Looking for a bit of adventure and a place rich in culinary traditions? Southeast Asia fits the bill on those counts and so much more. A journey to this part of the world is a feast for the senses, especially during a cooking vacation, and offers a unique experience you won’t find anywhere else. Need more reason to start packing your bags for the likes of Vietnam, Cambodia, and Thailand? Here’s four more…
Stunning scenery: From picturesque villages to bustling cities
From the vibrant and busy cities of Saigon and Hanoi, to the rice paddies and rural life of Cambodia, Southeast Asia will keep you busy but also provide a chance to relax. It’s a land of contrasts in many ways, as you go from walking through the heart of Hanoi — during our Cooking and Culture of Vietnam and Cambodia trip — to taking a cyclo tour through Hoi An, which means someone else will be pedaling for you as you soak up the sites. Activities like a lovely sunset fisherman’s cruise on the Thu Bon river in Hoi An, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, also give you an inside peek into the daily life of the locals (more on this in a minute).
The Incredible History
Vietnam may be best known in American history books for the Vietnam war, and Cambodia has its own painful history under the rule of Khmer Rouge in the 1970s, but the countries have rebuilt and tourism abounds. Today monuments serve as a reminder of that history and what we’ve learned from it. The history of the diverse land also goes back much further, and in Vietnam includes centuries of Chinese rule and later French colonial rule, evidence of which you’ll see during your tours. Visit places like the Ho Chi Minh complex, as well as the Temple of Literature that dates back to 1070.
Over in Cambodia, travelers will find one of the biggest attractions in the region, and something not to be missed: the Angkor temples, which are entwined with the surrounding jungle. The ruins — which date back to the 9th through the 15th centuries — are visited by more than 2 million people a year now. Even with that amount of tourism, there’s a certain magic to these temples, and watching the sun set over the countryside while standing on one of the ruins’ upper terraces is something you’ll never forget.
The amazing and unique gastronomy starts with breakfast! After all, Vietnam is one of the biggest producers in the world of coffee. In fact, you’ll find their delicious coffee just about everywhere you go, from cafes to street vendors. Speaking of street food: the variety is immense and amazing. Pull up a stool at a street vendor — where you see other locals — an enjoy a noodle soup, like pho.
Try a recipe for Thai beef noodle soup.
You can also work up an appetite by touring the many markets, which are packed with more than just fresh food, but also fabrics and clothes. From the food markets to the wet markets, you’ll see all sorts of food products, including right off the boat fresh fish — and an impressive display of frogs, eels, and more in Chau Long… as well as some more appetizing fare!
Wherever you go in Southeast Asia, you’ll be greeted by welcoming locals. Don’t be surprised when they compliment you on their appearance! From the markets to the restaurants, and even the farms, you’ll be welcomed by smiles, and treated like family as you learn about their daily life and culture.
Bonus: it’s affordable
While tourism has been increasing in recent decades to this part of the world, it still remains a very affordable destination. Our Southeast Asia itinerary includes eight nights in four-star hotels, three cooking classes, internal flights, many of the meals, and an English-speaking guide for all excursions, and the price starts at just $2800 per person.
We also offer a tour to Thailand, where the locals are notoriously friendly, as the country is known as the land of smiles! We recommend adding on the 4-night Thailand itinerary to 8-night Southeast Asia to fully experience so much of what this beautiful part of the world has to offer.
By Liz Hall
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