TOUR CODE: VETEPI
Trip Type: Independent Journey
This 14-day journey is a fusion of remarkable sensory experiences that allows you to indulge in the diverse foods of the country, explore organic ingredients from the local markets, and absorb the different cultures and aromas between regions. We begin our journey with the liveliness of Ho Chi Minh City before heading south and spending two days in the charming, remote Mekong Delta. Relax along the beautiful beaches of Hoi An, where you will experience a special chef-led tour of a farmer’s market to find local ingredients before learning new culinary skills in a hands-on cooking class. Take a cyclo trip through the historic city of Hue and savor the street foods of vibrant Hanoi before ending your adventure by sailing through the serene waters of Halong Bay. This comprehensive journey features all the highlights of Vietnam while discovering the endless varieties of northern, central, and southern cuisines.
DEPART U.S. FOR HO CHI MINH CITY, VIETNAM
Today we board our flight to Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam.
ARRIVE HO CHI MINH CITY
See warm smiles as you arrive and transfer to your hotel in the city center. Ho Chi Minh City, also commonly referred to as Saigon, is the largest city and the economic and financial center of Vietnam.
HO CHI MINH CITY (B/L/D)
We begin our sightseeing with a morning tour to the infamous Cu Chi Tunnels, the underground network from which North Vietnamese forces operated in wartime. After lunch, discover the highlights of this bustling city, including Reunification Palace, Notre Dame Cathedral, Central Post Office, Chinatown, the Binh Tay Market, and Thien Hau Temple. As the sun sets, enjoy an evening scooter adventure around the busy city streets on the back of a vintage Vespa. Enjoy the beer and local Specialities while being driven around the city by an experienced driver.
HO CHI MINH CITY/CAI BE/CAN THO (B/L/D)
We leave Ho Chi Minh City heading south to the picturesque Mekong Delta. Upon arrival in My Tho, we board a boat for a cruise on the Mekong Delta. After lunch, continue to the busy river port town of Can Tho, the largest city in the Mekong Delta, noted for its floating markets, rice paper-making village, and picturesque rural canals.
CAN THO/ CAI RANG FLOATING MARKET (B/L)
The Mekong delta is the agricultural hub and ‘The rice bowl’ of Vietnam. The river begins in the Tibetan plateau and flows hundreds of miles through China Myanmar, Laos, Thailand, Cambodia, and Vietnam to empty into the South China Sea.
We start the day early with a boat trip to explore the Mekong Delta and it’s famous floating markets. Hop aboard a wooden boat to Cai Rang. Peer into the life of the people along the banks of the river as we pass through tiny villages of stilted, wooden houses, rice paddies, and ancient temples. Large barges and small wooden boats moored close to each other every morning piled high with fresh produce. Vendors advertise their stock by hoisting a sample of their wares up a makeshift flag pole jutting from the roof of the boat, with potatoes, pumpkins, pineapples, and bananas all pointing towards the sky. There are smaller boats on the market offer Vietnamese breakfast to visitors and market vendors. After lunch, return to your hotel with the remainder of the day at leisure.
CAN THO/DA NANG/HOI AN (B/L/D)
Take an early morning flight to Danang. Upon arrival, explore the acclaimed Cham Museum, which houses the world’s finest collection of Cham art in the world, including over 300 sandstone and terracotta sculptures. After we reach our hotel in Hoi An, the remainder of the day is at leisure.
HOI AN (B/L/D)
Experience the amazing sights, sounds, and aromas of Hoi An market on a personally-guided tour with the chef from the cooking school. Learn how to choose the best supplies and discover some of the less-familiar ingredients. We take a boat cruise along Hoi An River to our Cooking School. Learn about Vietnamese herbs and spices, local ingredients, and the art of food decoration. The chef will demonstrate how to prepare some of Vietnam’s most delicious dishes. You will have the opportunity to learn how to create your meals under the chef’s guidance. Enjoy a delicious home-cooked meal of Vietnamese and Hoi An specialties. In the afternoon, visit one of Hoi An’s famous lantern workshops and learn how to make one yourself before setting out on a walking tour to explore this World Heritage Site. Highlights include an ancient merchant house, the Phuc Kien Assembly Hall, the 400-year-old Japanese Covered Bridge, and the vibrant riverside market.
