One of the most effective ways to discover Vietnamese culture and tradition is to start with its cuisine and know how Vietnamese people eat daily. Like many other Asian countries, emphasizes the balance between Yin and Yang and join with us in the journey to Explore Vietnamese Food tour. The nation with thousand years of history promises plenty of unique and interesting things on the dining table.
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Optional activities, tailor-made experiences shall be added on the itinerary upon request.
Good Morning Vietnam! Welcome to Hanoi!. You will be greeted and met by a local representative upon arrival. Private hotel transfer, checking into your accommodations located in the heart of the city. Remainder of the day is spent at leisure. This evening you are invited to try Hanoi's most iconic dish, Cha Ca La Vong, immensely famous, being a 'must eat' in many a guidebook, on the list of 1001 Foods You Must Eat Before You Die and even the subject of an article in the New York Times. Its a seemingly simple dish of grilled fish that is then pan fried in a with some dill, then added to a small bowl of noodles, chilli, peanuts, onion, other herbs and a sauce. The result is a dish that is so delicious that its inspired chefs in the US to either directly reproduce it wholesale or adapt the dish's flavours into new creations. Overnight at hotel.
Breakfast is followed by a comprehensive city orientation which you will have a chance to get closer to see ochre-coloured colonial buildings, tree-lined boulevards and scenic lakes. You will explore the city's historic landmarks and sights. The moring tour is spent with a visit to see the historic Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum, Presidential Palace, Ho Chi Minh’s house on stilt where his belongings are on display and next is to visit One Pillar Pagoda - a historic Buddhist temple which was originally built in the 11st century and now is one of iconic temple of Hanoi city. Just a short distant drive will take you to visit the Temple of Literature which is made up of five temples and peaceful courtyards within one complex and parts date back to the 11th Century.
After a lunch break, you will then enjoy a quick visit to Hoa Lo prison - South East Asia's top 5 macabre destinations which was used by the French colonists in French Indochina for Vietnamese political prisoners, and later it was nicknamed the 'Hanoi Hilton' by US prisoners of war (POWs) that housed American prisoners of war. Back to hotel and spend your time at leisure.
At 15:00, you will be escorted by a Hanoian lady for a guided tour of Hanoi's local food market. We buy all the ingredients for our class and design our menu based on the best and freshest produce available that day. We then return to the host's house by car for an interesting cooking demonstrations with hands on involvement and many food tastings. Enjoy very delicious dinner with our friendly Hanoian host.
At 21:00, a private transfer to Hanoi Railway Station to board an overnight train to Sapa. Checking into your private cabin and overnight.
The train arrives in Lao Cai at 05:00 am. Drive uphill to Sapa. At an elevation of 1,500 meters, Sapa is the former hill retreat for French administrators when the heat in plain became unbearable. The remoteness and simple lifestyle of ethnic minorities are a highlight of Sapa although conditions are very basic. After checking into mini hotel to take shower and then have breakfast. Stepping out to soak up the fresh climate as much as we want by spending time to wander around the town and the market. Many colorful hill tribe groups are frequently seen in this hill town and small vendors along the street sell local textiles and handicraft. At 09:00 am, start trekking from Sapa town, passing along buffalo dirty paths and trails, as well as through several hilltribe villages and resident minority groups such as Black H'Mong, Dzay and Red Zao people. This is a leisure and spectacular walk, winding through stunning scenery and elegant rice paddy terraces. The idyllic countryside scenes are like something out of a storybook, and you will encounter some of the friendliest people you could ever hope to meet. Stop for lunch along the way, and finally spend the night in the home of a Dzay family in Ta Van Village. Perhaps take some time to explore the village after you arrive, wandering down to see the locals paddling in the Muong Hoa River. You’ll enjoy an included meal of delicious Vietnamese dishes for dinner tonight, prepared by your guide and hosts. Settle in your accommodation that prepared by your hosts including standard basis with mosquito net, mattress and simple cushion. Overnight at village homestay.
After a heartybreakfast, set off on a 2-3 hour walk, passing very beautiful rice paddies, bamboo forests to Giang Ta Chai village of the Red Dzao minority. Walk past waterfalls where buffalo might cool themselves from the heat and cross a suspension bridge. Be sure to take it all in and make the most of the last of your time in these incredible surroundings. After touring the village and meeting friendly people you will climb up the road to meet up with your vehicle for 30 minute transfer back to Sapa. Arriving in Sapa, you have a free afternoon to explore the town. Maybe get a massage to sooth trek-tired muscles. In late afternoon, you’ll be transferred back to the to the Lao Cai train station. Free time to have dinner before you board the overnight train back to Hanoi. Overnight in a private cabin on the train.
