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Vietnam Food Adventure
Indulge your inner foodie and give your soul something to savour on this Vietnam food adventure. The trip combines a wealth of culinary experiences with cultural and historical highlights to give you a wonderfully alternative view of this beautiful country.
Vietnamese cooking is a superb and delicate balance of flavours that has a real aromatic appeal that can’t be resisted. From pork sates, sizzling seafood and sumptuous Vietnamese pancakes, to steaming Pho noddle soup, fresh lobster and grilled squid, this trip will have you de-constructing regional dishes as you enjoy the country’s natural and fresh ingredients and warm hospitality.
- Learn to cook delicious traditional dishes
- Make your way through the menu at local authentic restaurants
- See Halong Bay’s 3,000 limestone peaks rising from the clear emerald sea
- Cycle through herb gardens and learn to identify the cuisines main herbs
- Dine on a candle lit dinner as you cruise Halong Bay
- Stay with a host family in the Mekong Delta
- Enjoy the traditional architecture of Hoi An
This is the perfect gastronomical tour, from spending time in the markets tasting and learning the names of local produce to visiting small producers to learn about the process of making the local specialities. Work your way through the menu of local restaurants, take tea in one of the few remaining traditional tea houses, sample fresh street food and learn to cook some of the key regional dishes from across the country (enjoying every bite after each class of course).
Travel through the conservative north, the vibrant night life of the Mekong Delta and Saigon, explore the history of the country’s imperial cities and take in the wonderful landscapes and rich traditions.
The trip includes some time in Saigon, once devastated by war but now a lively market city where anything goes. Hunt out unusual ingredients in the markets (pigs ears and snouts and live frogs anyone!?) and take in the sights of Reunification Palace, Notre Dame Cathedral, and the War Remnants museum. A trip outside the city will allow you to see Vietnam’s stunning rice fields as well as observe several of the country’s cottage industries in action including coconut candy and rice paper.
There is so much to savour and discover here. Every street food vendor is a brilliant master chef and every meal is a gastronomical delight. At the end of each busy day, unwind at a street-side bar with a bia-hoi, the local beer, and plan the next days delights. Enquire today to reserve your spot.
Itinerary from the organisers
Day 1 Arrive Hanoi.
Xin chao! Welcome to Vietnam. Your adventure begins with a Welcome Meeting at 6pm on Day 1. Please look for a note in the hotel lobby or ask the hotel reception where it will take place. If you can’t arrange a flight that will arrive in time, you may wish to arrive a day early so you’re able to attend. We’ll be happy to book additional accommodation for you (subject to availability). If you’re going to be late, please inform the hotel reception. We’ll be collecting your insurance details and next of kin information at this meeting, so please ensure you have all these details to provide to your leader. Tonight, your first introduction to Vietnam’s lively culinary scene comes in the form of be bia hoi. This is a foamy, light beer made fresh each day and served in basic, open-walled ‘brew halls’. Take up a brightly coloured plastic chair and sip your tasty brew. Banana flower salad (nom hoa chuoi), barbecued chicken (ga nuong) and fried rice (com rang) are common dishes on the menu.
Day 2 Hanoi
Start the day with a traditional breakfast of pho, a dish that originates in Hanoi and is designed to awaken the senses and prepare you for the day. Then it’s time for a guided tour of Chau Long Market, where you will learn all about the ingredients and flavours of northern Vietnamese cuisine. Get involved in a betel nut demonstration. The more daring can try a fertilized egg or silk worm. You’ll also sample the local coffee, typically served with yogurt or black sticky rice with yogurt. Hanoi is renowned for its legendary street food dishes and Dong Xuan Market is one of the best places to go for it. Enjoy lunch here alongside the locals. Today you’ll visit the Hanoi Cooking Centre to learn the secrets of northern Vietnamese cuisine. Discover some old Hanoian favorites like caramel pork as well as some lesser known dishes from the highlands. Enjoy the fruits of your labour for dinner. You will also stop in at one of the city’s hidden teahouses, where you might sample some varieties – perhaps green or white tea infused with flowers.
Notes: The trip departing on 7 February 2016 will be affected by Tet. The street food crawl on the morning of Day 2 will be replaced by a visit to a pagoda (you’ll be alongside members of the local community), followed by a feast of traditional Tet dishes prepared by Vietnamese food expert and cookbook author, Tracey Lister. Markets, most street food vendors and the tea house will be closed due to Tet. The market tour will take place in Hanoi for this departure.
