triomphe of Vientiane”, Patuxai is a grand monument inbuilt honour of those that fought for independence from France. Guests can climb to the highest for gorgeous views of the town.
  3. Wat Si Saket: This stunning temple is likely one of the oldest in Vientiane and encompasses a gorgeous courtyard stuffed with hundreds of Buddha statues.
  4. Buddha Park: Simply exterior the town, this park is dwelling to greater than 200 Buddhist and Hindu statues, together with a large reclining Buddha. It’s an incredible place to spend a day exploring and taking within the serene environment.

Additionally, the night time market within the coronary heart of the previous city, proper subsequent to the Mekong, is an fascinating market to go to. Nevertheless, there isn’t a lot to purchase there except you’re searching for very inexpensive garments with misspelt logos. There are many locations to eat close by, in order that is likely to be a bit extra fascinating!

Days 11 – 13: Luang Prabang

On the morning of the following day, we took a brief inner flight to Luang Prabang. Whereas we initially needed to purchase the prepare, we weren’t certain we might have the ability to safe it as tickets are likely to promote out and it was not doable to purchase them on-line. To keep away from risking dropping someday in Luang Prabang, we determined to pay a bit extra and get an inner flight as a substitute. 

The place to remain in Luang Prabang?

Lastly, let’s speak about lodging and the place to remain in Luang Prabang. We stayed on the Bel Air Resort with gorgeous river views. Nevertheless, the situation wasn’t one of the best as a result of each time we wanted to go someplace (all of the locations apart from the airport had been throughout the river), we needed to cross a really scary bridge. Not the stunning Bamboo bridge, however the Outdated French Bridge that seemed prefer it was on the breaking point, with lacking picket planks and nails protruding in all places. Not like the Bamboo bridge, this bridge was very excessive within the air, and any fall would have been deadly. 

As an alternative, I like to recommend staying on the following locations:

Luxurious resorts: If cash isn’t an issue, these resorts can be a tremendous choice: Burasari Heritage, Rosewood, 3 Nagas

Mid-range inns and resorts: The Belle Rive, Angsana Maison

Very inexpensive however fairly good place to remain in Luang Prabang: Villa Ouis

Finest issues to do in Luang Prabang in 3 days:

Whereas 3 days in Luang Prabang (which is just a bit greater than a village) feels like lots of time, it’s really not! There are such a lot of issues you are able to do in Luang Prabang. If you wish to see the total listing, I wrote this text in regards to the 18+ wonderful issues to do in Luang Prabang >>

Right here I’ll simply concentrate on the actions we’ve got loved essentially the most in Luang Prabang:

Sundown cruise alongside the Mekong River 

A sundown cruise alongside the Mekong River is a must-do exercise in Luang Prabang. There are many choices out there, from luxurious to easy boats. Head to Khem Khong Road, and also you’ll discover many boat house owners providing their companies. We discovered a flyer for a $5.5 per individual sundown cruise from Svan Mekong Cruises and had been fortunate to have the boat all to ourselves. With bean luggage and cosy seats, we had been in a position to take pleasure in our drinks and snacks whereas admiring the gorgeous views. It could actually get chilly, however blankets had been supplied. Don’t miss this distinctive and unforgettable expertise!

If you’d like a fancier expertise, you possibly can ebook a dinner cruise with a 3-course dinner right here >>

Stroll the Unesco Heritage-protected a part of Luang Prabang

Luang Prabang grew to become a UNESCO world heritage web site in 1994 and that was completely deserved – Luang Prabang could be very fairly. The most effective issues you are able to do in Luang Prabang is to put on snug sneakers and for for a stroll or a motorcycle experience across the Outdated City – there are many stunning streets!

Go to the night time market on Sisavangvong Highway

Sisavangvong Highway is essentially the most well-known, busy and well-liked road in Luang Prabang. It will get particularly crowded within the night, round 6 PM, when the night time market opens. The night time market in Luang Prabang has loads of stalls promoting garments, souvenirs and artwork. I’d say it’s primarily aimed toward vacationers, nevertheless it’s a must-visit attraction anyway.

