Phnom Penh, Siem Reap, Luang Prabang, Ho Chi Minh City
A life time journey to taste and learn of Indochina gastronomy with inspiring cooking classes in three countries as well as thrilling street food tours by either walking or local tuk tuk. Vietnam never disappoints you with full of dining experiences like a street food tour in Hanoi Old Quarter, and a cooking class at a local house nearby Red River, very unique lunch of “Rice with salts” which sounds monotone but quite sophisticated and a cooking class in garden house settings in Hue. Plus, you will have lunch to taste the fresh vegetable pick from Tra Que vegetable village in Hoi An and a special dinner “Dining in the Dark” in Ho Chi Minh City. Khmer Cuisine in Cambodia is somewhat influenced by neighbor countries but still make their unique taste. You will have a Phnom Penh street food tour with a local passionate chef; and an interaction with local villagers to create rice noodle and cook the noodle soup in a countryside region of Siem Reap. Laos gastronomy is inspiring; simple but tasty. The cooking class in Luang Prabang as well as a stroll to local market is intriguing.
Nevertheless, all the best attractions of Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia are still input that reinforce your understand on those countries from different aspects.
Welcome to Hanoi, the capital of Vietnam is one of the most enticing Asian cities with culture richness, vibrant street life and intriguing gastronomy. You will have chances to taste local dishes in almost everywhere of the city with street food on the pavements, to beguiling dishes in high-end restaurants and variable types of drinks.
Upon your arrival at airport in Hanoi, you will be greeted by your local tour guide and travel to hotel for check-in.
You will have a glimpse of Hanoi today and get to know the city. Pay a visit to Tran Quoc Pagoda with a special location on a serene peninsula by City’s West Lake. Its construction was date back to 6th century making Tran Quoc one of the most ancient pagoda in Hanoi. From there, take a leisure walk of around 1km toward Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum. You can observe Hanoi up close with the nice views of the lakes, busy traffic of so many motorbikes carry not only people but some very huge stuffs, local people in their daily life and some French colonial buildings. Arriving at the Ho Chi Minh Complex, you will catch the sight of Presidential Palace from front, then the Mausoleum. When treading around, you can see the former residents of Ho Chi Minh and the One Pillar Pagoda.
After lunch, visit the Temple of Literature renown as the first university of Vietnam since 1070 and a Confucius Temple. Though the premise of this educational sanctuary was shrunk down, the temple protected by surrounding walls still preserve the studious sprits, the cultural architectures and inspiring relics. This makes Temple of Literature one of the most significant cultural place to Vietnamese students. Next, get to the heart of Hanoi with Hoan Kiem Lake of verdant green water and trees. From there, you will take a traditional cyclo ride and see the other side of Hanoi with Colonial architecture buildings like the Hanoi Opera House, Metropole Legend Hotel, the State Bank, Trang Tien Bridge, etc.
After a day seeing the new next to the old ones, the modern next to the ancient things in Hanoi, you will delve into the Hanoi local street food tour. Following your local guide, you will sample popular food and let them melt in your mouth. Walking to explore every corners of Hanoi Old Quarter, you will stop time to time to taste the Noodle soup, Vietnamese baguette, steamed rolls stuffed with ear-mushroom and minced pork, Vietnamese spring rolls in deep fried or fresh style or both, local beer at beer hub or a Vietnamese coffee.
In the morning, move to the outer of Hanoi center, you will join with your host and stroll to a local market for the cooking ingredients. Morning is the busiest and most energetic time of the day; also, it’s the time all stalls are filled up in colorful settings. You can observe the local buying and selling rituals and learn of the main cooking style as well as regularly used ingredients and combinations. When having everything ready, you will hand on the cooking class and prepare traditional dishes of Vietnam. The host is happy to escort and share the cooking experience to you. Finishing the cooking, you’ll enjoy your lunch there and return to city center afterward. On the way back, enjoy a coffee break at Serein Café & Lounge with view over streets, city’s pottery mosaic and the Long Bien historical bridge designed by Gustave Eiffel which is in use for the trains, pedestrians and rough vehicles. You then can have a walk on the bridge to cast up-close vision over Red River before returning to your hotel.
