Spend two weeks touring Thailand and Vietnam to discover the cuisine and culture of these pan-Asian powerhouse nations. Your adventure starts in Vietnam's capital of Hanoi, with cooking classes and gourmet dinners, then cruises across Ha Long Bay and visits the river markets in Hoi An. Next, hop over to Thailand for tours of Bangkok, trips to exotic waterfalls, and beach time in Krabi and the Phi Phi Islands.


  • Visit local markets, take cooking classes, and go fishing in Vietnam
  • Tour historic Hanoi, see cultural shows, and dine at gourmet restaurants
  • Go sightseeing in Bangkok and watch a live Thai boxing match
  • Hike to romantic waterfalls and visit World War II sites in Thailand
  • Enjoy the beaches of Krabi and the Phi Phi Islands

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Hanoi (Vietnam), Water Puppet Show Hanoi
Day 2 Hanoi City Tour, Gourmet Dinner at Ly Club Hanoi
Day 3 Day Trip to Ba Vi Countryside & Cooking Class Hanoi
Day 4 Transfer to Ha Long Bay, Overnight Cruise Ha Long Bay
Day 5 Morning Cruise, Fly to Da Nang, Transfer to Hoi An Hoi An
Day 6 Hoi An Market Visit, Basket Boats & Sightseeing Hoi An
Day 7 Fly to Bangkok (Thailand), Optional Activities Bangkok
Day 8 Day Trip to Kanchanaburi & Erawan Waterfalls Bangkok
Day 9 Bangkok Food Tour & Muay Thai Match Bangkok
Day 10 Fly to Krabi, Optional Activities Krabi
Day 11 Full-Day Krabi Island-Hopping Tour Krabi
Day 12 Krabi Free Day: Beaches, Outdoor Adventure & Street Food Krabi
Day 13 Day Trip to Phi Phi Islands Krabi
Day 14 Depart Krabi  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in Hanoi (Vietnam), Water Puppet Show

See ancient history alongside modern city life in Hanoi

Welcome to Vietnam! The first leg of this border-hopping adventure will take you to some of the country's highlights, beginning in Hanoi. Vietnam's capital has quite a history, as it's been settled since as far back as the third century BCE. Thousand of years of civilization means this country claims a profound cultural heritage seen in its cities, towns, and historical landmarks.

After meeting your personal driver at the airport and transferring to your hotel, you'll get to experience this rich culture. The activity in question is a traditional water puppet show. Known as mua roi nuoc in Vietnamese, this cultural expression dates back over 1,000 years, originating in the Red River Delta rice fields. When the fields were flooded, puppeteers used the water's surface as a stage to tell stories with intricately crafted wooden marionettes. The tradition endures today, and you'll witness one such colorful and elaborate performance at a local theater. 

Day 2: Hanoi City Tour, Gourmet Dinner at Ly Club

Visit some of Hanoi's most famous landmarks, like the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum

Leave the hotel at 8 am on a full-day guided tour to see Hanoi's historic landmarks and experience the city like a local. It starts near Hoan Kiem Lake, in the heart of the Old Quarter. Here, you'll visit Hang Be Market, which has been a commercial hub in the city for hundreds of years. This is where locals come to shop for fresh produce, meats, seafood, and other items. Of course, there are many vendors selling prepared foods as well as stalls serving up Vietnam's famous street eats, so bring your appetite.

Then, head over to the Tran Quoc Pagoda. Dating to the Ly Nam De Dynasty of the sixth century, this is the oldest Buddhist shrine in Hanoi. Next is the Museum of Ethnology, which preserves the cultural heritage of the 54 different ethnic groups in Vietnam. After lunch, continue to the 11th-century Temple of Literature, which was Vietnam's first-ever national university. To this day, students still pray at its altars for academic success. Finish the tour at the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum, the final resting place of revolutionary leader "Uncle Ho," who died in 1969. It was inspired by Lenin's Mausoleum in Moscow.

