Planning a trip to Vietnam and interested in focusing on Central Vietnam? It may be confusing on where to go since there are so many incredible places to visit. Therefore, we created the perfect Central Vietnam 1 week itinerary that you need to follow!
Central Vietnam is often overlooked and whizzed through quickly when traveling from North to South Vietnam. We’ve traveled to Central Vietnam a few times, especially since we live in this country, and love this area.
The top reasons to visit are fewer crowds compared to Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City (where we live) and tons of fun and exciting things to do such as visiting gorgeous beaches and UNESCO recognized historical sites and eating delicious food (Central Vietnamese flavors is our favorite!)
Without further ado, continue reading this post on how to spend 1 week in Central Vietnam. With this Central Vietnam 1 week itinerary, we’re off to explore the cities – Danang, Hoi An, Hue, and other hidden gems in the area and sharing the top things to do here.
A full week tour isn’t necessary, but you’re welcome to take day tours in each of the locations. We’ve recommended some tours below. Regardless, it’ll be an exciting vacation visiting these Central Vietnam attractions.
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Vietnam Visa Information
Visitors will need to check in advance if they need to apply for a visa. Visas are not available on arrival as you need to have an approval letter to enter. Check this list to see if e-Visa is available for your country.
If you’re a U.S. citizen, you can apply for a single entry e-Visa which will expedite your entrance through immigration. It’ll take at least 1 week to process your e-Visa.
When to Go to Central Vietnam
Central Vietnam has two seasons to consider – dry and wet.
The dry season is from January to August and the weather is very hot and humid. Temperatures are in the mid 30°C (86°F and above). There is some occasional rain, as we’ve been caught in the rain during our visit to Danang in May, but it doesn’t last all day.
How to Get to Central Vietnam
If you’re starting your Vietnam trip from either Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City, or other areas, the easiest way to get to Danang is to take a domestic flight to Danang International Airport (airport code: DAD). It’s a major international airport in the country.
The flight from Ho Chi Minh City to Danang takes 1.5 hours one-way, while from Hanoi, it’s 1 hour and 20 minutes. Check out the flight deals on Vietnam Airlines, VietJet Air, or Bamboo Airways.
International flights are also available to Danang International Airport. Examples of cities that depart to Danang are:
Click here to see the list of airlines that fly to Danang.
How to Travel Around Central Vietnam
Once you arrive in Danang, you can take a taxi or take a Grab car or motorbike to your destination. Grab is a popular ride-hailing app in Southeast Asia and one of the best apps to use when you’re traveling around Vietnam.
If you know how to ride a motorbike, you can also consider renting one for a few days. Remember to wear a helmet and drive slowly. We wouldn’t want you to get pulled over by the police for speeding and then you have to give “coffee money” (also as a bribe) as payment.
Hiring a private driver is also an option for longer distances.
Check out our Vietnam transportation guide to learn more tips.
Central Vietnam Itinerary – Days 1-3: Danang
We’re starting the itinerary in Danang (Đà Nẵng in Vietnamese) as it’s the fifth-largest city in Vietnam. It’s a popular place to visit as you have access to clean beaches, gorgeous views of the oceans, and conveniently located to other historical sites in the area.
Since there are plenty of attractions to visit, we recommend that you spend 3 days in Danang. While we’re providing a snapshot of the top attractions to visit in Danang, check out our in-depth Danang 3 days itinerary to learn more.
How to Get to Danang City Center from the Airport
Once you land, head through immigration if you’re traveling from an international airline. Afterward, catch a taxi or Grab car and head to your accommodations to drop off your luggage. The airport is located in the center of the city so it’ll take about 15-20 minutes by car to travel within the city.
What to Do in Danang
1. Head to the beaches and relax all day long.
You’re on vacation so it’s time to veg out! Two popular beaches are My Khe and Non Nuoc. They are clean and have fine beige sand. There is plenty of space for you to relax under the umbrellas and lawn chairs. Just remember to stay hydrated as the weather can be HOT.
2. Visit the two amusement parks – Ba Na Hills and Danang Wonders.
Ba Na Hills is a must-visit as it’s a European-inspired theme park located on top of a hill. It has the famous Golden Bridge (also referred to as Golden Hands Bridge), the two stone hands holding up a golden bridge. There are also shows, rides, games, and other fun entertainment activities. It’s recommended to buy your tickets in advance here.
Check out our Ba Na Hills guide on how to visit this place.
Another theme park to visit is Danang Wonders and is suited for those who love roller coasters and rides. You may notice a large Ferris Wheel illuminating in the middle of the city at night, and this is where the park is located. The park focuses on Asian countries so you can visit Singapore, Cambodia, Thailand, Japan, and more. It’s a smaller scale of Disney World’s Epcot.
