February 7, 2020: Welcome to Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon)
Saigon’s Opera House could be in Paris
Morning: Free for international arrivals.
Afternoon: We’ll kick off the trip with a city tour of Saigon including a visit to the powerfully moving War Museum, one of Vietnam’s most visited institutions. Next, a tour of one of the city’s top landmarks, the Reunification Palace. We’ll also tour the breathtaking Central Post Office designed by France’s famous architect, Gustave Eiffel, as well as the Opera House and Notre Dame cathedral.
Evening: Get ready for some local color as we’ll be moving from the downtown to the neighborhoods for a tour of “street food” at simple eateries in residential neighborhoods with a local foodie in-the-know.
February 8: Central Market &
A watermelon is transformed by a Master fruit-carver
Morning: After breakfast we’ll head to the Central Market, one of the city’s oldest structures. In addition to a mesmerizing selection of fresh produce and fish from the Mekong Delta, there’s an array of culinary items along with handicrafts.
Evening: Tonight we have been invited into a local resident’s home, an engineer who is a serious foodie. Our hostess has won a plethora of awards for her fruit carving. She’ll demonstrate these incredible skills and then we’ll dine with her and her family.
February 9: Flight to Vietnam’s
Unspoiled beaches without crowds
Morning: Free in Ho Chi Minh city for sightseeing, shopping or enjoying a spa treatment at our hotel.
Afternoon: We’ll fly to one of Vietnam’s most beautiful coastal spots, Hoi An. The town, an exceptionally well-preserved example of an Asian trading port dating from the 15th – 19th centuries) is now UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Evening: Dinner will be at Anthony Bourdain’s favorite place for Banh Mi. One of Vietnam’s hallmark culinary items, this dish is a simple but ridiculously wonderful mélange of flavors.
February 10: Chef Market Tour &
Shrimp “tamale” steamed with luscious herbs in a banana leaf
Morning & Afternoon: We’ll begin the day by accompanying the chef to the village’s impressive market where we will learn about an array of interesting produce that we don’t have in the US. Then, we’re off on a boat to the cooking school where we’ll prepare a sumptuous feast.
February 11: The Historic City of
Hoi An’s specialty comes in every shape, size & color
Morning: After breakfast we’ll visit a huge vegetable farm. No chemicals or fertilizers are used; instead, a kind of algae found in the lagoon surrounding the property is used. Thanks to this technique, the farm’s vegetables are widely recognized for their quality. We’ll tour the beautifully laid out farm and learn from locals about their cultivation practices. Then, we’ll have lunch at the farm. This is the real-deal Vietnam.
Afternoon & Evening: Free for shopping & sightseeing. Dinner is also free for a special dinner with your Valentine, or if you’re solo jump into the active night life of this bustling city.
February 12: Hue…Vietnam’s
One of the many magnificent entrances to the Citadel
Morning: Bid your goodbyes to charming Hoi An as today we move inland to the very center of Vietnam.
Afternoon: We begin our day in Hue at the Citadel. There are few other landmarks in Vietnam that can compare with the Citadel. Begun in 1804, the citadel was built for the new Emperor. Surrounded by a six mile square moat, it required thousands of workers. It is particularly significant to Americans as the Citadel was the site of the Tet Offensive in 1968. Today, the Citadel is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Evening: Dinner tonight will be in the former Royal City and will be fit for an Emperor. Tonight we will dine at the city’s premier restaurant, one of the best in Vietnam.
February 13: Hue…the Glorious Countryside
The ornately decorated tomb functioned as a link between this life and the next
Morning: Today’s one you won’t forget. It begins with a tour of the magnificent Minh Mang Tomb. Built for the second Emperor in the mid-1800’s, it is a stunning collection of palaces, temples and pavilions all connected by lovely gardens.
Afternoon: Next, lunch will be held at a very special private estate in the countryside that once belonged to the Governor of this region. Still owned today by the same family (who live on the property), it will provide a unique opportunity to see this entitled strata of Vietnamese life.
