The Goal is to leave Vietnam after a week full with life-changing memories of places, people, aromas and tastes. Do and see as much as you can in 7 days. Maybe in the end you will not feel the need to come back in search of something that you missed out.
I was asked a lot by the locals as to why did I choose to visit Vietnam and I do think it was a sincere query. Vietnam is a magical country full of contrasts but it’s also quietly developing into a tourist destination in the last decades. With the big giants nearby like Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia, Vietnamese people are still not accustomed to tourists. And this is what will make your experience even more authentic and unique.
In Vietnam, we traveled soon after the reopening of the country in April 2022. It was on March 15 that Vietnam’s government agreed to resume its visa exemption for 13 countries and soon after that, more countries were added to the list. As Greek passport holders, we applied for the e-visa online paid the 35$ fee and a week later we were emailed with the verification. The requirements as you are all aware, change constantly. On 3rd April 2022 you were obligated to show off the vaccination certificate, a Negative PCR test no less than 72 hours ago, the e-visa, the health insurance and the QR code from the Application. Please check the official website for more dated information regarding migration and entry requirements. www.vietnam.travel/things-to-do/information-travellers-novel-coronavirus-vietnam
While in Vietnam with my mother, yes, that was my companion and she actually had a lot of fun and endured many things, flavors and experiences. So while there, we get to meet many expats from other countries. Usually they had the luxury to work online and moved to Vietnam as part of an East-Asian trip staying for a couple of months at each place. On the one hand, I certainly envy them, I must admit, being able to do what you love which is traveling and still being paid and hopefully also working at what you also love. Too bad surgery can’t be done yet via Zoom. However, on the other hand they were so lazily exploring the country. As they had the reassurance of staying a long time and actually adopting an everyday life there, there was absolutely no plan of sightseeing and no gems to explore.
7 days for Vietnam is not merely enough. Do you have 3 weeks to spare? A month even? Then lucky you. But I don’t and many don’t either so I would like to plan a journey covering all the major points of this country, so that when the trip is over you would be content that you pretty much know how Vietnam looks like and you wouldn’t have missed something important to make you come back. Do not misjudge me, I loved Vietnam but there are SO MANY MORE COUNTRIES in this world to discover that I wouldn’t come back to Vietnam. Unless it was for a fellowship in Ho Chi Minh’s Hospitals, but that I will tell you about in a bit.
Without further notice let’s see the EXTRA compact EXTRA perfect Itinerary for 7 Days In Vietnam
1st Day: Hanoi Airport & Hanoi City
2nd Day: Hanoi
3rd Day: Halong Bay
4th Day: Fly to Da Nang & Hoi An
5th Day: Hoi An & An Bang Beach
6th Day: Fly to Ho Chi Minh & Ho Chi Minh City
7th Day: Cu Chi Tunnels & Mekong Delta
Expenses : The whole trip cost 600€. Mainly due to Qatar Airways’s offer for the medical professionals with free tickets for me and my companion. For 7 nights in Hanoi, Hoi An and Ho Chi Minh in mid-scale hotels we paid 45+32+32= 109 €. Also the domestic flights cost approximately 20-30€, plus another 15 € for a checked suitcase.
Having landed you must proceed to all Covid and Visa & Passport Checks. That goes pretty smooth, just be prepared with all the necessary paperwork. Collect your suitcase and on your way out, you will come across many desks selling both Sim cards and Exchange money. Go from desk to desk to ask around and compare the prices. Don’t expect big differences but also it is best if you have more alternatives. For the sim card we bought an 8GB data package for 30 days for 8€ from Mobiphone, and I was pretty satisfied with the service and signal of 4g internet.
Moreover, after having read all over the internet about how bad the rates are at the airport, we decided to only exchange a small amount to the first desk on your left hand and exchange the rest of the money in downtown Hanoi. Wrong! I was actually surprised that the rate there was really good (1€ = 26,000 vnd ) and even better than what we encountered on our trip. So keep that in mind. Do Google the rate of Vietnamese Dong to Euro on your day of departure to have it as a reference point.
For the 30km transfer from the airport to your hotel in Old Quarter you have the following options:
- Shuttle bus (1,5 €= 40.000VND). There are a few shuttle buses from the airline companies Vietjet, Vietnam Airline and Jetstar leaving from Terminal 1(Domestic) and Terminal 2(International). There is also a free shuttle bus between the two terminals or 15 minutes on foot. Search for the signs. These buses leave every 30-40 minutes. You will probably need to take another bus or Grab (application for a taxi) to reach your destination.