You'll have some time to relax at your hotel in the afternoon. Then, when the sun goes down, head over to Ly Club Restaurant for a memorable culinary experience. Located in an ornate French villa built in the early 20th century, Ly Club offers opulent dining rooms to enjoy a fusion menu of Vietnam-meets-Western cuisine against a backdrop of Indochine decor. Here, you can savor everything from traditional pho to Hanoi spring rolls and tiger prawn salad. Afterward, transfer back to your hotel.

Day 3: Day Trip to Ba Vi Countryside & Cooking Class

Day Trip to Ba Vi Countryside & Cooking Class
Learn to cook Vietnamese favorites on a day trip into the Ba Vi countryside 

In the morning, you'll head west out of Hanoi on a full-day guided eco-tour of the beautiful Ba Vi countryside. Your first stop is Ri village, where you'll enjoy 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, take a short drive to Moc village, where Mrs. Chin will teach you how to cook Vietnamese dishes that 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 an easy cycle through Vietnam's iconic rice paddies, followed by a Muong herbal foot bath, before returning to Hanoi.

Day 4: Transfer to Ha Long Bay, Overnight Cruise

Ha Long Bay is one of the stars of Southeast Asia

In the morning, your personal driver will pick you up at your hotel for the three-hour transfer north to the legendary Ha Long Bay. Located on the Gulf of Tonkin, over 1,500 karst islets rise above jade waters, resembling the spine of a mythological creature ("ha long" translates to "descending dragon"). The unique beauty of this region is unlike anywhere else and thus has earned UNESCO World Heritage status.

Upon arrival at the marina, you'll board a multilevel cruise ship for an overnight tour. After settling into your cabin, head to the dining room, where a delicious seafood lunch awaits. Then, you can spend time relaxing on the sundeck 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.

Return to the ship in time to participate in a cooking masterclass offered by the onboard chef. During the workshop, you'll learn to make traditional specialties like nem (Vietnamese fried spring rolls) and enjoy them in addition to your buffet dinner. Spend the remainder of the evening relaxing, or grab a pole and cast a line off the rear of the boat to try and catch some squid.

Day 5: Morning Cruise, Fly to Da Nang, Transfer to Hoi An

Wake up early and watch the sunrise over Ha Long Bay

Start the day strong with an early morning tai chi session on the deck surrounded by beautiful bay scenery. After a light breakfast, the ship will cruise to a karst cavern, which you can explore in a traditional boat. Afterward, you'll return to the ship and cruise to the Ha Long Bay pier, enjoying a late brunch as you go. Then hop in a vehicle for the 3.5-hour ride back to Hanoi, arriving around 3 pm.

Once back in the city, you'll transfer to the airport by private vehicle and catch a 1.5-hour flight south to Da Nang, located on Vietnam's central coast. At the airport, another driver will pick you up for the one-hour ride south to the colorful city of Hoi An on the Thu Bon River. You'll check into your hotel and have the evening free.

Day 6: Hoi An Market Visit, Basket Boats & Sightseeing

Hoi An's Ancient Town is filled with old merchant buildings dating back hundreds of years
Plan your trip to Vietnam
Chat with a local specialist who can help organize your trip.

Start the day with a visit to a local market in Hoi An's Ancient Town, the historic heart of this romantic river city. It's an excellent opportunity to mingle with locals and learn the fine art of haggling. You can order delicious and cheap eats at the market's food court, like fruit smoothies and noodle dishes.

Afterward, transfer just outside the city to the riverfront region of Cam Thanh. There, you'll hop in a Vietnamese circular basket boat (called a thung chai) for a ride along the nipa palm forests of the Thu Bon River. You'll even get to try traditional net fishing with locals. Later, you'll be invited into a local home where you'll participate in a cooking workshop. During the hands-on lesson, you'll prepare five traditional Vietnamese dishes, which you'll enjoy for lunch before transferring back to Hoi An.

Cap the day with a guided tour around the city. Hoi An was a major trading port from the 15th to 19th centuries, and along the river, you'll see historic buildings that combine elements of Chinese, Japanese, and Vietnamese architecture. Another highlight in Ancient Town is the 400-year-old Japanese Covered Bridge, built in the 1590s by the Japanese community as a link to the Chinese quarter located right across a small stream. Nearby is the Assembly Hall of the Chaozhou Chinese Congregation, which dates to 1845 and is famous for its intricate woodcarvings.

