Vietnam Culinary Tour June 2017 – Join Us on a Vietnam Food Adventure

Our Vietnam Culinary Tour is scheduled for June 2017 and we’re just putting the final touches to the itinerary. We’re so excited we thought we’d share the most delicious highlights with you now. More details coming next week so watch this space!

A few of our lovely participants from our 2016 Cambodia Culinary Tours and our Travel and Food Writing and Photography Retreats asked us to host a Vietnam Culinary Tour this year and we simply couldn’t resist the opportunity to escort such fun food-loving people through one of our favourite foodie countries.

We’ve now finalised the itinerary and prices and will add details below today. We’ll be kicking off our Vietnam Culinary Tour in Saigon (Ho Chi Minh City) on 24 June 2017 and will finish in Hanoi around 15 days later.

We’re offering the main tour and several add-ons, as we appreciate that not everyone has the luxury of time, so if you choose to those before and after the trip, you might find yourself enjoying an epic 21-day culinary adventure.

Our route will takes us from Saigon to Dalat (flight), Dalat to Danang (by plane) to Hoi An (by road), Hoi An to Hue (train), and Hue to Hanoi (plane). We’ll be travelling with Vietnam Airlines between several destinations, private luxury vans between others, and we’ll do a spectacular leg on the north-south Reunification Express.

For those who choose to do the add-ons, there’s the option to do a one-day cruise through the lush waterways of the Mekong Delta trip, and after the main tour, we’ll travel from Hanoi to Sapa and back (sleeper train there, road on the return journey), and then from Hanoi to Halong Bay (by road) for a cruise through the spectacular limestone karsts and islands.

Need further inspiration? See Terence’s beautiful time-lapse of dancing boats at sunset in Hoi An. Click through to read the testimonials of participants who have done our Cambodia culinary tours and travel and food writing and photography retreats, and feedback from clients of our bespoke trips. Click through to this post to find out why Ho Chi Minh City is also called Saigon.

Here’s some background, along with more details, our Vietnam Culinary Tour highlights, and important information at the bottom of this page:

Vietnam Culinary Tour – Join Us on a Vietnam Food Adventure in June 2017!

As some of you know we lived in Vietnam before we moved to Cambodia. It was only for seven months, but I say ‘lived’ because we rented an apartment in Hanoi (on Food Street of all places) and made ourselves at home in Hoi An, where we took to the little old ladies in the markets as much as the pups of Hoi An.

We took cooking classes and did street food tours, shopped the markets and cooked Vietnamese in every day – despite such fantastic food available right on our doorstep. We made loads of friends and felt right at home, especially in Hoi An, which we thought would be the place we’d be calling home now. It was our time there that made us realise how much we loved the intimacy of small towns compared to big cities, which is what drew us to Siem Reap over Phnom Penh.

What we most fell in love with in Vietnam was the food, which was fortunate seeing it was food and travel stories that took us there, for (now-retired) Feast, Travel+Leisure Southeast Asia, The Guardian, Fah Thai, Sawasdee, Ocean, and Lifestyle+Travel among other publications. We covered everything from Hoi An’s specialties, including the legendary cau lao and its famous chilli sauce to Hanoi’s beloved bia hoi and art scene. Although I have to say one of our favourite pieces was about heavenly Halong Bay, where we compared four different cruises. That was a dream job.

So we’re excited to be hosting this Vietnam Culinary Tour, and we’re especially delighted that some of our participants from our Cambodia trips will be joining us. We know we’re going to have a very memorable time and we hope you’ll join us too.

Our approach will be the same as the Cambodia trips we run, in line with our Grantourismo philosophy – slow, local and experiential – so you can expect:

  • an insider perspective – thanks to our Vietnam experience and our carefully chosen Vietnam guides and experts, from chefs and street food cook to artisanal producers and art historians;
  • local insights – you’ll visit local spots that we know and love, along with places that our local hosts who live in the destinations frequent;
  • engaging experiences – hands-on cooking classes, market ambles, street food tours, walking tours, farm visits, coffee appreciation classes, wine tastings, fishing experiences, and more;
  • relaxed vibe – our trips feel more like immersive holidays with new local friends than tours with travel companies;
  • slow pace – we do a lot, but at a comparatively slower pace to tour companies because we want you to have a deeper rather than a superficial experience;
  • responsible and sustainable travel – we use local guides and small businesses and, wherever possible, NGO/charity-ran workshops, social enterprises, and hospitality training restaurants.

