Head off on this foodie Vietnam holiday, tasting the best dishes from Hanoi to Ho Chi Minh City. Start in the capital of Hanoi, where you’ll dine with a local family before sailing through karst islands of Halong Bay. Move on to Hoi An, where crispy noodles, famous white rose dumplings and succulent beef soup awaits. Try your hand at picking rice and head to Hue, where you can explore the citadel and take a Vespa tour through the evening street markets. Finish in Ho Chi Minh City, where you can sip iced coffee in cafes at breakfast, gorge on crunchy banh mi sandwiches for lunch and finish your holiday with a toast to the wonderful cuisine of Vietnam.
This itinerary can be tailored to suit your requirements; please contact one of our consultants to start planning your dream trip.
Depart the UK from your chosen airport.
On arrival in Hanoi, you will be met at the airport and taken to your hotel, where you’ll check in for two nights. Spend the rest of the day relaxing after your flight or exploring the neighbourhood around your hotel.
After breakfast, you’ll start today with a visit to the Vietnam Women’s Museum. Located near the Hoan Kiem Lake, it offers a fascinating insight into the lives of Vietnamese women – including the different roles they play in society, historic and modern traditions around births, weddings and motherhood. Next, you’ll visit the Temple of Literature, Vietnam’s first university established in a temple in 1076. It’s beautiful gardens and architecture offer a fascinating glimpse into Vietnam’s history.
After eating for a good cause at Koto Restaurant, a café that helps train and guide disadvantaged teens, you’ll spend the rest of the afternoon at your leisure exploring the old town.
At around six o clock, you will escape to the quiet lanes of the city, into the home of a local family. Sip a cup of herbal tea while listening to your host's stories about life in the city, including during the times of the Vietnam War. You’ll be fed a delicious meal full of local specialities – the best welcome to this friendly country.
After breakfast, you’ll leave for Halong Bay. Arriving at the jetty you’ll be welcomed on board and enjoy lunch while cruising towards the bay itself. In the afternoon you’ll follow the boat’s itinerary, whether you’re exploring a local floating village, kayaking in the green waters or just relaxing on board. Towards the end of the day, the boat will anchor for the night amongst the karst formations and you’ll enjoy dinner on board while the sun sets.
Wake to the fresh morning in the middle of the bay, the sun rising over Halong while breakfast is served. You’ll cruise slowly back towards the port before disembarking and being driven back to Hanoi airport in time for your short flight to Danang. On arrival, you will be met and driven to your hotel in Hoi An. This foodie hub in Central Vietnam is sure to be a highlight. Why not head out to dinner to night – we’d recommend Secret Garden, a little restaurant down a pretty alley in the old town, which serves excellent local dishes and Mango Mango for a fruity after-dinner cocktail.
This morning, you’ll head off into the countryside around Hoi An, to learn about the rice cultivation that fills the surrounding fields. Starting with a short bicycle ride through the rice paddies, you’ll soon arrive at a little farm where you’ll be welcomed with a cup of tea from your host. Don traditional farming clothes and conical hats and soon you’ll be out in the fields, learning how to plough, rake, water, sow and transplant rice. It’s a fascinating experience – just try not to fall into the mud. It’s also a wonderful way to chat with locals and learn about their everyday life.
Returning to the house, you’ll be shown how to make traditional pancakes and enjoy lunch with your hosts before heading back to Hoi An to spend the rest of the day at your leisure. We’d recommend enjoying a huge dish of white rose dumplings for dinner, a famous speciality of this little town.
After breakfast, you’ll leave the hotel behind and head to a nearby organic farm. This quiet spot is only 3km from the town centre but is quiet and peaceful, with a passionate team who love food and local cuisine. First, you’ll explore the farm, learning about ingredients and the elements that make up Vietnamese cooking. This is a brilliant balance of aromatics, heat, sweet, sour and umami flavour, usually from fish sauce. Pick some ingredients before heading to the kitchen to make some dishes. It will be very hands-on – including grinding rice flour and inventing your own organic juice recipe. Once your delicious feast is ready you can fill up on home-cooked comforts before heading back to the city.
This afternoon is yours to relax or explore Hoi An a little more.
In the morning, you’ll discover the history of Hoi An on a relaxed walking tour. Discover the charming old-world trading port of narrow streets and houses, as well as the 400-year-old Japanese Covered Bridge and a colourful market full of delicious food stalls.
