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Vietnam Real Food Adventure


Sip, slurp and crunch your way through Vietnam, experiencing one of the freshest and most fragrant cuisines on the planet. From pho and ancient buildings in Hanoi, banh khoai and imperial citadels in Hue, banh xeo and lantern-lit streets in Hoi An and banh canh and pulsating markets in Ho Chi Minh City, experience Vietnam’s cuisine and discover its tightly woven place within this culture. Drink in cafes and beer halls that sprawl out over city streets, buy fruit from wicker baskets draped over a vendor’s shoulders and sit at market stalls as aromatic noodle soups are whipped up in front of you. Experience all of Vietnam’s iconic sights, spend time cooking some of the country’s top dishes and get a true taste of Vietnam on this food focused adventure.

12 days, from

$2,256

per person

GROUP SIZE

12 people max

ACTIVITY LEVEL

 
2
Trip code: TVZY
Style: Original
Theme: Food

Details

Countries Visited:  Vietnam
Accommodation: Hotel (7 nights), Homestay (1 night), Overnight Boat (1 night), Overnight Sleeper Train (2 nights)
Transportation: Private Vehicle , Taxi , Overnight sleeper train
Included Meals:

  • 9 breakfasts
  • 7 lunches
  • 5 dinners

Group size: Minimum 1, Max 12

  • Embrace your adventurous side on a tour of Hue’s imperial monuments from the back of a motorbike (the local way of getting around). Then be treated to lunch, specially prepared for you by a chef who is the descendant of the royal family in the garden of their family home.

  • Don’t just taste your way around this foodie haven, don your chef hat and learn the recipes behind these incredible eats, too. Learn the secret spices directly from local chefs (often in their own homes) and be guided to the freshest ingredients in authentic local markets.

  • Explore the Mekong Delta – known as ‘Vietnam’s rice bowl’ for its abundance of rice paddies, fruit and flower orchards. Cruise on a traditional sampan, then meet fresh produce vendors along the way to your veranda-wrapped homestay for the evening.

  • A true bucket list experience - visit Halong Bay, set sail on the emerald-green waters, gliding between limestone karsts and stay on a traditional junk boat for the evening.

  • Discover the real flavours of Vietnam, digging into authentic eats like pho, banh mi, bun cha, bun bo Hue and a traditional seafood hotpot – a true feast for the senses.

Itinerary

Show Full Itinerary

Day 1: Hanoi

Xin chao! Welcome to Vietnam. Your adventure begins in the country’s capital of Hanoi. You’ll meet your group and leader for an important welcome meeting at 6 pm and then head out for your first introduction to Vietnam’s lively culinary scene. Your leader will take you to a local restaurant for your first group dinner this evening where you might like to take the chance to sink your teeth into bun cha, a grilled pork and noodle dish that’s loved in Hanoi.

Day 2: Hanoi

After breakfast this morning, head out for a guided tour of Chau Long Market. Here, you’ll get a real taste for local life and learn about the secret ingredients and flavours of northern Vietnamese cuisine. Our hot tip – be sure to sample the local coffee, typically served with condensed milk, or for the more adventurous, egg! You’ll also get the chance to tuck into some of Hanoi's renowned street food specialties, with your local leader guiding you (and your tastebuds) in the right direction. Once you've filled up on traditional Vietnamese street eats, the afternoon and evening are yours to spend however you wish. Perhaps, make your way to the Old Quarter to explore the lively back streets or discover some of Hanoi’s historical sites like One Pillar Pagoda in the Ba Dinh district.

Day 3: Halong Bay

This morning, hit the road for the spectacular World Heritage-listed site of Halong Bay. The harbour, with approximately 2000 limestone islands rising from the turquoise waters of Bac Bo Gulf, spans an area of about 1500 square kilometres and is dotted with beaches and grottos. On arrival, you’ll set sail on the emerald-green waters, gliding between limestone karsts to take in the incredible scenery from the best outlook of them all - on the water. Then, you’ll explore Surprise Cave, one of the most striking caves in Halong Bay, covering an area of more than 12,000 square meters. In the afternoon, you’ll return to your boat and enjoy a delicious feast prepared by an onboard chef. Tonight’s stay is something special as you’ll be sleeping on the traditional boat, letting the water lull you to sleep and really taking in the beauty of the surrounding bay.

Day 4: Overnight train

You’d be forgiven for thinking you were still dreaming when you wake up on the bay this morning. If you’re an early riser, you might like to organise an optional kayak experience before you head back to Hanoi this morning. On arrival back in Hanoi, you’ll board an overnight train bound for Hue. Although conditions are basic, overnight trains are a rewarding experience. It's an efficient way to travel long distances and a great way to get a sense of the country. Most trains have a dining carriage serving simple food, but we recommend asking your leader for advice on which local salty and sweet snacks to stock up on, prior to departure.