Read our Danang Wonders guide for more travel tips.
3. Check out the free evening show at the Dragon Bridge.
You’ll see the dragon breathing fire for a few minutes. The show occurs on Saturday and Sunday at 9:00pm.
4. Shop and eat street food at Son Tra Night Market.
This is the go-to spot after watching the show at the Dragon Bridge. Eat your way through the market or buy souvenirs here.
5. Take a short hike up Marble Mountains to see gorgeous views of the landscape and the city.
Marble Mountains comprises five elements – water, metal, earth, fire, and wood, and the main mountain is water. You can either walk up the mountain for some exercise or take the elevator. At the top of the mountain, check out the other mountains based on the elements from the Sea Watching Tower and walk through caves and pagodas.
Since this place is south of Danang, you can visit this place before heading to Hoi An.
Danang has plenty of hotels, guesthouses, and resorts to suit all budgets.
If you want the stay next to or within walking distance to the beach, it’s recommended that you stay in My Khe area. Also, note that the resorts are spread out so you may need to take a taxi or Grab car if you want to head to the touristy areas for food and shopping.
Central Vietnam Itinerary – Day 4: Hoi An
On your fourth day in Central Vietnam, we’re headed to Hoi An (Hội An). It’s one of the best places to visit in Central Vietnam. Hoi An is a former trade port city due to the Thu Bon River flowing through the Ancient Town (also referred to as Old Town) area. Currently, it’s a picturesque area with architectural influences from Asian and European countries. Plus, this city was recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage site since 1999.
Since the area is small, we’re spending one full day here. If you want to spend more time in this quaint area, you can consider spending 2-3 days visiting beaches and Cham Islands.
How to Get to Hoi An from Danang
Hoi An is 25 kilometers (15.5 miles) away from Danang, so it’ll take 40 minutes to arrive there by car or taxi. You can also take a Grab car or hire a private driver to get to Hoi An. Since this city is close by, you can either take a day trip from Danang or spend the night in Hoi An.
What to Do in Hoi An
1. Wander around the Ancient Town.
It’s a walkable area as vehicles are not allowed. You’ll find endless streets filled with buildings painted in vibrant yellow and other colors, boutique shops selling artwork, handicrafts, jewelry, and clothes. Other attractions include the Phuoc Kien Pagoda, Museum of Folk Culture Museum, and traditional houses.
There is a fee of 120,000 VND to walk around the Ancient Town and to access 6 local sites. You can purchase this ticket at the kiosks around the Ancient Town.
2. Take a photo of the iconic Japanese bridge.
The bridge was built in 1719 and by Japanese merchants living in the area to connect between the former Japanese and Chinese areas. crowded throughout the day. The bridge isn’t long as you can walk across it in 30 seconds, yet it gets crowded with people throughout the day. If you prefer to not have crowds in your photo, then you’ll need to get to Hoi An early in the morning.
3. Shop till you drop!
From beautiful silk lanterns to the fruit Hawaiian shirts and dresses, you’re bound to buy unique and practical souvenirs for yourself, family members, and friends. Check out the evening night markets for more souvenir items. Don’t forget to bargain at the night markets!
4. Get tailored clothes and shoes in Hoi An.
If you have difficulties with finding formal suits, dress pants, or dresses, consider getting tailored clothes. There are hundreds of tailors to choose from in Ancient Town so you can visit various tailors to compare materials and pricing. You may even consider getting an ao dai (áo dài), a traditional Vietnamese outfit.
Tip: You’ll need at least 2-3 days to get your clothes made due to the multiple fittings. You may consider extending your stay in Hoi An so the tailor doesn’t feel rushed with completing your clothes.
Hoi An Accommodations
Central Vietnam Itinerary – Day 5: Hue
Hue (Huế) is the former capital of Vietnam from 1802 to 1945. If you love learning history and seeing the lifestyle of the former Nguyen Dynasty, then you’ll enjoy visiting Hue. There are many incredible architectures and monuments to admire here so you’ll need to maximize your 1 day in Hue.
How to Get to Hue from Danang or Hoi An
One of the exciting ways to get from Danang to Hue is to take a motorbike tour of the Hai Van Pass. The route is 21 kilometers (13 miles) that is full of windy roads and gorgeous landscapes along the way. If you decide to take the tour, you’ll need to extend your day in Hue as this is an all-day tour.
From Hoi An to Hue, it’s recommended to hire a car.
What to Do in Hue
1. Explore the Imperial City.
This is the most famous landmark of Hue as it’s a UNESCO recognized area. The Imperial City is a 4-sided walled area that is surrounded by a moat. The citadel area has a Purple Forbidden City that is similar to Beijing’s Forbidden City. The Forbidden City is where the Emperor and his family and colleagues lived and worked.
