16 Days Indochina Culinary Tour in Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia

  • Hanoi - Sapa - Ha Long - Hue - Hoi An - Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam; Siem Reap, Cambodia; Luang Prabang, Laos

Culture and Culinary Tours Southeast Asia

The allure of Southeast Asia is in the unexpected blend of stunning pagodas and romantic colonial architecture, the colorful cacophony of market streets where silks and silver are sold next to cilantro and roasted fish, and the terraced rice fields and timeless villages. Experience Indochina on a unique adventure that will adapt each activity to best fit each location!

Highlights

  • Cooking class in Hoi An
  • Boat trip along Chay River
  • Cooking class in Halong Bay
  • Visit four UNESCO World Heritage sites
  • Visit the central market of Hoi An
  • Delicious local meals every day
  • 15 nights accommodation
  • 15 days with instruction
  • French, English
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During this culinary holiday, four-star accommodation is included. You will spend two nights in Hanoi, two nights in a shared four-bed cabin in the King Express Train, one night in Sapa, one night on a cruise in Halong Bay, one night in Hue, two nights in Hoi An at the Little Hoi An Beach Boutique Hotel and Spa in a River Deluxe room with an extra bed, two nights in Ho Chi Minh at Liberty Central Saigon Riverside Hotel in a deluxe room with an extra bed, two nights in Siem Reap, and two nights in Luang Prabang.

Day 1: Arrival in Hanoi

After your arrival in Noi Bai International Airport (HAN), your guide and driver will pick you up and then transfer you to the hotel for check in. You will spend the night in Hanoi.

Day 2: Hanoi city tour and night train to Sapa

After breakfast, your guide and driver will pick you up for the full-day tour of Vietnam’s capital city. You will visit the house of Ho Chi Minh, where uncle Ho spent the rest of his life; the One Pillar Pagoda, constructed in 1049; the Museum of Ethnology; and the Literature Temple, a symbol of Hanoi. After lunch, pay a visit to the Hoan Kiem Lake, with its Ngoc Son temple. Enjoy a water puppet show before being transferred back to the station for the night train to Sapa. You will spend the night in a shared four-bed cabin in the King Express Train. Today, breakfast and lunch are included.

Day 3: Sapa and trekking trip

Upon you arrival in Sapa in the early morning, your guide and driver will pick you at the train station and transfer you to Sapa Town. After breakfast, you will take a tour through nearby villages, which will include a walk of around four kilometers down to southwest Sapa to visit Cat Cat village, home of the Black H’mong.

There will be time to relax at the foot of the stunning waterfall, which is also the location of the vestiges of a hydroelectric power station that was constructed by the French during the colonial time in Vietnam.

Lunch will be served by the side of the river before walking the next six kilometers to Sin Chai, also known as the roof of Vietnam and Indochina, a village located at the foot of Fansipan Mountain. Here, you can enjoy stunning landscapes before your return trip to Sapa, where you will spend the night. Today, breakfast and lunch are included.

Day 4: Sapa Market and night train back to Hanoi

Today's highlights include a boat trip along Chay River and a short walk to a Tay village. The road is relatively flat from Lao Cai to Bao Nhai bridge; however, after crossing the bridge, you will begin the journey uphill, which offers beautiful views over the valleys.

Situated 20 kilometers from Bac Ha, Can Cau is a small but very colorful market. Opening only on Saturdays, it always delivers a very photogenic display of the ethnic costumes of the Flower Hmong, Black Zao, and Phu La. After spending the whole morning exploring the market, you will go to Bac Ha town for lunch.

In the afternoon, you will drive downhill for about 30 minutes towards Lao Cai. There will be a stop on the way before reaching Lao Cai in order to take a short walk to Trung Do, a village inhabited by Tay people. Tay villages are always set up at the foot of a mountain or along a stream and are named after a mountain, a field, or a river. Each village contains about 15 to 20 households and large villages are divided into many small hamlets. The houses are built on stilts or in level with the ground.

You will stop by a traditional Tay house for a cup of tea before taking a boat cruise upstream the Chay River, which offers a beautiful scenery on both sides of it. The boat trip will end at Coc Ly, where your vehicle will be waiting for you for the journey back to Lao Cai. You will spend the night in a shared four-bed cabin in the King Express Train. Today, breakfast and lunch are included.

Day 5: Hanoi and Halong Bay

In the early morning, you will arrive in Hanoi, where the staff will pick you up at the train station and walk you to Cosiana Hotel for breakfast. There will also be some time to relax before moving to Halong Bay.

Between 7:45 a.m. and 8:15 a.m., your guide will meet you at the hotel, where you will be picked up by a shuttle bus or private car. Enjoy the peaceful scenery as you travel through the countryside, farmlands, and the Red River Delta. Get your camera ready to take photos and get comfortable, as the time from Hanoi to Halong Bay is approximately three hours and 30 minutes.

