25 September 2016
This action packed 12 day culinary discovery tour of Vietnam will really get you taste buds tingling. Beginning in the north of the country, you will visit Hanoi, beautiful Halong Bay where you will dine on local delicacies while cruising, the enchanting cities of Hue and Hoi An and end in the south exploring Saigon and travelling out to experience life, and sample traditional and interesting foods, in villages along the Mekong Delta. And you don't have to be a dedicated foodie to get the most out of this trip as you will be seeing most of the highlights of this extraordinary country along the way
Your adventure begins in the capital city Hanoi, which is steeped in history and featured so prominently in the Vietnam War. On arrival you will be met at the airport by one of our experienced tour representatives and taken to your city hotel. Time to relax before meeting your tour leader and the rest of the group for welcome drinks and a briefing about what you will be seeing, doing . . . and eating over the next 12 days. Tonight you get the chance to really appreciate the local food with a meal in a top local restaurant.
This morning your culinary explorations begin when you join a cooking class to learn some of the secrets of Vietnamese cuisine. An experienced chef will take you out on a tour of some of the local markets and explain about the ingredients you will later be using. After a detailed lesson have lunch and try your own creations. In the afternoon enjoy a city tour seeing all the highlights including Ho Chi Minh Square and the small stilt house from where 'Uncle Ho', as he was affectionately known, ruled the country.
Leave the city this morning and travel east for around four hours to Hon Gai, gateway to beautiful Halong Bay. Here you board a boat where a special seafood lunch is waiting. Halong Bay is considered to be Vietnam's greatest natural wonder and today you will cruise some of the 3,000 islands stopping at some and visiting caves. At sunset enjoy a sumptuous dinner on board with your fellow travellers and hear all the stories and legends of this stunningly beautiful bay. Overnight in a two berth cabin.
Today it is worth getting up early to admire Halong Bay’s stunning scenery at sunrise. After breakfast, visit more of the spectacular islets and caves that make this area so unique and then head back to Halong City, enjoying another memorable seafood lunch as you cruise through the bay. In the afternoon return to Hanoi for an early evening arrival and the rest of the night is free for you to go out and explore, try a new restaurant, or watch a display by the famous Hanoi water puppets.
Take a walking tour of the Hanoi's backstreets visiting some local markets and speciality food stores to try some dishes and learn more about Hanoi daily life and culinary customs and habits. After this trip you will be picked up and taken to the airport for your flight to Hue, a beautifully located city on the banks of the Perfume River. As Vietnam’s capital throughout the Nguyen Dynasty, a centre of Vietnamese Buddhism and scholarship and finally as the setting for some of the Vietnam War’s most bloody fighting, Hue provides a unique window into Vietnam and its complex past.
Begin your Hue day with a visit to the Spiral Foundation to meet the deaf and mute workers who will help you to make your own souvenir from 100 per cent recycled materials. From here visit the impressive home of the Nguyen Dynasty emperors - the Citadel. Then travel to the much revered Thien Mu Pagoda, Hue’s oldest and most beautiful religious monument. After lunch you drive to the French influenced tomb of the 12th emperor Khai Dinh, to see the ornate decorations before returning to the hotel. Tonight is free for you to try some local specialties. Hue food is renowned for its spice and variety.
From Hue you travel to Hoi An crossing the spectacular Hai Van Pass. This drive is considered one of the most beautiful in Vietnam and takes you through a combination of rural and coastal settings. Continue south to Marble Mountains, where the caves have a number of sacred Buddhist shrines. Drive on through China Beach to Hoi An. The architecture of the city reflects the influence of Chinese, Japanese, Portuguese, French and British traders. This afternoon take a walking tour of this enchanting city visiting an old merchant house, a museum, a Chinese Assembly Hall and the Japanese Covered Bridge.
Enjoy some free time this morning sightseeing and shopping before taking part in the popular Red Bridge Cooking class in the early afternoon. You will be taken to Tra Que organic herb gardens, buy your ingredients at the local village market, then take part in a hands on cooking class. After sampling your own creations, the evening is free for you to explore this beautiful town with its many clothing shops, restaurants and galleries.
This morning take a local market and backstreets tour of Hoi An to learn about local produce and the plethora of different dishes and ingredients from this magical area of Vietnam. You will be joined by a resident food expert who will explain all the ingredients which you will sample on this tour - more than 40 different tastings in total! You are then taken to the airport for your flight to Saigon - Vietnam’s commercial capital and a city of extraordinary energy. Saigon is a friendly and welcoming place with many reminders of its turbulent past.
The Mekong is one of the world’s great rivers which ends its enchanting journey to the South China Sea in Vietnam’s Mekong Delta. This morning travel south to the gateway of the Delta which is known as the ‘rice bowl’ of Vietnam. On the way, visit Cholon, the Chinatown district of Saigon, to see the enormous Binh Tay wholesale market. At the Delta board your boat to begin an exploration of the mighty river and its narrow canals. Visit a local family home to experience their hospitality and after a delicious lunch featuring some local specialties, including Elephant Ear Fish, return to Saigon.
This morning attend a class at the Saigon Cooking Centre. The class, conducted by a local chef, is a hands on approach to cooking and includes a fun market tour. You can sample your own creations as well as those of the chef. A manual will also be provided for you to take notes and reproduce the recipes at home. In the afternoon, enjoy a walking tour of Saigon’s famous and historic landmarks including Dong Khoi Street (formerly Rue Catinat), the Rex Hotel, Ho Chi Minh Square, Municipal Theatre and Notre Dame Cathedral. Then take a tour of the Reunification Palace and War Remnants Museum. You will say farewell to your travelling companions with a final dinner at a local restaurant.
Today your gastronomic tour around Vietnam comes to an end. Say farewell to new found foodie friends and there may be time for some more sightseeing, souvenir shopping, or one final Vietnamese meal, before you are picked up at your hotel and driven to the airport to catch an onward flight or begin your journey back home taking with you so many ideas on how to cook and get the best from south east Asian cuisine.
Standard Rate fr £1596pp
Rates based on twinshare
International flights not included unless otherwise stated