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Vietnam Gastronomic Culinary Adventure Tour

Good food is a good mood. This Vietnamese gastronomic adventure in 12 days will instantly lift your mood with the most luscious dishes around Vietnam. From Hanoi to Ho Chi Minh City, explore the sites by experiencing the true flavors of Vietnam. Learn the secrets behind these mouth-watering dishes with visits to fresh markets and hands-on cooking classes.

Highlights

  • Try the remarkable dishes of Vietnamese street food
  • Explore Hanoi on a Vespa bike
  • Have an overnight cruise in the most stunning bay in the world
  • Learn how to cook Vietnamese dishes
  • Immerse yourself in Saigon's main attractions
  • Have a fine dining experience in complete darkness
  • 11 nights accommodation

Skill level

  • Beginner

10 days with instruction in English
The organizer also speaks: Chinese (mandarin), French, German, Russian, Spanish
Group size: 1-15 participants
Airport transfer included: Noi Bai International Airport
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Accommodation

Check-in Time:
14:00
Check-out Time:
12:00

During this tour, you'll have a choice of staying in 4 or 5-star hotel accommodation in private rooms.

4-star hotels

  • Hanoi: Tirant Hotel or similar
  • Halong Bay: La Pandora Cruise or similar
  • Hoi An: Silkotel Hoi An or similar
  • Ho Chi Minh: Alagon Sai Gon Hotel or similar

5-star hotels

  • Hanoi: Apricot Hotel or similar
  • Halong Bay: Doris Cruise or similar
  • Hoi An: Palm Garden Hoi An or similar
  • Ho Chi Minh: The Myst Dong Khoi or similar

Program

Your tour begins with the charming capital, Hanoi, touring the city’s “must-sees” and diving into Hanoi’s deep-rooted food culture by visiting local markets and sampling street fares in hidden alleys with a local food expert. You can catch good options for Cha Ca, Bun Cha, and Pho, the signature Vietnamese food that will come to anyone’s mind when coming to Vietnam.

Have delicious meals while cruising to the shimmering waters of Ha Long Bay, a must-visit destination when you are in Vietnam. Then savor the unique dishes that you can only find in Hoi An, walk to a series of the town’s best eateries and dig into a bowl of aromatic Cao Lau noodles, taste Banh Can crackers topped with pork and salads, or the beautiful white rose dumplings.

End your journey with unique experiences in Ho Chi Minh City, witnessing its amazing blend of European, Vietnamese as well and Chinese culture through its beautiful architecture, crawling inside the fascinating underground system of Cu Chi Tunnels, and dining in the dark, without your sight as every other sense becomes stronger, those will be memories that last a lifetime. The delicious flavors of the Vietnam food tour ended full of flavors.

Day 1: Welcome to Vietnam - Hanoi arrival

Your trip begins with your arrival in Hanoi. Your private driver will meet and greet you at the airport. You will be escorted to the hotel by private transportation. Check in to the hotel and get over the jet lag. You can mooch through the streets of the city. Historic charm, architectural marvels, and various products are splashed all over this area. After enjoying the first day yourself, return to the hotel for a relaxing sleep. Overnight in Hanoi.

Day 2: Hanoi cooking class with a master chef

Cooking with instructions and guides from the professional chef Mai, the master chef of some five-star hotels for 15 years as well as a Vietnamese woman having both traditional and modern beauty with profound knowledge of English and tourism.

Realistic Asia will pick you up at your hotel in Hanoi at 8:30 a.m. and you will then have a one-hour walk to the local market. You will be fascinated by the sounds of the bustling market as well as the smells of fresh local ingredients there. While you are having a look at the daily life of local people, Chef Mai will show you how locals choose the best raw materials that promises to be a very interesting experience.

Next, you will be introduced to some kinds of Vietnamese dishes and explained how to prepare them. Afterward, you will come to the chef’s home for your cooking class. When everything is ready, Mrs. Mai will instruct you to cook some Vietnamese traditional dishes. She will also show you how to harmonize between the Vietnamese species and your taste to cook the best foods for you and your family.

