Vietnam “Foodie (and Train) Tour” Proposal
© Elisse & Dan Clark 2015
For information and to book, call the Elkhorn Inn & Theatre, Tel: 304-862-2031 or email email@example.com
want to keep it small and manageable, intimate, and fun! As this is a
proposal, the times listed are subject to change. Depending on plane,
train, tour, and bus schedules, it may be necessary to add a day or two.
The itinerary was designed to be leisurely, and allow for free time to
enjoy the places visited without being rushed, and it is based on things
we have personally experienced, both in 2015 and 2008, and the people
we know, have worked with, and trust. At this time (April 2015) 4-star
hotels are approx. $50/night. The 4-star Indochine Hotel in Kon Tum is
$35-$40 night. The fabulous and historic Hotel Majestic in Saigon on the
river is currently $104/night. (Marriott hotels and such, in Saigon,
are currently $230/night and up; fancy resorts at Hoi An, such as the
Nam Hai, can run $800/night and up. Nice, small hotels throughout the
country can be as low as $24 a night, and many are even less. We
have stayed at a variety of accommodations throughout Vietnam, and
chose mostly 4-star hotels for this tour because they usually have an
English-speaking concierge and a helpful staff, elevators that work,
hotel amenities, a/c, comfortable beds and bedding, often a pool, and
good, safe, and central locations, all things which we have found make a
trip a lot more enjoyable! Day tours are approx. $60 per
person, with some higher, depending on what is included, and we always
add a tip. ATMs and free WiFi are available throughout Vietnam, even in
remote areas! Food, including street food, coffee, wine, beer, spirits,
water, and ice, are all truly excellent! We felt safe- and were safe-
all over Vietnam. We were only advised about the possibility of
pickpockets, motorbike bag-snatchers, etc. in Saigon, but we had no
problems. The people we work with are multilingual, and language is not a problem. At
this time the exchange rate is 21,000 VND to the US dollar, meaning
that when you change $100 you instantly become a millionaire! Why
are we doing this? Because we love Vietnam and would love to share the
amazing fun we’ve had there, and because going back with a group of fun,
adventurous friends would be a blast! I (Elisse) have been to
Vietnam twice for a total of two months, and planned both trips; Dan has
been there 10 times, literally for years. He did 3.5 tours in Vietnam
in the US Army, and worked in Vietnam in aviation after the war, as
well. We had our month-long Honeymoon in Vietnam in 2008, and just
returned from our month-long Second Honeymoon there last week!
Arrive in Hanoi, go to hotel and relax! (This is an overnight flight
from the USA, approx. 15 hours direct from NYC). If you have the energy,
explore the city a bit, on foot or cyclo, having a fine meal, and maybe
going to a trendy club! When we were last there, Bobby Chinn's was the
hot place; we will update you on the trendy clubs right before we go!
Hanoi: 3 nights – 4-star hotel
Day 2: Tour of the city and market and a Street Food Tour. Evening suggestion: dine at one of Hanoi’s great restaurants and enjoy a hot music club!
Day 3: Free to enjoy the city, museums, etc. PM: Traditional Hanoi Puppet Theatre. Dinner with Hanoi Vodka tasting. (Tip for Jews: there is a Chabad House in Hanoi!)
Day 4: Halong Bay Junk Cruise
(one night on board). This is a “must-do” if you are going to Hanoi! It
is Gorgeous! There is often an opportunity to kayak, and explore the
incredible caves that dot the Bay.
Day 5: After return from the cruise, take the train to Hue. Night at hotel.
Hue: 3 nights – 4 star hotel
Day 6: Tour several of the fabulous Royal Tomb “estates”, for which Hue is famed. Evening Street Food Tour by Cyclo, sampling a variety of Hue specialties around town.
Free to enjoy The Royal City of Hue. You can take a boat down the
Perfume River and visit the Citadel, or go to the Pagodas… PM: Royal Cuisine Dinner (with costumes and traditional music if desired), and Emperor Minh Mang’s Royal Liqueur tasting.
Day 8: Train to Hoi An, night at hotel.
Hoi An: 3 nights - 4 star hotel
Day 9: Cooking Class with a trip through the incredible veggie and fish market. (The class is at a GREAT restaurant where you can sample and learn about
Vietnamese Street Food, and try things that you might be afraid to try
on your own.
