Discover the culinary cuisine of Vietnam firsthand as you delight your tastebuds from north to south on this two-week odyssey of food. Start in Hanoi and learn the tricks of Vietnamese cuisine from a master chef. Delight in fresh seafood as you cruise along Ha Long Bay and swim at leisure. Take a food tour in the peaceful countryside of Hoi An and enjoy a basket boat ride. Eat your way through Ho Chi Minh on the back of a Vespa before winding down your journey with a sunset cruise on the Saigon River.

Highlights

  • Follow the lead of a master chef as you learn traditional Vietnamese dishes
  • Discover limestone cliffs, grottoes, and islands as you cruise along Ha Long Bay
  • Zoom through the streets of Ho Chi Minh as you go "food-ing" by night
  • Get ready for the photo-ops at Cai Be Floating Market and An Binh Island

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Hanoi, Explore the City Hanoi
Day 2 Vietnamese Cooking Class with a Master Chef Hanoi
Day 3 Hanoi Half Day City Tour, Evening Hanoi Street Food Tour Hanoi
Day 4 Transfer to Ha Long Bay, Overnight Cruise on Ha Long Bay Ha Long Bay
Day 5 Disembark Cruise, Return to Hanoi Hanoi
Day 6 Transfer to Hoi An, Evening Hoi An Countryside & Food Tour Hoi An
Day 7 Cam Thanh Fishing Village & Basket Boat Ride Hoi An
Day 8 Free Day in Hoi An Hoi An
Day 9 Cooking Class at Red Bridge Cooking School Hoi An
Day 10 Transfer to Ho Chi Minh City, Evening Saigon Food Tour by Vespa  Ho Chi Minh City
Day 11 Cu Chi Tunnels & Ho Chi Minh City Tour Ho Chi Minh City
Day 12 Mekong River Delta Trip, Visit Cai Be Floating Market & An Binh Island Ho Chi Minh City
Day 13 Free Time in Ho Chi Minh City, Sunset Dinner Cruise Ho Chi Minh City
Day 14 Depart Ho Chi Minh City  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in Hanoi, Explore the City

Free Day in Hanoi
 Hanoi at dusk

Welcome to Vietnam! Upon arrival at Hanoi airport, your driver will be waiting to transfer you to your hotel. Relax after the long journey, or head out to stretch your legs and get your bearings. Dating to 3000 BCE, Hanoi is one of the world's most ancient capitals. Traditional culture meets modern metropolis in its busy streets filled with motorbikes, outdoor markets, and curbside banh mi vendors. 

Spend your free time exploring the maze of narrow streets in Hanoi's Old Quarter at your own pace, or take a cyclo ride in one of the city's traditional three-wheeled bicycle taxis. For lunch, head to Bun Cha Huong Lien to try the beloved Hanoian meal of 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. To wrap up your evening in style, sip cocktails on the Pan Pacific Hotel's rooftop bar and enjoy spectacular sunset views over West Lake.

Day 2: Vietnamese Cooking Class with a Master Chef

Cooking Class with a Master Chef
Start your tour at a local market

Today you'll start your culinary explorations with a cooking lesson alongside an esteemed professional chef. The experience begins with a one-hour walk to the local market for a fascinating look at this bustling center of the community. While you enjoy the sights and sounds around you, Chef Mai will show you how locals choose the best products for cooking and introduce you to the most important spices and flavors of Vietnamese cuisine. 

Afterward, continue to Mrs. Mai's home for a cooking class, harmonizing Vietnamese spices and your own taste to create the perfect recipes for you and your family. Then sit down to lunch, where your home-cooked dishes will be served alongside Vietnamese specialties prepared by the chef.

Day 3: Hanoi Half-Day City Tour, Evening Hanoi Street Food Tour

The Temple of Literature, Hanoi
Don't miss Train Street for a quick bite

Tour Hanoi with its ochre-colored colonial buildings, tree-lined boulevards, and scenic lakes. Meet your tour guide in the Old Quarter and learn about daily life in the city. Visit the historic Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum, an imposing monument of marble and granite built to house the body of the revolutionary leader, Ho Chi Minh. Tour one of Vietnam's most iconic pagodas, One Pilar Pagoda, a Buddhist temple built in 1049 and constructed of wood in the shape of a lotus blossom. You'll visit Ho Chi Minh's House and continue to the Temple of Literature, Vietnam's first national university.

Eating on the street is typical for Hanoians and is essential to the city's unique culture. In the evening, meet your guide at a local market in the Old Quarter and start with Vietnam's national dish, pho ga (chicken noodle soup). Soak up the sights and aromas as you explore the market. Try some banh duc, cooked rice seasoned with Vietnamese spices. Grab some com cakes, traditionally found in the north, before following your guide to discovering the city's distinctive tube houses. Stop at Banh My Lan Ong and taste their famous bread with paté. Afterward, try some typical desserts with a cup of egg coffee.

