Vietnam Food Adventure

12 days
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£1,899
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4.7 / 5 from 3 reviews >
Leisurely
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Trip code: 
ALC
Way to Travel:
Guided Group
Activity:
Food & Drink
Min age:
16
Group size:
4–16

Savour and master a variety of regional dishes in the food lovers paradise of Vietnam

A culinary journey through Vietnam that reveals a deceptive simplicity to a cuisine renowned for its fresh, natural ingredients, aromatic appeal and delicate balance of flavours. From savouring the freshest seafood in Halong Bay, sitting with the locals while sampling the best of street snacks in Hoi An, cycling through the herb gardens of Tra Que village, joining a family for a night spent on the Mekong Delta, to trying your hand at mastering a variety of regional dishes, this trip ensures that you make the most of this food lovers paradise. Each day is packed with culinary-based experiences that are best rewarded with a bia-hoi (local fresh beer) and a perch on the street-side bars to absorb the fascinating culture of this gastronomical land. 

Highlights

  • Sunrise walk around lake in Hanoi to join the locals for Tai Chi and a Pho breakfast
  • Multiple cooking classes to master each local cuisine
  • Guided market visits to learn about and taste local fresh ingredients
  • Visit one of the last traditional tea houses for a tea ceremony
  • Candlelit seafood dinner while cruising the spectacular Halong Bay
  • Journey by bicycle to vast herb gardens
  • Overnight stay with a local family in the fruit orchards of the Mekong Delta

Key information

  • Travel by private minibus and boat plus 2 internal flights
  • Group normally 5 to 16 plus leader
  • 7 nights hotels, 1 night boat and 1 night homestay

What's included

  • All accommodation
  • 9 breakfasts, 4 lunches and 5 dinners
  • Flights from London (if booking incl. flights)
  • All transport and listed activities
  • Tour leader throughout
  • Arrival & departure transfers

What's not included

  • Travel Insurance
  • Single accommodation (available on request)
  • Visas and vaccinations

Responsible Travel

At Exodus we believe in the power of Responsible Travel.

Every time we travel, we are part of a global movement that creates jobs, builds more sustainable societies, encourages cultural understanding and safeguards common natural and cultural heritage. To learn more about what Responsible Travel means to Exodus click here… 

Itinerary

  • Day 1

  • Day 2

    Arrive Hanoi.

    The day is free to recover from the flight or stroll amongst broad tree-lined avenues dating from the French period. There is a faded colonial charm where baguettes and good coffee are sold from doorways of grand buildings of a past era. There will be a welcome briefing this evening with a group dinner at a local restaurant.
    Comfortable Hotel

    Meals included: Dinner
  • Day 3

    Sunrise walk around Hoan Kiem; lakeside breakfast. Market visit and evening cooking class.

    Today is a jam-packed day of culinary-based activities. We start our day with a sunrise walk around the Hoam Kiem lake in the middle of Hanoi. We’ll join the throngs of locals as they come together for a daily morning activity – this could be laughing yoga, Tai Chi or street aerobics and all are welcome to participate in this communal gathering before we sit for a quick bowl of breakfast Pho, a steaming noodle soup that is the standard breakfast fare. After breakfast we’ll walk to nearby Dong Xuan market to learn about local fruits and vegetables and to have the opportunity to touch and taste many of the staple ingredients we will come across throughout our trip. This afternoon we pay a visit to the Truong Xuan teahouse. This is one of the last traditional teahouses in Vietnam and we partake in a tea ceremony. Late afternoon we’ll transfer to the KOTO (Know One, Teach One) cooking school, a training school for disadvantaged youths. The KOTO chef will teach us how to prepare spring rolls, a variety of seafood dishes and even dessert. We will of course end the perfect gastronomical day by enjoying our self-made feast!fvgggg
    Comfortable Hotel

    Meals included: Breakfast Dinner
  • Day 4

    To Halong Bay; overnight on boat with candlelight seafood dinner on top deck.

