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Exploring the Wonders of SE Asia: An Unforgettable Journey through South East Asia

Posted By: John Lewisohn / Vietnam Travel Guides
"SE Asia Trip" refers to a journey to the captivating region of Southeast Asia, encompassing countries like Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia, Malaysia, and more. It offers an opportunity to explore diverse cultures, ancient temples, stunning beaches, vibrant markets, and delicious cuisine.

Before you embark on a Southeast Asia trip, planning a well-crafted 2-week Southeast Asia itinerary is crucial for a successful journey. Discover some detailed recommendations below to make the most of your time, fully embracing the wonders of each destination.

Embarking on a trip to Southeast Asia can be an exciting and enriching experience. With its rich culture, stunning landscapes, and vibrant cities, this region offers a wide range of attractions and activities for travelers to enjoy. However, with so many incredible destinations to choose from, it's important to plan your itinerary carefully to ensure you make the most of your time. Here are some detailed recommendations to help you craft a well-rounded 2-week Southeast Asia itinerary.

The Huc Bridge in Hoan kiem Lake, Hanoi

The Huc Bridge in Hoan kiem Lake, Hanoi - (Source: Collected)

Explore Southeast Asia

When planning your Southeast Asia itinerary, it's important to consider the region as a whole and allocate enough time to explore its diverse countries and cultures. Whether you choose to start in Vietnam or Thailand, or even venture into countries like Cambodia or Laos, there are plenty of options available to suit your interests and preferences.

Top Sights

As you embark on your Southeast Asia journey, be sure to include some of the top sights and attractions in your itinerary to fully immerse yourself in the beauty and culture of the region. In Vietnam, Hanoi stands out as a must-visit destination with its fascinating history, bustling streets, and delicious cuisine.

Hanoi Top Attractions

Hanoi, the capital city of Vietnam, is a vibrant and captivating destination with a wealth of attractions to explore. When visiting Hanoi, be sure to include the following top attractions in your itinerary:

  • Hoan Kiem Lake: This picturesque lake is located at the heart of Hanoi and is a popular gathering spot for locals and tourists alike. Take a leisurely stroll around the lake, visit the Ngoc Son Temple, and soak in the tranquil atmosphere.
  • Hoa Lo Prison: Also known as the "Hanoi Hilton," this historic prison offers a glimpse into Vietnam's tumultuous past. Explore the museum and learn about the imprisonment of political prisoners during the French colonial era and the Vietnam War.
  • The Old Quarter: Wander through the narrow streets of Hanoi's Old Quarter and immerse yourself in its bustling markets, street food stalls, and ancient temples. This is the perfect place to experience the local culture and sample authentic Vietnamese cuisine.
  • Temple of Literature: Discover Vietnam's rich intellectual history at the Temple of Literature, the country's first national university. Admire the well-preserved architecture and stroll through the peaceful courtyards.
  • Hoa Lo Prison: Also known as the "Hanoi Hilton," this historic prison offers a glimpse into Vietnam's tumultuous past. Explore the museum and learn about the imprisonment of political prisoners during the French colonial era and the Vietnam War.

Hanoi Tourism

Hanoi attracts tourists from all over the world with its unique blend of history, culture, and charm. The city offers a wide range of experiences for travelers, from exploring ancient temples and bustling markets to indulging in delicious street food and enjoying traditional water puppet shows. Whether you're interested in history, food, or simply immersing yourself in a vibrant city, Hanoi has something for everyone.

Hanoi Old Quarter

Hanoi Old Quarter - (Source: Collected)

Best Vietnam

As you plan your 2-week Southeast Asia itinerary, allocating enough time to explore Vietnam is highly recommended. Apart from Hanoi, there are several other destinations in Vietnam that should be included in your itinerary to truly experience the best that the country has to offer. Some of the best Vietnam attractions and destinations to consider are:

  • Hoi An: This ancient town is known for its well-preserved architecture, lantern-lit streets, and beautiful riverside setting. Explore the charming old town, visit the Japanese Covered Bridge, and take a boat ride along the river.
  • Ha Long Bay: A UNESCO World Heritage site, Ha Long Bay is famous for its emerald waters, limestone karsts, and picturesque islands. Take a cruise through the bay, explore the hidden caves, and enjoy the breathtaking scenery.
  • Sapa: Nestled in the mountains of northern Vietnam, Sapa offers stunning trekking opportunities and the chance to interact with ethnic minority groups. Discover the terraced rice fields, visit local villages, and immerse yourself in the natural beauty of the region.
  • Hue: Known for its imperial history, Hue is home to ancient palaces, temples, and tombs. Explore the Imperial City, visit the Thien Mu Pagoda, and take a boat ride along the Perfume River.


