Cooking & Culture in Southeast Asian Cooking Classes
Vietnam is a vibrant and diverse land with three main geographic regions, each of which you will visit during your unique Vietnam cooking tour: the temperate north, the dry central region, and the tropical south. Vietnam’s history and culture are fascinating, and its many centuries of Chinese rule, independent Vietnamese dynasties, and French colonial rule are on ready display in its architecture, cuisine, and culture. For many Americans, the idea of Vietnam has been frozen in 1975 with the fall of South Vietnam and subsequent unification following the Vietnam War. The last couple decades have, however, seen Vietnam’s economy grow, its place among other developing nations be solidified, and its tourism industry boom. Its cuisine, known throughout the world for its complex flavors and emphasis on fresh vegetables and herbs, is said to combine the fundamental tastes of spicy, sour, bitter, salty, and sweet in every delectable bite.
Lying to the west of Vietnam is Cambodia, your other destination during this amazing Southeast Asian culinary vacation. A fertile and predominantly rural country, life there still revolves around the family, the village, the rice fields, and the local Buddhist temple. A majority of the Cambodians are Khmer, but minority groups include Vietnamese, Chinese, and Chams. During your Cambodian cooking school tour, you will visit Siem Reap, an intriguing city that boasts Chinese-style and colonial architecture and is the gateway to the Angkor region, home to some of the most amazing temples in Southeast Asia.
The Details of Hanoi, Hoi An, Saigon & Siem Reap Food Tours
Our Southeast Asian cooking courses will expose you to an amazing part of the world, from its cuisine to its cultural sites and people. Enjoy hands-on cooking classes and guided cultural visits in Hanoi, Hoi An, Saigo & Siem Reap. You will visit the markets, cruise on the rivers, and explore the cities of Vietnam, and will journey to see the ancient Wat temples in Cambodia.
Please be advised that booking for internal flights will be done upon confirmation. The sequence of activities may be altered depending on the confirmed flight schedules.
- Arrival in Hanoi and transfer to your hotel. Time to relax for a bit after the trip.
- This evening, enjoy dinner at a local restaurant featuring a large selection of traditional Vietnamese food – a perfect introduction into the local cuisine! You can taste a variety of dishes to acquaint you with the flavor profiles of Vietnamese cooking.
- In the morning, pick up from your hotel for the cooking class, starting with a market visit. The guide will bring you to a traditional market and tell you about the main ingredients in Vietnamese cuisine, so you can have a clearer overview about Vietnamese food and an insight into Vietnamese herbs and spices (herbs and spices are important in Asian dishes). You will get to know some key useful Vietnamese words to buy and bargain the necessary ingredients yourself, which is very useful for you for bargaining for anything you want to buy afterward during your Vietnam trip.
- After purchasing the required ingredients for the Hanoi cooking class, you will return to the kitchen to learn the principles and general techniques for Southeast Asian cuisine. You will then observe the guide as they prepare the dishes. Once the demonstration is complete, you will have the opportunity to cook the dishes yourself and savor your masterpiece.
- After Hanoi culinary class, enjoy a cultural tour of this amazing city. Visit the Ho Chi Minh Memorial Complex, which is a lovely park setting that is home to the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum (which can only be viewed from the outside), in which is entombed the embalmed body of Ho Chi Mihn. (The Mausoleum is closed on Mondays and Fridays, every afternoon, and annually June 15 to August 15.) Next see the Presidential Palace (also may be viewed from the outside only), then stroll through the park to the Ho Chi Minh Stilt House, the simple two-room dwelling where Ho Chi Minh lived from 1958 until his final days. Preserved in the same condition as during his life, it may be viewed through the windows. Visit the miniature One Pillar Pagoda. Also dating from the 11th century, this monument was rebuilt after being destroyed by the French in 1954.
- Next step is the Temple of Literature, a peaceful series of walled courtyards and graceful gateways. This monument is one of the best-preserved examples of traditional Vietnamese architecture. Founded in 1070 and dedicated to Confucius, this was also the site of Vietnam’s first university. In one courtyard, giant stone tortoises bear stelae (columns) on their backs, listing the accomplishments of graduating scholars.
- Next, enjoy a Water Puppet Show, a marvelous local art form originating in northern Vietnam and best seen in Hanoi.
