Flavours of Vietnam

Vietnam

Culture | Culinary

Discover Vietnam's wonderful food culture

14 days £1,945 pp This is the per person group tour price, based on 2 sharing. The price is subject to change with exchange rate and flight cost fluctuations.
Dates & Prices

Intro

Discover the beauty, charm and elegance of Vietnam whilst exploring its wonderful food culture. Take a boat on the mighty Mekong River, visit the historic but vibrant cities of Hanoi and Saigon (now Ho Chi Minh City) and explore the atmospheric towns of Hoi An and Hue. Learn Vietnamese culinary secrets from passionate local chefs, try your hand at making coconut candy and meet local honey wine producers. Learn about modern rice noodle making and finally take a tour of some of the Mekong Delta's floating markets.

TOUR HIGHLIGHTS

  • Take a cruise along Halong Bay
  • Historic cities of Hué and Hoi An
  • Learn traditional techniques from expert chefs
  • Hindu temples of My Son Sanctuary
  • The contrasting histories of Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi
  • Discover the vast Cu Chi Tunnels
  • The beauty of the Mekong Delta

Places Visited

Hanoi - Halong Bay - Hué - Hoi An - My Son Sanctuary - Ho Chi Minh City - Cu Chi Tunnels - Mekong Delta

What's Included

All internal flights
Airport pick-up & drop-off
Some meals (refer to itinerary for meal plan)
Ground transport and drivers
Local guides
Accommodation
Itinerary & Map
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Day 1 : Arrival

Arrive in Hanoi, where you will be met by a Travel The Unknown representative and transferred to your hotel. The rest of the day is free to enjoy at your leisure. Overnight in Hanoi. 

Meal plan: n/a

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Day 2 : Hanoi

Your morning will be spent preparing typical North Vietnamese dishes under the guidance of a chef. In the afternoon, explore Hanoi including its Museum of Ethnology and Tran Quoc Pagoda. Later in the evening watch a traditional water puppet show. Overnight in Hanoi. 

Meal plan: Breakfast & lunch

Sitting on the banks of the Red River, Vietnam's capital is the second largest city in the country. Steeped in an intriguing history, many of Hanoi's historical monuments and palaces have been destroyed by both civil war and foreign aggression, although some do still remain - for example the Temple of Literature, which is Vietnam's first university and was built as a tribute to Confucius. It is home to the Central Sector of the Imperial Citadel of Thang Long which was built by the Ly Dynasty in the 11th Century on an old Chinese Fortress. Hanoi is famous for its lakes, in particular Hoan Kiem Lake, also called the 'Lake of the Restored Sword', which is linked to the legend of the magic sword when the Golden Turtle God reclaimed Emperor Le Loi's magic sword, Heaven's Will. 

The Vietnam Museum of Ethnology in Hanoi is widely considered to be the finest modern museum in the country. It is both a research centre and a public museum with the aim of preserving and presenting the cultural heritages of the 54 ethnic groups in Vietnam through the display of tribal art and artefacts.

Located on a peaceful islet in Hanoi’s West Lake, Tran Quoc Pada is the city’s oldest Buddhist temple. Built in the sixth century, this temple was relocated to its current position in 1615. The serene waterside setting provides the perfect backdrop for the numerous sacred statues that are dotted throughout the pagoda’s grounds.

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Day 3 : Hanoi

Day tour of Hanoi including visits to the Temple of Literature and the Ho Chi Minh Mauseleum. Take a walk in the Old Quarter and sample a selection of Vietnamese street food. Overnight in Hanoi. 

Meal plan: Breakfast & lunch

The Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum is the site where Vietminh leader Ho Chi Minh read the Declaration of Independence on 2nd September 1945, establishing the Democratic Republic of Vietnam. Inspired by Lenin’s Mausoleum it also incorporates distinct Vietnamese architectural styles such as a sloping roof. The gardens contain flowers and plants from all over Vietnam. The body of Ho Chi Minh, embalmed and protected by a military guard at all times, lies in the central chamber.

Devoted to Confucius, the Temple of Literature is set amidst immaculate grounds that are divided into five courtyards. The temple has a great academic history and possesses engraved stone tablets that feature the names of its top performing students, some of which date back to 1070.

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Day 4 : Halong Bay

Depart for Halong Bay, one of the planet's most spectacular UNESCO World Heritage sites. Board a traditional Vietnamese boat to explore the bay. Overnight on the cruise boat. 

Meal plan: Breakfast, lunch & dinner

A UNESCO World Heritage Site, Halong Bay is a collection of magnificent limestone islands rising from the ocean. Several of the islands have grottos inside them which have been decorated by 19th Century French tourists and some of the paintings and messages can still be seen today. It has been the backdrop for many sea battles and Kublai Khan’s Mongol boats were defeated there in 1288.

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Day 5 : Halong Bay

Enjoy the views of the bay and your surroundings as you continue on your leisurely cruise around Halong Bay. Go for a swim and explore one of the Bay's biggest caves. After disembarking, return to Hanoi for overnight stay. 

