Gardeners And Gourmets Tour Of Vietnam With Jerry Coleby-Williams, 26 July 2019 to 14 August 2019.

Rice sowing begins in Huế, Central Việt Nam.

Rice sowing begins in Huế, Central Việt Nam.

Join Kew-trained horticulturalist, conservationist and media personality Jerry Coleby-Williams and his hubby Lieutenant Thuan Tran, Vietnamese market gardener, on a small group tour of Vietnam to discover its horticultural and culinary delights from 26 July 2019 to 14 August 2019.

ALL ENQUIRIES, CONTACT Mr. Devin Hunt, Adventure Travel Specialist, The Adventure Traveller, 197 Latrobe Terrace, Paddington, QLD 4064, Australia.

Phone: +61 7 3369 0799 | Toll Free: 1800 181 020 | Fax: +61 7 3369 0788

devin@theadventuretraveller.com | www.theadventuretraveller.com

ITINERARY

Day 1: Fri 26 July 19 Depart Australia (No Meals)

Make your own way to Brisbane International Airport (or the International Airport in your nearest capital city) for your flight to Hồ Chí Minh City (HCMC) via Singapore. (Flight not included)

2355: Depart Brisbane (or your nearest capital city) on Singapore Airlines flight SQ 246

Day 2: Sat 27 July 19 Singapore – Hồ Chí Minh City (No Meals)

0620: Arrive Singapore

0945: Depart Singapore on Singapore Airlines flight SQ 178

1055: Arrive Hồ Chí Minh City

After clearing Vietnamese immigration and customs you will be met by our local representative in the arrivals hall of Hồ Chí Minh City’s airport and transferred privately to your hotel. The hotel check in time is after 1400 hrs.

We will leave the hotel at 1600 hrs this afternoon for a stroll through Tao Dan Culture Park, followed by an evening welcome dinner at Sai Gon Restaurant & Bar (37 Nguyễn Trung Ngân, Phường Bến Thành, Quận 1, Hồ Chí Minh). Dinner will be at your own expense. Guided transfers to/ from the restaurant are included.

Stay three nights at the Grand Silverland Hotel & Spa (Premier Room) in Hồ Chí Minh City.

Day 3: Sun 28 July 19 Hồ Chí Minh City (B,D)

This morning we will take a leisurely walk from the hotel down a street lined by mature African mahogany trees towards the Reunification Palace. Here we will be explore the grounds and do a tour of the palace.

Surrounded by royal palm trees, the modernist 1960’s architecture of this government building and the complex history which is attached to it make for an intriguing experience. The first Communist tanks to arrive in Saigon rumbled onto the grounds here on 30 April 1975 and it is as if time has stood still since then.

After strolling across one of the city’s most attractive green spaces, Tao Dan Park, we will grab a bite to eat at Banh Mi Huynh Hoa (26 Lê Thị Riêng, P, Quận 1, Hồ Chí Minh) which is reputed to make the best bánh mì (Vietnamese sandwich) in Hồ Chí Minh City. Lunch will be at your own expense.

In the afternoon take a short guided walk to Grain Cooking Studio – a chic space in the heart of the city founded by celebrity chef Luke Nguyen. We will need to be there no later than 1400 hrs to join a group cooking class.

The hands-on class with one of Luke’s selected chefs begins with a lesson about fish sauce, the basis of almost every Vietnamese dish, followed by some traditional yet innovative dishes to cook and taste. Enjoy dinner with the food you have prepared before making your own way back to the hotel.

Day 4: Mon 29 July 19 Hồ Chí Minh City (B)

This morning we will visit a household in Xuan Thoi Thuong Commune, Hoc Mon District, which is approximately 1-hour by road from Hồ Chí Minh City. Here you will see their fruit and vegetable gardens and learn how the plants and crops are grown.

In the afternoon visit Family Garden – a unique community garden located in the green and leafy district of Thảo Điền which helps locals – in particular children – connect with nature, grow fruit and vegetables, and build a respect for the environment in the heart of Vietnam’s biggest and busiest metropolis. It is a fine example of Vietnamese-style permaculture with a wide range of crops and cultivation techniques.