You have the rest of the day to enjoy walking through this UNESCO
Heritage Site old city and perusing the museums, having clothes made at
the speedy and great tailors Hoi An is famous for (Men: get shirts or a
suit made. Women, get a fab dress or a gorgeous silk ao dai! There are
also luscious cashmere shawls to be had here for $40...), and sampling
fabulous Hoi An street food! Suggested dinner: Vy’s “Morning Glory” Restaurant. Tip:
Get Vy's cookbook- she is seriously the "Mario Batali of Hoi An"! And if you buy the Hoi An Chili Sauce- a specialty of this city- in the market, double wrap it in plastic before you pack it- the bottles leak. LOL
Day 10: Rice Farming with Water Buffalo excursion, or Fishing/Palm Paradise Excursion
(both are excellent, and both include truly great lunches). On the Wet
Rice Tour you will ride a water buffalo, and “surf” and plow with a
water buffalo, as you learn by doing how rice is planted and harvested,
followed by a delish lunch on the rice farm! On the fishing tour you
will swing fishing nets with fishermen, bring in the nets with your
feet, have fun in a basket fishing boat, and enjoy a cruise though “Palm
Paradise” and a seafood lunch on board! Or you can opt to take a tour of Marble Mountain, or of the ancient Cham site.
PM: pick up the clothes you had made in Hoi An, enjoy the old town, and
hang out at the cafes and pubs on the river! (Note: as there is a lot
to do in this area, we can add a day here to do additional tours, if the
group wishes to do that).
Day 11: Train to Nha Trang
in a “soft sleeper berth” (4 berth cabin) with a/c. It’s a 12 hour
train trip down the beautiful coast, and you can watch the gorgeous and
fascinating scenery from the dining car on the train, with food, coffee,
and beer- and then have a snooze in your berth! There are Western
toilets on the train, too! Yay! :-) Night at hotel in Nha Trang.
Nha Trang: 3 nights – 4 star hotel
Day 12: Enjoy a Mud/Thermal Bath Spa Day, a Snorkeling excursion, or just relax on the gorgeous beach, sipping great Vietnamese coffee or a drink as you watch the Russian tourists! LOL (There is also the possibility of an evening squid fishing excursion if we have enough people). Evening Tip:
At this time, “BBQ and More” is a fun & trendy (and cheap)
street-side restaurant in town, that is popular with young people, and
serves great small plates of marinated BBQ meats, fish, and veggies, and
a green dipping sauce that is Seriously To Die For! And “Fantasy” is
THE hot and trendy bar for $12 G&Ts!
Day 13: Brewery Tour and Beer Sampler at a great brewery on Nha Trang beach, which has a lovely restaurant, and a pool, too! PM: BBQ Dinner at an old and famous local (and very informal) restaurant a bit off the beaten path. Tip:
get a bottle of Dalat Wine to have with your selection of deliciously
marinated BBQ meats, fish, seafood and/or veggies, which you grill
yourself at your table. We had to try Lots of stuff, of course, and
everything we ordered was excellent- it’s been a fave of both locals and
‘in the know’ tourists for over 40 years!
Day 14: “Tourist Bus” to Dalat (4 hrs). Night at hotel.
Dalat: 3 nights – Train Café lodging (if available) or 4-star hotel
Day 15: Train Excursion to the Pagoda from the beautifully restored historic Dalat Train Station, which has a cute café in an old steam train where you can enjoy a coffee prior to the excursion! Afternoon free to enjoy Dalat. Suggestion: Tour the Palace, and let them dress you up as Emperor and Empress and photograph you sitting on the throne! The Dalat Train Station Restaurant in
a restored RR car is a delight for lunch or dinner! There are also
lovely cafes and restaurants on the lake. Evening tip: live music and
drinks in a Dalat music club!
Day 16: Enjoy Dalat! Take a tour of the city, or to one of the many area waterfall/amusement parks where Vietnamese honeymooners go to enjoy the famously kitschy side of Dalat, or take a horse and carriage ride around the lake, or (if you want some exercise) a “Swan” pedal boat! PM: enjoy dinner at a local restaurant, after which we will have a Dalat
Wine & Local Liqueur tasting, and enjoy live music at a local club-
the talented and multi-lingual US-born band leader is the man who got
the group together to restore the Train Station and the train running
again- the only excursion train in Vietnam!
Day 17: Bus or Taxi/Van to Lak Lake, night in a traditional stilted “Long House”.
Lak Lake & Buon Ma Thout: 3 nights (one night at a “Long House” at Lak Lake, and two nights at 4-star hotel in Buon Ma Thout)
Day 18: Morning Elephant Ride on Lak Lake, (which is totally wonderful), followed by a fascinating and fun walking tour of the area's market and Minority Villages. Drive
to Buon Ma Thout, through the home area of the famed elephant tamers of
the Highlands, the last of whom died just a few years ago, at over 100
years old. Night at hotel in Buon Ma Thout.
