This private tour highlights the culinary traditions of northern and central Vietnam. Profoundly influenced by the national cuisines of France, China, and Thailand, Vietnamese cooking is highly innovative and makes extensive use of fresh herbs, lemongrass, and lime. (The French colonial influence also means superb crusty baguettes and sweet pastries in the heart of SE Asia!) Enjoy local markets and cooking classes with renowned instructors as you explore Vietnam’s history and traditions through the art of food.
This exclusive tour is a mix of highly rated experiences, popular landmarks, and Sodha Travel favorites.
*International airfare is not included
Style: Private tour.
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Welcome to Vietnam! Upon arrival, a private transfer will be provided to the hotel.
Hanoi is the capital of Vietnam and an important center of historical and cultural significance. The city has been inhabited since at least 3000 BC.
This morning, you will meet your guide and driver around 7:00 am and head to Hoan Kiem Lake. It is a cultural practice in Vietnam to wake up very early and start the morning with some exercise. Observe how the locals, mostly women from varying age, start their busy routine. After visiting the Ngoc Son Temple, located in the middle of the Hoan Kiem Lake, visit a traditional, local and charming café and try Vietnam’s local coffee: Cà phê sữa đá (Iced coffee) and “Egg” coffee.
Continue walking to another local spot and try the delicious bánh mì, a typical baguette sandwich filled with a variety of meats and pickled vegetables. You will then start a walking tour in Hanoi’s Old Quarter and witness the French architecture in different Vietnamese buildings: Joseph Cathedral, a French gothic building constructed in 1886; Hoa Lo Prison, where Vietnamese as well as American and French prisoners of war were imprisoned; and Huu Tiep Lake.
At noon, return to the Old Quarter. Make a stop at a Bún Chả restaurant where you will try Hanoi’s specialty. Continue to the Temple of Literature, built in 1076. Vietnam’s first university was established within this temple to educate royalty, mandarins, and members of the elite. The university functioned for 700 years and its gardens and well-preserved architecture offer a fascinating glimpse into Vietnam’s past.
Your last stop of the day will be the Hanoi railway tracks. This is a unique fixture in Hanoi, as the railway tracks are sometimes located just meters away from the entrance door of houses! Together with your guide, you will walk along the railway tracks and take beautiful pictures of the city.
After a full day, finish with local draft beers at a traditional Bia Hoi. Return to your hotel and overnight.
Stroll through the Old Quarter past the old east gate to Thanh Ha market. Along the way try delicious and unusual dishes and learn about Vietnamese food practices. The busy, eclectic market is alive with the sights and sounds of Hanoi and is the essence of Vietnamese culture.
Continue through the streets to Dong Xuan market in the Old Quarter to sample some local treats such as pho tiu and bun dau. Your guide will explain the routine of Vietnam mealtimes and the unusual local dishes eaten. Check out dried goods and aromatics, the essentials of Vietnamese cuisine, and stroll up ‘food alley’ to see other dishes on offer. Walk down to Hang Than Street to view ceremonial cake stalls and taste a special French-influenced dessert.
Return to the Old Quarter via Hang Cot Street and sample specialty treated fruit that are dependent on the seasons – a common snack in Vietnam. Walk along Phung Hung Street through market stalls where you can see the changing market scene in Hanoi and how modernization is shaping tradition. At the end of the tour, stop at one of the busiest coffee shops in the Old Quarter before transferring back to your hotel. Overnight.
Hanoi - Hue
Today, transfer to the airport and fly to Hue. Upon arrival, transfer to your hotel. Once the capital of Vietnam, Hue is nestled on the picturesque Perfume River. The city is a fusion of old and new as modern hotels tower over 19th century citadel walls.
But let’s talk about the food! Of the approximately 2,700 traditional Vietnamese dishes, almost 2/3 come from Hue. The royal chefs created recipes as part of a rotating 52-course menu for the kings.
In the evening, explore Hue’s street food scene by cyclo. First, meet your guide and warm up with
a welcome drink and a few snacks at a charming bar. Your guide will give you a basic introduction to Hue cuisine and teach a few Vietnamese phrases before moving to a vegetarian restaurant where you can see Buddhist traditions imprinted in Hue’s food art. Traveling down streets and alleyways, you will be well off the tourist trail in places rarely seen by foreigners. Sample crispy Hue-style pancakes, noodle soups, desserts, and more. The variety of new flavors, textures, and methods of preparation will make this a night to remember. Overnight.
