A classic itinerary with a difference – explore the main cities of Vietnam whilst getting up close and personal with the locals. Savour the culinary delicacies that Vietnam has to offer and let your senses tingle with the sights, sounds and smells that make Vietnam a wonderful and intriguing country to visit.
Depart London Heathrow for international economy flight to Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon). We can also arrange departures from your local airport at no extra cost.
You will be welcomed by your local guide and transferred to the city and to your hotel. The balance of day is free at your leisure.
The morning is devoted to discover the culinary delights of Ho Chi Minh City. The cooking class begins with a stroll to the market to select your ingredients. Going to the market is also a good chance for you to experience the daily life of the Vietnamese people. After that you will learn to cook some local dishes with the assistance of the chef. Lunch will give you the opportunity to taste what you have just made and to sample additional dishes prepared by the cooks. In the afternoon, visit some of the historic sites of the city: including Cho Lon and Thien Hau Pagoda, the former Saigon Post Office, Notre Dame Cathedral and the Opera House.
Today, you will be taken from Saigon to Cai Thia Canal in Cai Be District, a journey of about 2.5 hours, where you will start your excursion deep into the Mekong Delta area. Feel the daily rhythm of life as well as the peaceful atmosphere by experiencing the many activities which the locals are used to doing, such as taking local ferries to cross small canals and rivers. We will then begin cycling for about 2 hours on small lanes passing by a local church, local market, a brick kiln and lush orchard gardens. We will make a stop en-route at a local house where you can sample seasonal fruit along with tea and honey and even local wine. By the end of morning, take a boat trip to another local house to enjoy lunch. Following lunch, experience a leisurely rowboat trip along the small Cay Da canal and further explore the area. Later by today, we then transfer to Can Tho by road. Check in to hotel at the end of the afternoon.
Early transfer to Ninh Kieu Quay where you will board the Mystic Mekong for a cruise to the lively, colourful floating markets of Cai Rang. Breakfast is available as soon as the sampan departs at 7 am from the Can Tho old market. During breakfast, you can enjoy the scenery of local daily life on the banks comfortably, thanks to the broad view and the spacious accommodation on the Mystic sampan. After the breakfast, the Mystic sampan cruises into the heart of Cai Rang floating market. There you will see a maze of boats loaded with fruits, vegetables or groceries for trading. You may also join the market by calling for fruits or a drink. Leaving the floating market, the Mystic sampan takes you to a husking factory where you have a chance to discover how rough rice is made into white rice in Vietnam. Or we may pay a visit to a local orchard instead for fresh fruits. Then the Mystic cruises back to Can Tho city to arrive at the old market before 10 AM. Picking up in the late morning upon disembarkation, we continue to Vang Xam where we will start a bike ride along small roads and lanes of the local villages. Discover a lush fruit orchard with more than 50 different types of fruits such as: lansi, pomelo, jackfruit, mandarin… Our guide will invite you to taste some seasonal fruits. Then keep on our journey by bike through small and peaceful paths of the village. You can see daily life of the locals while pedal via the orchard, smithy, nursery….Take a short rest and enjoy lunch (own expense) before we head directly to Ho Chi Minh Airport (180 km – 4-4.5 hour driving) for a brief 1-hour flight to Hue. Stop en route to visit a Cao Dai Temple, which is distributed to Cao Dai religious in Vietnam. Cao Dai draws upon ethical precepts from Confucianism, occult practices from Taoism, theories of karma and rebirth from Buddhism, and a hierarchical organisation (including a pope) from Roman Catholicism.
On arrival in Hue you will be transferred to the hotel for check in.
This morning, pay a visit to the impressive Imperial Citadel of Hue. Following the visit, we will start riding towards Phu Mong village – the ancient village 2 km from the Citadel. This village was the Mandarin’s, with ancient and charming architecture. The guides will briefly explain to you about the history of the village and the design of the houses there. After that, you will continue the ride in the shady and cool atmosphere towards an ancient garden house called Xuan Vien Tieu Cung which is located about 4 km from Hue city. It was built in 1894; however it is preserved intact with a venerable design. This house was originally the residence of Pham Huu Dien (a minister of Rite under the Nguyen dynasty), and has now been passed down to his granddaughter – Mrs Pham Thi Tuy. She is woman who reflects the spirit of the house with her simple beauty, just like that of the Hue women in ancient times. With a cup of green tea, fresh fruits from the garden and stories that are full of humour, clients will feel an invisible thread pulling them back from leaving the house and continuing on their bike journey. However, once back on their bikes, you will continue to a nice local restaurant and enjoy your lunch
In the afternoon, visit Minh Mang tomb – one of the most beautiful tombs in Hue. Finish your day with a walking tour around Dong Ba Market. Our guide will introduce you some typical local foods of Hue people. It will be a great chance for you to explore and taste the local foods. Back to your hotel in the late afternoon and free at your leisure.
In the morning, transfer to the Perfume River to visit the Thien Mu Pagoda. Afterwards depart for Hoi An via the scenic Hai Van Pass to view one of the most beautiful panoramas in Vietnam as you look out over the central coastline. You will also stop at the quiet, white sandy beach of Lang Co. We will arrive in Hoi An in the afternoon and check in at the hotel.
The small streets of Hoi An are ideal to wander through and view the shops on foot or on a bike. Cars and motorbikes are forbidden in the entire area, which allows you to peacefully enjoy some of most important sightseeing of Hoian such as Chinese temples, traditional houses, the Japanese bridge and daily active life of local people. Wake up in the early morning with a guided tour will allow you to further appreciate the true value of this legacy of over 800 historical monuments. The city itself has been listed UNESCO World Heritage. Try some of local food along the way.