Around midday, you will leave Hoi An behind and drive to Danang, crossing the Hai Van tunnel and dropping down to the wonderfully photogenic fishing village of Lang Co. Arriving in Hue after a couple of hours drive, you’ll check into your hotel before being taken out for an exclusive private dinner party at the lovely Tha Om Garden House. This traditional house has a small garden courtyard, with timer frame and brick tiles, with an altar for the family’s ancestors and a pretty garden lined with tea bushes and apricot trees. It’s a perfect welcome to the ancient city of Hue.
Today you’ll head off to explore Hue. About 20 minutes north of the Citadel is a small village, Bao La, where locals still keep the traditional bamboo crafts that have been passed down for generations. Bamboo is ingrained in Vietnamese culture, representing resiliency and protection. This village is renowned for basket weaving – you’ll be able to learn about their craft and listen to their stories in adapting ancient traditions into modern life. After this you’ll enjoy a workshop in the city, creating handicrafts with bamboo and paper, a new type of art called Truc Chi.
The afternoon is yours to explore the city – we’d recommend you head to the citadel and explore this stunning area of the town. In the evening, you’ll head off on a culinary adventure on the back of a vintage Vespa. The old imperial capital of Hue is famous, not only for its historical monuments of the Nguyen Dynasty but also for its rich cuisine. There is no better way to explore the nightlife than on the back of a Vespa zooming through the charming streets.
Visit a vintage Vespa collector and taste food with the family, riding on to a range of authentic street markets, tasting bun bo hue, a beef noodle soup and banh khoai, a sizzling pancake, as well as a variety of Hue green leaf cakes.
After breakfast, you’ll be taken to Hue Airport for a short flight to Ho Chi Minh City. On arrival, you’ll be taken to your hotel to check-in for two nights. In the afternoon, we’ve organised a walking tour of the city, starting with a visit to the iconic Saigon Central Post Office, which was built in 1891 in the traditional French style. Walking along Dong Khoi Street, you’ll visit Gialong Palace, Ho Chi Minh City Museum to learn about the history of the city. Strolling through the old central market, you’ll see what the young creatives of the city are up to in the boutique shops and coffee shops. It’s a lovely introduction to the city – your guide will also point out some good restaurants you could head back to for dinner.
This morning, you’ll be off on a coffee tour, starting your final day in Vietnam with a caffeine boost! Spend the morning discovering the habits of the local people, as well as the significance of coffee drinking in Vietnamese culture. Coffee was introduced to Vietnam by the French in the late 19th century and the country quickly became an exporter as vast swathes of the highlands were planted with the crop. Now, Vietnamese people love their coffee culture, sitting with a newspaper in a street café and having breakfast.
You’ll visit an 80-year-old coffee shop and warehouse, getting to know the unique ways of making coffee before heading to Barista Saigon coffee studio. Here you’ll chat with a certified barista and be introduced to Vietnamese speciality coffee, both iced and hot. You could learn to make espresso, latte art and how to judge the quality of the coffee.
After your coffee tour, you’ll take a short drive to the banks of the Saigon River, taking a private speed boat through the waters to visit the Cu Chi Tunnels. Watch as the city skylines fade away and you enter the rural countryside. When you arrive in Cu Chi, you’ll be able to explore the 200km of underground tunnels, used during the fighting of the Vietnam War. Hear remarkable stories of resident’s resilience as well as wartime weapons, before heading back to the city.
The afternoon is yours to relax or finish up a little shopping in the city. Why not head to a pretty rooftop bar for after-dinner drinks, where you can toast a delicious and delightful trip to Vietnam.
After breakfast, you’ll be picked up from your hotel and driven back to the airport in time for your flight back to the UK.
The climate in Vietnam varies dramatically depending on the region you are visiting and is incredibly diverse with weather ranging from snow and frost in the northern hills to tropical conditions in the south. There are two monsoons in Vietnam; the winter monsoon arrives between October and March and brings cold and wet winters to the north and dry and warm conditions in the south. From April to October the summer monsoon brings humid weather to the whole country apart from those regions sheltered by mountains. For the best balance we recommend visiting in either April, May or October.
This itinerary is purely a suggestion and can be tailor-made to your requirements, so please contact us with your dates and requests, and we’ll put together a bespoke quotation for you.