- As part of the Hanoi food tour, you will have the opportunity to dine at a traditional local restaurant that gained fame after Anthony Bourdain brought President Obama there. You will relish in the simplicity and deliciousness of the food, just as the locals do.
- Breakfast and check out for your flight to Danang. (The flight will usually be in the morning, around 10 am.
- As part of the Hoi An food tour, you will be transferred from Danang Airport to Hoi An and treated to a scrumptious lunch at an authentic local eatery.
- After lunch, enjoy a tour by cyclo and on foot. Hoi An is a picturesque riverside town south of Danang. Known as Faifo to early western traders, it was one of South East Asia’s major international ports during the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries. Now, this beautifully preserved historic city is best seen on foot. See the iconic Japanese Covered Bridge – the first bridge on this site was constructed in 1593 by the Japanese community of Hoi An to link the town with the Chinese quarters across the stream. The bridge was provided with a roof so it could be used as a shelter from rain and sun. Visit the nearby Sa Huynh Museum, which contains exhibitions from the earliest period of Hoi An’s history.
- Stroll to the Tran Family Chapel, a house for worshipping ancestors that was built about 200 years ago with donations from family members. The Tran family traces its origins to China and moved to Vietnam around 1700. The architecture of the building reflects the influence of Chinese and Japanese styles. Visit the Phuoc Kien Assembly Hall, a Chinese pagoda built around 1690 and then restored and enlarged in 1900. It is typical of the Chinese clans that were established in the Hoi An area. The temple is dedicated to Thien Hau Thanh Mau (Goddess of the Sea and Protector of Sailors and Fishermen). Finally, visit a lantern making workshop, one of many in Hoi An. The framework for the lanterns is made beforehand and clients can observe locals adorning silk cloth on the lantern.
- Finish with a visit to a tailor’s shop.
- Free time for shopping or relaxing.
- During the Hoi An cooking tour, you will get to experience a delightful dinner at a local wine bar and restaurant that is widely regarded as one of the city’s top new dining establishments.
- Breakfast, then visit Hoi An’s main market and experience its sights, sounds, and aromas. You will have a chance to interact with the vendors and taste a variety of foods on display.
- Next, board the Red Bridge boat for a cruise along the Ho An River to the cooking school where you will have your next class. You will have a chance to view local river life on the way.
- You will begin your Hoi An cooking class by exploring the herb and vegetable garden and discovering the ingredients used in some of the city’s most renowned dishes. The 2-hour foodie class will start with a demonstration of the cooking techniques, which you will then replicate as you prepare the same dishes yourself. To conclude the experience, you will enjoy a delicious lunch made from the dishes you have created.
- Transfer back and free time to shop, rest, or explore, or to revisit the tailor for any adjustments to clothing you have ordered.
- In the late afternoon, enjoy a private two-hour sunset fisherman’s cruise on the Thu Bon river. Transfer with your guide to the pier and experience the most precious part of a local fisherman’s day – the late afternoon, when they set out in their colorful boats hopeful of a generous catch. Your sunset cruise will take you to where the mouth of the Thu Bon River meets the Cua Dai Sea. You will be party to two special daily rituals: the passing parade of the local fishing fleet setting out to sea, and the magic of the sun slowly sinking in the western sky.
- After the cruise, transfer back to the hotel to freshen up for dinner, or you prefer to transfer directly to dinner.
- Dinner tonight in a restaurant featuring modern Vietnamese gastronomy.
- Breakfast and check out before departing early (around 8 am) for a very special excursion. You will hop on a bike to travel through the surrounding countryside to the Tra Que Village, located on a quiet and peaceful stream. Tra Que village is famed throughout Vietnam for the quality and variety of its vegetables and herbs, grown using a special method of organic farming. You’ll spend the morning participating in various farming activities; perhaps join the farmers in preparing the land and fertilizing it with algae from the local lake. Continue getting to know the local way of life by helping with other activities such as raking the ground, sowing seeds, watering greens, picking vegetables and many more gardening activities. Return to the farmer’s house and learn to harvest and wrap the vegetables for lunch. Bid farewell to your new friends and cycle back to your hotel (the distance is about 5 miles/30 minutes by bike each way).
- Transfer to Danang airport for your flight to Saigon (Ho Chi Minh City), which usually departs around 5 pm.
- Upon arrival in Saigon, transfer to your hotel for check-in.
