Take a gastronomic adventure through Vietnam. Spend ten days immersed in the country’s culinary scene, sampling everything from tasty street food to gourmet fusion dishes. Learn the secrets behind these mouth-watering morsels with visits to fresh markets and hands-on cooking classes.
Flavors of Vietnam – 11 Days / 10 Nights
Noi Bai Airport to your chosen hotel in Hanoi (35 km): 60mins
Arrive in Hanoi and be welcomed by the guide and transfer to the hotel. Spend the rest of the day at leisure.
Overnight in Hanoi.
Start this day with a visit of the highly acclaimed Vietnam Women’s Museum. The museum is located near Hoan Kiem Lake and offers wonderful insight into the lives of Vietnamese women. Displays highlight Vietnam’s vast cultural diversity and educate on the significant role Vietnamese women play in Vietnamese society. Learn historic and modern-day traditions centered around births, weddings, motherhood, spirituality and more.
Then, explore the Temple of Literature. In 1076 Quoc Tu Giam - Vietnam's first university also referred to as Van Mieu, was established within a temple to educate Vietnam's royalty, mandarins and members of the elite. The university functioned for an incredible 700 years and its gardens and well-preserved architecture offer a fascinating glimpse into Vietnam’s past.
Eat for a good cause and have lunch at Koto Restaurant, close by the Temple of Literature.
Spend the afternoon at leisure and choose to explore the Old Quarter independently.
This evening’s experience will begin at 18:00. Drive through the bustling rush hour streets and escape into the narrow and quiet lanes. With the expertise of the guide, discover a hidden staircase that leads to an apartment block built after the liberation. Be welcomed into the home of a friendly local family with 3 generations living under the same roof. Sip on a cup of tea while listening to the host’s interesting life stories, from being the helper of a herbal medicine practitioner from a very young age to become a soldier specializing in military Morse code during the Vietnam War. Learn how information was passed around by his unit and take this chance to ask all the questions about life in war-time Vietnam.
Stories continue around the table over a traditional dinner prepared by his wife and daughter. After the meal, enjoy green tea to relax and chat more. Family members who return home after a hard-working day offer a great opening to find out about the family’s life today. Say the goodbyes and transfer back to the hotel. (D)
Notes: Specialty Vietnamese dishes will be cooked by the family, however vegetarian/non seafood requests will need to be given in advance.
Overnight in Hanoi.
Hanoi to Halong Bay (160km): 2.5 hrs
Following breakfast leave Hanoi for a 2.5 hrs drive to Halong Bay including a 20-minutes stop on the way. Arrive at the jetty in Halong City towards noon and proceed with check-in formalities. After a welcome onboard, 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 on Halong Bay.
Halong Bay to Noi Bai Airport (150km): 3hrs30mins
Enjoy a fresh morning in the middle of the bay, the sun rises on Halong in the morning and breakfast is served (brunch on some boats) while the vessels cruises slowly through the magnificent rock formations and back towards port. Disembark and transfer to Hanoi airport for the flight to Danang.
Note: This tour may be subject to change depending on weather conditions.
In Danang, take a short transfer to the hotel located in Hoi An.
Overnight in Hoi An.
Where to have dinner in Hoi An:
Situated in an elegant traditional style building in the heart of Hoi An’s old town, Morning Glory offers ‘Street Food’ on the ground floor of the restaurant featuring Hoi An specialty foods. The upstairs balcony is perfect as the views are excellent over the street.
Secret garden is on one of the best addresses in Hoi An for traditional Vietnamese food. The location is in the middle of the old town down a hidden alley. Both the atmosphere and cuisine come highly recommended.
Located in the centre of Hoi An’s old town Mango Rooms serves original and creative cuisine that can only be described as Vietnam-Latin American-Japanese fusion. With a combination of refreshing flavours, beautiful presentations and a relaxing atmosphere Mango Rooms has one the heart of many loyal and happy customers.
More experimental than its sister restaurant Mango Rooms and with stunning views over the Thu Bon River and the Japanese Bridge, the food at Mango Mango is exquisite and the fruit cocktails are to die for. Perfect for a pre dinner aperitif whilst watching the sun set over the Japanese Bridge.
Located near the Japanese Bridge and in a quiet street, Mai Fish offers simple but delicious Southern and Central Vietnam food. This is the 3rd restaurant of Chef Duc with Mango Mango and Mango Rooms.