Hoi An has excellent places to eat and drink. Street vendors, restaurants scattered throughout town pack with their local specialties. Our dine-around experience is an ideal way to taste some of the best fares the city has to offer. In the evening, our guide will take us to local restaurants to discover delicious and authentic local dishes. Enjoy local snacks and its atmosphere before moving on for your main course at a European-style café with its terrace overlooking the Thu Bon River.
HOI AN/HUE (B/L/D)
After breakfast, depart for the ancient capital of Hue on a coastal drive via the cloudy pass and the photogenic village of Lang Co. Upon arrival, transfer to the hotel.
In the evening, enjoy our dinner in a restaurant nestled in an orchid garden, renowned for its collection of rare “Bleu de Hue” ceramics and traditional Hue glassware. Enjoy traditional Hue dishes, which is considered by many to be Vietnam’s finest cuisine.
Take a morning boat cruise on the peaceful Perfume River to visit the Thien Mu Pagoda. Then, tour the magnificent Imperial Citadel. In the afternoon, hop aboard a cyclo and take a trip through the historic Hue, the last imperial capital of Vietnam. We will explore the city’s charms as you ride through alleyways, taste local street foods, and learn the history of central Vietnamese cuisine.
Transfer to the airport for your flight to Hanoi, the Vietnamese capital. Upon arrival, meet your guide for your transfer to the hotel.
Tonight, we discover the historical sites and delectable bites of Hanoi’s Old Quarter on a walking tour. Accompanied by your guide, we take a cyclo ride to the Old Quarter, observe the unique architecture as your driver pedals your cyclo behind you. Tempt your taste buds as we make stops to sample different street foods such as Bun Cha (Vietnamese Meatballs), Nom Bo Kho (Dried beef salad), Banh Cuon (Rice-flour crêpes filled with a luscious mix of pork, mushrooms and topped with fried shallots). We wander past street stalls and quiet residential lanes where you can observe local life that has changed little over 1000 years ago. Our next two snack stops are an outdoor barbeque stall. We sit down with the locals and sample various meat, vegetable, and bread specialties that are flame grilled over hot coals for extra flavor. 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 ice and condensed milk. This specialty is one that you do not want to miss. We then continue to a hidden street food restaurant that serves the best Vietnamese Sandwich (Banh Mi) and famous Egg Coffee. At the end of the trip, you are free to continue exploring the area, or our guide will take you back to your hotel.
Our morning sightseeing in Hanoi begins with a visit to the Temple of Literature with its walled courtyards and graceful gateways. Founded in 1070 and dedicated to Confucius, this was also the site of Vietnam’s first university. Visit the Ba Dinh Square, a famous complex of the cultural and historic site, including the mausoleum of Ho Chi Minh, the Presidential Palace, and Ho Chi Minh’s Stilt House. Continue to the infamous Hoa Lo Prison built by the French to imprison political prisoners, Hoa Lo was sardonically nicknamed the Hanoi Hilton during the Vietnam War by American POWs. This afternoon is free at leisure.
HANOI/HALONG BAY CRUISE (B/L/D)
Depart the city in the morning and head to the seaside port of Halong Bay. Board a traditional junk boat and get acquainted with the facilities onboard as we set sail and cruise into the bay. The cruise continues cruising through a fishing village on the bay and passes the spectacular limestone caves dotted around the bay. Soak up the sun on the top deck with optional onboard activities: sunbathing and photo opportunities. In the evening, the chef will prepare a splendid meal comprised of fresh seafood and other traditional dishes.
HALONG BAY/HANOI (B)
Start the day early for a tai chi session on deck as the sun rises, followed by breakfast in the restaurant. Spend the morning cruising through the limestone cliffs and emerald waters of Ha Long Bay before returning to the wharf. Disembark and drive back to Hanoi. The remainder of the day is at leisure.
HANOI DEPARTURE (B)
Transfer to the airport for your flight back home.
Meals: B= Breakfast L= Lunch D= Dinner
Per person, based on double occupancy