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Vietnamese Culinary Culture Experience – 14 days / 13 nights

Day 1: Arrive Hanoi
Arrival and welcomed at Hanoi Airport by local guide. Transfer to check in at your hotel. Your room is available anytime from 14.00. Free time in the afternoon to explore the traditional streets of the Old Quarter and Hoan Kiem Lake vicinity. In the evening, you will be picked up by your guide and transferred to a local restaurant for dinner. Overnight at the hotel. (D)

Day 2: Hanoi Sightseeing
Full day tour of Vietnam’s capital city, including Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum, the traditional stilt house and the revered One-Pillar Pagoda. After that visit Vietnam’s first university, the thousand-year-old Temple of Literature. In the afternoon, visit the Ethnology Museum where you can discover the diversity of Vietnam’s many ethnic groups OR visit Vietnamese Women’s museum where you have the opportunity to learn and understand traditional culture, marriage customs, childbirth and family life, traditional women’s clothing and the role of women in the defense of the nation… Time only allows one to be visited so please decide which one you would most like to see. Round off the day by take  a  walking  tour  through  the  fascinating Old  Quarter  –  36  ancient  streets  where  peddlers  trade  as  they  have  done  for centuries Finish the day with a Water Puppet show. This is a uniquely northern Vietnamese art form depicting scenes from rural life and episodes of national history. Meals on your own. Overnight at the hotel. (B, L)

Day 3: Hanoi – Mai Chau
Home stay Experience (1 – 1.5 hours biking) This morning we head northwest of Hanoi for Mai Chau (170 km – 4 hours driving) on a picturesque road through the valley. Located in a beautiful valley, Mai Chau has been an area of minority White Thai for several centuries. Arrive in Mai Chau and continue driving until reaching the remote Buoc village where you will check in a Thai people’s traditional house on stilts. Following lunch time, we start light biking tour which offers you numerous chances to soak up into peaceful atmosphere of mountains, hills, rice fields and local people working on the farm…. Meet up with local people during the biking route and observe their daily activities, stop by their houses to learn more about their life if you wish. Then it’s time back to your home-stay. Dinner and overnight at the home-stay. (B, L, D)

Day 4: Mai Chau (3 hours trekking)
After breakfast, at approx 8:30am, get ready for the trekking to the local beautiful waterfall which you can enjoy the magnificent scenery on the road and overwhelm with the beauty of the powerful waterfall. Remember to bring your swimming suits to fully enjoy the swimming. Get back to the home stay to have lunch or enjoy picnic lunch. Return to your home stay and free time to relax or further discover Mai Chau surroundings with your guide. Dinner and overnight at the stilt house (sharing with other people). (B, L, D)

Day 5: Mai Chau – Hanoi
In the morning, be transferred to Cun Pheo Village where you will start a light trekking. Cun Pheo village is home of Muong People and about 7km away from the home-stay place. Pay a visit to Cun Pheo village and follow the big trail to Van village of Thai people then you will go through the village, passing rice fields, and trek on the hillside. Back to the home-stay place to fill your stomach with lunch and then transfer back to Hanoi. Arrive in Hanoi in the late afternoon. Free time for relax after a long drive. Dinner on your own. Overnight at the hotel. (B, L)

Day 6: Hanoi – Halong
You 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 (180km – 3.5 – 4 hours driving). Board a traditional wooden junk and begin your exploration of magical Halong Bay, one of Southeast Asia’s premier tourist destinations. An excellent, fresh seafood lunch and dinner will be served on the boat. Overnight onboard the very comfortable and charming junk. (B, L, D)

Day 7: Halong Bay – Hanoi – Danang – Hoi An (B)
Wake up early in the morning to enjoy the aquamarine water of the bay at its best. After breakfast, the junk continues to cruise quietly through the spectacular limestone formations of Halong Bay. Enjoy the peacefulness of sailing amongst the unique islands of the bay. Return to Halong arbor for transfer back Hanoi airport for the flight to Danang. Upon arrival, welcome by driver and transfer with guide to your hotel in Hoi An. Meals on your own. Overnight at the hotel.

Day 8: Tra Que vegetable village – Hoi An Ancient Town city
In the morning, enjoy a bike or cyclo ride (05 km – 15mins cycling) to visit the “village of vegetables”, Tra Que (transfer by private vehicle is also an option). Tra Que village is known for its special aromatic herbs, mint and basil; leaves of these plants are smaller than usual, however they have a very particular aroma because of the special farming practices they have used for centuries. Together with local people, you will learn how they plant and care for the vegetables and herbs. Learn to cook some local specialties such as “Tam Huu”, a blend of shrimp, pork and aromatic herbs, and enjoy what you have created.

In the afternoon, take a stroll to visit Hoi An town, recognized by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site because of its unusually well-preserved ancient streets and homes. Set out to explore the quaint cobblestone streets of the town with more than 2-century-old Chinese houses. Sites include the Japanese Bridge, the Chinese Temple, and Phung Hung Chinese-style trading house. If you want, you can take a bike to ride around the town before getting back to the hotel. Dinner on your own. Overnight at the hotel.

