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Vietnam Flavours

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Vietnam Flavours

1-Join tour Hanoi
Join tour in Hanoi. The remainder if the day is free to allow you to settle in and perhaps venture out for your initial impressions of the city.
Overnight: Standard Hotel
Single Room option available

2-In Hanoi; Street food tour and cooking school
This morning we join the chef from Old Hanoi Restaurant, recently re-opened by Gordon Ramsey, on a visit to Phung Hung market in order to buy supplies for our afternoon cooking class. Over lunchtime our tour leader takes us for a street food walking tour of the Old Quarter. This is a maze of narrow streets that are named after various crafts or specialties: Paper Street, Silk Street, Basket Street etc. The shops themselves have very narrow frontages but are actually quite deep; they are known locally as ‘tube’ shops. Street vendors tempt you with noodles, snacks and stir-fried delights from shoulder panniers, all adding to the charm of Hanoi’s historic heart. As we walk we wander through the streets we have the opportunity to sample the array of offerings, from fresh fruit to ‘Bun Cha’, grilled pork and noodles, to ‘Mien Xao Luon’, glass noodles stir fried with little eels, bean sprouts and egg. Afterwards we return to Old Hanoi Restaurant, deep in the heart of the Old Quarter, and relax with a Hanoi filtered coffee or a jasmine tea before joining a group cooking class. We will learn how to make four dishes and then enjoy eating them for dinner, perhaps washed down with a Hanoi Beer, a favourite in the city.
Overnight: Standard Hotel
Single Room option available

3-Experience French Colonial Hanoi; Drive to Ninh Binh
This morning we visit Hanoi’s French Colonial side with tree-lined boulevards and substantial low-built houses, making it wonderfully nostalgic. Among the interesting sights are the charming One-Pillar Pagoda and the Presidential Palace, a very fine example of French colonial architecture. Ho Chi Minh himself, a spartan-living and scholarly man, chose not to live in the Presidential Palace; he preferred instead a simple teak 2-storied stilt-house specially built for him in the grounds. We continue our French Colonial theme as we enjoy a set menu lunch at the charming Indochine Restaurant. This afternoon we drive around 2 hours to Ninh Binh, located in the Red River Delta region, and known as ‘Halong Bay on land’ because of the karst limestone hills dotted through paddy fields that make up the landscape.
Overnight: Standard Hotel
Single Room option available

4-Cycling; Meet local family for lunch; Sampan cruise through ‘Halong Bay on land’
This morning we take to two wheels and cycle past paddy fields to Dong Tan village, where we meet a local family and have the chance to help out preparing our lunch. After lunch we continue on our bicycles to the river, where we board sampans and cruise through a tranquil landscape past craggy rocks jutting out of the land. We visit ‘But’ water cave before returning to the jetty, where a bus will be waiting to drive us back to our hotel.
Overnight: Standard Hotel
Single Room option available

5-Drive to Halong Bay; Board a junk for overnight cruise
This morning we drive around 4 hours to Halong Bay where we board a shared boat for our cruise of this beautiful bay in the Gulf of Tonkin. Thousands of jagged limestone islands rise out of the jade green waters like the hairy scales of a submerged dragon. In fact Halong means ‘where the dragon descends to the sea’ as legend tells that the rugged seascape was created by the pounding tail of a dragon as he ran from the mountains into the sea, carving islands in his wake. As we make our way through a flotilla of boats, junks and wooden sampans as they ply their way across the gentle waters of the bay, we enjoy a fresh seafood lunch on board and have the opportunity to swim, weather permitting. We spend the night on board.
Overnight: Standard Junk
Single Room option available

6-Return to Hanoi; Overnight train to Hue
This morning we continue to enjoy the romantic scenery cruising amongst the islands as we return to the jetty. It is interesting to see the assortment of boats, junks and wooden sampans, their sails hoisted, gliding through waters. We then drive around 4 hours back to Hanoi before boarding the ‘Reunification Express’ overnight train to Hué. Cabins are 4-berth and whilst we are grouped together you may be sharing with strangers or someone of the opposite sex.
Overnight: Basic Overnight Train

