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Culinary Culture in Vietnam

A land rich in fresh tastes and zingy flavours from a deeply embedded culinary culture and heritage, Vietnam is a gastronomic adventure.

Highlights

  • Tap into Hanoi’s diverse cuisine showcasing the best of northern Vietnamese food
  • Enjoy immersive foodie adventures in Hanoi by e-scooter and on walking tours
  • Be enamoured by Hoi An’s charms and evocative Ancient Town
  • Experience Hoi An’s culinary traditions on a boat trip, walking tour, cooking class and kayak trip
  • Explore Hue’s dynastic heritage and surrounding countryside
  • Savour Hue’s cuisine in an array of insider experiences by a lagoon, with a private chef and in the home of a former princess
  • Cut through the bustle of Ho Chi Minh City to experience in-the-know culinary adventures
  • Visit the Cu Chi tunnels and have dinner with a war veteran

WHAT

A two-week trip with a foodie focus takes a ride through Vietnam’s best bites in Hanoi, Hue, Hoi An and Ho Chi Minh City

WHEN TO GO

We’d recommend travelling between mid-March and July when it’s mainly dry, with warm temperatures hovering between 25 and 30 degrees.

WHO FOR

Cooks and curious epicureans will love this immersive trip to Vietnam full of authentic experience.

Traditional Vietnamese street food sold in Da Nang night market
Bun cha with grilled pork and meatballs, Hanoi-style pho tai land and Peking duck wraps at VN Street Foods, a North Vietnamese street food restaurant in Sydney’s inner west -Marrickville, NSW
Hanoi train street, old house and railroad in Hanoi, Vietnam
Tran Quoc Pagoda in Hanoi, Vietnam after sunset
Vietnam – Hanoi – Ethnologisches Museum

Hanoi

Welcome to Hanoi, Vietnam’s capital city and the beating heart of the country. After settling into your hotel, dive straight into Hanoi’s thriving foodie culture with a market and street food tour, allowing you to connect easily with the city’s people and traditions. Stop by markets, food stalls, cafes and restaurants, tasting a range of flavours from pho (noodle soup) to banh tom (shrimp cakes) and banh cuon (rice paper rolls). Pause at Reng Reng Cafe for fine Vietnamese Arabica coffee or pull up a plastic chair at Bún chả Hương Liên, where Barack Obama once sampled the bun cha (grilled pork and noodles).

On a cyclo tour, get to grips with Hanoi’s multi-faceted history including a stop at the Ethnology Museum giving you a fascinating introduction to Vietnam’s 54 ethnic minority groups. Be entertained at a water puppet show, with musical tales symbolising the rice harvest and the traditions of rural life. Evenings are for exploring Hanoi’s buzzing nightlife. Discover foodie hotspots by e-scooter as a passenger on a private tour, allowing your driver to take you to out-of-the-way places for drinks and snacks. Make time for Hanoi’s fine dining scene – we like Michelin-star Gia for its 12-course seasonal menu that draws inspiration from Vietnam’s rich culinary heritage.

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STAY: Capella Hanoi

Well-located in the French Quarter, with Hanoi’s main sights easily walkable from the hotel, Capella Hanoi has an opulent Art Deco style, designed by Bill Bensley. Full of whimsical touches, you don’t need to leave the hotel to have your first taste of Vietnam – the breakfast is a theatre of tastes from free-flowing champagne to traditional Vietnamese-French banh minh (baguettes). The hotel also has a Michelin-star restaurant helmed by a skilled Japanese chef who has a magical way with teppanyaki.

Aerial view of a coconut basket boat tour in Cam Thanh village, Hoi An, Vietnam.
-Selective focus- Unidentified woman with typical vietnamese conical hats sell fresh vegetables and meat skewers on a street market in Hoi An, Vietnam
Straße in Hoi An Vietnam
Hoi An, Vietnam
Vietnamese fresh spring rolls at food stall in Hoi An Central Market ベトナムの生春巻き ホイアン市場の屋台レストラン
Traditional boats in front of ancient architecture in Hoi An, Vietnam.
Woman walking in Hoi An with fruits
Hoian Ancient town houses. Colourful buildings with festive silk lanterns. UNESCO heritage site. Vietnam.

Hoi An

Fly to UNESCO World Heritage Hoi An and be enveloped in this charming central Vietnamese city, dissected by the Thu Bon River and made especially beautiful by the well-preserved Ancient Town, dotted with pagodas, ancestral homes, 200-year-old merchant houses and the ornate Japanese Bridge, constructed in the 1600s. Get your bearings on a neighbourhood walk with a local guide, savour local Vietnamese snacks and meet the people behind the produce. Finish your day on a hidden rooftop for a sundowner over this intriguing city before dinner on a traditional bamboo raft that swirls around the lanterns that twinkle on the Thu Bon River.

Spend your next few days with more immersive foodie encounters in this city that keeps giving. Enjoy an afternoon with Hoi An’s renowned cookery school, starting in a bustling market with a knowledgeable chef and continuing by boat to the kitchen where the herb garden will give you an insight into the important role they play in Vietnamese cooking. Create your own dishes from traditional recipes passed down through generations including making edible rice paper and quang nam noodles. Another day might see you explore a coco-palm forest by guided kayak, spotting wildlife on the river and enjoying seasonal fruit at a house in an authentic village, where centuries-old traditions of weaving and fishing still dominate their livelihoods.

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Stay: Anantara Hoi An

Our pick in Hoi An is one of the best located luxury hotels in this well-preserved city, sitting alongside the Thu Bon River. Just a short amble though the market brings you to the heart of the historic old town. Anantara Hoi An is also renowned for supremely attentive service, and its signature spa programmes mean relaxation is always within reach.