Around 9am this morning, you will leave Hanoi for Halong Bay one of the musts to see in Vietnam. Arriving the bay at noon, you will embark the oriental Halong Bay cruise, have lunch while the boat sailing among towering karst peaks. There are nearly 2,000 islands and islets scatter over the bay some of which dotted with huge caves and grottos. Beside enjoying pleasant time over the serene natures, you can participate in outdoor activities according to cruise schedules like kayaking in water lagoons, sunset break, cooking demonstration hiking to the dried cave and go swimming. After lavish dinner is served on boat, you can chill-out on your own or try the luck on squid fishing.
Early risers will find the freshness and quietness on the bay, capture the sunrise on Halong Bay and do Tai Chi class exercise with instructor on top deck. After breakfast, the cruise’s anchor will be lifted up and carry on the sail for you to see more of Halong Bay. Early noon, the boat will return to the shore. You will disembark the cruise and see your driver for the transfer back to airport in Hanoi and catch the flight to Hue.
Hue is a unique city of Vietnam located in the middle of the country and was the former capital where the last feudal dynasty of Vietnam existed. Apart from tranquil landscape of river, city, and rural villages, Hue is impressed by the Imperial heritances on architecture, history, skillful handicrafts and sophisticated gastronomy. Arriving at Hue airport, you will meet with your local tour guide and travel to hotel in Hue for check-in.
Begin the nice day in Hue with Imperial Citadel for a brief on histories of Nguyen Dynasty, royal rituals and stunning ornate carvings. Next, head to exquisite Tha Om garden house, a fascinating place to learn about the house in geomancy rules. Touring around the house and admire its serenity before you get to the kitchen and hand the cooking class. The host will introduce and instruct you to prepare traditional dishes in Hue. Have lunch at Tha Om of dishes cooked by you and some more specialties.
After lunch, visit Thien Mu Pagoda facing the Perfume still river. Here, you will find the iconic seven-story pagoda and historical facts of Buddhism during the war time. Lastly, traverse to Tu Duc Tomb nestled on luxuriant hill and designed by himself before his death. The tomb showcases impressive Vietnamese arts and scenic views over the pavilion on lotus lake and winding paths of the hill.
This morning is at your leisure. At noon, have unique journey lunch of Royal dish “Rice with Salt” with Mrs. Nhu Huy, a famous Vietnamese and Hue gastronomy artisan. She will introduce the dish, the special combination and the stories of the dishes. It requires perfect combination and time to create those dishes will bring high quality flavors of salts. After lunch, you will leave Hue for Hoi An in nearly 3-hour drive passing by the pristine Lang Co Beach and over Hai Van Pass. Have a break on the coastal mountain pass, overlook to the bay with panoramic view. Arriving in Hoi An late afternoon, you will check-in hotel in Hoi An and relax till rest of the day.
In the morning, ramble around Hoi An Ancient Town a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The attached houses of 2 or 3 floors are attached to each other and designed in unique architectures of the combinations between Vietnamese, Japanese, Chinese and French. Call at the Japanese pagoda bridge, the Fujian communal house, Chinese houses, Pottery museums, etc. you will find the details and reveal the development of the port town. Afterward, travel to Tra Que Village, a renown aromatic herbs and vegetable village. Welcomed by the hospitable host, you will hand on making the Vietnamese Sizzling Cake with little pan. Then, enjoy your cake wrapped in rice paper and many herbs categories and lunch of Hoi An tasty cuisine. After lunch, you will have a break to rest then walk around the gardens to see up-close each vegetable names. The host then will introduce and let you participate in the farming work of variable processes in plantings their vegetables.
Return to hotel to chill out at the property. You’ll have free & easy time to return to Hoi An Ancient town so see its colorful lanterns and vibrant ambience by night.
After breakfast, have free time till transfer to airport in Da Nang city for your flight to Ho Chi Minh City. Once come out, you will see your local tour guide and head to city center.
In the afternoon, embark on a city tour of Ho Chi Minh City, formerly called Saigon, a city with strong influence of colonial and Chinese cultures. Pay a visit to main attractions of the city like the central post office another architecture design of Gustave Eiffel, the Notre-Dame Cathedral, Reunification Palace, Ben Thanh market and walking street of Dong Khoi.