Rice is a major staple in the diet of many Asian countries, especially in Vietnam. Today, go on a discovery pf Vietnamese rice cultivation that is unbeknownst to most western tourists.
Start the day with a hotel pick up at 08:30. Begin the 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 and be warmly welcomed with tea by a local host. Take the chance to visit a typical local’s house while the guide explains the different steps of rice cultivation. Have 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 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. 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.
Today, leave the hotel at 08:15 for a short ride to the organic farm.
Located about 3km from the Old Town centre, this quietly tucked away farm was established by an expert in nutrition and team based out of the love of food and local cuisine. Be greeted by the passionate team at the farm and start the experience today.
Just like the varied landscape of Vietnam, the cuisine contains a brilliant balance of aromatics, heat, sweetness, sourness, and umami flavour from the use of fish-sauce. The cuisine is all about the balance between yin and yang; the sweet and salty, the cool and the warmth, the fresh and fermented. Follow the expert in nutrition and explore the farm while listening to inspiring stories about how to use food and vegetables for healthy living. Pick-up some ingredients before heading to the lovely kitchen to make dishes.
There will be five dishes to learn to make, have a chance to get hands-on on making rice flour with the old stone grinder, rice paper with copper vessels and invent a personal organic juice recipe. Once ready, sit down and feast on a delicious meal of authentic local cuisine.
After filling up on these home-cooked delights, return to Hoi An for the afternoon (L)
Hoi An to Hue (150km): 3hrs
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.
Drive through Danang and visit the Cham Museum, which contains the finest collection of Cham sculptures in the world before crossing Hai Van tunnel and dropping down to the wonderfully photogenic fishing village of Lang Co.
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.
Today, leave the hotel at 08:30. Bamboo is engraved in Vietnamese culture and daily life, providing protection and representing resiliency. In the countryside, bamboo is used for everything- from daily used items to musical instruments to ornaments.
Drive 20-min north of the Citadel to visit a lesser-known village Bao La where locals still keep the traditional craft of bamboo that has been passed down generations. For those who seek to understand the heart of the Vietnamese communities, Bao La Village is a good example. Regarded for their basketry weaving, the people of Bao La understand this craft well. Under the harmonious leadership of the forefather of the village, each hamlet of the village specializes in one kind of basket weaving to prevent unnecessary strife and competition, and to encourage a cooperative spirit throughout. Listen to their stories about how to adapt the traditions to modern life.
Then head to a workshop in the city and meet with an artisan who has integrated bamboo with traditional handicrafts to create revolution new art in Vietnam, that’s called Truc Chi art. Truc means bamboo and Chi means paper. Learn how the artisans use Truc Chi to create handicraft items with the cultural characteristics of Hue and get hands on creating a handicraft under their guidance.
Be transferred back to the hotel at 12:00.
Spend the evening on a culinary adventure on the back of a vintage Vespa. The old imperial capital of Hue is popular not only for its attractive historical monuments of the Nguyen Dynasty but also for its richness in culture and cuisine. There’s no better way to explore the night life of Hue and its tasteful flavors than sitting on the back seat of a vespa for an adventure through charming streets.
This experience offers a great chance for visitors to get the best of what Hue has to offer in terms of gastronomy and local culture. Visit a vintage vespa collector and taste food with the family. Then ride to some hand-picked local family-run venues that serve the best authentic local foods. Indulge in a world of Hue specialties, including Bun Bo Hue (Hue beef noodle soup), “banh Khoai” – Hue sizzling pancake, sweet soups and variety of Hue green leave cakes. Then, take a leisurely ride back to the hotel.
Overnight in Hue.
Routes can change subject to client’s interest
Transfer to Hue Airport after breakfast for the short flight to dynamic Ho Chi Minh City, still called Saigon by the locals.
Where to have lunch:
A terrace restaurant located at the corner of two of the oldest boulevards of Saigon – Nguyen Hue and Le Loi. Established in the 1930s', SH Garden is a restaurant that reflects the romantic memories of an old Saigon. A variety of delicious traditional Vietnamese dishes are served in a nice and simple family style. To reach the restaurant, take an old and unique wooden elevator and arrive at a banana and lemongrass garden on the terrace.
This ‘art’ style restaurant attracts a mostly Vietnamese clientele. Hidden on a quiet suburban street, Cuc Gach Quan serves traditional Vietnamese cuisine in a homely and atmospheric setting.
