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Vietnamese cuisine is becoming more and more popular in the world. Cooking styles in Vietnam are based upon very fresh materials and a great balance from the Yin and Yang philosophy. This makes Vietnamese cuisine very moderate in comparison with the foods of other Asian countries. This culinary tour has been designed with several cooking classes which provide you great learning experiences about the different cooking styles of Vietnam, from north to central, passing by the south. You will also have a wonderful tour to great destinations, and you will practice your new cooking skill at your homestay in Mai Chau.
Saigon (Sonnet Saigon Hotel) deluxe room
Hoian (Ancient house resort) garden view or similar
Hue (Asia Hue Hotel) deluxe room
Mai chau (Hong Ngoc Dynasty Hotel) homestay
Halong (Dragon pearl junk) deluxe cabin
Meal basis: dinner
Arrival at Saigon Airport
Transfer to the hotel
Overnight in Saigon
An accompanied tour to the spectacular Ben Thanh market 1 hour before the class.
During the market visit, you will describe the classic Vietnamese produce, from fruit and vegetables, to meats and seafood. Our Guests will learn how to recognize the different Vietnamese ingredients and be guided in their application.
Back to Vietnam Cookery Center.
Even inexperienced cook can create tasty dishes within a few hours.
Continue by a hands-on initiation to the Vietnamese cuisine art, giving you the opportunity not only to learn how to cook them and reproduce them once you return to your home country, but also to taste the delicious dishes.
Menu: salad, one local soup, braised fish or pork.
Enjoy food self-prepared at the restaurant.
In the morning, you will visit a very impressive and busy fish market near Hoi An. The market is for wholesales for the best fish in the area that have been caught at night on the sea and sill so fresh.
You will join to authentic cooking class in The Market Restaurant and visit Hoi Ans colorful and bustling market, where you will learn about the use of different fresh noodles, how to recognize and buy fresh fish, herbs and their uses in Vietnam, fresh and dried spices - their uses in the recipes and medicinal purposes, rice and grains, see and taste exotic fruits.
On your return to The Market Restaurant, you will tour the many different street food counters, seeing live cooking demonstrations, learning how to make many different recipes with food tastings along the way.
See bread for banh mi or baguettes being made in front of you and then taste the baked bread fresh from the oven. See rice and water being ground to make rice water to make noodles, rice flour crepes, dumplings, and rice paper dried on bamboo and grilled to eat with Hoi An chili sauce.
See the Vietnamese famous dish of Cao Lau, the noodles being made by hand and steamed over an open fire.
A choice of traditional Vietnamese teas is served with homemade Hoi An cupcakes made freshly in front of you. Taste sweet treats and candy that are eaten at the Vietnamese New Year celebrations.
The cooking lesson runs about 2.5 hours - the cooking teachers first demonstrate each dish before preparing the same dishes. After the lesson, sit down and eat what you have cooked. You will receive a copy of the recipes and a Vietnamese cooking utensil to take home.
Recipes (vegetarians are provided with replacement ingredients):
Cabbage leaf parcels shrimp mousse in broth
BBQ chicken and lime leaves
Mango salad with prawns
Crispy Hoi An Pancakes with pork, prawns, and bean sprouts
In the morning, take a short walk to the local food market. It is a typical market, as thousands of them around the city that supply food for the regular meal of local people.
Then take the walk through the old quarter of Hanoi, you can feel the traditional atmosphere of the most attractive part in Hanoi and witness local people enjoy their breakfast on the pavement along the ride.
Experience a bowl of pho bo (noodle with beef) at Pho Bat Dan or Pho Bo Hang Dong (subject to the availability of the restaurant), famous typical Northern Vietnam Pho.
In that pho local traditional restaurant, people should wait in line and pay and get their own bowl of pho.