This evening, have special and splendid dinner at Noir Restaurant with dining in the dark experiences. In the light room, you will choose the menu and receive explanations on this dining style. Then, begin the dining journey by awaking all your senses with the guidance of the restaurant’s staff.
In the morning, transfer to Bach Dang Pier in Ho Chi Minh City for the join-in speed boat to Cu Chi Tunnels. Dug by the Viet Minh resistance force during Indochina war, Cu Chi Tunnels is comprised of underground tunnels network which was then extended larger during Vietnam War up to total length of 200km and around 3-4m deep. Under there, you can find full necessary equipment like meeting room, kitchen, weapon stores, offices, clinic, etc. Before experience the tunnels, you will watch a documentary about the tunnels and the war during 60s – 70s. After lunch, the speedboat will sail along Saigon River and bring you back to the city center early afternoon. Have leisure time to rest of the day.
This morning, travel to airport in Ho Chi Minh City for your flight to Phnom Penh.
Welcome to Phnom Penh – Cambodia’s capital located in the center of the country where stays the confluence of Tonle Sap Lake and MeKong River. Phnom Penh is characterized by the combination of Khmer and French-colonial cultures and architectures. Touring through different alleys and corners of Phnom Penh is intriguing.
Upon your arrival at Phnom Penh Airport, your driver and local tour guide will welcome you; then travel to hotel for check-in.
Late afternoon, you will be greeted by a local chef Mr. Nara and tuk tuk driver who will guide you around and discover Phnom Penh street food. You will see the glimpse of street life in Phnom Penh and gain an insight on diverse and rich traditional cuisine.
Today, you will have great time exploring Cambodia’s capital. The first stop is Royal Palace whose history date back 1866. There, the visitors can find nation’s major treasures on display as well as other valuable gifts from dozens of countries. One of most outstanding relics is the 90-kilo gold Buddha encrusted with 9,584 diamonds and the emerald baccarat crystal Buddha since 17th century. In the same compound toward the south side, you also can spot the Silver Pagoda. The other names of this pagoda are Wat Preah Keo and Temple of Emerald Buddha. Locals call it silver pagoda for its floor which is covered with 5 tons of glistening silver.
Next, move on to the National Museum constructed since 1917 with an exclusive dedication to Khmer arts. You will find many relics and artifacts made since the Pre-Angkor and Angkor periods. Move on to the Wat Phnom on a peaceful hill of 27m high which is the highest peak of the city. People said it was constructed by a woman in 1372 whose name is Penh to house the sacred relics.
This afternoon, you will visit the Toul Sleng which once the secondary school. The Khmer Rouge then used it as the Security Prison 21 (or S21). Lastly, you will stroll around the Russian Market featuring a splendid colonial architecture.
After breakfast, you will have some time to relax and prepare for check-out. At good time, kick off your energetic day with a cycling to silk island in Phnom Penh. Traverse to the pier ro cross Mekong river to get to cycling starting point on Diamond Island. Exploring through the local villages, you will take the second river cross by ferry for Koh Oknha Tei tranquil island. Discover the narrow paths, Buddhist pagoda, farm plantations on this island till a bridge leading to Koh Dach or the Silk Island of Phnom Penh City. Visit the local houses and learn on their traditional ways of silk weaving as well as get to know the famous Krama, a Cambodia scarf. Return to Phnom Penh city center, you will have a rest and then travel to airport for the flight to Siem Reap.
Welcomed by your tour guide, you will travel from Siem Reap airport to city center for check-in. Have free & easy time till rest of the day.
In the morning, leave the busy Siem Reap behind and enter the world of Angkorian temples. The road with verdant green huge trees will gradually reveal the mysterious masterpieces. Among the must to see Angkor Temples, Bayon is the first one as it is located right at the center of Angkor Thom which mean the big city. As an intriguing edifice with 54 massive towers emerging roundabout, Bayon temple is renowned for smiling faces carved with 4 facets of each tower. Carry on, you will walk toward Baphuon temple built earlier in 11th century. Getting a bit out of the lush jungle, spot the Terrace of the Leper King and the Terrace of the Elephants where was the square for Royal announcement or public ceremonies.