Day 5: Tue 30 July 19 Hồ Chí Minh City – Đà Lạt (B)

Take a guided transfer from your hotel to the airport in Hồ Chí Minh City to check-in for your flight to Đà Lạt. (Economy Class flight booked by Inter Asia’s Vietnam Operator.)

1110: Depart Hồ Chí Minh City on Vietnam Airlines flight VN 1384
1200: Arrive Đà Lạt

Meet the local guide upon arrival at Đà Lạt airport and take a guided transfer to your hotel. The hotel check in time is after 1400 hrs.

The balance of the day is at leisure to explore Đà Lạt at your own pace.

Stay two nights at the Đà Lạt Hotel Duparc (Deluxe room) in Đà Lạt.

Day 6: Wed 31 July 19 Đà Lạt (B)

Đà Lạt was founded in 1897 when Dr. Alexandre Yersin proposed the Langbian Plateau (aka Đà Lạt Plateau) as a place to establish a highland resort for French dignitaries. Often referred to as the ‘City of Eternal Spring’, Đà Lạt’s mild climate allows for the growing of cool climate fruits, vegetables and flowers which are prized all over Vietnam, including artichokes and strawberries. Begin your morning city tour of Đà Lạt with a visit to Van Thanh Hamlet and stroll along garden paths to admire the colourful scenery dotted with greenhouses and learn more about the region’s farming industry. Drive to the rural outskirts of town and tour a family-run silk-making factory to witness the entire fascinating process from cocoon to garment.

On the 20km drive back to town we will stop along the way to visit to the Đà Lạt Railway Station. Built in 1938, the photogenic Art Deco-style station incorporates high, pointed roofs that are not only characteristic of ethnic communal buildings of Vietnam’s Central Highlands but also reminiscent of Normandy’s Trouville-Deauville Station, France. In the early 20th century, the French built a unique cog railroad with a saw-like track system to ascend the very steep slopes leading to Đà Lạt to ferry goods and passengers to this resort town.

Return to your hotel early in the afternoon to spend the balance of the day at leisure.

Day 7: Thu 01 August 19 Đà Lạt – Da Nang – Hội An (B)

This morning we will visit the Bao Dai Summer Palace followed by Đà Lạt Flower Market. Return to the hotel late morning, in time for the 1200 hrs check-out.

Your luggage may be left with the hotel concierge until time for the departure transfer.

In the afternoon take a guided transfer from your hotel to  Đà Lạt airport to check-in for your flight to Da Nang. (Economy Class flight booked by Inter Asia’s Vietnam Operator.)

1720: Depart  Đà Lạt on Vietnam Airlines flight VN 8926
1840: Arrive Da Nang

After landing in Da Nang you will meet your local guide in the arrivals hall Da Nang airport before taking a guided transfer to your hotel in historical Hoi An.

Stay three nights at the Allegro Hoi An (Junior Suite room) in Hội An.

Day 8: Fri 02 August 19 Hội An (B,D)

A guided walking tour of the ancient town centre of Hội An this morning will include visits to former merchant’s houses; the 400 year old Japanese Covered Bridge and colourful silk and antique shops.

We will also visit the Tra Que market gardens where a community of 245 families grow a wide variety of organic vegetables and herbs in plots fertilized by the harvesting of the water plant Eurasian milfoil (Myriophyllum spicatum) from a nearby lagoon.

The afternoon will be at leisure for you to soak up the atmosphere of Hội An and sample some of its’ culinary delights.

Dinner this evening will be eaten at Coco Restaurant & Bar (662 Hai Ba Trung, Hoi An, Ph: +81 914044569) Dinner & guided transfers to/from restaurant are included.

Day 9: Sat 03 August 19 Hội An (B,L)

The Cham Islands, 15km off the coast of Hội An, consist of seven small islands famed for their beautiful beaches and rich marine environment which includes 135 species of soft and hard coral. After taking a 30 minute private speedboat ride to the magical Cham Islands we will visit a traditional fishing village, where boats take shelter in bad weather, and Ong Ngu Temple which is dedicated to the whales and whale sharks which were once abundant around the islands. Snorkel off picturesque Xep Beach before making a final stop at Chong Beach – a true oasis with white sand, swaying palm trees and a simple local restaurant where you can enjoy a seafood lunch.