The train arrives in Hanoi very early at around 05:30 am. Met by a local tour guide and driver and they will drive you around Hanoi. Visiting Hanoi without going out to Hoan Kiem Lake early morning, your trip will be incomplete. Today is a chance for you to capture the best of Hanoi at dawn. You will see a lot of people, young and old, gathering there to do some exercise like Yoga or Tai Chi. If you want to do something differently, you are warmly invited to join to experience “Vietnamese way” in harmony with locals.
Breafast is served at a local restaurant then we will leave Hanoi for Halong Bay, we go through the scenic countryside. The wondrous Halong Bay is truly one of Vietnam’s most impressive scenic sights. Arrives at the boat jetty at around noon time, you will embark on a boat for an exploration of the legendary Halong Bay. This exciting overnight cruise will provide us a fantastic view of the picturesque scenery blending with the sky and some 3,000 limestone islands rising amazingly from the clear and emerald water. The limestone karsts formations are littered with beaches, grottoes and beautiful caves. Along the way we will anchor for a leisurely swim in a secluded cove and an enjoyable visit to one of the many hidden grottoes beneath towering cliffs. Stay overnight on the cruise in Halong Bay. Lunch & Dinner are served on board the cruise.
Greet the day with a morning Tai Chi exercise with an opportunity to view the sunrise over the bay. After breakfast, visit beautiful limestone grotto then back to the boat for a final glimpse of the Halong Bay while cruising back to the dock. Private transfer to hotel in Hanoi, then straightly to the airport for one-hour flight to Danang. Meet a local tour guide upon arrival, private hotel transfer. Checking into your accommodations. Evening will be at leisure.
Breakfast at hotel and today you will enjoy a very cooking class at Red Bridge cooking school. This tour is designed for food enthusiasts wanting an in-depth understanding of Vietnamese cuisine. You will be taken by Chef tour to Tra Que organic herb gardens, walking through the market gardens where local farmers work their fields using the traditional methods of hundreds of years ago - no electrical machinery here. We pick fresh saw-tooth coriander and Vietnamese mint for our cooking lesson later, before trying a special herbal drink at a local home. Three hours of in-depth hands on cooking, lunch, and return trip to Hoi An by boat. Arriving at Red Bridge Cooking School we have a chance to freshen up before beginning our class. Working together with your Chef we learn the traditional ways of preparing and cooking Vietnamese food from scratch. Using the freshest ingredients and traditional Vietnamese utensils, we cook 4 famous dishes such as famous Beef Noodle Soup (Pho)’ & Clay Pot Fish with Dill. After the class we sit down and a chance to savour the dishes we have prepared. Bring your swimsuit and after the cooking tour has finished relax and enjoy free use of our 20 metre swimming pool. Free time to wander the town or transfer back to your hotel. Overnight at hotel.
Your afternoon after lunch is spent with a leisure walking tour to visit the charming ancient town of Hoi An, THE UNESCO Cultural Heritage site and it was the original European trading port in Vietnam dating back to the mid-16th century. It is now a living museum, with attractive wooden merchant's houses and pagoda-style temples with Chinese, Japanese, Vietnamese and European architectural influences. Visit the town's major attractions and landmarks such as Japanese Covered Bridge, Tan Ky House, Cantonese Assembly Hall and some ancient shop houses. Free time for shopping. Hoi An is also a marvellous place to wander around and enjoy the thriving riverside market and great silk, clothes shopping. Back to hotel and evening is spent at leisure. Overnight at hotel.
Breakfast and free at leisure. Early afternoon, we will share with you Hoi An’s best kept food secrets. Please also remember though it is a tiny town but Hoi An there are around 600 restaurants catering to visitors with another 600 or so vendors and eating establishments catering to locals with foods that don’t usually appear on visitor menus. This is the food of the local people – some call it street food – many with recipes passed down from generation to generation. Then don't miss the opportunity to experience this tantalizing world of unique flavors. We will help you to unlock your adventurous culinary spirit and experience the epicurean delights of Hoi An. Free time for shopping or you will transfer back to your hotel to relax. Overnight at hotel
Hearty breakfast is followed by a short transfer to Danang Airport. Fly to Ho Chi Minh, formerly Saigon. You will be met and welcomed by a local representative upon arrival. Enjoy a private transfer to settle into your accommodation in the heart of the city. Remainder of the day will be at leisure by the pool or wander the market nearby.