Day 4: Transfer to Ha Long Bay, Overnight Cruise on Ha Long Bay

Cruising & Kayaking in Ha Long Bay
Cruise along Ha Long Bay

This morning you'll bid Hanoi farewell for now and transfer east to the otherworldly beauty of Ha Long Bay—where you'll board an overnight cruise through one of the great wonders of the natural world. Located where the land meets the Gulf of Tonkin, thousands of karst islets dot the bay's serene emerald waters. Legend has it that the islands originated as precious jewels sprayed into the water by a great dragon. 

On arrival at the pier, board your ship and enjoy breathtaking views of limestone rocks and karst grottoes as you leave the harbor. A delicious seafood lunch awaits, and you'll have plenty of free time to enjoy the sundeck as the ship navigates the bay's most beautiful hidden corners. Stop in a secret cove to explore with some swimming or kayaking, then head back to the boat for an evening cooking class, where you'll learn to make nem (Vietnamese fried spring rolls) before sitting down to a delicious dinner. 

Day 5: Disembark Cruise, Return to Hanoi

Cruising Ha Long Bay
Get up close to the limestone rocks and karsts on Ha Long Bay

The most beautiful sunrise awaits you as you have an early breakfast on board. If you're up for it, join a tai chi class to awaken your mind and body. You'll also have the opportunity to visit a limestone cave and discover its stalagmites and stalactites. You'll sit down to an early lunch before returning to the dock in Hanoi. A driver will be waiting to collect and take you to your hotel.

Plan your trip to Vietnam
Chat with a local specialist who can help organize your trip.

Day 6: Transfer to Hoi An, Evening Hoi An Countryside & Food Tour

Hoi An village
Hoi An village

Your driver will be waiting to transfer you to the airport this morning to catch a flight south to Danang. Upon arrival, another transfer takes you to your hotel in the beautifully preserved riverside town of Hoi An. Rest up, then join your guide as evening falls for a tour of Hoi An's off-the-beaten-path highlights. Start in a local farming village about 2.5 miles (4 km) from the town center. Here you can learn more about the local farmers' daily life before returning to Hoi An and immersing yourself in a foodie's paradise with the flavorful local cuisine.

Begin your culinary exploration with a selection of well-known local dishes such as white rose dumplings, banh beo (steamed rice cakes), banh nam (rice dumplings), my quang (flavorful rice noodles), Hoi An pancakes, barbecue pork rolls, and the famous banh mi sandwich. Wrap up your food tour with the best Vietnamese coffee before exploring more of Hoi An by night or heading back to your hotel.

Day 7: Cam Thanh Fishing Village & Basket Boat Ride

Cam Thanh fishing village and basket boat (N)
Take a basket boat ride in Cam Thanh

Escape the city and head to the countryside as you visit the beautiful fishing village of Cam Thanh to explore the daily life of the locals. Today your guide will meet you at your hotel in the morning and take you on a cycling trip through the countryside and rivers around Hoi An. As you meander through villages, you will experience the friendliness of the locals greeting you along the way.

After that, you'll board the Hoi An Eco-Tour boat for a river cruise to meet and engage with local fishermen. Enjoy a hands-on experience of traditional net fishing. To soak in the beauty of this area, you'll take a paddleboat trip in a unique Vietnamese bamboo basket boat down the waterways of a coconut palm paradise. Then have lunch, after which you will be transferred back to your hotel. 

Day 8: Free Day in Hoi An 

Hoi An Free Day
Lanterns illuminating the streets of  Hoi An 

You'll have the day free to explore Hoi An at your own pace. The best way to experience this charming town is to rent a bicycle at the hotel and cycle toward the riverside or the beach. At the beach, you'll find warm, calm waters and small cafés where you can relax with a fresh fruit drink. Head to Madam Khanh Banh Mi or Banh Mi Phuong for a classic bahn mi sandwich at lunchtime, or stop at one of the many local tailor shops to have clothes, bags, or shoes made overnight. 

In the evening, go for a stroll through the Old Town, which has a fairy tale feel after dark as the shops light their glowing lanterns and colorful performances fill the street. 

Day 9: Cooking Class at the Red Bridge Cooking School

Cooking Class at the Red Bridge Cooking School
Transform the local ingredients into fabulous dishes

Meet your guide at the hotel this morning and start the day with a welcome drink at Hai Cafe. Then visit Hoi An's colorful market to experience its amazing sights, sounds, and aromas. Interact with the local sellers and learn about all the ingredients used in the cooking lesson later.