We will return to Hội An in the late afternoon.

Day 10: Sun 04 August 19 Hội An – Huế (B)

In the morning we will depart on a 3.5 hour private guided coach drive to Huế via the scenic Hai Van Pass, stopping at Da Nang Market en route. Huế served as an imperial capital to the Nguyen Lords, a feudal dynasty which reigned from the 17th to the 19th century. With splendid emperors’ tombs; ancient pagodas and the remains of the Citadel the city of Huế retains its royal charm.

This afternoon we will embark on a private tour of the city starting with a 10-minute ‘cyclo’ (three-wheeled bicycle taxi) ride from your hotel to the Imperial Citadel, which is a UNESCO listed site. After entering through the towering main gate you will be able to appreciate the magnificent architecture and gardens whilst your guide explains about the events and intrigue of the former royal court. Despite being bombed heavily during the war there are some incredibly well preserved sections still intact and others which are being lovingly restored.

A driver will collect us from the Citadel for a transfer to the pier for a 30-minute boat ride along the Perfume River to the very beautiful Thiên Mụ Pagoda, which is Huế’s best-preserved religious monument, also the tallest in Vietnam. Among the many interesting artefacts housed in the grounds of the pagoda is the Austin car made famous when a resident monk by the name of Thích Quảng Đức drove the vehicle to Saigon to protest against the southern regime. The photo of his self-immolation was one of the most well-known images of the war.

At the conclusion of today’s tour we will be transferred back to our hotel in downtown Huế.

This evening we’ll grab a bite to eat at Pho Saigon, which is next door to Alba Spa Hotel. This popular dumpling shop serves bánh bao bap – Hue-style – which are made on the premises. Dinner will be at your own expense. A guide & transfers to/from the restaurant are not included, as they are not necessary.

Stay four nights at the Alba Spa Hotel (Deluxe City View room) in Huế.

Day 11: Mon 05 August 19 Huế (B,D)

Huế is not only famous for its thousand-year-old history but also for its diverse traditional food culture. For this reason we will continue to eat our way around Vietnam on a traditional food tour of the imperial capital this morning.

Our first stop will be at a Mè Xửng sweets workshop. Mè Xửng is a perfect combination of sesame, crushed peanuts and handmade malt, and is one of Huế’s most famous desserts. We will then drive to Ba Do’s house to learn how to make some other Huế specialties such as Bánh bèo (small steamed rice cake); Bánh nậm (steamed rice cake wrapped in banana leaves) and Bánh bột lọc (clear shrimp and pork dumpling). Enjoy the dishes you’ve made whilst chatting with the owner to understand more about Huế’s food culture, before tasting Huế royal tea. Once served only to the Royal family in ancient times, royal tea has now become widely enjoyed throughout the country. The royal tea includes a variety of herbs such as artichoke, chrysanthemum, sweet grass, kudzu, ginseng, apple, liquorice, jasmine and more. Our host will explain the benefits of drinking royal tea, and you will learn how make a ‘cuppa’ yourself.

Our touring of Huế will continue this afternoon with a visit to the Princess Huyền Trân Temple. Only 7 km south of Huế, the Princess Huyền Trân Temple is a formal, landscape garden which includes a series of gardens, temples, sculptures and walking trails that showcase the very best aspects of Ngu Phong Mountain. The short walk through the pine forests to its peak is rewarding – not only providing sweeping views of Huế but also giving you the opportunity to ring the large bronze Hoa Binh Peace bell at the summit under the watchful gaze of the resident monk.

Dinner tonight will be eaten at Y Thao Garden House. Dinner & guided transfers to/ from restaurant are included.

Day 12: Tue 06 August 19 Huế (B)

This morning we will visit the market garden of Jerry’s hubby, Thuan.

The Tran Market Garden is a typical Vietnamese family enterprise, providing the family with all year round food, medicinal plants and a cash income from a traditional permaculture style system. 