In addition to the top sights and attractions, incorporating local events and festivals into your itinerary can add a special touch to your Southeast Asia trip. Depending on the time of year you visit, you may have the opportunity to witness and participate in unique cultural celebrations.

Top Destinations for Relaxation

While Southeast Asia is known for its vibrant cities and bustling streets, it also offers plenty of options for those seeking relaxation and tranquility. Consider including some of the following destinations in your itinerary to unwind and rejuvenate:

  • Phuket, Thailand: With its stunning beaches, luxury resorts, and vibrant nightlife, Phuket is a popular destination for relaxation. Indulge in spa treatments, enjoy water sports, or simply soak up the sun on the pristine beaches.
  • Bali, Indonesia: Known for its lush landscapes, spiritual retreats, and yoga studios, Bali is a haven for relaxation. Experience traditional Balinese massages, practice meditation in serene settings, and explore the island's beautiful temples and rice terraces.
  • Luang Prabang, Laos: This UNESCO World Heritage city offers a peaceful atmosphere and a range of wellness experiences. Take part in morning alms-giving to monks, visit Buddhist temples, and enjoy traditional Lao massages.

In conclusion, planning a well-crafted 2-week Southeast Asia itinerary is key to a successful and fulfilling trip. By exploring the diverse countries and cultures of the region, visiting top sights and attractions, incorporating local events and festivals, and adding some relaxation destinations to your itinerary, you can make the most of your time and fully embrace the wonders of Southeast Asia.

Boost your well-being

vietnam tourism offers a wide range of experiences that can boost your well-being and leave you feeling refreshed and rejuvenated. From serene landscapes to vibrant cities, Vietnam has something for everyone looking to unwind and relax.

Explore the beauty of Hanoi

Hanoi, the capital city of Vietnam, is known for its rich history and charming architecture. The city is a blend of old-world charm and modern amenities that create a unique and inviting atmosphere.

Visit Hanoi's top attractions

Hanoi boasts a variety of top attractions that should be on every traveler's bucket list. One of the most iconic landmarks is the Hoan Kiem Lake, which offers a peaceful retreat in the heart of the city. The lake is surrounded by beautiful gardens and ancient temples, creating a serene and tranquil atmosphere.

For history enthusiasts, a visit to the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum is a must. The mausoleum is the final resting place of the revered leader and offers a glimpse into Vietnam's history. The nearby One Pillar Pagoda and Temple of Literature are also worth exploring for their architectural beauty and cultural significance.

To truly immerse yourself in the local culture, take a stroll through Hanoi's Old Quarter. Here, you'll find narrow winding streets filled with shops, markets, and street food stalls. It's the perfect place to get a taste of authentic Vietnamese cuisine and shop for unique souvenirs.

A Warm Escape

Hoi An Ancient Town

Hoi An Ancient Town - (Source: Collected)

If you're seeking a warm escape, Vietnam tourism has plenty to offer. With its tropical climate and stunning beaches, Vietnam is paradise for beach lovers.

Discover the beauty of Halong Bay

Halong Bay is often hailed as one of the most beautiful natural wonders of the world. This UNESCO World Heritage Site is home to towering limestone islands, emerald waters, and hidden caves waiting to be explored. A cruise through Halong Bay offers the perfect opportunity to relax and soak in the breathtaking scenery.

Relax on the beaches of Nha Trang

Nha Trang is a coastal city known for its long stretches of pristine white sand beaches and crystal-clear waters. Whether you're looking to lounge by the beach, snorkel in the coral reefs, or indulge in water sports, Nha Trang has it all. The city also offers a vibrant nightlife scene, with bars and clubs that cater to every taste.

Dining in Vietnam

Vietnamese cuisine is renowned for its fresh ingredients, bold flavors, and diverse regional specialties. Hanoi, in particular, offers a myriad of culinary delights that will satisfy even the most discerning food lover.

Taste the flavors of Hanoi

When in Hanoi, don't miss the opportunity to try the iconic dish of pho. This fragrant soup is made with beef or chicken, rice noodles, and an array of herbs and spices. It's a staple of Vietnamese cuisine and a must-try when visiting Hanoi.

