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CULINARY DELIGHTS OF VIETNAM 12 DAYS

Vietnamese cuisine is highly regarded as one of the world's best, but few realize the variations that are found in the regional cuisines. Just like the country's geographical divisions, the food can also be separated in to South, Central, and Northern style.

As you travel up the coast on this twelve day tour, experience the best Vietnamese culture, history, beaches, and food, all the while staying in luxury hotels. With exclusive cooking courses and meals at top restaurants, this tour is sure to please the taste buds. 

Quick Reference Itinerary

  • Day 1 - Saigon arrival
  • Day 2 - Saigon cooking
  • Day 3 - Saigon - Mekong Delta.
  • Day 4 - Saigon - Fly to Da Nang - Hoian
  • Day 5 - Hoian ancient town
  • Day 6 - Hoian - Hue
  • Day 7 - Hue Imperial
  • Day 8 - Hue - Fly to Ha Noi.
  • Day 9 - Hanoi city
  • Day 10 - Hanoi - Halong Bay
  • Day 11 - Halong Bay - Hanoi - Bat Trang pottery village
  • Day 12 - Hanoi Departure
View full itinerary

Trip Highlight

Explore Saigon city, learn how to cook and enjoy the cuisine of South Vietnam.

Visit the famous Cai Be colorful floating market and enjoy the famous dish “Fried Mekong Elephant Ear Fish”.

Enjoy your dinner on Indochina junk, cruise along Saigon river.

Visit Hoian with the 400 year-old Japanese Covered Bridge and the colourful market.

Learn how to cook the cuisine of Central Vietnam in Hoian and Hue.

Explore Hanoi Old Quarter and local markets.

Learn how to cook Hanoi food and enjoy street food.

Relax amongst the 3000 stunning limestone islets onboard a luxurious traditional cruise boat in Halong bay.

     

Destinations

  • Saigon arrival

    Day 1: Saigon arrival

    You are welcomed by our guide and driver at Tan Son Nhat international airport and then be transferred to your hotel.

    The cuisine of South Vietnam has been influenced by the cuisines of the Khmer people and thus Southerners prefer sweet flavours in many dishes. As a new land, the South's cuisine is more exotic and liberal, using many herbs.

    Have your dinner at Maxim's Nam An restaurant - one of the most luxurious restaurants serving Vietnamese food in Saigon. Free you time at leisure. Overnight in Saigon


    Meals:  D
  • Saigon cooking

    Day 2: Saigon cooking

    Let the cooking begin! This morning you’ll be visiting a local home to learn how true Saigonese live and cook. Start early at a suburban Ho Chi Minh City market (whilst it’s still busy) with your host who is more than happy to show you around their local neighbourhood and share some of their favourite dishes. You’ll then head back to the house to start your cooking, which you’ll eventually devour for lunch! A selection of dishes can be chosen from a menu, so see (in advance) what tickles your fancy. We transfer back to the city.

    This afternoon step off the beaten track and take a stroll to the oldest quarter of the city. Explore Saigon’s well-kept secret - Antiques Street (Le Cong Kieu), where genuine antiques are mixed in with genuine fakes: Aladdin oil lamps, carved wooden chests, Marelli copper fans, opium pipes, abacuses, etc. You can also find military cast-offs from the Vietnam War, and if you look hard enough, relics from the French Indochina era. Follow a typical street to reach the Beaux-Arts Museum, a superb neo-colonial building home to various modern arts. Explore the art galleries surrounding the museum, where local artists gladly display their talent. A visit in Ho Chi Minh City would not be complete without a taste of its best ice cream - Fanny’s, a quaint little French atmospheric parlour offering everything from durian ice cream to lychee sorbet.  

    Dinner tonight at a local style restaurant which serves Banh Xeo. Hugely popular local style restaurant serving a savoury pancake stuffed with prawns, pork and vegetables. Establishment in 1941 this is one of the city’s most popular eateries for locals. A local experience however high tables and comfortable seating are offered. 

    Free you time at leisure. Overnight in Saigon.


    Meals:  B,L,D
    Hotel:
      As Above
  • Saigon - Mekong Delta.

    Day 3: Saigon - Mekong Delta.

    Breakfast at hotel. We’ll take a scenic early morning drive to Vinh Long (140 km), stop for photos at Tan An town over the flat rice fields. Upon embarkation on Cai Be Princess boat (Victoria cruise), you are welcomed with fresh cotton towels & seasonal fresh fruits.

