For travelers with limited time and an unlimited appetite for a culinary adventure, sign up and join this culinary holiday in Vietnam. It features a 12-day itinerary of Vietnam's most popular spots with many special opportunities to discover and savor the surprisingly varied tastes of this fascinating land. Our travels will take us from tasting the dishes of the north to the delicacies of Hue, down to the unsurpassed bounty of the Mekong delta with its cinematic abundance of fruits and vegetables.
In this food tours in Vietnam, you will experience the tangy flavor of cha ca (charcoal grilled fish), sample Vietnam's signature pho, become acquainted with infinite types of noodles and rice, and try nuoc mam (Vietnamese fish sauce). Along the way from north to south, you will be delighted by a medley of elegant foods prepared to please the eye as well as the palate including traditional Vietnamese fare and dishes influenced by international cuisines. This tour is well planned and will save precious time by flying or traveling by overnight train.
You will stay at the following accommodation throughout the holiday.
Upon arrival at Hanoi's Noi Bai international airport, our guide will accompany you to your hotel and assist you with check-in. Get intimately acquainted with the narrow and bustling guild streets of Hanoi's old quarter, bursting with wares from medicinal herbs to luxurious silks. Or you may choose to relax around one of the many lakes and parks that make Hanoi one of the greenest cities in Asia. This evening, our guide will escort you to dinner at Indochine, set in an authentic French colonial villa. The inviting menu includes a not-to-be-missed banana flower salad, delicious nem, Hanoi style spring rolls, and fried chicken with lemongrass and chili.
Take a cyclo ride from your hotel to your hands-on cooking class where you will learn about the art of traditional Vietnamese cuisine in the old quarter with the locals in Hanoi. Visit a lively local market before donning a chef's uniform for a hands-on cooking class demonstration. Learn how to make a number of regional delicacies which may include banana flower salad and spring rolls. After a half-day morning session, you will enjoy a delicious feast of the dishes you created and get to take a copy of the recipes home with you. Enjoy a cyclo tour of the city and head back to your hotel in this charming vehicle.
This afternoon, we take a 20 minute-drive from your hotel to the very impressive museum of ethnology, among the finest of Vietnam's museums. You will see many exhibits, photographs and actual houses inhabited by some of the 54 ethnic people in Vietnam. It will offer a truly colorful introduction to these ethnic tribes. Next we'll visit the 11th century temple of literature. Lastly in the late afternoon, you will be enchanted by the legends and stories told at the Thang Long water puppet show that no one should miss while visiting Hanoi.
You will enjoy dinner and a wine tasting at the award-winning Press Club restaurant where international fare is laced with Asian influences and wines are selected to complement these tastes. Optional: night owls are invited to hit Highway 4 with our guide for a taste of exotic rice or fruit wine or a cup of Vietnamese tea. Highway 4's brewed-on-site spirits, particularly enjoyable on the roof terrace, include traditional northern medicinal liquors and herbal potions.
With thousands of limestone mountains and cliffs jutting from its calm waters, Halong bay is a UNESCO world heritage site and one of the world's most spectacular natural wonders. The Indochina Sails, a traditional junk built of aromatic wood and other special materials, is the perfect vessel for exploring this magnificent seascape. Come explore Halong aboard the Indochina Sails and let us meet all your travel needs.
08:30 Pick up from your hotel in Hanoi for a 4-hour drive through the red river delta to Halong city.
11:30 Arrive at Bai Chay or Halong pier.
12:15 Transfer by tender to the boat. Welcome drink. Cruise briefing and safety instructions.
12:30 Start cruising on Halong bay. Cabin check-in.
13:00 Enjoy deluxe Vietnamese and international set menu lunch.
14:30 Arrive at Titop island. Enjoy swimming, relaxing on the beach and climbing the steps to the top of the mountain on the island for fantastic views and photo opportunities. Water and towels will be supplied. We will spend about 45 minutes on the island.
15:15 Return to the boat and sail for about 45 minutes to our second stop, the bat cave area.
16:00 Arrive at the bat cave area. There are two programs to choose from at this time.
Option 1: 40-minute kayaking program to the nearby bat cave and lagoon and surrounding waters
Option 2: Visit the Cua Van floating fishing village, the largest floating fishing village in Halong Bay. There are about 130 floating houses and about 600 people live and work in the village. We will travel to the village on the tender and tour the village for approximately 20 minutes.
