Exploratory Culinary Vacation in Vietnam

Along with exploring new cultures, one of the great joys of travel is the discovery of new cuisines. Those unfamiliar with Vietnamese food are in for a treat, as the national cuisine is flavorful, colorful, and extremely healthy. For all of you foodies out there, that have heard so much about Vietnamese cuisine, and the national Pho, Bun Cha, or Bun Bo Nam Bo it will be an exquisite delight to come try the Vietnamese cuisine while strolling through markets, participating in cooking lessons, and dining in local restaurants.

Highlights

  • 2 cooking classes
  • Local food tour in Hanoi
  • Shop for ingredients in Ben Thanh market
  • Visit to culinary market in Hanoi Old Quarter Area
  • Historic city tour of Ho Chi Minh City
  • Private transfer and transportation
  • 6 nights luxury accommodation
  • Daily breakfast

Styles


3 days with instruction in English
Spoken languages: French, Vietnamese, English

Airport transfer included: Noi Bai International Airport

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Accommodation

You will be staying in the following (or similar category) first class or four-star hotels in private or shared single, twin, or double basis. In Hanoi, you will be staying in a deluxe room in Hanoi Lasiesta Trendy for two nights. In Ha Long Bay, you will be staying aboard the Pelican Cruise in a deluxe cabin for one night. In Ho Chi Minh City, you will be staying in a deluxe room in Liberty Central Saigon for three nights. You will begin your culinary tour in Haoi and end it in Ho Chi Minh City.

Luxury Travel Vietnam Culinary Vacation Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in Hanoi

Upon arrival at Hanoi's Noi Bai International Airport, you will be greeted by your guide and transferred to your hotel. This is Vietnam's capital and celebrated its anniversary of 1,000 years in 2010. Historical emphasis on the arts and learning stipulates that buildings in Hanoi remain small, simple, and in harmony with nature. You will have the afternoon at your leisure before take part in evening foody trip and an overnight stay in Hanoi.

You will be picked up at meeting point between 05:00 p.m. and 05:30 p.m. You will be picked up by your professional English-speaking tour guide of Hanoi local food tours, and then you move to the Hanoi Old Quarter Area to start the journey discovering the local food world and local life of Hanoi. You will walk through streets in Hanoi Old Quarter while listening to your tour guide introducing you to the culture and the daily life in the evening for the locals there.

The first course of your food discovering journey is “Nom Bo Kho” (dry beef salad), a very tasty and favorite food of the Hanoian before you take some steps to tasting “Nem Ran” (spring roll), voted as one of top ten greatest street foods in Hanoi for tourist to enjoy. During the tour, you not only have a chance to enjoy wonderful local foods but also get the instruction from your tour guide about the ingredients and the process to make this local tasty dish.

Continue to explore the street culinary world in Hanoi by walking to Ma May to enjoy “Pho Cuon” (stuffed pancake), one of top ten local foods of Hanoi which any tourist should try once when visiting this city. Get the chance to visit Hai Thuong Lan Ong Street and learn how traditional medicine was made and used there.

You will have a short walking discovery Hanoi life by night and enjoy “Pho”- the most famous food of the Vietnamese before visiting “Nha Tho Lon” (St. Joseph’s Cathedral) to see the architectural style of this place which is described as resembling Notre Dame de Paris. One more local food you will taste during the tour is “Banh Mi“ (Vietnamese Sandwich), the pride of Vietnamese cuisine that has recently surged in popularity worldwide.

The last taste of Hanoi local food tour you would like to offer you is a famous Vietnamese coffee - “Ca Phe Trung” (egg coffee). At 9:00 p.m. your tour ends, then you will be taken back to the meeting place from where your private car will pick you up to return you to your hotel. Today you will be staying overnight in Hanoi. Meals included for the day is dinner.

Day 2: Cooking class and Hanoi City tour

At 9:00 a.m. your guide will pick you up at your hotel. Under the introduction of the tour guide, you will learn some basic keywords of the Vietnamese when purchasing goods in the local market. After that, you will be provided a list of courses in the cooking class and all necessary ingredients should be prepared. With the certain number of Vietnamese money, you head to the local market.

The most fun and interesting part of the tour is that you will go to the only culinary market in Hanoi Old Quarter Area and experience buying and bargaining the necessary ingredients yourself, like a real Vietnamese. It will be a great chance to improve your bargaining skill by using your simple Vietnamese words or even your body languages.