Day 5: Hue

Welcome to Hue. This city is Vietnam’s former royal capital, and its cuisine is considered by many Vietnamese as the best in the country. The food is influenced by its imperial heritage (small dishes and a focus on aesthetic presentation) and its strong Buddhist heritage, reflected in the high proportion of vegetarian restaurants in the area. After leaving your luggage at your hotel, embark on a tour of the city’s imperial monuments from the back of a motorbike. Stop past Thien Mu Pagoda, an active Buddhist monastery since 1601, where you'll see a car that belonged to one of the self-immolating monks of the 1963 protests. After some time exploring, you’ll take a dragon boat cruise on the Perfume River before stopping for a special plant-based Buddhist lunch. You’ll enjoy a meal specially prepared for you by a chef who is the descendant of the royal family, in the garden of their beautiful family home. After a delightful meal, you’ll finish your day of sightseeing with a visit to the royal tomb of Emperor Tu Duc. Then, the evening is free for your own food adventure. Perhaps ask your leader for the best place to try imperial street specialties like banh hue (rice flour cakes stuffed with shrimp, pork and spices).

Day 6: Hoi An

After a local breakfast of bun bo hue – a spiced beef noodle soup – it’s time to visit the Imperial Citadel, which includes the Forbidden Purple City. The latter was almost totally destroyed during the Vietnam War's Tet Offensive, but the foliage-covered ruins are still atmospheric, and the gaping holes left by bombs give an idea of the destruction wreaked upon the country during the war. Head south by bus through coastal rice paddies and traverse the mountainous Hai Van Pass to Hoi An. This beautifully restored city retains the feel of centuries past, making it the sort of place that grows on you the more you explore it. After some time to settle into your hotel, you’ll make your way to a special beachside restaurant for a seafood hotpot dinner with your group. This is a particularly popular meal amongst the locals in Hoi An – dig in!

Day 7: Hoi An

Today, you’ll really get to know Hoi An, with a day filled with authentic experiences. First up, your leader will take you on an orientation walk around the Ancient Town. Then, you’ll discover Reaching Out Tea House, a non-government organisation that supports the local deaf and mute community by providing employment and vocational training. The peace and quiet of this café stands in stark contrast to the bustling streets outside. While here, you’ll sip delicious teas in total silence – a tranquil experience you won’t soon forget. After a little time to relax, you’ll get ready for a cooking class with a local chef this afternoon. You’ll be escorted to a local market to shop for fresh ingredients and then taken through a culinary journey with hands-on demonstrations. Your local chef will even share the stories behind the yin and yang elements, unveiling the secret of home-cooked Vietnamese meals. Feast on your delicious creations, dishes that highlight the cooking of the Pho Hoi people.

Day 8: Hoi An

Today is free for you to explore Hoi An at your leisure and of course your leader can recommend the best food and activities. For early risers, take the opportunity to visit the Hoi An fish markets – they are at their most vibrant in the mornings. Afterwards, if the weather's fine, perhaps hit the local beach for a swim (a great way to get there is by bicycle, which you can hire in town). In the evening, you could enjoy some seafood by the water, or jump on a boat for a barbecue feast on a nearby island.

Day 9: Ho Chi Minh City

Take a short flight to Ho Chi Minh City, then join a guided tour to get a feel for the city's frenetic, fascinating blend of old and new, East and West. You will notice a strong French influence in Ho Chi Minh City, which means excellent coffee and baguettes – lucky for you, you’ll get a taste for their delicious iced-coffee and pork belly banh mi at lunch today. Then, you’ll stop past the War Remnants Museum, GPO and Notre Dame Cathedral, finishing up at one of Vietnam’s most pulsing markets, Ben Thanh. This is the perfect place to pick up any last-minute snacks, cooking utensils, ingredients, or presents for friends and family. Tonight, take part in a cooking class where you'll learn some contemporary twists on traditional Vietnamese dishes with a passionate chef. Sit down and enjoy the delicious feast you've prepared over dinner.

Day 10: Mekong Delta

After breakfast this morning, kiss Ho Chi Minh City goodbye as we make our way to the Mekong Delta. The delta is known as ‘Vietnam’s rice bowl’ for its abundance of rice paddies, fruit and flower orchards. Once you arrive, you’ll hit the water and cruise up this mighty river, stopping at tropical fruit gardens and local cottage industries to sample honey, coconut candy and fruit, right at the source. Enjoy being paddled slowly along the quieter backwaters in a sampan, one of the most common forms of transport in these parts. Continue to your homestay for this evening. Meet your hosts and take some time to wander the garden, relax or lend a hand with dinner preparations. Enjoy a southern Vietnamese feast on the wide veranda overlooking the garden as the sun goes down.

Day 11: Ho Chi Minh City

For those who fancy an early morning cycle, join your hosts on a ride to the nearby village market for breakfast supplies for the group, and then enjoy a meal back at the homestay. After breakfast, the whole group will visit a local market before boarding the boat back to Vinh Long to return to Ho Chi Minh City by bus. Once we arrive, the rest of the day is at your leisure. You may like to enjoy a final Vietnamese meal with your new friends or enjoy a drink at one of the city’s iconic rooftop bars.

Day 12: Ho Chi Minh City

With no activities planned for today, your adventure comes to an end after breakfast today. If you wish to spend more time in Ho Chi Minh City, we’ll be happy to organise additional accommodation (subject to availability).