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12 Day, Flavours of Vietnam


From £2,169.00 per person


Based on 2 adults sharing, all flights & taxes, tours including English speaking guide and meals where outlined. See itinerary for full inclusions.

Overview

This tour takes us from North to South Vietnam while taking in a myriad of culinary delights in Hanoi, Halong Bay, Hoi An, Hue and Ho Chi Minh City. The tour begins in Hanoi with a city tour and a cookery lesson in the heart of Hanoi’s old quarter.

We continue on from Hanoi to the world famous Halong Bay to enjoy an overnight cruise with Vietnamese seafood feasts. A short flight to Danang in central Vietnam takes us to the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Hoi An, one of the most charming and beautiful towns in Southeast Asia. Here we can enjoy glorious food at many of Hoi An’s superb restaurants, but it is also near to Hoi An where we learn all about the cultivation of rice in a local village, as well as learning the art of pancakes at a local home.

From here we head north to Hue, another beautiful UNESCO World Heritage Site where we enjoy a wonderful cookery lesson but also an Exclusive Dinner Party at the lovely Tha Om Garden House. The tour ends in Ho Chi Minh City, previously known as Saigon, for more excellent dining opportunities and incredible street food.

Day 1: UK departure Day 7: Hoi An – Hue
Day 2: Hanoi, arrival Day 8: Hue
Day 3: Hanoi Day 9: Hue – Ho Chi Minh City
Day 4: Hanoi – Halong Bay Day 10: Ho Chi Minh City
Day 5: Halong Bay – Hanoi – Danang Day 11: Ho Chi Minh City, departure
Day 6: Hoi An Day 12: Ho Chi Minh City departure & UK arrival

 

Itinerary

Daily, in depth tour itinerary.


Day 1, UK Departure

Depart UK for your flight to Hanoi with Vietnam Airlines.

Day 2, Hanoi

Arrive in Hanoi, welcome by your guide and transfer to hotel. The rest of the day is at your leisure to recover from your long flight.

Overnight: Hanoi at Sofitel Metropole Hanoi (Bed & Breakfast)

Day 3, Hanoi

Hanoi

Sightseeing in Hanoi
Although it is the modern-day capital of Vietnam, Hanoi still retains the mystery and charm of past centuries. Narrow lanes and traditional shop houses invite an exciting exploration by walking, while it’s many beautiful public spaces; lakes, parks, tree-lined boulevards and monuments; give the city an air of elegance and harmony with nature unique among Asian capitals.

Visit the Vietnamese Women Museum
Visit the Vietnamese Women Museum, which showcases more than 1000 materials, photos and objects portraying the role that Vietnamese women played in the history of Vietnam, and in the arts and family life today.

Visit the Temple of Literature
The Temple of Literature has a peaceful series of walled courtyards and graceful gateways, and this monument is one of the best-preserved examples of traditional Vietnamese architecture. Founded in 1070 and dedicated to Confucius, this was also the site of Vietnam’s first university. In one courtyard, giant stone tortoises bear stele on their backs, listing the accomplishments of graduating scholars.

Visit the Ho Chi Minh Memorial Complex
Start the exploration of the vast Ho Chi Minh Memorial Complex with a stroll past the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum which contains the embalmed body of Ho Chi Minh (closed Mondays, Fridays, and during September and October). View the outside of the Presidential Palace and then walk through the park to the Ho Chi Minh Stilt House where Ho Chi Minh lived from 1958 until his final days in 1969. Preserved in the same condition as during his life, it may be viewed through the windows. Continue to the miniature 11th century One Pillar Pagoda which was rebuilt after being destroyed by the French in 1954 and to the Ho Chi Minh Museum where displaying more than 120,000 documents, objects and films about President Ho Chi Minh’s life and revolutionary work.

Enjoy cooking class with folk cuisine artisan Anh Tuyet
Enjoy a culinary tours exploring the Hanoi colorful market with the culinary artist Mrs Anh Tuyet who won the Golden prize at a Culinary Festival held at the Hanoi Horison Hotel in 2001. Continue to visit her traditional house and learn how to cook some traditional dishes of Hanoi citizens. Anh Tuyet and her assistant try their best to teach and help students understand the subtleties of flavor and cultural significance of each dish.