7-In Hue; Visit Imperial City
On arrival in Hue we transfer to our hotel to drop off our luggage and head out to visit the Old Citadel, the palace built by the Nguyen dynasty (Vietnam’s ruling emperors from the early 1800s to1945). The Citadel has formal moats and impressive ramparts which were constructed by 20,000 men and was inspired by the Forbidden City in Beijing. This evening we head out to Lac Thien Restaurant to sample a set menu including ‘Banh Khoai’, a rice flour crepe traditional to Hue.
Overnight: Standard Hotel
Single Room option available

8-In Hue; Cooking school; Cruise on Perfume River
This morning we make our way to Y Thao Restaurant to join a cooking class to introduce us to Hue’s Imperial cuisine. Not only is the restaurant a beautiful building near the Citadel it is located in a lovely garden. We will begin by visiting Dong Ba market in the morning and then learn the exclusive art of food preparation to create a ‘Royal Meal’, which we can then enjoy eating for lunch. This afternoon we take a trip by boat on the Perfume River to Thien Mu Pagoda. This lovely monastery is the oldest in Hué and the symbol of the city.
Overnight: Standard Hotel
Single Room option available

9-Drive to Hoi An. Walking tour of Old Town
Today we enjoy a scenic drive across the spectacular Hai Van Pass (Pass of Ocean Clouds), past rural scenes of thatched, wooden houses and bright green rice paddies to the charming ancient town of Hoi An, first colonised by the Portuguese in the 16th century. For lunch we head straight for the town’s most famous dish ‘Banh Cuon’ pancake with chopped beef and papaya seasoned with fish sauce, diluted with lemon water. After lunch we take a short orientation walk around Hoi An, then have some free time to wander around and explore some of the many shops or just enjoy watching the world go by in a café by the river.
Overnight: Standard Hotel
Single Room option available

10-In Hoi An; Free day for optionals
Today has been left free so you can choose how to spend your time in wonderful Hoi An. Options include a ‘Wet Rice’ experience, where you will, dressed in appropriate clothing which is provided, be able to get into a paddy field and experience what it is like to farm rice. Alternatively, you may opt for a cooking class at the reputable Red Bridge Cooking School, or simply enjoy exploring the town itself with its many shops, bars and restaurants.
Overnight: Standard Hotel
Single Room option available

11-In Hoi An; Free day for optionals
Today is also free to enjoy this lovely town. Options include an excursion to the nearby UNESCO world heritage site of My Son, a cluster of ruined Cham dynasty temples; or even a visit to the beach, just a 10 minute drive away, to dip your toes into the South China Sea.
Overnight: Standard Hotel
Single Room option available

12-Fly to Ho Chi Minh City; Visit Cu Chi Tunnels and Old Saigon
This morning we fly to Ho Chi Minh City. On arrival we take a detour and visit Cu Chi tunnels which formed an amazing underground command base for 10,000 Viet Cong troops and were a major part of the 1968 Tet Offensive in the American War, as it was known as in Vietnam. We will see how resourceful the VC became living underground as well as how creative they were with their brutal man traps! Afterwards we continue on the Ho Chi Minh City where we try out what is the national dish of Vietnam probably its most famous food, ‘Pho’, a delicious rice noodle soup served with fresh herbs. This afternoon we take a walk around Old Saigon taking in the Notre Dame Cathedral and the Old Post Office.
Overnight: Standard Hotel
Single Room option available

13-In Ho Chi Minh City; Free day for optionals
Today is left free to explore Ho Chi Minh City further. Options include joining a cooking class, or taking a full day excursion to the Mekong Delta.
Overnight: Standard Hotel
Single Room option available

14-Tour ends after breakfast Ho Chi Minh City
Tour ends in Ho Chi Minh City. If you are staying on you may wish to drive out around 4 hours to the nearest beach for some relaxation in Phan Thiet, which is popular with wind-surfers; or fly to nearby Cambodia to extend your adventure.

Tour includes:

12 Breakfast
6 Lunch
3 Dinner
Bus, Train, Boat, Flight
11 nights Standard Hotel
1 night Standard Junk
1 night Basic Overnight Train
Tour Staff:
Driver(s), Explore Tour Leader, Local Guide(s), Boat Crew
Group Size:
Generally 8 – 14

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