Vietnam Culinary Adventure - 12 days



OVERVIEW
From the subtle sweetness of Saigon to the sizzling spice of Hue to the harmonious flavors of Hanoi, this tour takes you right to the heart of the different regional cuisines from mouthwatering street food to sophisticated fine dining. See where the food is cultivated in the countryside, discover where it is bought in the local markets and learn how it is prepared with a cooking class. Vietnam is home to one of the world´s great cuisines and this culinary journey will make you an expert.

HIGHTLIGHTS
- The trip offers you different experiences of various cuisines from south to north of Vietnam, from street food stalls to fine dining restaurants.
- Sharing your culinary passions with local chefs, bartender and Vietnamese home hosts
- Get yourselves into the local cultural activities, not just come and see. 
- Discover the significant landscapes and cultural sites along the country.

HO CHI MINH CITY - MEKONG DELTA - DANANG - HOI AN - HUE - HANOI - HA LONG BAY - HANOI

DETAILED ITINERARY

DAY 1: HO CHI MINH CITY ARRIVAL
Upon arrival at Tan Son Nhat airport in Ho Chi Minh City, welcomed by our guide and you will be escorted to your hotel in the city center.  Time for freshen up and relax after a long journey.
Overnight in Ho Chi Minh City.
 
 
DAY 2: HO CHI MINH CITY – CITY ORIENTATION – STREET FOOD BY CYCLO (B/L/D)
Start your day with a good breakfast at hotel. After breakfast, explore Ho Chi Minh City’s historic by the locals, and experience the city as it was before the war. Visit the War Remnants Museum - originally opened in September 1975, it displays old military equipment and other related items from Vietnam War. We continue to visit the Reunification Palace, former residence of the Indochina Governor General and late President of the Republic of Southern Vietnam until the fall of Saigon in Apr 30, 1975. Walk down to see Notre Dame Cathedral and General Post Office which are beautiful examples of architecture from the French colonial period
 
Enjoy lunch at Pho Hoa Pasteur - one of the best places to sample Vietnam’s most popular noodle soup. The restaurant has been run by successive generations of the same family which adds a little history to your meal. The broth recipe here is a family secret which helps create a little mystique around the flavors. Served with your bowl of pho is a plate of deep fried bread called “qouy”. This bread is actually of Chinese origin but it is finding favor as a daytime side dish. Return to your hotel to rest & relax.
 
Late afternoon, meet your guide again at your hotel’s lobby for street food tour by traditional cyclo (traditional three-wheel bicycle). Vietnam cuisine has brilliant balance of flavors, heat, sweetness, sourness, and fish-sauciness. It mixes together a range of flavors and tastes, but balance between fresh herbs & meats and a selective use of spices. Taste Vietnamese dishes and be satisfied mouth-feel during the dining enjoyment. In Vietnam, street eateries are everywhere to delight in either your stomach or your appetite at any time. We will slowly ride through bustling Saigon’s streets, visit local markets and taste some popular Saigon street food in the hidden area. Sampling a variety of street food while learning about the special significant of each dish; discover the delicious variety of tastings, simplicity and find out why Saigon street food experience is becoming popular over the last few years.
Overnight in Ho Chi Minh City.
 
 
DAY 3: HO CHI MINH CITY – MEKONG DELTA (B/L)
The “rice bowl” of Vietnam, Mekong delta is carpeted with rice paddies, floating markets, crisscross rivers and canals. Ben Tre, popular known for coconut, attracts visitors to its fresh-aired environment of large green coconut & fruits gardens. Join us, experience the slow pace delta life, meet very friendly local, feel the generous hospitality and blow away the stresses of modern life.

After around 2.5-hours-drive from busting city, we arrive Ben Tre. You then board on Apricot cruise, a new boat with design open on all sides to allow the river breezes to flow freely. As meandering down the Mekong, you'll have a chance to observe from the comfort of your Apricot cruise as it plays out on the riverbanks: the people, the stunning landscapes while your attentive crew serves cold drink and seasonal fruit.
Your first visit is at coconut-shell-charcoal processing on a small islet. Observe the whole procedure and find out that the locals utilize every bit of the coconut. Back to Apricot Cruise and a short boating will drive you to the next attractions. Hop on the mainland, drop a visit to see how local peel off coconut husk by simple tools. Next is a tuk-tuk ride taking you to a local family making coconut-leaves-swobs. Meet our friendly host, gain an insight into local traditional methods to make a swob. Hands-on and have fun experiences.

