Our Vietnam Culinary Tour will explore the regional cuisines of Vietnam, from Saigon (Ho Chi Minh City) and the Mekong Delta in the south, Hoi An and Hue in Central Vietnam, to Hanoi and the mountain food of Sapa and Bac Ha in the north. We’d love you to come discover Vietnamese cuisine with us.
UPDATE June 2018: Our June-July 2017 tour has ended of course and it was absolutely wonderful. Read about it in this post and our most recent stories filed under ‘Vietnam‘. Next week we’ll be announcing dates for late 2018 and early 2019 Vietnam Culinary Tours. If you are interested in joining us, sign up for our newsletter, leave a comment below or email us. We can’t wait to show you our Vietnam!
Don’t miss out! We have a limited number of spots left on our small group 22-day Vietnam Culinary Tour (21 June-12 July 2017) taking in Saigon, the Mekong Delta, Dalat, Hoi An, Hue, Sapa and Bac Ha, with an optional 2-night Halong Bay cruise at the end. Scroll through the images above for inspiration and scroll down for details and prices.
Our epic 22-day Vietnam Culinary Tour will transport you from cosmopolitan Saigon (4 days) and the lush waterways of the Mekong Delta (1 day) via the fertile hill station of Dalat (1 day) to the enchanting ancient town of Hoi An (4 days) and the imperial city of Hue (3 days) on the Perfume River. You’ll explore atmospheric Hanoi (3 days) and absorb the colour, culture and cuisine of Sapa (2 days) and Bac Ha (1 day), before returning to Hanoi for your flight home or winding up the trip with a relaxing Halong Bay cruise (2 nights/days) through breathtaking limestone karsts and islands.
We’ll be travelling with Vietnam Airlines between several destinations, private luxury vans between others, and we’ll do a jaw-dropping leg on the north-south Reunification Express train between Danang and Hue, and a memorable overnight sleeper train from Hanoi to Lao Cai for Sapa. All domestic flights, trains and other transport are included in the price.
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 still called Saigon.
Vietnam Culinary Tour – Join Us on a Vietnam Food Adventure in June 2017!
When a few of the lovely participants who did our Cambodia Culinary Tours and Travel and Food Writing and Photography Retreats in 2016 asked us to host a Vietnam Culinary Tour this year, we couldn’t resist the opportunity to escort such fun food-loving people through one of our favourite countries.
When we lived in Vietnam, before we moving to Cambodia, we fell head over heels in love with the country, its cuisine, culture, and people, which was fortunate seeing it was food and travel stories for Feast, Travel+Leisure Southeast Asia, The Guardian, Fah Thai, Sawasdee, Silkwinds, Ocean, and Lifestyle+Travel among other publications, that took us there in the first place.
We covered everything from Hoi An’s specialty dishes, including its legendary cau lao noodles and famous chilli sauce to Hanoi’s beloved bia hoi and contemporary art scene, and beguiling Halong Bay, where we got to compare different cruises.
It was only seven months, but I say ‘lived’ because we rented an apartment in Hanoi (on Food Street) for a few months, where Terence shopped the local markets each day, and we made ourselves at home in Hoi An for another few months, where we became smitten with the little old ladies in the markets as much as the pups of Hoi An.
We took cooking classes, did street food tours, shopped the markets, cooked Vietnamese cuisine, and generally enjoyed the bounty of fantastic fresh produce on our doorstep. We made friends and settled in, 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 enjoyed the intimacy of small towns compared to big cities, which is what drew us to Siem Reap over Phnom Penh.
So we’re super excited to be hosting this Vietnam Culinary Tour and especially delighted that some of our participants from our previous Cambodia trips have signed up. We know we’re going to have a memorable time and we hope you’ll join us too.
Our approach will be the same as the Cambodia trips we host, which is in line with our Grantourismo philosophy of going slow, local and experiential. This means you can expect:
- insider perspectives – thanks to our Vietnam experience and our carefully chosen Vietnam guides and local experts, from chefs to street food operators;
- 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 and immersive experiences – hands-on cooking classes, market tastings, street food tours, history and architecture walks, farm visits, coffee appreciation classes, wine tastings, and more;
- a relaxed vibe – our trips feel more like well-organised holidays with new friends than tours with travel companies;
- slow pace – we cram in a lot, but at a comparatively slower pace to most tour companies because we want you to have a deeper rather than a superficial experience – when most travel companies spend two days in a place, we’ll take four;
- 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:
- in-depth hands-on cooking classes at the very best cooking schools, including Chef Luke Nguyen’s GRAIN cooking school (with optional wine pairing) in Saigon; full day class at Hoi An’s Red Bridge Cooking School, with a visit to Tra Que organic herb gardens and a boat cruise back to Hoi An; authentic heritage dishes at a home in Hue; lessons in cooking the cuisine of Hanoi and the Northern Highlands at cookbook writer Tracey Lister’s Hanoi Cooking Centre; dessert making with a legendary Hanoi street food vendor specialising in sweets; and cooking with women from the Hmong ethnic minority group in Sapa.
- mouthwatering ambles through lively local markets and delicious street food tours with lots of snacking led by local experts in Saigon, Hoi An, Hue, Hanoi, and Bac Ha.
