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Vietnam | 14d/11n:

Highlights & gastronomy from North to South

SMALL GROUP TOUR – ALL DEPARTURES GUARANTEED.

Highlights of this tour:

Hanoi, the Chau Long market, chefs’ school in Hanoi, mini-cruise on Ha Long Bay, Hue, local market in Hue, sailing on the River of Scents, chefs’ school in Hue, Hoi An, local market in Hoi An, chefs’ school in Hoi An, Ho Chi Minh City, Cu Chi tunnels, Ben Thanh market in Ho Chi Minh City, Mai Home chefs’ school, the Mekong Delta, visit to a local village.

This package holiday includes the following:

  • Flight from the UK to Hanoi; return flight from Ho Chi Minh City
  • Domestic flights in Vietnam from Hanoi to Danang, and from Danang to Ho Chi Minh City
  • 10 nights at 3 and 4-star hotels
  • 1 night on the 4-star mini cruise ship Emeraude
  • Local, English-speaking guide to accompany you on the tour
  • 11 x breakfast (days 3–13)
  • 9 x lunch (days 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 11 and 12)
  • 4 x dinner (days 2, 3, 4 and 6)
  • Transport by car or minibus with air conditioning
  • Emergency hotline staffed 24/7 throughout your trip

Comprehensive package of excursions included:

  • Hanoi street kitchens and local markets
  • Overnight cruise in Ha Long Bay
  • The Citadel in Hue, the River of Scents, Hai Van Pass
  • The old quarter of Hoi An, the Chua Ong Pagoda, the Tam Ky house
  • The Japanese Bridge
  • Notre Dame Cathedral, the old Post Office, Dong Khoi street
  • The Opera House, the Reunification Palace, the War Museum
  • Thien Hau Pagoda, cyclo ride through Cholon, Binh Tay market
  • The Cu Chi Tunnels
  • The Mekong Delta, coconut plantation, xe loi tour
  • Sailing tour in local boat and cruise

Special culinary excursions and chefs’ schools included:

  • Welcome dinner in Hanoi
  • Hanoi chefs’ school, street kitchens and local markets
  • Hue chefs’ school
  • Hoi An chefs’ school
  • Ho Chi Minh chefs’ school
  • The Mekong Delta, Le Jarai mini chefs’ school
  • Admission and fees for the sights and attractions mentioned

Our promise to you:

  • The top highlights along this travel route
  • A well-constructed travel itinerary. No time wasted & world class
    logistics
  • Guaranteed price, with no hidden surcharges
  • Departure guarantee – the tour will take place regardless of the number of participants

Single room supplement £485
Discounts for large groups

Choose this tour because…

This 14-day tour combines the most impressive sights in Vietnam with special restaurant visits and unique street kitchen meals, visits to markets and courses at chefs’ schools – all presented by skilled, local, English-speaking guides. Your tour begins in the wonderful capital Hanoi, where you take a tour through the old quarter for your first introduction to the culinary delights of the street kitchens and a chance to experience the classic sights and attractions. A mini-cruise through Ha Long Bay allows you to appreciate the magical cliff landscape from the water. The cuisine in central Vietnam differs from that in both north and south. Therefore, this tour takes you to Hue and Hoi An, with their distinctive sights and chefs’ schools. In Ho Chi Minh City, the fruit and vegetable markets are heavily influenced by the ‘fertile pantry’ of the Mekong Delta, and you will learn how to convert the exotic ingredients into culinary delights.

Detailed Itinerary
(Click an image to view at full size)

Day 1: Flight to Hanoi, Vietnam

Departure day, where you will fly to Hanoi with connecting flights along the way.

Day 2: Arrival in Hanoi

On arrival in Hanoi, you will be issued with your visa at the airport and can then collect your luggage. You will be met in the arrivals hall by a guide holding an Asiatours sign, who will accompany you to the hotel where you will be spending the next two nights. When you arrive at the hotel, you will have time to rest after your long flight and the remainder of the day is yours to do with as you wish. Later on, you can explore the busy streets and alleyways of the exotic old quarter, stopping as you please to admire different sights and to take in all the sounds of the amazing city.

