It’s 10 days after my trip to Vietnam (typical of me, closing my eyes and randomly picking a destination and going), I am here typing, hoping to save one of my most precious travel experiences in this wonderful land full of miracles and surprises. Spending around 15 days, I was lucky to visit the most vibrant cities in this country including of course the 1000-year-old Hanoi, the busiest and the largest Ho Chi Minh City, ancient Hoi An as well as Hue and Danang. Although stopping in only 5 destinations, I got a deeper insight of the local residents’ daily routines and understood the cultural and historical values there.

Ho Chi Minh City

I selected Tan Son Nhat International Airport as my arrival airport so Ho Chi Minh City would be my first stop of the journey. Landed at 9:30 pm (local time), my first trip to Southeast Asia began smoothly . The entrance procedure was not very difficult as I already had my visa from Vietnam-visa in advance, got my approval letter online and prepared other related documents and just needed to have my passport stamped then everything’s done!

Situated in the Southern area of the country, far away from Hanoi (more than 1700km), Ho Chi Minh City, otherwise known as Sai Gon is the biggest, most modern city with the largest population in Vietnam. Not like ancient Hanoi, Sai Gon is taking it’s place in the global spotlight with innovative freshness, and growth in all sectors; economy, society, education and culture. The best thing that I like about this place is the “Coffee culture” that is absolutely unique and fun. Saigoners drink coffee as their normal beverage, like Hanoians drink ice tea on plastic stools along the street sidewalks. In Ho Chi Minh, people can drink coffee anywhere they want: in luxury restaurants, coffee shops, in the parks, etc.

ho-chi-min-sky-NeoQuynhHo Chi Minh from the sky

Hue and Da Nang

From North to South, the geographic positions are Hue, Danang, Hoi An, so Hue is the second stop of my journey. Unfortunately, Hue welcomed me with the rain so I had to stay in the hotel most of the time. Hue is known as Vietnam’s capital, once ruled by the Nguyen Dynasty emperors , so the relics and historical sites here are the best way to discover the history.

Today, Danang changes day by day, and they say nowhere develops as  fast as Danang. Thanks to the gift of nature, Danang has its own advantages to improve social, economic situations, striving to be the “Best quality of Life city ” in Vietnam. Relaxing on the white sand, azure beaches like My Khe, Non Nuoc and Pham Van Dong are great as well so just get kick your shoes off and immerse yourself in these moments!

Tran-tien-bridge-hue-Trang Tien Bridge – Hue

danang-cityDanang City

Hoi An

Hoi An got a whole week’s (7 days) stay and if I had one more chance, I’d go back in a minute. Hoi An’s great! So so great! I’d love to call it “An” – in Vietnamese, meaning “peace and calm” and I love everything belonging to the land thanks to the serene atmosphere it gives you, which  I’m pretty sure you can’t find anywhere else. Trust me! I highly recommend you take a ride around the weaving paths adjacent to rice paddy fields, and chat with the hospitable locals – you feel at home like they are warm grandparents’ that you haven’t seen for a long time. There are lots of things to do here including wandering in the  Ancient Town (if you’re lucky, you’ll see Hoi An  brightly lit with colorful lanterns on 1st and 15th Lunar Day each month), visiting Old Houses of impressive architecture, enjoying tasty foods “Banh mi” (an incredibly crusty sandwich, full of pork, salads, egg, and a number of other mystery fillings), “Cao lau” (a kind of noodle). I am coffee fan so it’s my hobby to find as many amazing coffee shops as I can. Here are some options for you: Hai Café, and Reaching Out.

Hoi-annightHoi An at night


The highlight of Hanoi is the combination of cultural and historical tradition passed down from generations, between the old and the new. You can take a picture in any and every little exquisite corner, and it will never let you down! One thing that should not be missed when visiting this capital is to join a Hanoi street food tour. I did too and found it so so interesting.

hanoi-cityPhan Dinh Phung Street – one of the most beautiful, romantic streets in Hanoi

hanoi-old-cityOld Quarter – 36 Old Streets

hoanliemHoan Kiem/ Sword Lake – the heart of Capital

Great places, awesome experience, welcoming residents, and I promise to go back! Wait for me Vietnam!

reachingoutcafe-vietnamThe Reaching Out café

Useful information:

  • Tan Son Nhat International Airport   Ho Chi Minh City
  • Get your visa before leaving at  Vietnam-visa

My itinerary summary:

  • Ho Chi Minh City, otherwise known as Sai Gon is the biggest, most modern city with the largest population.
  • Hue is known as Vietnam’s capital, once ruled by the Nguyen Dynasty emperors –  discover the history.
  • Danang –  they say nowhere develops as  fast as Danang. Relax on the white sand, azure beaches of My Khe, Non Nuoc and Pham Van Dong.
  • Hoi An – I loved everything- the most hospitable locals, and don’t forget to try local foods “Banh mi”,  “Cao lau” and coffee at  Hai Café, and Reaching Out.
Guest post & photos by Neo Quynh
Ciao, I’m Celia, your travel advisor in Italy! I'm a professional travel writer and itinerary designer. I share my local insights and knowledge with travelers looking to go beyond the ordinary. Ask a question or request a custom travel itinerary. Contact me.
Italy Travel & Style is not a tour operator. ITS provides local insights and personalized, custom travel consulting and itineraries. Tours and activities featured are booked through third-party websites; prices and terms are subject to change.