Hanay

Taste of Vietnam

A unique 13 Days/12 Nights culinary experience, traveling from North to South of Vietnam, where you will gain an understanding of how ingredients are selected and assembled to create iconic local dishes.

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Detailed Itinerary

DAY 1: HANOI ARRIVAL (-/-/D)

Arrive at Hanoi airport, pick up by our guide and transfer to hotel (official check in time: 14h00).   Hanoi, the capital of unified Vietnam, was founded in 1010 on the right bank of the Red River and was then known as “Thang Long”, roughly translated as “Soaring Dragon”. Hanoi is one of the most charming cities in South East Asia with its authentic street scenes, large shady avenues, numerous lakes, manicured gardens and well-preserved architecture.

Time at leisure to recover.  Welcome dinner at a good local restaurant. Night at hotel.

DAY 2: HANOI (B/L/D)

Breakasat at hotel.  08:30: The day is dedicated to a more in depth discovery of Hanoi beginning with a visit to Ho Chi Minh’s mausoleum (from outside) and Ho Chi Minh’s house (closed on Monday) and the One Pilar pagoda.

Next, visit the temple of Literature, a structure dedicated to Confucius. It was constructed in 1070, the compound soon became the first Vietnamese university.

Lunch at Cha Ca restaurant, a specialty of Hanoi.

Afternoon, visit the renowned museum of Ethnology (closed on Monday), which houses an interesting collection of artifacts relating to the mosaic of ethnic groups that inhabit Vietnam.

This afternoon’s touring will also provide the opportunity to see Hanoi’s famed Old Quarter. You will conclude your day city tour by visiting to the temple of Jade at the centre of atmospheric Hoan Kiem lake, otherwise known as the lake of ‘the restored sword’.

Starting your street food walking tour in old quarter of Hanoi along the perimeter of the market, dozens of street hawkers sell a staggering variety of produce from live seafood to exotic fruits and spices. Our expert English-speaking local guide will give you an insight into the intricacies and traditions of Vietnamese food culture including details on ingredients and historical backgrounds of popular northern dishes. We eat as we go, trying seasonal fruits and sampling a tasty French-inspired snack from a street cart.

Walking through the maze of bustling streets that make up Hanoi’s Old Quarter, we tempt our taste buds with the famed Hanoi dish Banh Cuon at a local eatery. Watch in awe as the skilled chefs demonstrate for you how this tasty dish is put together. Continuing into the atmospheric heart of the Old Quarter, we wander past street stalls and quiet residential lanes where you can observe local life that has changed little since Hanoi was founded over 1000 years ago.

Our next snack stop are at Bun Cha stalls, possibly the most delicious dish all over Hanoi. Pork patties and slices of pork belly are grilled over hot coals and served with fish sauce, tangy vinegar, sugar and lime, which, when combined, creates a sort of barbecue soup that is eaten with rice vermicelli and fresh herbs. Accompanied by deep-fried spring rolls, this calorically rich dish is served with garlic and chilies on the side for an extra kick.

Then, you will try Banh My which is also one of the most famous street food. We sit down with the Hanoi locals and sample various meat, vegetable and bread specialties that are flame grilled over hot coals for extra flavour.

It’s then time for dessert as we venture down a small alley to join in the local tradition of feasting on fresh fruit served in a cup and smothered with crushed iced and condensed milk – this specialty is one not to be missed!

Our local guide will then take you to one of Hanoi’s best kept secrets, a hidden café with stunning views over the picturesque Hoan Kiem Lake. This hard-to-find café is one of the few left in the city that still serves egg coffee, a scrumptious local delicacy that we will sample whilst admiring the hustle and bustle of the city centre below. Or, if coffee is not your style, a cold beer awaits!

Overnight at hotel in Hanoi.

DAY 3: HANOI (B/L/-)

Breakfast at hotel.   09:30: Starting your discovery of Vietnamese cuisine. A cooking class begins with a trip to the market to choose ingredients that will be used in the class. Then we take you to a local family where accompanied by the owner of the family, we invite you to make some traditional dishes. The cooking session lasts about 2 hours. The lunch will be an opportunity to taste dishes that you prepare

Menu:

  • Stuffed pancake Thanh Tri
  • Fish roll-ups
  • Beef rice noodles, Southern Vietnamese style.

Afternoon, time at leisure to discover Hanoi on your own.