- Public bus (1 € = 30.000VND). Too crumbled up and too chaotic for my taste to ride with the suitcase, after several hours of flight and transfers. Bus 86 runs every 25minutes. One of the most convenient stops is probably at Hanoi Opera House. (142 Tran Quang Khai, Hanoi Melia Hotel- Hanoi Train Station)
- Taxi (13-17 €= 200.000-350.000VND)
- Pre-arranged private transfer, which is what we opted for. We had our hotel in Hanoi Shining Central Hotel & Spa arrange a transfer from the airport for 20 €. You can also check Viator and Klook for offers.
The accommodation you will pick will be based on your budget. In general, Vietnam is a cheap destination and so are the hotels’ rates. We booked through Booking.com at the Hanoi Shining Central & Spa for 15€/night/double. A decent stay, without anything extraordinary. Certainly this modern type of open bathroom isn’t really practical when two people stay in this room. Even if you are a couple, there is no soundproof from the toilet to the bedroom.
One thing to consider when picking up your hotel in Hanoi is the location. The Old Quarter and nearby is where the entire buzz is, it is where you mostly spend your time. Another excellent location a little bit more upscale and modern is the French Quarter. But keep in mind that most tours offer free pick-up services from the Old Quarter.
As I have mentioned before, and probably do in every post, one of the best ways to explore a city is by doing a walking tour, or even better a free walking tour.
We trusted www.hanoifreewalkingtours.com for a street food tour on our first evening and http://www.hanoifreewalkingtours.com/tour/hanoi-old-quarter-and-french-quarter-private-walking-tour-half-day-1 for a free walking tour of the Old Quarter the next day. These tours were really informative, and fun, we got to meet other travelers and exchange experiences and definitely a great way to spend your time in Vietnam. So my recommendation is for your first day give it a try with a free walking tour to affiliate with the city and walk , walk and walk as much as your feet can handle. This is the only way you will get to explore this place.
You will see that the only people walking in Vietnam are tourists. Locals all have a motorbike which is the extension of their body. They can’t walk a step without it. They will park their motorbikes just by their side, on the pavement, on the road, at the entrance of a shop or a stall. You will get used to it and also the chaotic traffic. Just be brave look right-left, in front of you and behind you and cross the street with your hand up signaling.
Hopefully, you slept well; have no jet lag and are ready to truly master Hanoi. Besides you only get one full day here so get up early. Grab your Bahn Mi Sandwich on your way or sit down on a petit stool to enjoy your first Pho Soup.
Good choices for Bahn Mi are
- Bahn My P: But last time we were there it was closed, so check again
- Bahn Mi 25: Famous among tourists, you will find your sandwich to be a little more on the modern western side flavor-wise
- Bahn Mi Pate: Just on the corner of Bahn Mi 25, but certainly more traditional, preferred even by locals, That was our choice for Breakfast.
Good choices for Pho Soup:
- Pho bung Hang Trong: If you are daring enough to enter this small alley and climb some badly lighted stairs, feeling that you intrude in someone’s home, then you will be rewarded with the best hidden Pho Soup in Hanoi. Remove your shoes before entering what appears like a living room with plastic tables and stools. Open 3pm- 8pm. (30.000-40.000vnd)
- Pho Gia Truyen Bat Dan: 6am-10am, 6pm – 8.30pm. This is the place where we tried Pho Soup. There are only three items on the menu here, which is always a good thing to have such expertise. Pho Chin refers to pho with fully cooked brisket. Pho Tai refers to Pho with lightly cooked meat while Pho Tai Nam is a combination of both. The soup that will come in front of you has all the four basic ingredients- soup, noodles, meat and fresh herbs. You get to add garlic, chili sauce, chopped chili, pickled vegetables, fish sauce and hoisin sauce that you will find on the table. (50.000-60.000vnd)
- Pho 10 Ly Quoc Su : 6am- 2pm, 5pm- 10pm. As if going from the most hidden local place to the most modern one. This is a place easy to spot, easy to order and popular among tourists. That doesn’t mean that Pho Soup here is not worth it. This northern-style pho soup is less strong compared to the above, but this place is considered cleaner due to focusing mainly on tourists. (60.000vnd)
Had your breakfast and now we need to move on.
