Feast on Vietnamese culture and cuisine with this 12-day tour. You'll travel from Hanoi to the Mekong Delta, tasting classic Vietnamese dishes along the way. Sample Hanoi's best street food, dine with a celebrity chef in Hoi An, and whiz through Ho Chi Minh City on a Vespa food tour. There's plenty of culture to absorb along the way, whether you're touring Hue's Imperial Citadel, sailing the emerald waters of Ha Long Bay, or learning about Vietnamese war history at the infamous Cu Chi Tunnels.


  • Discover Hanoi's mouthwatering street food and fusion restaurants
  • Sail the tranquil waters of UNESCO-listed Ha Long Bay
  • Immerse yourself in Hue's history and dine with a celebrity chef
  • Learn to cook Vietnamese classics in Hoi An
  • Thrill to a Vespa food tour in Ho Chi Minh City

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Hanoi, Dinner at Ly Club Restaurant Hanoi
Day 2 Guided Half-Day City Tour & Evening Street Food Tour  Hanoi
Day 3 Ba Vi Countryside Eco-Tour Hanoi
Day 4 Transfer to Ha Long Bay, Swim, Kayak & Masterclass Cooking Lesson Ha Long Bay
Day 5 Morning Ha Long Bay Cruise, Return to Hanoi, Fly to Hue Hue
Day 6 Hue City Tour, Plus Khai Dinh Tomb & Dinner with a Celebrity Chef Hue
Day 7 Transfer to Hoi An, Afternoon Walking Tour Hoi An
Day 8 Cooking Class at the Red Bridge Cooking School Hoi An
Day 9 Transfer to Ho Chi Minh City, Guided Tour Ho Chi Minh City
Day 10 Cu Chi Tunnels & Ho Chi Minh City Vespa Food Tour Ho Chi Minh City
Day 11 Day Trip to the Mekong Delta Ho Chi Minh City
Day 12 Depart Ho Chi Minh City  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in Hanoi, Dinner at Ly Club Restaurant

Explore pagodas and rooftop bars on Tày Ho ("West Lake")

Welcome to Vietnam! After checking into your hotel, spend the rest of the day exploring the labyrinthine streets of Hanoi's Old Quarter by foot or on a three-wheeled cyclo. For lunch, head to Bun Cha Huong Lien to try the beloved Hanoian dish bun cha (noodle soup with grilled pork). This restaurant's interpretation of the dish is so famous that it's served guests like Barack Obama and Anthony Bourdain. Sip cocktails on the Pan Pacific Hotel's rooftop bar and soak in sunset views over Tày Ho ("West Lake") to wrap up your afternoon in style.

This evening, you'll have dinner at the Ly Club Restaurant in an ornate French villa built in the early 20th century. Dine on an innovative fusion menu of Vietnamese-meets-Western cuisine against a backdrop of Indochina architectural design. Try everything from traditional pho (noodle soup) to Hanoi spring rolls and tiger prawn salad. Afterward, transfer back to your hotel for the night.

Day 2: Guided Half-Day City Tour & Evening Street Food Tour 

Hanoi Half-Day Exploration
Follow your guide to Hanoi's best street food

This morning, you'll take a guided tour of Hanoi's top sights, including the Ho Chi Minh Complex, where Vietnam's revered revolutionary leader, Ho Chi Minh, lies embalmed in a mausoleum. Wander the serene grounds to see the humble wooden stilt house where he once lived, as well as the ornate One Pillar Pagoda, which sits in the middle of a lake and resembles Vietnam's national flower, the lotus. Continue to the 11th-century Temple of Literature, Vietnam's first national university.

Meet with a Hanoi food expert for a mouthwatering tour of the capital this evening. Start with a trip to Thanh Ha Market, where you'll browse food stalls, try local delicacies, and learn about Vietnamese culinary culture. Head to Dong Xuan Market, famed for its noodle shops, and sample treats such as pho sot vang (noodle soup with pork and herbs) and bun dau (tofu served in soup with rice noodles and fermented shrimp paste).

Next, move on to the Old Quarter to explore its network of historic laneways. Here, you'll learn about traditional celebrations, stop at ceremonial cake stalls, and taste a French-influenced dessert. Wander along Hang Cot Street, known for its preserved fruits, before ending the tour at a café to sip sweet iced coffee or a slow-dripped hot brew while watching the day-to-day street life unfold.