Hoa Tuc means opium flower and is a central venue located in the courtyard of the former opium refinery manufacture. Inside, the interior is art deco which combines black, purple and pastel colours. Hoa Tuc serves excellent, authentic Vietnamese cuisine and the outside courtyard is perfect for dinners.
This afternoon, start with a visit to the iconic Saigon Central Post Office built between 1886 and 1891. Based on the design of French architect Foulhoux, it is the creation of a unique vaulted ceiling with wrought iron beams and columns reminiscent of industrial architecture, which is now considered a symbol of Saigon and one of its most famous landmarks.
Walk along Dong Khoi street, formerly la rue Catinat and pay a visit to Gia long Palace – Ho Chi Minh City Museum for its beautiful architecture and listen to its history through times. Continue to ‘Le Loi Street’ to meet a local artisan who specialises in traditional engravings.
Next, stroll through the old central market (Note: A vehicle will be available on disposal if needed.) before arriving at the city’s oldest colonial-era apartment, built in 1886, and see what the young creative Vietnamese are up to from their funky boutiques and coffee shops. Sit down at one of the stylish coffee shops and interact with a local resident who moved here in 1975.
Leave the compound and have a look at the building on the other side, which used to be ‘Banque de l’Indochine’ (Indochina Bank) during the 1920s. It’s a stunning example of the ‘Indochinois’ east/west fusion style of architecture that this area is known for. After this last stop, head back to the hotel.
Enjoy the show held in this beautiful colonial building, which is performed by a group of enthusiastic local artists and dancers. The hour long ‘AO show’ embraces different elements of performance art with a Vietnamese touch. This is an unforgettable show displaying the finest Vietnamese heritage and culture through contemporary choreography and traditional music. Be amazed by the stunning blend of acrobatic acts, contemporary dance and cirque approach. The evening ends with a stroll back to the hotel accompanied by the guide. (Note that surcharge will apply if vehicle transfer is needed).
Overnight in Ho Chi Minh City.
Performances of the ‘AO Show’ are usually scheduled 4-5 nights per week, so please check with our travel consultant for the show’s current schedule. On some evenings an alternate performance by the same group, titled ‘The Mist’ will be held instead. The Mist is focused more on contemporary dance aspects and less on the cirque aspects of the AO Show.
Your chosen hotel to Tan Son Nhat Airport (8km):30mins
This tour begins at 08:30. Be met with the guide for a morning discovery of Saigon, the habits of the local people and the significance of coffee drinking in Vietnamese culture.
Coffee was introduced to Vietnam by the French in the late 19th century but the country quickly became a strong exporter as vast swathes of the highlands were given over to this important new cash crop. Today, the Vietnamese have taken coffee to new gastronomical levels!
Start with a stroll through a buzzing local residential area and delve right into local life while browsing the street café, watching people enjoying their morning coffee, reading newspapers or chatting with each other. The locals usually drink coffee after having breakfast. Join in the typical daily routine by ordering ‘bun thit nuong’ consisting of fresh noodles topped with grilled pork at a eatery. Then, walk around to observe the bustling street eats scene and try a piece of sticky rice or hollow donut snack.
Carry on to discover an 80-year old coffee shop and warehouse. Get to know the unique way of making coffee while listening to tales related to this trade.
Conclude the tour by heading to Barista Saigon coffee studio. Meet with a certified barista, be introduced to Vietnamese specialty coffee and learn expert coffee brewing techniques. Choose from a variety of courses, focusing on espresso, latte art or professional ways to judge the quality of coffee.
Then take a short drive to the banks of the Saigon River. Board a private speed boat for this scenic Cu Chi tunnels cruise. Gaze upon the modern skyline of the city as the boat cruises across the water. Watch as the scenery changes, passing through urban neighborhoods and then rural countryside.
After 90 minutes arrive at Cu Chi and explore the incredible network of 200 km underground tunnels. Crawl underground and get a better sense of what life was like living and fighting in the labyrinth of caves and tunnels. Hear remarkable stories of the residents’ resilience and see relics of the wartime weapons.
Following the visit, return to the boat and relax while cruising back to the heart of Ho Chi Minh City.
Overnight in Ho Chi Minh City.
Your chosen hotel to Tan Son Nhat Airport (8km):30mins
Spend the day at leisure until the time for transfer to Tan Son Nhat Airport for the onward flight.