Vietnam Culinary Tour 2017 – Highlights

These are some of the tantalising experiences that we have planned for you:

  • memorable stays in small atmospheric boutique hotels, chic colonial-style resorts with swimming pools, and charming heritage properties that ooze history;
  • an epic train journey from Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon) to Hanoi on the Reunification Express, which runs the length of the country;
  • in-depth hands-on cooking classes at the very best cooking schools, including Chef Luke Nguyen’s GRAIN cooking school (with wine pairing) in Saigon, full day class at Hoi An’s Red Bridge Cooking School, which kicks off with a visit to Tra Que organic herb gardens and finishes with a boat cruise back to Hoi An; lessons in cooking the cuisine of Hanoi and the Northern Highlands at cookbook writer Tracey Lister’s Hanoi Cooking Centre; authentic heritage dishes at a home in Hue, to dessert making with a legendary local street food vendor specialising in sweets.
  • mouthwatering ambles through lively local markets and delicious street food tours with lots of snacking in Saigon, Phan Thiet, Nha Trang, Hoi An, Hue, and Hanoi;
  • street food feasting at authentic local spots for breakfast, lunch and snacks in every destination – from seafood by the ocean at Mui Né and Nha Trang, the best pho and bun cha places in Hanoi, and Hoi An’s beloved banh mi spots, which we ate at almost every day, including the Banh Mi Queen’s heavenly banh mi op la, and Vietnam’s finest banh mi at Banh Mi Phuong, which Anthony Bourdain made famous;
  • memorable meals at some of Vietnam’s best restaurants with the chance to meet the chefs and owners behind these fine establishments;
  • visits to artisanal producers to observe traditional processes, including an opportunity to witness the noodle-making family responsible for Hoi An’s legendary cao lau noodles in action (followed by a tasting tour to sample Hoi An’s finest noodles); the chance to see the making of Hoi An’s illustrious chili sauce; and a visit to a generations-old fish sauce producer in Phan Thiet;
  • village and countryside experiences to get a taste of rural life, including a visit to an organic farm in the rice fields outside Hoi An; tours of tea and coffee plantations, fruit orchards, (fried) cricket farm, rice spirit distillery, and wineries in the former French-colonial hill station of Dalat;
  • excursion to the ancient village of Duong Lam to saunter the cobbled streets lined with charming traditional houses, and an upmarket homestay on a farm in the countryside near Hanoi;
  • coffee appreciation tour in Hanoi taking in historic coffee shops and arty cafés, sampling everything from the traditional ca phe sua da to the famous creamy egg coffee;
  • an evening tour of local ‘bia hoi’ joints to sample Hanoi’s beloved ‘fresh’ beer and drinking snacks, such as delicious fried tofu with salt and pepper sauce;
  • a fun Vietnamese language lesson on the first day of the trip so that you become confident in using very basic greetings and are exposed to some food-focused vocabulary, with a refresher mid-trip;
  • tours with locals on foot and by cyclo, bike and boat in every destination, taking in Saigon’s elegant opera house, splendid post office and handsome Notre Dame Cathedral; Hoi An’s ancient houses, Japanese covered bridge and incense-filled Chinese temples; Hue’s Imperial City, royal tombs and pagodas, and Perfume River; and Hanoi’s atmospheric Old Quarter, splendid French-colonial architecture, serene Temple of Literature, and striking communist monuments, including Ho Chi Min’s colossal mausoleum;
  • cultural experiences, including an enchanting ca tru concert and a taste of Hanoi’s art scene and architecture; along with (optional) visits to superb museums, including Saigon’s sobering and often heartbreaking War Remnants Museum and vintage Reunification Palace; Danang’s splendid Museum of Cham Sculpture, home to the finest collection of Cham sculptures in the world; and Hanoi’s magnificent Ethnology Museum, which showcases the intriguing customs and culture and colourful costumes and handicrafts of Vietnam’s many indigenous groups;
  • downtime, some of which we recommend you reserve for shopping: retro communist kitsch, and stylish fashion and accessories in Saigon; premium fish sauce at Phan Thiet; edible souvenirs, such as dried/candied fruits, fruit preserves, coffee, and wine in Dalat; lanterns, lacquerware, coconut wood utensils, and chili sauce at Hoi An; hill tribe handicrafts and textiles, silk and embroidery in Hanoi.

Optional Add-Ons

  • a pre-trip 2-day/1-night Mekong Delta excursion, kicking off from Cai Be, 2.5 hours from Saigon, where you’ll cruise along lush waterways on a traditional Vietnamese sampan; visit vibrant floating markets, artisanal makers of local products and sample local specialties, such as banh xeo, a turmeric-tinted pancake eaten with fresh aromatic herbs; and discover islands, such as Dong Phu, Binh Hoa Phuong, and Anh Binh;
  • a post-trip 3-day/2-night relaxing Halong Bay cruise to take in the jade waters, clusters of craggy islets, dramatic limestone karsts and schist outcrops. Optional activities include a boat trip to a floating village, a bike ride around an island, a visit to an enormous cave, and a cooking class. Or you can simply relax in a sun-lounger on the rooftop deck of a boat taking in the breathtaking panoramas.

If you know you’d like to join our Vietnam Culinary Tour or just wish to express interest in coming at this stage, please get in touch ASAP on and we’ll put you on our mailing list as we expect these spots to sell fast once we finalise the itinerary and cost.

If you have any questions, feel free to post them in the comments below or email us on the address above.

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