After that pho breakfast, continue your waking tour around the old quarter. The guide will introduce to you some of the authentic local food like banh cuon (steam rice pancake rolled with mince perk and mushroom), local bakery with very strong influence from French style. Enjoy some coffee in a local coffee shop followed by Bun cha lunch (Vermicelli with grilled pork - another Hanoi famous street food - Bun Cha Dac Kim Duong Thanh).
You will have the opportunity to take a cooking class at Anh Tuyet Restaurant and learn how to prepare three traditional dishes of Hanoi.
You start with a 1-hour market tour to learn about Vietnamese ingredients and how to choose fresh foods. Next is a short talk on the art of Hanoian gastronomy, vegetables, herbs and spices, and how to prepare and use them.
The practicals include learning cooking and cutting techniques and how to use a Vietnamese vegetable grater and knife.
The menu includes: nem (fried meat rolls), ca hap (steamed fish with dill), and nom (mixed salad).
Dinner at the restaurant.
In the afternoon, take a walk around the valley to visit some nearby villages, the carpeted green rice fields and the Mai Chau Market, where you can buy the food you will need for cooking at your home stay in the long house.
Day 2: Excursion to Saigon China Town and market visit
Afternoon, take a tour to China town, the special identity of Saigon.
Visit Thien Hau Pagoda, where hundreds of local people come and burn the incense for their luck, prosperity, and happiness. The photo of the incense burner taken in this temple was appeared on the first edition of Lonely Planet of Vietnam.
Walk to the street where the movie The Lover had been taken with very interesting local cafeterias that very popular to local people.
Stop and sample the local coffee at very interesting cafeteria on the street.
Walk to the street that sells colorful decoration items for ceremony made from paper.
Take a walk around Binh Tay, the biggest wholesale market in town. You can find most of the product in town selling in this market. The market was constructed by Quach Dam - the wealthy Chinese man for his community in 1930, and you still can see his statue and his tomb in the central of the market. It is a great combination of the busy and bustling atmosphere of the market and traditional Chinese architecture there.
In the afternoon, take the walking tour to Hoi An.
Visit Thang Loi handicraft workshop in Phan Chu Trinh Street.
You will have the chance to experience all the typical traditional handicrafts of Hoi An, such as wood carving, mat weaving, lantern making, silk worm raising, spinning and weaving, table cloth making, and embroidery picture. These handicrafts made great contribution to upgrade the living standards of local people since Hoi An turn to be popular destination for the tourists.
Take a walk to Hoi An ancient town.
Start the walk from a small alley from Phan Chu Trinh Street to Nguyen Thi Minh Khai Street. This is the typical ancient street of Hoi An, that can show you the great atmosphere of the ancient town.
Visit the Japanese Cover Bridge - the symbol of Hoi An. After that visit Tan Ky, the most well-known and authentic ancient house in town.
Take a walk along the Nguyen Thai Hoc - the ancient street of Hoi An to the market of the town.
Visit the local market and Phuc Kien Congressional Assembly Hall, the communal place for Chinese community from Fukien province in China, as well the worshiping temple to Thien Hau, the Goddess protecting people on the sea that was so important for the Chinese merchant and fishman in the past.
Then, you have free time for discovering the town on your own or shopping.
In the evening, experience Com Ga (the chicken rice, very well-known Hoi An local food) for dinner and sample the most delicious Banh My in Vietnam at Banh My Phuong - the one had been highly recommended by well-known chef Anthony Bourdan.
In the afternoon, visit to Tra Que herb village near Hoi An. This village very famous for growing organic herb for supplying to Hoi An.
You will interact with local farmers there and learn about different kinds of herbs and the way they grow them.
Depart for the cyclo trip to Cam Nam Village. The cyclo will take you from the town to Cam Nam Bridge.
You will have the first stop for the photo opportunity of the activities and scenery on the Thu Bon River.
Then the cyclo will take you along the Thu Bon River bank, where you can have another photo stop for panorama view of Hoi An from other side of river.