Dinner on your own. Night at hotel.

DAY 4: HANOI – HALONG (B/L/D)

Breakfast at hotel.

08:00: Pick up at your hotel and depart for Halong bay.

07:30–08:00: Pick up at your hotel in Hanoi’s Old Quarter area.
12:00–12:30: Embark at Hon Gai International harbor.
12:30–13:00: Check-in, enjoy welcome drink & cruise briefing.
13:30–15:00: Have lunch while cruising to magnificent Bai Tu Long bay; admire the fascinating formations on the way.
15:15–15:40: Explore the well-hidden Thien Canh Son cave.
15:45–18:00: Enjoy relaxing on a white sandy beach at Hon Co Island, swimming (if weather permits) or kayaking.
18:00–19:00: Back to junk for refreshing before having dinner on board.
20:00–21:00: Relax, enjoy fresh air & overnight on board.

DAY 5: HALONG – HANOI – HUE (B/L/-)

07:30–08:00: Morning view of Bay’s landscape with a cup of tea or coffee. Have breakfast in the fresh air.
08:30–09:30: Visit Vung Vieng fishing village by a rustic row-boat.
10:00: Check out of the cabin. Start cruising towards the harbor while an A la carte lunch is served.
11:45–12:00: Disembark and drive to Hanoi airport for the flight in the evening to Hue.

Upon arrival, pick up and transfer to hotel.

Dinner on your own. Night at hotel.

DAY 6: HUE (B/L/-)

Breakfast at hotel.

Immerse yourself in the countryside of Hue with the authentic villages.

08:30: Departure to La Chu village, which located about 8 km from the center of Hue city. This village is famous for the culture of herbs and veggies (onions, cibullettes, coriander, basil, etc.).

Our cycling tour (8km) takes you through tranquil local villages, among rice paddies, along river banks and green vegetables.  Between February and July is time to free yourself in the paradise of lotus flower ponds and water lilies. It’s also an opportunity to take photos of farms, farm animals and local farmers at work on the fields to observe their daily life.  The first stop is to visit the family that produces the paper votive offerings, a very popular and strong belief among the Vietnamese.

The tour continues to a local daily market strolling through the stalls of meat, spices and fresh vegetables, accompanied by the hospitable welcome-smiles of women who are not yet accustomed to seeing tourists.

The next destination is the vegetable farm, where you can meet and chat with local residents and especially, they will be very happy to take pictures with you! It will be a truly immersion in the Vietnamese countryside with vegetable gardens, rice fields, bananas, rivers, lotus ponds, etc.

Last but not least, you won’t miss an opportunity to visit the family specialized in making “Banh Loc”, a kind of Vietnamese pie made of rice flour mixed with shrimp. You also have a chance to try out all the local dishes here. Lunch break at a local family restaurant by rice fields is provided.

After lunch, relaxing your feet in the foot bath with medicinal herbs while contemplating the charming picturesque scenery of rice paddies.  Getting back to the hotel by vehicle at around 13:30 or 14:00.

Continue your visit to the Citadel, seat of the Nguyen Dynasty emperors. Construction began in 1804 under the orders of the first Emperor Gia Long after the site had been selected using principles of geomancy (Feng Shui). The Citadel was inspired by Vauban fortifications and is composed of three sections; the capital city (Thanh Kinh), the Imperial city (Hoang Thanh) and the Forbidden City (Cam Thanh). It was largely destroyed in 1968 during the fighting that engulfed Hue following the Tet Offensive. Today, efforts are being made to restore and preserve this invaluable piece of heritage.

Dinner on your own. Night at hotel.

DAY 7: HUE – DA NANG – HOI AN (B/-/D)

Breakfast at hotel.

Depart Hue for Hoi An (4-5 hours) along Highway 1 which links Hanoi to Sai Gon. This drive is reputedly the most beautiful in all Vietnam, taking you past coastal fishing settlements, most notably Lang Co with its stunning lagoon backdrop. The drive also takes you over Hai Van Pass, or “pass of the ocean clouds”s.

Continue on to the delightful town of Hoi An which stands on the banks of the Thu Bon river, some thirty kilometers southeast of Da Nang. Around the fifteenth century, this old port town in the kingdom of Champa was known as Faifo.

Check-in to hotel on arrival. Lunch on your own.

