14 days from £3595 per person
Places Visited: Hanoi, Halong Bay, Hue, Hoi An, Ho Chi Minh City, Meking Delta
Experience the full spectrum of Vietnamese cuisine first hand, from trips to markets, sampling street food and home cooked meals, cooking in first class restaurants with Master Chefs and dining with royalty.
Your culinary journey begins in the capital Hanoi and a chance to shop for fresh ingredients and make lunch with a local Hanoian chef. Next stop is of course the magnificent Halong Bay and a cruise on a traditional junk boat. Back on dry land the journey continues down to Hoi An and a street food tour through the city's narrow alleyways.
You'll continue on up the coast to Hue to meet Mme Nhu Huy, and hear about her efforts to preserve ancient recipes. Your final destination is Ho Chi Minh City and the Mekong Delta.
Fly from the UK to Hanoi.
Upon arrival in Hanoi, you'll meet your guide and transfer to your hotel. In the late afternoon you will be taken on a cyclo ride through the French quarter and the Administrative quarter to get a glimpse of the city. Welcome dinner is at Pots' n Pans restaurant at the chef's corner with the lively open kitchen on display. You are given the chance to interact with the special guest – the Master Chef Mr. Donald Berger - who has over 30 years of working experience around the globe in the finest restaurants, private clubs and hotels and now settled in Vietnam with his own venture.
This morning, meet with a local Hanoian chef for a market tour who will show you how to select fresh ingredients. Visit the chef’s private home for a hands-on cooking class of Hanoi & Northern Highland cuisine. Enjoy your own creations at lunch while listening to the chef’s personal culinary adventure. Return to town for a city tour including a visit to the Temple of Literature, a cultural symbol, and the first University for the sons of mandarins. In the evening, visit the house of a musician couple for a home-cooked dinner. Enjoy the meal hosted in the cosy dining room to understand the importance of food at home in Vietnam. After the meal, enjoy a musical performance by your hosts.
Hanoi, Halong Bay
Embark on a 3.5 hour drive to Halong Bay with a quick rest stop at Hong Ngoc Centre – the best place to stop and stretch your legs en route. On arrival in Halong Bay, board your junk boat, settle into your cabin and prepare your appetite for an enjoyable buffet lunch on deck. Mid-afternoon you will visit Vung Vieng fishing village by rowing boat. This will allow a closer look into the lives of local fishermen before you transfer back to your boat for a rest or enjoy kayaking. A cooking class is offered with the chef if you are interested in before a wonderful dinner on board tonight. Retire to your cabin or join the fishing program.
Cat Ba Island, Bai Tu Long Bay
After early breakfast, transfer to the day-trip boat and cruise deep inside La Ha bay. Get on the ground and enjoy a light biking trip on Cat Ba Island. If weather permits, take part in kayaking or swimming at Three Peach Beach, a pristine natural beach lapped by the turquoise waters. For those who wish to relax, you are more than welcome to stay on board and enjoy the scenery from the sun deck. After lunch on board, discover Ho Ba Ham islet the most remote point in Lan Ha Bay and bordering the Gulf of Tonkin. Visit its quaint fishing village and lagoon. Late afternoon, cruise back to your mother boat for a well-deserved dinner before you call it a night.
Halong, Hanoi, Hoi An
Wake up early and partake in a Tai Chi class which is held on the upper deck. Then explore Sung Sot grotto where stalactites hanging from the high ceiling take on numerous shapes and forms. Return to your boat where buffet brunch is waiting. Arrive at Tuan Chau pier late morning and transfer back to Hanoi airport for the flight to Danang. Upon arrival in Danang, meet with your guide, transfer to Hoi An and check-in to your resort.
This morning, learn about the traditional herbs that add that special flavour into Vietnamese cuisine. Experience an organic discovery tour with the local farmers in the rural outskirts of Hoi An ancient town. Start your morning with a leisurely 4km bike ride through the countryside, heading to Tra Que vegetable village, which is named after a sweet scented herb they grow and use to flavour Hoi An specialities like Cao Lau noodles. After lunch, meet your guide for a walking tour. This World Heritage-listed ancient town boasts well-preserved buildings, pedestrianised streets and unique cuisine, allowing visitors a glimpse of its illustrious past. Dinner tonight is at Mango Mango restaurant looking out Thu Bon river. You might have a chance to talk to the owner – Duc – who has had an interesting culinary journey around the world. Try his eclectic and innovative flavours of fusion cuisine.
This morning, go for a street food tour with other guests from different hotels. Meet with your culinary expert, Neville Dean, and visit a local market in Hoi An to enjoy the tantalising sights, smells and flavours of local produce. Then walk through zigzagging alleys to savour real street food as the local people do. Remainder of the afternoon is free at leisure.