Ho Chi Minh’s Mausoleum
The goal for today will be to reach Ho Chi Minh’s Mausoleum before closing times. Keep in mind that in high season ((1/4- 31/10) the opening hours are 7.30 am – 10.30 am, quite narrow. And also although Google maps will guide you there, you will have to make a huge circle of about another 10 minutes to reach the ENTRANCE (Check for Bahn Bao Bi on the maps to get an idea of where the entrance lies). Ticket 25,000vnd. The line although long moves fast as you basically walk from one point of the Mausoleum to the other.
After that in the same complex, you get to visit the Presidential Palace, Ho Chi Minh’s Stilt House (Open 7.30-11 am, 1.30 pm- 4pm), and the One Pillar Pagoda.
Next Stop: Temple of Literature
You will need around 15 minutes by foot or more if you decide to wander around. We did as we found near the complex, a local market (named Cho Ngoc Ha) and we followed the locals around as they did their grocery shopping. Basically the street Doi Can have many shops to wander for a bit.
Temple of Literature. Open 8 am- 5.30 pm in Summer, 8 am – 5 pm in Winter. Ticket 30,000vnd. Dress Code: no tank-top, no shorts or mini skirt allowed, always take off your hat when in the sanctuary area. The Temple of Literature was founded in 1070 to worship the Chinese philosopher Confucius. Soon after the Imperial Academy which is considered the first university in Vietnam opened here. We will see a lot of students even today wandering on its grounds and praying for good school grades.
Hoa Lo Prison Relic
This is a museum that you don’t want to miss. And it’s coming from a person who isn’t really fond of museums because I get quite bored at most of them.
At Hoa Lo Prison today you only get to see the small southern section of the entire prison complex, since most of it was demolished in the 1950s to give room to more modern buildings, offices and hotels.
In Hoa Lo Prison the main focus is on the way French colonial administrators treated Vietnamese who fought for independence. The prison was horrifically overcrowded and executions and tortures were on the everyday agenda. It is truly a sorrowful site to the eyes but also an important lesson for Vietnam’s history.
Whereas when the Americans come up here as prisoners they are presented as clean-shaved, well-treated and playing basketball in the courtyard. Or at least this is Vietnam’s point of view.
Opening hours: 8 am- 5 pm, Ticket: 30,000vnd
Hoan Kiem Lake
The rest of the day for us was part of a free walking tour from www.hanoifreewalkingtours.com/tour/hanoi-old-quarter-and-french-quarter-private-walking-tour-half-day-1, which I recommend.
Nevertheless, let’s continue step by step to the major attractions in Hanoi that you get to see in 1 day.
Hoan Kiem Lake is in the heart of Hanoi and it feels like an oasis from all the frantic horns and noises of the Old Quarter. The lake and the Ngoc Son Temple offer plenty of trees and shade to rest and refresh yourself. Although much smaller than its neighboring lake West Lake, Hoan Kiem Lake is a lake you can’t miss once you stay near the Old and French Quarter. Early in the morning you will see locals practicing tai chi and again later in the evening you will witness ladies in groups dancing pop songs in Pilates choreography. A walk during the night is a must, as the glassy waters of the lake at night set off the city’s lights beautifully despite the smog.
Visit Ngoc Son Temple, which is translated in Temple of the Jade Mountain and is dedicated to a war hero General Tran Hung Dao. Opening Hours: 8 am- 6 pm. Ticket: 30,000vnd.
Tip: In Vietnam the majority of people are not religious, estimated with only 15% being Buddhists and 7% being Roman Catholic. However, they like to visit and worship true heroes who lived and breathed at the temples. Pagodas are mostly dedicated to gods and mythical creatures.
Egg White Coffee- Ca Phe Trung
Who is that crazy to put an egg in his coffee? Well, in Vietnam they are and you wouldn’t guess how delicious it actually tastes. I am no fan of the coffee but this was a treat that I really miss from Vietnam.
Egg white coffee is a distinctive drink in Hanoi, made with creamy, meringue-like egg white foam on top of dense bitter Vietnamese coffee. The egg yolks are whisked on the spot with condensed milk and taste like light vanilla cream, and nothing “eggy” comes out of this. You wouldn’t be able to tell that you have raw egg in your coffee.
Loading T café is a beautiful small gem hidden in the busy streets of Hanoi, near the Old Quarter. Any architecture nerd will love this century-old colonial villa with the olive-green shutters and the rounded balconies. The egg coffee here was superb and they also offer fresh juices, coconut or yoghurt coffee and homemade cakes.