Another popular dish is bun cha, which consists of grilled pork served with rice noodles, herbs, and a flavorful dipping sauce. It's a delicious and satisfying meal that showcases the unique flavors of Vietnamese cuisine.

Experience the street food scene

Hanoi is famous for its vibrant street food scene. Venture into the bustling streets and you'll find an array of food stalls selling everything from banh mi (Vietnamese baguette sandwiches) to bun bo nam bo (beef noodle salad). Eating street food in Hanoi is not only a culinary experience but also a cultural one, as you'll get to mingle with the locals and immerse yourself in the vibrant atmosphere.


Whether you're a nature lover, history enthusiast, or simply seeking a warm escape, Vietnam has something for every traveler.

Adventure in Sapa

If you're an outdoor enthusiast, head to Sapa in northwestern Vietnam. This mountainous region is known for its stunning terraced rice fields and ethnic minority communities. Trekking through Sapa's picturesque landscapes is an experience unlike any other.

History in Hue

Hue, located along the Perfume River, is a city steeped in history. It was once the imperial capital of Vietnam and is home to the UNESCO World Heritage-listed Complex of Hue Monuments. Explore ancient temples, royal tombs, and the iconic Imperial Citadel to delve into Vietnam's fascinating past.


South East Asia Travel Map

South East Asia Travel Map - (Source: Collected)

Vietnam tourism is brimming with attractions that will captivate and enchant visitors from around the world.

Marvel at the beauty of the Mekong Delta

The Mekong Delta, known as the "rice bowl" of Vietnam, is a vast network of rivers, canals, and lush green rice fields. Take a boat ride through the delta and witness the daily life of locals living along the waterways. The region is also known for its floating markets, where vendors sell fresh produce and local delicacies.

Uncover the history of the Cu Chi Tunnels

The Cu Chi Tunnels, located outside of Ho Chi Minh City, offer a glimpse into the underground network used by the Viet Cong during the Vietnam War. Explore the narrow tunnels, learn about the guerrilla warfare tactics, and gain a deeper understanding of Vietnam's tumultuous past.

With its stunning landscapes, rich history, and vibrant culture, Vietnam has become one of the best destinations for travelers seeking a truly unique and enriching experience. From the bustling streets of Hanoi to the tranquil beauty of Halong Bay, there's no shortage of attractions to explore and discover. So pack your bags, immerse yourself in the beauty of Vietnam, and create memories that will last a lifetime.

1. Choose Where to Go

When planning a trip to Southeast Asia, it can be overwhelming to decide where to go, as there are so many incredible destinations to choose from. However, one of the standout countries in the region for tourism is Vietnam. With its vibrant culture, stunning landscapes, and friendly locals, Vietnam offers something for every type of traveler.

Exploring Hanoi

Hanoi, the capital city of Vietnam, is a must-visit destination for any traveler. Known for its rich history and bustling streets, Hanoi offers a blend of old-world charm and modern attractions. Exploring the city's top attractions is a great way to immerse yourself in Vietnamese culture.

Recommended Attractions in Hanoi

When visiting Hanoi, there are several top attractions that should not be missed. The Old Quarter is a maze of narrow streets filled with shops, street food stalls, and historic buildings. The Hoan Kiem Lake, located in the heart of the city, offers a peaceful escape from the hustle and bustle. The Temple of Literature is a well-preserved example of traditional Vietnamese architecture and is dedicated to Confucius. Lastly, the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum is a solemn and significant site where visitors can pay their respects to the country's beloved leader.

2. Decide How Many Days to Stay

The duration of your stay in Vietnam depends on various factors, such as your interests, budget, and schedule. However, to fully explore all that Hanoi and its surrounding areas have to offer, a minimum of three to four days is recommended.

Exploring Hanoi

Hanoi itself has enough attractions to keep you occupied for a few days. From visiting historical sites like the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum and the Temple of Literature to indulging in local cuisine at the bustling street markets, Hanoi offers a diverse range of experiences.

Excursions from Hanoi

If you have more time, consider taking day trips from Hanoi to explore the beautiful countryside. Some popular excursions include visiting the UNESCO World Heritage site of Ha Long Bay, exploring the ancient town of Hoa Lu and the stunning Trang An Scenic Landscape Complex, or immersing yourself in the hill tribe cultures of Sapa.

3. Consider the Best Times to Travel

When planning a trip to Hanoi, it's essential to take the weather and seasons into account. Vietnam experiences a tropical climate, with distinct wet and dry seasons.