Next, you'll board a boat for a leisurely cruise along the Hoi An River to the Red Bridge Cooking School. On the way, get a close-up view of local river life and keep your camera ready for the many scenic photo-ops. Visit the school's herb garden, then learn about some of Hoi An and Vietnam's most well-known dishes. The two-hour cooking class starts with Red Bridge chefs demonstrating each recipe before you prepare the same dish by yourself. After a brief introduction to Vietnamese food carving (plate decoration), you'll sit for a delicious lunch.

Day 10: Transfer to Ho Chi Minh City, Evening Saigon Food Tour by Vespa

Saigon Food Tour At Night On a Vespa Bike
Ho Chi Minh at night
A driver will be waiting to take you to the airport, where you'll catch a flight to Ho Chi Minh City. Upon arrival, another driver will take you to your hotel. You'll have part of the afternoon to discover the city. Despite a turbulent history and devastating war, this city formerly known as Saigon has retained its fascinating mix of Asian and western traditions, with French colonial landmarks rubbing shoulders with 21st-century skyscrapers. Wander through markets, the old town, and the modern sector to get your bearings on the city.

Tonight you'll explore this vibrant city on the back of a motorbike as you taste some of the city's most famous dishes. Start your journey by zooming through town and seeing some of the city's famous landmarks as you scoot through narrow alleys along the way. Your first stop will be at a local restaurant where you'll taste Vietnamese pancakes and spring rolls. After that, you'll try some local seafood at a specialty restaurant. Finally, end the evening with dessert, coffee, and a little jazz at a local nightclub to complete your evening. Afterward, you'll return to your hotel.

Day 11: Cu Chi Tunnels & Ho Chi Minh City Tour

Cu Chi Tunnels and Ho Chi Minh City Tour
Bird's eye view of Ho Chi Minh City

Today you'll take a deep dive into Vietnamese history and explore the famous Cu Chi Tunnels, used as a shelter for Vietnamese soldiers during the war. Learn about why the tunnels were constructed and how they helped people survive in harsh wartime conditions. Wander the remaining tunnel systems, which include the living areas, kitchens, and martial facilities, as well as hidden doors and dangerous traps. Finish the tour with special tea and cassava (a typical meal of guerilla food during the war).

In the afternoon, return to the city to visit Independence Palace, also known as the Reunification Palace, built on the sight of the former Norodom Palace. The Independence Palace is a widely known landmark of Ho Chi Minh City and was designed by the architect Ngo Viet Thu. Continue exploring the beautiful buildings from French Colonial times, such as the Notre Dame Cathedral and the historic Central Post Office. Then visit Ben Thanh Market, one of the largest markets in Ho Chi Minh, to see the local life here. After the tour, return to your hotel.

Day 12: Mekong River Delta Trip, Visit Cai Be Floating Market & An Binh Island

Day trip to Caibe – An Binh Island - Vinh Long (N)
Explore along the Mekong River Delta

Take the hour-and-a-half drive to Ben Tre Pier, located on the Mekong River Delta, swapping city scenes for lush rice paddies and fruit farms. From there, switch to a motorboat for a quick look at Cai Be Floating Market. Have your camera ready for this colorful marketplace where fresh produce is sold. By rowboat, continue deeper into the countryside along smaller canals to enjoy the beautiful scenery. Return to the pier to take a motorboat across the Mekong River as you view fish farms and scenes of countryside living. You'll arrive at An Bình Island, where you'll enjoy lunch.

Afterward, explore the orchard and sip tea while listening to traditional music. Discover the village and visit the local workshops to see how to make rice paper, coconut candy, and pop-rice. You'll also have the option to explore by bike. Enjoy pedaling through beautiful landscapes on village paths to see the local daily life. You'll see more orchards, schools, churches, pagodas, and traditional houses. Visit the brick kilns, where you can observe how the local people create beautiful pottery from clay. The cruise will end at Vinh Long before driving back to Ho Chi Minh.

Day 13: Free Time in Ho Chi Minh City, Sunset Dinner Cruise

Notre Dame Cathedral
Notre Dame Cathedral

It's the final day of your trip, and you are free to do whatever you choose. You could trawl for treasures at Ben Thanh Market, a popular spot for street food and shopping, or check out one of the many spas for a foot massage. Visit the haunting War Remnants Museum to learn about the country's turbulent war history. When you're ready for a break, sit down with a beer at Bitexco Tower for views across the city.

This evening, celebrate your final night in Vietnam with a romantic sunset dinner cruise along the Saigon River. Admire a fascinating contrast of historic and modern buildings as darkness falls, savoring a set menu of flavorful dishes specially created by top chefs. 

Day 14: Depart Ho Chi Minh City

Bye Bye Vietnam!
Farewell Vietnam!

Your Vietnam adventure 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 Vietnamese Culinary Journey: Hanoi, Hoi An & Ho Chi Minh - 14 Days
Map of Vietnamese Culinary Journey: Hanoi, Hoi An & Ho Chi Minh - 14 Days