- You’ll be taken to a local restaurant in Saigon for a delicious dinner as part of your foodie tour. After finishing your meal, you’ll be driven to your hotel where you can spend the night
- Breakfast, then depart for a full-day tour of Saigon, or Ho Chi Minh City. A vibrant metropolis, Saigon teems with energy, activity and motion. Everywhere you look, you see the convergence of traditional and modern life. The emerging modern skyline stands toe to toe with colonial buildings and traditional temples. Outside on the streets, young professionals zip by on motorbikes and chat on cell phones; inside the quiet temple courtyards, worshippers pray amidst clouds of incense. Begin the tour of this exciting city with a visit of the historic center, strolling along Dong Khoi Street, formerly known as the Rue Catinat, the main shopping thoroughfare and heart of old colonial Saigon. Pass by classic European-style landmarks such as the ornate City Hall (Hotel De Ville), the old Opera House (both may only be viewed from the outside), and pay a quick visit to the neo-Romanesque Notre Dame Cathedral and the Central Post Office.
- Afterwards, dive into modern history with a tour of the Reunification Palace. Formerly the Independence Palace of the South Vietnamese president, this 60s-style building was famously stormed by tanks on April 30, 1975, signifying the fall of South Vietnam. It has been preserved in its original state, and the original tanks remain on display near the entrance gates.
- Next visit the Emperor of Jada Pagoda, one of Saigon’s most interesting Pagodas, before heading to the bustling “Cholon” (Chinatown). Walk through the lively quarter where many generations of Chinese live and run their businesses. Continue to Thien Hau Pagoda, built by the Cantonese congregation, and end at the central Ben Thanh Market, where vendors display an amazing array of handicrafts and goods.
- Lunch at a traditional Vietnamese restaurant, a real hidden gem offering the most authentic Vietnamese cuisine. You can sit with the local to enjoy the gastronomic specialties of Saigon and enjoy the strong Vietnamese coffee that will make your pulse race. (French colonists are thought to have introduced coffee to Vietnam but it quickly became a local habit. The Vietnamese put their own spin on it, however, and make coffee drinks that include yogurt, eggs, and even fruit.)
- Return to the hotel to rest, or explore on your own. If you are interested in the Vietnam War, you might want to stop at the powerful and harrowing War Remnants Museum, which comprehensively documents the travails of the long Vietnam-American War. Inside are detailed photographic exhibitions; outside is a collection of tanks, planes and weapons.
- During your Saigon food tour, you have the opportunity to partake in a distinctive dining experience tonight. This extraordinary culinary adventure takes place at a restaurant where you will be served in absolute darkness, relying solely on your sense of smell and taste to navigate the meal. However, if you are not comfortable with this unconventional approach, we can arrange a more customary dining experience for you upon request.
- Transfer back to your hotel and overnight.
- Early breakfast and check out, then transfer to the Saigon airport for your flight to Siem Reap, Cambodia.
- Arrival in Siem Reap and transfer to your hotel with time at leisure.
- Lunch in a local restaurant known for its traditional Khmer (Cambodian) cuisine.
- Time at leisure to explore your surroundings until it is time for your afternoon sightseeing in Angkor, where you will watch the sun set over the Cambodian countryside from the upper terraces of an ancient Angkorian temple.
- Indulge in a delectable dinner tonight at a local restaurant, complemented by a mesmerizing Apsara dance performance as part of your Siem Reap food tour.
- Breakfast, followed by a tour of Angkor. The crown jewel of Khmer architecture, Angkor Wat is the national symbol and the highlight of any visit to Cambodia. The largest, best preserved, and most religiously significant of the Angkor temples, Angkor Wat impresses visitors both by its sheer scale and beautifully proportioned layout, as well as by the delicate artistry of its carvings. To approach the temple, first cross the vast moat, continuing along a broad causeway lined with naga balustrades. Upon entrance to the main building, ascend through a series of galleries and courtyards before reaching the central sanctuary, which offers beautiful views back over the causeway and across the surrounding countryside. On the way, stop to enjoy the intricate stone carvings that adorn nearly every surface, with some 1,700 Apsaras, or celestial dancers, sculpted into the walls. Along the outer gallery walls run the longest continuous bas relief in the world, which narrates stories from Hindu mythology, including the famous Churning of the Ocean of Milk.
