This 11-night tailor-made guided touring itinerary for individuals offers the perfect introduction to the culinary delights of Vietnam. Alongside exploring some of Vietnam’s most important sites, visit local markets to investigate local produce and learn to produce authentic Vietnamese dishes. You will be invited to dine in one of Hue’s magical garden houses and sip Vietnamese coffee in the Old Quarter of Hanoi.
If you would like to extend your culinary odyssey to include other destinations in South East Asia or relax on the beach at the end of your tour of Vietnam, please see the further ideas at the end of this itinerary. Day 1 Arrival in Ho Chi Minh CityArriving at Tan Son Nhat airport, you will be met and driven to the Majestic Hotel. Here you will have a chance to relax before a welcome dinner. Day 2 Ho Chi Minh City Orientation After breakfast, your guide will arrive to show you around Ho Chi Minh City. Highlights include the Reunification Hall – an early colonial masterpiece constructed to accommodate the Governor General of Indochina. At the huge Ben Thanh market, one of the liveliest areas of Ho Chi Minh City, you will find it packed with every conceivable commodity. Lunch is included today. Next, visit the Jade Emperor Temple - one of the best Taoist temples in Vietnam with superb effigies and remarkable carved panels of the descent to Hell. Finish the day with a visit to a lacquer workshop to see the complex processes and meticulous workmanship involved in this traditional Vietnamese craft product. Day 3 Cooking in Ho Chi Minh City Today will begin with a cooking class held at Ho Chi Minh City’s Cookery Centre. First visit a local market to investigate the local produce and how to purchase ingredients, followed by an introduction to Vietnamese culinary culture. Following this cultural hors d'oeuvres, you’ll get busy in the kitchen under the careful supervision of a Vietnamese, English-speaking chef. There is a whole range of menus from which to choose: each has been developed to ensure an all-round essence of Vietnamese cuisine. Taste the results of your efforts in the form of lunch. In the afternoon, enjoy some time at leisure. There’s plenty to see and do in the city. A popular route to wander is the centre of District 1, the historical quarter surrounded by many colonial buildings. Alternatively, you might be tempted with a cocktail (with a five-star price to match) at the Saigon Saigon Bar of the Caravelle Hotel with a 360 degree view on the top floor.Day 4 Ho Chi Minh City/Vinh Long/Can Tho After escaping from Ho Chi Minh City’s urban sprawl, you will travel to Vinh Long where a Mekong River cruise will take you to visit the fruit orchards, a traditional family-run brick kiln, and some long-established cottage industries. You’ll drive further into the Mekong Delta to Can Tho. Upon arrival, call in at the Munir Ansay – an ancient Khmer style pagoda, renowned for its unique structural decorations. Lunch is included today. Continue on to your hotel in Can Tho where you’ll spend the night. Constructed in 1948 and modelled on Cambodia’s famous Angkor Wat complex, the’ Three Treasures’ tower, the Munir Ansay pagoda has many intricate statues and pillars. Today, approximately a million Khmer people live in Vietnam, mostly in the Mekong Delta provinces.Day 5 Can Tho/Ho Chi Minh City After breakfast and a boat cruise, arrive at Cai Rang floating market on the Mekong Delta. Both the journey and the market provide insights into the rural Mekong Delta lifestyle. Lunch is included today. On your return to Ho Chi Minh City, you’ll visit the beautiful and ancient Vinh Trang pagoda, three kilometres from the centre of My Tho. You should arrive in Ho Chi Minh City in the late afternoon with time to freshen up at the Majestic Hotel. Vinh Trang pagoda is renowned for its architectural mixture of Chinese, Vietnamese and Angkor styles. It’s located on a five acre (2 hectare) block with five buildings, two ornamental courtyards, 178 pillars and many valuable statues . The experience will give you a clearer understanding relationship between Vietnamese art and Buddhist beliefs. Day 6 Ho Chi Minh City/Hue Your morning will be free until your car and driver arrives to take you to Tan Son Nhat airport for a noon flight to Hue. When you arrive, you’ll be met by a guide and driven to visit the Imperial Citadel of Hue and the Dong Ba market. The remainder of the day will be at your leisure.In the evening, you will be invited to dinner in the pleasant surroundings and a comfortable atmosphere of a ‘garden house’. The owner will prepare and serve a traditional meal based on the distinctive characteristics of classic Hue cuisine. 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 7 Hue Sightseeing Today head south-east to the outskirts of Hue for a visit to Thuan An market, followed by a short visit Tam Giang lagoon by boat. From there, a country road takes you to a small village where villagers continue the simple process of drying fish naturally (weather allowing). Return to Hue City for lunch. After lunch, drive to the Thien Mu Pagoda and the Emperor Minh Mang’s Tomb. 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.Day 8 Hue/Hanoi Your morning will be free until your car and driver arrives to take you to the airport for your noon flight to Hanoi. When you arrive, you’ll be met by a guide and driven to the graceful Sofitel Metropole Hotel in downtown Hanoi. In the afternoon, visit the serene Tran Quoc Pagoda, the oldest in Hanoi, on the banks of Hanoi’s Ho Tay (West) Lake. The centre of Hanoi, including Hoan Kiem Lake, the Ngoc Son temple and Hang Be (or Dong Xuan) market, a local market in the city’s centre and the bustling Old Quarter, is a magnet for visitors – it’s noisy and hectic, but definitely a ‘must-see’ attraction. Today’s walk involves tasting and exploring Hanoi’s typical street food and snacks. Popular light meals include Banh Cuon (fresh rice pancake cooked on site wrapped with mushroom and meat), Bun Cha (fresh rice noodle with grilled pork belly) and/or Sinh To (mixed tropical fruit). As the