    The tour will start with the visit of Cai Be colorful floating market, cruising among local sampans coming from all provinces of the delta full of fruits and vegetables. Your sampan will proceed to Dong Hoa Hiep island located between Vinh Long and Cai Be. During a 40 minutes cruise, you will be able to discover beautiful landscapes along the river and observe the typical Mekong delta rural life. These evergreen islands among the Mekong river still remain unknown to many people.

    We will visit an ancient mandarin house dating from the 19 century where the family will welcome you with a cup of honey tea. Back on board, we will lead to you to observe the activity of the biggest rice stock market. Further, others stops will allow you to see a traditional bricks and tiles factory and how locals are using palm leaves for houses. Cruising 20 minutes further to Phu An hamlet passing by Cai Be beautiful church, we will have a visit at some interesting home factories to see how rice paste is made, but also rice cookies, coco candies, as well as longan fruits drying process.

    Lunch will await you at Le Longanier restaurant, a superb indochine villa located in a lush tropical garden by the river, surrounded by fruit orchards. You will have a chance to enjoy the famous dish “Fried Mekong Elephant Ear Fish”.

    After a short walk along a beautiful canal, the excursion will end at approx. 3.30pm at Ba Bon bridge - where our driver will meet you. Transfer back to Saigon. 

    Enjoy your dinner on Indochina junk, cruise along Saigon river, enjoy your dishes and listening to traditional folk music, sing and dance. You will have relaxation-time to catch the over view of the city, people working at Saigon port. Along both sides of the river are mansions, life of the civilians…Overnight in Saigon.


    Meals:  B,L,D
    Hotel:
      As Above
  • Saigon - Fly to Da Nang - Hoian

    Day 4: Saigon - Fly to Da Nang - Hoian

    Transfer to the Saigon airport for a morning flight to central Vietnam - Da Nang city. 

    From the Danang airport, it’s a 30-minute drive to the ancient port town of Hoi An. Despite the passing of 200 years and the ravages of weather and war, the centre of Hoi An remains much the same as it was in its heyday. A walking tour is the best way to see this marvellous town. Visit the former merchants’ homes, the 400 year-old Japanese Covered Bridge and the colourful market.

    The cuisine of Central Vietnam is quite different from the cuisines of both the Northern and Southern regions, not only in presentation but in flavour as well.  Central cuisine is served as a course of many small side dishes, and compared to its counterparts it has a distinctive spiciness.   

    Lunch at Morning Glory Restaurant. Situated in an elegant traditional style building in the heart of Hoi An’s old town, Morning Glory offers ‘Street Food’ on the ground floor of the restaurant featuring Hoi An specialty foods. The upstairs balcony is perfect for small group as the views are excellent over the street.

    This afternoon spend time with a local farming family to learn about their daily lifestyle and to discover the flavours of fresh Vietnamese cuisine. Bike along shady lanes to the village of Tra Que and see the farmers as they work on their organic herb garden. Join in at making tam huu, a local delicacy before sitting down for a light, home cooked meal including bang khoai, a speciality savoury pancake wrapped in rice paper. At the end of the afternoon return to Hoi An by vehicle.

    Free you time at leisure. Overnight in Hoian. 


    Meals:  B,L,D
  • Hoian ancient town

    Day 5: Hoian ancient town

    Chef and proprietor Duc Tram from Mango Rooms' creates eclectic and innovative flavours reflective of his worldwide culinary journey. Born in what was then Saigon in 1968, Duc went the long way round — via Texas, Latin America, Japan, New Zealand, Europe, and Australia. Fifteen years later, armed with learned skills and dedication, Duc returned to Vietnam to open Mango Rooms Hoi An in 2004. A passionate and extremely talented chef with in depth knowledge on the Hoi An food scene Duc will take you on a half day culinary journey embracing a combination of refreshing flavours, beautiful presentations as well as a visit to Hoi An Market to meet the vendors who supply him daily with some of the finest and freshest ingredients in Vietnam.    

