A culinary tour of Vietnam is only right for a country that boasts one of the finest cuisines in the world; gently influenced by its Thai and Chinese neighbours and its past-ties with France, Vietnam offers an immensely varied gastronomical experience.
DAY 1 - WELCOME TO VIETNAM!
Upon arrival to Hanoi’s Noi Bai airport, your guide and driver will welcome you and drive you to your hotel, the Meracus 2, which is in the heart of the Old Quarter. Tonight you will be taken to dinner at Madame Hien Restaurant, which will give you a hearty and appropriate introduction to Vietnamese cuisine. (Junior suite).
DAY 2 - EXPERIENCE THE CUISINE & CULTURE OF THE CAPITAL
This morning you will be driven to the Spices Garden Restaurant at the Sofitel Metropole Hotel, where you will spend the morning learning and preparing Vietnamese dishes under the guidance of expert chefs before enjoying the lunch you have prepared.This afternoon you will take a private tour of Hanoi, starting with the Temple of Literature (the first university in Vietnam), then Tran Quoc Pagoda on West Lake and finishing with a cyclo tour of the Old Quarter.
DAY 3 - FROM POLITICS TO STREET FOOD
Today you will explore Hanoi like a local; walk down the capital’s winding streets with a private walking, try local street food and have a local whipped coffee in a hidden coffee shop before exploring Hoa Lo Prison where American and French POWs were once held and the Temple of Literature built in 1076. Finish your day walking down the city’s railway tracks and then stop for a home brewed beer, the renowned Bia Hoi.
DAY 4 - TRANSFER TO THE MAGICAL LAND OF HALONG BAY
This morning you will depart to Halong Bay, a UNESCO world heritage site, which is home to the world’s largest marine limestone ‘karst’ landscape. On arrival you will board your boat, a wooden junk, and enjoy a slap-up lunch as you motor out into the bay. The itinerary will depend on the weather but is likely to include swimming and kayaking. We adore Paradise Luxury for its tastefully appointed cabins and top notch cuisine. (Deluxe Balcony Cabin).
DAY 5 - ENJOY A FULL DAY IN THE BAY
As the day breaks, you are invited to join a Tai Chi demonstration taking place on the top deck. Enjoy a buffet breakfast before being transferred to the Paradise day-boat, which will take you to a gorgeous bay. During the winter months you will then visit Cat Ba island and see local village life, and in the summer months you visit a floating village before returning to Paradise Peak for lunch. This afternoon there will be time for a kayak, swim or a cave trip before enjoying dinner and your evening at leisure.
DAY 6 - BID FAREWELL TO HALONG BAY
A colourful and tasty breakfast buffet will be served this morning as you make the most of the last sights of Halong Bay, sailing across its 2000 islets. You will disembark at about 11am and make your way back to Hanoi (about four hours) with your fellow cruise companions in an air conditioned minivan. Later this afternoon you will catch a flight to Hue in central Vietnam and check into the Eldora Hotel (deluxe room).
DAY 7 - EXPLORE THE ANCIENT CAPITAL OF HUE
This morning you will explore the ancient capital of Vietnam. The Forbidden Purple City, constructed under the Emperor Gia Long in the early 19th century, suffered during the Vietnam War but remains very significant. Afterwards, board a dragon boat and sail down the Perfume River to visit the striking Thien Mu Pagoda, then visit tombs of the emperors Thu Duc and Khai Dinh. If time permits you can enjoy a short cyclo ride to Dong Ba market where you can buy traditional souvenirs.
DAY 8 - FROM HUE TO HOI AN
At 9am, you will start your day with Hue Street Food Tour. Discovering the city through cyclos, you will cross over the historical bridge Trang Tien to visit Dong Ba market, before continuing past the many beautiful historical sites and stopping at famous street restaurants to sample their best dishes. Later you will drive to Hoi An, which is a beautiful journey and check into the lovely La Siesta hotel. (Deluxe Balcony room).
DAY 9 - SAMPLE THE WORLD-FAMOUS CUISINE OF HOI AN
Your day will start at 8am with an “all you can eat” traditional Vietnamese breakfast served at The Market Restaurant. Later, you will visit Hoi An’s colourful and bustling market and learn about different fresh noodles, fresh fish, spices, herbs and exotic fruits. You will then enjoy a 2.5 hour cooking lesson at our favourite restaurant, Morning Glory, before enjoying the fruits of your labour. Enjoy the rest of the day at your leisure.
DAY 10 & 11 - RELAX IN HOI AN
Take two full days to enjoy this glorious beach town at your own leisure. Hoi An has it all; delicious cuisine, fabulous tailors and shopping and a beautiful beach just 4km away. Today you can explore, eat and sunbathe at your own pace (but do ask us about local excursions here including a fun fishing trip in traditional basket boats with local fishermen!)
DAY 12 - SET DOWN IN SAIGON
After breakfast, your guide and driver will transfer you to Da Nang airport for your flight to Ho Chi Minh City (also known as Saigon). Here, you will meet your new guide and driver and they will take you to the Ben Thanh market where you will discover the local products indigenous to the south and participate in a food experience at the market by trying to make your own spring rolls. You will check into the kitsch Majestic Hotel and enjoy your evening at leisure. (Colonial Pool View Room)
DAY 13 - SEE THE HIGHLIGHTS AND TAKE A MOTORBIKE FOOD TOUR
This morning you will enjoy a private tour of Saigon – taking in all the highlights, including the Reunification Palace, the War Remnants Museum, the old Post Office and the Notre Dame Cathedral. Enjoy this afternoon at your leisure before taking a motorbike street food tour in the evening. You will meet different street vendors with an experienced motorcyclist and sample their specialities before visiting the night market and finishing with a Street Barbecue.
DAY 14 - FARM AND COOK IN THE COUNTRYSIDE
Spend your morning visiting some agricultural villages where you have chance to see farmyard animals, buffaloes and fish in their natural habitat. You will also visit gardens with herbs, spices and vegetables. Adorned with a conical hat you will have the opportunity to farm like a local before taking a cookery class with three dishes and 1 dessert. You’ll return to the city at about 4pm.
DAY 15 - EXPERIENCE THE DELIGHTFUL MEKONG DELTA
After breakfast, you will be driven to Cai Be where you can see a floating rice market and learning all about local trading life here on the Mekong Delta before boarding a small rowing boat to Chin’s House, where you can have a cup of tea and learn more about the life of Tan Phong Islet (and they key to making a good cup of lotus tea). Stop for lunch at the Mekong Eco Resort and chill on the banana hammock (you have to see it to believe it) before continuing to Can Tho and checking into the Victoria Hotel. (Superior Room).
DAY 16 - FROM THE MEKONG TO SAIGON
After an early breakfast, around 5:30 am, you will board a local boat to visit the Cai Rang Floating Market, the most famous floating market of the Mekong Delta. You will also visit Binh Thuy ancient residence, a very beautiful and typical southern delta house, before returning to Saigon. This evening you will dine at Cuc Gach Quan, a restaurant owned by an architect that serves Vietnamese food, which is decorated in a very unique way before resting at the Majestic.
DAY 17 - BON VOYAGE!
This morning is free at your leisure before your driver and English speaking guide transfer you to Saigon Airport to catch your flight home. Bon voyage! (Breakfast included)