February 14: Valentine’s on Romantic
Ha Long Bay
Our home for the next 2 nights
Morning: Bid Today we fly to Hanoi where we’ll then transfer to a private bus and travel to Ha Long Bay. There couldn’t be a more dreamy location in which to celebrate the day of love.
Afternoon : All aboard! Our sumptuous yacht will begin its journey to explore this exotic inlet of thousands of limestone islands in spectacular shapes with emerald waters and sparkling caves. The entire Bay is now protected under UNESCO as a World-Heritage Site.
Evening: Our dinner on the top deck of the yacht will be timed perfectly for the sunset.
February 15: Floating Village &
This cave will assuredly mesmerize everyone.
Morning: If you’re an early riser, don’t miss the Tai Chi class held at sunrise on our yacht’s top deck (and even if you’re not, this special event should not be missed). Next, you won’t want to miss our visit to a floating village which has its own school and market. The chef will buy items from the village’s fish- monger for tonight’s dinner.
Afternoon: Lunch will be at a floating pearl farm. Next, comes one of the most awesome experiences of this trip….a visit to a breathtaking cave. When you enter you’ll think you’re in the palace of an ancient Emperor. Back on the yacht, there will be free time for swimming or kayaking.
Evening: The chef’s dinner will feature seafood purchased at the floating village’s fish monger.
February 16: Lunch in a Beautiful Garden Home
One of our lunch hosts is also a wonderful singer
Morning: It will probably be difficult to say goodbye to Ha Long Bay, but today we’re off to Hanoi after breakfast on the yacht.
Afternoon : On the way we’ll stop for lunch in a peaceful village in the countryside where we’ll be guests of a family in their beautiful home with a heavenly garden.
Evening: As we’ve had a big lunch today dinner tonight will be a bowl of Vietnam’s famous soup, Pho. Many Vietnamese feel that the best Pho in the country is prepared in Hanoi.
February 17: Good Morning Hanoi!
Hanoi’s old Quarter is enchanting
Morning: We’ll begin the day by visiting the city’s version of New York’s Central Park… people from all over the city converge here for group morning exercise. There will be huge numbers of people doing Tai Chi, others dancing to classical music, and many rocking out to rock-n-roll. Amazing. Our guide will then walk us through the historical district, a maze of pedestrian only streets filled with colorful shops and delectable food stalls. We’ll finish with a special coffee (or tea) at one of the oldest cafes.
Evening: Tonight we’ll return to the old town for a walking tour of street-food grazing with a local who will take us to the “insider” spots.
February 18: Ho Chi Min’s Tomb &
the Hanoi Hilton
Hanoi is an interesting juxtaposition of old & new, big & small
Morning: We’ll be picked up at our hotel in rickshaws for our ride through the Old French Quarter, past the Royal Palace, and then to the tomb of Vietnam’s revered son, Ho Chi Minh. Then, we’ll switch gears and visit the building where John McCain was imprisoned—it’s now a museum.
Afternoon: The remainder of day will be free.
Evening: Our last night in this special country will be at a restaurant known for high quality. This chef is world-class. While his menu’s roots are Vietnamese, his classical training is influenced by the former French occupation.
February 19: Goodbye Vietnam
The soul of the Vietnamese people will be difficult to forget
Morning: The tour ends after breakfast. For those who wish to stay extra days in Hanoi, we will be happy to arrange this for you.
The tour begins in Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon) on February 7, 2020. It is strongly advised that you arrive one day early to allow for possible missed international connections, and to allow additional time to adjust to jet lag. Early arrival nights at our hotel in Saigon can be arranged.
Wine-Knows can arrange a transfer to the airport for you, or you can stay extra days in Hanoi. (Like Saigon, extra days at our hotel can be arranged for you).
Group airfare has purposefully not been included to allow maximum flexibility in arrival & departure options. You may go early & stay over after the trip concludes. Wine-Knows Travel, Inc. provides land only arrangements and does not provide airfare.
Our groups are composed of people from diverse occupations, singles & couples, men & women, a mix of young & old, well-seasoned international travelers, as well as novices. All have a common interest in food & wine. The majority of participants on our tours are repeat clients. In addition, each tour participant is a non-smoker.