Enjoy lunch at Mie Café restaurant setting in the lush garden and serving delectable Khmer gastronomy.
Afternoon, visit the most well-known and the largest temple Angkor Wat. Far from the axis leading to central towers, you’ll realize how huge the place is. Walking around or under the corridors, you can find artistic sculptures and meaningful images of Khmer culture and religions factors. The last temple is Ta Prohm which appeared in the movie “Tom Raider” with the famous scenes of Angela Jolie. From the parking place, you will tread under the jungle trees, then explore each corner of Ta Prohm temple being eaten by the tropical nature.
Spending this morning in a local village, you will experience the village life and have further interaction to local cultures. During the journey, learn how to make the rice noodle in local way, make a traditional breakfast bowl, learn local handicraft works, enjoy the delicious snacks and call at sugar palm stalls to see different ways of processing the fruits. Afterward, travel back to Siem Reap city with a stop to visit enticing Banteay Srei Temple or the Citadel of Women. This is among the smallest Angkor Temples, but characterize unique stone hue as well as the finest carvings. Head to airport for your flight to Luang Prabang.
Welcome to Luang Prabang ancient town situating at the confluence of 2 rivers Mekong and Nam Khan. Renown as a spiritual city of 33 gilded temples, saffron-clad monks, Colonial style villas and fusion gastronomy, Luang Prabang is a beguiling and unique city to enjoy the pleasant and nourish your spirit.
Upon your arrival, your tour guide will welcome and take you to hotel in Luang Prabang for your check-in. Have free time till rest of the day to get revived.
This morning, get to Tamarind Restaurant in Luang Prabang and meet with the chef who will escort you to the local central market by tuk tuk. The market in Luang Prabang is modestly nestled in narrow streets where all the colorful vegetables, meats, fishes, wild animal, household amenities, etc. are on display on the ground. Finish shopping, you will head to cooking venue and learn on Laos inspiring gastronomy. The chef will show how to prepare each dish and which is the traditional way of flavor combination. After cooking, you will enjoy lunch of your own creation.
In the afternoon, explore the best attractions of Luang Prabang. Beginning with the Royal Palace was built in 1904 and home of King Sisavang Vong. The king statue is still stand outside the museum. Royal Palace in Luang Prabang is now the National Museum housing precious items which formally belong to the Royal family. Also, you can admire the statue of Prhabang Buddha and a large array of statuettes in the premise. Afterward, have a leisure walk to reach the Wat Xieng Thong, the most beautiful temple of Luang Prabang. Laos finest arts are on display in this temple along with a complex of sacred shrines and temples.
Next, have a hike up 328 steps to the Phousi Mount peak for a panoramic view of Luang Prabang.
Early this morning, you will meet up with your tour guide and get to local temple by tuk tuk for a holy observation of Tak Bath ceremony. The local residents prepare devoted food and wait for the monks in saffron robes walk by. You will stroll along local center market before heading back to hotel for breakfast. Thereupon, travel to Khuangsi Waterfalls which is a must-to-see attraction of Luang Prabang. Right after the entrance, you will catch a sight of a rescue center housing moon bears, an endanger species. There are 23 bears are natured and protected in this sanctuary. Carry on for a while, you will find the mesmerizing giant Kuangsi Waterfalls tumbling down many tiers creating pools of turquoise water. You can come down and have a refreshing swim or follow the trails to admire the charming waterfalls. Afterward, heard back to your hotel in Luang Prabang. Balance of the day is on your own account to enjoy a local drink at café looking over Mekong River, stroll to Luang Prabang night market and so on.
At good time, you will meet up with your local guide and travel to Luang Prabang Airport for your flight to next destination.
Accommodation in double/twin sharing basic
Daily breakfast at hotel and meals as indicated in the program
Private air-conditioned transfer
Excellent English-speaking guide (other language on request)
Cooking classes and street food tours as mentioned in the program
Entrance fee, boat trip, cycling for sightseeing as mentioned
2 bottles of water per person per day
International and domestic flights
Tips and gratuities for guide, driver, etc.
Personal expenses and services not mentioned
11 days 10 nights
6 days 5 nights