ITINERARY BY DAY
DAY 1 – HANOI ARRIVAL
Upon arrival to Hanoi, our guide and driver will be waiting to provide transport to the hotel for check in. The rest of the day can be spent at leisure (particularly useful for those coming in from long flights!)
Overnight in Hanoi.
DAY 2 – HANOI
Begin the first full day with a visit to the highly acclaimed Vietnam Women’s Museum. The museum is located near Hoan Kiem Lake and offers wonderful insight into the significant role women play in Vietnamese society.
Continue with a visit to Vietnam’s first university, the Temple of Literature. Founded in 1076 Quoc Tu Giam was established within a temple to educate Vietnam’s royalty, mandarins and members of the elite. The university functioned for an incredible 700 years and its gardens and well-preserved architecture offer a fascinating glimpse into Vietnam’s past.
Enjoy a delicious lunch at Koto Restaurant, close to the Temple of Literature.
Continue to the nearby mausoleum of the historic figure and father of modern Vietnam, Ho Chi Minh (viewed from outside), and visit the former president’s house on stilts where he lived from 1958 to 1969. Afterwards, pay a visit the small but iconic One Pillar Pagoda before heading back to the hotel.
In the afternoon, take part in a hands-on cooking class in the heart of Hanoi’s Old Quarter. Visit a neighborhood ‘wet’ market to learn about Vietnamese ingredients before proceeding to the home of a true Hanoian who learned her culinary skills from her grandmother, a former chef who once served the French elite.
After visiting a local market to buy the day’s ingredients, learn how to prepare and cook true northern Vietnamese cuisine before sitting down to enjoy a delectable meal.
Overnight in Hanoi.
DAY 3 – HANOI – HALONG BAY
Following breakfast at the hotel, leave Hanoi for a 3hr 30mins drive to Halong Bay. Arrive at the jetty in Halong City towards noon and proceed with check-in formalities. After a welcome onboard, lunch will be served while cruising into the bay. In the afternoon, enjoy some visits, activities, or just spend some time relaxing on board. Towards the end of the day, the boat sets anchor for the night among the karst formations. Dinner is served on board.
Overnight on Halong Bay.
DAY 4 – HALONG BAY – HANOI – DANANG
Enjoy a fresh morning in the middle of the bay with a beautiful Halong sunrise. Breakfast will be served (brunch on some boats) while the vessels cruises slowly through the magnificent rock formations and back towards port. Disembark and transfer to Hanoi airport for the flight to Danang. Note: This tour may be subject to change depending on weather conditions.
After arriving to Danang, a short transfer will be made to the hotel in Hoi An.
Overnight in Hoi An.
DAY 5 – HOI AN
When Asian cuisine is brought up, rice is often the first thing that comes to mind. A major staple in most Asian diets, this grain is found all throughout the continent. Today’s tour will display the entire procedure of rice cultivation.
Start the day with a hotel pick up at 0830. Begin the journey with a short bicycle ride through rice paddies to the countryside (a vehicle can be arranged for those preferring not to cycle). Arrive at a local family’s farm and enjoy a welcome tea. It is here that the guide will explain the different steps of rice cultivation. After donning traditional farming clothes and conical hats for sun protection, start the most exciting part of the tour. Experience everything from water buffalo rides to learning how to plough, rake, carry water into the rice field, sow, pull up the rice seedlings, transplant rice, etc. Beware… things can get a bit muddy! Afterwards, return to the house to learn how to make pancakes and how to cook rice in the traditional way. Enjoy lunch with the host family before riding back to the hotel. Note: this tour is non private and operated on a join in basis.
Free at leisure the rest of the afternoon.
Overnight in Hoi An.
Recommended places to have dinner in Hoi An:
– Morning Glory
– Secret Garden
– Mango Mango
– Mango Rooms
– Mai Fish
DAY 6 – HOI AN – HUE
In the morning, discover Hoi An on a walking tour. Discover the charming, old-world trading port with its narrow streets and traditional houses, former merchants’ houses, the town’s iconic 400-year old Japanese Covered Bridge and the colorful market where an array of fresh ingredients are on offer.
Drive through Danang and visit the Cham Museum, which contains the finest collection of Cham sculptures in the world before crossing Hai Van tunnel and dropping down to the wonderfully photogenic fishing village of Lang Co.
