Cuisine and Culture Vietnam 12-day Tour

In this rich cultural and culinary experience, journey from Vietnam’s capital city, Hanoi, in the north, to its commercial hub, Saigon, in the south. You’ll sample famous street food along the way, try your hand at cooking classes, enjoy a relaxing 2 night cruise on Halong Bay, explore UNESCO-listed Hoi An, cycle in the Mekong Delta, and explore the dynamic cities of Hanoi and Saigon.


Day 1:  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.

Enjoy sightseeing around West Lake (Ho Tay Lake) via an electric car. You’ll visit the Temple of Literature, one of the best-preserved examples of traditional Vietnamese architecture, and explore its peaceful walled courtyards and graceful gateways. 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. You’ll also visit the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum.

The tour continues via electric car to Hanoi’s city centre, passing Hoan Kiem Lake, Quan Su Pagoda, Silk Road, Hanoi Railway Station, Hoa Lo Prison and the Hanoi Opera House. Next you’ll leave the car behind and enjoy a walk through the Old Quarter, taking in the architecture and the daily lives of locals.

Close the day with dinner and a Water Puppet Show, a traditional show originating from Northen Vietnam.

Overnight in Hanoi.


Day 2:  Hanoi

Start the day with a traditional breakfast of pho and Vietnamese coffee at a local restaurant and observe how one of Vietnam’s favourite noodle dishes is prepared.

Transfer to the Hanoi Cooking Center (HCC) for a cooking course. Try a cup of La Han, a special Vietnamese tea, followed by a brief introduction to Vietnamese cuisine and the highlights of traditional meals. Take a short walk to the Chau Long Market to see the wet goods, unusual tropical fruits, livestock and silk worms. Then head back to HCC to start the cooking class and to enjoy the delicious dishes.

In the early evening , uncover Hanoi’s tasty street fare on a walking tour. Start the walk at Lane 147 Nghi Tam Street, in the Tay Ho district of the city. Wander around the Tay Ho area from Nghi Tam to Yen Phu Street to try grilled skewers. Walk to Truc Bach Road and sample two kinds of Pho (rolled and fried) or hot pot in the winter. Cap the walk off with a cup of coffee or sugar cane juice.

You will also have the opportunity to try Bia Hoi, the famous draught beer served at restaurants and stalls along the streets, and visit an authentic Vietnamese beer garden and experience local drinking rituals.

Overnight in Hanoi.


Day 3:  Hanoi – Halong Bay

Travel from Hanoi to Halong Bay to cruise amongst the Bay’s spectacular scenery aboard a Paradise Luxury Cruise. After check-in and security briefings, you will set sail, enjoying lunch while cruising through Hoa Cuong Fishing Village, Ti Top area and Bai Tu Long area. The vessel will stop at Thien Canh Son Island, where you can go swimming, kayaking (with supplement) or explore the mysterious dark cave. Enjoy a cooking demonstration with the Chef as he prepares traditional Vietnamese spring rolls. Pre-dinner cocktail will be served along with complimentary nuts & canapes. Dinner is served on board.

Overnight in cabin / onboard.


Day 4:  Halong – Hanoi – Danang – Hoi An

In the morning enjoy a Tai chi session on the sundeck, with a light breakfast of tea, coffee and pastries. Afterwards, set out to explore Sung Sot Cave, and then head back to the ship for a full breakfast buffet.

After check-out, you’ll transfer to Tuan Chau Island for the onward journey by vehicle from Halong to Hanoi. Catch a flight to Danang, and then transfer to Hoi An.

Overnight in Hoi An.


Day 5:  Hoi An

The day starts with a cooking class at Secret Garden Restaurant. You’ll join the chef on a visit to a local market, taking in the aromatic spices, fresh produce and friendly vendors. After purchasing the ingredients for the class, head back to the restaurant where the chef will give a demonstration on preparing the dishes, and then you’re cooking begins! After you’ve prepared your savoury Vietnamese meal, sit down and enjoy your freshly cooked dishes.

The rest of the afternoon you’ll have at leisure.

Overnight in Hoi An.


Day 6:  Hoi An

Enjoy an authentic agricultural experience with a visit to the Thanh Dong organic farm. You’ll travel to the farm by boat. If you wish, you can don the typical uniform of farmers in Vietnam, the Ba Ba. The farmer will give you an introduction about the organic farm and you’ll learn how to harvest vegetables, and experience daily activities on the farm. Enjoy a bowl of corn sweet soup and green tea before moving to The Field restaurant and bar by boat. At the restaurant you can participate in traditional folk games (pottery smashing, catching fish by hands, etc.) whiole enjoying lunch.

On the next activity of the day you’ll join your guide and walk to the Thu Bon Wharf on Bach Dang street, hop on a boat and sail along Thu Bon River to Tra Nhieu Fishing Village. Here you will be given a brief introduction on the history and traditions of the village such as: farming, fishing, poultry and livestock breeding,and mattress making. After that, you will join local fisherman on a boat to learn how to cast a net and catch fish. Bid farewell to the fishermen then continue to Cam Kim village. Afterwards, travel back to Hoi An by boat.