Your lunch will be served with what you have self-cooked, along with Vietnamese traditional foods prepared by the chef. Overnight in Hanoi.

Day 3: Hanoi Vespa tour

Explore more of Hanoi today in style from the back of a vintage Vespa scooter. Your guide will meet you at your hotel and take you for a ride through the atmospheric streets of the Old Quarter, admiring its famous landmarks such as the Opera House and the narrow Train Street. Head toward Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum to see the President's Place, Parliament House, and other government offices while your guide shares stories about the history of Hanoi.

Pass Huu Hiep Lake and the crash site of the US plane shot down during the 1972 bombing raids of Hanoi, a poignant reminder of recent history. Then ride along the calm and beautiful West Lake to see the Monument to John McCain. Your next stop is an idyllic hidden village on an island in the Red River, where you can meet a resident family and learn more about local life.

Then it's on to a nearby kumquat farm, where the small trees are grown as a traditional gift for the New Year, symbolizing luck, health, wealth, fertility, and peace. Stop for some famous "egg coffee" at a local coffee shop, then head back to the Old Quarter via the Long Bien Bridge. This magnificent structure was built over a hundred years ago and connects the Hoan Kiem and Long Bien districts.

The tour finishes with a hearty lunch at a local restaurant and a transfer back to your hotel. In the evening, the driver will take you to Ly Club Restaurant - one of the most famous restaurants in Hanoi for dinner. Overnight in Hanoi.

Day 4: Hanoi - Ha Long Bay - Overnight on cruise

In the morning, check out of the hotel and get picked up by the Cruise team. Take the most scenic route to reach Halong Bay, taking you across the Red River Delta with emerald green rice paddies stretching for as far as the eyes can see. On arrival at the pier, you will board the cruise and enjoy the fantastic views of limestone rocks and the karst grottoes.

Have an utterly delicious seafood lunch and enjoy the time at the sundeck exploring the Bay. The cruise will stop in a secret place where you will spend time kayaking or swimming, so you can explore the karst grottoes closer. Towards the evening, you will return to the boat for an early dinner, followed by some time at leisure. You can optionally attend the activities taking part on the boat or just relax. Overnight on cruise.

Note: In case of bad weather (the boat is not allowed to push off or not allowed to overnight in the sea), the Ha Long Bay tour could be canceled without notice. Realistic Asia will consider other replacement tours or a refund based on the specific circumstances.

Day 5: Sunrise on the sundeck - Back to Hanoi

Rise early today to view the sunrise at the wonder of nature with breakfast served in the dining room. A Tai Chi class on the sun deck will awaken your mind and muscles. Then head off to visit the limestone cave full of stalagmites and stalactites.

After your exploration return to the boat to check out and enjoy the brunch while the cruise is sailing back to the harbor. Later you will be transferred to your accommodation in Hanoi. Overnight in Hanoi.

Day 6: Travel from Hanoi to Hoi An

Have breakfast at the hotel and have free time until the driver will meet you for a transfer to the airport for your next flight to Hoi An. Upon arrival, you will be transferred to the hotel. After hotel check-in, have some leisure time in Hoi An. Overnight in Hoi An.

Day 7: Hoi An foodie tour

This evening, you will explore Hoi An's off-the-beaten-path highlights and taste the most remarkable dishes of this charming town. Your guide will meet you at the hotel and transfer you to a local farming village about 2.5 miles (4 kilometers) from the town center. Here you can learn more about the daily life of the local farmers before getting back to Hoi An and immersing yourself in a foodie's paradise with the flavorful local cuisine.

Start your culinary exploration with a selection of well-known local dishes such as white rose dumplings, banh beo (steamed rice cakes), banh nam (rice dumplings) my quang (flavorful rice noodles), Hoi An pancakes, barbeque pork rolls, and the famous bahn mi sandwich. Wrap up your food tour with the best Vietnamese coffee before exploring more of Hoi An by night or heading back to your hotel. Overnight in Hoi An.