Continue with a relaxing bike ride on the lush and ever green rural road. Cycle through peaceful villages, meet friendly & smiling locals saying hello and feel the tranquil scenes of rural life. Next is a rowing boat through the crisscross canals. Be relaxed while observing the slow pace of Mekong Delta life. You then have a short walk on the narrow village lane to Mr. Ba’s family. His hospitable greetings and tasty local cake will make you feel that being at home. His family member is happy to share you the local cake making procedure. Join them, try to make one local cake on your own under their enthusiastic instruction. Enjoy tea with honey and dried coconut while chatting with them about their daily routine, the local culture, custom and why you don’t let a local fortune-teller tell you what is supposed to happen in the future.
Lunch is served with Mekong specialties at Apricot riverside restaurant. Relax, enjoy the tranquil atmosphere before transferring to the pier where the waiting driver will take you back to Ho Chi Minh City.
 
Optional Craft Beer Tasting  
This tour reveals the best craft breweries in town. We will ride you around the busy city streets in between 4 different venues on the back of vintage Vespas. These new breweries in Ho Chi Minh City are taking flavor to the next level, exploring worldwide brews with local Vietnamese essences at four fascinatingly different places!
All the beers have been carefully selected by each Master Brewer especially for this adventure, so you can get a taste of the broad range of flavors of the impressively growing craft beer scene in this vibrant city. Our tour will share knowledge, story and the actual brewing process with unique ingredients & flavors, so you can fully appreciate the taste of their creations.
Our scope goes from independent brewers still producing small batches of beer at home, to the most famous brands of craft beer and cider in town, Apart from multiple tastings of the best beers, each place also offers a variety of delicious and elaborate food pairings include gourmet tapas and some Vietnamese inspired bites.
Inclusions: Round trip transfer by vintage Vespa, experienced driver, helmet, English speaking guide, craft beers & matching foods
Pick-up time: 17:30pm at your hotel’s lobby by Vespa
Duration: 4.5 - 5 hours
 
 
DAY 4: HO CHI MINH CITY – FLY TO DANANG & DRIVE TO HOI AN (B)
After a delicious breakfast at hotel, leave to airport for a short flight to Danang City. Our local guide meets you at airport on arrival and drive another 40’ to the quant of Hoi An. Check-in then go on a walking tour of this charming Ancient town, visit its fascinate architecture, Old Japanese covered bridge, Chinese assembly hall and local market where you will meet and chat with stall holders about their food. Our walking then 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 and taste local special dishes. We will try the famous baguette – Banh Mi Phuong.

Anthony Bourdain described Banh my Phuong with the lot as a "symphony in a sandwich". A perfect arrangement of crisp bread fills with homemade pork liver pâté mixed with fat and ground pork, thinly sliced roast pork loin, pork meat-loaf, sprout-sized coriander, a healthy dose of mint, Vietnamese coriander, thinly sliced green onions, lettuce, tomato, cucumber, pickled-julienned carrots, and the sauces which remain closely guarded secrets. Taste it and find out why it’s widely known rapidly in last few years.
Overnight in Hoi An
 
 
DAY 5: HOI AN – COUNTRYSIDE LIFE ON SCOOTER (B/L)
This countryside tour of Hoi An will give you real insight to local life. Setting off from Hotel/Resort in Hoi An, we ride over the bridge to Cam Kim Island and along the riverside into the beautiful rural countryside. First stops include an Ancestral House of Mr Huynh Ri spent time over 100 years and a traditional boat building yard before we set off to explore the sleepy island villages. Zig-zag riding through the breathtaking scenery of rice paddies & farmland and enjoy the cooling breeze. Next, learn from friendly local families the handicraft of mat weaving, farming, and how to make (and eat) the perfect Banh Dap rice crackers. Meeting local families is a must-do to see the real way of life in Vietnam.

Then we continue riding scooters to visit to a local café to fuel up on local drip-coffee & learn the art of coffee roasting. Then we make our way to the coast at the Thu Bon river mouth, along roads lined with Casuarina Pine & Cashew Nut Trees. Then visit Noi Rang market & Duy Hai fish market to explore & experience cultural with local buyer & seller (Note: The Noi Rang market will close before 10:00am).
Finally, it’s up high and over the Cua Dai bridge offering spectacular panoramic views of Hoi An, which takes us to the water coconut palm fringed Cam Thanh and then drop-off at a local restaurant for lunch.
After lunch, return to your hotel. Having free time to explore numerous art galleries, souvenirs and tailor shops where you can get some express made-to-order clothes if you like.
Enjoy the rest of the late afternoon at leisure.
Overnight in Hoi An

 

DAY 6:  HOI AN – HUE IMPERIAL CITY (B/L)

After breakfast, leave Hoi An for Hue Imperial City which is about 130km.