With the guide's passion for food, the tour guide provides you a deep insight into herbs and spices, which play an important role in the food taste of the Vietnamese and the Asian as well. Many photo opportunities will be available in this bustling, vibrant, and colorful scene of the market.

After 30 - 45 minutes of purchasing ingredients and exploring local culture at the market, you will come back to your class kitchen and get ready for the cooking class. Having a strong passion and love for Vietnamese traditional food, the talented chef, with his rich cooking experience, will introduce you the basic principles of each course and how to make it.

Now you will have an opportunity to experience cooking yourself like a real Vietnamese chef. Directly mixing banana flower with other spices or rolling each thin-rice paper to make fried spring roll by your hand and tasting the smell of food is surely a really fun and exciting memory you ever had in life and help you feel love food more, treasure your effort to make it as well.

Then the chef and tour guide will introduce you a flower garnish and fruit carving to decorate the dishes before enjoying your masterpieces, which are promised the most delicious and tasty food you ever tried. After finishing the meal, you can get the chance to learn how to make a cup of the Vietnamese traditional green tea - a very special, tasty and delicate drink of the Hanoian. At the end of Hanoi cooking class, you move today's next activity - the afternoon city tour starting at 2:00 p.m.

You will visit the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum (where the preserved body of "Uncle Ho" may be viewed), the nearby house on stilts, the lotus-shaped One Pillar Pagoda, Quan Thanh Temple, the Temple of Literature, Hoan Kiem Lake, Ngoc Son Temple then come back to your hotel. Today to you will be staying overnight in Hanoi. Meals included for the day are breakfast and lunch.

Day 3: Travel to Halong Bay (165 kilometers) - 3 hours

After pick-up from your hotel, you will leave Hanoi by private car/van at 8:30 a.m. arriving at the jetty around 12:30 p.m. You will be welcomed aboard and set sail through the bay while lunch is served. You will pass through the magical bay, where thousands of sculpted limestone islands rise from the waves like dragons teeth. After lunch, you will take a short trek to a nearby summit for a panoramic view of the bay dotted with golden sails, and then go swimming on a quiet beach or sunbathing on the sundeck.

Later in the afternoon, you will visit an interesting fishing village with the opportunity to interact with fishermen who have been living in the bay for almost three generations. Back on board, you can enjoy cocktails while watching the sunset. Later, you will unwind at a lavish dinner before an overnight stay on the deluxe junk (traditional cruise boat). Meals included for the day are breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

Day 4: Halong Bay to Hanoi to Ho Chi Minh City

Greet the day with a morning Tai Chi session, with an opportunity to view the sunrise over the bay. After breakfast, you will visit a beautiful limestone grotto and then go back to the boat for a final glimpse of Halong Bay while cruising back to the dock. Checkout is at 11:45 a.m. and the boat arrives at the harbor by noon for the drive back ahead to Hanoi's airport for a flight to Ho Chi Minh City and meet up by your next guide at airport on arrival for a drive to your hotel in downtown. Meals included for the day is breakfast.

Day 5: Second cooking class and Ho Chi Minh City tour

Today you will have a market visit from 8:45 a.m. till 9:45 a.m. Follow your chef through the vibrant Ben Thanh market to purchase a selection of ingredients for your cooking lesson. At 9:40 a.m., your chef will bring you back by taxi for your hands-on cooking class from 10:00 a.m. till 1:00 p.m.

In a warm atmosphere, participants cook all together following step by step your chef and everyone has their own material and ingredients for a better understanding of cooking techniques. You will discover Vietnamese kitchenware to cook and enjoy a tasty four-course meal. MSG and “Knorr powders or any enhancing flavors” are of course forbidden! You will adapt the menu to vegetarians or for people with food allergies.

In the afternoon, you will embark on a city tour of Saigon, including the Reunification Palace, Notre Dame Cathedral, the Old Post Office, the War Remnants Museum, and bustling Ben Thanh Market. You will stay overnight in Ho Chi Minh City. Meals included for the day are breakfast and lunch.

Day 6: Cu Chi Tunnel trip and dinner on Bon Sai cruise

This morning you will drive to Cu Chi Tunnels, a historical relic site from Vietnam War in outskirt of Ho Chi Minh City. At its height, the tunnel system stretched over 250 kilometers, from Saigon to the Cambodian border, and was three levels deep. The network included innumerable trap doors, specially constructed living areas, storage facilities, weapons factories, field hospitals, command centers, and kitchens. Today the remaining tunnels have become a major tourist attraction giving the visitor a unique experience and a feel of what underground life during the U.S.-Vietnam War must have been like.

