Food discovery vacation in Vietnam

“Small group tour of Vietnam including cooking classes, seafood cruises, street food stalls, and a couple of flights, during 12 delicious days.”

Highlights

Hanoi | KOTO cooking school | Seafood cruise on Halong Bay | Dumpling tour in Hoi An | Dai beach | Noodles and herbs in Tra Que village | Cycle tour | Ben Thanh market, Ho Chi Minh | Rice paper and sweet production on Mekong Delta | Mekong Delta homestay | Cai Be floating market |

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09 Nov 2019
US $1999
excluding flights
Full
 
08 Feb 2020
US $1949
excluding flights
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29 Feb 2020
US $1949
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10 Oct 2020
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07 Nov 2020
US $1949
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02 Jan 2021
US $2049
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06 Feb 2021
US $2049
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27 Feb 2021
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09 Oct 2021
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Vacation type

Small group vacation

Small group travel is not large group travel scaled down. It is modelled on independent travel – but with the advantage of a group leader to take care of the itinerary, accommodation and tickets, and dealing with the language. It’s easy to tick off the big sights independently – but finding those one-off experiences, local festivals, traveling markets and secret viewpoints is almost impossible for someone without the insider knowledge gained from years in the field. If you’re heading off on a gap year your, perhaps – but for those with a two-week vacation, a small group tour will save valuable planning time.

The leaders are not guides – they’re not there to shepherd you around. Instead, they’ll let you know which local restaurant serves great value food – without running the risk of travelers’ tummy. They’ll allow you to avoid hour-long queues at train stations and attractions.

We like to think of small group travel as the Goldilocks option. It is independent travel without the fuss, worry and bunk beds – and organised travel without the coaches. And it’s cheaper than a tailor made tour. It’s sits somewhere in the middle – and we think it’s just about right.

What are the main benefits?
Big experiences
Have big, life-enriching experiences that would be impossible to organise without lots of time and insider knowledge.

Simplicity
Make the most of your vacation time by letting someone else do the hard work and boring logistics!

Peace of mind
Small group tours take care of the security aspects – and provide a safety net should anything unexpected happen.
Who is it ideal for?
Travelers who are short of time
If you don’t have three months to spend exploring, small groups trips let you cover more ground in less time. Your days are not spent queuing for tickets or finding hotels – so you can squeeze more into your vacation.

Solo travelers who’d like company
Likeminded travel companions plus peace of mind for those traveling alone. Single supplements are usually available – providing privacy if you want it.

Less confident travelers
Stray from the tourist trail without worrying about getting lost, and meet local people without dealing with the language barrier.
Mythbuster
“I won’t get any privacy!”
Couples and friends have private rooms, and you can choose to eat alone or not. Single supplements give solo travelers their own room.

“There won’t be any free time”
Free mornings or afternoons let you explore on your own, or just relax.

“The accommodation will be basic”
Trips are as high or low end as you like. Though off the beaten track destinations won’t have luxury hotels, this is all part of the adventure.

“I won’t like the other travelers!”
Tour operators try to create groups with a similar demographic – age, families, activity levels... Chances are, you’ll even make new friends.

“Will we be following an umbrella?”
No.
Valerie Parkinson
Meet a group Leader
Name: Valerie Parkinson

Story: The first British woman to climb Manaslu, Valerie climbed Everest for her 50th birthday. She’s spent fourteen Christmas Days trekking to Everest Base Camp, and is involved insetting up Responsible Tourism initiatives in the Himalayas.
Roshan Fernando
Meet a local guide
Name: Roshan Fernando

Story: Roshan has led over 130 trips – he adores showing travelers around Sri Lanka. He won the company Leader Award in 2010, but his career highlight was working on their Tsunami Project – which earned him a responsible tourism award.

Responsible tourism

Food discovery vacation in Vietnam

Carbon reduction

Your vacation will help support local people and conservation. We must also reduce CO2. Learn about the CO2 emissions of this vacation and how to reduce them.

Environment

Accommodation and Meals:
We will spend most nights in comfortable hotels and also in some more unique accommodation such as a houseboat and a local guesthouse. This combination of locally run hotels and accommodation providers contributes directly to the community as staff are from the area and food is grown and sold locally. Many of these places also have environmental policies which reduce waste, water usage and energy expenditure.

On this culinary journey, we get to explore Vietnamese foods which are typically fresh fish, vegetables, rice and a whole myriad of verdant herbs and spices; lemongrass, ginger, basil and lime which play an important role in their dishes. There are plenty of opportunities to see where the food is produced; by visiting the local markets such as the Dong Xuan market and the Cai Be market travelers can interact with the local people, taste local produce and specialities as well as contribute to the local economy. Cookery classes are arranged for clients to try make some local delicacies on their own at KOTO (Know One, Teach One) cooking school, a training school for disadvantaged youths as well as in Hoi an and Ho Chi Minh City. We also have the opportunity to eat a delicious home cooked meal in a local Vietnamese house – an experience which is always enjoyed thoroughly by our clients.

Local Craft & Culture:
We do a lot to celebrate the cottage industries on this tour, as this is not only a way to directly benefit the locals but it is also hugely fascinating and enjoyable for travelers. For example, in the Mekong Delta, we visit a lot of these small businesses and factories which sell handmade coconut sweets, rice paper, soya bean sauce, popped rice and popcorn amongst other things. There is also the option to see a traditional folk dancing or water puppet show at Ho Chi Minh. This encourages local customs to continue and creates employment opportunities. In Hoi An, we also stop by a shop called ‘Reaching Out’, which sells gifts handmade by artisans with disabilities – helping them to develop their talent and independence.

Charity:
In Hanoi, we encourage groups to have a communal meal at KOTO, which is an NGO that provides a two year course in hospitality, English and life skills training to groups of 16-22 year olds from disadvantaged backgrounds. Students also receive accommodation, food, medical check-ups and treatment whilst they are being trained. Many of the 400+ graduates have gone on to continue developing their careers at KOTO restaurants or have gained employment elsewhere with their training so this is a great initiative to support.

Water
Water is a really important issue with trips such as this and whilst we must stay hydrated, it is also vital that we have a system for providing clean water without causing lots of waste with plastic bottles. Wherever possible we provide safe alternative sources of water to buying single use plastic bottles. This may be through large water containers, or encourage our passengers to filter, sterilise or purify water. We encourage all our passengers to come prepared with a reusable water bottle for this purpose.

A Fair Deal:
We work closely with our local operator and ensure that all of our guides are local and that in exchange for their expertise that they are paid and treated fairly. The leaders will give a briefing on Responsible Tourism issues to help you understand how you can help reduce your impact and maximise the benefits to the local community from your visit.

Group Size:
This is a small group tour, meaning that we have a low impact on the environments and communities we visit and are able to ensure that we do not disrupt or lead to the displacement of local people. The small number also allows us to stay in unique, family-run hotels that cannot benefit from coach tours and other mass tourism due to their limited sizes.

UK Office:
It all starts at home where we work towards reducing our carbon footprint in our offices through energy conservation measures, recycling policies and the promotion of cycling and walking as a means for our staff to commute. Our head office has become a plastic-free zone with the use of plastic bottles being banned in our head office and we distributed reusable water bottles and tote bags to every staff member. We also support a large number of community and environmental projects in different parts of the world and try to give something back to the places we visit.

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