On your way to Hue, take a break from the top of the cloudy Hai Van Pass to grab your own Vietnam central coast panoramic view. Stop to visit King Minh Mang Tomb that located on the left bank of the Huong River, which represents the perfect harmony between nature and architecture. Minh Mang King (1821–1840) boasted to have 64 princesses and 78 princes.

After lunch at lush garden local restaurant, you will board a cruise upstream Perfume River for visiting Thien Mu Pagoda which is also home to many young people who want to try out and learn from life as a monk. History of Thien Mu Pagoda, dating back from the year 1601.

After that, go to your hotel to check-in. Overnight in Hue.

 

Optional Hue Royal Dinner at Royal Park Restaurant

Inclusions: Round trip transfer by car, English speaking guide, Hue royal dress, Hue music performance, Royal foods

 

DAY 7: HUE – HOME VISIT (B/L/D)

After breakfast, follow your guide to visit a local home who live 3 generations in a typical traditional garden house. Meet and walk with the host to nearby vibrant local market to purchase ingredients for lunch. At your host’s house, interact and exchange the culture, traditional with your hosts. Then, take a short walk to visit their family ancestral temple to learn about the customs associated with ancestral worship before coming back to see the cooking demonstration of traditional dishes and participate in setting the home meal. Enjoy a local lunch with your host’s family. Say goodbye to the host’s family then return to your hotel.

In the afternoon, we will visit the Imperial Citadel where Kings of Vietnam’s last feudal dynasty ruled from 1802 to 1945, including Flag Tower, Nine Holy Cannons, Ngo Mon Gate, Thai Hoa Palace, Nine Dynastic Urns, Forbidden Purple City.

We will then spend time at the well-known Dong Ba Market. All of the most special cultural gifts and souvenirs of Hue that remain until today can be found in Dong Ba Market. They include “non la bai tho” (conical hats having poems woven into their design) from Phu Cam Village, royal tea, lotus seed of Tinh Tam Lake and other local specialties. Dong Ba Market is also the place where you can try most of Hue’s delicious dishes within a place at a high quality standard. On the ground of the market, we will try many local specialties such as Banh beo, Banh nam, Banh loc, Nem Lui, Banh Khoai, Bun Thit Nuong (Rice noddle with grilled pork and vegie) and Che (sweet soup with many flavor). Overnight in Hue.

 

 

DAY 8: HUE – FLY TO HANOI – CITY TOUR (B/L/D)

After breakfast, take a short morning flight to Hanoi – Capital city of Vietnam. Upon arrival, you’re greeted and transfer to the City central.

Enjoy lunch at Huong Lien Restaurant where the Former US President Mr. Barack Obama ate bun cha in Hanoi with Anthony Bourdain, an American chef, author, and television personality.

After your good lunch, we visit Ho Chi Minh’s Mausoleum (viewed from outside), Van Mieu - Quoc Tu Giam (Temple of Literature & Vietnam’s first university). Constructed in 11th century, the gardens and well-preserved architecture offer a relaxing glimpse into Vietnam's past. Take a guided walk to visit Hanoi Old Quarter and Hoan Kiem Lake. We will also visit Hoa Lo Prison which was a prison used by the French colonists in French Indochina for political prisoners, and later by North Vietnam for U.S. Prisoners of War during the Vietnam War.

Then we will go to your hotel to check-in, rest & relax.

 

 

Tonight, get ready to enjoy one of the most famous dishes of North Vietnam: Cha Ca La Vong (grilled fish). The dish made from turmeric marinated fish fried with dill and green onion to make special flavor. It is tossed together with handfuls of dill, spring onion, roasted peanuts and served on a bed of rice vermicelli noodles. Hanoi has several stores serving Cha Ca, but none of them can be equal to the Cha Ca Road’s in terms of quality and flavor. According to oral history, a family at Hang Son Street invented his home cook fish dish in addition to earning more money. The delicious taste of Cha Ca soon made it popular so much that the whole street was named after it later on.

Cha Ca must be served while hot with rice vermicelli noodles, top of Vietnamese mint & coriander, along with nuoc cham, Vietnamese dipping sauce with its subtle notes of fish sauce, lime juice, sugar and a bit of heat from red chili. All makes Cha Ca tasty, savory and unique among best known dishes of Hanoi.

After dinner, try a glass of Bia Hoi - local draught beer at a small corner in the little Hanoi Old Quarter, and watch how the local life moving around you. If you are less interested in beer, then follow our local guide to a local coffee shop for a short Egg coffee demonstration and enjoy the Egg coffee which is most famous in Hanoi.

Overnight in Hanoi city.