The tour ends with a cup of coffee or tea at Reaching Out – a special tea shop where all the waiters and waitresses are deaf staff who are given a chance to have a self-reliant life and integrate into the community by being well trained to be able to work here professionally. A peaceful time for you to enjoy the silence and taste of coffee. Back to the hotel and the balance of day is free at your leisure.
In the morning, take a boat trip to Cua Dai (approximately 30 minutes). Upon arrival, you can join the daily activities of the local fishermen. Afterwards, take a coracle (round basket boat) for a tour to the mangrove forest of coconut trees. Disembark at around 10 am and spend the rest of exploring the town. Meet up with your guide again for a transfer to Danang Airport and then take a brief flight to Hanoi. Here you will be welcomed and transferred to your hotel.
Today we have a full-day tour of Vietnam’s capital city, including Ho Chi Minh’s Mausoleum, his traditional stilt house and the thousand-year-old Temple of Literature, also known as the First University of Vietnam.
In the afternoon, pay a visit to the Museum of Ethnology to learn about Vietnam’s diverse culture (54 ethnic groups in all). We then take a walking tour to explore the Old Quarter of Hanoi. Afterwards, you will have a chance to discover the street food of Hanoi under guidance of our local guide. This tour takes 3.5 hours and starts in the late afternoon for dinner. We start the tour at Hanoi’s largest covered market, Dong Xuan. Along the perimeter of the market, dozens of street hawkers sell a staggering variety of produce from live seafood to exotic fruits and spices. Your local guide will give you an insight into the intricacies and traditions of Vietnamese food culture including details on ingredients and historical backgrounds of popular northern dishes. We eat as we go, trying seasonal fruits and sampling a tasty French-inspired snack from a street cart. Walking through the maze of bustling streets that make up Hanoi’s Old Quarter, we tempt our taste buds with the famed Hanoi dish Banh Cuon at a local eatery. Watch in awe as the skilled chefs demonstrate for you how this tasty dish is put together. Continuing into the atmospheric heart of the Old Quarter, we wander past street stalls and quiet residential lanes where you can observe local life that has changed little since Hanoi was founded over 1000 years ago. Our next two snack stops are at outdoor barbecue stalls. We sit down with the Hanoi locals and sample various meat, vegetable and bread specialities that are flame grilled over hot coals for extra flavour. It is then time for dessert as we venture down a small alley to join in the local tradition of feasting on fresh fruit served in a cup and smothered with crushed iced and condensed milk – this speciality is one not to be missed! Your local guide will then take you to one of Hanoi’s best kept secrets, a hidden cafe with stunning views over the picturesque Hoan Kiem Lake. This hard-to-find cafe is one of the few left in the city that still serves egg coffee, a scrumptious local delicacy that we will sample whilst admiring the hustle and bustle of the city centre below. Or, if coffee is not your style, a cold beer awaits! At the end of the trip you are free to continue exploring Hanoi Old Quarter.
Leave Hanoi this morning and head straight to Halong bay, a stunning UNESCO World Heritage site with its 3,000 islands of towering limestone dotting the bay and Gulf of Tonkin. After arriving at noon, you will board a beautiful boat for an overnight cruise on Halong Bay with an excellent menu of fresh seafood. Lunch and dinner are served on boat. Overnight on board.
Wake up early in the morning to enjoy aquamarine water of the bay at its best. After tea break, the boat continues to cruise quietly through spectacular limestone formations of Halong Bay. Enjoy this more isolated bay’s spectacular and unique islands of the bay. Return to Halong harbour after a brunch for a transfer back to Hanoi. On the way, make a stop to enjoy the charm and the enigmatic soul of a pottery village, forming the destination of Phu Lang. This enchanting and unusual experience will reveal such a fascinating Vietnam, so out of modern times. Wander the paved streets along Cau River and perhaps practice your hand at pottery, or visit the handicraft workshops of avant-garde artists as well as meet families whose know how is still passed on from generation to generation.
Free time until transfer to Hanoi Airport for your flight home.
Hanoi – 5* Hotel de L’Opera Hanoi (for information click here)
Halong Bay – 5* Indochina Sails (for information click here)
Hoi An – 5* Palm Garden Resort (for information click here)
Hue – 5* La Residence Hotel & Spa (for information click here)
Can Tho – 5* Victoria Can Tho (for information click here)
Saigon – 5* Hotel Des Arts Saigon (for information click here)
Hanoi – 4* Silk Path Hanoi Hotel (for information click here)
Halong Bay – 4* Aphrodite Cruise (for information click here)
Hoi An – 4* Boutique Hoian Resort (for information click here)
Hue – 4* Pilgrimage Village (for information click here)
Can Tho – 4* Nam Bo Boutique Hotel (for information click here)
Saigon – 4* Grand Hotel (for information click here)
Tour Price includes:
Tour Price excludes:
We used Emperor for a group trip to India. they were fantastic with their choice of hotels (some truly incredible) their tour guide, the whole programme and their choice of airlines for the trip. We made things quite tough for them with different members of the group travelling for different periods and arriving in and out of different airports. We specifically had some issues with one of the airlines on the return leg of our trip, through no fault of Emperor, but they did their utmost to put things right and made the journey home as pleasant as possible by meeting the cost of a lounge at the airport for us do to the shortcomings of one of the airlines checking in procedures. The pre holiday package of information was very comprehensive and we were presented with very durable luggage tags. We would have no hesitation in recommending Richard and his team in tailoring a package for a trip to India. We had an amazing culturally stimulating trip and will certainly go back to India in the future.