Listed here are another wonderful issues to do in Luang Prabang in 3 days: 
  • Attempt native road meals (proper in the beginning of the Evening Market, there’s a everlasting road meals market. The most well-liked dish in Laos is Laap – a meat or fish salad, which is scrumptious however very spicy. Really, most dishes in Laos are very, very spicy!)
  • Go to the Kuang Si waterfall – one of many predominant sights of Luang Prabang, 45 minutes away from the city. You may both get there by bike, purchase a tour or rent a taxi that can look forward to you there for 3-4 hours for $20. Alternatively, you will get there by boat in case you purchase a tour.
  • Stroll the bamboo bridge throughout the Nam Khan River – it’s solely open 6 months a yr and will get rebuilt yearly because it will get destroyed as soon as the water ranges rise. You should pay 10,000 kips ($0.6) per individual to cross the bridge, nevertheless it’s completely value it.
  • Climb Mount Phou Si – there are many stairs to climb. Nevertheless, the views from there are effectively value it. The ticket to enter the higher a part of Mount Phou Si prices circa $1 per individual. 
  • See essentially the most stunning temples in Luang Prabang – Luang Prabang has so many gorgeous temples, monasteries and stupas. Essentially the most stunning is undoubtedly Haw Pha Bang, positioned proper on the backside of Mount Phou Si. 
  • Observe the Alm Giving ceremony with the Buddhist monks – in case you’re an early hen and also you wish to observe a singular, stunning ceremony that is essential to locals, head to the Outdated City round 5:30 AM. It’s a ceremony the place native Buddhists supply alms (home made sticky rice) to the monks. Nevertheless, except you’re a Buddhist, you shouldn’t take part. As an alternative, you possibly can quietly observe the ceremony. You too can take images (with out a flash), however be sure you’re not in the way in which and never obstructing anybody.

Day 14: Fly again to Hanoi and residential

Although there are such a lot of issues to do in Luang Prabang, it’s a good vacation spot for enjoyable. It’s quiet, the distances are small, and nobody is dashing wherever. I hope that after 3 days in Luang Prabang, you’ll really feel well-rested and prepared for a protracted journey dwelling! 

If in case you have time between your flight to Hanoi and your flight again dwelling, you possibly can discover one other a part of Hanoi that’s the closest to the airport, subsequent to the Chùa Kim Liên temple! There are many issues to see and do there! 

Abstract and helpful hyperlinks on your journey to Vietnam and Laos:

I hope you loved this itinerary for two weeks in Vietnam and Laos and located it helpful! As I discussed earlier than, we visited Vietnam and Laos in winter, December-January, to be exact, and our itinerary was dictated by the climate in these locations. In case you’re planning this journey in summer season, for instance, it’s value checking the climate in all these locations and see if visiting them nonetheless is smart (it might be the center of the wet season, for instance) 

I’ve obtained a number of requests to supply a quick abstract of all of the necessary and helpful hyperlinks used on this put up for different articles that includes our itineraries, so right here’s an summary of helpful hyperlinks for this itinerary for two weeks in Vietnam and Laos:

Flights: Skyscanner for the flights to Vietnam and inner flights. I like to recommend flying with Vietnam Airways

Taxis: Seize

SIM card: you possibly can both purchase one on the airport or purchase a multi-country sim like Drimsim that works in a lot of totally different locations all over the world

Plug sort: use this adaptor 

Excursions: road meals tour of Ho Chi Minh Metropolis by bike with native college students, Ninh Ninh Tour, Classic bike Hanoi sightseeing tour, Luang Prabang cruise with a 3-course dinner

Ha Lengthy Bay cruise: ebook right here

Inns: Hammock Ho Chi Minh Metropolis, Salinda Resort Phu Quoc, JM Marvel Hanoi, The Belle Rive Resort Luang Prabang

If in case you have any questions, be happy to DM me at @lizatripsget – I would have the ability to assist!

Another articles you may discover helpful:

Hanoi vs Ho Chi Minh Metropolis: in case you can solely go to one metropolis in Vietnam

18+ wonderful issues to do in Luang Prabang 

7 days in Japan: a really fast-paced itinerary

48 hours in Kuala Lumpur 

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