Tomb of Khai Dinh in Hue, Vietnam
Wonderful view of the East Gate (Hien Nhon Gate), Hue
Vietnamese small rice pancake – Traditional food of Vietnam
Specialties of Hue, Vietnam (Banh Khoai, Banh Uot, Nem Lui, Banh Nam, Banh Beo, Banh Loc, Banh It, Nem Ran, Cuon Tom Thit)
The East Gate (Hien Nhon Gate) to the Citadel, Hue
One of the buildings from the Tu Duc Tomb, Hue, Vietnam.
Thanh Toan Bridge, The ancient wooden Bridge on the river perfum
HUE,  VIETNAM , Red colored wooden porch in the imperial city of Hue. Imperial Palace of the Nguyen Dynasty in Hue.
A Vietnamese street vendor preparing banh mi sandwiches, representing the popularity of street food worldwide. Generative Ai.

Hue

From Hoi An to Hue, enjoy spectacular coastal views where the Annamite Mountains meet the sea. Make a stop at a pristine lagoon to get a glimpse of the Vietnamese fishermen’s way of life on a private boat trip, learning their unique way of catching the lagoon’s bounty including oysters, crab, snapper and squid. Have the privilege of enjoying lunch on a stilted house cooked by a fishing family.

Onto Hue, take in this historical city with strong cultural ties to its heritage and former dynastic rulers. Explore the tree-lined streets and the surrounding countryside on a cyclo tour, absorbing local life as you go – families making conical hats, fishermen on the rivers, rice farmers and villagers tending to their gardens. In the evening, be privy to some of Hue’s speciality cuisine such as Hue grills, rice paper rolls and local vegetarian dishes, plus meet an inspirational chef who’ll make Hue pancakes (banh khoai), just for you. For a special occasion, meet Phan Thuan Thao, of royal lineage, a staunch preserver of Hue history who lives in a beautiful home and garden, the former residence of Princess Ngoc Son the daughter of Emperor Dong Khanh of the Nguyen Dynasty. Conclude your encounter by savouring traditional Hue dishes prepared by the family.

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Azerai La Residence (1)
Azerai La Residence (4)
Azerai La Residence (3)
Azerai La Residence (2)
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Azerai La Residence (2)

STAY: Azerai La Residence

With an enchanting location overlooking the Perfume River and the citadel of Hue, Azerai La Residence is a colonial-era Art Deco mansion swathed in tropical gardens, replete with a refreshing salt-water swimming pool, creating the perfect respite from a long day exploring the city. We’d recommend the spacious and stylish Colonial Suites which come with verandahs overlooking the river.

Ho Chi Minh City skyline at sunset. Amazing cityscape
Phuoc An Hoi Quan Pagoda, Ho Chi Minh City, Saigon, Vietnam,
Chinatown in Ho Chi Minh City. Local market
Ho Chi Minh City, Saigon, Vietnam – august 15 2018 : Thien Hau p
Ho Chi Minh mausoleum in Hanoi, Vietnam
The Vietnam War tunnel of Cu Chi at Saigon in Vietnam
Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam: Saigon City Hall, Vincom Center towers and colorful street traffic blurred in motion. Saigon downtown with its famous landmarks. Stock image with removed logos.
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Ho Chi Minh City

From Hue, take an easy internal flight southwards to Ho Chi Minh City, a buzzy metropolis full of life. The best way to explore the city is with a guide, cutting though its notoriously scooter-filled streets to hidden sights. Hop on a cyclo tour to explore its back streets, museums and local markets, including a thriving coffee culture – meet a local barista and learn about the process from berry to roasting perfection.

Join in with the Ho Chi Minh tradition of ‘di vong vong’ – scooting around with friends. With your guide, zip down side streets on a scooter to sit alongside locals for Vietnamese-grown coffee or a locally brewed beer. To tap into the city’s more serious side, be educated on Vietnam’s sobering history with a trip to the Cu Chi tunnels via a waterway cruise. The narrow tunnels were built by guerrilla fighters during the Vietnamese-American war. Experience the tunnels first-hand by crawling through a short section, then have the honour of dining with a war veteran and his family, sampling regional Vietnamese food. Back in Ho Chi Minh City, savour one last culinary adventure and follow in the footsteps of famed foodie Anthony Bourdain who raved about the legendary 20-hour steaming bowls of pho at ‘Lady Lunch’.

Hotel des Arts Saigon – MGallery
Hotel des Arts Saigon – MGallery
Hotel des Arts Saigon – MGallery
? Hotel des Arts Saigon – MGallery Collection ?

STAY: Hotel des Arts

Centrally located and just five minutes from the Notre Dame Cathedral, Hotel Des Arts is a boutique hotel with charming nods to Indochina, with roomy suites in a modern décor, polished parquet flooring and free-standing tubs. The Hotel des Arts’ enticing rooftop pool and bar is the place to take in the Ho Chi Minh City skyline with a crafted cocktail and sharing plates of oysters or antipasti.

SUMMARY

Ready to savour the flavour of Vietnam? Allow our carefully crafted trip to introduce you to Vietnam’s varied tastes while simultaneously giving you a fascinating entrée into this Asian country’s traditions and culinary secrets.

“Food brings people together and, on this trip, Vietnam’s mouthwatering cuisine will open doors to authentic experiences and the chance to get to know Vietnam and its people. If this appeals to you, allow me to give you more detail on your next trip to Vietnam.”

Have questions? Our knowledgeable team of experts are on-hand to take your call or if you prefer by Zoom. Talk to us about your holiday dreams or challenge us with your travel conundrums.

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