- Lunch at a local restaurant that specializes in Khmer and French fusion.
- The fortified city of Angkor Thom covers an area of 10 square kilometers. Enclosed by a wall and wide moats, the city includes many of Angkor’s most popular sights. Enter by the monumental South Gate over a causeway lined on either side by statues of demons and gods, each carrying a giant Naga (Hindu semi-deity). Continue to the Terrace of The Elephants and the Terrace of The Leper Kings, former spaces for public ceremonies, both adorned with dramatic bas reliefs. Visit the ruined Baphuon, Royal Enclosure, and Phimeanakas before continuing to the mysterious Bayon Temple. In this temple, one of the most popular and compelling in Angkor, explore the galleries of beautifully preserved bas reliefs and ascend narrow stairs to reach the central sanctuary, where giant stone faces smiling enigmatically down from every angle.
- Your last stop is Ta Prohm, one of the most popular attractions of Angkor, as much of the jungle has not been cleared and it looks very much like most of the Angkor monuments would have appeared when European explorers first stumbled across them.
- Transfer back to the hotel to rest.
- Experience a one-of-a-kind culinary adventure during your stay in Siem Reap with a foodie tour that begins at 6 pm. As part of your Siem Reap cooking classes, this tour offers a unique opportunity to interact with locals and immerse yourself in their culture as you indulge in some of the most delightful local food delicacies. (What you eat is of course up to you!) From deep-fried water beetles to stuffed frogs on sticks, deep-fried bananas, and brightly-colored toffee-crusted rice cakes, you’ll have a chance to sample an array of intriguing dishes during this two-hour street food tour. As you explore the vibrant streets, you’ll witness the vivacious atmosphere of the Khmer locals enjoying their early night out and savoring great food and company.
- End the day with a light dinner of Khmer dishes at a local restaurant, followed by a fruit shake or fruits with condensed milk from a dessert stall.
- Breakfast and check out.
- This morning, enjoy one last Siem Reap cooking class before your departure. A talented chef at a renowned Khmer restaurant and organic farm will be your culinary teacher today. You will take a walk through the farm to see the different fruits and vegetables, all grown organically. Then, armed with a box of ingredients fresh from the farm, you will learn how to transform them into an organic Khmer feast for lunch.
- Time at leisure to shop or have a drink before your transfer to the Siem Reap airport by mid- or late-afternoon. (Please book a departure flight leaving after 5pm).
Southeast Asian Cooking Trip Details
Included in Our 8-Night Southeast Asia Culinary Vacations
- 8 nights accommodations: 2 nights in Hanoi, 2 nights in Hoi An, 2 nights in Saigon, and 2 nights in Siem Reap. (See “Accommodations” link above for specific hotels.)
Food & Beverages
- Daily breakfast
- 8 lunches
- 8 dinners
Classes & Instructors
You will experience 3 very different cooking lessons during your culinary itinerary.
- Your first lesson on the Vietnam cooking tour portion of the vacation will feature an authentic class on traditional Vietnamese cuisine.
- Your second cooking class will be at the home of a local farmer, where you will learn traditional Vietnamese rice-paper wrapped vegetables.
- Finally, you will end your culinary vacation with a special Cambodia cooking school course featuring a Khmer market visit and a lesson on Cambodian cuisine.
- Gourmet and city tours in Hanoi
- Visit of Hoi An market
- Hoi An river cruise
- Cyclo and walking tour of Hoi An
- Fisherman’s cruise on the Thu Bon River
- Excursion to Tra Que Village
- Full-day tour of Saigon (Ho Chi Minh City)
- Sunset visit of Angkor
- Visit of the Wat temples and ancient cities of Angkor on days 7 and 8
- Street food tour in Siem Reap
- Arrival transfer from Hanoi airport
- Departure transfer to Siem Reap airport
- Other transfers as per itinerary
- Internal flights as follows: Hanoi to Danang / Danang to Saigon / Saigon to Siem Reap (Current fuel surcharges are included; however, these are subject to change prior to tour start date.)
- Entrance fees and boat ticket(s), as per itinerary
- Water puppet show
- Apsara dance performance
- One complimentary bottle of drinking water and one cold towel per person per half day tour/ Two bottles of water and two cold towels per person per full day tour.
