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Real Food Adventure - Vietnam

Trip type: 
Food & Cultural
Adventure level: 
2. Gentle
Max group size: 
Avg user rating: 
Awaiting reviews
Asia, Vietnam | 14 days
Trip code: 
What's included: 

Transport - Overnight sleeper train, Private minibus, Plane, Taxi

Accommodation - Hotel (8 nts), Overnight sleeper train (1 nt), Overnight boat (1 nt), Homestay (1 nt)

Meals - 11 breakfasts, 5 lunches & 6 dinners

Trip Highlights: 
Discover delicious Vietnamese Cuisine
Cookery Classes
Cycle through Herb Garden
Early morning fish market.
see full itinerary >>

Holidays in Vietnam
You'll follow an itinerary which has been researched and planned by our experts, saving you all the hassle of organising the trip. The itineraries are designed to minimise the time spent travelling and maximise the variety of experiences.
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Itinerary for Real Food Adventure - Vietnam

(Departures in 2014-15)
  • Day 1-3 - Hanoi
  • Day 4-5 - Halong Bay/Overnight Train
  • Day 6 - Hue
  • Day 7-9 - Hoi An
  • Day 10 - Ho Chi Minh City
  • Day 11 - Mekong Delta Homestay
  • Day 12 - Ho Chi Minh City
  • Day 13 - Tour ends
Extensions and Extras: Extend your holiday and see more of the world. View additional tours for this trip »


Take an overnight flight - on arrival you will be met and transferred to your hotel.

Xin chao! Welcome to Vietnam.

Your adventure begins with a welcome meeting at 6:00pm on Day 2. We'll be collecting your insurance details and next of kin information at this meeting, so please ensure you have all these details to provide to your leader.

The capital of Vietnam is a charming city with a population of around four million. Hanoi is famous for its beautiful lakes, shaded boulevards, verdant public parks and its thriving Old Quarter, which is an architectural museum piece with blocks of ochre buildings retaining the air of a 1930s provincial French town. As Vietnam develops to compete with other South-East Asian countries, the beautiful Hoan Kiem Lake reflects the contrasts of modern office buildings, old Buddhist temples and the tangle of ancient streets in its still surface.

Tonight, your first introduction to Vietnam’s lively culinary scene will be bia hoi. Bia hoi is a foamy, light-alcohol beer made fresh each day and served in basic, open-walled ‘brew halls’. Sip your brew while sitting on brightly coloured plastic chairs.

Banana flower salad (nom hoa chuoi), barbecued chicken (ga nuong) and fried rice (com rang) are common dishes on the menu.

Start the next day with a traditional breakfast of pho – a dish that originates from Hanoi and is designed to awaken the senses and prepare you for the day. We’ll then embark on a guided tour of Chau Long Market, learning all about the ingredients and flavours of northern Vietnamese cuisine. Get involved in a betel nut demonstration and, for the more daring, try a fertilized egg or silk worm. We’ll also be sampling a cup of the local coffee, typically served with yogurt or black sticky rice with yogurt.

Hanoi is renowned for its legendary street food dishes and Dong Xuan Market is one of the top places to get some of the best street food the city has to offer! Enjoy a street food lunch alongside the locals at Hanoi’s largest covered market.

Learn about the traditions of Northern Vietnamese cuisine with the experts at the Hanoi Cooking Centre. Chinese culinary influence remains in the capital and the Northern Highlands, but the dishes you will be cooking are truly Vietnamese. Discover some old Hanoian favorites like caramel pork as well as some lesser known dishes from the highlands. Enjoy the fruits of your labour for dinner.

Sample authentic Vietnamese tea at one of Hanoi’s hidden teahouses. Tea plays a major role in Vietnamese culinary culture. Vietnamese people generally favor lighter teas with a flowery fragrance, often green or white tea infused with flowers. Vietnamese teahouses offer a place to savour tea and wile away the hours talking and relaxing.

Included Activities

  • Hanoi - Street Eats and Market tour
  • Hanoi - Cooking class
  • Hanoi - Teahouse visit

Optional Activities

  • Hanoi - Museum of Ethnology - VND25000
  • Hanoi - Fine Arts Museum - VND20000
  • Hanoi - Temple of Literature - VND20000
  • Hanoi - Ho Chi Minh's stilt house - VND25000


Hotel (2 nts)


Halong Bay/Overnight Train

Halong Bay/Overnight Train

Travel by private minibus to the spectacular World Heritage site of Halong Bay (approx 4 hrs).