    Depart from your hotel early to meet Chef Duc at Hoi An Market at 0800 to choose some of the ingredients that will be used in the day’s lesson. Duc will introduce the various ingredients on sale at the market that he uses in his cooking as well as his favourite produce. The fish section (not for the faint hearted as the smell can overwhelm) is a hive of activity and it’s fascinating to see the range of seafood on offer. After visiting the market stroll through the ancient streets of Hoi An to Mango Mango Restaurant where the hands on cooking class will take place. Learn how to season and make Duc’s signature dishes: Lust in Translation: tuna rolls double layered with nori and rice paper sheets served crispy and topped with yogurt, passion fruit, and mint, Pearl of Vietnam Sea: large prawns battered Japanese-Vietnamese Style tossed in with onion, green bell pepper, garlic, and butter, Mangnum Opus: blue fin tuna steak seasoned in garlic, onion, ginger, basil, sesame seeds, pan seared and served with mango salsa. Following the class sit down to enjoy your creations!  

    The afternoon is free to relax on the beach or browse for souvenirs in Hoi An’s art galleries and silk shops. Evening is your free time to discover Hoi An. 


    Meals:  B,L
    Hotel:
      As Above
  • Hoian - Hue

    Day 6: Hoian - Hue

    Today’s food tasting tour is an entertaining and informative way to see a different side of Hoi An through its food. Visit a local market off the tourist map then sit down to sample an astounding 36 local delicacies bought directly from the vendors - from sweet to the savoury, noodles, sticky rice, a myriad of spring rolls, tropical fruits and dishes only found in Hoi An.   

    0745 pick up from your hotel then continue to the starting point of the street food tour. Start at a colourful and friendly ‘wet market’ where you’ll get the chance to meet and chat with stall holders to learn more on the huge choice of ingredients on sale. Everything from silk worms, a huge variety of fresh fragrant herbs and vegetables to the meat and fish sections will be seen. Leaving the market continue along both high streets and back streets, discovering out-of-the-way producers and street vendors making and selling a wide variety of exotic foods. Your final destination of the morning will be a comfortable restaurant where the tasting session will begin. A wide selection of local delicacies bought directly from the vendors – will be tried. Learn the names and meanings of different local foods and how to pronounce the names as well as the main ingredients and how they should be eaten. This tasting session will give you a deeper understanding of Vietnamese cuisine  and the purpose of the tour is to give an opportunity to try the huge variety of foods of the local Hoi An people – the benefit also goes back to the vendors as all dishes are bought directly from them.   

    We leave Hoi An for Hue for the 3-hour drive to Hue Imperial city. The scenic route passes through Danang where you will visit the Cham museum that has collected and exhibited the finest collection of Cham statues and works of art. After your visit, continue the drive over the Pass of Ocean Clouds and dropping down to the wonderfully photogenic fishing village of Lang Co.   

    No culinary tour of Vietnam would be complete without a visit to Hue. Regarded as the best in the country, the ‘royal cuisine’ of Hue originated with in the days of the Nguyen Dynasty, when the rulers were served lavish meals with contains specific culinary demands. Although the emphasis today is on presentation, the delicious flavours of the royal cuisine continue to tempt modern palettes.   

    Dine tonight at the private ‘garden house’ known locally as ‘nha vuon’ of one Hue's most famous architects. This traditional style house, which is set in a large and attractive formal garden, has connections with the ancient Hue Royal Imperial Court. The traditional architecture has long been associated with the natural environment and the ancient belief of ‘feng-shui’. On arrival you’ll be greeted in the foyer of this magnificent house with a traditional Vietnamese welcome. The lady of the house will personally prepare an extraordinary Vietnamese meal which is served privately in the traditional manner in the private gardens of her home. 


    Meals:  B,D
  • Hue Imperial

    Day 7: Hue Imperial

    Pick up from hotel by cyclo and head to dai noi ‘Old City’ to Tinh Tam Lake where the Emperors used to come to relax; full of lotus flowers in summer there are many local style coffee shops around the lake where university students come to study. Continue by cyclo to Tay Loc Market which is located in the northwest part Dai Noi. This market is mostly for locals and is rarely visited by tourists. From here transfer by vehicle to the Imperial Citadel where the Nguyen Dynasty ruled between 1802 and 1945. The ancient citadel reflects the pomp and ceremony of the dynastic rulers as well as the scars of many years of turmoil, both ancient and modern (the Royal Citadel was badly damaged in the latter stages of the war) but retains a sense of grace and majesty even today. Continue to visit Thien Mu (Celestial Lady) Pagoda overlooking the Perfume River; constructed in 1601 the 21-meter tall tower is the centrepiece of the pagoda and represents seven reincarnations of Buddha. In the grounds of the pagoda is the Austin car made famous when in 1963, a resident monk drove the vehicle to what was then Saigon to protest against the southern regime, the photo of his self immortalization was captured and was one of the most well known images of the war.  

