Guide To 1 Week in Vietnam 

As the post-pandemic era settles in and global travel becomes normalized once again, airfare deals to southeast Asian countries are increasingly competitive.  I subscribe to Going (you may have known it as Scott's Cheap Flights), and in January 2023 a round trip to Ho Chi Minh City for $600 landed in my inbox.  I picked it up made a foodie focused trip at the end of March 2023!

One week is a very short duration to visit Vietnam, especially since the total round-trip fight time from the US to Vietnam is likely around 30 hours alone.  That said, I did it anyway :) I chose to visit Ho Chi Minh City (formerly Saigon), Hoi An, and Hanoi.  This covers a bit in the south, central, and northern regions. Keep reading for a summary of the trip and ideas if you're making your own itinerary, and if you'd like to reference our Google Maps list for things to see/do/eat please do!

My Google Maps list: 

Visa required:  Yes


Must Have Mobile Apps

First thing's first, install apps before you go!  Most of the apps used in the US work in Vietnam as well.  It seemed like the the local community (at least in the cities we visited) were very comfortable using translators, whether that was via text or voice. 

Google Translate

Download for Apple -- From the App Store 

Download for Android --

I recommend having Google Translate readily available.  Whether it's in transit, at local lodgings, or restaurants, be ready to use a translator at a moments notice.  Three features I used the most with Google Translate were

Google Translate does use the internet to function.  Download the Vietnamese language pack for occasions where there is little to no wifi or data coverage, so you don't find yourself in a bind trying to communicate in the countryside.

This feature makes communicating incredibly easy.  Allow the app to use your mic (while using the app), tap the mic when you're ready to converse, and it picks up the spoken language and automatically translates to the appropriate language.

Screenshot of the Google Translate conversation feature for reference

This feature is handy, because as we traveled there were several instances where I needed to recall a phrase I translated previously.  Instead of having to remember what terms I used excactly (this can sometimes be tough, because although the Vietnamese language is romanized there are many accents which change word meanings), I could just look at my history.

Screenshot illustrating where to find the History feature within the Google Translate app


Download for Apple -- From the App Store 

Download for Android --

Grab is the mobile app for ordering a driver to pick you up and go to whatever destination is next on your schedule.  There is no Uber, so this is one that you'll need to install ahead of time if you are accustomed to using rideshare apps.  Before you travel I would also recommend creating a Grab account, logging in, and adding a card.  The map features will only work once you arrive in southeast Asia (whether that is Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam etc.), but you can still configure some aspects before begin your trip. 

A notable surprise I encountered while using Grab was that for rides to and from airports, you'll incur a fee.  Not a big deal if you are ordering in the mobile app since you may receive a message regarding an Airport Fee which will be automatically charged to you card, however if you are using a cash ride expect to include the cost in your fare.  We paid our driver for the fee in cash on one ride before I thought to look into this, so hopefully you can avoid making that mistake!


Download for Apple -- From the App Store 

Download for Android --

Although I would not recommend using Airbnb to book lodging in Vietnam, the experiences feature is great!  We booked a food tour which was well worth the money, so I did want to highlight this is it is available and is a familiar interface for many travelers. 

Flights & Hotels

Tips and tricks for booking flights and hotels on your own.


When booking hotels in Asia in general, I recommend using Agoda.  Very important:  USE A CREDIT CARD TO BOOK (like most travel related purchases), so you can insure your purchase.  Although their cancellation policy is non-refundable, if something goes wrong you can still process a claim with your credit card company to pursue a refund.

Some perks include:

We stayed at three boutique hotels on this trip.




Vietnamese Airlines

While we booked our flight solely on the United website, we still flew on Vietnamese airlines domestically.  If you have any issues in Asia, you will need to work with the domestic airlines.  We flew with Vietnam Airlines, VietJet, and Bamboo.  

These can be booked through Agoda as well, but since we typically use Google flights we did that for this trip too.  I like to create a search and create a notification, so I can track prices.  When the price is right for the route, make the purchase!  The routes I searched were:

One nice aspect about the airlines we flew was that we were able to modify our tickets as our itinerary changed.  So, if something happens don't fret!  You can just modify your ticket (taxes may result in a fee).  Still as a general rule of thumb, use a credit card to insure your purchase.


We focused on our favorites, but to be honestly the Vietnamese food we eat regularly in southern California gave them a run for their money.  Big heads-up here, I found it tough to find reliable recommendations online, more than once we went somewhere listed on Google only to find nothing at that address or the hours were listed incorrectly.  


Bánh mì

Bánh canh



We had Pho in Saigon, Hoi An, and Ha Noi since we're big Pho lovers.  Therefore, we were curious what the subtle differences might be in the different regions of the country.  Our #1 favorite did end up being a chain which we tried in the south aptly named Pho Viet Nam.  We also tried Pho Phu Vuong (Saigon), (Hoi An), and Pho 10 Ly Quoc Su (Hanoi).

Pho Viet Nam (location we visited):

Bánh mì 

Another favorite of ours which we set out on a mission to find the best one.  Our favorite was at Phi Bánh Mì in Hoi An.  Others we tried were from a corner street vendor (SGN), a cafe near our hotel called The Coffee House (SGN), Bánh Mì Phượng (Hoi An), and Madam Khanh (Hoi An).

Phi Bánh Mì:

Banh Canh

Hands down, this is my favorite Vietnamese dish.  We tried just two places, but I loved the bowl I had in Saigon at Bánh Canh Cua Dì Năm.  This is a popular breakfast noodle soup.  We stopped by a small shop in Hoi An and then again in Saigon.

Bánh Canh Cua Dì Năm:


Last but not least, eating snails was high on my list of things to do.  Let it be known, they did not disappoint.  As I didn't feel comfortable ordering them myself, we had them on our food tour at Quán Ốc Loan.  Don't waste your time ordering anything else here, stick to the shell fish!  Be aware that the place gets busy if you go on your own.

Quán Ốc Loan:

Good luck, have fun, and I hope this was helpful! 😊