Beauty & Fashion

An Epic 7-Day Vietnam Itinerary for Adventurous Families…From Cities to Scenery!

7-Day Vietnam Itinerary

Do you like to travel to experience other cultures?? If so, you are in for a real treat. The Busbee family just headed to Vietnam and China for an exciting and once-in-a-lifetime 14-day trip! Erin’s traveled to over 35 countries and is definitely a travel pro. She loves experiencing different cultures, trying new foods, learning about history, and taking in all of the beautiful scenery. This trip had all of that and more! In today’s post, we’re breaking down the Busbee family’s Vietnam itinerary including what they did, where they stayed, and more. We’ll be sharing more about the second half of their trip and China itinerary tomorrow so make sure you’re subscribed to the newsletter so you don’t miss it!

Looking for everything Erin packed for her 14-day trip?? Make sure you check out this post next! Plus, all of Erin’s carry-on suitcase packing tips here.

Carry-On Suitcase Packing Tips

Day 1 – Arrive in Hanoi

The Flights to China were so expensive that the Busbee’s decided to fly into Vietnam to start their trip. Erin found the best prices flying into Noi Bai International Airport in Hanoi. Hanoi was the simplest and most affordable flight they could find from Colorado, but depending on your location, you may be able to find a better deal at a different airport. They flew from Denver to Tokyo and then Tokyo to Hanoi.

Erin had Kensington Tours help plan this trip since there were so many moving parts, travel days, etc. They help keep everything organized and send you a detailed itinerary before your trip. Kensington helps with things like arranging transportation, setting up tours, and more. One note about traveling to Vietnam is that you will have to get pre-approved Visas for anyone traveling into the country. Kensington Tours helped with this as well as fast-tracked security services. Kensington is pricey, but if you are taking a complex, aggressive trip like this, it might be worth the extra expense to keep things as smooth as possible.

In Hanoi, the Busbee’s stayed at the lovely Capella Honoi. The 5-star hotel was absolutely beautiful, and Erin really loved all of the art deco details. She described it as charming, unique, and special. If you’re headed to Hanoi, this is a wonderful place to stay. On the first night, the family relaxed and rested up after their very long travel day and got ready for the rest of the trip…

Vietnam Itineary - Hanoi Train Cafe

Day 2 – Hanoi Sightseeing

On their first real day in Hanoi, the Busbee’s enjoyed a 4-hour tour that consisted of a TON of sightseeing, lots of history, and exploring iconic landmarks. Erin was most excited about visiting Vietnam to learn more about the culture and history and she really loved how eye-opening and different it was.

They started at Ba Dinh Square where they saw the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum, the resting site of revolutionary leader Ho Chi Minh. They waited in line for about 2.5 hours to see Ho Chi Minh, which Chris and the kids were really excited about. But if they did it again, they would go at a different day/time as to avoid the lines. When they were in line at Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum, there was a group of school kids who reacted to seeing Elizabeth as if she were a rockstar by screaming and grabbing her arms. They don’t see many blonde-haired people so the Busbee’s got requests for photos quite often in both countries.

The rest of the day consisted of walking through markets, seeing the stilt houses (very unique Vietnamese architectural style), One Pillar Pagoda (originally built in 1049), and the thousand-year-old Temple of Literature (the first university in Vietnam).

But Erin’s favorite part of the day was the Instagram viral train café! It was really cool…but also really terrifying! She told us that it’s hard to fully understand or explain how scary, thrilling, and crazy it is to be sitting inches away from a train going by. They got to take a picture on the train tracks too! She said this was definitely a worthwhile experience. One thing they noticed, even at an Instagram viral site like this…they didn’t see many American or European tourists. That was true throughout their entire trip to Vietnam and China.

After their sightseeing, they went back to the hotel to freshen up and then headed out that night to a Vietnamese Folklore Show with Water Puppetry. This show was nostalgic for Chris as he saw it when he went to Vietnam for the first time decades ago. They also went to a “snake” restaurant where you guessed it, they ate snake. Erin said she almost threw up.

But, the biggest challenge in Hanoi…? Crossing the street. You often just have to go, not look, and hope for the best. Seriously.