Day 3 Halong Bay
Travel by private minibus to the spectacular World Heritage-listed site of Halong Bay (approximately 4 hours). Halong Bay is a secluded harbour with 2,000 limestone islands rising from the turquoise waters of Bac Bo Gulf. This is one of Vietnam’s most scenic regions. It spans an area of about 1,500 square kilometres and is dotted with innumerable beaches and grottos that were created over thousands of years by waves and wind. You will spend the night on one of the traditional boats on the bay. There is a chef on board who will teach you how to make vegetable flowers and show you how the fishing nets are used by the locals.
Day 4 Overnight train
Take a bus back to Hanoi (approximately 3.5 hours), then board an overnight train bound for Hue (approximately 12 hours). Although conditions are basic, overnight trains are a rewarding experience. It’s an efficient way to travel long distances and a great way to get a sense of the country.
Notes: Sleeper trains typically have four berth compartments (occasionally six berth, depending on seasonal variations and group configuration) with bench seats that convert into sleeping bunks. A sheet, pillow and blanket are provided, although some travellers prefer to bring their own sleeping sheet. On occasion, passengers of different genders will be required to share a compartment and there will be occasions where you’ll be sharing with local travellers or travellers who are not part of your group. Most trains have a dining carriage serving simple food, but some travellers take the opportunity to stock up on fresh bread, cheese and fruit prior to departure.
Day 5 Hue
Hue is Vietnam’s former royal capital and its cuisine is considered by many Vietnamese as the best in the country. The food is influenced by its imperial heritage (small dishes and a focus on aesthetic presentation) and its strong Buddhist heritage (reflected in the high proportion of vegetarian restaurants in the area). Enjoy a classic Hue breakfast of bun bo Hue, a popular Vietnamese soup containing rice vermicelli (bun) and beef (bo), Then embark on our tour of the city’s imperial monuments. On the back of a motorbike (or in a car if you would rather), start your tour of Hue by visiting Thien Mu Pagoda, an active Buddhist monastery since 1601. Here you’ll see a car that belonged to one of the self-immolating monks of the 1963 protests. Then take a dragon boat cruise on the Perfume River (approximately 40 minutes) before getting back on your motorbike and heading to today’s special lunch stop (in a nunnery). After lunch, visit the royal tomb of Emperor Tu Duc before heading back to Hue. This evening, perhaps ask your leader for the best place to try imperial street specialties like banh hue (rice flour cakes stuffed with shrimp, pork and spices).
Notes: The Perfume River trip may not be available during festival periods. In this case you will travel by land to reach the activities. Most groups will visit either a Buddhist nunnery or monastery and have lunch while in Hue. The lunch not only provides economic benefits to these institutions, which rely on donations to survive, but also gives an insight into the unique traditions and food of Vietnamese Buddhism. Due to the high number of passengers visiting Hue, six different monasteries and nunneries are visited so as to share the wealth and minimise impact.
Day 6 Hoi An
Embark on a bus tour of Hue in the morning. This will take you to the Imperial Citadel, which includes the Forbidden Purple City. Gaping holes left by bombs will give you an idea of the destruction wreaked upon the country during the war. Then head south by bus through coastal rice paddies and traverse the mountainous Hai Van Pass. After a brief visit to the beautiful My Khe Beach, arrive at Hoi An (approximately 4 hours). The beautifully restored Hoi An retains the feel of centuries past, making it the sort of place that grows on you the more you explore it. Take the chance to do some shopping and perhaps get some clothes tailored. There’s a great array of original paintings, handcrafted woodwork, ceramics, embroidery, lanterns and fabrics on display. On arrival, your leader will take you on an orientation walk around the Ancient Town. In the evening, pull up a plastic chair at a communal table alongside locals and learn how to make one of central Vietnam’s most celebrated dishes, banh xeo, at a classic street-side, no-menu restaurant where locals go.
Day 7 Hoi An
Today you will learn about central Vietnamese cuisine and how to prepare it using its signature vegetables, herbs and spices. Start with a guided bicycle tour of the herb gardens of Tra Que Village. At the local market you’ll be introduced to a wealth of produce. After purchasing some ingredients, head back to Hoi An for a hands-on lesson in some classic central Vietnamese dishes. You’ll also pick up some cooking and cutting techniques that will put you in good stead to recreate these dishes at home. Then of course it’s time to feast on your creations. The rest of today is free for you to pick up any made-to-measure items, or perhaps try more delicious food in one of Hoi An’s many acclaimed restaurants.
Notes: If you would rather not ride a bike today, you can choose to take a walk around Hoi An market instead.
Day 8 Hoi An
Enjoy a free day to relax, shop or simply stroll around to take in the delightful ambience. The Japanese and Chinese heritage of the town is apparent in many cute old buildings; and the canals, bridges and pagodas make for a tranquil atmosphere. Many travellers call this town their favourite spot in Vietnam. If the weather’s fine, perhaps hit the local beach for a swim (a great way to get there is by bicycle, which you can hire in town). For those who like to start the day nice and early, there is an optional visit to a local fish market. In the evening, perhaps enjoy some seafood by the water, or jump on a boat to enjoy a barbecue feast on a nearby island.