In the evening, it is time for your first culinary treat, as a dinner of welcome has been arranged at an authentic Vietnamese restaurant.

Overnight stay Authentic Hanoi Hotel ***

Day 3: Chefs’ school and the street kitchens of Hanoi

The markets of Hanoi are famous throughout the world – and you will soon understand why. Your day starts with a visit to Chau Long market where hundreds of traders have set up their small stands to sell all kinds of colourful fruits and spices. Experience the exotic scents and colours, and explore a whole new world of ingredients. Your guide will talk about the unusual vegetables and explain how the spices are used in Vietnamese cuisine.

Following the visit to the market, it is time to roll up your sleeves and show off your skills at the chefs’ school. Over a cup of tea, your teacher – an experienced chef – will introduce you to the ‘building blocks’ of Vietnamese cuisine before you tie on an apron and have a go for yourself. When the various dishes are ready, you will naturally have the chance to enjoy them in the adjacent rooms, accompanied by a beer or a glass of wine. You can then take the recipes home with you so that you can impress friends and family with an authentic Vietnamese meal prepared in your own kitchen.

In the evening, your guide will lead you on a voyage of culinary discovery among the street kitchens in the old quarter of Hanoi. This is a fantastic opportunity to taste some of the bizarre food you have seen in the street tableau but have not yet had the chance to sample. Do what the locals do: sit down on a stool, sip a locally brewed beer and watch the hectic activity all around you.

Continue along the small, winding streets, where your guide will point out stalls selling delicious noodles, bread and snacks. As darkness falls, the pavements fill up with sizzling woks, pots and pans. Pick a restaurant, sit down and tuck into a sumptuous Vietnamese barbecue of grilled beef, chicken, tofu and vegetables. As a finishing touch, treat yourself to a tempting dessert from the best-known ice cream stall in Hanoi.

Overnight stay Authentic Hanoi Hotel ***

Day 4: Hanoi – Ha Long Bay – Mini cruise

From Hanoi, your tour continues through the fertile delta of the Red River to Ha Long Bay. Here, you will board the wonderful cruise ship Emeraude and sail out on a mini-cruise. The vessel will head out towards the isolated rock islands in Ha Long Bay, and you can choose between a wide variety of options: grotto tours and a mini-course in how to make Vietnamese spring rolls. Of course, you can also choose to relax and enjoy life and the sight of the rock islands and the floating fishing villages – and perhaps take the occasional dip in the turquoise water.

NB! In the event of bad weather (storm conditions), the authorities in Vietnam reserve the right to cancel all sailing tours in Ha Long Bay for reasons of safety. This actually happens a few times every year. If this is the case, the mini-cruise will be replaced by hotel accommodation and an excursion in Hanoi.

Extra excursion: How about a bird’s-eye view of Ha Long Bay? This magnificent bay is a truly beautiful sight from above, and an aerial view will give you an excellent impression of the sheer size of the area, as well as the chance to admire the numerous limestone islands and islets towering majestically above the water.

Overnight stay Emeraude cruise ship ****

Day 5: Ha Long Bay – Hanoi – Hue

Start the day with a refreshing dip in the clear, warm waters of Ha Long Bay, or perhaps simply admire the sunrise from the magnificent sun deck. Breakfast is served while the boat glides peacefully back towards the harbour. Back on dry land, you will be driven to Hanoi airport to catch your flight to Hue. On arrival, you will be met by our local guide who will accompany you to your hotel. The rest of the day is yours to do with as you wish.

Overnight stay Park View Hue Hotel ****

Day 6: Chefs’ school in the imperial city of Hue and the River of Scents

Hue was the capital of Vietnam from 1802 until 1945, and remnants of the city’s royal past can still be seen within the citadel and the imperial city. Hue is considered to be the culinary capital of Vietnam today. Therefore, your day starts with a tour to the local market accompanied by a local cook. You will be given tips and hints to help you choose the right ingredients for the chefs’ school, where you will be learning how to make Hue fried spring rolls, rice cakes, banana flower salad and beef grilled and flavoured in local style. At the end of the lesson, you will sit down and eat the dishes you have just prepared.