Day 7: Fly to Bangkok (Thailand), Optional Activities

Bangkok is a modern metropolis with plenty of ancient landmarks and world-class street food

Say goodbye to Vietnam because this morning you're off to Thailand. Your driver will transfer you back to the airport in Da Nang, where you'll catch a 1.5-hour flight to Bangkok. Among other attractive qualities, Thailand's dynamic capital is known for its chaotic energy, world-class street food, buzzing nightlife, and awe-inspiring Buddhist sights. Upon arrival at the airport, a driver will transfer you to your hotel.

After checking in, discover this city's myriad wonders yourself. Perhaps start with the Golden Mount Temple, which sits on the only hill in Bangkok. Climb the 320 steps leading to the top and enjoy some of the city's best views. You can also take a boat ride down the Chao Phraya River, Bangkok's arterial waterway that flows past Rattanakosin Island, the city's historic center.

You'll definitely want to indulge in Bangkok's famous street food. One of the best places to delight in these quick eats is in the Chinatown neighborhood, which is the largest Chinatown in the world (outside of China, of course). You can also visit the upscale Siam Paragon shopping mall or have a beer on Khao San Road amid the youthful backpacker atmosphere.

Day 8: Day Trip to Kanchanaburi & Erawan Waterfalls

The waterfalls at Erawan National Park are some of the most beautiful in the country

Your driver will pick you up early for the three-hour ride west toward the border with Myanmar and the town of Kanchanaburi. This is the hub for visits to the Death Railway, the infamous train line built between 1942 and 1943 at the expense of the over 100,000 laborers who died during its construction. Upon arrival in town, you'll check into your hotel and will have some time to relax.

When you arrive, you'll visit the Hellfire Pass Memorial. This combined museum and gallery was built to commemorate the thousands of Allied POWs and Asian conscripts who died while constructing the Thai-Burma Railway, known forever after as the Death Railway. The route is incredibly scenic, as you'll discover on a ride along its historic tracks. A highlight of the trip is passing through Tham Krasae Station, which offers some of the most beautiful views of the KwKhwaeoi River

The fun continues with a visit to Erawan National Park. This is the perfect place to enjoy the region's spectacular natural beauty, particularly the famous seven-tiered waterfall. These falls are considered the most beautiful in the country, with glacial blue waters rushing through the forest into bamboo-shaded pools perfect for a refreshing dip. After hiking around the park and enjoying the falls, you'll return to Bangkok later in the day.

Day 9: Bangkok Food Tour & Muay Thai Match

Spend the day on a culinary adventure throughout Bangkok

After breakfast, you'll head out for a rewarding (and tasty) food and culture tour of Bangkok. First, meet your expert guide at the Skytrain station, and from there, head off on a walk down Charoen Krung Road. This central thoroughfare was once the city's main road in the early 20th century, and today, it's experiencing something of a renaissance, known for its great restaurants, bars, and street food. 

You'll visit a few eateries around this street, the first of which specializes in roast duck rice. After a detour to visit a Buddhist temple, you'll stop at the second restaurant, which is Muslim-run and serves Thai-Indian cuisine. Here you'll sample savory treats like stuffed pancakes and chicken massaman curry. Then, cross the Chao Phraya River to the third restaurant, which is famous for its traditional cuisine from Thailand's north. Dishes you'll try include spicy raw papaya salad, grilled pork neck salad, and sticky rice.

Following a visit to a historic Catholic church, you'll stop for custard buns and Thai milk tea. Nearby is the final restaurant of the day, where you'll finish the culinary odyssey with green curry and fried roti. Later in the evening, the fun continues when you visit a local stadium, like Rajadamnern, to watch a live Muay Thai kickboxing match. This is Thailand's national sport, so expect the crowd to be rowdy.