- Drinks and personal expenses
- Visa fees (please contact Vietnamese and Cambodian Embassies for information about applying for a visa)
- Trip insurance (Please note that our international partners require travelers to have travel insurance for this itinerary. You may order travel insurance through us or another company, but proof of coverage may be requested.)
We offer accommodations in beautiful 4* and 5* properties as follows.
- Hanoi: The 4* Silk Path Luxury Hotel is located in the Old Quarter and offers large, modern en suite rooms with hand-printed wallpaper, plush fabrics, flat-screen TVs, minifridges, and seating areas. The hotel also has a restaurant, 3 bars, and a fitness center.
- Hoi An: The beautiful Boutique Hoi An resort occupies an elegant Colonial estate and lies right on the sea. The stylish rooms offer balconies or terraces, flat screen TVs, WiFi, coffee and tea makers, and marble en suite bathrooms. There is seafront access, an outdoor pool, spa, fitness room, and restaurant
- Saigon: The Liberty Central Saigon City Point is a deluxe 4* hotel situated less than 10 minutes on foot from the Bén Thành Market and the Saigon Notre-Dame Basilia. Its en suite rooms are bring and contemporary with WiFi, flat screen TVs, and all the expected amenities. The hotel has a rooftop pool, restaurant, bar, gym, spa, and even a cinema.
- Siem Reap: The 4* Treeline Urban Hotel and Resort in Siem Reap chic rooms rooms with WiFi, flat-screen TVs, minibars, and coffee/tea makers. There are also 2 restaurants, a spa, a rooftop pool, and a snack bar.
- Hanoi: The 5* Melia Hotel Hanoi is located less than 2 km from the Old Quarter, the Opera House, and the Temple of Literature. The classic rooms have all the modern amenities included flat screen TVs and coffeemakers. The hotel has a restaurant, a terrace, a bar, a fitness center, and an outdoor pool.
- Hoi An: The 5* Palm Garden Hoi An is a warm, inviting luxury resort featuring rooms, suites, and bungalows. The comfortable rooms feature WiFi, TVs, and sitting areas. Thre are restaurants and bars at the resort, as well as a private beach area, a gym, a tennis court, a spa, and an outdoor pool.
- Saigon: The 5* Caravelle Hotel in Saigon is a modern hotel with breahtaking city or river views from its rooms. The rooms have WiFi, flat screen TVs, sitting areas and desks. The hotel has 2 restaurants, 2 bars, a cafe, as well as an outdoor pool, gym, and spa.
- Siem Reap: The 5* Jaya House River Park is located across the road from the Siem Reap River and just 7 km from the Angkor Wat temple complex. Its warmly decorated rooms feature flat screen TVs, safes, and balconies or terraces. The hotel boasts a restaurant and an outdoor pool with gardens.
Pricing & Dates of our Food Tours of Southeast Asia
Find pricing and dates for our cooking vacations in Vietnam and Cambodia below, and contact us for availability or to book your trip.
Hanoi, Hoi An, Saigon & Siem Reap 2024 Culinary Tour Sample* Pricing:
8-Night Vietnam & Cambodia Culinary Tours Pricing
US$3490 per person based on double occupancy
- Add US$400 per person to upgrade to 5* hotel
*Pricing can vary by season and specific dates booked. Please inquire!
30% deposit due to confirm booking.
Balance payment due 60 days prior to tour start date. Questions? Please contact us!
*Peak season supplement pricing may apply to: January 21-26; April 2, 30; May 1; June 1; September 2; December 20-January 9.
Note that the price includes the internal flight tickets (Hanoi-Danang, Danang-Saigon, Saigon-Siem Reap).
Please inquire for single occupancy supplement.
The Dates of Southeast Asia Culinary Vacations in 2024
2024: Available any dates you choose for 2 to 10 people – please contact us for availability!
(Can also be available for 1 person, please inquire.)
We Can Help Plan the Best Foodie Tours in Southeast Asia!
The International Kitchen has been organizing the best cooking vacations and foodie tours for more than 25 years. Trust our expertise in helping you plan your culinary vacation in Vietnam and Cambodia. Contact us for more information!
Whether you want additional nights or tours in Vietnam or Cambodia, add on Thailand or other destinations, we are always happy to help you plan the best Southeast Asia culinary tour.Contact us for more information, or you can indicate your interest during check out and we will follow up directly! Contact Us
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