Dong Xuan Market
The largest market in the south of Vietnam today serves the everyday needs of locals and the exploring and photographic needs of tourists. There are 2,100 stalls inside and as you can imagine the variety of goods sold is huge. Separated into 3 floors, it’s easier to navigate if you remember that on the ground floor is food, on the second floor you can find clothes, shoes and accessories and on the third floor are toys and kids’ stuff.
- Take good notice of your personal belongings
- Do consider that nowadays this is an overly tourist destination
- You need to bargain for everything and still be prepared to pay a little more than buying it outside of Don Xuan market.
- There is also the night edition every Friday, Saturday and Sunday from 6 pm to 10.30 pm, when it’s mostly focused on souvenirs and food.
It’s dinner time and time for yet another traditional soup. Actually from what we experienced, Vietnamese cuisine is based on a soup made with a meat broth, noodles and vegetables.
There is Pho and then Bun Thang, and Bun Mang Vit or Bun Bo Hue. Also Cao Lau , Bahn Canh and Mi Quang. I may be the one who is not a food expert and either used to these flavors but they all pretty much seemed similar to me.
Bun Cha which we tried in Hanoi and really liked, whereas my mother did not consist of meatballs and pork belly slices served in a broth alongside rice noodles, fresh vegetables and herbs.
Our choice was Bun Cha Dac Kim (10 am – 8.30 pm) and for the combo menu that has Bun Cha and Nem Cua (deep-fried spring rolls with crab) we paid 90,000vnd.
Other great choices to consider are :
- Bun Cha Hang Quat (10.30 am – 2 pm), hidden in an alley, we can’t get more local than this, 50,000vnd for Bun Cha and Nem Cua be.
- Bun Cha Ta Hanoi (8 am- 10 pm), in a more modern environment you get to try the charring fatty pork served in a flavorful broth easy to the stomach.
Saint Joseph’s Cathedral of Hanoi
Saint Joseph’s Cathedral was one of the first structures constructed by French colonists during their expansion in Vietnam and it still remains up to date intact. Don’t be scared by the dark grey on the exterior, which was recently painted, actually finished during our stay. The interior is quite the opposite, with colorful tall glass windows and high domes.
You can visit the exterior for free every day but you only get to visit the interior when there is ceremonial practice. The mass schedule is on a weekday at 5.30 am and 6.15 pm. On Saturdays at 6 pm and Sundays at 5 am, 7 am, 9 am, 11 am, 4 pm, 6 pm and 8 pm. If you get the chance , visit during Catholic Christmas or Easter, even if you are not religious.
After the hectic and packed streets of the Old Quarter, head to a totally different world, and hit the French Quarter. The grand boulevards, wide pavements, modern and clean shops will be a welcome relief. Stroll around with a cup of iced tea and admire the architecture from elegant Neoclassical to 1930s Modernism and Art Deco.
Check Hanoi Opera House which is a grand example of the Parisian- style architecture. This impressive and huge building may seem odd and out of place compared to the rest of the capital. Nowadays you only get access to the interior with a ticket in hand for one of the performances. Nevertheless feast your eyes on the exterior and you may even be in the portrait of one of the many newly wedded couples photo shooting in the area.
Indeed in this full compact itinerary of Vietnam, you will get a day trip to Halong Bay. Halong Bay is a magnificent natural wonder with its 1600 limestone islands and islets. It has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1994. Since then there was a huge governmental operation to move all the islands’ habitants to the mainland to preserve Halong Bay’s natural beauty. So nowadays most of the islands and the karst limestone pillars are uninhabited and unaffected by human activity.
Browsing through Trip advisor, Klook and Viator will give you an idea of how many tour companies there are and just how popular this place is among tourists.
If we actually had more time to spare and my mother wouldn’t get seasick that easily we would have stayed overnight in one of the luxurious rooms on a boat to admire the dawn in Halong Bay from the balcony of our room.
Nevertheless, the day trip to Halong Bay from Hanoi city was an excellent choice. Thankfully with the new highway, the 170km distance is now covered in about 2, 5-3 hours. So 1st tip: Make sure that the tour you chose goes via the new highway.
Moreover let’s see what is that you should expect from a day trip to Halong Bay because nothing is worse than crushing down your high expectations.
These day-trip tours take place on a double-decker junk capable of transporting 45-50 passengers. So do expect to be around many tourists. Also you get to have specific stops 3 or 4 where you get to swim, kayak, or explore a gigantic cave. The rest of the trip will be with you on the boat.