Day 10: Fly to Krabi, Optional Activities

Welcome to Krabi, home to some of Thailand's finest beaches

Your personal driver will pick you up this morning and transfer you to the airport. Here, you'll catch a 1.5-hour flight south to Krabi, a resort town on the Andaman Sea. Like many places in the region, this area is famous for its gorgeous coast, breathtaking beaches, coral reefs, and romantic offshore islands. At the airport, another driver will pick you up for the transfer to nearby Krabi Town. After checking into your hotel, you can discover Krabi's delights on your own.

If you like, spend the day relaxing on one of Krabi's many beaches. Or, rent a kayak and paddle down the coast, enjoying scenery that includes towering limestone rock formations. You can also stroll around Krabi Town and the waterfront of the Krabi River. For great views, hike up to the 19th-century temple of Wat Kaew, which overlooks the city. If traveling with kids, you can take them to the lagoons and hiking trails at Thung Teao Forest Park. When night falls, be sure to visit Krabi Town's bustling night market. 

Day 11: Full-Day Krabi Island-Hopping Tour

Travel around to some of the postcard locales around Krabi, like Tup Island

Early in the morning, a driver will pick you up from your hotel for a short ride to the pier at Nopparat Thara Beach. Here, you'll begin your full-day island-hopping tour. At the pier, board a boat to Tup Island, which is really two small islets connected by sandbars. When you arrive at low tide, it will be possible to walk between the two. Then, continue to adjacent Ko Kai (Chicken Island), a rocky isle shaped like a chicken head fringed with white-sand beaches.

After doing some snorkeling and swimming, enjoy a picnic lunch on the beach at Poda Island, another star islet with turquoise waters, white sands, and towering limestone rock formations. Here, you can swim or just pass the time sunbathing. In the early afternoon, visit Phranang Beach, which features a gaping cave and is also a great place to relax. Around 2 pm, you'll return to Nopparat Thara and then transfer back to your hotel.

Day 12: Krabi Free Day: Beaches, Outdoor Adventure & Street Food

Sample street food favorites when the sun goes down at Krabi's market

The day is yours to enjoy Krabi however you wish. If you do nothing else, visit Railay Beach, with its tooth-like limestone rocks jutting up from a golden crescent of sand. It's only accessible by boat, but there are frequent water shuttles. In the heart of Krabi Town, Ao Nang Beach is another excellent option with plenty of services—plus more dramatic cliffs that make perfectly Instagrammable photos.

Not surprisingly, with limestone cliffs in every direction, Krabi is also a hotspot for rock climbing, and local outfitters can organize climbs for all skill and experience levels. After your day's adventures, catch the sunset from one of Krabi's many waterfront restaurants and bars. Later in the evening, you can stroll around the energetic Ao Nang Landmark Night Market, which has street food vendors, clothing and souvenir shops, and live entertainment.

Day 13: Day Trip to Phi Phi Islands

Spend the day exploring famous sites in the Phi Phi Islands, like Maya Bay

Wake up early and embark on a full-day speedboat tour around the famous Phi Phi Islands. You'll transfer to the pier in Phuket around 7:30 am, board the boat, and zip across the ocean for about an hour until you reach Phi Phi Lee ("Maya Beach). One of the most stunning destinations in Thailand, Maya Beach is a secluded bay hemmed in by towering limestone cliffs on a romantic isle. If it looks familiar, it was featured in the 2000 film "The Beach."

Once here, you'll take a dip in the water in designated swimming areas and snap photos at other nearby highlights like Pileh Lagoon and Viking Cave. On the way to the larger island of Phi Phi Don, you'll pass Monkey Beach, named for the community of crab-eating macaques that live here. Upon arrival, you'll have time for snorkeling, followed by a delicious lunch. Later in the afternoon, visit Bamboo Island for more swimming or sunbathing on the beach. Then, you'll return to Krabi Town and your hotel.

Day 14: Depart Krabi

Sun setting over the beaches and limestone karst towers of Krabi
Savor your final hours in Thailand by enjoying a morning stroll on the beach, followed by a leisurely breakfast. Then, at the appropriate time, your driver will pick you up for the transfer to the airport, where your flight home awaits. Safe travels!

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Map of Vietnam & Thailand's Culture & Cuisine - 14 Days
Map of Vietnam & Thailand's Culture & Cuisine - 14 Days