    We make an early start for the approximately 4-hour journey to Halong Bay. This is one of the most stunningly beautiful sights in South East Asia with roughly 3,000 limestone peaks rising directly from the clear emerald sea. We cruise amongst this amazing karst scenery and enjoy a seafood dinner on board by candlelight. Halong Bay is rich in seafood and offers dishes ranging from horseshoe crab to grilled squid and fresh lobster, dependent on the catch of the day that morning. We overnight on board in twin share cabins with en-suite facilities.
    Overnight Boat

    Meals included: Breakfast Lunch Dinner
  • Day 5

    Return to Hanoi; fly to Hoi An, an atmospheric town of Chinese temples and crumbling colonial architecture.

    We continue to cruise around Halong Bay this morning before returning to port. We then drive back to Hanoi pausing for lunch before heading straight to the airport for a flight to Da Nang. Overnight in Hoi An, our resting place for the next three nights. A charming small town, Hoi An largely escaped the destruction of successive wars and its backstreets with traditional architecture are a delight to explore on foot as many are off-bounds to cars and motorbikes.
    Comfortable Hotel

    Meals included: Breakfast
  • Day 6

    Walking tour of Hoi An; sample the street food delights at a local restaurant.

    This morning will include a walking tour of Hoi An, the original European trading port in Vietnam dating back to the mid-sixteenth century. It is now a living museum, with attractive wooden merchant's houses and pagoda-style temples with Chinese, Japanese, Vietnamese and European architectural influences. We will stop for lunch at Bale restaurant to sample some street food delights. Very popular with the locals, this restaurant tucked away in the backstreets really is a hidden gem. We will work our way through the menu sampling pork sate’s, sizzling seafood and sumptuous Vietnamese pancakes. This afternoon is free, one popular option is to jump on a bike for a ride through the countryside past local markets, schools and villages before continuing on to My Khe Beach (5 km). Hoi An is also a marvellous place to wander around and enjoy the thriving riverside market and great silk, clothes shopping. If you have anything you want made up in mind, you should consider taking a picture of it along with you.
    Comfortable Hotel

    Meals included: Breakfast Lunch
  • Day 7

    Leisurely cycle ride to Tra Que herb village; cooking class.

    Today is a real hands-on day. We set off early by bicycle to the Tra Que Village, famed for its avenues of herbs, so fragrant you can smell them before you see them. We’ll visit lots of small producers to learn about the process of making the local specialities; a Cao Lau noodle maker and a bean sprout growers home as well as the local market. En-route we will cycle by water buffaloes and an abundance of bird life, two wheels being the optimum way to appreciate the rolling paddy-field countryside. We will visit the market restaurant to watch some live cooking demonstrations before partaking in another cooking class, this time learning all about Central Vietnamese cuisine. This afternoon is at leisure with time to further explore Hoi An. Alternative transport options are available for those who would rather not cycle, there will be a small extra cost, please speak to your leader. Cycling distance approx 12km on flat terrain.
    Comfortable Hotel

    Meals included: Breakfast Lunch
  • Day 8

    Fly to Saigon; city tour. Optional dinner in a converted colonial villa.

    We drive to Danang and then fly to Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon), an exciting and absorbing city where scooters pack the streets and temples stand defiantly alongside modern developments. Devastated by the Vietnam War, it is now a bustling free market city where anything goes. Our hotel is in the heart of this incredible city. We include a visit to the Ben Thanh Market, Reunification Palace, Notre Dame Cathedral and War Remnants Museum. The Museum has an interesting photographic record of the Vietnam/American War. Please be aware that some images at the museum are very graphic. After the city tour we will visit Ben Thanh market; the most central of all the markets the surrounding streets compromise one of the city’s liveliest areas. Everything that’s commonly worn, used or eaten by the residents of HCMC is piled high here; from scorpions in alcohol and flashy jewellery to hardware and piles of spices and fruit and vegetables. The ‘wet market’ at the back is for the brave only; expect to see clutches of live frogs tied together by the legs, heaps of pigs ears and snouts and baskets wedged full of chickens.
    Comfortable Hotel

    Meals included: Breakfast
  • Day 9

    Mekong Delta boat ride; overnight in homestay, dinner with the family.