You will arrive in Tuan Chau's marina between 12 p.m. and 12:30 p.m. Once you board the cruise, you will have the chance to refresh with a welcome drink and meet the captain and crew in the cruise briefing. You will then check into your cabin and get some time to refresh and unwind.

Set sail as a typical local lunch is served in the dining room or at the outdoor dining area. You will be amazed by the stunning views of the bay and its dramatic limestone islets as you sail through the calm emerald waters heading to Maze Cave.

In the afternoon, you will arrive at the amazing cave, or Hang Sửng Sốt. You will have the chance to explore the cave and find out why the cave's name means amazing. Reach the peak of the cave for a breathtaking panoramic view of the bay before you go back to the boat, which will take you to a stunning and tranquilizing isolated lagoon, where you can go swimming or simply relax on the boat with the spa services and the amazing landscapes.

In the early evening, you will have the chance to join the group and go on the sundeck to watch the sunset while you enjoy the pre-dinner local wine appetizer. It is the ideal time to make new friends, share your traveling experiences, or simply watch the sunset.

An authentic Vietnamese menu will served for dinner, followed by a large selection of cocktails available at the bar. After dinner, you will be able to take a book, board games, movies, and squid fishing to continue with the fun. Today, breakfast, lunch, and dinner are included.

Day 6: Halong Bay and Hanoi

For the early risers, there will be a Tai Chi session at 6:30 a.m. on the sundeck. Tai Chi helps focus the mind and condition the body, allowing you to fully charge your energy for the day. Local breakfast will be served at 7 a.m. and the guide will provide all the information and highlights about the fascinating floating village and its local community at 8 a.m.

Today, you can choose between exploring the village yourself on a kayak or comfortably capture the daily life of the fishermen on a bamboo boat rowed by the locals. At 9 a.m., as you pass by other beautiful highlights in the bay, you will check out from the cabins. At 10 a.m., before an early lunch is served, join a short cooking demonstration on how to make spring rolls.

Return to the shore at 12 p.m. and disembark from the cruise as the crew says farewell. You will then return to Hanoi and arrive back at your hotel at approximately 4:30 p.m. Today, breakfast and lunch are included.

Day 7: Hanoi and flight to Hue

Breakfast will be served at the hotel until 7 a.m., when your driver will come to pick you up for the flight to Hue. The flight number is VN1543, lasting from 8:50 a.m. to 10 a.m. Upon your arrival in Hue, you will be taken to the hotel to check in. After lunch, you will take a half-day tour of Hue, which includes visits to the ancient citadel, the Thien Mu pagoda (by boat), and Khai Dinh's tomb. You will spend the night in Hue. Today, breakfast and lunch are included.

Day 8: Hue, Danang, and Hoi An

After breakfast at the hotel, your guide and driver pick up you to take you to Hoi An, a charming little township, which was also a thriving international trading port between the 17th and 19th centuries.

On the way, you can stop to visit the Cham Museum and Marble Mountain. Once there, you can spend your time walking around the historic town or exploring the many Chinese assembly halls and fascinating ancestral homes, some of which have been occupied by the same family for fifteen generations.

The riverside market is also a perfect option, as it is always a hive of activity; especially in the early morning, when the day’s catch arrives. One thing is for sure, there is no shortage of things to do in this town! You will spend the night in Hoi An at the Little Hoi An Beach Boutique Hotel and Spa in a River Deluxe room with an extra bed. Today, breakfast and lunch are included.

Day 9: Hoi An city tour

This morning, you will join a cooking class and enjoy the delicious food made by you. In the afternoon, you will go on a walking tour of Hoi An, a World Heritage Site. Along the way, visit the Japanese covered bridge, which features a Buddhist pagoda attached to one side, as well as the town's most famous landmark, a beautiful Chinese assembly hall built in 1740 as a meeting place for all Chinese residents of the town. The hall is lavishly decorated with murals and a replica of a Chinese ship, as well as the Phuoc Kien Pagoda, also called Kim Son Pagoda, built in 1697 by Chinese Phuoc Kien merchants at Hoi An.

Your tour will end at the central market, where you will find everything from fruits and flowers to tailor-made clothes and silk lanterns whose flexible bamboo frames are designed to collapse, making them easy to be taken back home as a souvenir. You will spend the night in Hoi An at the Little Hoi An Beach Boutique Hotel and Spa in a River Deluxe room with an extra bed. Today, breakfast and lunch are included.