17:45 Depart and sail for about 30 minutes to Luon Bo area where we will anchor for overnight.
19:00 Deluxe Vietnamese and Western buffet or set menu dinner.
20:30 Evening activities include film entertainment in the dining room
21:00 Board games and playing cards are available. Massage services are available. Also at this time we offer, when possible, an excursion to a nearby squid fishing boat. We travel by tender and you will be able to board the boat and see how the local fishermen catch squid and other fish. The excursion lasts about 45 minutes. Availability depends on several prevailing conditions. If available, we will inform you after dinner and will depart at 20:30. Cost for the excursion is USD 10 per person. Please note that those joining will miss the beginning of the movie.
21:00 Happy hour! Buy one drink, get one free. Wine is excluded.
23:00 Have a good night.
Rise to the sound of the ocean welcoming another lovely day. We enjoy sunrise.
06:30 Enjoy Tai Chi on the sundeck.
07:30 Coffee, tea and breakfast pastries served in the dining room.
07:45 Arrive by boat at the surprise cave. Optional tour program: prepare for visiting the surprise cave or relax onboard the boat.
08:00 Transfer by tender to the surprise cave. Tour the cave for approximately 45 minutes.
09:00 Upon return to the boat please check out of cabins.
09:15 Upon return to the boat you will have 30 minutes to freshen up and finish packing. Please remove your belongings from the cabins. You may leave heavy luggage outside of the cabins. The staff will transfer those directly to the pier. Depart for Bai Chay or Halong pier.
09:30 Enjoy breakfast set menu or buffet in the dining room. We will settle bills after breakfast. Relax on the sundeck or in the dining room enjoying the bay scenery as we approach the pier.
11:00 Arrive at Bai Chay. Transfer by tender to the pier. Relax inside the pier building while waiting for return transfer directly to Noi Bai airport in Hanoi for a short flight to Hue in the afternoon. Pick up and transfer to La Residence Hotel and Spa by Accor for hotel check-in and overnight in Hue.
Our exploration begins with a visit to the Linh Mu pagoda where the monks will host us with a sumptuous vegetarian meal to sample some of the local delicacies. Regarded by many as the culinary capital of Vietnam, Hue takes its culinary cues from its royal heritage. Hue tables are typically covered with several small dishes of local delicacies such as diminutive Hue pancakes or tiny bowls of freshly cut vegetables.
After lunch, we bid farewell to our hosts and continue our exploration with the Citadel, home to the imperial city and the forbidden purple city. We'll also visit the imperial museum and the vibrant Dong Ba riverside market. There will be another culinary adventure this evening as we sup at the fine dining establishment, Tropical Garden.
The morning begins with a hands-on cooking class at Y Thao garden restaurant, highlighting the regal flavors of Hue cuisine as we prepare our own midday meal. After lunch, we'll take a cruise along the romantic perfume river, passing opulent palaces and gardens of the 19th century Nguyen kings. We'll visit the ornate tomb of emperor Minh Mang, set within beautifully landscaped gardens, and the tomb of the eccentric Tu Duc, known for his opulent lifestyle.
On our way back to the city, we'll stop at the Thien Mu pagoda, the unofficial symbol of Hue. This is an active Buddhist monastery dating back to 1601. One of its most poignant displays is a car belonging to a former monk, who in 1963 drove to Saigon and set himself alight to protest the south Vietnamese regime and its treatment of Buddhists. In the evening you may wish to stay at your hotel and attend an imperial dinner, wearing the traditional clothes of the emperors.
We'll continue south, going by road toward the riverside town of Hoi An. Our 5-hour route, hugging the coastline along the south China sea, serves up breathtaking views that grow even more spectacular as we wind our way up Hai Van pass (pass of the clouds). We'll pause to admire the stunning vistas of Lang Co beach to the north and the city of Danang to the south. We'll continue on passing China beach, where many American GI's took their rest and relaxation, and the marble mountains, home to the Cham legacy.
In Hoi An, we'll grab some lunch at the Vinh Hung caf where the coffee milkshakes are divine and the menu surprisingly extensive. In the afternoon, we'll take a walking tour around this once-thriving port and visit the famed old quarter, the Japanese bridge, the old assembly halls, art galleries and many old houses once belonged to Chinese merchants. Come evening, we'll dine at the Caf des Amis along the river.
