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Vietnam is getting more and more popular as the destination for culinary tour. One of the best foods to try when you coming to Vietnam is the local authentic street food, but finding the best one in local destination with good hygiene and typical specialty is not an easy thing. You can refer to the guide book as well. The overland Vietnam foodie tour is the most recent tour from Vietnam culinary especially for travelers who love Vietnamese cuisine and want to discover the country of Vietnam as the local people in the most authentic way as well as get to know and experience typical local food, from the north to central and south of Vietnam in a very creative way.
You will be staying in the following first class (3-star) hotels.
Hanoi - Hong Ngoc Dynasty (ROH)
Mai Chau - Thai Village (homestay)
Halong Bay - La Fairy Sails in deluxe room
Hue - Orchid Hotel in deluxe room
Hoi An - Ancient House Resort in garden view room
Saigon - Sonnet Hotel in deluxe room
Can Tho - Hau Giang in superior or deluxe room
Upgrade to superior (4-star) or deluxe (5-star) hotels are available. Please send your inquiry to Culinary Vietnam Travel for details.
Your guide will meet you at the hotel and take you for breakfast in one of the most authentic Pho restaurant in Hanoi: Pho Bo Hang Dong. Hanoi is considered to be the best place in Vietnam for having Pho. Different to Saigon style, people in Hanoi having Pho with only spring onion, coriander and basil as an herb but they are not adding any bean sprout or vegetable in their Pho.
For additional spices, they use only chili sauce and vinegar or lime for serving Pho. The original Pho in Hanoi is Pho Bo, means Beef Noodle Soup.
One more typical thing of Pho Restaurant in Hanoi is that they are very popular to local people. The owner never wants to extend the business oropen new branches or sell the franchise. For a long time, the family has been running the same business in this small and old restaurant right from morning to late evening, and the restaurant still looks like what it looked 20 years ago. The broth of Pho is so clear and sweet that it made the restaurant very well known in Hanoi.
After enjoying the best Pho in Hanoi as the local, the guide will take you to caf Kinh Do at 252 Hang Bong.
The shop still keeps its know-how of making bakery products from the times of the French. During the time of filming the Indochinese movie in Vietnam, in the early 90s decade of last century, Catherine Deneuve came here and raved about the homemade yogurt.
The yogurt still tastes the same and you are very welcome to try some of their homemade cakes.
After bidding good bye to the hospitable people in Kinh Do Caf, you will go to Caf Giang in 39 Nguyen Huu Huan. The name of the caf is also the name of the founder Mr. Giang. He used to be the chef in Metropole Hotel during the French time and had invented the unique coffee that you can find in Hanoi: egg coffee. Inspired from the idea of cappuccino, he added the yolk in to the strong black coffee for a very special taste. It tastes even better in the cold winter days in Hanoi.
From caf Giang, you can take the relaxing but interesting ride on cyclo to stroll along the narrow street in the old quarter of Hanoi.
By this time of the day, in the mid-morning, you can see many activities of local people on the street along your ride. Many of them must be still having their breakfast on the restaurant on the pavements along the streets, mostly noodles of many different kinds.
The cyclo will take you from old quarter to Chau Long, the typical local market in the old quarter of Hanoi.
You can find all the popular material, vegetable, herb and spices for regular meals of Hanoi people in this market as well as enjoy watching the way the locals go shopping in the market. Instead of shopping once a week and store in the fridge, local people here do it once a day, and mostly in the morning for very fresh meals for their family.
After Chau Long market, the guide will take you for the walk in Ngoc Ha, the village used to grow flowers for supplying for the city of Hanoi. Even though now most of the flowers are available at the new building, the village still likes the oasis in the center of the city that retains all the typical features of the village in the Red River Delta such as the communal house and village temple.
During the walk, you can have a real experience about how actually the local people live in Hanoi. This is one of things you would never find from the window of your bus in the regular city tour. Many of the ground floors of local houses in the village have turned to be shops or local restaurants for their own business.
At the end of the walk, you will see the surprise in one of the Village Lake: the B52 wreckage was shot down from Christmas bombing in 1972, and it has been retained as a monument until today.
