From £2,065 pp incl. UK flights
Vietnam is a gourmet’s paradise pulling together all that is good in South East Asian cuisine. North, South and Central Vietnam have very distinct culinary traditions and this variety makes the holiday so rewarding. Our gourmet tour encompasses each region, incorporating cultural highlights, cooking classes, and memorable meals in gourmet restaurants along the way as you visit four of the best areas of this unique country.
As with all our tours this be broken up into bite size chunks or adapted to include other elements, countries or beach. Please just call to discuss.
Day 1: Depart on a choice of overnight flights from the UK to Saigon (Ho Chi Minh City)
Day 2: Arrive Saigon (3 nights). Private transfer to your choice of hotel, rest of the day free to settle in
Day 3: Morning Cooking Course at renowned Saigon Cookery School. Afternoon private city tour
Day 4: Mekong Delta tour with boat ride through the spider web of canals watching delta life float by
Day 5: Fly to Hoi An (2 nights). Introduction to local street food & private walking tour of Hoi An's historic streets
Day 6: Market tour, short river cruise and cookery lesson with lunch at beautiful colonial villa.
Day 7: Short flight to Hanoi (2 nights). Afternoon cookery course and dinner at the iconic Sofitel Metropole.
Day 8: Hanoi City tour and evening Street Eats and Market tour
Day 9: Overnight flight home
Day 10: Arrive home.
Day 1: UK Airport / Saigon (Ho Chi Minh City)
Depart on a choice of overnight flights to Saigon.
Day 2: Arrive Saigon
On arrival you’ll be met by your private guide and transferred to the city centre where you check-in to your choice of hotel for 3 nights. The rest of the day is free to relax or get your first taste of this vibrant city. Tonight if you would like to venture out your guide will be happy to recommend a local restaurant.
You’ll generally find the food far spicier and sweeter in the south due to the Thai / Khmer influence and the availability of more varied ingredients including sugar cane, coconut milk and chilies. Dining in the south is very much a hands-on experience. You’ll be presented with a plate of fresh lettuce and herbs. Take a little of the cooked food and place it in the centre of a leaf, add some of the herbs and wrap the lettuce around the food, dipping it into whatever sauce is close at hand.
Day 3: Saigon - Morning Cookery Course and Afternoon City Tour (B / L)
Today your first foray into Vietnamese cookery at the renowned Saigon Cookery Centre. It will include a tour of a local market where the chef will teach you how to recognise and use the key ingredients that form the base of southern Vietnamese cuisine. Back in the school under the guidance of a professional chef you will prepare a Vietnamese meal with traditional cooking tools, which are very important to the way locals live their life. Then get together and enjoy the feast you’ve created!
After a suitable lunch break your guide will pick you up for a private guided tour of vibrant, cosmopolitan Saigon. Highlights include the Reunification Palace, War Remnants Museum, History Museum, Jade Emporer Pagoda, Notre Dame Cathedral, Qua, An Pagoda and Phuoc An Hoi Quan Pagoda. This evening your guide would be happy to make dinner arrangements if required.
Day 4: Saigon - Mekong Delta Tour with boat ride (B / L)
This morning you’ll be collected and driven south to the Mekong Delta to board a local boat at Ben Tre. This less-visited area of the Mekong is home to luxuriant vegetation and lush coconut islands as well as orchards and rice paddies. Visit a local coconut processing enterprise where this vital fruit is treated in the age-old way to separate oil, flesh and husk to be used variously in coconut oil, coconut matting and coconut candy.
After the boat ride you will be taken on a short walk to a small village to see mat weavers at work, before jumping on the delta’s version of a tuk tuk to travel down the country roads to the pier. Here you board a beautiful teak boat and continue your cruise along the river. Whilst on board join in a demonstration of Vietnamese cooking before sitting down to a sumptuous three-course lunch of Mekong specialities. After lunch relax on the top deck and watch river life pass you by. Cruise back to Ben Tre where you are met and transferred back to Saigon by early evening.
Day 5: Fly Saigon / Hoi An - Private Guided Walking Tour of Old Town
This morning transferred to the airport for the short flight up to Hoi An, on Vietnam’s central coast. On arrival met and transferred to the town for 3 nights at your choice of hotel.
After lunch your guide will rejoin you for a private walking tour of Hoi An’s Old Town. Beautifully preserved and car free, you can leisurely explore the historic streets, watching local artisans at work with silk, ceramics, paint and wood. Hoi An is famous for its tailoring heritage and is a popular place to have a little something run up.
Historical highlights include the Chua Ong Pagoda dating back to 1653, the Jinshang Temple that is dedicated to the goddess of the sea and the protector of sailors, Tam Ky House a 200 year old ancestral house and the 17th century covered bridge built by Japanese craftsmen and is a major landmark of Hoi An. The historic streets also house some beautifully atmospheric restaurants and this evening we recommend that you come back for dinner, when the town is lit by lantern light.
Day 6: Hoi An - Cooking School at The Red Bridge Restaurant (B / L)
Start the day (8am) with a welcome drink at Hai Café, a Landmark building within the Old Town. Then travel by minivan (10 mins) to the peaceful Tra Que Organic Village for a guided walk through the market gardens which are still farmed using traditional methods, with no electrical machinery. Here pick local herbs, such saw-tooth coriander and Vietnamese mint for your cooking class later, before trying a traditional herbal drink at a local’s home.
