Love Asian food? Enjoy cooking? Would you like to learn the art of Vietnamese cuisine? This has to be the tour for you… combining a comprehensive cultural sightseeing tour of Vietnam, with mouth-watering opportunities to indulge your passion for eating and cooking. When you arrive back home, you are sure to be able to impress your friends with some truly authentic Vietnamese recipes.
Day 1: Hanoi Arrival (Dinner, Guide pickup)
Arriving at Noi Bai airport in Hanoi, you’ll be met and driven to your hotel, the capital city of Vietnam, is an elegant city located on the banks of the Red River with tranquil Restored Sword Lake at its heart. In the afternoon, you’ll ride a cyclo to visit the bustling Old Quarter, a magnet for visitors – it’s noisy and hectic, but definitely a ‘must-see’ attraction. The Old Quarter is a maze of shopping streets and restaurants with a hotchpotch of architecture - traditional tube houses, religious buildings, artisans’ workshops and cottages, colonial houses and modern concrete edifices.
After that, you will have a chance to enjoy a water puppet show, an art form in which puppets are suspended over water, directed by puppet masters who must sit semi-submerged for hours at a time. The tradition of water puppetry is at least 1,000 years old, originating with peasants in the Red River Delta of the north. The puppets, which the French used to call “the souls of the Vietnamese rice fields,” are made of the water-resistant wood of the fig tree and depict villagers, farm animals, dragons, and more.
In the evening, you’ll have a ‘Welcome’ dinner at a Vietnamese restaurant in a restored French colonial building. You’ll spend the night in Hanoi.
Day 2: Hanoi architecture walk and afternoon tea (Breakfast, Lunch, Guide)
The day begins with an architectural tour of Hanoi. You’ll walk around the city centre with your guide, examining French colonial villas, traditional communal architecture and local houses.
After lunch, you’ll visit the Temple of literature, dating to the 11th century, and fine piece of architecture itself. You’ll also call in the excellent Ethnology museum for an overview of Vietnam's 54 distinct ethnic groups. The day will finish with an afternoon tea and a choice of cookies at the Sofitel Metropole hotel. You’ll spend the night in Hanoi.
Day 3: Cycling and exploring villages around Hanoi (Breakfast, Lunch, Guide)
In the morning, you’ll be picked up to drive to Bat Trang. On arrival, you’ll be able to stroll in the small alleys of this old village to watch local people producing their fine products and visit some of the houses used as workshops and showrooms. You’ll then pick up your bicycles and ride along the riverside dike, through some more of the many villages surrounding Hanoi. The total distance on bicycles is around 7km, along a small road that runs alongside a tributary of the Red River.
You’ll then drive to Dong Ho village - famous for its traditional paintings. After a picnic lunch, your vehicle will take to Tam Tao village to enjoy its traditional Quan Ho music performed by villagers in the commune house. The singers have recently been officially designated as part of Vietnam’s ‘living heritage’. In the late afternoon, you’ll return to Hanoi for your overnight accommodation.
Day 4: Cooking Class in Hanoi - Hue (Breakfast, Lunch, Guide)
In the morning, you’ll walk to a family restaurant, where the owner is also a famous chef, who will invite you a cup of Vietnamese green tea. She’ll then take you to a local market where you’ll get a chance to learn all about Vietnamese ingredients and to buy or bargain as the locals do. When you return to the restaurant, you’ll learn to cook some typical Vietnamese dishes, characteristic of North Vietnam. After the class, you’ll sample all the different dishes in a comfortable home.
In the afternoon, you will be picked up to Noi Bai airport for your evening flight to Hue. On arrival, you’ll be met and driven to your hotel in Hue centre where you’ll spend the night.
Day 5: Hue city and Cooking Class at Tha Om Garden House (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner, Guide)
Your morning will be taken to visit the ancient Citadel, followed by a cruise along the Perfume River to Thien Mu Pagoda, and then by road to the Royal Tombs of Emperor Minh Mang. The mausoleum and the citadel span the long reign of the Nguyen King’s imperial dynasty – the contrast is stark.
Each Royal mausoleum reflects the personality of the Emperor it commemorates. The most majestic is that of Emperor Minh Mang, a staunch follower of Confucianism with many wives, concubines and a small army of children. Planned by the Emperor and built shortly after his death in formal Chinese style, it’s opulent and exotic, and a good example of classic Sino-Vietnamese architecture.
In the afternoon, you’ll visit one of city’s ‘garden houses’. Here, you’ll learn to cook some of Hue’s traditional dishes. As well as preparing and serving a traditional meal, the owner will also explain the distinctive characteristics of classic Hue cuisine. After finishing your cooking, be able to enjoy the fruits of your labours in the pleasant surroundings and comfortable atmosphere. You’ll spend the night in Hue.