Outside the Forbidden City, there are plenty of beautiful pagodas, gates, and architecture to admire. Our featured photo is of the Hien Nhon Gate (East gate) that leads to the Imperial City.
You can spend hours exploring the Imperial City so you’ll need some good walking shoes. You can walk around on your own but it’s recommended taking a tour for more historical context.
2. Visit the iconic Thien Mu Pagoda, also known as the Celestial Lady Pagoda.
This 7-story Buddhist pagoda was built in 1601. You can walk around the pagoda and also check out the views of the Perfume River. There is free admission so you can visit at any time of the day.
3. Visit Khai Dinh Tomb.
Khai Dinh was the 12th emperor and had this place built from 1920 to 1931. He worked closely with the French government so the design of his tomb has Vietnamese and French influences.
Khai Dinh Tomb is one of the most intriguing places to visit in Hue. The complex has multi-tiers so it requires some stair climbing.
Tip: You’ll need to climb over 100 stairs to get to the first tier of the complex. If you have knee problems, it’s best to avoid this place as there aren’t any escalators.
The top tier, also known as the Thien Dinh Palace, has mosaic artwork on the walls made out of ceramic and porcelain. The artwork is bright, colorful, a bit gaudy at times, but captivating to look at. You can also check out the life-size statue of Khai Dinh.
4. Eat delicious street food.
Check out the foods that originated from Hue, such as steamed rice cakes (bánh bèo) and beef noodle soup (bún bò Huế). If you’re not sure where to go, take this walking street food tour.
Central Vietnam Itinerary – Day 6-7: Departure or Free Time to Visit Other Cities
It’s your last two days in Central Vietnam. Depending on your itinerary, you can either return to Danang from Hue and catch your departing flight or consider visiting other areas of Central Vietnam.
1. Ly Son Island
Ly Son Island (Đảo Lý Sơn) is one of Vietnam’s hidden gems as it’s not visited by foreign tourists. For now, the island is quiet and has a calm ambiance. The infrastructure is growing to develop tourism in the future.
This island is known for growing Ly Son garlic which is small, white bulbs that have a mild flavor. Plus, they are grown in volcanic soil. Other fun attractions to do on Ly Son Island is to snorkel, ride a motorbike around the island, and hike Gieng Tien Mountain.
To get to Ly Son Island from Danang, you’ll need to travel to Quang Ngai’s Sa Ky Port. It’ll take 2.5 hours (160 kilometers / 99 miles) by car or 2 hours by train. Once you arrive at the port, take a speedboat to the island.
Check out our Ly Son Island guide for more information.
2. Quy Nhon
Want more beach time in addition to what you had in Danang? Head to Quy Nhon (Quy Nhơn or Qui Nhơn). It’s a low-key city and not as touristy compared to the other cities that you visited earlier in the itinerary.
There are many beaches to lounge around, historical landmarks such as the Cham Towers, amazing seafood, and other fun activities to spend a few days here. We recommend that you visit Ky Co Beach for clean beaches and snorkeling opportunities.
Read our things to do in Quy Nhon post for more ideas on what to do here.
To get to Quy Nhon from Danang, it’s recommended to take the bus for 8 hours, train for 6 hours, or to take a domestic flight to Phu Cat Airport (airport code: UIH). Driving would be the fastest way as it’ll take over 4 hours.
3. Phong Nha
Phong Nha is the go-to place for adventure seekers. The main draw is visiting the Phong Nha Ke Be National Park and to see the famous caves and limestone formations, such as Paradise Cave and Phong Nha Cave.
Son Doong Cave is considered the largest cave in the world. The tour to explore this cave is expensive and costs over $3,000 USD per person as only one company is allowed to operate the tour.
An alternative is to explore Hang En Cave, the third-largest cave in the world. It’s also a memorable hiking trail to experience in Vietnam! The cost of this trekking tour is more reasonable and starts at $330 per person. We went on this tour and had a fantastic experience.
Plan to spend a minimum of 2 days on your Phong Nha itinerary going on adventures. You can also spend a day riding a bicycle or a motorbike to explore Bong Lai Valley, a rural place from Phong Nha town.
To get to Phong Nha from Danang, it’s recommended to take a domestic flight to Dong Hoi Airport (airport code: VDH). It’ll take 4 hours since it stops in either Hanoi or Ho Chi Minh City. Or, you can take a train from Dong Hoi City or a sleeper bus that’ll take 5 hours.
Final Thoughts on the 1 Week Central Vietnam Itinerary
Whew! Your trip planning to Central Vietnam has come to an end. We hope you enjoyed reading about what to do in Central Vietnam in 7 days. After you visit, we hope you’ve made some awesome memories of the people, culture, and landscape. Let us know in the comments what made your Vietnam trip memorable.
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