Written by Puff Staff

Friday, 02 September 2011

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ha long bayhanoi
ho chi minh cityhue royal city
mekong deltavacation destinations

viet1Gourmet travel experiences are on the rise as foodies across the world combine their passion for great food with their love of culture and exploration. If you’re one of the increasing numbers of gourmet globe-trotters searching for fresh flavours in exotic climes, then the new Taste of Vietnam luxury tour should be top of your travel list.

Tour company Luxury Travel have created a 12-day trip for travellers with limited time and an unlimited appetite for culinary adventure. Taking in Vietnam’s most popular spots, the tour takes you from the bustling city of Hanoi, past the limestone cliffs of Ha Long Bay, into the silk haven of Hoi An and through to the historic former capital Ho Chi Minh City. You’ll experience dishes such as cha ca (a charcoal-grilled fish), sample Vietnam’s signature pho, become acquainted with infinite types of noodles and rice, and realise you can’t live without Vietnam’s vital nouc man (the signature Vietnamese fish sauce), as you discover Vietnam from the luxury of some of the country’s most expensive hotels and restaurants.

Luxury Travel has described exactly what the tour will entail...

Day 1: Arrive in Hanoi

Upon arrival at Hanoi's Noi Bai International Airport, you’ll be accompanied to your hotel and assisted with your check-in. You’ll have time to get to grips with the narrow, bustling streets of Hanoi 's Old Quarter, bursting with sellers dealing in everything from medicinal herbs to luxurious silks. You can also choose to relax around one of the many lakes and parks that make Hanoi one of the greenest cities in Asia. Those who want to hit the culinary trail immediately are invited to lunch with our tour leader at Soho, a charming bistro featuring traditional French bouillabaisse with a spicy Vietnamese twist, and rich Vietnamese coffee served hot or cold. After lunch, we'll explore the Hom Market with its aromatic and visually stunning offerings of spices and herbs. This evening, our guide will escort you to dinner at Indochine, set in an authentic French Colonial villa. The  menu includes a not-to-be-missed banana flower salad, delicious nem, Hanoi-style spring rolls, and fried chicken with lemongrass and chilli.


Day 2: Hanoi

Mornings are a magical time in this elegant Red River Delta city, and most Hanoians are up early, stopping at their favourite pho (pronounced fuh) stand to breakfast on this most famous of Vietnamese dishes. Pho, served piping hot, is a broth with fresh rice noodles, chicken or beef, green onions and cilantro, enhanced by condiments such as lime and chillies. The day will be filled with exploration, and we'll begin with a morning cycle tour of city sights, escorted by our guide. We'll take in the Ho Chi Minh Complex, which includes the Mausoleum, the One Pillar Pagoda, Presidential Palace and Ho Chi Minh's former stilt house residence. Next we'll visit the 11th century Temple of Literature , site of Vietnam 's first university. Dedicated to Confucius, the Temple grounds are resplendent with pavilions and walkways invoking peace and contemplation. Our appetite leads us next to Hoa Sua for a very special luncheon experience. Set in a lovely courtyard, the restaurant is part of a training school where disadvantaged Vietnamese children and teens are educated in cooking and restaurant skills that will enable them to have successful careers in the hotel and restaurant industry. Be sure to save room for a luscious dessert from Hoa Sua's own French Patisserie next door. After lunch we'll make our way to Dinh Xuyen, about 16km outside the city, for a unique visit to a spice exporting facility. There, we'll observe the sorting and processing of spices such as Vietnamese cinnamon and star anise, some of which may end up in your teacup back home!

Back in Hanoi, we'll enjoy dinner and a wine tasting at the award-winning Press Club restaurant where international fare is laced with Asian influences and wines are selected to complement these tastes. If you prefer, you can visit the famed Water Puppet Theater near Hoan Kiem Lake. The theatre’s origins date back almost a thousand years to when the plays were performed on lakes and ponds. Accompanied by musicians who both play and sing, the puppeteers stand behind a screen, waist-deep in water, using rods and strings to move the wooden puppets as they enact scenes of daily rural life, ancient stories and legends.

Night owls are also invited to hit Highway 4 with our guide for a taste of an exotic rice or fruit wine, or a cup of Vietnamese tea. Highway 4's brewed-on-site spirits, particularly enjoyable on the roof terrace, include traditional northern medicinal liquors and herbal potions.


Day 3: Hanoi - Ha Long Bay - Overnight on a traditional junk

With thousands of limestone mountains and cliffs jutting from its calm waters, Halong Bay is a UNESCO World Heritage site and one of the world's most spectacular natural wonders. The Indochina Sails, a traditional junk built of aromatic wood and other special materials, is the perfect vessel for exploring this magnificent seascape.

You can explore Halong aboard the Indochina Sails, who’ll pick you up from your hotel in Hanoi for a four-hour drive through the Red River Delta to Ha Long City. Once on board you’ll be given a welcome drink before getting ready for a deluxe Vietnamese feast at lunch time. After lunch you’ll arrive at Titop Island where you’ll be able to enjoy swimming, relaxing on the beach and climbing the steps to the top of the mountain on the island for fantastic views and photo opportunities. Returning to the boat, you’ll sail to your second stop - the Bat Cave area. Here you can choose to go kayaking to the nearby Bat Cave or visit the Cua Van floating fishing village, the largest floating fishing village in Halong Bay. There are about 130 floating houses and about 600 people live and work in the village. Afterwards you’ll depart for the Luon Bo area, where you’ll anchor for overnight. Once you’re moored up you’ll be treated to a deluxe Vietnamese buffet before the evening entertainment gets underway: There’s film entertainment in the dining room and massage services are also available. Also at this time we offer, when possible, an excursion to a nearby squid fishing boat. We travel by tender and you will be able to board the boat and see how the local fishermen catch squid and other fish. At 9pm it’s happy hour, so you’ve got no excuse not to have a merry evening on board the junk.


Day 4: Halong Bay - Hanoi - Fly to Hue

You’ll awake to the sound of the ocean and enjoy a sunrise on board as you sip Tai Chi on the sundeck. This is followed by tea, coffee and breakfast pastries served in the dining room. After breakfast you’ll arrive by boat at the Surprise Cave which you’ll be spend the morning exploring, unless you’d rather relax and soak up the rays on the boat. After the cave, your proper breakfast will be served up in the dining room so you can indulge as you’re sailed back towards the Pier. As the tour arrives as Bai Chay, you’ll transfer by tender to the pier, where you can relax while waiting for the transfer directly to Noi Bai Airport in Hanoi for a short flight to Hue in the afternoon. From there you’ll transfer to La Residence Hotel & Spa by Accor for hotel check-in and overnight in Hue.

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