At 18:00, you will be invited to attend an unique experience to explore Saigon city by night on vintage vespas. Show you hidden areas of the city that most visitors do not get to see. Please note that the city looks absolutely different at night than it does in the daytime. You will have great opportunities to savor authentic street food with local dishes. That is what the locals do, of course not on the menus in any restaurant.
After the tour, the riders will take you back to your hotel where you will spend the remainder of your evening relaxing after the funny, mesmerizing and memorable Saigon After Dark and Unique Foodie Experience Tour. Overnight at hotel. (Photo credit: xotour)
Breakfast at hotel and today you will spend your full day to join in our tour to discover Vietnam's most exciting and bustling metropolis of Ho Chi Minh on this interesting half day tour. First stop is Notre Dame Catholic Cathedral, the Central Post Office and the War Remnants Museum. This tour will also show how Ho Chi Minh is steeped in history with stops at historic landmarks including the former Presidential Palace where Saigon's government ruled from throughout the American war. Lunch at PHO 2000.
This afternoon, travel out of the city and into the countryside to explore the expansive Cu Chi Tunnel network, a key Vietcong resource during the Vietnam War. You have the opportunity to squeeze into and crawl through the small tunnels once traversed by Vietcong guerrillas. Transfer you back to the city and spend your time to wander and join with locals at Saigon's iconic Ben Thanh market - a great place to buy local handicrafts, branded goods, art and other souvenirs. Evening is free at leisure. Overnight at hotel.
Breakfast at hotel is followed by a walking tour with Chef go through the vibrant Ben Thanh market to purchase a selection of ingredients for your cooking lesson. Back to the restaurant, you will watch and experience hands-on cooking demonstration. In a warm atmosphere, participants cook all together following step by step our Chef and everyone has their own material and ingredients for a better understanding of cooking techniques. On this cooking experience, you will discover Vietnamese kitchenware to cook and enjoy a tasty 4 courses meal.
Afternoon is spent at leisure. Overnight at hotel
Early breakfast at hotel and our tour guide and driver will pick up and you will enjoy a leisure drive to Vinh Long. Upon embarkation on your sampan you will be welcomed by our crew. After your installation, the cruise will begin with the visit of some local home factories where you will be able to observe how rice paste, coconut candies and other specialties are traditionally made. We will then proceed to Cai Be colorful floating market, cruising among local barges full of fruits and vegetables. Your sampan will take direction of Vinh Long and Sa Dec, cruising upstream on the Tien Giang River, one of the two large arms of the Mekong. These evergreen islands among the Mekong River bring about large networks of meandering rivers, criss-crossed with countless arroyos, and remain unknown to many people. We will then cruise on a small beautiful canal through water jacinth plantations… You will disembark to take a small rowing boat for a cruise along a narrow canal passing by a local tiny village and fruit plantations. Further on the banks, some dark smokes in the sky will lead us to one of the largest artisanal bricks and tiles factory where you will have an interesting visit. Sa Dec town will appear like a little “Venice” with numerous narrow canals. You will disembark at the local market place for a guided visit of this charming town, walking along its narrow streets where beautiful French old houses and Chinese temples dating from the last century are numerous.
Your lunch will await you at an ancient house dating from 1890, home of Mr. Huyen Thuy Le, the “Lover” of Marguerite Duras famous writer. (see her novel and adapted movie “The Lover”). Back on board your sampan, you will enjoy cruising down to Can Tho along a beautiful narrow canal, passing under several wooden “monkey bridges” and by tiny typical villages. Some stops on the banks will be possible to establish contacts with the local population. A visit will be done at a Cao Daist temple.
Before sunset, we will have our last stop on the banks arranged at a splendid ancient house or “Nha Co” dating from the early 19th century. After being greeted by the owners, we will cater a candlelight dinner for you, an unforgettable experience in a unique atmosphere. After dinner, we will proceed the cruise for approximately one hour until Can Tho. We will moor for the night in a quiet place. Your bed will be ready for your night on the Mekong river.
At around 06am, your sampan will slowly start cruising. Your breakfast will be served on board at 07am while approaching Cai Rang floating market actually still the largest in the whole Mekong delta. We will pass by countless sampan boats carrying sand, rice, fruits and vegetables, fish, flowers… showing an intense activity on the river. Your cruise journey will end at around 10.am at Ninh Kieu pier after a visit at Can Tho local market. End of the cruise and services. Driving back to Ho Chi Minh city, then straightly to the airport for you to catch your outbound flight to next destination. End of service