Perfect for avowed foodies and aspiring chefs, this hands-on, 8-day itinerary introduces you to the many flavors of Vietnam. Seek out the best banh mi sandwiches in Hanoi, savor freshly caught seafood on Ha Long Bay, and learn to cook the perfect bowl of pho in Hoi An. Search for Ho Chi Minh City's best street food by scooter, then head into the Mekong Delta for a peaceful day trip of floating markets and countryside cycling.

Highlights

  • Learn to cook Vietnamese classics at the Hanoi Cooking Center
  • Take an overnight cruise through the magical Ha Long Bay
  • Sample street food on Hoi An's lantern-lit riverfront 
  • Experience the colorful floating market of Cai Be

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Hanoi, Evening Street Food Tour Hanoi
Day 2 Transfer to Ha Long, Overnight Cruise to Bai Tu Long Bay Ha Long Bay
Day 3 Disembark from Cruise, Return to Hanoi Hanoi
Day 4 Hanoi Cooking Class, Transfer to Hoi An Hoi An
Day 5 Red Bridge School Cooking Class & Street Food Walking Tour Hoi An
Day 6 Transfer to Ho Chi Minh City, Night Life & Street Food Scooter Tour Ho Chi Minh City
Day 7 Mekong Delta Day Trip: Floating Market & Island Cycling Tour Ho Chi Minh City
Day 8 Depart Ho Chi Minh City  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in Hanoi, Evening Street Food Tour

Get to know Hanoi tonight with a street food tour

Xin chào and welcome to Hanoi! Vietnam's capital is a mix of the old and the new—a metropolis defined by the endearing contradictions of a rapidly developing yet deeply traditional society. Here glimmering modern buildings sit alongside the French colonial Old Quarter in the city's historic heart. Rarely at rest, the kinetic energy of Hanoi's motorbike-packed streets spills over into the outdoor markets, Hang Gai silk shops, curbside banh mi vendors, and an eclectic nightlife scene. 

Upon arrival, your private driver will be waiting to whisk you to your hotel to settle in and rest up. As dusk falls, meet your guide and head to the Old Quarter for a delicious evening of culinary exploration. Stroll through the historic district's hidden lanes, savoring the city's best street food. Try local favorites like pho sot vang (noodle soup with pork and herbs), banh beo (steamed rice cakes), and of course, the famous banh mi sandwich.

Day 2: Transfer to Ha Long, Overnight Cruise to Bai Tu Long Bay

Cruise through the fantastical karst islets of Ha Long Bay
After breakfast, hop in a shuttle bus bound for the coastal retreat and fishing community of Ha Long Bay. This UNESCO World Heritage Site is one of the world's great natural wonders, located in a dramatic setting where the land meets the Gulf of Tonkin. Over a thousand limestone islets rise above the tranquil emerald waters, creating a fantastical and otherworldly landscape. Legend says the islands originated as precious jewels sprayed into the water by a great dragon.

Upon arrival, board your ship and depart for an unforgettable overnight tour of the bay. Enjoy a seafood lunch while cruising to the magical Bai Tu Long Bay. Stop for a swim and visit its mysterious cave, then relax on a secluded island beach or explore by kayak. Return to the boat in time for a spectacular sunset from the top deck. Sample some of the bay's freshest seafood for dinner and fall asleep to the gentle rocking of the waves.

Day 3: Disembark from Cruise, Return to Hanoi

A fruit seller rowing in Ha Long Bay
Early risers can enjoy this morning's sunrise and the quiet, breathtaking beauty of Ha Long Bay. Have breakfast on deck before setting out on a short rowboat tour of the bay. After lunch, you'll cruise back to the pier and hit the road back to Hanoi. Stop along the way to see a delightful outdoor puppet show at Yen Duc village—an ancient art that dates back to the 11th century. Continue to the city and your hotel, where you'll have the rest of the evening at your leisure.