Day 3 – Ha Long Bay

The next day, the Busbee’s left early in the morning to drive to Ha Long Bay, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It was a ~4-hour drive so they did make a few stops along with way. One cool thing they saw during one of the stops was how pearls are made. Erin found it very interesting and didn’t realize how much went into it and that it’s not organic or natural. They essentially fertilize the oyster to create a pearl and then they put it back into the water (they have a system to make it easier to take them in and out of the water after a certain amount of time). She also learned that pearls have different quality levels like diamonds do.

When they got to Ha Long Bay, they boarded the Bhaya Legend Cruise which set sail toward Bai Tu Long Bay. The family opted for a private ship which was a welcome respite after the bustle of Hanoi.  Ha Long Bay was mysterious, magnificent, and really unique. The green water was so beautiful and the famous limestone formations were so cool. That afternoon, they visited Thien Canh Son Cave, a natural cave with rock formations and a sparkling gemstone ceilings. After that, they went back to the ship to relax and swim in the water. Then they enjoyed traditional Vietnamese dishes and watched the sunset before heading off to bed.

Day 4 – Ha Long Bay to Hoi An

The next morning, they woke up, had breakfast, and then headed out by kayak to visit the traditional fishing village of Vung Vieng. There are four main fishing villages in Ha Long Bay, but this one only has about 50 families living there so it was the least touristy. After that, they headed back to the ship and were then taken back to the marina to disembark.

This was a big travel day because after getting off the ship, they had a driver take them back to Hanoi (~4 hrs.), then boarded a flight from Hanoi to Danang (~1.5 hr.), then had a driver take them to Hoi An (~1 hr.).

They checked into the Four Seasons Resort The Nam Hai. Kensington Tours surprised the family with a room upgrade, so they ended up in a gorgeous 3-bedroom villa right on the beach that also had its own pool. Erin shared that it was one of the nicest Four Seasons she’d ever stayed in.

Travel to Vietnam, Where to Go, Featuring Hoi An

Where to go in Veitnam, traveling to vietnam and hoi an

Where to go in Vietnam, 7-day Itinerary

Days 5 & 6 – Hoi An

Erin shared that Hoi An was the biggest surprise and her favorite place on the entire trip! The town was so magical, there were lots of colorful lanterns lit up at night, and so much energy and excitement. There were lots of people, but it didn’t feel overwhelming because it’s a smaller city. When they were walking down the streets and seeing all the shops and food vendors, Erin could smell night-blooming jasmine, which is one of her favorite scents. Between the charm, beauty, cleanliness, energy, lights, and smells, it was just a really wonderful city. Overall, Hoi An was a much nicer and cleaner city than Hanoi, but both offered a very unique insight into Vietnam’s culture and history.

On their first day in Hoi An, Erin decided to ditch the 3-hour day tour because the last few days had been so exhausting (although she did shoot some photos for the blog 😉 That night, they went on a sunset dinner on a bamboo raft along the Coco River. First, they took a 25-minute ride in a bamboo basket boat that took them to the restaurant where they enjoyed dinner on a bamboo raft. It was a neat experience, but Erin said she could have skipped this experience and would have preferred to have dinner in Hoi An.

The next day, they enjoyed more time at their gorgeous hotel, did more exploring of the streets and markets of Hoi An, and then returned back to their hotel to prepare for another long travel day…

Day 7 – Hoi An to Beijing

The Busbee fam packed up and headed out for another long travel day and the next leg of their trip…China! From Hoi An, they had a driver take them to Danang (~1 hr.) and boarded a flight to Beijing (~8 hrs.). After going through customs, a driver took them to their hotel, The Peninsula Beijing.


We wanted to pass along some of Erin’s reflections about Vietnam. She shared that she always felt safe and welcome in Vietnam. The family walked around freely through crowded markets and streets without a problem. Erin says she was unsure how the Vietnamese, especially the older generation would feel about Americans given the history, but she didn’t feel any friction. In fact, she mentioned that the people she met were all incredibly helpful and kind.

She was surprised at all the crazy things they eat, including just about anything on a stick. And, she noted that it’s not really a communist country. The Vietnamese are pretty free economically and while they can’t shout their disdain for the government from the rooftops, they do seem to be able to talk about likes, dislikes in a more intimate setting.

Do you have your own reflections about Vietnam? Or maybe more questions about the trip?? Let us know in the comments below…we’re happy to help!

Stay tuned for the rest of the details from Erin’s trip to China tomorrow. Be sure you’re subscribed to the newsletter so you don’t miss it!

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