Vietnam is world-famous for its delicious cuisine, and you'll sample the best of it on this 13-day foodie adventure. Eat your way throughout the country, starting at the ice cream shops and street-food vendors in Hanoi and finishing at themed restaurants in Ho Chi Minh City. Along the way, you'll take cooking classes and sightseeing tours, and explore the beautiful scenery in Ha Long Bay and the Mekong Delta.


  • Let a local food blogger show you the best street foods in Hanoi
  • Take three hands-on cooking classes that are taught by respected chefs
  • Stay overnight on a cruise in the UNESCO-listed Ha Long Bay
  • Boat through a maze of canals in the Mekong Delta followed by a bicycle ride
  • Explore Ho Chi Minh City's back alley cafés and street markets on a Vespa 

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Hanoi, Explore Hanoi
Day 2 Morning Sightseeing Tour, Afternoon Foodie Tour Hanoi
Day 3 Master Chef Cooking Class Hanoi
Day 4 Transfer to Ha Long Bay, Overnight Cruise Ha Long Bay
Day 5 Morning Cruise, Transfer to Hanoi Hanoi
Day 6 Fly to Hue, Explore Hue
Day 7 Celebrity Chef Cooking Class, Afternoon Sightseeing Tour Hue
Day 8 Transfer to Hoi An, Walking Tour Hoi An
Day 9 Red Bridge Cooking Class Hoi An
Day 10 Free Day in Hoi An Hoi An
Day 11 Fly to Ho Chi Minh City, Vespa Street Food Tour Ho Chi Minh City
Day 12 Day Trip to the Mekong Delta, Dining in the Dark Ho Chi Minh City
Day 13 Depart Ho Chi Minh City  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in Hanoi, Explore

Walk around Hanoi's Old Quarter and look for fresh fruit vendors
Welcome to Vietnam! Upon arrival in Hanoi, the country's historic capital, a driver will pick you up at the airport and transfer you to your hotel in the city. After checking in, head right back out and kick off this grand Vietnam food adventure on a self-guided tour.
A great place to start is Hanoi's Old Quarter, where you can wander its charming narrow streets on foot or ride around on a cyclo (three-wheeled bicycle taxi). Besides its numerous textile shops and cafés, the Old Quarter is a great place to indulge in Hanoi's famous street food. Try staple dishes like bun cha (grilled pork with rice noodles) or pho (noodle soup). Then treat yourself to an egg coffee and visit the long-standing ice-cream shop Trang Tien, which serves up delicious and unusual flavors like rice and taro. 

Consider ending the day with one of Vietnam's more unique theatrical performances: a water puppet show. This cultural expression dates back over 1,000 years, having originated in the rice fields of the Red River Delta. Afterward, return to your hotel.

Day 2: Morning Sightseeing Tour, Afternoon Foodie Tour

Visit Hanoi's One Pillar Pagoda, which dates back to the 11th century

This morning kicks off with a half-day tour of Hanoi where you're sure to work up an appetite. First, your guide will take you to a coffee shop in the Old Quarter that is popular with local Hanoians. From there, you'll visit the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum, which houses the embalmed body of revolutionary leader "Uncle Ho," who died in 1969. Continue to the One Pillar Pagoda, an 11th-century Buddhist temple regarded as the most unique pagoda in Asia due to its lotus-flower design perched on a stone pillar rising out of a pond.

Nearby is Ho Chi Minh's House, a traditional stilt house where Ho Chi Minh lived and worked. Some of his belongings are on display, and visitors can tour his bedroom. Continue to the Temple of Literature, Vietnam's first national university, which was built in the late 11th century. This impressive temple is an example of well-preserved traditional Vietnamese architecture and is still a place where students come to pray for academic success.

In the early afternoon, meet up with a local food blogger for a mouth-watering tour of Hanoi. Start at Thanh Ha Market, where you'll browse food stalls and try local delicacies. Next is Dong Xuan Market, famed for its noodle shops. Here you'll sample treats like pho sot vang (noodle soup with pork and herbs) and bun dau (tofu soup with rice noodles). Back in the Old Quarter, sample the preserved fruits on Hang Cot Street before ending the tour at a café where you can relax with a beverage while doing some people-watching.

Day 3: Master Chef Cooking Class

Cooking Class with a Master Chef
Select your own fresh produce from a local market in Hanoi

Today you'll continue your Vietnamese culinary journey with a cooking lesson from an esteemed professional chef. This four-hour cooking workshop begins in the morning with a one-hour walk around a local market to shop for fresh produce right alongside Hanoi locals. As you shop, your guide will teach you the secrets to selecting the best fruits and vegetables as well as which items to pair with specific dishes.