Day 4: Hanoi Cooking Class, Transfer to Hoi An

Hoi An's Old Town at dusk
This morning, you'll be picked up at your hotel for an introduction to Vietnamese cuisine at the Hanoi Cooking Center. After a welcome tea, take a short walk to Chau Long Market with your chef and learn about the local products and Vietnam's market culture. Return to the center and participate in a hands-on cooking class, learning how to recreate the local specialties at home. At the end of the class, move to the adjoining restaurant to enjoy your own dishes accompanied by local Hanoi beer and wine.
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Afterward, you'll transfer to the airport for an afternoon flight to Da Nang. On arrival, a private transfer takes you to the historic town of Hoi An, located 19 miles (30 km) from the airport. Check into your hotel and take some free time to relax. You can get your bearings and your first look at the town with an evening stroll around the Old Quarter. Hoi An has a charming, fairy tale atmosphere after dark, as the streets fill with colorful lanterns and fragrant street food.

Day 5: Red Bridge School Cooking Class & Street Food Walking Tour

Visit a local market for ingredients used in today's cooking class
Today's gastronomic adventure starts with a trip to Tra Que Organic Village, where you'll pick ingredients like sawtooth coriander, Vietnamese mint, star anise, cardamom, and sesame rice paper from the local gardens and market. Continue to the Red Bridge Cooking School to learn how to cook traditional Vietnamese food from scratch. Prepare classic favorites like pho (beef noodle soup), cha cha (clay pot fish with fresh dill), and tom nuong la chuoi (lemongrass shrimp grilled in banana leaves). After the class, sit down to a delicious lunch and savor the dishes you prepared. 

After lunch, a scenic, half-hour river cruise takes you back to central Hoi An, where you'll continue to explore this ancient, UNESCO-listed town. Wander the charming streets and visit highlights like the Japanese Covered Bridge, the Chinese Assembly Halls, Phuoc Kien Pagoda, and the Sa Huynh Museum. As night falls, sample some of the town's best street food, like cao lau noodles, rice pancakes, and grilled meat rolls. Finish the evening with a glass of traditional Vietnamese coffee before strolling back to your hotel.

Day 6: Transfer to Ho Chi Minh City, Night Life & Street Food Scooter Tour

A banh mi stall in Ho Chi Minh City
After a final morning in Hoi An, your driver will transfer you to the airport to catch your flight south to the energetic metropolis of Ho Chi Minh City. Despite a turbulent history, the city has retained its fascinating mix of Asian and western traditions, with French colonial landmarks rubbing shoulders with 21st-century skyscrapers. Get checked into your hotel and rest up—then head out at nightfall to explore some of the city's off-the-beaten-path culinary hotspots.
 
Travel like a local on the back of a scooter as you weave through the chaotic traffic and narrow alleys to reach your first stop, where you'll sample fresh seafood dishes like steamed clams with lemongrass. Continue to a little-known banh xeo stall for exquisite pancakes and southern Vietnamese flavors, then stroll down a popular street food alley to sip an avocado smoothie with coconut ice cream. End your tour in a hidden coffee shop for live music and an authentic taste of Saigon nightlife.  

Day 7: Mekong Delta Day Trip: Floating Market & Island Cycling Tour

Take a tranquil day trip into the Mekong Delta 
Take a day trip into the lush countryside of the Mekong Delta today, starting with a transfer to the famous floating market of Cai Be. This colorful marketplace draws hundreds of boats to trade and sell fresh produce, and it's an unmissable highlight of the region as well as a fabulous photo-op. Continue to Tan Phong Island to browse beautifully-crafted gifts and souvenirs, then stop at a local home to try a flavorful array of fruits such as longan, pineapple, rambutan, papaya, and jackfruit. 

After a leisurely rowboat trip along a scenic creek, switch to a motorboat and cross the Mekong River to reach An Binh Island. Here you can visit a local home for an authentic cooking class—learning to make Vietnamese pancakes and spring rolls. After lunch, it's time to switch to two wheels and take a relaxed bicycle tour of the island. Pedal past lush landscapes of fruit gardens and charming villages, stopping to watch the locals making pop rice, coconut candy, and rice paper. At the end of your adventure, the boat will drop you off at Cai Be, where a driver awaits to take you back to Ho Chi Minh City.

Day 8: Depart Ho Chi Minh City

Goodbye, Vietnam!

Your journey through Vietnam draws to a close today as you transfer to the airport to catch your departing flight. Safe travels!

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Map

Map of Vietnam Culinary Adventure - 8 Days
Map of Vietnam Culinary Adventure - 8 Days