- street food feasting at authentic local spots for breakfast, lunch and snacks in every destination – from the best pho and bun cha places in Hanoi to Hoi An’s beloved banh mi spots, which we used to eat 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, a local favourite that Anthony Bourdain made famous;
- memorable meals at some of Vietnam’s finest restaurants with the chance to meet the chefs and owners behind these establishments;
- visits to artisanal producers to observe traditional processes, including an opportunity to witness noodle-making by the family responsible for Hoi An’s legendary cao lau noodles (followed by a tasting tour to sample Hoi An’s finest noodles) and the chance to see the making of Hoi An’s illustrious chili sauce;
- village and countryside experiences to get a taste of rural life, including a day exploring the lush waterways of the Mekong Delta, a visit to an organic farm in the rice fields outside Hoi An, and 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;
- 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;
- evenings spent in local ‘bia hoi’ joints sampling 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;
- 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, from an enchanting ca tru concert to 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; edible souvenirs, such as dried fruits, preserves, coffee, and wine in Dalat; lanterns, lacquerware, coconut wood utensils, and chili sauce at Hoi An; silk and embroidery in Hanoi, and hill tribe handicrafts and textiles in Sapa and Bac Ha;
- memorable stays in hotels with character – expect anything from a colonial-era heritage hotel that oozes history to a stylish boutique hotel with spa;
- a taste of Vietnam train travel, from the epic journey from Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon) to Hanoi on the Reunification Express, which runs the length of the country – we’ll ride the Danang to Hue section – to an overnight sleeper from Hanoi to Lao Cai for Sapa.
Vietnam Culinary Tour – Prices
Returning participants discount for our 22-day Vietnam Culinary Tour US$3,664 pp*
To book pay US$500 non-refundable deposit by 31 March and US$3,164 balance by 30 April
(3 spots only at this rate)
Early bird discount US$3,964 pp*
To book pay US$500 non-refundable deposit by 12 May and US$3,464 balance by 19 May (4 spots only at this rate)
Just in time bookings US$4,164pp*
To book pay US$500 non-refundable deposit and US$3,664 balance up to one week before departure
*Price includes the inclusions below for single occupancy in a double room, which is what most of our participants prefer. If you’d like to share a room with someone please get in touch for twin occupancy rates.
Vietnam Culinary Tour – Inclusions
- All accommodation and daily breakfasts
- Almost all lunches (sometimes these are part of street food tours/cooking classes)
- Almost all dinners
- Countless snacks and tastings (sometimes these are part of market walks and street food tours)
- Three domestic flights – Saigon (Ho Chi Minh City)-Dalat, Dalat-Danang, Hue-Hanoi
- All airport transfers for international and domestic flights
- One train trip in soft seats from Danang to Hue and one overnight train in a sleeper compartment from Hanoi to Lao Cai for Sapa/Bac Ha
- All train station transfers
- Transport between destinations by private air-conditioned mini-buses
- Transport within cities – taxis, cyclos, bicycles, etc
- English-speaking Vietnamese guides
- Tips for volunteer student guides
- All cooking classes, language lessons, street food tours, walking tours, and other activities, except where indicated for optional activities
- All entrance fees, except where indicated for optional activities
- Your private host (Lara)
*Note that domestic flights can only be assured if participants pay in full on time. In the event that payments are not received on time we may need to reschedule a flight, adjust the itinerary and/or replace a flight with overland transport.
Vietnam Culinary Tour – Exclusions
- International flights
- Travel Insurance –compulsory. We recommend World Nomads.
- Visa – check here to see whether you need a visa and what kind of visa you need, then click here to arrange your own visa; it’s easy, can be done online and only takes a few days. Note that you will still need to pay a ‘stamping fee’ (US$ recommended) at the airport (fees are listed here) and you will need to bring passport photos etc so read the information carefully.
- Drinks, water and alcohol, except where indicated
- Personal expenses – mini-bar, laundry, calls, room service, etc
- Tips for professional guides and drivers – at your discretion
- Expenses during free time/optional activities – eg. taxis, extra snacks/meals/drinks etc
- Meals/activities indicated as ‘optional’ or ‘at your own expense’
Halong Bay Cruise Optional Add-On
We’ve included an optional post-Vietnam Culinary Tour 3-day/2-night Halong Bay cruise in the 22-day itinerary above to take in the jade waters, clusters of craggy islets, and dramatic limestone karsts and schist outcrops of this breathtaking area. If you do not wish to do this, let us know.
Activities will include a cooking class, a boat trip to a floating village, and early morning tai chi. Or you can simply relax in a sun-lounger on the rooftop deck of the boat and absorb the breathtaking panoramas. So far, all participants have signed up for this.
2 night/3 day cruise Halong Bay Cruise
Premium Cabin with French balcony $355 pp
Deluxe Cabin with window, no balcony $325 pp
Halong Bay Cruise – Inclusions
- Land transport Hanoi – Halong Bay – Hanoi (modern, comfortable bus with A/C)
- Welcome drink
- Deluxe en-suite cabin with A/C, hot water
- All meals on boat
- English speaking tour guide on board
- Kayaking or cruise on bamboo boat to floating villages (optional)
- Entrance & sightseeing fees
- Cooking class (demonstration)
- Tai Chi (optional)
- Insurance, taxes and service charges
- Free Hanoi walking tour
Halong Bay Cruise – Exclusions
- Beverages, tips & personal expenses
- Massage (optional)
To obtain a comprehensive itinerary and payment details and to book spots on our Vietnam Culinary Tour or express interest future tours, email us at email@example.com. If you have any questions, feel free to post them in the comments below or email us on the address above.
Vietnam Visa on Arrival
Travelling to Vietnam? Click through to arrange your Vietnam Visa on Arrival through our Visa Partner, the most respected Vietnam Visa agent. Visa approval letters take just 2 business days, although urgent visas can be arranged in as little as 4 working hours and up to 1 working day. More visa information here.