You will ride along the riverside and cycle through local villages of Cam Nam. This is an area untouched by tourism, with very friendly and hospitable local people.
You can see their daily life activities or view the interiors of their houses and see their lives through opened doors. The cyclo trip will end at green small canal covered by water coconut trees.
Embark on the boat and take a cruise to Thu Bon River. You can experience the local daily life along river, such as fishing, farming, and catching clam.
Come back to Hoi An around sunset time.
In the afternoon, take a cyclo trip from your hotel over the famous Trang Tien Bridge and to Dong Ba market.
The cyclo will take you through the streets to the ancient citadel of Hue, and past local shops where you will observe daily life and see the architecture of this famous citadel.
Stop at Noon Gate of the Imperial Citadel for a walking tour to the inner area of the citadel where the Nguyen Dynasty ruled between 1802 and 1945. This tour includes the Flag Tower, Noon Gate, Nine Dynastic Urns, Nine Holy Cannons, Thai Hoa Palace, and the Forbidden Purple City.
In the morning, drive up to Xa Linh, then take a 2-hour trek through the primitive jungle to the area of Muong people. Located on a beautiful plateau on the bank of Hoa Binh reservoir, this village is hidden from tourists and is very friendly to visitors.
You will have lots of chances to interact with the hill tribe people there before returning to the bus.
Next, go to the village of the Mong people at Xa Linh.
Upon arrival to Halong, transfer by tender to the Indochina Sails boat.
Upon boarding, guests are greeted with a welcome drink and gather in the dining room for a comprehensive safety and boat orientation briefing followed by itinerary details.
After the briefing and check in there is a bit of free time till lunch is served at 13:00.
Lunch is a multi-course Vietnamese and Western set menu.
During lunch, you will cruise through the Bai Tu Long Bay, cruising through the most beautiful and quiet area in Bai Tu Long Bay and Halong Bay to visit Cua Van Fishing Village. Cua Van Floating Fishing Village (the largest fishing village on the Bay).
At the village, which has a population of about 600 residents living in about 150 floating houses, guests can choose between kayaking through the village or visiting on small bamboo boats (sampans) rowed by the villagers.
Back on board after visiting the village, there will be free time of about one and a half hours before the cooking class on board will be held by the chef, and all the passengers will attend to this.
During that time, the chef will conduct a cooking class showing the guests how to make some traditional Vietnamese food and guests will taste the food after the class.
In addition, there will be the first of the double happy hours from 18:00 till 19:00, during which time one free drink will be received for each one ordered. Dinner is served at 19:30.
Dinner is a sumptuous buffet featuring an array of salads, seafood, meat dishes, seasonal fresh fruits, and desserts.
After dinner, guests can relax in the dining room and lounge or on the upper deck and enjoy the second happy hour from 21:00 till 22:00.
Board games, playing cards, and massage services are available as well (massage service is available throughout the cruise).
Also, everyone can try their luck at squid fishing from the boat with help from the crew.
Overnight on the Junk.
The next morning, coffee, tea, and breakfast pastries are on offered from 06:45.
Tai Chi lessons are led by a Tai Chi master at 07:00.
You leave the boat at 07:45 for a walking tour of Titov Beach Island. About one hour is spent on the island allowing time for a climb up the steps to the peak for a breathtaking 360-degree view of the bay (there is also an expansive viewing deck half way up).
After the climb, there is time left to relax on the beach and have a swim.
Back on board, its time for final packing and freshening up before enjoying a full breakfast buffet, including traditional Vietnamese noodles (Pho).
After breakfast, guests may relax in the dining room and lounge or on the deck enjoying the last bay views before disembarkation at 11:00.
On the way back to Hanoi, visit Tho Ha the famous village of terracotta products of the 20th century.
Upon arrival, take a short local ferry to the village.
Visit a local home of Mr. Viet, where you can see how rice paper has been made and have the interesting talk with him about his family and his life. Mr. Viet was NVA (Northern Vietnamese Army) who liberate Saigon in 1975.