Afterward, continue to the home of Mrs. Ai, who is your expert chef and instructor for the day. You'll cook alongside Mrs. Ai, learning how to blend spices and ingredients to create the perfect harmony of flavors that Vietnam is known for. When the class is over, everyone will sit down to a home-cooked lunch served alongside Vietnamese specialties prepared by the chef. 

Day 4: Transfer to Ha Long Bay, Overnight Cruise

Cruise around the UNESCO-listed Ha Long Bay and visit a secret cove

In the morning, meet your guide for the four-hour drive east to the coast and Ha Long Bay. Located on the Gulf of Tonkin, over 1,000 karst islets rise above jade waters and resemble the spine of some mythological creature ("ha long" translates to "descending dragon"). The unique beauty of this region is unlike anywhere in the world and thus has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Upon arrival at the marina, you'll board a multi-level cruise ship for an overnight tour. After settling into your cabin, head up to the deck, where a delicious seafood lunch awaits. Then you can spend hours relaxing on the sun deck as the ship sails across glassy emerald waters to the most secluded corners of the bay. Later that afternoon, you'll stop at a secret cove for a swim and a kayak trip to explore hidden beaches and grottoes.

Then return to the ship and participate in activities organized by the cruise team. After dinner on the boat, you can spend the remainder of the evening relaxing. Or, if you like, head out on a small boat for some night fishing with the locals.

Day 5: Morning Cruise, Transfer to Hanoi

Catch a memorable sunrise over Ha Long Bay before breakfast
Plan your trip to Vietnam
Chat with a local specialist who can help organize your trip.
Wake up early this morning and catch the first light of day on the bay—truly a pinch-me-now moment. Then sit down and enjoy breakfast in the open air as you cruise around towering karst islets. The rest of the morning is free for you to relax and enjoy the views or partake in optional activities, like kayaking around Ha Long Bay's famous floating villages.
In the early afternoon, you'll sit down for lunch before disembarking at the marina. From here, you'll transfer back to Hanoi. 

Day 6: Fly to Hue, Explore

Sample Hue's local street food specialties on a self-guided tour
After breakfast, you'll transfer to the airport in Hanoi where you'll catch a 1.5-hour flight south to Hue. This historic city sits on the banks of the Perfume River and is most famous for its walled citadel, which was the imperial capital of Vietnam during the Nguyen dynasty from 1802 to 1945. Upon arrival at the airport, a driver will pick you up and transfer you to your hotel in the city. 
Like in Hanoi, you'll then have the rest of the day free to explore Hue at your own pace on a self-guided tour. Take a scenic walk along the Perfume River and stop at one of the town's many cozy coffee shops, or go shopping at the famous Dong Ba market, where you can find a large variety of souvenirs and street food. Hue is a prime foodie destination, so be sure to sample some of the local specialties such as bun bo Hue (beef noodle soup), lemongrass skewers, and banh khoai (crispy pancake).

Day 7: Celebrity Chef Cooking Class, Afternoon Sightseeing Tour

Learn cooking tips and tricks from a local celebrity chef
You're in for a treat this morning because you'll meet Ms. Nhu Huy, a star of the Vietnamese culinary scene. She is the author of several cookbooks, the head of cooking departments at various universities, and a television star in both Vietnam and London. During this four-hour master class, Ms. Nhu Huy will lead you to local markets where you'll learn how to select the best local produce. Then visit her home where you'll get a private hands-on cooking class as you learn to prepare traditional Hue cuisine. At the end of the experience, sit down to enjoy the dishes you've made.
Next, walk off lunch during a guided tour around Hue. The first stop is at the Imperial City where the former kings of Vietnam's last feudal dynasty ruled for nearly 150 years. You and your guide will enter this UNESCO World Heritage Site through the towering main gate, and the historic architecture will immediately make you feel like you've stepped back in time. During the tour, you'll also visit impressive royal mausoleums dating to the 19th century, like the Tu Duc Royal Tomb and Khai Dinh Royal Tomb

Day 8: Transfer to Hoi An, Walking Tour

Your driver will make scenic stops along the Hai Van Pass for photos

A driver will pick you up at your hotel this morning for the 2.5-hour ride south from Hue down the coast to Hoi An. During this 13-mile (21 km) trip, you'll drive over the magnificent Hai Van Pas. Also known as the "Cloudy Pass" due to the great tufts of white that often settle on these coastal mountains, the viewpoints on clear days are incredible. This is a leisurely drive and you'll make plenty of stops to snap pictures of the coastal vistas.

After checking in to your hotel in Hoi An, you'll embark on a three-hour walking tour. Sitting on the Thu Bon River, this city was a major trading port with the west from the 15th through the 19th centuries. Its international legacy is seen in the various architectural styles in Hoi An's Ancient Town. As you stroll its pedestrian-only streets, you'll pass highlights like the 16th-century Japanese Covered Bridge and the 19th-century Assembly Hall of the Chaozhou Chinese Congregation.