The afternoon is dedicated to your discovery of Hoi An cuisine (15:00-18:30 or 19:00). This signature food tour combines food tasting with off-the-beaten sightseeing. This tour is designed to give you the confidence to go out and try street food on your own when you visit a heaven of street food as Vietnam. You also discover a different Hoi An – not beautiful decorating restaurants, not expensive cloth shop…This tour is a delicious and fun way to explore Hoi An just like a local.

Night at hotel.

DAY 8: HOI AN (B/L/-)

Breakfast at hotel.

This morning is spent strolling through the narrow streets of this atmospheric old town. This former port, a UNESCO World Heritage site, is full of architectural gems that show a range of influences. Visit the Japanese covered bridge, the temple of the genie of water, the Fujian temple and the fish, meat and vegetable market. Around the seventeenth century Hoi An was one of the busiest ports in South East Asia, with Chinese, Portuguese, Japanese, Dutch, French and English merchants visiting the town in search of spices, lacquer ware, and ceramics. Enriched by the proceeds of this trade many merchants constructed beautiful homes. One can admire these charming houses along Tran Phu Street, one of the oldest in Hoi An. Architecture in the old town tends to show an integration of Sino-Japanese influences in a local style. Most buildings share the same overall plan; built on two levels, they are constructed like a tube between two streets that run parallel.

Then, enjoy a tea at “Reaching Out Tea House”, a lovely and tranquil setting to experience the tradition of tea drinking, and also a social enterprise aimed at empowering the speech and hearing impaired, who comprise its staff.

“Reaching Out” is an enterprise founded in 2000 to help the disabled grow their artistic talents and lead independent lives through their art. In addition to the Tea house, the organisation also has Reaching Out Arts and Crafts, a fair trade gift shop showcasing high quality handicrafts made by disabled craftspeople in Vietnam.

Rest of the day at your leisure.

Lunch during the visit. Dinner on your own. Night at hotel.

DAY 9: HOI AN (B/-/-)

Breakfast at hotel.

Time at leisure to enjoy the serenity of the old town.  

Meals on your own. Night at hotel.

In Option: Discovery the countryside of Hoi An

  • Cycling tour (8:30-15:00)

Spend a day leisurely cycling though the scenic countryside of Vietnam, far from the traffic the motor scooters, and the noises the city. You will cross the islands on the Song Thu river delta using local transportation, including ferries and floating bridge.

This tour will take you to discover how wooden river boats are made, learn the secret of weaving the colorful straw “Hoi An” sleeping mats. Try the renowned Vietnamese basket boats. You will spend the day with first-hand contact with one of the rural inhabitant of the region, far from the usual tourist circuits.

At lunchtime you will be invited into the home of a local Vietnamese family for a traditional Vietnamese meal, and learn their customs and traditions. After you have relaxed for a while under the

  • Explore the roads less traveled on board of a vintage vespa (08:00-13:000

This countryside tour of Hoi An will give you real insight to local life. Setting off from Café Zoom in Hoi An, we ride over the bridge to Cam Kim island and along the riverside into the beautiful rural countryside. First stops include an Ancestral House and a traditional boat builder yard before we set off to explore the sleepy island villages. Zig-zag through the breathtaking scenery of rice paddies & farmland and enjoy the cooling breeze.

Next, learn from friendly local families the art of mat weaving, farming, and how to make (and eat) the perfect Banh Dap rice crackers. Meeting local families is a must-do to see the real way of life in Vietnam.

After snacking on rice crackers, visit a local café to fuel up on local drip-coffee & learn the art of coffee roasting. Then gear up for an adrenalin pumping 300-meter bamboo bridge river crossing. We make our way to the coast at the Thu Bon river mouth, along roads lined with Casuarina Pine & Cashew Nut Trees. Finally, it’s up high and over the new bridge offering spectacular panoramic views of Hoi An, which takes us to the water coconut palm fringed Cam Thanh and then on to a local lunch in a restaurant surrounded by rice paddies. This countryside tour of Hoi An then concludes with a free drop-off at your hotel.

DAY 10: HOI AN – DA NANG – SAI GON (B/-/D)

Breakfast at hotel.

Morning, meet your driver and transfer to Da Nang airport (40 minutes) for your flight to Sai Gon. Pick up and transfer to hotel.

Saigon is not only the most important economic centre in Vietnam, it also has some very imposing colonial architecture which was the center of attention in our fascinating past. Almost a hundred years of French rulers bestowed upon the city with some pearls of colonial architecture.