Next you will join for a Bonsai Cruise dinner for two hours. You will be met at 6:45 p.m. and will board the cruise between 6:45 p.m. to 7:15 p.m. You will be whisked away on a wonderful evening of wining and dining on a calm, cerulean river. A creative menu, an unparalleled atmosphere with musical highlights, and the energy of Saigon will add up to one unforgettable experience.

All this takes place on a 50-meter long ship decked out to recreate the classic Indochine feel with a contemporary touch. The design of the ship was inspired by the cruise owners passion and enthusiasm for the country as well as the local river life in and around Saigon. Upper and lower decks of the vessel are dedicated to the buffet dining, while the terrace and sun-deck offer a panoramic view of the charming cosmopolitan Saigon skyline.

The menu is designed to tantalize the palate in new and interesting ways using only the best and freshest ingredients from this region. The kitchen is open, so the guests can watch the skill with which their food is prepared. Don’t miss out on the live wok noodle station. The cruise distance is 11 kilometers.

On the way, you will see the Bason Shipyard (1790), Bach dang pier and monument, Grand hotel (1930), Majestic Hotel (1925), Bitexco tower (highest tower with 264 meters), and Nha Rong “The Dragon Pier” (1863). You will disembark the cruise at 9:00 p.m. to 9:15 p.m. Today you will be staying overnight in Ho Chi Minh City. Meals included for the day are breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

Day 7: Departure

There is no activity planned for today so you are free to enjoy your free time souvenir shopping until transfer to the airport for your onward flight. It will take 30 minutes to reach Tan Son Nhat Airport from Ho Chi Minh City downtown. Meals included for the day is breakfast.

Please note that airline schedules and local conditions may affect accommodation and itineraries. Should this occur, Luxury Travel will endeavor to substitute a suitable arrangement of similar value.

Included excursions

  • City tour in Ho Chi Minh City
  • Cruise trip on Halong Bay
  • Dinner and sightseeing on Bon Sai cruise
  • Drive to Cu Chi Tunnel
  • Food tour in Hanoi
  • Market tour of Ben Thanh Market

Location

This culinary vacation will take place in Hanoi, Halong Bay, and Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam. Vietnam, which consists of 54 ethnic groups with their different costumes and cultures, also wonderful natural landscapes,is today a dream destination for travelers coming to Southeast Asia.

Apart from the many UNESCO World Heritage sites- both natural and cultural, seductive beaches and diversified gastronomy, the image of Vietnamese people leave a beautiful memory for those who put their feet on the land in the shape of s: simple, sincere, smiling, and so much more.

Vietnam has a surface area of 330,967 kilometer sqaure and has a population of nearly 92.7 million inhabitants, 80% of whom are made up of Kinh and the rest of the population (about 20%) is made up of other ethnic minorities: Thais, Khmer, Muong, Hmong, etc. The main means of transportation are bicycles, rickshaws, motorcycles, mototaxis (‘xeom’ in Vietnamese), cars, bus, private minibus, train, and airplane.

Vietnam borders Cambodia, Laos, and China and stretches over 1650 kilometers along the eastern coast of the Indochinese Peninsula. The country’s two main cultivated areas are the Red River Delta (15,000 square kilometers) in the north and the Mekong Delta (40,000 square kilometers) in the south. Three-quarters of the country is mountainous and hilly; the highest peak is the 3.143 meters high Fansipan in northwest Vietnam.

Vietnam is made up of equatorial lowlands, high and temperate plateaus and alpine peaks. Although Vietnam’s wildlife is rich, it is in precipitous decline because of the destruction of habitats and illegal hunting. Less than 20% of the country remains forested, and what remains is under threat from slash and burn agriculture and excessive harvesting. Fauna includes elephants, rhinoceros, tigers, leopards, black bears, snubs-nosed monkeys, crocodiles, and turtles.

Hanoi

The colonial capital city Hanoi is a unique Asian city with tree-lined boulevards, French colonial architecture, peaceful lakes, and oriental pagodas and temples dating back a thousand years.

Ho Chi Minh City

Also known as Saigon, the city is still frequently referred to, is Vietnam ‘s largest city with a population in excess of 6 million. It is a fast-paced city full of contrasts as street vendors selling fruit and vegetables can be seen next to glitzy western-style bars and boutiques.