Day 9: Red Bridge Cooking Class

Cooking Class at the Red Bridge Cooking School
Boat to the Red Bridge Cooking School and learn how to make Hoi An dishes 

Continue your culinary odyssey today with a cooking class that celebrates Hoi An's world-famous cuisine. It begins around 8 am with a stop for coffee at the Hai Café followed by a visit to Hoi An's buzzing local market. Browse the vendor stalls and chat with locals as you select the requisite ingredients for the class. Next, board a boat for a leisurely cruise along the Thu Bon River as you leave the city behind and travel along the green countryside.

Eventually, you'll arrive at the Red Bridge Cooking School. Before the two-hour cooking class begins, visit the school's herb garden to learn all about the ingredients used in Vietnam's signature dishes. The expert Red Bridge chefs will then teach you how to make typical Hoi An dishes, which may include fried spring rolls, beef salad, and grilled fish cooked in banana leaves. You'll also get a brief introduction to Vietnamese plate decoration, which involves complex vegetable carving. The class ends with lunch comprised of the meal you've just cooked. 

Day 10: Free Day in Hoi An

Hoi An's quiet streets are ideal for exploring on two wheels
Today is yours to enjoy Hoi An however you like. Enjoy a leisurely walk or rent a bicycle for a ride along the quiet streets (motorized vehicles are banned in the city). Later, perhaps get measured for a custom-made outfit (Hoi An is famous for its expert tailors), or head to one of the city's nearby white-sand beaches. For dinner, try local dishes such as com hen (sauteed clams), nem lui (ground pork), and cao lau (pork and greens).

Day 11: Fly to Ho Chi Minh City, Vespa Street Food Tour

Zip around Ho Chi Minh City on a Vespa and sample street food

Today your driver will pick you up at the hotel for the one-hour ride north to the airport in Da Nang. There, catch a 1.5-hour flight south to Ho Chi Minh City. Upon arrival, another driver will pick you up and transfer you to your hotel. Vietnam's largest metropolis (it's home to over 10 million people) is fascinating in that it has managed to preserve its cultural roots and traditions in the face of a communist revolution, a devastating war, and ever-encroaching modernity. 

After settling into your hotel, you'll meet a local guide and hop on a Vespa for a mobile food tour. The first stop is at a bakery to try fresh bread before heading to a vintage coffee shop tucked in a back alley. Continue zipping along the city streets to a night market filled with food and drink stalls. Your guide will then lead you to an off-the-beaten-path restaurant for multiple courses featuring the freshest seafood in the city. End the night at a cozy local bar for beers and craft cocktails while chatting with friendly locals. 

Day 12: Day Trip to the Mekong Delta, Dining in the Dark

Ride a motorboat in the Mekong Delta and observe local life

Rise and shine! Today you'll leave the city at 8 am for a full-day tour around the Mekong Delta. At the pier, hop in a motorboat and head off down the Ben Tre River to the famous Cai Be Floating Market, where vendors ply the waters selling everything from fresh produce to flowers right from their boats. Then leave the main waterways and venture down smaller canals for a relaxing ride. You'll pass fish farms and see locals milling about along the banks as you go. The next stop will be at An Binh, an islet famous for its fruit orchards.

You'll have lunch at a local heritage house followed by a stroll around the orchards as you sip a cup of tea. Continue touring the village here, stopping at a workshop that makes artisanal items like rice paper and coconut candy. You can also embark on a bicycle ride passing schools, churches, traditional homes, pagodas, and gorgeous countryside. Then, visit brick kilns to see how the locals create beautiful clay pottery. Afterward, you'll meet a car for the ride back to Ho Chi Minh City.

Later, when the sun goes down, head out for a very special dinner: Dining in the Dark. The name says it all, as here you'll enjoy a meal in total darkness as you're waited on by blind or visually impaired servers. This is no gimmick; the goal of removing sight from the environment is to maximize your other senses. As you enjoy the multicourse menu, you'll notice your sense of smell is heightened, your sense of touch more intuitive, and your sense of taste more acute. It's a concept that plays with perception to maximize this one-of-a-kind dining experience.

Day 13: Depart Ho Chi Minh City

Fit in one more Vietnamese coffee at a café visit before departure

The day has come to say goodbye to Vietnam! Head to a local café if you have time for one more Vietnamese coffee. At the appointed hour, a driver will pick you up for the ride to Ho Chi Minh City airport where you'll catch your departing flight. Safe travels!

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Looking for more inspiration for your trip to Vietnam? Check out these other Vietnam itineraries, explore more ways to spend 13 days in Vietnam, or discover the best time to visit Vietnam.

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Map of Vietnam Culinary Tour - 13 Days
Map of Vietnam Culinary Tour - 13 Days
Written by Hien Do, updated Mar 15, 2023