Day 9: Hoi An – Hue visit Tomb of Minh Mang Emperor
In the morning, depart by car for Hue via the scenic Hai Van Pass, where we will enjoy the spectacular panorama of the central coastline from the summit. Arrive in Hue at around noon. Lunch at a local restaurant before visiting Minh Mang tomb, which was started constructing from 1840 on the west bank of Perfume River. Transfer to the hotel for check-in and refreshing. Dinner on your own. Overnight at the hotel. (B, L)

Day 10: Hue sightseeing – Royal Dinner
In the morning, visit the famous Imperial Citadel, and then continue with a leisure boat trip to Thien Mu Pagoda which is located right on the bank of the Perfume river, where offers very nice photo shot of river and the city. Wrap up the morning with a visit to a typical garden house which was built according to precise rules of geomancy to experience the serene and pleasant feelings such a place might bring you.  (B, L, D)

In the afternoon, you will visit Khai Dinh Tomb – one of the most beautiful tomb in Hue. Fill up your impression of Hue by visiting the conical hat village where you will discover the traditional ways of making cone hats and if you wish, involve yourself in the production of a hat. The fun part is that your attempt at making this traditional Vietnamese hat will become yours when you leave the village.

In the evening, you will be transferred to a nice restaurant to enjoy a special dinner. Just imagine that you are the King, beside you is the Queen accompanied by Mandarins, all wearing traditional royal clothes. All the food served is royal including dishes symbolizing the dragon, phoenix, or peacock…..All meticulously prepared to the finest details for a sumptuous dinner that fits for royalty. The best Hue Imperial court music and dance will be performed by artists from Hue conservatory. Nothing better than enjoying delicious banquet while listening to melodious music and having a feeling of being the King. That’s why Royal dinner is a must for those who come to Hue. Overnight at the hotel.

Day 11: Hue – Saigon – Saigon city tour
After breakfast, you will be transferred to Hue airport to take the flight to Ho Chi Minh city. Upon arrival, you will be welcomed by local guide. Transfer to a local restaurant for lunch before check-in to your hotel. (B, L)

After lunch, you start to discover the capital of the South, which cannot be completed without a visit of the city’s main historical sites: the large central post office, whose metal structure was designed by Gustave Eiffel, Notre-Dame Cathedral, constructed from red bricks and resembling Notre-Dame in Paris, the exterior of the Palace of Reunification and Dong Khoi Street. Then we go to Binh Tay Market and Thien Hau Pagoda. Dinner on your own. Overnight at the hotel.

Day 12: Cu Chi Tunnels – Saigon street food walking tour by night
This morning we will leave the city by private vehicle to visit the amazing tunnel network of Cu Chi. This incredible system, covering almost 250km in length was shelter to over 16,000 Vietcong guerrillas during the wars. Initially started in 1948 to provide shelter against the French air and ground sweeps, the network went on to serve as communication routes, storage facilities, hospitals and living quarters for Vietnamese fighters throughout the American war. If you are interested (and game) you can even descend into the tunnels to learn more about the harsh conditions faced by Vietcong guerrillas who lived there. Return to the city centre for lunch at a local restaurant.

Rest of the afternoon is free for freshen-up before picking up in the early evening to discover the lively local streets by night. Experience as local people and enjoy an authentic Vietnamese evening. Stops include a public park where locals practice dancing exercises, food tasting of different street food dishes and a local live music bar. Return to the hotel after about 3 hours. Overnight at the hotel. (B, L, D)

Day 13: Saigon – Mekong delta
Today, your driver will drive you from Saigon to Phong Nam in Ben Tre District, a journey of about 2 hours, where you will start your excursion into deep Mekong Delta area. Pick up at the Phong Nam brick kiln, where bricks are still painstakingly made by hand. Get on boat and will cruise along the Chet Say river (a branch of the Mekong) and stop off at various local workplaces to give you a picture of how the local economy works, including coconut activated charcoal factory where coconut shell is put into high heat kiln to produce coconut charcoal: a coconut processing workshop, where you can sample fresh coconut and see how every single part of this versatile nut is turned into food and other products. Then the boat will cruise through the small canal, discover the local life. The boat will then stop at a quiet village where you can have a short walk to experience real Delta village life, visit a mat weaving house, where straw mats are woven using a hand loom – you can even have a go at weaving yourself before boarding your xe loi (a kind of motorized rickshaw) or biking into the village where you can see farm, rice field and vegetable plan before stopping at a local house for a delicious and filling lunch, featuring such local specialties as elephant-ear fish and river shrimp, washed down with some cold drinks or beers. It’s time to board a sampan for a relaxing trip along narrow canals. Take boat back to Pier and then transfer back to Saigon. Dinner on your own. Overnight at the hotel.  (B, L)

Day 14: Saigon – Departure  – With guide
You will be transferred with your guide to the airport for your onward flight. Room is at your disposal until noon time only. Meals on your own. Services end.  (B)

This is a group tour which departs May 9th 2015 or  July 11th 2015, with a minimum of 6, and a maximum of 30 passengers.  Price per person $2241AUD (based on twin share).  Single supplement $714AUD.  Price does not include international airfares, express visa upon arrival at Hanoi Airport (US $80 per person) or visa letter (US $15 per person).  Please contact your local travel agent or contact us for more details.

Price Includes:

  • Accommodation in superior standard hotels (twin share) with breakfast daily.
  • Domestic Flights as per itinerary
  • Activities and sightseeing as mentioned in the itinerary
  • English speaking local guides
  • Ground transportation with a/c vehicle and drivers
  • Boat and bike rental as mentioned
  • Entrance fees for visits mentioned in the program
  • Other meals as mentioned in the itinerary (B, L, D)

Please contact us or your local travel agent for more details.

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