Day 8: Hoi An cooking class

The day starts at 8:30 a.m. at Vy’s Market Restaurant. Walk to Hoi An’s colorful and bustling central market in small groups with an English-speaking tour guide where participants learn about; the uses of different fresh noodles, how to recognize and buy fresh fish, fresh and

dried spices, fresh herbs, and their uses in our recipes and medicinal purposes, rice and different grains. You will also see and taste many exotic fruits.

You'll then walk back to Vy’s Market Restaurant where you will be guided around the many live food counters in this unique first-of-its-kind interactive dining venue in Vietnam. Here you can see, smell, hear, taste, touch, and interact with many different food-making processes. You can try samples from over 10 different food counters including banh mi, dumplings, pickles, weird and wonderful foods, the rationing foods in Vietnam that were in place for 45 years, sweet treats, and many more.

You can see rice paper being made from ground rice and water, laid out to dry on bamboo, and then later roasted for rice crackers to eat with Hoi An chili sauce and salads, various shapes and sizes of rice noodles. Experience the famous local noodle dish, Cao Lau, and see the noodles rolled out by hand and cut in the traditional way with a long knife and then steamed over an open fire. You may participate in many of the street food counters; cutting noodles, making rice paper and wontons, using the bun noodle machine, and more.

The cooking lesson runs around 2.5 hours, your cooking teachers first demonstrate each dish before you prepare the same dishes yourselves. After the lesson, you'll all sit down and eat what you have cooked. You will receive a copy of the recipes and a Vietnamese cooking utensil to take home. Later, they will transfer you back to your hotel. Overnight in Hoi An.

Day 9: Travel from Hoi An to Ho Chih Minh City

Have breakfast at the hotel and have free time until your driver meets you for a transfer to the airport for your next flight to Ho Chi Minh City. Upon arrival, you will be transferred to the hotel. After hotel check-in, have some leisure time in Ho Chi Minh City. Overnight in Ho Chi Minh City.

Day 10: Discover the vibrant city and dining with all five senses

Take the morning trip to visit Independence Palace, also known as the Reunification Palace, which was built on the sight of the former Norodom palace. The Independence Palace is a widely known landmark of Ho Chi Minh City and was designed by the architect Ngo Viet Thu. Continue seeing beautiful structures from the French Colonial times such as the Notre Dame Cathedral, and the historic Central Post Office.

Continue to the remarkable site of the War Remnants Museum the museum has a vast display of both the Indochina wars. Then they will transfer you to the restaurant for lunch. Return to your hotel.

This evening you'll awaken all five senses and experience a culinary journey through taste, smell, touch, and sound at Noir: Dining in the Dark Saigon. Start with a welcome drink while listening to the restaurant's concept and mission. Proceed to the dining area to savor a unique fine dining experience in the complete darkness as you work your way through an exquisite, multi-course set menu. Overnight in Ho Chi Minh City.

Day 11: Explore the fantastic Cu Chi Tunnel

Today you'll take a deep dive into Vietnamese history and explore the famous Cu Chi Tunnels, used as a shelter for Vietnamese soldiers during the war. After the 1.5-hour drive to Cu Chi, you'll learn about how the tunnels were constructed and how they helped people survive in the harsh conditions of wartime.

Wander the remaining tunnel systems which include the living areas, kitchens, and bedrooms side by side with other martial facilities like storage, weapons factories, field hospitals, and command centers. You'll also spot hidden doors and dangerous traps within the maze-like tunnels. Finish the tour with special tea and cassava (guerilla food during the war) and join your driver for the transfer back to your hotel in Ho Chi Minh. Overnight in Ho Chi Minh City.

Day 12: Time to say goodbye - Ho Chi Minh departure

Relish a healthy breakfast on the final day of your trip. Complete the hotel check-out formalities after which you can free to visit the local markets and buy souvenirs for your loved ones. Later, proceed for departure and board your flight back home. Trip ends.

