Day - 1
Location: Hanoi - Arrive in Hanoi, where you'll be met by a Peregrine representative at the airport and transferred to your hotel. There are no activities planned until an important group meeting in the evening, usually at 6 pm. After this briefing, head out for your first taste of the city's dining scene at an atmospheric local eatery specializing in old-style Hanoi cuisine.
Day - 2
Location: Hanoi - Start your day with a sunrise walk around Hoan Kiem lake. This is the best way to see the city come to life. Enjoy a truly authentic Hanoi breakfast of pho. This iconic dish has its origins in a village not far from the city and is designed to awaken the senses and prepare you for the day. Embark on a guided half-day tour of Hanoi, visiting the major sights, including the Temple of Literature and One Pillar Pagoda. Sample authentic Vietnamese tea at one of Hanoi’s hidden teahouses – tea plays a major role in Vietnamese culinary culture, and the locals tend to favour light, flower-infused varieties. Afterwards, visit a local Xo community where an expert winemaker will lead a tasting of local Vietnamese varieties. You’ll walk down alleyways lined with French colonial architecture, passing by artist collectives, pottery workshops and back-alley fashion houses – you’re in the true heart of Hanoi now. Once arrived, head down into the basement of a 100-year-old French villa and into the world of Xo Liquid – an alcohol made of rice wine. Your expert wine maker will take you through his story and explain to you the process of making this traditional product – the knowledge and care for his craft is infectious.Your evening is free to explore and your leader can recommend local restaurants and specialties to try!
Day - 3
Location: Halong Bay - Drive to Halong Bay (approximately 3 hours). You can leave your luggage behind at the Hanoi hotel and pack an overnight bag. You will travel to Bai Chay (Halong City West) where you will board a boat for an exploration of the bay. The scenes of sailing junks navigating scattered limestone islands are quite spectacular. Visit one of the caves in the area where you’ll be able to explore. An onboard chef will prepare all your meals (both seafood and non-seafood options are available). A highlight of the cruise is a candlelit dinner under the stars on the top deck of the boat (weather permitting).
Day - 4
Location: Hue - In the morning you will sail back to the port, disembark and drive to Hanoi. Collect your luggage then transfer to the airport to board a mid-afternoon flight bound for Hue, the former imperial capital of Vietnam. After checking in at the hotel, your leader will take you on an evening orientation walk of the city. Afterwards, choose to relax at the hotel or explore the Hue dining scene. Your group leader will have a variety of options for dinner – be sure to ask them for their recommendations.
Day - 5
Location: Hue - Hue is the hub of Vietnam’s historic past. This former imperial capital is an eclectic mix of busy streets and peaceful beauty. Satisfy your hunger with a popular dish called bun bo Hue, which contains rice vermicelli (bun) and beef (bo) – this is a signature of the city. Next, take a boat cruise on the Perfume River and marvel at the Thien Mu Pagoda – the unofficial symbol of the city. The Pagoda is an active Buddhist monastery that dates back to 1601. We will enjoy a traditional Buddhist lunch here. You will also visit the elaborate royal tomb of Emperor Tu Duc and its beautiful lake, frangipani and pine trees. This evening you are invited to share a meal with a local family in their home. It's a unique chance to partake in everyday local life, and perhaps leave with some secret family recipes.
Day - 6
Location: Hue - Hoi An - After breakfast, visit the Imperial Citadel, including the Forbidden Purple City. The latter was almost completely destroyed during the Tet Offensive in the Vietnam War. Depart for Hoi An, passing through the beautiful Hai Van Pass – a mountainous stretch of highway with views across Lang Co beach. Continue on to Hoi An, arriving in the afternoon. Hoi An was originally a port town and has been influenced by traders from various cultures. There is a distinctly Chinese appearance to the pagodas and assembly halls scattered along the small streets. Today it is a delightful backwater town with a charming air about it, and the tranquillity of Hoi An, coupled with its low tiled houses, makes it one of the most delightful places to visit in Vietnam.
Day - 7
Location: Hoi An - This morning, embark on a walking tour which will take you around the major sites of Hoi An’s charming Old Town, including an historic house (formerly home to a prominent trader), the Japanese Covered Bridge, a Chinese assembly hall and a museum. Continue your day with a transfer to the expansive herb gardens located on the outskirts of the city at Tra Que culinary village. You’ll have time to discover the daily life of farmers in their trade here and will enjoy a traditional meal prepared by a village chef specializing in the cuisine of the Pho Hoi people.
Day - 8
Location: Hoi An - Today is free for you to continue exploring Hoi An and its surrounding areas. There is an optional fish market visit for early risers, as well as an optional fishing experience to learn more about the life and work of Hoi An’s fisherman. Alternatively, a great day trip is to cycle into the surrounding countryside to discover a world of verdant grasslands and fascinating scenes of daily rural life unfolding. In the evening, perhaps enjoy some seafood by the water, or take a boat ride out to a nearby island for a barbeque feast.
Day - 9
Location: Ho Chi Minh City - After breakfast, take a short flight to Vietnam’s economic hub, Ho Chi Minh City (approximately 1 hour). Vietnam's largest city is a fascinating blend of old and new, East and West. The French influence is evident in the excellent baguettes and coffee on offer. For lunch today you will dine in a restaurant famed for its fantastic home-style Vietnamese cuisine. Next, take a short city tour that covers Reunification Palace, the War Remnants Museum and Notre Dame Cathedral. Along the way, you'll be able to admire the many beautiful French colonial buildings, such as the main post office and the former Hotel de Ville (city hall). Finish the day with a true highlight – a cooking class with the nephew of one of Vietnam’s most respected food personalities, Mrs Dzoan Van Cam. Learn about the distinct flavours and dishes of southern Vietnam that has been passed down the generations and enjoy the results of your cooking over dinner.
Day - 10
Location: Mekong Delta - After breakfast you will drive south for a boat cruise along the Mekong Delta (approximately 2–3 hours). The Mekong Delta is renowned for its fertile land – rich in tropical fruits, flowers and rice. For this reason, it is often referred to as the Rice Bowl of Vietnam. Visit some local cottage industries located along the river, then continue to a guesthouse surrounded by an orchard, which is your lodging this evening. Here you will enjoy a beautiful home-cooked meal of dishes distinct to the Mekong Delta region.
Day - 11
Location: Ho Chi Minh City - Rise early, as the locals do, and enjoy a delicious traditional breakfast. Afterwards, visit the bustling local market – a place awash with colour and a hive of activity. Return to Ho Chi Minh City, arriving early afternoon, and then head out with your travel pals in the evening for a special dinner at a countryside restaurant. This space was designed by an acclaimed Vietnamese architect whose desire was to match the traditional space in harmony with the fundamentals of Vietnamese cuisine. Admire a rooftop view of the city whilst indulging in the authentic flavours of Vietnam – a truly special experience to farewell your Food Explorer journey.
Day - 12
Location: Ho Chi Minh City - With no activities planned for today, you are free to leave at any time after breakfast this morning. This doesn’t mean that your adventure has to come to an end! If you would like to spend some more time in Ho Chi Minh City, we’ll be happy to organise additional accommodation for you (subject to availability).