Food

This culinary vacation includes daily breakfast. You will also receive four lunches and three dinners. You will begin your culinary tour on day one when you will head into Hanoi city for food tour. There you will get to taste Vietnam's famous dishes - Nom Bo Kho” (dry beef salad), “Nem Ran” (spring roll), “Pho Cuon” (stuffed pancake), “Pho”, “Banh Mi“ (Vietnamese sandwich), and Vietnamese “Ca Phe Trung” (egg coffee).

During this culinary tour, you will have two cooking classes one in Hanoi and other in Ho Chi Minh City. There will also be a two hours cooking demo class during the cruise. On your last day, you will have a special dinner aboard Bonsai Cruise. Water and tissues will be available while travelling on the coach.

The cuisine of Vietnam is excellent. Rice and noodle dishes are the staple of Vietnamese food and are garnished with aromatic lemon grass and/or fresh coriander. Fish, chicken, and/or pork dishes along with cooked vegetables and rice form a typical meal. Asian and European food is available throughout the country.

Drinking tap water or ice is not recommended. Bottled water is readily available but remember to check the seal for possible tampering. Vietnamese coffee is usually very strong and has a punctuated mockup aroma and flavors. It is usually served in a small glass or cup with a drip filter and additional hot water in a thermos. As the filter empties you top it up from the thermos until you have the required amount of coffee. Condensed milk is added as a whitener and sweetener as it is usually not possible to find fresh milk away from the main cities.

Beer is available just about everywhere. Most places stock a selection of local and some imported brands. Draught beer comes in two varieties, Beer Hoi or Beer Tuoi. Beer Hoi is draught beer found on the street stalls and poured straight from the keg. Vietnamese quite often add ice to their beer when drinking.

Popular dishes

Pho

The star of the Vietnamese dishes is undoubtedly the famous Pho Bo soup. It is the national dish and the Vietnamese eat it also for breakfast. It’s a rice noodle soup with finite veal slices.

Bún chả

One of the favorite dishes of foreigners when they come to Vietnam, is a combined dish of rice noodle, lettuce, minced pork, peanuts, pork strips, and vegetables. All that bathed in fish sauce. Tastes as good as it sounds!

Spring rolls Cha Gio and Goi Cuon

Surely the easiest thing to identify and ask and even if you already know them, you have to try the two types of rolls you find in Vietnam- the Cha Gio (Rice paper roll, usually stuffed with minced pork, mushrooms, rice noodles and vegetables and eaten fried) and the Goi Cuon (Raw rice paper roll stuffed with vegetables, prawns and noodles. Serve at room temperature and dip in the fish sauce).

Banh Xeo

The Ban Xeo is a stuffed pancake that according to the regions can be served medium or large size and contains several ingredients: vegetables, bean sprouts, prawns, basil, eggs, mint, pork, and more. One has to wrap the pancake in a leaf of rice and mix herbs and spices to your liking, making a roll that is then dipped in soy or fish sauce.

Banh Mí

Legacy of the French it is the national baguette and it is very, very tasty. You can order it with pork, chicken, cow or also with paté or egg. Ideal for a snack or breakfast.

The following meals are included:

  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
  • Dinner

The following dietary requirement(s) are served and/or catered for:

  • Regular (typically includes meat and fish)
If you have special dietary requirements it's a good idea to communicate it to the organiser when making a reservation

What's included

  • 2 cooking classes
  • 1 cooking demo class on cruise
  • Halong Bay cruise
  • All activities/ tours mentioned in the itinerary
  • Private door-to-door pick-up and drop-off services
  • All private transfer and transportation
  • Vietnam visa approval letter on arrival as complementary
  • All in-tour flights as indicated in the itinerary
  • Tissues and water on coach
  • Services charges and government tax
  • Exclusive and personalized single agent and single customer service
  • No extra charge after services confirmation
  • 24/7 hotline support guaranteed
  • Experienced English-speaking guide during all tours and transfers
  • Daily breakfast, four lunches, and three dinners
  • 6 nights accommodation

What's not included

  • International flight tickets
  • Meals not included in itinerary
  • Travel insurance
  • Visa stamping fee at the airport (25 USD in Vietnam by cash at the airport)
  • Tipping for guides, drivers, hotel staff, restaurant staff, boat rider, etc.
  • Personal expenses, such as laundry, telephone, drinks, etc.
  • All other services not specified in the itinerary
  • Surcharge for peak seasons, tet Lunar New year holidays,
  • Compulsory dinner at some hotel and resort on Christmas and New year’s eve

Cancellation Policy

  • A reservation requires a deposit of 20% of the total price.
  • The deposit is non-refundable, if the booking is cancelled.
  • The rest of the payment should be paid 30 days before arrival.
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