The garden houses are a unique feature of Hue. The houses are traditional, privately owned, and set in attractive formal gardens. Some have connections with the old Royal Imperial Court. Hue traditional architecture has long had close associations with the natural environment. The garden houses reflect this association. Each is highly individual - house and garden, people and scenery, plants, clouds and water co-exist and blend with each other in a harmonious context. The narrow streets and abundant flora give the garden house area a country village feeling.
Day 6: Hue – Danang - Hoi An (Breakfast, Lunch, Guide)
In the morning, your car will arrive to drive you to Danang. On the way, you'll cross the high mountain pass of Hai Van. The views from the top are excellent – you should be able to see Lang Co beach and village, and the lagoon far below, with Danang spread out before you to the south.
Upon arriving in Danang, you’ll have a brief look at the remarkable Hindu statuary in the Cham Museum and call at Marble Mountain before leaving for Hoi An. After lunch, you’ll have a guided visit to the Ancient Town of Hoi An. You’ll spend the night in Hoi An.
Hoi An town is a UNESCO World Heritage area. An ancient trading port, once the largest in Indochina, Hoi An was a meeting point for many cultures that left their mark in the different architectural features of its wooden buildings. The original traditional street pattern still exists, as does the quay that once welcomed ships from all over East Asia and beyond. Many remained there for months at a time, waiting for favourable trade winds to carry them home. There are plenty of good restaurants offering a variety of cuisines and price levels. The town is also a good place for shopping for silk. You can have your clothes tailor-made within a day or two at reasonable cost.
Hoi An town is three kilometres from Cua Dai Beach - part of what was once known as China Beach and used for rest and recreation by American GIs during the Vietnam War. The beach is composed of white sand fringed with palm trees and overlooks the South China Sea.
Day 7: Hoi An Cooking Tour (Breakfast, Lunch, Guide)
In the morning, you will start a day with a market tour with Chef, and experience the amazing sights, sounds and aromas of this busy market. You will have the opportunity to interact with the local sellers and purchase some of the ingredients to be used in the cooking lesson later then back to the The Morning Glory cooking school, it has garnered a well-deserved reputation over the years for its classes and was the first cooking school established in Hoi An.
The owner and founder Ms Trinh Diem Vy is a third generation chef and native of Hoi An whose cooking classes have featured in various publications around the world. A highly passionate individual, Ms Vy has created six cooking class programs to suit all types of interested gastronomes; from beginner, to amateur, to professional. In the afternoon, you will be free at leisure by your own to explore the ancient town of Hoi An or shopping at tailor shops. You will spend the night in Hoi An
Alternative 1 for Day 7:
Option 1: Hoi An - My Son - Hoi An (Breakfast, Dinner, Guide)
In the afternoon, your guide will take you to the World Heritage My Son Sanctuary, show you the remains of the remarkable brick towers, and explain their origins and purpose. When you return, the afternoon of the day will be free. In the evening, you’ll sit on a pleasant surrounding of a Vietnamese restaurant for a meal served by one of the best local chefs, Ms. Vy, followed by a Cocktail cruise. You’ll spend the night in Hoi An.
Once, the My Son Sanctuary was the spiritual capital of the Cham Kingdom that dominated SE Asia for nearly a thousand years. Although My Son was heavily bombed during the American war, its remarkable brick towers are still impressive, as is its remote valley setting in a quiet, richly forested area bisected by a clear stream. However, the tree cover is not complete and the valley acts as suntrap, so good sun protection is important.
Option 2: Hoi An Cooking Class (Breakfast, Lunch, Guide)
In the morning, you’ll be picked up t 8.15 at your hotel. You’ll travel to the local market to visit market to purchase ingredients. You’ll go to the local restaurant in Hoi An to learn how to cook some of the traditional food of Hoi An.
In the afternoon, you’ll be free to stroll around the Ancient Town or travel to Cua Dai Beach. You’ll spend the night in Hoi An.
Option 3: Hoi An rural life (Breakfast, Lunch, Guide))
After breakfast, you’ll ride a bicycle through the rural scenery of Hoi An to a small village located on the banks of the Tra Que lagoon, three kilometres northeast of the old town. You’ll join local people in their daily work of planting and watering vegetables. You’ll then return to the old town to learn how to make silk lanterns at a local house. You’ll also be able to view the complex process of creating Hoi An-style lanterns. Your lunch will be prepared by the family. You’ll spend the night in Hoi An.
