Vietnamese cuisine is regarded as one of the world’s best, but few realize the variations that are found in the regional cuisines. Just like the country’s geographical divisions, the food can also be separated in to South, Central, and Northern style. As you travel up the coast on this twelve day tour, experience the best Vietnamese culture, history, beaches, and food, all the while staying in luxury hotels. With exclusive cooking courses and meals at top restaurants, this tour is sure to please the taste buds.
Prices start from £2,039 per person including flights and private transfers and guide based on two people travelling in low season – contact us for a personalised quote.
Day 1 Hanoi Arrival – Upon arrival you will be met and transferred to your hotel. The rest of your day is at leisure. Overnight in Hanoi.
Day 2 Hanoi -Start the day with a visit of the highly acclaimed Vietnam Women’s Museum. The museum offers an insight into the lives of Vietnamese women, highlighting the significant role Vietnamese women play in Vietnamese society. Then, explore the Temple of Literature, Vietnam’s first university established to educate Vietnam’s royalty and members of the elite. Eat for a good cause and have lunch at Koto Restaurant, close by the Temple of Literature. Continue to the nearby mausoleum of the historic figure and father of modern Vietnam, Ho Chi Minh (viewed from outside), and visit the former president’s house on stilts where he lived from 1958 to 1969. Visit the small but iconic One Pillar pagoda before heading back to your hotel. In the afternoon, take part in a hands-on cooking class in the heart of Hanoi’s Old Quarter. Visit a neighborhood ‘wet’ market to learn about Vietnamese ingredients before proceeding to the home of a true Hanoian who learned her culinary skills from her grandmother, a former chef who once served the French elite, in the 1930’s. After visiting a local market to buy the day’s ingredients, learn how to prepare and cook true northern Vietnamese cuisine before sitting down to enjoy a delectable meal. Overnight in Hanoi (B,L,D)
Day 3 Hanoi – Halong Bay -Following breakfast leave Hanoi for your drive to Halong Bay. Arrive at Halong City towards noon where you will board your boat. After your welcome onboard, a lunch will be served while cruising towards the bay itself. In the afternoon, enjoy some visits and/or activities (depending on each boat’s itinerary) or just spend some time relaxing on board. Towards the end of the day the boat sets anchor for the night among the karst formations. Dinner is served on board. Overnight onboard boat on Halong Bay (B,L,D)
Day 4 Halong Bay – Hanoi – Danang Enjoy sun rise from your location in the middle of the bay. Breakfast is served (brunch on some boats) while the vessel cruises slowly through the magnificent rock formations and back towards port. Disembark and transfer to Hanoi airport for your flight to Danang. Note: This tour may be subject to change depending on weather conditions. In Danang, have a short transfer to your hotel located in Hoi An. Overnight in Hoi An (B).
Day 5 Hoi An When you think Asia and food, rice is usually the first thing that comes to mind. This is not surprising as rice is a major staple in the diet of many Asian countries, especially in Vietnam. You may have seen rice growing in Asian paddy fields. However, it is likely you do not know the sequence of Vietnamese rice cultivation. It is still a secret unbeknownst to most western tourists. Start the day with a hotel pick up at 8:30 am. Begin your journey with a short bicycle ride through rice paddies to the countryside (a vehicle can be arranged for those preferring not to cycle). Arrive at a farm where you will be warmly welcomed with tea by a local family host. You will have the chance to visit their house. Your guide will explain the different steps of rice cultivation. Don traditional farming clothes and conical hats for sun protection. Then, start the fun part of the tour. Because learning is way better with practice, you will experience rides on a water buffalo and learn the how to plough, rake, carry water into the rice field, sow, pull up the rice seedlings, transplant rice, etc. Prepare yourself for a unique experience, and try not to fall into the mud! Afterwards, return to the house and learn how to make pancakes that you will be able to enjoy. Additionally, learn how to cook rice in the traditional way. Enjoy lunch with the host family before riding back to the hotel. Note: this tour is non private and operated on a join in basis. Free at leisure the rest of the afternoon. Overnight in Hoi An (B,L)