Then it’s off to the local village market to purchase the ingredients needed for lunch, including star anise, cardamom, sesame rice paper, water spinach and banana flower. Back in the kitchen the chef will take you through a range of traditional ways he prepares and cooks Vietnamese cuisine from scratch. Using the freshest ingredients and traditional Vietnamese utensils (still in use today) you will cook and enjoy 4 famous dishes, including the national dish ‘Pho’. This is an informal, fun, hands on experience. After lunch enjoy and leisurely cruise (25 minutes) along the Hoi An River back to central Hoi An.
In Central Vietnam the imperial past has influenced the predilection for meals made up of many small more intricate dishes which are often spicy.
Extra…..From the 4th to the 14th Century, Central Vietnam was dominated by the Champa royal dynasties and set in jungle 65kms from Hoi San is My Son the religious centre of the kingdom. Although bombed by the Americans during the war it remains one of the most stunning sights in the area. A great half day tour.
Day 7: Fly Hoi An / Hanoi - Afternoon Cooking Course (B / D)
Morning airport transfer and flight up to Hanoi. On arrival you’ll be met by your private guide and transferred to the city centre where you check in to your choice of hotel for 2 nights.
This afternoon head to your final lesson and it doesn’t get much better than this, as you join a cooking class organised by the Chef of the historic Sofitel Metropole in Hanoi, which traditionally serves French and Vietnamese cuisine. The whole experience starts with a market visit followed by a cooking demonstration in the hotel kitchen in which you are encouraged to join in. After the lesson relax and enjoy what we hope is a delicious dinner.
In the north you’ll feel China’s influence with the popularity of noodle, stir fries and stews. Fewer spices are available, but the people couldn’t do without black pepper. Equally important are the sweet and pungent herbs – basil, mint, coriander and several other tasty leaves.
Day 8: Hanoi - City & Street Eats and Market Tour (B / L / D)
This morning your private guide will collect you for a tour of the city. The day kicks off at Ho Chi Minh’s mausoleum where you join thousands of Vietnamese as they pay their respects filing past in solemn silence. The complex is also home to his stilt-house, the Presidential Palace and One Pillar Pagoda. You will also visit the Temple of Literature, a temple to Confucius and Vietnam's first university dating back to 1070. Lunch will be in a local restaurant.
In the afternoon start with the Museum of Ethnology that is widely acknowledged as the best in the country, with an extensive display dedicated to Vietnam’s 54 ethnic minority people. Next, is the Ngoc Son temple set on a tiny island on the picturesque Hoan Kiem Lake and how it got its name from a legend of an emperor, a magic sword and a giant turtle. Back in the Old Quarter enjoy an hour’s exploration aboard a cyclo (Vietnamese cycle rickshaw). Also known as the 36 streets, this bustling warren of narrow streets is home to thousands of small businesses, including galleries, craft shops and restaurants. The afternoon finishes off with the famous Vietnamese water puppet show. You will return to your hotel late afternoon.
Back at the hotel by 4pm and then early evening your guide will collect you for the Street Eats and Market Tour. With food stalls on every corner Hanoi is famous for its street food cuisine and Bia Hoi, a draft beer that is brewed daily and sold on street corners. Start your evening at ‘Bia Hoi corner’; pull up a stool to taste the local brew and do a spot of people watching. Then walk through the bustling streets of the Old Quarter as your guide introduces you to the various foods on offer. Stop at one of the many pop up restaurants and try a Vietnamese barbeque of flame grilled meats, tofu and vegetables on skewers just like the locals. End the evening with a walk along Hoan Kiem Lake for dessert at Hanoi’s most famous ice-cream street.
Day 9: Hanoi (B) / UK Airport
Morning free then airport transfer and flight home. Arrive back in UK the following morning.
Each featured itinerary is really a starting point from which to create your ideal holiday.
We can include as much or as little as you like, mix and match hotels, excursions and experiences, add extra nights and change the destinations you'd like to visit.
The common thread is that each is a privately guided holiday, allowing you to travel where and when you want, with your own private transport and dedicated guide.
- Return scheduled international flights (optional if you would like to arrange your own)
- English speaking, local guide & driver
- Choice of hotel accommodation
- Transport in private air-conditioned vehicles
- Domestic flights detailed in itinerary
- Admission fees to all attractions, temples and activities as mentioned in the itinerary
- All meals as detailed (B = breakfast, L = lunch, D = dinner)
- Entry visas (if applicable)
- Optional Tours / Excursions
- Any meals not listed in the itinerary
- Personal expenses
- Tips for Guides / Drivers (discretionary)
- Travel insurance
- Any camera or video fees charged at sites
The hotels below are there as examples, designed to act as a starting point from which to create your holiday. There are plenty of alternatives to choose from and when we quote we will include other suggestions so we get to understand your likes and dislikes. Quite often clients mix and match hotel categories throughout their holiday.
Hotels in Saigon (Ho Chi Minh City)
A mix of grand colonial buildings and modern luxuries make Saigon a fantastic place to stay
Hotels in Hoi An
Hoi An is a stunningly atmospheric UNESCO town that doubles as a beach resort
Hotels in Hanoi
Choose from a wide range hotels in the energetic & authentic Capital