While it’s nice to be independent and spontaneous, I do believe that Halong Bay is one of those places that cannot be experienced without booking some sort of organized tour. Read reviews, understand the proposed timetable of the trip and talk directly with the company through mail or WhatsApp to book your trip.
Last tip: Usually the lunch served is similar to all these tours, and it’s not particularly tasty or enough in quantity. So do bring additional snacks to have and not pay for the overpriced products sold on board. Also, most tour operators don’t allow bringing your own bottle of water on board to purchase from them, but no one will check your bag.
Da Nang Airport- Hoi An
Time to leave the highly-polluted capital behind and travel to Central Vietnam.
Book an early morning flight to Da Nang so that you get to have the rest of the day spent in the captivating city of Hoi An. We booked our flight directly through the Bamboo Airways website with 20kg of luggage for 50 € each. Departed at 8 am, arrived at 9.20 am and were picked up by the driver from the hotel. The distance between Da Nang and Hoi An is around 45 minutes. Better stay in Hoi An and maybe visit on a day trip Da Nang or before departing from the airport.
Hoi An is one of the most instagrammable cities you will find and this is confirmed by the thousands of Chinese and Japanese tourists posing at every corner. Hoi An is now considered a UNESCO World Heritage site and this is the way the Old City is kept away from all the bustling traffic, leaving it mainly for the pedestrians. What a relief not hearing all the horns and motorbikes after having been in Hanoi.
Hoi An was a prominent Vietnamese trading port between the 15th and 19th centuries and you can still admire the beautifully restored houses, shops and temples. Take a stroll just before sunset to pose in front of the Japanese- designed bridge and the wooden shophouses. Go straight to Hoi An Riverside to see yourself why this city is considered such a major romantic destination in Asia.
Hoi An for me was like Venice of Asia. You may not be serenaded by a man in a striped shirt standing on your boat but the scene near dusk with all the boats and the lanterns was truly magical. What was not magical though was all the pushing and bullying from the sellers, “Boat, madam”, “Ride, madam”. But let’s put it aside and keep in mind that if you want to do this boat ride, there are so many options and you need to haggle them down in price.
Do not forget to visit Hoi An’s Central Market for a glimpse of authentic Vietnamese life. The market is busy throughout the day with locals and visitors bargaining (yes, even for these) over fresh fruits, vegetables, spices, handicrafts and street snacks. A great place to sample some local dishes such as Cao Lau (Rice noodles with barbecued pork, greens and croutons) and White rose dumplings filled with pork or shrimp and Com ga (Chicken & rice).
Time to hit the beach. And what better way than to rent a bicycle and explore the area paddling.
Most hotels provide the bike free of charge. If yours does not, there are plenty of shops and street vendors to choose from (around 20,000- 40,000 vnd/per day). Tip: Just check the bike first; check the tires and the brakes.
Tip: Be prepared for a lot of traffic once you are outside the Old Quarter, a lot of honking. Don’t be scared and continue cycling with confidence.
With the final destination at An Bang Beach, make a detour at the rice fields just outside the Hoi An . Follow Le Thanh Tong Street until you find the fields on your left hand, and then paddle around.
At An Bang beach depending the season, prepare to be asked for money to park your bike, usually they ask for a small amount of 5,000-10,000 vnd. If you wish to avoid that go further east towards Hidden Beach Hoi An. Favorite beach bars at An Bang Beach are Salt pub & Restaurant and Sound of Silence Coffee Shop.
Night Market Hoi An
How are your bargaining skills?
Here you will certainly need them. Every night across the Ancient Town and the river, 50 stalls are set up selling souvenirs, food, lanterns, clothes, and bags. The night market starts around 5 pm and stays busy until 9 pm. If there is just one thing to buy from Hoi An and have back home reminiscing of the exotic trip you had, is a lantern. Even if you don’t buy a lantern you can still pose in front of them for the beautiful backdrop, usually with a small thank you in return (20,000 vnd) to the vendor.
Tip: Although there are many stalls selling food in the market, I do not consider it either the most authentic or the most freshly cooked. Better visit a restaurant or the Central Market instead.
Rise and shine with an early flight from Da Nang to Ho Chi Minh Airport. We flew with Vietravel Airlines with a 15kg suitcase for 34 € each. We had arranged and paid a taxi transfer from the airport via Viator for 21€ but unfortunately, the driver never showed up or answered the calls.
Tip: When booking a service through these applications, always send a message to the operator to confirm the booking and arrange the time and place.