Day 9 Ho Chi Minh City
Take the short flight to Ho Chi Minh City (approximately 1 hour). Take a guided tour to get a feel for the city’s frenetic, fascinating blend of old and new, East and West. You’ll go to the War Museum, GPO and Notre Dame Cathedral, finishing up at one of Vietnam’s most pulsing markets, Ben Thanh. This is the perfect place to pick up any last-minute snacks, cooking utensils, ingredients, or presents for friends and family before you return home. Perhaps enjoy some of the market fare for dinner as you shop. You will notice a strong French influence in Ho Chi Minh City, which means excellent coffee and baguettes. Perhaps sample some of the delights on offer at KOTO cafe. This is an inspiring initiative that helps support the area’s street kids by offering them training in hospitality. If you’ve got energy left in the evening, head out to explore Vietnam’s party capital.
Day 10 Mekong Delta Homestay
Take a private bus out to the Mekong Delta (approximately 2–3 hours). Touring the floating markets by boat, you’ll come across local barges full of fruits and vegetables and other local products, including fish sauce and soya sauce. Purchase some ingredients for dinner, then head to some workshops to observe local food industries (the production of rice paper, coconut candy, pop-rice and popcorn). The boat will then take you deeper into the countryside along smaller canals, past local farms and producers. You’ll have the opportunity to see traditional methods of catching fish or collecting fruits (depending on the season). Check in at the homestay and cook some local southern Vietnamese dishes with your hosts. Enjoy dinner with tea or rice wine and take the chance to chat with your hosts and learn more about the Mekong way of life.
Notes: At this homestay you’ll sleep on a simple camp bed in a dorm-style arrangement. Bedding and mosquito nets are provided. Shared toilet and bathroom facilities are basic, with cold water only.
Day 11 Ho Chi Minh City
Return to Ho Chi Minh City by bus. For the final evening of your adventure, enjoy a unique cooking class on southern Vietnamese cuisine with one of Vietnam’s most celebrated food personalities. Sit down and enjoy the delicious feast when it’s all over.
Day 12 Ho Chi Minh City
Your trip comes to an end this morning. You’re free to depart the accommodation at any time.
This is a small group guided holiday – read more about the operator for this trip in the Operator tab above. The group is usually between 4 and 16 in size, with an average of 12 like-minded clients booking individually, in a couple or as friends together.
You are healthy, enjoy the outdoors and want a relaxing trip. No experience is required.
Hotels, cabins and one boat
The accommodation on this trip is mostly in good quality hotels (mostly 3-star). 8 nights comfortable hotels, 1 night boat with twin share cabins, all en suite, 1 night standard guesthouse to experience some ‘Mekong Delta’ hospitality, sleeping 1-3 a room (depending on group size), next to a local house. All of the hotels have either fans or air conditioning and we have twin rooms with private facilities. Please note that double beds are not always widely available in South East Asia.
Vaccinations and Visa
A visa is no longer needed for British, German, French, Spanish and Italian citizens travelling to Vietnam (for all purposes) for a period of up to 15 days, and on the basis of meeting all conditions prescribed by Vietnamese laws. The visa exemption period will start from 1 July 2015 and end on 30 June 2016. All other nationalities require a visa to enter Vietnam and this must be obtained prior to departure.
There are no mandatory vaccination requirements. Recommended vaccinations are: Tetanus, Polio, Typhoid, Hepatitis A and Diphtheria. The risk of malaria is slight, but you may wish to consult your GP or travel health clinic for further advice. Dengue fever is a known risk in places visited. It is a tropical viral disease spread by daytime biting mosquitoes. There is currently no vaccine or prophylaxis available for Dengue, and therefore the best form of prevention is to avoid being bitten. We recommend you take the usual precautions to avoid mosquito bites.
This is a busy itinerary that visits the main highlights of Vietnam. We travel by private minibus and we take two internal flights to allow you to experience as much as possible of this beautiful and diverse county in a short space of time. We use mostly 3 star hotels throughout our tour. The weather can be hot and humid and cold in the winter months in the north around Hanoi and Halong Bay. Some of the days can be fairly long and tiring and there is a large time difference.
Eating & drinking
11 breakfasts, 4 lunches and 6 dinners included.
Thanks to Vietnam´s tropical climate, the long coast and the gigantic range of mountain, Vietnam is blessed with numerous varieties of culinary offerings and consequently maintains its reputation as one of the healthiest cuisines in the world that still packs a punch with delicious fresh and fiery flavours. Vietnamese food relies on fresh fish, vegetables, rice and a whole myriad of verdant herbs and spices; lemongrass, ginger, basil and lime all play an important role in the cuisine.