Overnight: Hanoi at Sofitel Metropole Hanoi (Bed & Breakfast)

Day 4, Hanoi – Halong Bay

Hanoi – Halong Bay

Following breakfast leave Hanoi for a 3hr30mins drive to Halong Bay including a 20-minutes stop on the way. Arrive at your jetty in Halong City towards noon and proceed with check-in formalities. After your welcome on board, a lunch will be served while cruising towards the bay itself. In the afternoon, enjoy some visits and/or activities (depending on each boat’s itinerary) or just spend some time relaxing on board. Towards the end of the day the boat sets anchor for the night among the karst formations. Dinner is served on board.

Overnight: Halong Bay, Paradise Cruise Junk, Deluxe Cabin

Day 5, Halong Bay – Danang – Hoi An

Halong Bay – Danang – Hoi An

Enjoy your fresh morning in the middle of the bay, the sun rises on Halong in the morning and breakfast is served (brunch on some boats) while the vessels cruises slowly through the magnificent rock formations and back towards port. Disembark and transfer to Hanoi airport for your flight to Danang.

On arrival in Danang you will be met for the short transfer to your hotel in Hoi An.

Overnight: Hoi An at Anantara Hoi An Resort (Bed & Breakfast)

Ideas for where to have dinner in Hoi An:

Situated in an elegant traditional style building in the heart of Hoi An’s old town, Morning Glory offers ‘Street Food’ on the ground floor of the restaurant featuring Hoi An specialty foods. The upstairs balcony is perfect as the views are excellent over the street.

Secret Garden is on one of the best addresses in Hoi An for traditional Vietnamese food. The location is in the middle of the old town down a hidden alley. Both the atmosphere and cuisine come highly recommended.

Located in the centre of Hoi An’s old town Mango Rooms serves original and creative cuisine that can only be described as Vietnam-Latin American-Japanese fusion. With a combination of refreshing flavours, beautiful presentations and a relaxing atmosphere Mango Rooms has one the heart of many loyal and happy customers.

More experimental than its sister restaurant Mango Rooms and with stunning views over the Thu Bon River and the Japanese Bridge, the food at Mango Mango is exquisite and the fruit cocktails are to die for. Perfect for a pre dinner aperitif whilst watching the sun set over the Japanese Bridge.

Located near the Japanese Bridge and in a quiet street, Mai Fish offers simple but delicious Southern and Central Vietnam food. This is the 3rd restaurant of Chef Duc with Mango Mango and Mango Rooms.

Day 6, Hoi An

Hoi An

Cycling excursion to the countryside in Hoi An (Ride and Rice) (4 hours)
Hop on a bicycle along the village road to admire the beautiful rice fields stretching out of to the horizon and witness the daily farming activities of local farmer. Stop by a local farm’s house to learn how to make cooking rice from raw rice, try to hands-on making a rice pancake and enjoy a cup of rice tea. Have lunch with local specialty dishes. Cycling back to town.

Total cycling distance is approximately 20km

The rest of the afternoon is free to roam the picturesque streets of Hoi An or far a well earned laze by the pool.

Overnight: Hoi An at Anantara Hoi An Resort (Bed & Breakfast)

Day 7, Hoi An – Hue

Hoi An – Hue

Walking tour around Hoi An
Hoi An is a picturesque riverside town south of Danang. Known as Faifo to early western traders, it was one of South East Asia’s major international ports during the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries. Now, this beautifully preserved historic city is best seen on foot. See the iconic Japanese Covered Bridge – the first bridge on this site was constructed in 1593 by the Japanese community of Hoi An to link the town with the Chinese quarters across the stream.

The bridge was provided with a roof so it could be used as a shelter from rain and sun. Visit the nearby Sa Huynh Museum, which contains exhibitions from the earliest period of Hoi An’s history. Stroll to the Tran Family Chapel, a house for worshipping ancestors that was built about 200 years ago with donations from family members. The Tran family traces its origins to China and moved to Vietnam around 1700.

The architecture of the building reflects the influence of Chinese and Japanese styles. Visit the Phuoc Kien Assembly Hall, a Chinese pagoda built around 1690 and then restored and enlarged in 1900. It is typical of the Chinese clans that were established in the Hoi An area. The temple is dedicated to Thien Hau Thanh Mau (Goddess of the Sea and Protector of Sailors and Fishermen).