In the end, it was in our best interest since we took a taxi from the airport for a fixed price which we bargained at 8 €.
With this tight program, you only get one day here in this busy city, which I really loved. Many will disagree with me, but I liked the youthful profile, the vibe, the always-busy and never-sleep city by the river with its high skyscrapers and the roof-top bars. For our introductory walk in the city, we chose yet another free walking tour with saigonhotpot.vn for walking tours with students. Certainly this tour I cannot recommend enough. We had two tour guides and they were excellent, both going the extra mile to help us and explain everything, making our plan totally flexible. You should definitely prefer them if looking for a city tour.
War Remnants Museum
So in total for Vietnam I have only two museums to propose which you should definitely visit and War Remnants Museum is the second one. The museum opens daily from 8 am to 11.45 am and from 1.30 pm to 4.45 pm with an entrance fee of 40,000 vnd.
Tip: Be psychologically prepared to witness gruesome photographs and war relics that may be overwhelming.
Outside is the authentic military hardware but the inside exhibition held on 3 floors is the one with the most impact. The documents and photos you will see inside are simply horrific, but real and necessary to acknowledge. You will learn about Agent Orange and the devastating effects it still has on the after-generations and sees first-hand the tiger cages where French and South Vietnamese tortured political prisoners.
A night out at a Rooftop Bar
Ho Chi Minh seems even more beautiful at the night with all the lights and the food stalls.
Locals and expats gather around Lam Son Square and then descend to the riverside. If you fancy something more upscale than just hanging around at a bench with an ice cream sandwich, why not reserve your table for one of the many rooftop bars. Probably you won’t have seen a more impressive collection of rooftop bars in the world. My personal favorite is the Social Club Rooftop at Hotel des Arts Saigon but be warned to reserve your spot in advance and also that you will pay for overpriced drinks.
Last day in Vietnam. You may wish to unwind a lit bit or explore some more of Ho Chi Minh. Totally understandable. We chose a day trip, actually the only one found on trip advisor, which combined Cu Chi Tunnels and Mekong Delta. Let’s break it down.
Cu Chi Tunnels
This is considered the most popular day trip from Ho Chi Minh. Cu Chi Tunnels are actually an immense network of tunnels dug by the villagers to keep them out of the range of American shelling. Truly immense as by 1965 this complex was almost 250km of tunnels crisscrossing Cu Chi and surrounding areas. Today tourists visit a short stretch of these tunnels, drop to their hands and knees and squeeze underground to get an insight into how the daily life of these fighters was. Pretty hard if you ask my claustrophobic self.
Located 70km from Ho Chi Minh, are easily reached within an hour trip. There are actually two sites open to the public, Ben Dinh which is the most popular and the one we visited and Ben Duoc.
The only cacophony was the on-site shooting ranges, which are open to visitors to buy bullets and shoot. Kind of promoting the wrong idea, when having witnessed all the gruesome a war causes.
Mekong River is one of the longest rivers that flows through six countries (China, Myanmar, Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, and Vietnam) before opening up to the Mekong Delta. Almost 65 million people live in the Lower Mekong River Basin and depend on the river for their livelihood. As a tourist, Mekong Delta is interwoven with Vietnam’s floating markets.
Floating markets in general have been the most convenient way for locals living around the Mekong delta to buy and sell groceries. They start early in the morning, the earlier the more authentic it gets and by 9 am locals have done their job and left only the tourists behind wandering around in their boats. The biggest market is Phung Hiep market and Cai Rang and Phong Dien are two other renowned markets in Mekong Delta.
Tip: IMPORTANT INFORMATION. To reach all these markets from Ho Chi Minh will take you 4-5 hours by car, which means that by the time you arrive most probably there won’t be any floating market. If you insist on visiting a floating market, the best is to stay overnight near the area and wake up early to embrace the authentic experience.
What we did as part of this day trip is visit only the northern part of Mekong Delta which was closer to Ho Chi Minh, about 1,5 hours. It was a rather touristy experience, with local singers, women paddling us around and waiting to be tipped, and visiting a local coconut candy factory. Probably something that in the aftermath I wouldn’t have done. I would have visited Cu Chi Tunnels and then returned to Ho Chi Minh which was a city that really surprised me and left me with the feeling to return in the future.
So this was my compact and proved to be an excellent plan for exploring Vietnam in a week. Wish we had more days to visit Sapa and of course my dream-to-come-true-one-day Son Doong Cave. I do believe that we took full advantage of the days given and I hope this will also be helpful for you.
See you soon!