Day 10: Hoi An and flight to Ho Chi Minh

Breakfast will be served at the hotel until 8:15 a.m., when your driver will come to pick you up for the flight to Ho Chi Minh City. The flight number is VN117, lasting from 10:15 a.m. to 11:40 a.m. Upon your arrival in Ho Chi Minh, you will be transferred to your hotel to check in.

In the afternoon, after lunch, you will take a half-day tour of Ho Chi Minh, a bustling metropolis filled with numerous shopping areas and sidewalk cafés, contrary to its northern counterpart. Ho Chi Minh City, still called Saigon by many locals, offers many interesting places to visit, such as the Notre Dame Cathedral, the old Saigon post office, and a lacquerware factory. You will spend the night in Ho Chi Minh at the Liberty Central Saigon Riverside Hotel in a deluxe room with an extra bed. Today, breakfast and lunch are included.

Day 11: Ho Chi Minh and Mekong Delta

Today, you will be picked up at your hotel between 7:30 a.m. and 8 a.m. to start a full day exploring the Mekong Delta. For those with just a short time, this trip provides an overview of typical Vietnam in a three hours' drive. On the way, you can see the green paddy fields stretching towards the horizon.

After your arrival in Cai Be, you will go on board for an exploration of the Mekong Delta, where you will find lush vegetation and the lively floating market buyers bargaining. A rowing boat ride along the maze of shady canals will take you to a local orchard, where you will see the daily activities and handicrafts of local people.

After lunch at the fruit garden, you will take a boat along the Mekong River to Vinh Long, a center of tropical fruit. Stop in for a short visit to Vinh Long market, go across My Thuan suspension bridge, and drop by Mekong's rest stop before going back to Saigon. You will spend the night in Ho Chi Minh at the Liberty Central Saigon Riverside Hotel in a deluxe room with an extra bed. Today, breakfast and lunch are included.

Day 12: Cu Chi Tunnels and flight to Siem Reap

Today, you will visit the Cu Chi Tunnels. This network of tunnels, which stretched for over 200 kilometers, became legendary during the 1960s and played a vital part in the U.S. and Vietnam war, as they allowed the Viet Cong to control a large rural area only 30 to 40 kilometers from Saigon.

At its height, the tunnel system stretched from Saigon to the Cambodian border. The network, parts of which were several levels deep, included innumerable trap doors, specifically constructed living areas, storage facilities, weapons factories, field hospitals, command centers, and kitchens. Today, the remaining tunnels have become a major tourist attraction, giving visitors a unique experience and feel of what underground life during the war must have been like.

The tunnels have been widened as otherwise one would not be able to enter them. For those interested, there is even the opportunity to try an AK47 or MK16 at the nearby rifle range. In the afternoon, you will be transferred to the airport for the flight to Siem Reap. Upon your arrival in Siem Reap, your guide and driver pick you up and transfer you to the hotel for check in. The flight number is VN 813, lasting from 4:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. Today, breakfast and lunch are included.

Day 13: Siem Reap tour

After breakfast at your hotel, start your sightseeing tour of the Angkor area. You will spend a full day exploring the wondrous ancient ruins within the South Gate of Angkor Thom, which is famous for its series of colossal human faces carved in stone, the impressive Bayon Temple, the Royal Enclosure, Phimeanakas, the Elephant Terrace, the Terrace of the Leper King, and the largest and the most complete temple of Angkor Wat.

This architectural masterpiece was constructed in the 12th century and covers an area of about 210 hectares. You will stroll around this massive edifice, seeing the many galleries with columns, libraries, pavilions, courtyards, and ponds full of water reflecting the towering temple and the jungle covered temple of Ta Prohm; a truly incredible sight.

There, you will also find enormous fig trees and gigantic creepers which go around the stone foundations of the structure, giving the impression of man's creation being reclaimed by the powerful forces of nature. You will spend the night in Siem Reap. Today, breakfast and lunch are included.

Day 14: Siem Reap and flight to Luang Prabang

Breakfast will be served at the hotel today. Later, you will visit the floating village of Chong Khneas, located 10 kilometers south of Siem Reap. You will take a trip in a traditional wooden boat on the Tonle Sap Lake, the Great Lake of Cambodia, one of the largest in Asia. You will spend the rest of day visiting the Chantiers Ecoles - Les Artisans d'Angkor, which provides training to young Cambodians in an effort to revive the ancient Khmer traditions of stone carving and wood sculpting.

Then, you will be transferred to the airport for your departure flight to Luang Prabang. Upon your arrival in Luang Prabang, you will be taken to the hotel. Today, breakfast and lunch are included.