The afternoon is given over to a visit to the citadel, which was built in the early 1800s and is modelled on The Forbidden City in Beijing. During the War of Indochina and, later on, the Vietnam War, many of the buildings were badly damaged by bombs, but the area is now being restored to its previously glorious condition with the assistance of donations from UNESCO. The sightseeing tour also includes a visit to the impressive imperial graves, and finishes off with a sailing tour along the River of Scents.

In the evening, you will be reunited with the enthusiastic chef from the chefs’ school you attended in the morning, to find out more about the history and traditions of Hue cuisine.

To end the day, you will be served a sumptuous, authentic Hue dinner fit for an emperor.

Overnight stay Park View Hue Hotel ****

Day 7: Hue – Hoi An

In the morning, you will be driven along the beautiful route from Hue to Hoi An. The route follows the coast for a stretch before passing over the Truong Son mountains through the world-famous Hai Van Pass – also known as Ocean Cloud Pass. You will arrive in Hoi An early in the afternoon.

Once you have checked into your hotel, it is time to head off on a guided tour through the old quarter of Hoi An, which features on the UNESCO World Heritage List. This part of the city is a prime example of an active, international harbour dating back to the ascent and golden age of the European East Asia Trading Companies from the 1500s onwards. Notable sights here include: Chua Ong pagoda, the 200-year-old Tam Ky house, and The Covered Japanese Bridge.

Overnight stay Êmm Hotel Hoi An***

Day 8: Hoi An chefs’ school by The Red Bridge

Hoi An cuisine is significantly different from the regional cuisine in both North and South Vietnam, and it includes a number of popular specialities. Today, you will have the chance to learn how to make such dishes from scratch. Your guide will accompany you to the market, where you can haggle over the prices of the ingredients you will need to make the different dishes. You will then sail down the Thu Bon river to the school where the lesson will be held. Here you will meet an enthusiastic chef, ready and waiting to share the secrets of the various dishes with you. Once your masterpieces are prepared, you will feast on them – and on a couple of other treats from the region – for lunch.

Overnight stay Êmm Hotel Hoi An***

Day 9: Hoi An – Ho Chi Minh City

In the morning, you will be picked up from your hotel and driven to the airport to catch your flight to Ho Chi Minh City. This is the biggest city in Vietnam, and is still often referred to by its old name: Saigon. It is a hectic metropolis where trade and foreign contacts are hugely important. The influence of the colonial age is very evident in the local architecture, and there are a great many western shops.

Your sightseeing tour in the afternoon will take you to Notre Dame, the old Post Office, the Opera House and Dong Khoi, the famous shopping street. Of course, it will also include a visit to the War Museum and Reunification Square, where the Vietnam War – or the ‘American War’, as the Vietnamese people call it – ended on 30 April 1975.

Overnight stay Sonnet Saigon Hotel ***

Day 10: The Cu Chi Tunnels

On the agenda for today: a half-day excursion to visit the Cu Chi Tunnels. During the Vietnam War, the North Vietnamese troops – the Viet Cong – constructed a huge network of tunnels linking underground command centres, staging posts, schools and training facilities. The tunnels also served as hiding places for launching ‘pinprick’ attacks on the American forces. The entrances to the tunnel system are tiny, and the tunnels themselves were constructed for people small in stature. The tunnel system was a perfect hiding place for the Viet Cong, and also served as an ideal launchpad for the ‘quick strike’ operations for which the Viet Cong were notorious.

 

Overnight stay Sonnet Saigon Hotel ***

Day 11: Mai Home chefs’ school

You will be picked up from your hotel and driven to Ben Thanh market, where a local chef will accompany you on a shopping tour. Together, you will buy the traditional ingredients you need to prepare the 3-course menu you will be learning to make. The emphasis here is on the broad range of edible leaves, banana flowers, coconut hearts, taro, lotus seeds and various edible stems and exotic fruits.

At the market, you will be focusing on foods, and your guide will point out and talk about the culinary specialities of South Vietnam. Having finished your shopping, you will head off with the chef to a nearby restaurant to start preparing your delicious 3-course menu. There will be several assistants there to help you, so please do not hesitate to ask them if you have any questions. At the end of the lesson, you will sit down and eat the dishes you have just prepared.