Dry Season (October to April)

The dry season, particularly from October to April, is considered the best time to visit Hanoi. During this time, the weather is cooler and less humid, making it more comfortable for exploring the city and its attractions. It's worth noting that December and January can be cooler, so be sure to pack some warm clothing.

Wet Season (May to September)

The wet season in Hanoi lasts from May to September, with heavy rainfall and occasional typhoons. While the rain can make some activities less enjoyable, it also brings out the lush green landscapes and offers a unique perspective of the city. If you don't mind the rain and prefer to avoid the crowds, visiting during the wet season can be a more immersive experience.

4. Plan Your Budget

Ho Chi Minh (Saigon) City

Ho Chi Minh (Saigon) City - (Source: Collected)

Before embarking on your trip to Hanoi, it's essential to plan your budget to ensure a smooth and enjoyable experience.


Hanoi offers a range of accommodation options to suit different budgets. From luxurious hotels to budget-friendly hostels and guesthouses, there are plenty of choices available. It's recommended to book accommodation in advance, particularly during peak travel seasons, to secure the best rates.

Food and Drinks

One of the highlights of visiting Hanoi is indulging in the local cuisine. From street food stalls to upscale restaurants, there are options for every budget. Trying traditional dishes like pho (noodle soup), banh mi (Vietnamese sandwich), and bia hoi (fresh beer) is a must-do experience.

Transportation and Activities

When it comes to transportation within Hanoi, taxis, motorbike taxis, and public buses are readily available and affordable. To visit attractions outside the city, consider hiring a private car or joining a guided tour. Entrance fees to attractions are generally low, but it's a good idea to budget extra for any specific activities or experiences you want to enjoy.

5. Transportation to/within Southeast Asia

Getting to Southeast Asia, including Vietnam, is relatively easy with several international airlines offering direct flights to major cities like Hanoi. However, it's worth comparing prices and flight durations to find the best option for your journey.

Getting Around Hanoi

Once you arrive in Hanoi, getting around the city is convenient and affordable. Taxis are readily available, but it's essential to choose reputable companies to avoid scams. Motorbike taxis, known as "xe om," are another popular and cost-effective mode of transportation in Hanoi, particularly for short distances.

Exploring Vietnam's Highlights

If you're planning to explore other parts of Vietnam, there are several transportation options available. Domestic flights are a quick and efficient way to travel between major cities. Sleeper buses and trains are popular choices for longer journeys, allowing you to save on accommodation costs while traveling overnight.

In conclusion, planning a trip to Hanoi and exploring the best of Vietnam requires careful consideration of various factors such as choosing the right destinations, deciding on the duration of your stay, considering the weather conditions, budgeting your expenses, and determining the most suitable transportation options. By taking these factors into account, you can ensure a memorable and enriching experience in one of the top destinations in Southeast Asia.


After exploring the captivating beauty and rich culture of Southeast Asia, it is evident that a trip to this region is a remarkable experience. Throughout my South East Asia trip, I had the opportunity to visit incredible destinations, including Hanoi, one of the top attractions in Vietnam. The vibrant city of Hanoi offers a blend of history, modernity, and traditional charm, making it a must-visit destination for any traveler.

During my time in Hanoi, I immersed myself in the local culture by exploring its bustling streets, ancient temples, and mouthwatering street food. The Hanoi Old Quarter, with its narrow streets filled with shops and markets, was a delight to wander through. The Temple of Literature, Vietnam's first national university, showcased the country's rich history and architectural beauty.

Aside from its cultural and historical significance, Hanoi also offers a range of tourist attractions and activities. From witnessing the serene beauty of Hoan Kiem Lake to indulging in a traditional water puppet show, there was never a dull moment in this thriving city. The Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum and the bustling Dong Xuan Market were other notable sites that added to the allure of Hanoi.

As part of my South East Asian tour, Hanoi served as a gateway to the rest of Vietnam, allowing me to explore the mesmerizing landscapes of Ha Long Bay and the charming city of Hoi An, among other destinations. The world-famous limestone pillars of Ha Long Bay and the ancient streets of Hoi An showcased the natural and cultural diversity of this captivating country.

Overall, my trip to South East Asia, with Hanoi being one of its highlights, was a truly unforgettable adventure. From the friendly locals to the delicious cuisine and breathtaking sights, this region has left a lasting impression. Whether you are an adventure seeker or a history enthusiast, a trip to Southeast Asia will undoubtedly surpass your expectations. Don't miss out on exploring the best Vietnam has to offer and embark on an unforgettable journey through this enchanting part of the world.

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