Day 19: Trung Nguyen Coffee Museum/Café & coffee tastings of the world-renowned Highlands Coffees. Tip: try them all, and don’t forget to try the famous weasel coffee! Night at hotel in Buon Ma Thout. Tip: Buy coffee, and pepper, too- it's a specialty of the area, as well, and Vietnam pepper is THE best! Cinnamon, too! Driving though this area you will see the coffee and rubber plantations that keep the lights on in Vietnam...
Day 20: Bus or Taxi/Van to Kon Tum (5 hours), night at hotel.
Kon Tum: 4 nights – Indochine 4-star hotel for three nights; one night in a traditional raised “Rong House” or Homestay
Day 21: Central Highlands excursion to Minority Villages, such
as a Jarai Village, with stilt-houses, and extraordinary cemetery
sculptures. Our guide speaks English, French, and many of
the Highlands dialects, making him an AMAZING guide in the Central
Highlands, and, since 2008, he has become our very good friend. PM: Gong Music/Jar Wine village excursion by motorbike, with the opportunity to dress in Highlands clothing
(vest and loincloth for the guys, top and skirt for the gals), and
learn to play the gongs and do the Highland dances, as well as play
Highlands Drinking Games over Jar Wine! Night at hotel. (Tip: the Indochine hotel has an FAB view of Kon Tum and the River from the glass walls of their breakfast dining room!)
Day 22: Visit to Sim Wine factory. A sweet desert wine made from local Highlands fruit, Sim Wine is a unique specialty of this region. Dinner at DakBla Restaurant in Kon Tum, with a tasting of several local Wines and Liqueurs. Night at hotel.
Day 23: Central Highlands excursion: A gentle trek (3km) in the Central Highlands, a
dugout canoe ride down the DakBla (Black) River, and dinner and a
homestay or Rong House accommodation. This is a wonderful day and a great introduction (or re-introduction…) to the Highlands…
Day at leisure in Kon Tum. Walk around, have coffee, go to the DakBla
for lunch and shop their amazing collection of Highlands embroidery
& the nearby shops for Highlands baskets and wood carvings... Take the 5:30pm Night Bus to Saigon (with
reclining seats, a/c, and a fun and yummy communal dinner), arriving in
Saigon in the morning. (Or take a taxi to Pleiku, and fly from Pleiku
to Saigon, if you wish).
Saigon: 3 nights at the Hotel Majestic (or equivalent) in District 1, Saigon.
After you arrive in Saigon in the morning (approx. 6 am), drop off your
luggage at the hotel. You are then free to explore Saigon on foot,
cyclo, or motorbike taxi, or take a tour of the city. Don't eat lunch,
however, because at 5 PM we will have an Evening Foodie Tour around Saigon by motorbike! The
food is AMAZING, their drivers are GREAT, and the all-night neon,
markets, and life all over the city will blow your mind! If you only
have one night in Saigon and you're an adventurous foodie, this is a
Day 26: Day Cruise on the Mekong Delta, with lunch and a Snake Wine tasting.
(Snake Wine is not only weird and cool (so sayeth Andrew Zimmern...),
it’s yummy- AND a health tonic that Dan utilized with his unit Back In
The Day to keep everyone healthy!) This is a wonderful introduction to
the beautiful Mekong Delta area, and the incredible floating markets.
Day 27: Your last day in Vietnam is free, so you can enjoy Saigon at your leisure. Tip: Take a Cooking Class with a market visit, or a "Pho Trail" Street Food & Market Tour
in the morning (we can arrange both), and then shop at the Ben Thanh
Market or the many fancy stores, visit the excellent zoo or some of the
many museums, see the puppet theatre, drink glorious Highlands coffee at
one of the many Phuk Long or Trung Nguyen cafes, take a cyclo ride
around the city, get a great massage or a “Dr. Fish” pedicure at a great day spa, etc. Suggested evening:
We all meet for drinks at the roof-top bar at the Rex Hotel (home of
the “Five O’Clock Follies”), watching the color-changing Rex crown spin
around and the neon of Saigon, followed by excellent jazz at “Sax &
Art” Jazz Club. Drinks will run you about $12 each at these
places. (Tip for Jews: there is a Chabad House in Saigon! Tip for
Catholics: Notre Dame Cathedral is in the center of Saigon, and has a
standing-room-only mass on Sundays! There are also gorgeous Hindu
temples, and tons of beautiful pagodas to visit, too! And
Day 28: Fly home from Saigon,
tired but happy, full of wonderful food and drink, and suitcases
bursting with lots of really cool stuff!
For information and to book, call the Elkhorn Inn & Theatre, Tel: 304-862-2031 or email firstname.lastname@example.org