Day 3: Ba Vi Countryside Eco-Tour

Take a gentle cycle ride through the Vietnamese countryside

Head out of the city this morning for a guided tour of the beautiful Ba Vi countryside. Your first stop is Ri Village, where you'll have welcome drinks and snacks with Mr. Duoc, a Vietnam War veteran and tea plantation owner. Listen to Mr. Duoc's stories about life during the war and visit his workshop and tea plantation, where you'll learn how to pick the best leaves.

Next, you'll take a short drive to Moc Village, where Mrs. Chin will teach you how to cook Vietnamese dishes, which you'll enjoy for lunch in her tropical garden. Join Mrs. Chin for a walk around the village to visit families and learn how to make tofu, conical hats, and other regional products. Finish with a gentle cycle through Vietnam's signature rice paddies, followed by a Muong herbal foot bath, before returning to Hanoi.

Day 4: Transfer to Ha Long Bay, Swim, Kayak & Masterclass Cooking Lesson

Cruising & Kayaking in Ha Long Bay
Cruise the paper-flat waters of Ha Long Bay

This morning, your Ha Long Bay cruise guide will pick you up for the four-hour limousine bus trip to the harbor. Board your ship for an overnight tour of UNESCO-listed Ha Long Bay. Sail across the paper-flat waters, taking in views of over 2,000 limestone karsts steeped in Vietnamese legend. Look for striking formations like the incense-shaped Dinh Huong Islet and Kissing Rock, which appear on the 200,000 Vietnamese dong note.

A delicious seafood lunch onboard awaits, followed by plenty of time to sit on the sun deck as you sail to the most remote corners of the bay. In the afternoon, stop at a secret cove where you can go swimming and kayaking to explore hidden beaches and grottoes. The ship's expert chef will lead a cooking masterclass, teaching you to make specialties like nem (Vietnamese fried spring rolls) for dinner. Spend the evening relaxing or join the locals for a spot of night fishing to end the day.

Day 5: Morning Ha Long Bay Cruise, Return to Hanoi, Fly to Hue

Enjoy a leisurely morning on Ha Long Bay's emerald waters
Plan your trip to Vietnam
Chat with a local specialist who can help organize your trip.
Wake early for breakfast on the ship's deck, watching the sun rise over the emerald waters of Ha Long Bay, deemed one of the New Seven Wonders of Nature. The morning is yours to absorb the view or join optional activities like swimming and kayaking past floating villages and forested islands. You'll sit down to an early lunch before disembarking at the dock to make your way back to Hanoi. From there, you'll fly to Vietnam's former royal capital, Hue, where you'll be transferred straight to your hotel.

Day 6: Hue City Tour, Plus Khai Dinh Tomb & Dinner with a Celebrity Chef

Learn about Hue's history at the Imperial Citadel

Spend today on a guided tour of Hue, starting with a cyclo ride to the moat-encircled Imperial Citadel, home to the powerful Nguyen Dynasty between 1802 and 1945. Tour the remains of this UNESCO World Heritage Site's shrines, pavilions, and palaces with a guide. Continue to Thien Mu, an elegant pagoda and official icon of Hue, which sits on a hill overlooking the Perfume River.

After lunch, travel out of the city to the architecturally-renowned tombs of Hue's former emperors. Begin at Khai Dinh Tomb, which combines Eastern and Western design, featuring giant dragons, murals, and mosaics. Next, visit the Tu Duc Tomb, a complex of pavilions and temples built between 1864 and 1867. No one knows precisely where King Tu Duc is buried, as the servants who laid him to rest were beheaded to keep it a secret. On the way back to Hue, there's an optional stop at a house where they make incense sticks.

End the day by exploring Hue's famous cuisine, a mix of humble street food and sumptuous dishes once served at royal feasts. Your host is Ms. Nhu Huy, a professor, cookbook author, and TV cook in Vietnam and Europe. The prestigious chef will welcome you to her home for a private dinner, where you can taste local dishes and hear fascinating culinary stories.

Day 7: Transfer to Hoi An, Afternoon Walking Tour

Drive the spectacular Hai Van Pass en route to Hoi An

This morning, head three hours south along the coast to the UNESCO World Heritage City of Hoi An. The journey is incredibly scenic and includes traveling over the impressive Hai Van Pass, known as the "Ocean Cloud Pass," for its aerial views over the coast. Ask your driver to make a photo stop along the way.

Upon arrival, you'll explore Hoi An on a half-day walking tour. Strategically located on the Thu Bon River, this peaceful port town attracted settlers worldwide between the 15th and 19th centuries. Today, the city is recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site for its resulting fusion of architecture and culture, which you'll navigate with a guide. The pedestrian-only streets in Hoi An are perfect for a walking tour.