You’ll then head north over the Hai Van Pass to Hue

Visit Cham Museum
The Cham Museum houses probably the best collection of Cham art to be found anywhere in the world. There are more than 300 artefacts in the museum, many dating to the 4th century. There are beautiful sculptures reflecting the 1000 year Cham period.

Enjoy an exclusive private dinner at Tha Om garden house
A Hue “nha vuon” usually consists of a main and back entrance, and a small wall, rockwork and plants in the front yard and in the house itself. In the middle of the garden, a binh phong (brick wall) rises in front of the house, serving as a defense and protection of the altar in the main room of the house. The path leading around the wall from the entrance gate is lined with tea bushes or apricot trees.

The typical house is made with a timber frame and roofed with brick tiles. The whole house stands on big pillars placed on a round or square stone base, which is sometimes decorated. The altar of the family’s ancestors occupies the central room.

Overnight: Hue at La Residence Hotel & Spa (Bed & Breakfast)

Day 8, Hue

Hue

Formerly the capital of Vietnam and the Kings’ City, Hue has a strong royal heritage. Hue food is unique to Vietnam and Hue offers a variety of “Royal” restaurant cuisine.

Cooking class at Y Thao Garden House with market visit.
The cooking starts at 9am, from Dong Ba Market – the biggest and the most ancient market of Hue, where we can find fresh farming products in its court. We will experience the amazing sights, sounds and aromas of this market. Here, we will select and buy some materials for the cooking later. On arrival at Y Thao Garden Home, you will explore the cooking style of Hue people in general and of the owner of the house in particular. The cooking will run for about 2.5 hours, firstly by the demonstration of a member of family, then by yourselves.
After all, enjoy the food you have cooked and some from the restaurant as well.

Sightseeing in Hue
Hue served as the capital of Vietnam for more than 140 years. It houses ancient temples, imperial buildings and French-style edifices. It was established in the 17th century.

Excursion by bicycle to the Old Imperial City
Explore the Imperial City, a vast complex built in the early 19th century and modeled after the Forbidden City of Peking. Today, most of the buildings have been destroyed due to bombing during the Vietnam-American War, but the monuments that remain provide a fascinating glimpse into the court life of the Nguyen Dynasty.

Approach the city past the striking Flag Tower to the imposing Ngo Mon Gate and enter into an area of spacious courtyards and serene lotus ponds. Visit many sites including Dien Tho Residence where the queen mother lived; Thai Hoa Palace, the magnificently decorated reception hall; the Halls of the Mandarins; and the original Nine Dynastic Urns.

Visit the Imperial Tomb of Emperor Khai Dinh (1 hour)
Khai Dinh was the last monument of the Nguyen dynasty and was constructed between 1920 and 1931. It sits magnificently on the slopes of Chau E Mountain in Chau Chau Village. It has a long staircase flanked by dragons. There are ceiling murals and ceramic frescoes.

Overnight: Hue at La Residence Hotel & Spa (Bed & Breakfast)

Ideas for where to have dinner in Hue:

Le Parfum, the beautiful restaurant of La Residence offers delicious Vietnamese or Western menus in a nice setting.

Les Jardins de la Carambole, a lovely restaurant set in a reconstituted French colonial villa and located near the Imperial Citadel offers some Hue specialties such as Bun Bo Hue (noodle soup with thick rice noodles) or Banh Khai (fried rice pancake).

Day 9, Hue – Ho Chi Minh City

Hue – Ho Chi Minh City

After breakfast transfer to Hue Airport for the short flight to Ho Chi Minh City and transfer to your hotel.

Ideas for where to have lunch in Ho Chi Minh City:

A terrace restaurant located at the corner of two of the oldest boulevards of Saigon – Nguyen Hue and Le Loi. Established in the 1930s’, SH Garden is a restaurant where romantic memories of an old Saigon can suddenly come to you. A variety of delicious traditional Vietnamese dishes are served in a nice and simple family style. To reach the restaurant, you take an old and unique wooden elevator that brings you to a banana and lemon grass garden on the terrace.

