cwith Charles-Henry de Valbray and Patti Ravenscroft
Vietnam, with its long gentle curving borders, is a land of exceptional natural beauty and dramatic contrasts. Sparkling beaches framed by mystical mountains, dramatic limestone formations rising straight from the sea, verdant, centuries-old rice paddies glistening in the tropical sunlight, and enchanting fishing villages and floating markets are but a few of Vietnam’s many wonders. With its breathtaking archeological treasures, fascinating colonial cities, and superb cuisine, Vietnam is as rich in history and culture as it is blessed with natural beauty.
To fully discover Vietnam’s spirit and its many treasures, join us on a 12-day cultural and culinary journey from the North to the South of this amazing country. We will begin our trip in Hanoi right before the Vietnamese New Year, Te’t, to give you an opportunity to experience Vietnam’s most important holiday. The excitement of the approaching New Year is contagious as families everywhere prepare by refurbishing their homes and decorating with traditional yellow-flowering apricot trees and colorful dragons. The markets are overflowing with perfectly ripened tropical fruits and lush vegetables that the local people carry home on their shoulders or strap precariously to their bicycles and vespas.
Vietnamese cuisine will come alive through a series of cooking classes taught by the very best local chefs who will teach us to make such specialties as the national dish, pho, a steaming soup of rare beef filet, onions, chilies, lime juice, fresh herbs, and rice noodles, and cha ca, tasty morsels of fish with dill, scallions, peanuts, chilies and cilantro.
In addition to savoring the delicious food and exquisite sites (sights!), you will, of course, also have plenty of time to shop. Local shopping opportunities include lacquerware, jewelry, handbags, shoes, silk, and custom-made clothes. Vietnam truly provides feasts for all the senses!
• Arrive in Hanoi in the morning and settle into the elegant French Colonial gem, the Metropole.
• Poolside lunch with a few Hanoi specialties.
• After lunch enjoy a cyclo (bicycle rickshaw) tour of Hanoi’s Old Quarter, a colorful maze of commercial alleys.
• Free time to shop. Optional water puppet show.
• Dinner at the restaurant by the opera.
• Morning tour of Hanoi, including the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum, the Temple of Literature, the Presidental Palace, and other important French colonial buildings.
• Enjoy delicious Cha Ca (tasty morsals of tumeric-dusted whitefish – cooked tableside) for lunch at Vietnam’s oldest restaurant, Cha Ca La Vong.
• Afternoon cooking class and dinner with Chef Didier Corlou, Vietnam’s top chef, at his home.
• After breakfast, drive to Halong Bay, a UNESCO World Heritage Site where more than 3000 islands rise steeply from the water to create an extraordinary dramatic seascape.
• Board the Bhaya for lunch, dinner and a magical overnight cruise. The Bhaya is a newly built wooden junk, featuring 20 luxurious cabins.
• After breakfast, return to Hanoi for a flight to Hue, the former Imperial capital of Vietnam.
• Check into the Hotel La Residence with free time to relax and enjoy the spa before dinner.
• Dinner with a local family, descendents of the royal family at their home, the Om Garden House.
• After an early breakfast, depart from the hotel for a full day tour of Hue. A boat trip on the romantically named Perfume River visits Hue’s best-known religious site, Thien Mu Pagoda, and the mausoleum of former Minh Mang, in a tranquil setting of gardens and lakes.
• Lunch at a French colonial restaurant in Hue.
• In the afternoon visit the elaborate mausoleums of emperors Khai Dinh and the Imperial Citadel from where the Nguyen Dynasty ruled between 1802 and 1945.
• Royal dinner at An Dinh Vien Restaurant.
• After breakfast leave Hue for Hoi An, a major Asian trading port in the 17th and 18th centuries whose architecture and relaxed lifestyle has changed little over the years. The scenic route passes through the wonderfully photogenic fishing village of Lang Co before climbing over the Pass of Ocean Clouds.
• Check into the beachside Victoria Hoi An Hotel in time for lunch by the pool. (Beachfont rooms!)
• Afternoon free at the hotel to enjoy the beach and spa or shopping for those who would like fabulous custom clothes made.
• Dinner on THE TERRACE at Nam Long Restaurant.
• Breakfast at the hotel.
• Market visit and private cooking class and lunch at the Red Bridge.
• Afternoon free for swimming, shopping, spa, etc.
• Dinner at Brother’s Cafe, a charming restaurant situated on the Thu Bon River.
• Breakfast at the hotel.
• Morning visit to the village of Tra Que, known for the cultivation of local vegetables used in traditional dishes of Hoi An.
• Lunch with a delightful local farming family.
• Afternoon free for swimming, shopping, or spa.
• Dinner at the Hotel Victoria Hoi An.
• After breakfast drive to Danang.
• Visit to the orphanage run by the Sisters of St. Paul de Chartres in Vietnam.
• Fly from Danang to Dalat.
• Check into the Sofitel Dalat Palace Hotel.
• Hot Pot lunch at the Hotel. Optional jeep tour of Langbian Mountain.
• Dinner at the elegant French restaurant, Le Rabelais with a menu created by Didier Corlou.
• Morning visit to a local farm producing Vietnam’s finest vegetables and herbs, followed by a market tour.
• Cooking class and lunch with Chef Huong in a French villa.
• Afternoon free.
• Aperitifs on the terrace or in Larry’s Bar.
• French dinner at Cafe de la Poste.
• After breakfast fly from Dalat to Saigon.
• Morning tour of the Post Office, Notre Dame Cathedral, and the Presidential Palace.
• Check in at the Majestic Hotel, followed by lunch at the Temple Club.
• Choice of a guided tour of the War Museum or a shopping tour in the afternoon.
• A private cocktail at a surprise location.
• Dinner at one of Saigon’s finest restaurants, the Nam Kha.
• An all-day excursion to the Mekong Delta with a tour of the river, rice barges, small villages, houseboats, and floating markets in a small longtail boat.
• Lunch with a Vietnamese family in their private home.
• Dinner at the Club Camargue.
• Surprise morning excursion in Saigon.
• Farewell lunch on the rooftop terrace at the Majestic Hotel.
• Depart for the airport after lunch for flights home or to another adventure in Asia.
Accommodations & Cost
Accommodations: All bedrooms include a private bathroom and direct dial phone sevice.
Included in the cost: Eleven (11) nights’ accommodations; all ground transportation and internal airfares from the beginning of the trip in Hanoi and ending in Saigon; all meals including aperitifs and carefully selected regional wines; all cooking classes; and all sightseeing and private visits as described above. Limited to sixteen participants.
Not Included in Cost: Airfare to Vietnam; alcoholic beverages except as specified in the program.
Cost: $7,990 per person, double occupancy, single supplement an additional $1500. Important note: substantial changes in the value of the dollar may require changes in the price of the tour.
Deposit: $1,000 per person.
Register for this trip — check-out the general information section about Les Liaisons Délicieuses trips — see what other travelers have to say — check for when this trip is scheduled or discuss a custom trip based on this itinerary.