day begins to wane, you may like to visit a small local café tucked away in a small alley in the Old Quarter. It’s a popular venue for its view over the Hoan Kiem Lake and its type of Vietnamese coffee.Day 9 Hanoi orientation This will be a day to explore Vietnam’s capital city, first escorted and, later after lunch, an opportunity to wander around the city’s Old Quarter and Hanoi’s elegant French colonial buildings and boulevards.Your guide will take you to the Temple of Literature, the first university in Vietnam dating back to the 11th century, and a popular attraction. Later visit Ho Chi Minh’s Mausoleum, his simple stilt house where he lived and worked and the museum in his honour. Enjoy lunch at the ‘Cha Ca La Vong’ restaurant to sample one of Hanoi’s typical specialities: Ca Lang. It’s a type of catfish, fried with herbs and fresh noodles. The dish is so popular that it gives its name to the street. The rest of the afternoon will be at leisure. When you leave the restaurant, you’ll be in the centre of the Old Quarter. Day 10 Hanoi/Ha Long After breakfast, leave for Ha Long Bay, one of the most spectacular UNESCO World Heritage Areas and the world’s largest marine limestone ‘karst’ landscape. Board a wooden junk to take you through the Bai Tu Long Bay area. You’ll dock to visit one of the less visited caves in the Bay. From there, continue your cruise toward Cong Do area for swimming or kayaking though a hidden lagoon. The route is designed to avoid the busy areas and includes a very quiet location for your overnight stay.For your two-day Ha Long excursion, you'll board the Red Dragon Junk, one of the best wooden boats on the Bay. It’s based on the model of the old Chinese court vessels with three barge sails, a wide transom and a rectangular superstructure. The boat has five cabins, accommodating for up to ten people, so you're likely to be joining other travellers for the cruise. All meals, usually based on fresh seafood, will be provided on board. Kayaking is available and included in the price. Day 11 Ha Long/Hanoi Wake to the fresh air of the bay with a swim or you can relax on the sundeck. After breakfast, continue your cruise to visit a fishing village where you’ll have an opportunity to explore the village and the hidden lagoon in a rustic rowing boat. The route will end at a Pearl Farm where you can see the whole process of making high quality pearls. Cruise back to the dock around noon where you will be picked up to return to Hanoi. After arriving at your hotel in the mid-afternoon, the remainder of the day will be your own. Day 12 Hanoi Departure After breakfast, you will be free until your driver arrives to take you to Noi Bai airport for your departure flight.Prices from about £3,740 per person with details as belowOUR PRICE INCLUDES•Return scheduled flights with Malaysian Airlines into Ho Chi Minh City and out of Hanoi•Breakfast and accommodation sharing a twin or double room.•Pick-ups and transfers by private air-conditioned vehicle as specified in the itinerary above (Please note: pick-ups will be by a guide and driver or, where a guide is not necessary, a driver only. All unaccompanied drivers will be briefed in advance and will carry a mobile phone to ensure smooth transfer arrangements).•Domestic flight tickets: Ho Chi Minh – Hue and Hue – Hanoi including domestic airport taxes.•Boat cruises as specified in the programme. All Ha Long Bay boats will be fully licensed and comply with current safety regulations.•The services of experienced English-speaking guides as indicated in the itinerary (please note: guides will be on hand from pick-up until guests’ return to their hotel or reaching their destination). Free days or part days will not include the services of a guide unless requested and included in the final itinerary. •Cooking class in Ho Chi Minh City•Where necessary, entry fees for all visits as mentioned in the programme.•Lunches and dinners (as specified in the itinerary) in the best local restaurants, or picnics where no suitable restaurant is available. •VAT and other taxesOUR PRICES DO NOT INCLUDE•Visas•Dinners, except as specified above. •Drinks, gratuities and personal expenses.•Insurance.HOTEL LIST FOR THE ABOVE ITINERARYHo Chi Minh City, Majestic Hotel, historic four star hotel in the city centre overlooking the Saigon River, sensitively restored to retain the atmosphere of the French colonial period - Colonial Saigon River Deluxe RoomCan Tho, Victoria Can Tho Resort, four star hotel beside the Mekong river, good garden setting - Deluxe River View RoomHue, La Residence Hotel & Spa,a four star deluxe boutique hotel, on the banks of The Perfume River – Deluxe Colonial RoomHanoi, Sofitel Legend Metropole Hotel, historic five star colonial building in a city centre location – Luxury Room Historic WingHa Long Bay, Red Dragon Junk, traditional wooden junk modelled on Imperial Court Vessels. The cabins are air-conditioned and have windows overlooking the bay And are furnished with two twin beds or a double queen size bed. The cabin has a an en-suite toilet and shower with a good selection of high-quality toiletries.Suggested extensions to your tourIf you wish to extend your odyssey, here are some of our recommendations:Hue: Hone your culinary skills on Hue’s traditional dishes at the Tha Om garden house Hanoi: Cook Northern Vietnam’s dishes at Anh Tuyet’s house - a small family house in the Old Quarter.Bangkok: Discover Thailand’s culinary heritage in the most exciting (and hectic) city in South East Asia - its street-food is a sight to be seen and a marvel to eat.Siem Reap: Visit one of the most magnificent architectural sites on earth - the Angkor Wat Temple complex. It’s also an opportunity to investigate some of Cambodia’s surprising Khmer dishes.Suggested beach extensions to your tourIf you would like to combine this tour, or part of it, with a relaxing stay at a beautiful beach resort on the east coast of Vietnam, we can offer you:Evason Ana Mandara, Nha TrangFurama Resort, DanangSix Senses Ninh Van Bay, Nha Trang
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