So you’re leaving Vietnam. Maybe you were a teacher, worked for an international company, or even just got stuck here during an unexpected global pandemic like me! Here’s a guide to planning just one more trip in easily one of the most scenically diverse and beautiful countries out there!
This isn’t your typical Vietnam itinerary. This one is for those of you who’ve set-up an apartment, made friends, joined your local community whether in Saigon, Hanoi, or somewhere in between. You’ve crossed over from Vietnam seeming like a foreign place to very much feeling like home. You’ve got your favorite coffee spots, restaurants you order from probably more often than you’d like to admit, and, hey, at this point you can probably even drive a motorbike and “trời ơi” like the best of them!
But all good things sometimes come to an end, and the Vietnam chapter of your life is coming to a close for now. If you’re like my friend, Alyshia, you’re leaving to go back and get your masters degree after three years of living in a little hẻm of Thao Dien.
It was around when we were saying goodbye to our friend, Leandre, and having a fun weekend in Mui Ne that Alyshia put in her two weeks notice. Once her last day was set in stone, we were on for a two-week trip of sun, beaches, drinks, and good food!
Based on this trip as well as the fact that I am currently planning my own leaving Vietnam trip, I thought I’d breakdown just how exactly to plan your own and lay out our itinerary if you want to copy!
6 Steps to Planning Your Leaving Vietnam Trip
Step 1: Figure out how long you have
I mean, this is the most obvious first choice! Figure out how long you have to plan your trip, and this will pretty much inform all your decisions afterwards. Keep in mind where you’re at with your visa, how much you can afford, what’s waiting for you in your next destination, and where in Vietnam you still want to go. I’m not sure how business visas work in Vietnam once you’ve quit your job, but I remember in Korea we had 30 days before we had to leave so any trips had to be shorter than that.
Step 2: Assess your budget, but don’t be afraid to splurge a little!
The next thing to do is to assess your budget. Realistically, if you’re saving up for a house or something big, then, no, spending way more than you’d normally spend on travel is not smart. However, if you have the extra cash, then I say don’t be afraid to splurge a little! Vietnam is home to some of the most gorgeous hotels in the world at all price points, so it’d be a shame to miss out on any of them.
Step 3: Pick out where out you truly want to go
One of the nice things about living here is how much time you have to get to know the country and added to your bucket list. For Alyshia’s trip we did: Con Dao, Hue, Hoi An, and Quy Nhon. When I first did my trip back in 2016, I’d only heard of one of those places.
Unlike planning trips when friends or family come to visit, this is the best time to really plan a trip you want to take. Don’t feel the need to do Hanoi for the tenth time? Don’t!
For Alyshia’s trip, her only specific pick was Con Dao and that she wanted time for the pool and the beach. We added Hue in because she and Le were supposed to go back over Tet but had to cancel because of COVID. Then because we had such a fun time collaborating with Anantara Mui Ne, we wanted to collaborate with Anantara again! This worked out perfectly with wanting to visit Hue because we were able to stay at their Hoi An property, Quy Nhon property, and ride the Vietage, a luxury train that runs between the two!
Step 4: Book some truly fun hotels!
Once you’ve got your places picked, it’s time to look for accommodation! Budget, midrange, and luxury — like I said Vietnam has a ton of fun properties. Even our hostel in Hue was super cute and decorated to look like something out of a Greek island.
If your leaving Vietnam trip includes Mui Ne, Quy Nhon, or Hoi An, I cannot recommend the Anantara properties enough! The staff at all three locations are lovely and the properties are beautiful. I wrote about them all more in-depth in their own posts, so just click the names to read more!
Step 5: Plan your itinerary
You’ve got your places and you’ve got your hotels — now it’s time for the itinerary details! Like where are you eating, where you visiting, just how long do you plan on sunbathing every afternoon? The big thing for me is planning where and what to eat before you go. The thing about Vietnamese food, especially anything that isn’t phở, is that it’s really hard to find it outside of Vietnam. Like I really don’t expect to find really good banh khoai anywhere else in the world, so if I’m going to Hue, I’m getting my fill!
Step 6: Head off!
Get your tickets and head off for an epic trip! Double check there’s nothing you need to do at your apartment before going, and try to do some packing so you’re not trying to do this after coming back from your travels!
A Look at Our Itinerary
Now I’m putting this order of how we should’ve done our itinerary! We actually didn’t realize there wasn’t a flight from Quy Nhon – Hue, so instead of having 2 days there, we had a day of transfer! If you follow this route instead, it’ll go much more smoothly.
3 Days in Con Dao
First up – Con Dao! I wrote all about our Con Dao adventures here if you want a more in-depth guide. We spent a few days beach hopping, motorbiking, learning about the island’s history, and eating all the delicious seafood. Here we mix and matched – staying at Hotel de Condor and then switching to Poulo Condor where we just wanted to relax their private beach and pool.
2-3 Days in Hue
Next stop – Hue! Now, we actually had a pit stop back in Saigon to repack and leave behind one or two still damp swimsuits. We then flew the next day!
You can’t fly directly from Con Dao to Hue, but you can fly into Da Nang and transfer from there or do a motorbike tour of Hai Van Pass. It’s a little over 2 hours by car, and this is the transfer service we used. They can even stop off some places if you want a quick bit of sightseeing in Da Nang.
3 Days in Hoi An
In Hoi An, we started our project with Anantara, so we stayed with them the full three days. They actually have a really good location for sightseeing as they’re within walking distance of all the major spots in Ancient Town but still feels tucked away and quiet.
For my complete list of things to do in Hoi An, check this post. This is the spot to be if you want to get anything tailor made, so before you do anything head to the tailor so they have plenty of time to work on your clothes. We went to Izi, which is a lovely shop and only 10 minutes on foot from Anantara.
Travel on the Vietage
The other big thing we were both really excited to try is ride the Vietage, which is Vietnam’s first luxury train! Anantara can arrange a transfer from their Hoi An property to Da Nang train station, and from there you’ll ride the Vietage for six hours down to Quy Nhon. Keep in mind, it only runs twice a day. Da Nang – Quy Nhon is during the day and Quy Nhon – Da Nang is during the evening. I personally would prefer going during the day so you can fully enjoy the scenery and really enjoy all the amenities the Vietage has to offer!
3 Days in Quy Nhon
The perfect place to end such an epic trip – Anantara Quy Nhon. It’s about an hour from the train station and further south from the main parts of Quy Nhon that you’d want to sightsee. I’d say pick a day to do some sightseeing but then just relax on the property and enjoy all the delicious food and the private pool!
And there you have it! Tips for planning your own epic leaving Vietnam trip and our itinerary to copy doe yourself. When I manage to do my own leaving Vietnam trip, I’ll be sure to share. Let me know below if you have any questions or your own tips tips!
Thanks again to Anantara for collaborating with us!
for more places in vietnam
There are so many incredible places to visit in Vietnam and I’m sure the longer you’re here the more you’ll wind up adding to your list! My first trip took me to District 1 in HCMC, a Mekong Delta day trip, Hoi An, the Marble Mountains in Da Nang, Halong Bay, and Hanoi.
Now that I’ve been here for over a year, I’ve been to: Sapa, Mu Cang Chai, Phong Nha, Vinh Long, many places around HCMC including District 5 and Cho Lon and the (in)famous Little Japan, Can Tho, Da Lat, Mui Ne and Phan Thiet, Yok Don National Park, and more!
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