Overnight in Hoi An.


Day 7:  Hoi An – Danang – Saigon – Cai Be

Transfer from Hoi An to the Danang airport for your onward flight to Saigon. From the city you’ll then drive into the Mekong Delta to the Cai Be River Wharf. Transfer by boat to the Mekong Lodge, visiting a floating village along the way.

In the evening join a cooking class for hands-on culinary experience. You’ll learn to prepare a few of the Lodge’s signature dishes and have a few great recipes to take home with you. After the class, enjoy the fruits of your labour in this unique atmosphere.

Overnight in Cai Be.


Day 8:  Cai Be – Saigon

After breakfast, take a 10km cycling tour to Tan Phong Island along village paths to see wooden ferries and an orchard. Also visit handicraft villages and the local land market at Cai Be. Afterwards, take a boat trip to a bustling floating market.

After lunch, transfer via boat to the Cai Be Harbour, and from there by vehicle to Saigon

Overnight in Saigon.


Day 9:  Saigon

A vibrant metropolis, Saigon teems with energy, activity and motion. Everywhere you look, you see the convergence of traditional and modern life. Begin with a tour of the historic centre, strolling along Dong Khoi Street, formerly known as the Rue Catinat, the main shopping thoroughfare and heart of old colonial Saigon. Pass by classic European-style landmarks such as the ornate City Hall (Hotel De Ville), the old Opera House (both may only be viewed from the outside), and pay a quick visit to the neo-Romanesque Notre Dame Cathedral and the Central Post Office.

Afterwards dive into modern history with a tour of the Reunification Palace. Formerly the Independence Palace of the South Vietnamese president, this 60s style building was famously stormed by tanks on April 30, 1975 signifying the fall of South Vietnam. It has been preserved in its original state, and the original tanks remain on display near the entrance gates. Continue to the harrowing War Remnants Museum, which comprehensively documents the travails of the long Vietnam- American War. Inside are detailed photographic exhibitions; outside is a collection of tanks, planes and weapons. A powerful experience, this museum is guaranteed to provoke strong emotions. Then visit the Emperor of Jade Pagoda, one of Saigon’s most interesting pagodas.

In the afternoon, head out to Cholon (Chinatown). Explore the highlights of this fascinating area, beginning with a walking tour from Tran Hung Dao Street through Nguyen Trai and Soai Kinh Lam market (cloth wholesale market), visit Cha Tam Church. Continue to Thien Hau Pagoda, built by the Cantonese congregation and dedicated to the heavenly goddess. End the tour at the central Ben Thanh Market, where vendors display a vast array of goods and handicrafts, appealing to every taste.

Round out the day with a visit to the Museum of Vietnamese Traditional Medicine (FITO), which displays more than 3,000 objects, including a collection of knives and boat-shaped grinders used to chop and grind medicines. The oldest item in this collection was fished out of the Red River and dates back to the 6th century. The museum also has collections of items used in ancient pharmacies including medicinal kettles and cups, medicinal scales, mortar and pestles, and alcohol jars. Learn how to grind medicine, watch a documentary about the history of Vietnamese traditional medicine, and taste a cup of linh chi tea before leaving the museum.

Overnight in Saigon.


Day 10:  Saigon

Pick up at the hotel and transfer to the pier for the boat trip. Enjoy a light snack while heading to Cu Chi tunnels. Arrive at Cu Chi and start the tour. The Cu Chi Tunnels were a very important Vietcong base during the American-Vietnam War. Stretching over 200 km, this incredible underground network, dug by hand out of hard laterite, connected command posts, hospitals, shelter and weapon factories. Today, take the opportunity to walk through the area and learn about the day-to-day life of the Vietcong, see the cleverly disguised entrances and elaborate booby-traps, and even venture inside the tunnels, some of which have been modified to accommodate tourists.Have a light lunch on board then return to Saigon by speedboat. Enjoy the rest of the day at leisure.

Overnight in Saigon.


Day 11:  Saigon

The day begins with a cooking class at Hoa Tuc Restaurant. First accompany the chef to the bustling Ben Thanh Market to buy the necessary ingredients, and then enjoy a hands-on cooking class.

After enjoying the afternoon at leisure, you’ll embark on an exciting journey around Saigon by Vespa after dark. You’ll transfer from your hotel to Zoom Café for drinks and a briefing on the evening’s program. Hop on the bikes and head out for Districts 5 and 4, where you’ll zoom through busy streets experiencing the night life of locals. Stop in District 4 at a seafood restaurant where locals like to hang out with friends socializing and enjoying meals.

Continue around the busy streets of District 3 via District 1, passing by Notre Dame, the Post Office, and City Hall, experiencing downtown Saigon by night. Arrive at the Banh Xeo restaurant for dinner, where you’ll enjoy such dishes as Banh Xeo (special rice pan cake of the South), fresh spring rolls, and BBQ. Next, ride to a café for drinks and to enjoy live Vietnamese music (where locals often hang out with friend after going out for dinner. Ride to another bar for live music and drinks before returning to your hotel.

Overnight in Saigon.


Day 12:  Saigon