Day 15: Luang Prabang, Pake Ou Cave, and Khoangsi Waterfall

After breakfast at your hotel, you will visit the magnificent Wat Xiengthong, with its roofs sweeping low to the ground representing classical Laotian architecture. You will then board a cruise upstream the Mekong River, which will give you a panoramic view of the tranquil countryside. You will also go on an interesting visit to the mysterious Pak Ou Caves; two linked caves crammed with thousands of gold lacquered Buddha statues of various shapes and sizes left by the pilgrims.

En route, you will stop at the village of Ban Xanghai, where the rice wine is produced. Once back in Luang Prabang City, take a drive to visit the local villages of the Lao, ethnic minority groups, at Ban Ouay and Ban Thapene. Time permitting, you may also wish to drive to the beautiful Khouangsi Waterfall, where you can splash around in the turquoise pools or walk along the forest paths. By the late afternoon, you will return to Luang Prabang and observe the sunset at Wat Phabath. Today, breakfast and lunch are included.

Day 16: Luang Prabang and departure

An optional early start gives you the fantastic opportunity to participate in the daily morning rituals of the saffron-clad monks collecting offerings of Alms (ubiquitous sticky rice) from the faithful residents. This tradition is very unique in Laos, being the only Buddhist nation still preserving the procession. From there, you will visit the morning Phosi Market, where you will see diverse offerings, such as dried buffalo skin, local tea, and saltpeter, among the chickens, vegetables, and hill-tribe weavings. You will then visit the National Museum at the former Royal Palace, which displays a lovely collection of artifacts reflecting the richness of the Lao culture, dating from the days of the early kings right through the last sovereign. The central market is not to be missed. Finally, you will be transferred to the airport for your departure flight. Today, breakfast is included.

  • Boat trip along Chay River
  • Explore the Mekong Delta
  • Explore the mysterious Pak Ou Caves
  • Half-day tour of Hue
  • Hanoi city tour
  • Siem Reap tour
  • Spend some time in Chantiers Ecoles - Les Artisans d'Angkor
  • Splash around in the beautiful Khouangsi Waterfall
  • Tour of Hoi An's central market
  • Trekking trip through Sapa, Cat Cat village, and Sin Chai
  • Visit Hang Sửng Sốt
  • Visit the Cham Museum and Marble Mountain
  • Visit the Cu Chi Tunnels
  • Visit the floating village of Chong Khneas
  • Visit the local villages of the Lao
  • Visit the magnificent Wat Xiengthong
  • Visit the morning Phosi Market
  • Visit the National Museum at the former Royal Palace
  • Visit to Sapa Market

This culinary holiday will take place in Southeast Asia, in Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia.

During your holiday, delicious meals at local restaurants are included as indicated in the itinerary. Breakfast and lunch are served daily; except on the arrival day, where no meals are included, and the departure day, where only breakfast is included. On day five, dinner will also be offered. Special requirements, such as vegetarian or other diets could be arranged upon request.

On day 12, you will have the opportunity to try an AK47 or MK16 rifle range near the Cu Chi Tunnels. Additionally, on day 16, an optional early start will give you the fantastic opportunity to participate in the daily morning rituals of the saffron-clad monks collecting offerings of Alms (ubiquitous sticky rice) from the faithful residents.

  • 1 dinner
  • 1 Tai Chi class
  • 2 cooking classes
  • 14 lunches
  • 15 breakfasts
  • 15 nights accommodation
  • All activities as specified in the itinerary
  • All transportation
  • Boat cruise in Halong Bay and kayaking
  • Cool water during tour
  • Domestic flights from Hanoi to Hue, Danang to Ho Chi Minh, Ho Chi Minh to Siem Reap, and Siem Reap to Luang Prabang
  • Entrance fee to any applicable tourist sites
  • Round trip train to Sapa
  • Services of an English-speaking guide
  • Compulsory gala dinner and December 31
  • International flight ticket
  • Late checkout
  • Laundry
  • Other expenses
  • Other meals not mentioned
  • Tips and personal expenses
  • Travel insurance
  • Visa on arrival letter to Vietnam - 9 USD per person per single entry (The stamp fee at airport is 25 USD per person)
  • Visa stamps to Laos
  • Visa stamps upon arrival in Cambodia - 30 USD per person

Arrival by airplane

Please book your flight to arrive at Noi Bai International Airport (HAN). Transfer from and to the airport is included. Indochina Best Travel will pick you up from the airport.

  • A reservation requires a deposit of 30% of the total price.
  • The deposit is fully refundable if the booking is cancelled up to 35 days before the arrival date.
  • The rest of the payment should be paid 30 days before arrival.

Hanoi, Vietnam

Indochina Best Travel offers tailor-made tours to Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, the southwest of Asia, and Indochina.

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16 days / 15 nights

Availability

Arrival: Sunday December 31, 2017
Departure: Monday January 15, 2018

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