Enjoy an exclusive private dinner at the lovely (traditional) Tha Om garden house.
A Hue “nha vuon” usually consists of a main and back entrance, and a small wall, rockwork and plants in the front yard and in the house itself. In the middle of the garden, a binh phong (brick wall) rises in front of the house, serving as a defense and protection of the altar in the main room of the house.
Overnight in Hue.
DAY 7 – HUE
The former imperial capital of Vietnam, Hue has a strong royal heritage. Hue’s cuisine is unique to Vietnam and the city offers a variety of “Royal” restaurant cuisine. Get a hands-on experience with a cooking class and enjoy the taste of Hue’s local delicacies such as Hue pancakes. Learn how to prepare delicious Hue recipes in the beautiful, traditional Garden House of Y Thao.
Start an exclusive cooking class to learn how to prepare a Hue “Royal” meal. Prepare 4 or 5 courses ranging from traditional Vietnamese spring rolls to a delicious banana leaf salad. The cooking class takes approximately 2 hours with a delicious (self-made) meal to follow.
In the afternoon, enjoy a city tour. Start at the Imperial Citadel where the Nguyen Dynasty ruled between 1802 and 1945. The ancient citadel reflects the pomp and ceremony of the dynastic rulers as well as the scars of many years of turmoil.
From here take a cyclo through dai noi ‘Old City’ to Tinh Tam Lake where the Emperors used to come to relax. After exploring the ruins of this wonderful monument, depart to the tomb of the former emperor Khai Dinh which is traditional Vietnamese in design with a European touch making it unique from the other tombs in Hue. Before heading back to the hotel, take time to stroll around Dong Ba Market with the guide.
Overnight in Hue.
Where to have dinner in Hue:
– Le Parfum
– Les Jardins de la Carambole
DAY 8 – HUE – HO CHI MINH CITY
After breakfast transfer to Hue Airport for the short flight to Ho Chi Minh City and transfer to hotel.
Where to have lunch in Ho Chi Minh City:
– SH Garden
– Cuc Gach Quan
– Hoa Tuc
In the afternoon, depart from the hotel for a tour of Ho Chi Minh City. Begin with a visit to the Reunification Palace, formerly known as the Presidential Palace. From here stroll onwards to the major sights of colonial Ho Chi Minh City: the Old Saigon Post Office, Dong Khoi Street (formerly Rue Catinat), Continental Hotel, Opera House and City Hall. After this historical visit continue to the War Remnants Museum where exhibition halls display imagery of both the French and ‘American’ wars. Continue to the Jade Emperor Pagoda located on the fringes of District 1.
After having experienced the frenzy of Saigon by day, discover the lively local streets by night. Join the locals for an authentic Vietnamese evening. Start the tour around 1830 with a first stop to the public park where locals take part in dancing exercises. After a short walk, try the first meal of the evening. “Banh xeo” is a large rice pancake filled with vegetables, shrimps and pork. The second stop is a street food place located near Tan Dinh Market. There, enjoy a delicious local soup inspired by Chinese recipes. After another short walk, it is time for a tasty “com suon non nuong muoi ot”, a local dish from HCM with rice and pork ribs. After crossing a busy intersection, indulge with a delicious dessert and a Vietnamese coffee. Wrap up the experience at a live music café playing traditional Vietnamese songs. Tour concludes around 2200.
Note: Places are subject to change upon availability.
Overnight in Ho Chi Minh City.
DAY 9 – HO CHI MINH CITY
Located in suburban Ho Chi Minh City away from the well trodden tourist path, this is not just a cooking class but a genuine insight into a Vietnamese kitchen. Start from the hotel to visit a local suburban Ho Chi Minh City market (whilst it’s still busy) with the host. After leisurely shopping for ingredients, head back to the house to begin cooking. After an interactive course, enjoy the fruits of the day’s labour. After lunch return to the centre of Ho Chi Minh City.
Spend the remainder of the day free at leisure.
Enjoy a last blast of flavours at Mandarin Restaurant, a beautiful, charming and traditional eatery.
Overnight in Ho Chi Minh City.
DAY 10 – HO CHI MINH CITY DEPARTURE
Spend the day at leisure until transport (provided) to Tan Son Nhat Airport for the departing flight.