Option 4: Hoi An – From Farmer to Fisherman Tour (Breakfast, Lunch, Guide)
The day starts with cycling the narrow roads through the countryside, passing by rice paddy fields, water buffalos, bamboo bridges and local farmers on their daily work. You’ll then board a boat to the mouth of the Thu Bon estuary where the river meets the Cua Dai Sea and cruise along the coastline observing the lives of the local fishermen.
After joining the fisherman to try your hand at catching fish in a traditional ‘Thung Chai’ basket boat, you will meander through the water palm coconut canal. During the American War, Viet Cong soldiers made use of this area as a highly effective hiding place from enemy attacks through their long struggle. Following an insightful visit to a local fishing village, you’ll be free to relax and enjoy a fresh seafood lunch before cycling back to your hotel.
Thung Chai Basket boats, similar in style to coracles in use throughout the ancient world, are widely used throughout Central Vietnam, and are highly suited to the local terrain and lifestyles of local fishermen due to their relative light weight and portability, often doubling as a carrier for various handy items. Circular and constructed of bamboo and tarred for waterproofing, these small boats can typically carry up to five people, and represent a fun-filled opportunity to touch the authentic rural soul of Vietnam. As a precaution, life jackets are provided for your safety during this excursion.
Day 8: Hoi An – Danang - Da Lat (Breakfast, Guide)
You’ll have a free morning until you’re picked up for your afternoon flight to Dalat. On arrival, you’ll be met and driven to check in to your hotel, with the rest of the day free at leisure.
Day 9: Da Lat City Tour (Breakfast, Lunch, Guide)
In the morning, you’ll ride a cable car to Truc Lam Pagoda and Tuyen Lam Lake. The pagoda is quite plain, but is surrounded by an attractive flower garden. There are good views of the lake, lying beneath with thick forest on the far side and which can be reached by a staircase. You’ll visit a prolific local artist, the unconventional design of Hang Nga ‘Crazy house,’ and explore traditional Vietnamese woman’ embroidery at Da Lat Su Quan. Your over night accommodation will be in Dalat.
Day 10: Da Lat - Ho Chi Minh City (Breakfast, Lunch, Guide)
Your morning will be free until your car arrives to take you to the airport for your noon flight to Ho Chi Minh City. You’ll be welcomed at Tan Son Nhat airport in Ho Chi Minh City and transferred to your hotel in the centre for check-in.
In the afternoon, your guide will meet you at your hotel and show you around Ho Chi Minh City. You’ll visit the Museum of War Remnants, providing a very partial, but riveting, perspective of the ‘American War’: not for the squeamish! The huge Ben Thanh market, one of the liveliest areas of Ho Chi Minh City, is packed with every conceivable commodity. You’ll finish your day with a visit to a lacquer workshop to see the complex processes and meticulous workmanship involved in this traditional Vietnamese craft product. You’ll spend the night in Ho Chi Minh City.
Day 11: Cooking class in Ho Chi Minh City (Breakfast, Lunch, Driver pickup)
Today you’ll join a morning cooking class at Ho Chi Minh City’s Cookery Centre. After visiting a local market to purchase fresh ingredients, there follows an introduction to Vietnamese culinary culture, after which you will get busy in the kitchen under the careful supervision of an English-speaking Vietnamese cook. There is a whole range of menus to choose from – one for each day of the week! Each has been specially developed to give an all-round flavour of Vietnamese cuisine. You’ll have lunch with the dishes that you’ve cooked, and afterwards be awarded of certificates of competence and souvenir gifts. In the afternoon, your time will be your own. You’ll spend the night in Ho Chi Minh City.
Day 12: Ho Chi Minh City departure (Breakfast, Guide Pickup)
Your time will be your own until your private car and driver arrives to take you to Tan Son Nhat airport for your departure flight. Tour ends.
- Free Vietnam Visa invitation letter.
- Private door-to-door pick-up & drop-off services.
- Travel in an appropriate private air-conditioned vehicle with an experienced safe driver.
- Breakfast and accommodation sharing a twin or double room.
- Domestic flight tickets: Hanoi – Hue, Danang – Dalat, Dalat - Ho Chi Minh City, including domestic airport taxes.
- The services of experienced English-speaking guides as indicated in the itinerary
- All sightseeing tickets.
- Tissues and water on coach.
- VAT and other taxes
- 24/7 hotline support guaranteed
- International flight tickets and airport tax.
- Lunches and dinners, except as specified above.
- Drinks, gratuities and personal expenses.
- Travel insurance
- Surcharges for Peak seasons (if any)
- Vietnam visa stamp fee
- Other services not mentioned above.