For lunch today, you will try 2 very typical and authentic dishes of Hanoi: banh cuon and bun cha. Banh cuon is a kind of thin steam pancake made from rice flour rolled with minced chicken or pork with mushroom and shallots inside. It is very important to have a good dipping sauce made from fish sauce. The best banh cuon place that we will take you to try in Hanoi is banh cuon Thanh Van at 14 Hang Ga Street. You should try just one plate of banh cuon here as you need to save your stomach for the main course for lunch: bun cha. You cannot find any other place have a good bun cha like Hanoi. This is a harmony combination of rice noodle, pork barbecue, and crab spring rolls. Like banh cuon, you must have an elegant dipping sauce for the dish. You will enjoy this dish at Bun Cha Dac Kim at 67 Duong Thanh.
After lunch, take a walk along Hang Than Street and sample the famous product here: banh com, which means young rice cake. This is one of the most popular presents that local people carry from Hanoi when they travel out of the city for their friends. All the engagement ceremonies in Hanoi also need to have banh com as a present offering from the grooms to the brides family.
Stop to enjoy the flan or mix fruit or mango sweet soup at 2 nguyen truong to street.
In the afternoon, you will have the option to visit some of the venues of the city such as Ho Chi Minh mausoleum, temple of literature or ethnology museum.
Dinner will be at Cha Ca La Vong, the rice noodle will be served with grilled fish at 14 Cha Ca street. Cha ca was considered to be the most authentic and well-known dish in Hanoi, that had been ranked 5 out of 10 places to see before you die in 2003 by MSNBC.
In the afternoon, you will 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 homestay in the long house.
The tour will start in the morning at 08:00.
The guide will meet you at the hotel and take you to the town for breakfast in the local Banh Mi (Vietnamese Sandwich) restaurant of Madam Phuong. The restaurant is the best one in Hoi An, and maybe in Vietnam. It was highly praised by the famous American chef Anthony Bourdain. The little Banh My contains so many ingredients inside: 4 to 5 different kind of meats, 5 different kinds of fresh herbs and the most important thing is the know-how of 5 different kinds of sauces, including chili sauce to put in this small bread that creates the unique and authentic taste for this special Banh My in Hoi An.
After finishing your Banh Mi, you will walk to central market of Hoi An, the most lifelike place in town. The guide will show you the area selling the fresh materials first with meats, chicken, fish and all beautiful herbs and vegetables that mostly come from TraQue village.
Then you can go inside the market with all the impressive spices in Hoi An being sold here. It is also the food section of the market that local people can stop by and enjoy some food or snack while shopping.
The guide also will invite you to try the most well-known and unique noodle in Hoi An names Cao Lau. This is a kind of local rice noodle served with pork or chicken, lots of herbs and vegetables, rice cracker and served with a very condensed and special sauce. Hoi An people believe that the water used to prepare this sauce must have been taken from a 2000-year old well in town name Ba Le for the right taste of the sauce. That can explain why you cannot find Cao Lau in any other town of Vietnam.
From the market, the guide will take you for a walk around the charming town of Hoi An to experience some local street food like sweet young tofu, Banh Can, a kind of thick local pancake with quail eggs.
When you are thirsty, you can stop in one of local coffee shops to try a very typical and strong black coffee in Hoi An.
From Hoi An, you will take short drive or just ride the bicycle about 3-kilometers to reach to Tra Que, a local village located by the river, very well-known for growing vegetable and herb. The farmers here use the special soil that mixing with sand and weed from river hfor growing their vegetable, all in organic way. Tra Que is very famous for very good quality of herb, especially for the basil name cinnamon basil that you can find in any restaurant in Hoi An.
You will take a very pleasant walk around the village, mingle with farmers on their garden, and get to know how they growing their vegetables there and taste the authentic herbs right from the garden.
You will return to Hoi An for lunch with another specialty of the town name Com Ga (means chicken rice). This is a beautiful harmony of rice cooked from chicken broth, green papaya, mint basil, chili sauce, their home made sauce and chicken. The dish look fantastic and taste as good as it looks. There are many Com Ga Restaurant in Hoi An, but the very best one that you will go to is Com Ga Ba Nga in 9 Phan Chu Trinh Street.
The tour will finish with a beautiful desert with che bap (corn sweet soup) and banh dap (Hoi An rice cracker) at Ba Gia restaurant, the original restaurant for this food in the area. All the materials used for making this dish are local.