The Chinese and French influence is felt throughout the country where you are just as likely to be offered a Banh Mi (stuffed baguette) as you are a hot steaming bowl of Pho (noodle soup). Each dish is prepared with the Asian principle of Wu Xing in mind (the five elements) meaning that the perfect combination of spicy, sour, bitter, salty and sweet is the ultimate aim. Be sure to also seek out the national beverages; Vietnamese coffee is served iced and sweet with condensed milk, a real sugar and caffeine hit, and beer hoi (local beer, brewed daily) is served on most street corners in the North out of large plastic jugs that are perfect for sharing.
The weather will be hot and humid throughout with temperatures during the day usually between 28ºC and 34ºC. It is only a little cooler at nights.
There is quite a range of seasons between the north and the south: the south up to Hue has a distinct dry season between December to April and then a rainy season from May to November when it tends to come in short heavy bursts with bright sunshine in between.
Hanoi is cool in autumn, and even gets chilly between November and February (with a drizzly rain). There is no ideal time to visit Vietnam; it is quite pleasant at any time of year, though due to the shape of the country it is unlikely that the weather will ever be perfect for the entire duration of any trip.
The monsoon is characterised by short, sharp bursts of rain and is generally overcast all day though this does not detract from the enjoyment of the place; you just need to take an umbrella or buy a cheap local poncho!
25 Sep 2016 – 6 Oct 2016
2 Oct 2016 – 13 Oct 2016
9 Oct 2016 – 20 Oct 2016
16 Oct 2016 – 27 Oct 2016
30 Oct 2016 – 10 Nov 2016
6 Nov 2016 – 17 Nov 2016
20 Nov 2016 – 1 Dec 2016
4 Dec 2016 – 15 Dec 2016
18 Dec 2016 – 29 Dec 2016
25 Dec 2016 – 5 Jan 2017
1 Jan 2017 – 12 Jan 2017
15 Jan 2017 – 26 Jan 2017
29 Jan 2017 – 9 Feb 2017
12 Feb 2017 – 23 Feb 2017
19 Feb 2017 – 2 Mar 2017
26 Feb 2017 – 9 Mar 2017
5 Mar 2017 – 16 Mar 2017
12 Mar 2017 – 23 Mar 2017
19 Mar 2017 – 30 Mar 2017
26 Mar 2017 – 6 Apr 2017
2 Apr 2017 – 13 Apr 2017
9 Apr 2017 – 20 Apr 2017
16 Apr 2017 – 27 Apr 2017
23 Apr 2017 – 4 May 2017
7 May 2017 – 18 May 2017
21 May 2017 – 1 Jun 2017
28 May 2017 – 8 Jun 2017
4 Jun 2017 – 15 Jun 2017
11 Jun 2017 – 22 Jun 2017
18 Jun 2017 – 29 Jun 2017
25 Jun 2017 – 6 Jul 2017
2 Jul 2017 – 13 Jul 2017
16 Jul 2017 – 27 Jul 2017
30 Jul 2017 – 10 Aug 2017
13 Aug 2017 – 24 Aug 2017
20 Aug 2017 – 31 Aug 2017
27 Aug 2017 – 7 Sep 2017
3 Sep 2017 – 14 Sep 2017
10 Sep 2017 – 21 Sep 2017
Price: from 939 GBP per person (excluding flights)
- All accommodation
- 11 breakfasts, 5 lunches and 5 dinners
- Airport transfers
- Travel Insurance
- Single accommodation – 130 GBP
- Visas and Vaccinations
- Airport transfers
If you’re looking for a company with experience you can’t beat these guys. This operator started life in February 1974 when two friends got together to provide an overland truck to travel to the Minaret of Jam, deep in the heart of the Hindu Kush, the most inaccessible of the world’s great monuments.
For the company, and people who work for them “it’s all about adventure” which is what they were founded on and what they are still about today. Their trips take place all around the world where they help travelers to delve into local traditions, cultures, cuisine, lifestyles – anything that contributes to a country’ unique identity.
We love that their groups and guides travel courteously and respectfully, in smaller groups to minimise the impact, to ensure that every holiday is a beneficial experience for everyone involved.
Vietnam Food Adventure
- Trip Code: AWA309
- Dates: Various
- Price: 939 GBP
- Depart: Hanoi, Vietnam
- Arrive: Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
- Length: 12 days
- Adventure: A culinary journey through Vietnam, experiencing a variety of delicacies from the freshest seafood in Halong bay to the best street snacks in Hanoi.