Experience one of Vietnam’s most incredible sites as you sail among the rock formations of Halong Bay. There's an opportunity to swim in the famed South China Sea, as well as to explore caves filled with stunning stalactites and stalagmites. You also visit the local fishing village of Cua Van. Spend a peaceful night onboard beneath a velvety sky alive with stars. Our overnight accommodation on Halong Bay is on a sailing junk with twin bed cabins that have air-conditioning and private facilities. There's also a dining room and bar where you enjoy a sumptuous dinner cooked by our onboard chef.

Take a bus back to Hanoi (approx 3.5 hrs).

Spend the rest of the afternoon taking in the sounds and sites of Hanoi – perhaps enjoying some shopping or simply relaxing in one of the city’s many cafés.

Don’t forget to have dinner before hopping on the overnight train bound for Hue. Our tour guide will recommend you get take-away from Koto, a restaurant that supports hospitality training for underprivileged Vietnamese kids.

Board an overnight train bound for Hue. Although conditions are basic, overnight trains are a true Intrepid experience and the best way to travel long distances with the locals. Sleeper trains typically have four berth compartments (occasionally six berth depending on seasonal variations), which have bench seats that convert into sleeping bunks. A sheet, pillow and blanket are provided, although some travellers prefer to bring their own sleeping sheet. On occasion, passengers of different genders will be required to share a compartment and there will be occasions where you'll be sharing with local travellers or travellers who are not part of your group. Most trains have a dining carriage serving simple food, but some travellers take the opportunity to stock up on fresh bread, cheese and fruit prior to departure.

Included Activities

  • Halong Bay - Overnight boat cruise


Overnight boat (1 nt), Overnight sleeper train (1 nt)




Hue is Vietnam’s former royal capital and its cuisine is considered by many Vietnamese as the best in the country. Hue’s cuisine is influenced both by its imperial heritage (small dishes and a focus on aesthetic presentation) as well as its strong Buddhist heritage, reflected in the high proportion of vegetarian restaurants in the region.

You enjoy a classic Hue breakfast of bún bò Huế, a popular Vietnamese soup containing rice vermicelli (bún) and beef (bò), before embarking on our tour of the city’s imperial monuments.

Visit the Imperial Citadel, including the Forbidden Purple City. The latter was almost totally destroyed during the Vietnam War's Tet Offensive, but the foliage-covered ruins are still atmospheric and the gaping holes left by bombs give an idea of the destruction wreaked upon the country during the war.

Enjoy a dragon boat cruise on the Perfume River, and a visit to Thien Mu Pagoda, considered by many to be the unofficial symbol of Hue. It's an active Buddhist monastery with its origins dating back to 1601. One of the most poignant displays is a car belonging to a former monk who, in 1963, drove to Saigon and set himself alight to protest against the treatment of Buddhists by the South Vietnamese regime. You also visit one of the royal tombs, that of Emperor Tu Duc, with its central lake set amid a grove of frangipani and pine trees, and you may visit what many believe to be the most majestic of all the royal tombs, Minh Mang.

Most groups will visit either a Buddhist nunnery or monastery and have lunch while in Hue. Not only does the lunch provide economic benefits to these institutions, which rely on donations to survive, but it also enables our groups to get an insight into the unique traditions and food of Vietnamese Buddism. Due to the high passenger numbers visiting Hue, six different monasteries and nunneries are visited so as to share the wealth and minimise impact.

This evening you can choose to be guided by your leader on the best place to try imperial street specialties, including the famed banh hue (rice flour cakes stuffed with shrimp, pork and spices).

Included Activities

  • Hue - Imperial citadel
  • Hue - Perfume river cruise and Thien Mu Pagoda
  • Hue - Royal tomb

Optional Activities

  • Hue - Royal Street Food tour - VND200000


Hotel (1 nt)



Hoi An

Travelling by bus, head south through coastal rice paddies before traversing the spectacularly mountainous Hai Van Pass. After a brief visit to the beautiful China Beach, arrive at Hoi An (approx. 4 hours).

Recently declared a World Heritage site, Hoi An is being beautifully restored and preserved. Known as Faifo to early western traders, it was one of South-East Asia's major international ports during the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries. Today, parts of Hoi An look exactly as they did more than a century ago and it retains the feel of centuries past, making it the sort of place that grows on you the more you explore it.

It's also a shopping mecca – with much to browse and buy. Choose from original paintings, handcrafted woodwork, ceramics, embroidery, lanterns and more. Hoi An has also become famous for its tailoring, with a great variety of fabrics and tailors to choose from. Bring your favourite piece of clothing or even just a picture, and you'll be able to have it copied.

On arrival, your tour leader will take you on an orientation walk around the Ancient Town, so you can get your bearings.

Tonight, pull up a plastic chair at a communal table alongside locals and learn how to make one of central Vietnam’s most celebrated dishes, banh xeo, at a classic streetside, no-menu restaurant in the Ancient Town of Hoi An.