    In the morning we drive to Vinh Long in the Mekong Delta, known as the 'rice bowl' of Vietnam. This region produces most of Vietnam's fruit, sugar cane and coconuts. We take a boat trip on the mighty Mekong River to Cai Be. En route we pass many orchards and friendly locals also travelling by boat. We stop to see some small cottage industries such as rice paper and coconut candy, getting a chance to sample the local produce along the way. The evening is tranquil as we have dinner on an island and enjoy some 'Delta' hospitality. We spend the night sleeping at a simple guesthouse built in the style of a local house. Bedding, a mosquito net and a small towel are provided.
    Guesthouse

    Meals included: Breakfast Lunch Dinner
  • Day 10

    Return to Saigon; meet the legendary Mrs Van and learn about south Vietnamese cuisine.

    An early start today as we head to the floating market of Cai Be. Visually intoxicating this bustling river market is the only way to understand life on the Mekong. We’ll watch all sorts of wares being traded and of course will have the chance to taste some of the local produce; the Durian fruit should be sampled but for many one taste is enough! The market is set to the backdrop of miles of paddy fields punctuated mostly by agricultural holdings although there is a huge Catholic cathedral on the riverside that is worth a visit. We will transfer back to Ho Chi Minh City for our final cookery class in the centre, this time learning the intricacies of South Vietnam cuisine which is often sweeter due to the use of coconut and palm from the tropical climate.
    Comfortable Hotel

    Meals included: Breakfast Dinner
  • Day 11

    Depart Saigon.

    For those on group flights these depart late in the evening so there will be a full free day at leisure to continue exploring the frenetic city of Ho Chi Minh. There will be some optional acitivies for those who would like to partake; you may wish to visit the famous Cu Chi tunnels. Used by the Viet Cong during the war the network covers 3 levels and approximately 240km of tunnels. Traditionally these were very narrow but some areas have been widened to allow tourists to explore the system. Claustrophobes may prefer to stay outside in the sunshine!

    Meals included: Breakfast
  • Day 12

Essential Info

Visas

Vietnam

A visa is no longer needed for British, German, French, Spanish and Italian citizens travelling to Vietnam (for all purposes) for a period of up to 15 days, and on the basis of meeting all conditions prescribed by Vietnamese laws. The visa exemption period will end on 30 June 2018. All other nationalities require a visa to enter Vietnam and this must be obtained prior to departure. For further information see http://www.exodus.co.uk/assets/travelink/Vietnam.pdf or the FCO site and check under Vietnam / 'Entry Requirements'.

Vaccinations

Vietnam

There are no mandatory vaccination requirements. Recommended vaccinations are: Tetanus, Polio, Typhoid, Hepatitis A and Diphtheria.
The risk of malaria is slight, but you may wish to consult your GP or travel health clinic for further advice. Dengue fever is a known risk in places visited. It is a tropical viral disease spread by daytime biting mosquitoes. There is currently no vaccine or prophylaxis available for Dengue, and therefore the best form of prevention is to avoid being bitten. We recommend you take the usual precautions to avoid mosquito bites.

Eating and Drinking

9 breakfasts, 4 lunches and 5 dinners included.

Thanks to it's tropical climate, the long coast and the gigantic range of mountain, Vietnam is blessed with numerous varieties of culinary offerings and consequently maintains its reputation as one of the healthiest cuisines in the world that still packs a punch with delicious fresh and fiery flavours. Vietnamese food relies on fresh fish, vegetables, rice and a whole myriad of verdant herbs and spices; lemongrass, ginger, basil and lime all play an important role in the cuisine. The Chinese and French influence is felt throughout the country where you are just as likely to be offered a Banh Mi (stuffed baguette) as you are a hot steaming bowl of Pho (noodle soup). Each dish is prepared with the Asian principle of Wu Xing in mind (the five elements) meaning that the perfect combination of spicy, sour, bitter, salty and sweet is the ultimate aim. Be sure to also seek out the national beverages; Vietnamese coffee is served iced and sweet with condensed milk, a real sugar and caffeine hit, and beer hoi (local beer, brewed daily) is served on most street corners in the North out of large plastic jugs that are perfect for sharing.