Hoi An is a charming, small town which can be easily explored on foot. Between the 17th and 19th centuries, it was a thriving international trading port with a large Chinese and Japanese population. More than any other place in Vietnam, Hoi An exudes a feeling of centuries past and is a favorite of all travelers.
You may choose to stroll, soaking up the atmosphere and exploring the many fascinating ancestral homes, some of which have been occupied by the same family for fifteen generations, or rent a bicycle for a scenic ride to Cua Dai beach, 4 kilometers away. The town is also famous for its tailors who are revered for their fine and fast work.
In the afternoon, you will have cooking class at Red Bridge restaurant, visit Hoi Ans colorful market and experience the amazing sights, sounds and aromas of this busy market. We board the Red Bridge boat for a leisurely cruise of 25 minutes along the Hoi An river to the Red Bridge cooking school. On arrival, we explore the cooking schools herb and vegetable garden before learning about some of Hoi Ans and Vietnams well known dishes.
The cooking lesson runs for about 2 hours. Each dish is first demonstrated by the Red Bridge chefs before we prepare the same dish ourselves. Included in the class is a brief introduction to Vietnamese food carving (plate decoration). After the lesson, we sit down and eat exactly what we have cooked. Hoi An is well suited for an after-dinner stroll and we'll stop by the Tam Tam caf for a drink or coffee before turning in for the night.
This morning we'll head for Danang airport for about a 40-minute drive to take our 1 hour flight to Ho Chi Minh city, formerly Saigon, where we transfer directly to our centrally located hotel. In the afternoon you have city tour in Saigon. We'll embark on a tour of this cosmopolitan city, visiting Cholon, the war remnants museum and the reunification palace. Cholon, home to Ho Chi Minh city's substantial Chinese population, is also the site of the largest market in Vietnam, the Ben Thanh market.
The War Remnants museum contains a wealth of images from Vietnam's wars, the most moving being a gallery entitled Requiem, dedicated to Vietnamese and foreign journalists and photographers who perished during the French and American conflicts. The reunification palace was the residence of the president of south Vietnam until April 30, 1975 when north Vietnamese tanks came crashing through the front gates, bringing the Vietnam-U.S. war to a dramatic end.
Close to the palace, Notre Dame cathedral and the central post office represent prime examples of French colonial architecture. The ornate Notre Dame dominates the city's business center. Built by the French between 1877 and 1883, it was constructed of stone imported from France. The post office, completed in 1891, is in perfect juxtaposition to the bustling urban city that is modern Ho Chi Minh.
At about 18:15 the tour guide and driver take you to Bon Sai cruise for dinner. This will finish at about 20:00.
Breakfast comes early this morning as we depart for Can Tho in the heart of the Mekong delta. We'll stop in My Tho for coffee and there we'll have our first taste of life in this amazing delta. We'll arrive in Can Tho in time for lunch. After lunch, we'll drive to some of the orchards that give this region its allure and we'll be able to see the many varieties of tropical plants native to this part of the world. We'll also visit a bird sanctuary and stop in at the Song Hau Farm or rice institute where we will be treated to a taste of some of the many products derived from rice. In the evening, we'll make our way to the Victoria hotel, our home for the night.
We'll depart the Victoria at 06:30 this morning from the jetty of the hotel. We'll enjoy a delectable breakfast buffet onboard the Lady Hau as we cruise the Mekong to visit the floating market of Cai Rang. Our cruise will take us along several channels of the delta before we say goodbye to the mighty Mekong and begin our drive back to Ho Chi Minh city. The afternoon affords us free time for some last minute shopping or relaxing. We'll enjoy a deluxe farewell dinner at the Mandarin restaurant.
Today is departure day and time to bid your guide farewell. There will be a transfer waiting to take you from the hotel to the airport for your flight home. We wish you a pleasant journey home and we know you will take away many wonderful memories of the sights and tastes you have savored. Cam on va chao tam biet. Thank you for traveling with us and see you again!
Explore Vietnam through its colorful cities of Hanoi, Hue, Hoi An and Ho Chi Minh and the UNESCO world heritage site, Halong bay.
Feast on Vietnam cuisine during the holiday.