In the morning, you will join an authentic cooking class in The Market Restaurant.
You will visit Hoi An's colorful and bustling market where participants learn about the uses of different fresh noodles, how to recognize and buy fresh fish, herbs and their uses in Vietnam, fresh and dried spices - their uses in our recipes and medicinal purposes, rice and grains, see and taste exotic fruits.
A choice of traditional Vietnamese teas is served with homemade Hoi An cupcakes, made freshly in front of you.
Taste sweet treats and candies that are eaten at Tet, the Vietnamese New Year celebration.
The cooking lesson runs about 2.5 hours. The cooking teachers first demonstrate each dish before you prepare 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.
On your return to The Market Restaurant, 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 how rice and water are being ground to make noodles, rice flour crepes, dumplings and rice paper dried on bamboo and grilled to eat with Hoi An chili sauce. See the famous dish of Cao Lau, the noodles being made by hand and steamed over an open fire.
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 evening, you will join in the tour to discover Saigon in very special way. You will experience the nightlife of Saigon the way locals do, all from the back of a vintage Vespa scooter.
Stops include drinks at Zoom cafe to watch "the world goes by" (as said in the Lonely Planet guide book).
Food and drinks at local restaurants (one stop for sea food and one stop for Southern food).
Samplings of Saigon's best authentic street/local food, a Vietnamese-style coffee shop (with live music).
Wrapping up the evening at one of the many local nightclubs (with live music), where the new generation of Vietnamese unwind and flaunt their unique style.
Today you will take a day excursion to the Red River Delta. Drive to Tay Phuong, one of ten most beautiful pagodas in Vietnam. Located on the top of the hill, this pagoda is very famous about the collection of Buddha and Arhat statues from 17th century and great architecture.
Then take 45-minutes bike ride the rural area around Pagoda through green rice field, local villages. It will be a great chance for you to discover the daily life activities in the Red River Delta, interact to local people and feel the real atmosphere of rural area.
After that, you will go back to the car for driving to the ancient village of Duong Lam, the place so called Hoi An of the Red River Delta as still preserve many hundred-year-old houses. It will be your unique experience as you walk along tiny ancient alleys, visit communal house in Mong Phu hamlet - the only hamlet whose original village entrance gate remains intact, dedicated to national heroes. This is a typical Northern Vietnam village with its nice architecture.
You can visit a local tofu making factory then enjoy the home hosted lunch at a local family (Mr. Huyen home). The house owner will explain the process to you and show you a specialty tuong (sauce made from soybean and special sticky rice) which Northern Vietnam rural family use often for the daily dishes.
After lunch, the guide will take you for another bike ride around rural area of Duong Lam village. You will have a chance to sample some of specialties of local food like Che Lam (local cake made from sticky rice flake with sugar and ginger), Che Kho (Mung bean cake) and Banh Te (very authentic local steam rice cake with pork, onion and mushroom in banana leave).
Back to Hanoi in the late afternoon.
Upon arrival to Halong, embark to the Junk on Hon Gai International Harbour.
You will be welcomed by the cruise staff, enjoy the welcome drink, cruise briefing then check in your cabin.
The junk will start cruising on magnificent Bai Tu Long bay while you enjoy lunch on board. It also a great chance to admire the fascinating rock formations in the bay. In the afternoon, you will visit the secluded cave of Thien Canh Son then take a short cruise to Hon Co Island where you can relax on a white sandy beach, swimming or kayaking.
Get back to the Junk, relax and get ready for dinner.
Dinner and overnight on Dragon Pearl.
In the morning you can admire the sunrise on the bay from sun deck of the Junk. Enjoy the bays morning landscape with a cup of tea or coffee then have the breakfast in the open air. After breakfast, you will have a chance to visit Vung Vieng fishing village in a rustic rowing-boat, meet the local people and pass through the floating school and fish farms. Then back to the junk for more leisure time for swimming in the middle of the bay.
The cruise will be back to the harbor while an a la carte lunch is served.
At noon, disembark to the port and drive back to Hanoi.
On the way back to Hanoi, visit Tho Ha the famous village of terracotta products before 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.
After spending time in his house and talking to the owner for deeper understanding about the life of local people in the village, you will visit a 400-year old pagoda that still remains a piece of original architecture and Buddha statues, especially the holy and peaceful atmosphere that have not been touched by the tourists.