The following properties will be used:
Saigon: a 4 star modern property featuring a wonderful spa. Located in the epicenter of the city, it offers all of the creature comforts of the 21st century including well-outfitted marble bathrooms, lovely linens, a rooftop swimming pool with a 360 panorama of the city, & WIFI.
Hoi An: this inn is one of the few upscale hotels located within walking distance of Vietnam’s most charming city. With 4 stars, the 100 room property boasts very comfortable rooms with WIFI, a spa, an outdoor pool, a gym, and free bicycles to explore the local area. Service at this hotel is sublime.
Hue: 5 star boutique resort located in a tropical oasis in the peaceful countryside just outside the busy city. This property oozes character, tranquility and privacy. Featuring 139 rooms (many are bungalows), there are 2 outdoor pools, a full service spa, as well as a fitness center.
Hanoi: one of the highest rated hotels in the city, this 50 room modern property is perfectly situated in the heart of the city in the Old Quarter. The hotel features a sumptuous buffet breakfast of Vietnam’s traditional dishes, along with a huge array of exotic fruits and made-to-order western breakfasts. There’s also an impressive spa.
Dining experiences have been mindfully selected and will offer a variety of experiences. We will dine in several family homes, all the way from residences of middle-class professionals to luxurious countryside villas belonging to Vietnam’s former royalty. There will be everything from a “street food tour” on the back-streets of both Saigon & Hanoi (offering completely different regional cooking) to a high-end cooking class at a professionally run culinary school.
Restaurants will also offer a wide range, varying from Vietnam’s poshest and finest, to simple places where locals dine. All feature the best in their respective categories of what Vietnam has to offer the food-lover.
The tour will be casual dress. Layers are essential. Keep in mind the weather can vary from hot tropical in the south, to cool/cold in the north. We’ll also spend 2 nights on a yacht, so layers are important.
There will be walking tours through cobblestoned streets and through mountain villages so pack a pair of appropriate shoes. Also, don’t forget to bring a swimsuit for the beach and hotel swimming pools.
Consider the following 3 rules of thumb to minimize the amount of clothing required: (1) Bring layers. (2) Use the mix-and-match principal (i.e. if it doesn’t mix or match, leave it at home.) (3) Use accessories to change the look versus bringing additional clothing.
Daytime temperatures in Saigon can be hot as this is the tropical southern part of the country. Saigon can be 80-90+ degrees with humidity.
In central Vietnam we will be on the sea where temperatures are milder.
Northern Vietnam, on the other hand, is much cooler and daytime temperatures can be 60-70. We’ll have two days in the north on a private yacht. While we’ll be in Ha Long Bay (rather than the open sea), the climate can still be cool. Layers are the best strategy for these significant differences in weather.
As with most travels, it never hurts to bring an umbrella.
The price is based upon double occupancy. Should you wish to share a room, every attempt will be made to find you a roommate (most of the time we have been quite successful in doing so). However if we are unable to find you a roommate, you will need to pay the single supplement of $1,090US.
We have provided free time as detailed in the itinerary. Furthermore, it is not mandatory that you attend all of the planned experiences, although most of our clients do! This is your trip—if you would rather sleep in, shop, or simply chill at the pool, then do it!
Yes. We accept payment through PayPal (PayPal.com). Since PayPal charges us a fee, this fee must added to the cost of the trip.
- All activities listed in the itinerary such as cooking classes & demonstrations, food tours, and privately guided cultural tours
- Double occupancy accommodations with private bathrooms in 4 and 5 star hotels, along with an luxury category yacht
- Two inter-Vietnam flights (Saigon to Da Nang, and Da Nang to Hanoi)
- Daily full breakfasts (buffets featuring both Vietnamese & western food)
- 5 lunches
- 9 dinners with wine (1/2 bottle of wine per person)
- Ground transportation in air-conditioned motor-coach with professional driver.
- Porterage of luggage
- All gratuities including hotels, restaurants, yacht staff, drivers and guides