With its rangy, snaking coastline, wonderful cuisine and beautiful monuments, Vietnam has a very special place in our hearts. Bordering China, Laos and Cambodia and with its long history of trade and colonial rule, the natural beauty of Vietnam is awash with a wide range of contrasting cultural influences. This two-week, handcrafted trip will take you right through the country, meeting the locals, taking in secrets and kicking your heels on the glorious white sand coast. From Halong Bay in the north to the island of Phu Quoc in the south, you’ll discover hands on just what makes this enigmatic nation tick, in inimitable Black Tomato style.
After your first night in Hanoi at the Sofitel Legend Metropole, we’ve got a very special few days planned. Take in the spiritual scenes of early morning Tai Chi at Hoan Kiem Lake before a mouth-watering half day’s cooking tour starting at the famous Chau Long Market. You’ll consider yourself a Vietnamese gastronome in no time as you peruse the stalls, receiving expert guidance on the freshest seasonal products and age-old secrets of Vietnam’s celebrated kitchens. At the end of the tour you’ll move from novice to would-be master, cooking up your own traditional platter before sitting down to sample the outcome. Whilst in Hanoi, be sure to catch a performance of the famous Vietnamese water puppets and don’t miss the Temple of Literature. Over nine hundred years old, this place boasts beauty in abundance and really puts our local library in its place.
For us, living like a local is part and parcel of a great travel experience, so cruise the city like the hoi polloi and take a traditional cyclo tour of the backstreets, careening through the tight alleys and whizzing by banana vendors and booksellers.
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From the hustle and bustle of Hanoi, we’ll take you south-west to Mai Chau and the nearby villages of Pom Coong and Lac. Bucolic, remote and a world away from life in the capital, pick up a pushbike and freewheel through the hills, meeting local tribes and learning their traditions. In short, let Black Tomato give you a real taste of rural Vietnam.
The boats of Halong Bay
Due east from Hanoi, Halong Bay is one of Vietnam’s unique geological wonders. We’ll take you gliding through natural arcades of totemic limestone columns, across the mystical waters to Bai Tu Long and the fishing village of Vung Vieng. From your luxury junk boat, you can kayak through the shallows and into the eerie caves, guaranteeing a nautical experience you’ll never forget.
Hoi An to Ho Chi Minh
Back on dry land and via a pit stop in Imperial Hue, we’ll take you to Hoi An for two nights at the Life Heritage Resort. The patchwork city par excellence, Hoi An was a thriving international port for Chinese, Dutch, French, Japanese, Portuguese and Arab merchants. We’ll show you around the city streets, pointing out the eclectic architecture and where to get your hands on Hoi An’s famous silk and fabrics.
On your second day in Hoi An we’ll give you an insight into local life in the farming and fishing communities outlying the city. You’ll be treated to displays of age-old techniques by the men and women who supply the famous city markets as you head from paddy field to vegetable patch and onto the river in a traditional bamboo boat.
Next up, Ho Chi Minh and the famous tunnels of Cu Chi. To add a vintage edge to this spooky subterranean labyrinth, we’ve organised a private army jeep ride to take you there, followed by an exclusive tour of the tunnel network.
Last stop Phu Quoc
After your stay at Ho Chi Minh’s Renaissance Riverside Hotel, we’ve booked you on a short flight to the eco paradise of Phu Quoc. Just south of Cambodia, the rugged beauty of this remote island will have you under its spell in no time. You’ll be treated like royalty at the stunning MGallery La Veranda Resort, the perfect base from which to explore the island. Famed far and wide for its fish sauce (of all things), we can organise a visit to a traditional factory where you can follow the secret recipe or create one all of your own. Let our expert guide walk you through the aromatic surrounds of the Pepper Gardens or the island’s national park, or, if all that fish sauce has sharpened your appetite for the sea, we’ll team you up with some local fishermen for one final angle on Vietnamese life.