Hue - Hoi An
After breakfast, drive to Hoi An via Lang Co. Arrive with your guide at Lang Co lagoon near Lang Co beach and climb aboard a local boat to enjoy the idyllic panorama and crystal clear waters, located in the shadow of the Annamite Cordillera mountain range. In this pristine landscape there are no factories or signs of modernity. The lagoon itself is home to an abundance of marine life, including snappers, red mullet, grouper, crab, shrimp, and squid. You will observe local fishing techniques then continue by boat to visit the oyster farm of your host family.
With your guide helping to translate, you will learn about the lives of local farmers who depend on the lagoon for a living. You will then enjoy a home-cooked lunch prepared by the family in their authentic stilt house on the waters of the lake. Enjoy the delicious fresh seafood prepared by the family while sitting in their traditional home, surrounded by the stunning landscapes.
Arrive in Hoi An and transfer to your hotel. Nestled on Vietnam’s central coast, Hoi An is known for its well-preserved Ancient Town, cut through with canals. The former port city’s melting-pot history is reflected in its architecture, a mix of eras and styles from wooden Chinese shophouses and temples to colorful French colonial buildings, ornate Vietnamese tube houses, and the iconic Japanese Covered Bridge with its pagoda.
Morning at leisure. Later, enjoy a walking tour through Hoi An’s Old Town with its historic houses, congregation halls, pagodas, and other notable structures. A key trading port from the 15th to 19th century, Old Town’s wide range of architectural styles reflect its indigenous and foreign influences, leading to the city becoming a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1999. There is plenty to see, such as the Japanese Covered Bridge, the Pottery Museum, the 200- year-old Tan Ky House, Chua Ong Pagoda and the vibrant local market. You will also have the opportunity to paint your own traditional mask.
Sample the local street food, including the best banh mi in Vietnam; banh bot lọc, clear shrimp and pork dumplings; banh it, sticky rice dumplings; bánh khọt, savory coconut pancakes; balut egg; cao lau noodles; and sliced pork wrapped with rice paper, among others.
Evening at leisure and overnight.
After breakfast, meet your guide and begin the ride to Hoi An’s colorful central market. Here you will have the opportunity to interact with local stallholders and learn more about the ingredients typically used in Central Vietnam cuisine, some of which you will be using for your cooking class later. After the market, cycle to Tra Que Vegetable Village. Take a short stroll around the vegetable gardens and learn more about farming life in Hoi An. Meet your chef and work with him, learning traditional ways of preparing Vietnamese food. You will cook many local delicacies including tam huu, Hoi An spring rolls and banh xeo, a Vietnamese pancake. When the cooking class is finished, you will be transferred back to your hotel.
Evening at leisure and overnight.
Today, transfer to the Da Nang airport (1 hour) for your departure flight. Bon Voyage!
Other Tour Details
8 nights of luxury hotel accommodations
Exclusive cooking classes and home visits
Private air-conditioned vehicle with driver for touring and transport
Economy airfare from Hanoi - Hue
Comprehensive touring, including curated private guides
All entrance fees
Private airport transfers
Road/Interstate taxes, fuel surcharges, and parking fees
Mineral water during touring and transport
Any items of a personal nature
Vietnam Visa Fee
Special Promotional Pricing
Book with confidence! Change your travel dates with NO fees!
This is a private tour with no fixed departure date! Select any travel date in the following blocks for the same price! Upon payment and confirmation, a Sodha Travel Specialist will contact you to finalize your preferred arrival date.
December 20, 2022 - January 11, 2023 $1525 per person, based on double occupancy
January 12 - December 19, 2023 $1375 per person, based on double occupancy
December 20, 2023 - January 11, 2024 $1595 per person, based on double occupancy
When reserving your flights, arrivals will be in Hanoi (Airport code: HAN) and departures will be from Da Nang (Airport code: DAD). Sodha Travel also has a flight desk to assist with domestic and international airfare.
Sample popular street eats in the vibrant Old Quarter of Hanoi
Explore Hoi An's colorful central market
Meet with local farmers and fishermen and learn sustainable cooking techniques
Exclusive cooking classes with renowned instructors