Meal plan: Breakfast

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Day 6 : Hue

After breakfast, you will be transferred to the airport to connect to your flight to Hué. Upon arrival, transfer to your hotel. In the afternoon you will start a Hue street food tour, discovering the city through cyclos. The cyclo tour lasts around 4 hours, and during this, you will visit many famous street restaurants. You will have a free evening. Overnight in Hue. 

Meal plan: Breakfast & lunch

Once the capital of feudal Vietnam, Hué is known for its historical monuments and is home to the Imperial City. Along the Perfume River lie the tombs of the rulers of the Nguyen dynasty including Minh Mang, Tu Duc and Khai Dun as well as the Thien Mu Pagoda, regarded as the unofficial symbol of the former imperial capital. It is also home to the Dong Baa Markets, the largest marketplace in central Vietnam which has all the typical features of a traditional Vietnamese market.

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Day 7 : Hué

In the morning you will have a hands-on cooking class at a famous restaurant where you will learn about Royal Hué cuisine. The dishes you prepare will be served to you for lunch. In the afternoon, visit the Royal Tomb of Tu Duc King and then proceed on a boat trip along Perfume River to visit Thien Mu Pagoda. Overnight in Hué. 

Meal plan: Breakfast & lunch

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Day 8 : Forbidden Purple City - Danang - Marble Mountain

After breakfast visit the Forbidden Purple City. Check out, then drive to Hoi An, passing through some spectacular scenery. Stop in Danang to visit its Museum of Cham Sculpture and explore the villages around Marble Mountain, where skilled stone artisans practice their craft. Continue to Hoi An for overnight. 

Meal plan: Breakfast

The Forbidden Purple City can be found at the centre of the Imperial Enclosure, a structure that resembles the Forbidden City of Beijing. Build by the Nguyen Dynasty who ascended the throne in 1802, this city was intended solely for the emperor’s use. The Forbidden Purple City has been victim to many natural disasters and was heavily damaged during the war with the U.S.

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Day 9 : My Son - Hoi An

After breakfast visit My Son Sanctuary. In the afternoon return to Hoi An and and take a walking tour through the city visiting Japanese Covered Bridges, the Pottery Museum, the 200 year old Tan Ky House, Chua Ong Pagoda and a vibrant local market. Overnight in Hoi An.

Meal plan: Breakfast

Once the country's trade centre, Hoi An is steeped in history. Shipwrecks that have been recovered show that Vietnamese and Asian ceramics have been transported as far as Sinai, Egypt. Foreign influence can be seen in the buildings and streets of the city. Nearby are the ruins of  My Son, Cua Dai Beach and China Beach, which is a hot spot for activities such as windsurfing and snorkelling. It is home to many ruins and pagodas, which have given it UNESCO World Heritage Site Status and there is archaeological evidence of a port being there since the 2nd Century BC.

Now a UNESCO World Heritage Site, My Son Sanctuary is a cluster of ruined and partially ruined Hindu temples dedicated to Shiva and built in the 4th Century by the Champa. It is regarded as one of the foremost Hindu temples in South East Asia and its importance is compared to other temple complexes such as Angkor Wat, Bagan in Myanmar and Ayutthaya of Thailand. It is thought that My Son was the longest inhabited archaeological site in Indochina until much of it was destroyed by US bombs during the Vietnam war.

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Day 10 : Hoi An - Ho Chi Minh City

Join your teacher for a visit to a local market in search of ingredients for your cooking class. After, you will be taken to the cooking school by boat, where you will prepare Vietnamese dishes that have been strongly influenced by Chinese cuisine. The dishes you prepare will be served to you at lunch. Later, return to Hoi An. In the afternoon fly to Ho Chi Minh City. Overnight in Ho Chi Minh City. 

Meal plan: Breakfast & lunch

Formerly known as Saigon, Ho Chi Minh City has a rich military history. Named after the Communist leader, the French colonial influence is reflected through the Western Style buildings and French Villas. It is home to the Reunification Palace, the archives of the Vietnam War, and the Ben Thanh market. It has become a sprawling, rapidly growing city that is unlike anywhere else in Vietnam. It is also home to the Vinh Nghiem Pagoda, which was named after the Pagoda in Bac Giang and is the first pagoda in Vietnam to be built in the traditional Vietnamese architectural style, but in concrete. 

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Day 11 : Ho Chi Minh City - Cu Chi Tunnels

In the morning you will take part in a cooking class and learn more about Vietnamese cuisine as well as the culture and history of Vietnamese food. In the afternoon visit Cu Chi Tunnels, used throughout the Vietnam War. Overnight in Ho Chi Minh City. 

Meal plan: Breakfast & lunch

Located in the Cu Chi district of Ho Chi Minh City, the Cu Chi Tunnels were used by Viet Cong soldiers as hiding places during combat. Part of a larger tunnel network that underlies much of the country, at its peak the Cu Chi tunnel system stretched from Ho Chi Minh City to the Cambodian border and allowed the Viet Cong to maintain control in the surrounding rural area as it allowed them to make surprise attacks. The tunnels also feature constructive living areas and kitchens as well as field hospitals and command centres.