This ‘art’ style restaurant attracts a mostly Vietnamese clientele. Hidden on a quiet suburban street, Cuc Gach Quan serves traditional Vietnamese cuisine in a homely and atmospheric setting.

Hoa Tuc means opium flower and is a central venue located in the courtyard of the former opium refinery manufacture. Inside, the interior is art deco which combines black, purple and pastel colours. Hoa Tuc serves excellent, authentic Vietnamese cuisine and the outside courtyard is perfect for dinners.

Sightseeing in Saigon
A vibrant metropolis, Saigon teems with energy, activity and motion. Nearly everywhere there is an encounter between traditional and modern life. The emerging modern skyline stands toe to toe with colonial buildings and traditional temples. Outside on the streets, young professionals zip by on motorbikes, chatting on cell phones; inside the quiet temple courtyards, worshippers pray amidst clouds of incense.

Visit Central Post Office
The Central Post Office is a French-style building with a glass canopy and iron frame right next to the Notre Dame Cathedral. The structure was built between 1886 and 1891 and is by far the largest post office in Vietnam.

Visit Dong Khoi Street
Donh Khoi Street, known as ‘Rue Catinet’ during the French years, is a main shopping street in the centre of Saigon with an abundance of choices for purchasing handicrafts and laquerware.

Visit the Opera House
The colonial-era Opera House is today one of the main places for cultural exchange. May be viewed from the outside only.

Visit City Hall (Hotel De Ville)
City Hall, also known as Hotel de Ville, was completed in 1908, and is at the northern end of Nguyen Hue Boulevard. With it’s ornate gingerbread facade it looks like the town hall of a French town. It is viewable from outside only.

Visit War Remnants Museum
The War Remnants Museum exhibits collections of weapons, photographs and memorabilia from two Indochina wars along with the original French ‘Guillotine’ brought here in the early 20th century.

Visit the Jade Emperor Pagoda (Ngoc Hoang Pagoda or Phuoc Hai Tu Temple) (45 minutes)
Visit Jade Emperor Pagoda (Ngoc Hoang Pagoda)

Saigon Street Food by Night
Take a walk through Saigon’s street dining districts and taste some of the city’s signature dishes. Depart from the hotel in the early evening and get ready to immerse yourself in the bustling Saigon streets. Along with your guide set off on foot, the best way to discover the narrow back alleyways and observe how the local people spend their evenings.

You will be taken to two different districts of the city where the authentic local lifestyle has been preserved. Walk through lively alleyways passing endless rows of steaming food stalls selling an array of delicious snacks. Breathe in the aromas of the herbs and spices as you watch the dishes being cooked right in front of you. Stop to pull up a plastic stool at some of the sidewalk stalls and sample some specialties along with the locals.

Try freshly made spring rolls (bo bia) or the famous Vietnamese baguette (banh mi thit). Tuck into hot bowls of aromatic duck congee (chao vit), beef noodles (bun bo hue) or beef ball noodle soup (bo vien). You will even visit a local shellfish eatery to try out some of the more unusual shellfish dishes. The culinary exploration will end with a cup of tea or coffee before the return to your hotel.

Overnight: Ho Chi Minh City at Caravelle Hotel (Bed & Breakfast)

Day 10, Ho Chi Minh City

Ho Chi Minh City

Attend cooking class at The Saigon Culinary Art Center with market visit (Initiation Course, Sic) (3.5 hours)
Little walk to the local market, grocery shopping with our chefs at the central market picking up the ingredients for menu. Learn all about the products available and how to distinguish the highest quality ingredients.

After this fun experience, reach “Mai” Home and be ready to get hands-on experience of creating your own dishes, driven by the expert guidance of the Chefs. Then it’s time to savor your humble creation.

Overnight: Ho Chi Minh City at Caravelle Hotel (Bed & Breakfast)

Day 11, Ho Chi Minh City & Departure

Ho Chi Minh City & Departure

At leisure until late transfer to Tan Son Nhat Airport for flight to London.
(Please note that usual check out is 12pm. if you would like to arrange for a late check out then please ask your consultant).

Day 12, Departure & UK Arrival

Departure & UK Arrival

Your Vietnam Airlines flight will depart just after midnight with arrival into London at 07:15am.

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