Overnight stay Sonnet Saigon Hotel ***

Day 12: The Mekong Delta

The Mekong Delta is known as the ‘pantry of Vietnam’, and as the name suggests it is an extremely fertile region. The delta is huge, covering an area of almost 40,000 km². Precisely how much of the delta is covered by water depends on the volume of rain and the season of the year. Your tour through the delta starts in Ben Tre, where you board a local boat. The first stop is at a coconut plantation, where there will be a demonstration of how the coconut is used to produce oil, material for mats and sweet ‘cakes’. Back on the boat once more, you will sail through twisting channels below shady trees.

On your tour, you will stop at a village and visit the home of one of the peasant farmers. You will also have the chance to experience a ride in a ‘xe loi’, which can best be described as a moped pulling a trailer containing passenger seats. It is a very common and popular means of transport here. The ride will take you through the paddy fields that make up Vietnam’s lush ‘pantry’. Ahead lies Le Jarai, a delightful boat from which to admire the scenery of the peerless Mekong. On board Le Jarai, you will be served a delicious lunch featuring specialities from the Mekong Delta.

 

Overnight stay Sonnet Saigon Hotel ***

Day 13: Ho Chi Minh City – Departure

You will be picked up from your hotel and driven out to the airport to catch your flight from Ho Chi Minh City back to the UK. There will be connecting flights along the way.

Day 14: Arrival in the UK

Arrive back in the UK after a wonderful holiday.

SMALL GROUP TOUR – ALL DEPARTURES GUARANTEED.

Highlights of this tour:

Hanoi, the Chau Long market, chefs’ school in Hanoi, mini-cruise on Ha Long Bay, Hue, local market in Hue, sailing on the River of Scents, chefs’ school in Hue, Hoi An, local market in Hoi An, chefs’ school in Hoi An, Ho Chi Minh City, Cu Chi tunnels, Ben Thanh market in Ho Chi Minh City, Mai Home chefs’ school, the Mekong Delta, visit to a local village.

This package holiday includes the following:

  • Flight from the UK to Hanoi; return flight from Ho Chi Minh City
  • Domestic flights in Vietnam from Hanoi to Danang, and from Danang to Ho Chi Minh City
  • 10 nights at 3 and 4-star hotels
  • 1 night on the 4-star mini cruise ship Emeraude
  • Local, English-speaking guide to accompany you on the tour
  • 11 x breakfast (days 3–13)
  • 9 x lunch (days 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 11 and 12)
  • 4 x dinner (days 2, 3, 4 and 6)
  • Transport by car or minibus with air conditioning
  • Emergency hotline staffed 24/7 throughout your trip

Comprehensive package of excursions included:

  • Hanoi street kitchens and local markets
  • Overnight cruise in Ha Long Bay
  • The Citadel in Hue, the River of Scents, Hai Van Pass
  • The old quarter of Hoi An, the Chua Ong Pagoda, the Tam Ky house
  • The Japanese Bridge
  • Notre Dame Cathedral, the old Post Office, Dong Khoi street
  • The Opera House, the Reunification Palace, the War Museum
  • Thien Hau Pagoda, cyclo ride through Cholon, Binh Tay market
  • The Cu Chi Tunnels
  • The Mekong Delta, coconut plantation, xe loi tour
  • Sailing tour in local boat and cruise

Special culinary excursions and chefs’ schools included:

  • Welcome dinner in Hanoi
  • Hanoi chefs’ school, street kitchens and local markets
  • Hue chefs’ school
  • Hoi An chefs’ school
  • Ho Chi Minh chefs’ school
  • The Mekong Delta, Le Jarai mini chefs’ school
  • Admission and fees for the sights and attractions mentioned

Our promise to you:

  • The top highlights along this travel route
  • A well-constructed travel itinerary. No time wasted & world class
    logistics
  • Guaranteed price, with no hidden surcharges
  • Departure guarantee – the tour will take place regardless of the number of participants

Single room supplement £485
Discounts for large groups