Travel to Vietnam and savour its culture and cuisine from Hanoi to Ho Chi Minh City

Chop, slice and eat your way through Vietnam, experiencing one of the freshest and most fragrant cuisines on the planet. From pho and ancient buildings in Hanoi, banh khoai and imperial citadels in Hue, banh xeo and lantern-lit streets in Hoi An and banh canh and pulsating markets in Ho Chi Minh City, experience Vietnam’s cuisine and its tightly woven place within its culture. Drink in cafes and beer halls that sprawl out over city streets, buy fruit from wicker baskets draped over a vendor’s shoulders and sit at market stalls as aromatic noodle soups are whipped up in front of you. Experience all of Vietnam’s iconic sights, spend time cooking with some of the country’s top food experts and get a true taste of Vietnam on this delectable Real Food Adventure.

Start
Hanoi, Vietnam
Finish
Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
Countries
Vietnam
Themes
Food
Code
TVZY
Physical rating
Cultural rating
Ages
Min 15
Group size
Min 1, Max 12
Carbon offset
492kg pp per trip


Highlights

  • Sip bia hoi beer in one of Hanoi’s colourful beer halls
  • Eat Hanoi’s best street food at the bustling Don Xuan Markets
  • Sail the emerald-green waters of breathtaking Halong Bay
  • Slurp bun bo hue (beef and vermicelli noodle soup), Hue’s local specialty
  • Bike through herb gardens of Tra Que Village
  • Be part of the raucous making of banh xeo (savoury crispy pancake) in Hoi An
  • Learn the secrets of central Vietnamese cooking at Hoi An’s celebrated Morning Glory Cooking School
  • Float past markets and farms on your way to a welcoming homestay on the Mekong Delta