Day 6 Hoi An – Hue In the morning, discover Hoi An with a walking tour. Discover the charming, old-world trading port of narrow streets and traditional houses, former merchants’ homes, the town’s iconic 400-year old Japanese Covered Bridge and the colorful market where an array of fresh ingredients are on offer. In the afternoon, drive through Danang, over the Pass of Ocean Clouds and down to the photogenic fishing village of Lang Co before visiting the Cham Museum and onwards to Hue. Enjoy an exclusive private dinner at the lovely Tha Om garden house. A Hue “nha vuon” usually consists of a main and back entrance, and a small wall, rockwork and plants in the front yard and in the house itself. In the middle of the garden, a binh phong (brick wall) rises in front of the house, serving as a defense and protection of the altar in the main room of the house. The path leading around the wall from the entrance gate is lined with tea bushes or apricot trees. The typical house is made with a timber frame and roofed with brick tiles. The whole house stands on big pillars placed on a round or square stone base, which is sometimes decorated. The altar of the family’s ancestors occupies the central room. Overnight in Hue (B,D)
Day 7 Hue Formerly the capital of Vietnam, Hue has a strong royal heritage. Hue food is unique to Vietnam and Hue offers a variety of “Royal” restaurant cuisine. Get a hands-on experience with a cooking class and enjoy the taste of Hue’s local delicacies such as Hue pancakes. Learn how to prepare delicious Hue recipes in the beautiful, traditional Garden House of Y Thao. Set in a lush green garden near the Citadel, Y Thao is a charming ancient house filled with collectibles. You will prepare 4 or 5 courses ranging from traditional Vietnamese spring rolls to a delicious banana leaf salad. The cooking class takes approximately 2 hours. Finally, enjoy the delicious and beautiful dishes you just made. With this tour, gain a deeper knowledge and feeling of Ancient Hue. In the afternoon, enjoy a tour of this beautiful city. Start at the Imperial Citadel where the Nguyen Dynasty ruled between 1802 and 1945. From here take a cyclo through dai noi ‘Old City’ to Tinh Tam Lake where the Emperors used to come to relax. Then depart to the tomb of the former emperor Khai Dinh which is traditional Vietnamese in design with a European touch making it unique from the other tombs in Hue. Before heading back to your hotel take time to stroll around Dong Ba Market with your guide. The market is another of the must see sites in Hue, the stalls are teeming with color and a great place to catch a glimpse of everyday life. Overnight in Hue (B,L)
Day 8 Hue – Ho Chi Minh City After breakfast transfer to Hue Airport for the short flight to Ho Chi Minh City and transfer to hotel. In the afternoon, enjoy a tour of vibrant Ho Chi Minh City. Your program includes the Reunification Hall, the Old Saigon Post Office, Dong Khoi Street (formerly Rue Catinat), Continental Hotel, Opera House and City Hall. After this historical visit continue to the War Remnants Museum where exhibition halls display imagery of both the French and ‘American’ wars. Continue to the Jade Emperor Pagoda. Dating from 1909 and built by Cantonese Buddhists this quiet oasis was designed using feng shui principals showcasing ornate statues and effigies. After having experienced the frenzy of Saigon by day, discover the lively local streets by night. Join local people and enjoy an authentic Vietnamese evening. Start the tour at around 6:30 pm. The first stop is a public park where local people enjoy some dancing exercises. They gather here when the sun goes down to socialize and dance together. Then, after a short walk, try your first meal of the evening. “Banh xeo” is a large rice pancake filled with vegetables, shrimps and pork. Hidden in a small alley, this local street restaurant serves some of the best “banh xeo” of Saigon. The second stop is a street food place located near Tan Dinh Market: enjoy a delicious local soup, inspired by Chinese recipes. After another short walk, it is time for a tasty “com suon non nuong muoi ot”, a local dish from HCM with rice and pork ribs. The next stop is to indulge in a delicious dessert and a Vietnamese café. Finally, end the evening at a live music café, returning to your hotel around 10:30 pm. Note: Places are subject to change upon availability. Overnight in Ho Chi Minh City (B,D)
Day 9 Ho Chi Minh City Located in suburban Ho Chi Minh City away from the well trodden tourist path, this is not just a cooking class but a genuine insight into a Vietnamese kitchen. Start from your hotel for a local suburban Ho Chi Minh City market (whilst it’s still busy) with your host, to shop for ingredients, all at a leisurely pace. You’ll then head back to the house to start your cooking, where you’ll eventually devour the results for lunch! Your host is a great cook and more than happy to show you around their local market and share some of their favourite dishes. A selection of dishes can be made from a menu, rather than having a set cooking class menu see what tickles your fancy. After your lunch return to the centre of Ho Chi Minh City. Free at leisure the rest of the day to explore Ho Chi Minh City at your own pace. Enjoy a last blast of savors at Mandarin Restaurant, a beautiful, charming and traditional place. You may have the opportunity to meet the chef and have a cooking demonstration. Overnight in Ho Chi Minh City (B,L,D)
Day 10 Depart Ho Chi Minh City Your day is free until your transfer to the airport for your homebound flight