Weather

The weather will be hot and humid throughout with temperatures during the day usually between 28ºC and 34ºC. It is only a little cooler at nights. There is quite a range of seasons between the north and the south: the south up to Hue has a distinct dry season between December to April and then a rainy season from May to November when it tends to come in short heavy bursts with bright sunshine in between. Hanoi is cool in autumn, and even gets chilly between November and February (with a drizzly rain). There is no ideal time to visit Vietnam; it is quite pleasant at any time of year, though due to the shape of the country it is unlikely that the weather will ever be perfect for the entire duration of any trip. The monsoon is characterised by short, sharp bursts of rain and is generally overcast all day though this does not detract from the enjoyment of the place; you just need to take an umbrella or buy a cheap local poncho!

Hanoi

Saigon

Is this trip for you?

This is a busy itinerary that visits the main highlights of Vietnam. We travel by private minibus and we take two internal flights to allow you to experience as much as possible of this beautiful and diverse county in a short space of time. We use mostly 3 star hotels throughout our tour. The weather can be hot and humid and cold in the winter months in the north around Hanoi and Halong Bay. Some of the days can be fairly long and tiring and there is a large time difference.

Accommodation

Hotels, homestay and overnight boat

The accommodation on this trip is mostly in good quality hotels (mostly 3-star). 7 nights comfortable hotels, 1 night boat with twin share cabins, all en suite, 1 night standard guesthouse to experience some 'Mekong Delta' hospitality, sleeping 1-3 a room (depending on group size), next to a local house. All of the hotels have either fans or air conditioning and we have twin rooms with private facilities. Please note that double beds are not always widely available in South East Asia.

Expert Blog Entries

The mountains will always draw us back to this majestic country: and now, with the return of a very special trip, the

  • Reviewed March 2017
    Angela Buchanan

    Vietnam Food Adventure

    This was my first time visiting Vietnam (visited March 2017) and based on my first experience I would definately visit again. I can honestly say the whole group of people were lovely. My group consists of two couples and seven solo travellers. One member of the group joined us from New Zealand.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    The first day of my trip was truly inspirational in that it was a great way to start my holiday on a food tour of Hanoi the group walked around Hanoi tasting and experiencing different foods, most of which we had never tried before, the food was simply delicious. The boat stay in Halong Bay was amazing

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Phuong our group leader - what a lovely man. So knowledgable about his country & very patient, the amount of times I enquired about cooking utensils and where I could purchase things was never too much trouble, he was like a family member.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Food adventure tours are simply great for solo travellers. You meet so many lovely people (food in general brings people together - this is the common bond for taking a food adventure vacation). Vietnam is a lovely country to visit.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Please Exodus more food adventure holidays.
  • Reviewed March 2017
    Hazel ledgard

    Vietnam Food Adventure

    Just come back from Vietnam.I had been there twice before and this trip proved to be a new way of looking at the country.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    We loved walking through the markets in Hanoi and trying out different food. The three cooking classes were excellent and showed how varied the food is in different regions. We ate in local restaurants,including a roadside cafe on the way to the Mekong Delta where we were the only westerners. The meals on the boat in Halong Bay were wonderful and at the homestay. Everywhere, we saw how important food is to understanding more about Vietnamese culture.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Phoung was amazing.He showed us so much about the culture of his country. He was enthusiastic, knowledgeable and had a great sense of humour.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Go there and enjoy it too.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    A wonderful trip - Exodus should think about doing more food experiences - I think that they would be equally good.
  • Reviewed February 2016
    Susan Sargeant

    Vietnam Food Adventure

    First time the trip had run, but everyone in the group enjoyed it. The cooking lessons were well run and great fun. The weather was unexpectedly cold and very wet in Hanoi and Halong Bay, and it is worth taking very warm clothing. All the places we stayed, especially in Hoi An, were excellent, and the time we spent in the Mekong Delta and the homestay were my favourite days. Don't miss the Opera House in Saigon for a superb local show. Overall an excellent holiday, and Bon a really good leader.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Meeting the staff in the cooking schools, and the day spent in the Mekong Delta