Lunch on your own.

Afternoon, visit the Central Post office, designed by Gustave Eiffel, and the Notre Dame Cathedral, inspired by its counterpart in Paris.

Then, visit the moved War Remnants museum which presents a partial, but riveting, view of the American war, as it is known in Vietnam.

End of the day at Ben Thanh market.

18:00: Starting your discovery of “Saigon after dark”: Part night excursion, part street food adventure. Experience Saigon nightlife the way locals do, all from the back of a vintage Vespa scooter.

To start off this Saigon night tour, enjoy drinks at our Vespa themed café, Café Zoom, to watch “as the world goes by”. Throughout the night, try a variety of food and drinks at local restaurants and samplings of Saigon’s best authentic street food. We’ll also go to a Vietnamese-style coffee shop with special live music, and then wrap up the evening at an exciting bar where the new generation of Vietnamese unwind and flaunt their unique styles.

Guests ride pillion behind our drivers to enjoy and experience the Vietnamese night life with friends. This tour includes free flowing drinks and all you can eat, so come with an appetite.

Night at hotel.

DAY 11: SAI GON – MEKONG – SAI GON (B/L/-)

Breakfast at hotel.

08:00: Pick up at your hotel and depart to Ben Tre (2 hour).

10:00: Arrive and visit Phong Nam brick kiln, where bricks are still painstakingly made by hand.

Then, get on boat and will cruise along the Chet Say river (a branch of the Mekong) and stop off at various local workplaces to give you a picture of how the local economy works, including coconut activated charcoal factory where coconut shell is put into high heat kiln to produce coconut charcoal; a coconut processing workshop, where you can sample fresh coconut and see how every single part of this versatile nut is turned into food and other products.

Then the boat will cruise through the small canal, discover the local life. The boat will then stop at a quiet village where you can have a short walk to experience real Delta village life, visit  a mat weaving house, where straw mats are woven using a hand loom – you can even have a go at weaving yourself before boarding your xe loi (a kind of motorized rickshaw) or biking into the village where you can see farm, rice field and vegetable plan  before stopping at a local house for a delicious and filling lunch, featuring such local specialties as elephant-ear fish and river shrimp, washed down with some cold drinks or beers.

It’s time to board a sampan for a relaxing trip along narrow canals.

Take boat back to pier and car back to Sai Gon.  Dinner on your own. Night at the hotel.

DAY 12: SAI GON – CU CHI – SAI GON (B/L/-)

Breakfast at hotel.

07:30: Depart from your hotel to Ho Chi Minh Agricultural villages (1h15)
08:45-10:00: Visiting Ho Chi Minh Agricultural villages:

     + Visiting cow and buffalo areas, rice fields
     + Visiting big herbs, spices, vegetables and mushrooms areas
     + Challenges on the garden become real Vietnamese farmer on Vietnamese traditional hat. Pick up herbs, spices, vegetables and mushrooms on the garden

10:00-13:30: cooking challenges

     + Hands on cooking class with three dishes and 1 dessert and enjoy what they have done
     + Enjoy great healthy cooking tips
     + Congratulation with nice certificate, recipes, souvenirs
     + Collect email and update nice healthy recipes monthly  

 13:30-14:00: Visiting rice paper factory

     + Understanding the whole process to make rice paper
     + Surprise to see main ingredients to make rice paper
     + See how we mixed the flour with water
     + See how the fresh rice paper comes out after steam
     + See how we handle it on the tray and how we dried it out
     + See how we cut rice paper in the shape we want
     + See how we pack the rice paper in the packages before selling or exporting

14:00-14:15: Visiting rubber tree forest: Exploring the big rubber tree forest and understanding how the local people collect the latex  

14:15-16:00: visit Cu Chi tunnels created since 1948 to assist the Viet Minh to combat the French. This is an underground city with living areas, kitchens, storage, weapon shops, field hospitals and command centers. During the Vietnam War the entire area of Cu Chi was designated a fire free zone and was heavily bombarded.

Back to city center at around 17:30.

Dinner on your own. Night at hotel.

DAY 13: SAI GON DEPARTURE (B/-/-)

Breakfast at hotel.

Time at leisure until meet our driver and transfer to Sai Gon airport for your departure flight. The room is at your disposal until 12h00.


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