Hoi An, Hue
After breakfast, enjoy a scenic 3.5-hour drive through Ocean Cloudy Pass to Hue. Hue’s cuisine is famous for its refinement and artistic quality. Followed by a pure vegetarian lunch from natural ingredients, learn what monks usually have for a meal. In the afternoon, get an overview of the former Royal city. Start with a visit to the Imperial Citadel that was the former home of the royal court of Vietnam up until the mid 20th century. Then head out of the city centre and explore the elaborate Khai Dinh royal tomb where the architecture is influenced by both eastern art and western influences. Enjoy an exceptional dinner with Salt Rice, one of the most opulent and symbolic dishes in the former Imperial capital of Hue, which has made a comeback thanks to the Master Chef Mme Nhu Huy.
This morning, meet again with Nhu Huy to explore the delicious world of Hue on a food tour. Start with a visit to the local market to see the sights and sounds of daily life. Nhu Huy will share some advice of how to select the freshest produce and ingredients necessary for Hue food. During the day, sample many wonderful foods including com hen (mussel rice), banh beo, banh nam banh loc (varieties of soft rice cakes) and banh uot (steamed rice pancake). End the trip at the local restaurant Huyen Anh that serves the Hue speciality banh uot and grilled pork. Have dinner at the remarkable Ancient Hue restaurant. Walk through the local market with the chef to learn about local ingredients before returning to the open-air cultural complex. Here, you will sample the best Royal cuisine.
Ho Chi Minh City
You are free at leisure before transferring to the airport in Hue for the noon flight to Ho Chi Minh City. Upon arrival, transfer downtown and experience a first glimpse of Ho Chi Minh City’s hectic traffic. Transfer to Dong Khoi Street or Rue Catinat as it was known in the time of the French occupation, to discover some of the beautiful French colonial buildings built in the late 19th and early 20th century. After a briefing at your hotel lobby about the logistics, you'll be introduced to your driver and start the journey. Drive to District 4 to taste various snail dishes, which are very popular in Ho Chi Minh City. Then it’s back to District 3 to sample a southern Vietnamese speciality – Banh Xeo (rice pancake with pork and prawns). Finally, head to a local Vietnamese style coffee shop and enjoy a local coffee.
Ho Chi Minh City
The highlight of the trip today is the person whom you will learn history & culture of Vietnamese cuisine from. The talented chef Ms. Nguyen Dzoan Cam Van has made great contributions to glorifying Vietnamese culinary culture. In the morning, start the trip visiting a local market. Learn about, and taste, some of the ingredients used in the local cuisine and watch the buying and selling rituals of a Vietnamese market. So far Cam Van has published nearly 40 culinary books, and been invited to introduce Vietnamese cuisine to many countries around the world. After the market, drive to her little home in Saigon to enjoy an authentic hands-on cooking class in the peaceful setting. Learning to cook is great fun but enjoying the food that you cook is even better. You'll have a chance to share in her interesting stories of travelling several times around different states in the US to present Vietnamese cuisine. The chef’s house is located in a small zigzagging alley near Nhieu Loc canal. It's a 10min walk from the drop-off point. and is a good opportunity to see another part of the city.
Ho Chi Minh City, Mekong Delta, Ho Chi Minh City
Depart for a 1.5-hour drive from Ho Chi Minh City to Ben Tre, situated in the Delta of the Mekong River. Get on a tri-motor cycle (xe loi) ride to enjoy the lush surroundings of rice paddies and fruit farms alongside the narrow village roads. Arrive at the waterfront; board the charming Mango Cruise for a glimpse of the Delta scenery while enjoying coconut juice. Continue cycling through gardens and stop at the rice noodles factory “hu tieu”, one of most popular breakfast dishes in the region. Take a short walk to visit at Mrs. Huong’s home where they make a living from fishing, shrimping and farming. The boat brings you to Mango home restaurant for a lunch with Mekong Delta specialities. Then walk over to Mr Sau Tuong’s house. He is a former soldier who survived after 4 years fighting the Khmer Rouge in Phnom Penh. Now he and his wife live on making rice paper. After the visit, the boat will be waiting for you at the pier nearby to bring you back to Ben Tre city where your car will take you back to Ho Chi Minh City. Farewell dinner will be held at Ngon restaurant which is set up like a local food market selling specialities from each region in Vietnam.
Ho Chi Minh City, UK
Free time until you transfer to the airport for your return flight to the UK.
14 days from £3595 per person
✓ International flights from London
✓ 12 nights accommodation
✓ All internal transportation and transfers
✓ English-speaking guides
✓ Breakfast daily, all meals mentioned in itinerary
✓ Entrance fees to sites and monuments listed in tour itinerary
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