Itinerary

Celebrate the start of this tantalising culinary adventure with dinner at a one of Hanoi’s open beer halls. Glaringly coloured plastic chairs and fluoro lights may be what is seen on the surface, but with cheap and refreshing bia hoi beer, tasty treats like nom hoa chuoi (banana flower salad) and ga nuong (barbecued chicken) and a wide range of happy locals enjoying them both, these are Hanoi institutions that propel people right into the heart of the city’s culture. Welcome the next morning with an aromatic bowl of pho (noodle soup) before exploring the alleyways of Chau Long Market and being introduced to the flavours of northern Vietnamese cuisine. Taste super sweet Vietnamese coffee, black sticky rice and betel nut on a street food tour. Move on to lunch at the bustling Don Xuan Markets, where the city’s best street food – like bun cha (barbecued pork noodle soup) or nem cua be (crab spring rolls) – is just begging to be eaten. In the afternoon, choose to take in Hanoi at your own pace or take a city tour and see sights like the remarkable Temple of Literature and One Pillar Pagoda. Then cook up some of Hanoi’s classic dishes in a cooking class and eat the bounty for dinner in the leafy surrounds of the Hanoi Cooking Centre. To cap off an excellent night, experience something well off the tourist trail – sipping tea in a hidden Hanoi teahouse.
Leave Hanoi behind and journey through the countryside towards Halong Bay. Stop for lunch at a local roadside restaurant before arriving at the harbour and feasting eyes on our home for the night - a traditional junk boat. Set sail on emerald-green waters, gliding between limestone karsts and soaking in the old-world tranquillity that is unique to Halong Bay. Visit the fishing village of Cua Van, which bobs colourfully on the water, go kayaking around the still waters or explore the limestone caves that are dotted around the bay. As the sun begins to set, relax on deck with a drink before indulging in a feast of seafood and local delights that has been exquisitely prepared by onboard chefs. Sleep soundly on gentle waters and wake to breakfast overlooking the sleepy sight of Halong Bay in the morning. Slowly sail back to Bai Chay Harbour and then return to Hanoi. Perhaps spend the afternoon exploring Hanoi’s Old Quarter, people-watching in a café or enjoying a rice-wine tasting before grabbing a delicious takeaway from KOTO, an inspiring restaurant that supports street kids, and taking the Reunification Express overnight train to Hue.
With the Perfume River running through it, Hue is a beautiful city with a rich culture and much talked-about cuisine. This former royal capital is a treat for the tastebuds so get stuck straight in by breakfasting on the local specialty, bun bo hue (beef and vermicelli noodle soup). Then, stretch legs on a walking tour around the city exploring Hue’s fascination Imperial Citadel and the striking Thien Mu Pagoda. After a long day exploring the sights, perhaps tuck into an imperial-style street banquet. Taste dishes like banh khoai (crepe stuffed with prawns and pork), nem lui (marinated minced pork and salad rolled in rice paper) or banh bot loc (rice dumplings filled with prawns and pork) and be in food heaven while the bustle of the city passes by.
Eating at Hue’s Dong Ba Market is a great breakfast option as you can also explore the myriad stalls selling all the flavours of Vietnam. Perhaps buy some moreish me xung (sesame and peanut toffee) to fuel the dragon boat ride down the Perfume River to the picturesque tomb of Vietnam’s last emperor, Tu Duc. Call by a nunnery set among the trees, where a lunch of Hue’s famed Buddhist vegetarian cuisine awaits. Say farewell to Hue, travelling past luscious rice paddies and over the Hai Van Pass to the extraordinary city of Hoi An. Take a walk around the ancient streets that are lined with colourful lanterns, historic architecture and endless tailors. Tonight is a real treat, eating at the renowned Ba Le Well restaurant where banh xeo (savoury crispy pancake) is the specialty. It’s a local hangout and is always full to the brim due to the food being so good. Be shown how to prepare banh xeo by enthusiastic staff and indulge in dishes made from the freshest of ingredients while surrounded by the laughter and chatter of locals. Greens, herbs, pancakes, satay, rice paper, spring rolls and pork skewers magically appear so it’s best to be hungry as the food just keeps coming! The next morning, join the Morning Glory Cooking School for a wonderful day cooking up a feast of Vietnamese favourites. Cycle through the herb gardens of Tra Que village, learning about the incredible herbs that grow there, before donning an apron and chopping, stirring and rolling up a colourful banquet of epic proportions. The rest of the day is then free to explore. Perhaps get some clothes made, cross the ancient Japanese Bridge or sit at a riverside restaurant lit by lanterns all the colours of the rainbow. Either spend the last day in Hoi An at your leisure or choose to visit the fish markets at dawn, take a bike and boat trip that visits the area’s small islands or have a swim and seafood dinner on An Bang Beach.
Take a quick flight to Vietnam’s largest city, Ho Chi Minh City. Lunch on mouth-watering banh canh (thick noodle soup) before going on a city tour, taking in the provocative War Remnants Museum, beautiful Notre Dame Cathedral and finishing up at the expansive Ben Thanh Markets. Explore the market’s incredible array of products - it's a great place to pick up souvenirs, clothes and kitchen gadgets - and be spoilt for dinner choices. There are many great cafes, bars and places to hang out in Ho Chi Minh City so perhaps take to the streets and get a taste of the city’s pulsating nightlife.
Traverse the winding waterways of the Mekong Delta, cruising through the Cai Be Floating Market to see boats piled high with colourful produce. Buy ingredients from buoyant sellers and check out some of the enterprising industry along the river’s banks. Sail past local farms set on canal ways before arriving at our delightful homestay. Get to know our hosts as they teach the group how to make traditional regional dishes and share a delicious meal with the family.
Wake with the birds and help prepare a tasty breakfast with our hosts before taking to waters once again. Head for the startling Vinhlong Markets, detouring via an impressive floating village. Return to the city and meet the Van family. Experts in southern Vietnamese cuisine, they will show you how to create the delicate balance of flavours that makes the food of Vietnam so amazing. Savour the atmosphere and the end results then spend the evening either relaxing at the hotel or taking in the night-life one last time. Farewell this incredible culinary adventure the next morning after breakfast.
View trip notes to read full itinerary

Inclusions

Meals
11 breakfasts, 5 lunches, 6 dinners
Transport
Overnight sleeper train, Plane, Private vehicle, Taxi
Accommodation
Homestay (1 night), Hotel (8 nights), Overnight boat (1 night), Overnight sleeper train (1 night)
Included activities
  • Halong Bay - Overnight boat cruise
  • Hanoi - Cooking class
  • Hanoi - Street Eats and Market tour
  • HCMC - Cooking class and dinner
  • Ho Chi Minh City - War Remnants Museum
  • Hoi An - Ancient town
  • Hoi An - Bale Well Dinner
  • Hoi An - Herb Garden Bicycle Tour and Cooking Class
  • Hue - Motorbike trip including lunch
  • Hue - Royal tomb
  • Mekong Delta - boat cruise and homestay
  • Mekong Delta - Traditional breakfast

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Important notes

A single supplement is available on this trip.

Trip notes

Want an in-depth insight into this trip? Your trip notes provide a detailed itinerary, visa info, how to get to your hotel, what’s included - pretty much everything you need to know about this adventure and more.

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Reviews

Our Real Food Adventure - Vietnam trips score an average of 4.9 out of 5 based on 94 reviews in the last year.

Real Food Adventure - Vietnam , June 2015

Real Food Adventure - Vietnam , June 2015