Discover the village through narrow and zigzag alleys with the old houses had been constructed from broken part of terracotta from the past. Walking over to the end of the village to the dike, where you can see the village from distance over the beautiful lake.
In the morning, take a walk by Trang Tien Bridge to visit Dong Ba, the biggest whole sales market in town. By this time of the day, everything in the market is ready for one day sale and so fresh, even the sellers at the market.
The best time to visit the market is during the day.
After taking the interesting walk in the market, you will have a chance to try the authentic local breakfast in Hue name Bun Bo nearby the market before coming back to hotel. Regular breakfast is still available for you at the hotel.
From the hotel, we will take the cyclo trip to the area around the ancient citadel of Hue, getting over the streets, local shops for the over view of daily life and architecture of this famous citadel.
Stop at Noon gate of Imperial Citadel for the walking tour to the inner area of the citadel where the Nguyen Dynasty ruled between 1802 and 1945 including Flag Tower, Noon Gate, Nine Dynastic Urns, Nine Holy Cannons, Thai Hoa Palace, and Forbidden Purple City.
Visit the shop of Me Xung Thien Huong that will show you all the typical local candies and cookies in Hue.
At noon, visit Dong Thien Pagoda to experience the vegetarian lunch prepared by the nun. The Pagoda also run some kindergartens for poor children and our visit will contribute directly to children in these classes.
You also can interact with the nuns before visiting Tu Duc Tomb, discover beautiful and impressive architecture of this unique construction in Hue as well as the story of the King there.
Back to the town you will have a chance to try very well-known Hue Cake name Banh Khoai Thuong Tu at the local restaurant near the citadel, the best one in Hue.
Just save your stomach for the next dish which can be found in Hue, named Chao Bo (the beef porridge) at Dap Da.
The afternoon will be concluded by tasting of Che Hue (hue sweet soup)
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 untouched area by tourism with very friendly and hospitable local people. You can see their daily life activities or even viewing the interior of their house and their life through always opened doors.
The cyclo trip will end at a 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.
Upon arrival, take a tour to reunification palace, Notre dame cathedral, central post office.
Lunch at Pho 2000 restaurant.
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.
Then 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.
Keep walking to the street that selling all the colorful decoration items for ceremony made from paper.
After that, take a walk around Binh Tay, the biggest whole sale 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. There is a great combination of busy and bustle atmosphere of the market and traditional Chinese architecture there.
In the morning, you will drive 2 hours from Saigon to Cai Lay, a small but fertile town in the Mekong Delta through the new national freeway.
Upon arrival, drop off at the towns local pier and start boarding our small motorized boat for a 30-minute boat trip on one of the small branches of the Mekong River.
Witness the lively life on the water of the locals. Disembark at Cam Son bridge where you start a leisure cycling trip (alternative transportation is our xe loi, a fun local transportation) into a deep Mekong Delta exploration.
The ride is about 7 kilometers on shady narrow village roads curving over tiny canals and past fruit gardens and sleepy villages. Many kids will greet you with a big smile and xin chao or hello.
During the village road, you will have a chance to stop and visit local factories, fish farm, rice paddies to learn briefly about the local economy, business. Arrive at a lush orchard with diverse tropical fruits. Have a friendly chat with the owner, a former veteran with interesting topics about his motherland as well as his daily life both past and present. He will be very happy to walk you around his garden.
Enjoy the opportunity to taste fresh fruits picked right from the trees.
Then relax with a sampan ride to visit a local ancient house, have a brief interaction with these friendly residents in their 100-year old house before tasting their hosted lunch with traditional dishes of the Mekong land.
Morning, take the early boat trip to visit Cai Rang floating market where local people whole sale all product of Mekong Delta.
It will be a great chance for taking part to the local activities and taking pictures.
The boat will take you around the floating market 2 times to make sure that you will have enough opportunities for taking photos here.
Then the boat will take you to visit the local bustling inland market where you can see all local products of Mekong Delta selling here.
From the market, take the short ride on boat to the small local alley that you can walk along and experience the real daily life activities of local people here.
Take the pleasant walk along the local village by the river bank and integrate with local people there before getting to local rice processing factory. You will know exactly how the white rice had been made from paddy rice in here.
This retreat will take place in the land of Vietnam.