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Bon was inspirational, always cheerful and exceedingly helpful and knowlegeable

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Take warm clothing for Hanoi. When they say it may be cold, it really is!5

Dates & Prices

An overview of flight options

Exodus is committed to making joining our tours as easy as possible, wherever you live. We generally only block book seats from London, but this certainly does not mean that you need to fly from there. Depending on the route and airlines available, there will usually be various options available for those who want to fly from their local airport.

This page aims to provide a useful overview of the options available to our clients. However, the best flight arrangements should be tailored to your personal requirements, so please contact our Sales team for expert advice.

 

What kind of options do I have ?

1. We can book for you: Flights from anywhere in the world - not via London  

Depending on the route, this may be direct or via an overseas hub like Amsterdam, the Middle East or elsewhere. On short haul routes there may be direct flights with low cost airlines, charter flights or scheduled airlines. Exodus can book most, but not all, of these for you. The most appropriate airline may be different to that which we use for the group flight from London, but many people now travel on different airlines and meet up with their fellow passengers at the destination.

Pros Cons
  • May be the most direct route
  • Often the extra fare compared to the London flight is minimal.
  • As you will be in the hands a single airline for your entire journey, the airline will be responsible for your bags and your connections.
  • You may not be able to join the group transfers. However, we can usually arrange private transfers, or book your flights to try and coincide with the group transfers. See notes on transfer arrangements below.

 

2. We can book for you: Connecting flights from your local airport to London

Exodus can book connecting flights to London so you can join the group flight there. Connecting times will be followed according to airline advice, or as requested by clients. There are two types of fares we can use for this option: a 'through-fare' or a 'published fare'.
 
a) A 'through-fare' is where you will be in the main airline's care throughout. You change planes, but your bags are checked all the way through to your final destination. 

b) A 'published fare' ticket is completely seperate from your onward ticket from London. It is usually cheaper than a through-fare but will need to be paid for and issued as soon as it is booked. This can be a problem if your tour has not yet reached minimum numbers. On 'published fares' neither airline is aware that you have connecting flights, so Exodus is responsible for timing your connection, not the airlines involved. The tickets are also usually non changeable and non refundable.

Pros Cons
  • Depending on the fare type, Exodus or the airline is responsible for flight connections.
  • Through fare tickets can be expensive.
  • On a published fare, tickets must be issued immediately; tickets on published fares can be very difficult to change if onward flight times change; bags are not checked though to your final destination.
  • Published fares are non-refundable.

 

3. Booking some or all of the flights yourself

You can also book connecting air travel yourself, either to London, or all the way to the start point. There may be certain airlines or routes we don't have access to, so this is always an option. However, if you make your own travel arrangements you become liable for any delays, cancellations or missed connections, and Exodus is not required to offer refunds if you have trouble reaching the start of your trip.

Pros Cons
  • You might find cheaper fares, or routes not available to Exodus.
  • You are responsible for any delays or missed connections, and the cost of the tour is not protected should you miss your flight be cancelled.

 

 Notes on transfer arrangements

Sometimes it is possible to travel on a different airline to the group flight from London. Where this is the case, we need to think about ensuring you meet up with the group with minimum extra cost and hassle.

  • On certain trips, it is easy to arrive on a different flight and still meet the group at the hotel with time in hand. We can usually arrange private transfers (at extra cost) or offer advice on taking a taxi to the start hotel.
  • On other trips (especially in Europe), the transfer meets the group flight and then travels some distance to the first night's accommodation. Where this is the case, our Sales team will try to arrange flights that arrive before (and depart after) the group. However, we do have to make it clear in your final documentation that if your flights are delayed, the transfer cannot wait for you. While Exodus or our local operators will do what we can to help you reach the start point of the tour, any additional costs must be paid by the client. 

 

Next steps? 

Call our Sales team on: 0203 733 0698

Email your query: [email protected]

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