Spend time in his house and talk to the owner for deeper understanding about life of local people in the village. Visit a 400-year old pagoda that still has all original architecture and Buddha statues. Enjoy the holy and peaceful atmosphere that has not been touched by tourists. Discover the village through narrow and zigzag alleys with the old houses that had been constructed from broken parts of terracotta from the past.
This retreat will take place in the country of Vietnam.
"Reliable company, good city guides, good choice of hotels. I loved the various activities and visits made, the food was delicious, and the Vietnamese people are delightful. The country is developing fast and people are full of life and hope. It was an eye opener. Very educational and inspirational. Would recommend it also for young children. Safe country."
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"They say a picture's worth a thousand words, but with the right tour guide, every picture becomes a a fascinating story. Dang Vu is that tour guide. In all our years of travel, we have never experienced the level of professionalism, knowledge, attention to detail, and friendliness displayed by Dang. He called us his "family" and that's exactly how we felt. From push bike riding along the Mekong Delta, sampling delicious street food, revitalizing mud baths, kayaking to our private beach, candlelight cave dining, visiting royal palaces, to a special home cooked meal in a local's home. Experiencing Vietnam through Indochina Charm Travel hosted by Dang Vu was journey beyond our wildest expectations. Place your trust in this company and they will provide you with a holiday you will never forget. Thank you Dang and Indochina Charm Travel."
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"Was given glowing referral by a friend to our guide Dang Vu, and the Indochina Charm Travel company. Having just completed our holiday, I understand the glowing reference. Traveled with a group of 12 friends and were lucky enough to have a private tour with Dang accompanying us throughout the trip. Dang assisted from the very beginning, with planning our itinerary, through to delivery. As he stated on several occasions, his whole aim is to ensure his clients are satisfied, and as a result nothing was too much trouble. He was flexible, enabling us to change our itinerary on those occasions we wanted to, and also proactive in making small changes or additions based on his observation of the groups interests. Dang has an amazing knowledge of Vietnam and it's history, which he shared throughout the trip. Everything went smoothly, all accommodation and travel bookings going to plan. In Halong Bay, where we spent two nights on a junk, our group had dinner in a cave fully set up for dining, an amazing experience only available to clients of Indochina Charm. This was just one highlight of many. Have no hesitation in recommending Indochina Charm and Dang Vu to anyone considering a trip to Vietnam. Hint: There's a lot to see, it is hot, so try and build some free time in to your itinerary so you can recharge every now and then by the pool!"
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"Indochina Charm provided us with the best guide one could hope for - Dang Vu. 12 friends travelling from Ho Chi Min, Mekong Delta, Nha Trang, Hoi An, Hue, Hanoi, Halong Bay, and Mai Chau. Nothing was too much trouble for Dang - he embraced our culture and we embraced his. Just when you thought he couldn't raise the bar - he did! We were treated to some of the best service you will find anywhere. This tour company shows you the non-tourist side of Vietnam (you still see all the famous sites - but for most of them, it's not with 1000 other people). We ate some interesting local dishes and spent time with local families in their home - this truly is a different way to see Vietnam. Dang Vu was very informative and we learned a lot about Vietnam, its history and its people. A couple of highlights and must do's - Cu Chi Tunnels, Eating the best Pho in Vietnam in Ho Chi Min, Day boat trip from Nha Trang and you must do the mud baths there as well, shopping Hoi An was fantastic and our Halong Bay cruise (3 days / 2 nights) is a definite must. Indochina Charm took us to a limestone cave for dinner(you have to see it to believe it) and the crew enjoyed dancing with us on the boat for the rest of the evening. Mai Chau - eco-lodge gives you a completely different view of Vietnam and I would recommend spending 2 nights - 1 just wasn't enough. A couple of tips - please advise Dang or the company what you will and won't eat at the time of booking - they are happy to accommodate and its much easier to know in advance. Also, perhaps ask for a meal every now and again that isn't traditional. Overall, this was a truly amazing experience and I would highly recommend the company and our tour guide to anyone."