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Day 12 : Mekong Delta

After breakfast, depart for Cai Be. You will board a private boat and cruise along the Mekong River. After a short cruise along the river, you will check-in to the lodge and enjoy lunch on the riverbanks. After lunch, you will have a cycling tour of Tan Phong island. This evening you will have a Vietnamese cooking class.  Overnight in Cai Be. 

Meal plan: Breakfast & lunch

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Day 13 : Ho Chi Minh City

After an early breakfast, visit Cai Be Floating Market. Continue the discovery of Mekong Delta visiting handicraft villages and Cai Be market on land. Later, return to Ho Chi Minh City. Overnight in Ho Chi Minh City. 

Meal plan: Breakfast

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Day 14 : Departure

After breakfast you will be transferred to the airport to connect to your onward flight. 

Meal plan: Breakfast

Accommodation

Accommodation Title

All accommodation subject to availability. Final accommodation choices will be confirmed after booking.

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Medallion Hotel

The Medallion Hotel is situated at the heart of Hanoi's old quarter. The spacious hotel has a modern decor and fittings for guests, which include wifi access and air-conditioned rooms. Medallion's restaurant serves a mixture of Western and Asian cuisine, along with a buffet style breakfast. 

Visit hotel's site
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Glory Legend Cruise

Glory Legend Cruises provides a tranquil way to explore Halong Bay. The boats are made up of modern cabins, comfortable communal lounges and restaurants. Guests can enjoy the panoramic views from the sundeck on board - before retiring to their cabins which also boast views from large windows that overlook Halong Bay. Cabin rooms provide for a comfortable stay and are fitted with air-conditioning and private toilets. Guests can also enjoy the other facilities whilst on board the Glory Legend Cruise, which includes a spa and fitness room. 

Visit hotel's site
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Romance Hotel

Romance Hotel is located in central Hue, near to many of the cities historic sights. It has a modern decor that, in some parts of the hotel, also displays traditional Vietnamese design. The bedrooms are spacious, providing a comfortable stay for guests who are exploring the city. The hotel also boasts a rooftop pool, which provides a relaxing spot for visitors to enjoy a panoramic view across Hue. 

Visit hotel's site
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Thuy Duong

Thy Duong can be found just outside of the charming town of Hoi An, where visitors can visit famous heritage sites and see historic pagodas. The hotel is surrounded by gardens and hosts additional services, such as an outside swimming pool and spa, that guests can access during their stay. The comfortable bedrooms have modern fixtures and fittings, including satellite television, air-conditioning and wifi. The hotel has a number of restaurants and cafes, serving Hoi An specialties, along with Asian and European dishes. 

Visit hotel's site
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Ruby River Hotel

Ruby River Hotel is located at the heart of the city of Ho Chi Minh. It provides the perfect base for exploring local sights, that include the Opera House and the Saigon Notre-Dame Basilica. The en-suite bedrooms are decorated in an elegant and modern style - allowing guests a comfortable space to relax, where they will have access to wifi, satellite television and air-conditioning. The hotel restaurant serves a daily breakfast buffet, whilst its evening menu features both local dishes and Western cuisine. 

Visit hotel's site
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Mekong Lodge

The quaint bungalows of Cai Be Mekong Lodge offer a tranquil respite from the bustle of Vietnamese cities. The lodge is set on the banks of the Mekong River, and is surrounded by lush gardens. The simple design of the bedrooms compliments the relaxed atmosphere of Cai Be Mekong Lodge. Guests can enjoy dinner at the restaurant, which offers provides guests with views across the river and offers a selection of both local and international delicacies. 

Visit hotel's site
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Reviews

Our holiday to Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam with Travel the Unknown was a huge success. We had a fascinating itinerary, well-informed and friendly guides who really looked after us, and lovely accommodation. Every time there was a change of vehicle or guide, the next one was always there and waiting. All stages of the planning and booking process were efficiently done, so all we had to do was enjoy it!

Erika & Robert Hollingdale , Tailormade Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam

A well-planned itinerary that crammed an impressive amount into 16 days, without ever feeling rushed. Cambodia and Vietnam are both fantastic destinations, offering stunning natural scenery and beautifully preserved historical sites, together with truly delightful and welcoming people. Our guides made our trip extraordinary, weaving their personal histories in to the many insights they gave us of two countries that have experienced such difficult pasts.

Mark Pettengel & Jo Martin , Tailormade Vietnam & Cambodia

Our trip with Travel The Unknown was one of our best trips ever. All went as planned, wonderful guides, perfect hotels - best of all: excellent scheduling of activities and time to rest - balance was just what we needed!! Thank you to all staff involved!

Greg & Jan Sheffer , Classical Indochina, Indochina

TTU created a first class tailor made tour for my sister and I. We couldn't have had better service, from the tour guides, the hotel, the cruise and even the transport between places.

Ciorsdan Taylor , Tailormade Vietnam
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