 

DAY 9: HANOI – HOME COOKING & SECRET OF PHO (B/L/D)

After breakfast, we drive to Ngoc Thuy market - a vibrant and authentic local wet market for introduction of shopping habit of Vietnamese people and briefing about schedule of today special cooking class. Visit the shopping area of alive chicken; fish and buy all ingredients for the cooking class’ menu. You will also have the chance to visit and learn about the herbs, vegetable in a family garden nearby before learning how to cook 4 main dishes of a traditional meal.

Enjoy your own prepared lunch with one drink/person (mineral water or local beer). After lunch, return to your hotel to rest & relax.

Late afternoon, meet your guide again at your hotel’s lobby. Visit Tran Quoc Pagoda - Hanoi’s oldest pagoda on the bank of West Lake.  Next, we walk to Truc Bach Lake to visit the monument of John McCain, a famous American politician and naval officer. In October 1967, during the Vietnam War, his fighter plane was shot down over Hanoi. He parachuted into Truc Bach Lake, where he was rescued by the North Vietnamese. In fact, McCain spent the next five-and-a-half years as a high-profile prisoner of war in Hoa Lo Prison.

Continue by foot we will reach a street where you will get to know how the Hanoian cook and eat Pho in different ways. Since you have already tried a (or more) big bowl of traditional Pho noodle soup, you are here now in the capital of Pho, we would like to introduce different amazing types of Pho. The stories of Pho to be shared by our fascinated local guide during your tour tonight. First, you will be served some kinds of Pho, and other delicious dishes that not realized by many foreigners. Then, let’s explore a new way to enjoy Pho in Vietnam is “Pho” cocktail. The story of how “Pho” Cocktail invented to be told, and you will know how it is loved and served at some selected bars & lounges in the old town of Ha Noi as a signature drink. Enjoy Jazz music & Pho in a glass at the bar where the special cocktail is created. If you are lucky, you will have the chance to meet the Cocktail Barman Extraordinaire, who invented the cocktail. Talk with him and ask him to make a creative cocktail only for yourself and your mood of the day (additional cocktail at own expense). The bar also has a few other Vietnamese inspired creations on the menu. Many of signature cocktails are heavily influenced by Vietnamese culture and cuisine.

A great way to end the interesting day with unforgettable memories!

Overnight in Hanoi city.

 

 

DAY 10: HANOI – HA LONG BAY – THE WORLD HERITAGE (Breakfast, lunch, dinner)

After breakfast, take 3.5 hour drive to Ha Long Bay, one of the World Natural Heritages recognized by UNESCO with thousands of spectacular limestone islands rising from the clear, emerald sea in the Gulf of Tonkin.

Upon arrival, welcome aboard. Enjoy welcome drink before check in your cabin. While the junk is passing many rocky islets, caves, floating villages and beaches, a tasty lunch will be served on board with fresh seafood. Relax on the sundeck. Later on, the junk moves a quiet area to dock for overnight stay.

Dinner with Vietnamese food is served on board.

Overnight stay on board

Note: The itinerary of cruise in Halong may change without prior notice depending on situation.

 

DAY 11: HA LONG BAY – HANOI(Breakfast)

The junk cruises around Ha Long Bay, passes by many islets named by their shapes such as Dog, Incense Urn, Fighting Cock, Finger, etc. Breakfast or brunch is served while the junk then continues cruising towards the wharf. After disembarkation, travel back to Hanoi city.  Check in your hotel and enjoy free evening.

Overnight in Hanoi city.

Optional Vietnamese Traditional Wellness Package at Sen Garden

Be relaxed and getting better from touring days by joining in this traditional health care & massage package. Local therapeutic massages at Sen Garden is a signature product that combines Vietnamese unmatched methodology of natural (medicine-free) healthcare, which is crystallized from 25 years of experience, with our unique initiative in delivering a true experience of Hanoi’s traditional culture to clients.

After your early morning flight/before your midnight flight or after your excursion, you may love to be brought (by our guide or driver) to the Sen Garden Health Care Center to enjoy the very special package of “Sen Garden VIP health treatment” for 120 minutes in private room.

The package inclusive of:

Step 1: Take a warm shower

Step 2: Soak body in herbal wooden basin

Step 3: Private Jacuzzi with herbal water

Step 4: Traditional Sauna and steam bath

Step 5: Make body warm up with herbal water

Step 6: Relax and enjoy amazing Body massage treatment by professional therapist (90minutes).

Step 7: Enjoy some snacks at La Sen Restaurant.

 

Inclusions: Private roundtrip transfer by car, “Sen Garden VIP health treatment” for 120 minutes in private room,

Snacks  at La Sen Restaurant after the massage treatment.

 

DAY 12: HANOI DEPARTURE (Breakfast)

Free time for last minute shopping before transfer to International airport for departure flight




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