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"We have just returned from a 3-week honeymoon, travelling from south to north, Hanoi, Sapa, Halong Bay, Hoian, Mekong Delta, Ho Chi Minh, and the Con Dao Islands; we had the best time. The tour company were exceptional, they were very accommodating making any changes we wanted throughout the trip. being on a honeymoon we wanted to see the country and relax at the same time, we would recommend using Indochina charm to anyone wanting a stress free holiday as they take car of everything! The tour guides stood out as the most memorable, they made the trip what it was with excellent knowledge and vital local insight. We will miss Hiep, Yang, Huong and Tam very much! I highly recommend it!"
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"My husband and I have just returned from a 10-day tour in Vietnam. We had a personalized tour covering Hanoi, Halong Bay, Hoi An, and Ho Chi Minh City. Throughout the tour, we were in the most professional and efficient services of these highly knowledgeable agents. Mr. Yang in Hanoi was particularly fantastic. We learnt so much from him and certainly felt very safe at all times. From the beginning, Phoung was extremely accommodating in organizing our tour and providing changes, nothing was ever too much trouble. We specifically chose a tour that provided exposure to the Vietnamese cuisine, and the food was absolutely fantastic, it was an absolute delight! The cruise on the Indochina Junk in Halong Bay will be an experience we will never forget. The crew (Kenny, Alex, Thomas, and Daniel) were fantastic, and the food and accommodation superb. The mystical ambiance of Halong Bay absolutely awesome. We certainly recommend Indochina Travel highly, they were extremely professional, courteous, efficient, knowledgeable, and will not hesitate to use them again!"
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"My son's friends had used this tour company for their visits to Indochina and were very pleased with them. We were very satisfied with their service. They arranged all our transportation and accommodations within Vietnam and all meals except for dinner. They provided guides and activities based on our interests. Our guides were friendly, spoke excellent English and were very knowledgeable. They were always on time, actually early. Would use them again if we return to this area."
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"Planning a 2 weeks Vietnam holiday for a group of 29 people (family and friends), age range from 9 to 70 can be challenging. Never been to Vietnam, so I made my initial inquiry to Indochina Charm Travel, and Mr. Yang replied back promptly. I roughly told Mr. Yang that we want to visit north, center, and south Vietnam within 11 days. The next day, Mr. Yang came back with a professionally presented proposal. The detail itinerary with pictures of each city that we will cover was impressive. The price for tour, domestic airfare, hotels - all clearly listed separately. Our price ended up being very reasonable comparing with quotations of other travel companies."
"One week before our departure for Vietnam, Mr. Yang emailed me to remind the group to bring some warmer cloth because the weather can be a little cold at night in north Vietnam. A 45-seater coach was arranged just for our group. And Mr. Yang accompanied us all the way from north to south. The whole tour organisation ended up to be perfect. We all had great fun. Highlights must be Halong Bay cruise and visit to the fruit farm by bicycles in Mekong Delta, it was a very unique experience. Mr Yang's dedication to his job as a tour leader, his honesty and attention to detail made our holiday a memorable one. I can honestly say Indochina Charm Travel is the best choice for you should you wish to travel to Vietnam."
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"Seeing the delta by boat was absolutely amazing. There wasn't one minute that wasn't interesting as the travel along the river was itself a fascinating glimpse of how local people live. Our guide was fantastic, taking us to out of the way places where we honestly didn't see another tourist. We visited a local village market, family farms, pagodas, and local "factories", as well as enjoying an authentic, beautifully prepared, and presented lunch at a village orphanage. He small group and amazing knowledge of our guide really added to the enjoyment of this tour. One of the best we've ever done, and I highly recommend it. Much better than being stuck in a minivan in the busy Saigon traffic. Very good value."
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