Included excursions

  • Cooking with Chef Mai on Day 2
  • Hanoi Vespa tour on Day 3
  • Overnight cruise in Halong Bay on Days 4 and 5
  • Street food tour in Hoi An on Day 7
  • Cooking lesson at Vy's Market Restaurant on Day 8
  • Ho Chi Minh sightseeing on Day 10
  • Dinner in the Dark at Noir: Dining in the Dark Saigon on Day 10
  • Cu Chi Tunnels tour on Day 11

Location

Explore Vietnam

Vietnam is a country full of wonders, whose rich history, fascinating cultural traditions, and spectacular scenery as well as the astonishing variety of its cuisine with the unfailing warmth and hospitality of its people. Explore the beautiful north of Vietnam with a stroll around the small alleys and well-preserved colonial architecture buildings in the Old Quarters. A hike in the mist-shrouded tribal valleys of Sapa or witness the limestone karsts rearing out of the water in Ha Long Bay.

Centrally, you will find the Imperial City, Hue, sailing out onto the picturesque Perfume River as age-old landscapes unfold before you, women wearing traditional conical hats and children running along the banks. Cycling through the ancient riverside town and its lush rice paddies take a bite of the world’s most delicious sandwich, Banh Mi.

For a more frenetic city experience, visit Ho Chi Minh City, locally known as Saigon, sitting in the south, is the engine for growth and the chaotic heart of modern-day Vietnam. This thriving city blends a modern, western feel with a rich history of the Vietnam War and French colonial days.

The relatively untouched island of Phu Quoc is ideal for beach lovers. Immerse yourself in the fresh mountain scenery, and swim in crystal-clear waterfalls where enchanting reefs waiting. Alternatively, enjoy a Vietnam beach holiday on the palm-fringed coast in Mui Ne. This sun-kissed town is perfect for Vietnam family holidays with world-famous scuba diving and over 300 days of sunshine per year.

You’ll be drawn to Vietnam’s natural beauty and ancient history, but it’s the friendly local people whom you meet on the way who leave the biggest impression. It could be the smiling street vendor who hands you a bowl of steaming Pho while you perch on a pavement-side stool in Hanoi or the boatman who takes you on a sampan ride through the Mekong Rivers maze of canals.

On top of that, the food of Vietnam is some of the most delectable and harmonious in the world. Throughout this country, you’ll feast on regional dishes that combine staple ingredients like lime, chili, and the abundant rice noodles. Slurp down a bowl of the iconic noodle soup, pho. A must-eat for anyone interested in Vietnamese cuisine. From the serenity to the chaos and from the ancient to the innovative, this country has it all to surprise you at every step of your journey.

Culture and tradition

The Vietnamese trace their beginnings to legendary kings who ruled nearly 5000 years ago, making the Vietnamese culture one of the oldest distinct cultures in Southeast Asia. Over thousands of years, this distinct culture has been influenced by neighboring and ruling cultures as well, including the Chinese, Cham, Khmer, and French, among others.

Visitors to Vietnam can see an overall unifying Vietnamese culture throughout the country, with regional unique features in different areas.

Festivals and events

Some of the most interesting Vietnamese festivals are unique to small localities. When planning to travel to Vietnam, contact your travel consultant to see if any local festivals will occur during your itinerary. Some of the larger festivals in Vietnam are celebrated nationwide:

  • Tet: Also known as the Lunar New Year, Tet usually falls between mid-January and mid-February. This is the largest and most important Vietnamese holiday when people travel to their hometowns and many businesses close for several days. There is a special festive atmosphere in the air during Tet.
  • Vu Lan: This festival is when Vietnamese people honor their parents, especially their mothers, whether living or deceased. The date is on the 15th day of the 7th lunar month.
  • Mid-Autumn Festival: The hallmarks of this festival, called Tet Trung Thu in Vietnam, are colorful paper lanterns, mooncakes, and lion dancing. With such exciting activities, children especially enjoy this holiday. It falls in the middle of the 8th lunar month and is also a time for families to spend time together drinking tea and eating sweet mooncakes.