Today you have an introduction to the cuisine of central Vietnam and its signature vegetables, herbs and spices, and how to prepare and use them. 
Start with a guided bicycle tour to the herb gardens of Tra Que Village. At the local market you are also introduced to the wealth of produce available in central Vietnam. We’ll purchase some ingredients before heading back to Hoi An for a hands-on lesson in some classic central Vietnamese dishes. You’ll also pick up some cooking and cutting techniques which will put you in good stead to recreate these dishes at home. Lunch on all that’s been created.

The rest of the day is free to pick up any made-to-measure goodies or foodie delights experience one of Hoi An’s many acclaimed dining establishments.

Today is a free day for you to relax, do some shopping or spend time at the beach. There is an optional fish market visit for any early risers to learn about some of the best seafood Vietnam has to offer. In the evening, you can choose to head out to the beach for a local dinner favourite of seafood steamed in beer or jump on a boat to enjoy a barbecue feast on a nearby island.

Included Activities

  • Hoi An - Bale Well Dinner
  • Hoi An - Ancient town
  • Hue - Perfume river cruise and Thien Mu Pagoda
  • Hoi An - Herb Garden Bicycle Tour and Cooking Class


Hotel (3 nts)



Ho Chi Minh City

Take a short flight to the economic hub of Ho Chi Minh City (approx 1 hr).

Formerly known as Saigon, Ho Chi Minh City is characterised by a vast array of sights and sounds, and is a fascinating blend of old and new, East and West. The huge number of people rushing about their daily lives in Vietnam's largest city gives it a dynamic atmosphere and the French influence is evident in the excellent baguettes and coffee on offer. Much of city life takes place on the busy streets lined with shops, stalls and vendors, who have their wares spread out on the footpath and sell everything from soup to sophisticated electronics.

Get familiar with some of the most famous sites and monuments of the modern-day capital of Vietnam on a city tour, including the War Museum, GPO and Notre Dame Cathedral. You finish up at one of Vietnam’s most vibrant markets, Ben Thanh.

Ben Thanh is Ho Chi Minh City’s largest market and the perfect place to pick up any last minute snacks, cooking utensils, ingredients and presents for friends, family (and yourself!) before you return home. Perhaps enjoy some of the market fare for dinner as you shop.

Ho Chi Minh City is Vietnam’s party capital. If you’re not too tired from the day’s activities, get involved in the city’s vibrant nightlife.

Included Activities

  • HCMC - War Remnants Museum
  • HCMC - City tour
  • HCMC - Ben Thanh market


Hotel (1 nt)


Mekong Delta Homestay

Mekong Delta Homestay

You take a private bus out to the Mekong Delta (approx. 2-3 hours)

The Mekong Delta is the lifeblood of South-East Asia, and this fertile region within Vietnam is a maze of canals brimming with life, markets and tropical foods.

You will start with a boat ride through Cai Be Floating Market, where we’ll cruise among local barges full of fruits and vegetables and other local products, including fish sauce and soya sauce. At the market you will purchase some ingredients for preparing dinner before continuing on to local workshops to observe local food industries, including rice paper, coconut candy, pop-rice and popcorn production.

The boat will then take you deeper into the countryside along smaller canals to past local farms and producers. Depending on the season, there will be an opportunity to see traditional methods of catching fish or collecting fruits.

Check in at the homestay and help cook some local southern Vietnamese dishes alongside our hosts. Enjoy dinner with tea or rice wine and have the opportunity to talk with your hosts about local agricultural life.

At our homestay we'll be sleeping on simple camp beds in a dorm-style arrangement. Bedding and mosquito nets are provided. Shared toilet and bathroom facilities are basic with cold water only.

Included Activities

  • Mekong Delta - boat cruise and homestay


Homestay (1 nt)


Ho Chi Minh City

Ho Chi Minh City

After being woken by the cockerels, you will help prepare a traditional breakfast before farewelling our hosts. On our return trip, you stop at a floating village to learn about catfish farming on the Mekong River then finish our journey at Vinhlong Market. Explore the local produce stands bearing fish, shrimps, prawns, crabs, snakes and rice-field rats alongside tropical fruits and vegetables.

Return to Ho Chi Minh City by bus.

You finish our Vietnam Real Food Adventure with a truly unique experience with one of Vietnam’s most celebrated food personalities. For our final evening together you will enjoy a unique cooking class on southern Vietnamese cuisine followed by dinner.

Included Activities

  • HCMC - Cooking class and dinner
  • Mekong Delta - Traditional breakfast
  • Mekong Delta - Vist to Vinhlong Market


Hotel (1 nt)




Tour ends

Your adventure ends today and you will be transferred to the airport for your flight home.