    For lunch try some Hue specialty food at Huynh Anh Kim Long. Frequented only by the locals and serving banh uot, a steamed rice pancake stuffed with delicate, finely chopped pork and bun thit nuong which is a rice noodle dish served with grilled meat. In the afternoon see the tomb of the former emperor Minh Mang which is located in a tranquil setting of gardens and ponds. Journey on to Khai Dinh’s Tomb which is traditional Vietnamese in design with a European touch making it unique from the other tombs in Hue. Transfer back to your hotel. Evening at leisure.  


    Meals:  B,L
    Hotel:
      As Above
  • Hue - Fly to Ha Noi.

    Day 8: Hue - Fly to Ha Noi.

    After a morning at your leisure, transfer to the airport for a short flight to Hanoi, Vietnam’s capital. Upon arrival, your guide and private car will meet you and transfer you to your hotel for check-in.   Take a walking/street food tour of Hanoi’s best culinary spots with a food blogger. A local hospitality industry insider who has an enormous passion for his country's food and culture, his blog is where he started to document his food and culture adventures since 2005. Quirky observations also found their way into both local and international media and his experience managing some of Hanoi 's finest dining establishments along with his special interest in street-food (he's shared many hours trawling the street stalls and markets) make him the genuine, local authority on Hanoi 's food scene. Your specialist street food guide and your private vehicle and driver will meet at the hotel. Drive to the centre of Hanoi and en-route run through the program. Once in the centre of town the tour will be mostly conducted on foot so be sure that you are wearing comfortable walking shoes Stroll through Old Quarter, past the old east gate to Thanh Ha market. Along the way delicacies, strange food items and an explanation of Vietnamese food practices will be given. This busy, eclectic market is alive with the sights and sounds of Hanoi and is the essence of Vietnamese culture. Continue through the streets of the Old Quarter to Dong Xuan market to sample some local treats such as pho bo and bun dau. Your guide will explain the routine of Vietnam meal times and indigenous/unusual ingredients eaten. Stroll up ‘food alley’ to see other dishes on offer. From here visit the food sections of Hanoi’s main market, Dong Xuan. See dried goods and aromatics, the essentials of Vietnamese cuisine. At the end of the tour stop at one of the Old Quarter busiest coffee shops for a well-earned sit down and coffee before transferring back to your hotel.  

    Tonight dine at La Verticale which is located in a charming villa which dates back to the 1930’s. The cuisine is considered as artistic, uncluttered at the same time extremely diverse in flavour. Acclaimed Chef and owner Didier Corlou has lived in Vietnam for 15 years and has a clear love affair with Vietnamese food.  

    Free you time at leisure. Overnight in Hanoi.


    Meals:  B,L,D
  • Hanoi city

    Day 9: Hanoi city

    Hit the streets of Hanoi for a full day street food tour and cooking class with an American chef/culinary instructor and food writer. A Hanoi resident and the author of five cookbooks, your specialist guide for the day leads gastronomic adventure tours in Latin America and Southeast Asia. Start the day with the locals with Hanoi’s celebrated beef and rice noodle soup, Pho. During breakfast, an overview of the Vietnamese food scene, particularly in Hanoi, and discuss the upcoming day’s activities. Continue to a local market within the city to learn about and taste some of the ingredients used in the local cuisine and to watch the buying and selling rituals of a Vietnamese market. Your culinary expert will introduce you to some of the vendors, explain about the ingredients for sale and assist you with purchasing items to take home (if desired). Many photo opportunities will be available in this bustling, vibrant and colourful scene. Next have a Vietnamese ca phe (coffee) or tra (tea) with the locals at one of the many sidewalk cafes in the historic French Quarter. Drive to Truc Bach lake for a snack of Pho Cuon, a grilled beef and rice noodle roll. From here visit a neighbourhood market near the Temple of Literature. This is a smaller market where your culinary expert shops almost daily. You will have a chance to visit more closely with some of his vendor friends and to learn even more about the food.  