Health and safety

  • In general, there are no serious health or safety risks when traveling in Vietnam. However, it never hurts to take precautions. Please consult your healthcare provider to see if they recommend any vaccinations or other medications when traveling.
  • In large cities and other crowded areas, be mindful of your belongings such as cameras, mobile phones, and wallets/purses.
  • When traveling to Vietnam, remember to be flexible and keep an open mind. Many traveler frustrations begin with differing expectations and miscommunication. If there is an issue, try to stay pleasant, smile, and enjoy the experience. Vietnamese people are very proud of their country and culture and are proud to showcase their nation to international visitors.

Food

The price includes meals as outlined below, also provided is water on the coach.

  • Day 1: No meal included
  • Day 2: Breakfast and lunch
  • Days 3 and 4: Breakfast, lunch, and dinner
  • Day 5: Breakfast and lunch
  • Day 6: Breakfast
  • Day 7: Breakfast and dinner
  • Day 8: Breakfast and lunch
  • Day 9: Breakfast
  • Day 10: Breakfast, lunch, and dinner
  • Days 11 and 12: Breakfast

The following meals are included:

  • Breakfast
  • Drinks

The following drinks are included:

  • Water

The following dietary requirement(s) are served and/or catered for:

  • Vegetarian
  • Vegan
  • Regular (typically includes meat and fish)
If you have special dietary requirements it's a good idea to communicate it to the organiser when making a reservation

What's included

  • All sightseeing tickets according to the itinerary
  • Tissues and water on the coach
  • Service charges and government tax
  • 24/7 hotline support guaranteed
  • Door-to-door pick-up and drop-off services by a private car
  • Air-conditioned bus between Hanoi and Halong Bay (2-way)
  • Private roundtrip Ho Chih Minh transfers
  • Private cars for the excursions
  • 11 breakfasts, 6 lunches, and 4 dinners
  • Experienced English-speaking guide
  • 11 nights accommodation

What's not included

  • Travel insurance
  • International flights and departure taxes
  • Additional beverages, personal expenses, tips, and gratuities
  • Early check-in and late check-out (If not mentioned)
  • Compulsory gala dinner on 24 and 31 December and 21 January (Tet)
  • Public holiday surcharge (Christmas and New Year, Tet holiday), if applicable
  • Surcharge for airport cabs (From 12 a.m. - 5 a.m.)
  • Visa stamping fee on arrival at the airport (25 USD/person)
  • Services not mentioned in inclusions
  • French/German/Spanish/Russian/Chinese speaking guides are available upon request (The surcharge will be applied)
  • Hanoi to Hoi An and Hoi An to Ho Chi Minh City flights with a 20kg luggage allowance (The cost of internal airfares is paid separately upon arrival to Realistic Asia as a local payment. The airfare fees are separated from the main tour cost because the prices of internal airfare can vary based on a number of factors, such as travel period, availability of flights, and fuel taxes. They keep it as a local payment to benefit travelers by keeping tour costs lower, providing more flexibility during the booking process, and ensuring that travelers have a smooth and stress-free experience while on their trip.)

How to get there

Recommended Airports

Arrival by airplane

Please arrange your flight to arrive at Noi Bai International Airport (HAN). Realistic Asia will meet you at the airport upon your arrival, your driver will hold the welcome board with your name on it. Please note the luggage allowances:

  • Hanoi to Hoi An (with 20 kilograms luggage allowance)
  • Hoi An to Ho Chi Minh City (with 20 kilograms luggage allowance)
Airport: Noi Bai International Airport Airport transfer included: Noi Bai International Airport No additional charges. You can request this in the next step.

Cancellation Policy

  • A reservation requires a deposit of 20% of the total price.
  • The deposit is non-refundable, if the booking is cancelled.
  • The rest of the payment should be paid 30 days before arrival.
12 days / 11 nights
from --
Minimum group size

This trip requires a minimum of 1 participants

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