Hanoi has served as a beautiful capital city and the seat of government for Vietnam for over a thousand years. Whilst this stimulating city is quickly transforming with modern skyscrapers rising up and beeping horns from its frenzied traffic, you can peel back its layers of history and discover a bubbling cauldron of French and Chinese influence. Explore exotic ancient monuments and remnants of colonial imperialism . In the passages of its Old Quarter, there are affable merchants to be found in night markets and at bustling street food stalls. Surrounded by lush green countryside, there is also a tranquil side to Hanoi, seen when city dwellers practice the ancient martial art of tai chi or as families sit on the pavement to slowly enjoy steaming bowls of pho (noodle soup). Located on the banks of Red River, you can enjoy a cooler climate than in the south.
Enjoy an early morning drive to a nearby lake to meet with a local Tai Chi master who has been practicing this ancient philosophy for nearly a decade. Many a local indulges in early morning sessions of Tai Chi, said to reduce stress and improve balance. Enjoy your serene surroundings and listen to nature whilst moving your body according to your Master’s instructions. Learn more about the popularity of Tai Chi before returning to your hotel prior to breakfast.
Street Food with Gastronomy Expert / Local Chef
Glimpse how Hanoians love street eating, an unique part of the city’s culture. Street food is for everyone…satiate your adventurous palates with all types of culinary delights. Learn about local ingredients by visiting a local food market with an expert gastronome. Armed with some knowledge, hit the streets and alleys on a discovery of food. Most street restaurants serve just 1-2 dishes, each prepared before you. End by dining at Ngon (delicious) Restaurant, set like a local food market.
Street Food Tour with Daniel Hoyer
Meet Daniel Hoyer..an American chef/culinary instructor and food writer. Embark on a Street Food tour commencing with an overview of local ingredients in a market; sip Viet coffee while Daniel outlines the local Hanoi food scene and daily routine; savor Hanoian delicacies like grilled beef and rice noodle rolls with fresh herbs and greens at a Bún Ch? Chanh stall (in a narrow lane, open few hours each afternoon) run by 2 sisters using real wood for cooking, still hand fanning the fire sans electric fans, sitting on tiny stools at low plastic tables with other true-blue Bún Ch? aficionados!
Private Water Puppet Show
Take a 45min drive from Hanoi through urban areas, Dao Thuc village and enjoy a 10min horse-cart ride on bumpy roads to the village gate. Arrive at a puppet-making workshop; meet Mr. Nghi ; learn how his family showcases this traditional art to the world. Be thrilled by a live water puppetry performance at the home. Enjoy a 30min outdoor show on the village pond accompanied by live background traditional orchestra music; admire puppeteers standing chest-deep in the water to manipulate puppets.
Half Day Art Experience Tour
Explore Hanoi – greater than the sum of its cultural past – offering over 250 wonderous art galleries. See how Vietnamese art has a touch of freshness and mysticism, yet blending elements of both east and west. Starting at the Hanoi Fine Arts University led by a local art curator, catch glimpses of the place where future artists train. Later, head towards the Fine Arts Museum and Green Palm Art Gallery for an overview of contemporary art and its development.
Half day visit to Ancient Cuu Village
Explore Hanoi’s countryside with its captivating natural beauty and tranquil villages. A one hour drive from Hanoi brings you to Cuu Ancient Village that lies alongside Nhue River and is shaped like a crab. Cuu, the forgotten village, was renowned for its premier tailoring during the French era. Witness traces of its illustrious past still visible today through the ancient architecture. Explore corners of this village, admire ancient mansion houses with French, Japanese or Chinese architecture on most roads here, and experience first hand the local village life. Stop at a local house to engage in casual talk with the host over a cup of tea.
Visit to Duyan Thai Ninh So & Nhi Khe
Post breakfast, visit Hanoi’s rural outskirts. See the scenic Duyen Thai village, where for generations they have engaged in lacquerware making, stroll and speak to the locals. Next is the ‘Bamboo Village – Ninh So, the cradle of rattan and bamboo products – handbags, baskets, lamps, etc. Drive to Nhi Khe (zigzagging laneways resonate craftsmens’ tools), where homes are involved in turning wood, horn and bone into practical items – musical instruments, jewelry/ornaments.
Hanoi City Highlights Tour with Cyclos
Explore Hanoi’s colonial buildings, tree-lined boulevards and scenic lakes. Start at the historic Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum housing his preserved body; behind is his House with a view of a lotus pond. Visit the lotus-shaped One Pillar Pagoda; the Temple of Literature for an overview on Hanoian culture and ancient architecture; the Museum of Ethnology offering insights into Vietnam’s 54 ethnic minority groups. Enjoy a 1hr cyclo ride through Hanoi’s Old Quarter. End at the Water Puppet Theatre.
1hr-Water Puppet Show (Evening)
This evening get set to be entertained at the Thang Long theatre with a Water Puppetry performance. Get an insight into how the art of water puppetry began about a 1000 years ago, perhaps for recreational entertainment in the flooded rice fields. Be amazed watching how puppeteers stand in waist-high water and manipulate their charges in such a way that you can’t help but be swept up in the legend being unfolded! Each short skit in the performance relates to the local peoples daily life.
1.5 hr-Home Hosted Meal w Music Family
6kms from Hanoi’s centre in a quiet lane, is the home of musician couple – Mr. Bang, a renowned flutist in the National Orchestra, and his wife Mrs. Huong, a pianist and piano teacher to foreigners. Share a homely meal with them in the cozy dining room of their charming colonial styled house. Understand the importance home-cooked family meals play in Vietnamese life. Chat with and share their life experiences through lovely family photo albums. Unwind with an entertaining melodic performance by your hosts on flute and piano.