    Lunch at one of Hanoi’s best bún cha establishments, Bún Cha Chanh, open only a few hours in the afternoon, this place is run by a couple of sisters and uses real wood for the cooking and they still fan the fire by hand instead of the ubiquitous electric fans. Situated down a narrow lane, you will sit on tiny stools at low plastic tables along with the regular crowd of bún cha aficionados and enjoy traditional grilled pork and rice vermicelli noodles with fresh herbs and greens like true Hanoian. Very few foreigners ever find this eatery so it is a very special treat. A final stop at one of Hanoi’s renowned Bia Hoi, where they serve fresh draft beer and tasty snacks. These “pubs” are traditional favourite social gathering spots as well as watering holes during the afternoons and evenings throughout Hanoi.

    Evening at leisure.  


    Meals:  B,L
    Hotel:
      As Above
  • Hanoi - Halong Bay

    Day 10: Hanoi - Halong Bay

    Breakfast at hotel. We depart for Ha Long city (170 km), approximately three hours away to visit Halong bay (a World Natural Heritage site and a New World’s wonder). Halong bay features thousands of limestone karsts and isles in various sizes and shapes with 1969 islets. Several of the islands are hollow, with enormous caves, other support floating villages of fishermen. You have chance of observing scenic country side of Vietnam dominated by enormous lush rice field.

    Upon arrival. Check-in between 11:30 - 12:00 at the boat port. Enjoy a refreshing “Welcome cocktail” upon check-in on the sun deck. Enjoy your lunch as the vessel sails to Halong Bay passing the Fighting cocks islet, the Elephant leg islet, the Castle islet, the Soi Sim Island. Arrive at Surprise grotto - one of the most famous grotto in the entire Halong, we will visit the cave by Tender. After taking a lot of photos and admire the beauty of the cave we will visit the fishing village by local rowing boat (1 hour) with the opportunity to interact with fishermen who have been living in the bay for almost three generations then we return to the vessel for free time at your leisure. You can swim in the clear emerald waters, soak up the sun over a cool beer on the top deck sun lounge or try your hand at some kayaking (your account) amongst the huge limestone outcrops that surround us. We retire to the junk and relax on the top deck and enjoy a refreshing drink from the bar. Enjoy and learn the Vietnamese cooking demonstration on the sundeck. Your delicious seafood dinner will be served at the restaurant. Stay overnight on cruise for a more in-depth experience.

    (The itinerary above may be changed depending on the cruise we choose and weather permitting).


    Meals:  B,L,D
  • Halong Bay - Hanoi - Bat Trang pottery village

    Day 11: Halong Bay - Hanoi - Bat Trang pottery village

    Greet the day with a morning Tai Chi exercise with an opportunity to view the sunrise over the bay. Sitting on the upper desk we can enjoy the breath - taking beauty of the rocky islands rising from the crystal-clear water of the bay. We can hear the birds singing, cicadas chirping ashore and the gentle lapping of the waves against our boat, the perfect soundtrack to accompany the fresh air and gentle breeze.

    International brunch buffet served in the restaurant. Check-out on board and disembarkation at boat port, Halong city.

    Our tour guide and driver will pick you up and transfer to Hanoi. Stopping en-route to visit the Bat Trang pottery village where you can watch the artisans forming, painting and glazing their products, which are then baked for several days in huge kilns…Free your time at leisure, walking or shopping around the old quarter. Overnight in Hanoi.


    Meals:  B,L
    Hotel:
      As Above
  • Hanoi Departure

    Day 12: Hanoi Departure

    Breakfast at hotel. We can visit the Ho Chi Minh complex (Closed on Mondays and Fridays mornings and whole September and October for annual repairs). Free time to relax or visit the exciting Dong Xuan covered market, the oldest and largest market in Hanoi. Here you can buy anything from ‘ghost money’ (usually fake $100 bills!) to replica Louis Vuitton bags. Our guide and driver will pick you up at your hotel and transfer to the airport for your departure flight. 


    Meals:  B
    Hotel:
      As Above
Vietnam Travel Land

Suite 503 Luxury Building, 59 Vo Chi Cong Str, Cau Giay Dist, Hanoi Capital, Vietnam.

Tel: 84 (0) 24 3728 1570 * Fax: 84 (0) 24 3728 1569

Email: sales@vietnamtraveland.com ; sales@actvietnamtravel.com

Website: https://www.vietnamtraveland.com/

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