Visit old merchant houses and the 400-year-old Japanese Covered Bridge built to access the Chinese Quarter across the water. Marvel at the intricate woodcarvings in the Assembly Hall of the Chaozhou Chinese Congregation and browse the colorful local market, where stalls brim with local specialties, including silk, which skilled tailors can transform into a custom-made outfit for you in as little as 24 hours.

Day 8: Cooking Class at the Red Bridge Cooking School

Cruise along Hoi An's Thu Bon River to start your cooking class

Sample Hoi An's world-famous cuisine with a cooking class today. Your guide will start the tour early with a drink at the Hai Café before you visit Hoi An's buzzing market. You'll interact with local vendors and shop for the ingredients you'll use later. Next, board a boat for a leisurely cruise along the Thu Bon River, taking in countryside views, to Red Bridge Cooking School.

Before your two-hour cooking class, stop at the school's herb garden to learn about ingredients used in Vietnam's signature dishes. The expert Red Bridge chefs will 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. Finish by feasting on your creations for lunch.

Day 9: Transfer to Ho Chi Minh City, Guided Tour

Visit the Independence Palace, a symbol of the end of the American War

Today, you'll be transferred to Da Nang Airport for your flight south to Ho Chi Minh City. Settle into your hotel and then head out to explore Vietnam's largest metropolis with a half-day tour. You'll discover a city filled with winding alleyways, sprawling markets, and soaring skyscrapers among decorative temples and French colonial landmarks. Visit some architectural highlights, such as Notre Dame Cathedral and the Central Post Office.

Continue your tour at Independence Palace, also known as the Reunification Palace, a symbol of the end of the American War when Ho Chi Minh's tanks stormed the complex in 1975. You can learn more about the conflict at the city's haunting War Remnants Museum. Finish the tour with an introduction to the city's coffee culture and a brief language lesson with your guide.

Day 10: Cu Chi Tunnels & Ho Chi Minh City Vespa Food Tour

Discover the city's best cafés and coffee shops by scooter

Today, you'll learn about Vietnam's war history with a trip to the Cu Chi Tunnels, where the Viet Cong fought American soldiers in the 1960s. Located just northwest of Ho Chi Minh City, this complex of underground passages stretches over 155 miles (250 km) and was a bitter battleground during the war. You'll learn how the Viet Cong used these tunnels as communication routes, storage facilities, hospitals, and living areas for fighters. You'll even crawl through a section to experience the tunnels' narrow dimensions.

Back in Ho Chi Minh, take an exciting Vespa food tour of the city, home to over five million scooters. Hop on the back of your guide's vintage Vespa and set off for a welcome drink at a bar, where you can take in panoramic views of the city's sparkling skyline. Whiz through the alleyways, stopping at restaurants to try everything from Vietnamese pancakes to seafood and spring rolls. Continue to the Acoustic Music Café for drinks and dessert accompanied by local singers. End at a bar to experience Ho Chi Minh City's vibrant nightlife.

Day 11: Day Trip to the Mekong Delta

Barter for produce at the Cai Be Floating Market

Leave the city's bright lights behind today, transferring south to the lush Mekong Delta. This region is known as Vietnam's rice bowl, full of water-logged paddies, mangroves, and sugar cane plantations. Board a boat from Ben Tre to Cai Be Floating Market, a busy wholesale market crowded with vendors selling fresh fruit and vegetables from their boats, with shopkeepers and locals bartering for goods.

Continue on a row boat through narrow canals surrounded by fish farms and rural villages. You'll stop at An Binh Island for lunch at Ut Trinh Homestay. Stroll around the orchard and enjoy tea and traditional music in this local atmospheric house. Walk or cycle around the village and visit workshops along the riverbank where Mekong residents produce goods such as coconut candy, activated charcoal, and pottery. The trip ends with a boat ride to Vinh Long, then a bus back to Ho Chi Minh City.

Day 12: Depart Ho Chi Minh City

Soak up a little more Ho Chi Minh City atmosphere before you fly home
After savoring a delicious Vietnamese breakfast, spend a few hours soaking up the atmosphere in Ho Chi Minh City, perhaps shopping for souvenirs in the markets, before your flight home. Safe travels!

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Map of Culture & Cuisine of Vietnam – 12 Days
Map of Culture & Cuisine of Vietnam – 12 Days
Written by Hien Do, updated Oct 28, 2023