If you want cash, you sell or trade something; 90% of the Vietnamese people do not earn enough money to pay personal income tax. Trading is a vital domestic economic activity which involves the cashless exchange of goods. For quick cash, you sell poultry. For a cash crop, you grow medicinal plants, like wormwood.

The Tran family make their living cultivating a flood plain situated to the south west of Huế city. Adjacent swampland grows Acacia manghas, a wattle from the wet tropics used for paper pulp. In 2017, the district was inundated by flood waters resulting from Typhoon Damrey – the Tran family well filled with mud, they lost their livestock and parts of their roof and their orchard – but the district’s collective sacrifice spared Huế from floods.

Amongst standard crops like ginger, tea, cherimoya, jackfruit and cassava, you may notice roxburgh fig, Ficus auriculata, a versatile fruit which is cooked green and makes a substitute for chicken. Another is gấc, Momordica cochinchinensis, a pumpkin relative with edible leaves and fruit flesh which is used as a flavouring (like tomato puree), and from which a medicinal oil is extracted. Both plants are almost unheard of in Australia.

According to Michel Fanton, co-founder of Australia’s Seed Saver’s Network, the Tran family’s black pepper is “absolutely the best complex perfumed of the many kinds of pepper we have collected and used: heady, peppery narcissus-jonquil notes that really stimulates the nose”.

The Tran family grows their retirement fund, producing agarwood and incense from home grown, legally acquired trees. These products are primarily used in Vietnamese Buddhist ceremonies and agarwood is exported. The slow growing agarwood tree, Aquilaria malaccense, has almost been exterminated throughout South-East Asia due to over-harvesting from the wild.

You may notice temptingly collectible large shells near the pulpwood plantation. While apparently empty, it is likely the owner is alive and withdrawn deep inside. Giant African snails, Achatina fulica, are a ravenous pest that displace local native snail species and spread potentially fatal duku lungworm to people and livestock. Although souvenir hunters have illegally imported this snail three times into Queensland, Australia is still free of this molluscan equivalent of the cane toad.

This afternoon we will visit the Tomb of Khải Định. Built in the early 20th century, this fascinating, unique and controversial Nguyen dynasty site is a visually impressive and elaborate construction located on a steep hill on the outskirts of Huế. Khải Định supervised the the design and most of the tomb’s grandiose exterior is covered in concrete, which has darkened with age, creating a dramatic Vietnamese Gothic air while the interiors are an explosion of colourful mosaics.

Day 13: Wed 07 August 19 Huế (B,D)

Set amongst beautifully landscaped gardens, Huế’s celebrated Garden Houses offer both an insight into the lives of the upper echelons of Vietnamese society during the Nguyen Dynasty whilst introducing some of the finest remaining examples of traditional Vietnamese architecture.

Many of these properties have been passed down through numerous generations, and the current custodians are often the descendants of royalty or mandarins from times past. Though the number of these properties has diminished, a few continue to open their doors to visitors.
This morning our group will visit An Hien Garden House (House of Peace) – one of the most beautiful and best known examples of a Garden House in the city. Nestled on a 5,000-square-metre garden, An Hien overlooks the Perfume River and is regarded as a cultural landmark of the ancient capital. It’s a peaceful place – a place where nature and humanity connect – and as you wander the grounds it’s not hard to imagine what the restful home life of Vietnamese royalty from years past must have been like.

After lunch, we visit the house where Phan Bội Châu, a celebrated pioneer of Vietnamese 20th century nationalism, was kept under house arrest by the French colonial administration and with the blessing of Khải Định. The house gives insight into the traditional building materials and living conditions of ordinary Vietnamese citizens during the early 20th century: rice and palm-thatched roofs, wattle and daub walls and a rattan palm bed frame.

In the late afternoon we’ll visit Tinh Gia Garden House to view the magnificent bonsai collection which is housed there, before enjoying an Imperial Dinner in the evening. Dinner and guided transfers to and from the restaurant included.

Day 14: Thu 08 August 19 Huế – Hà Nội (B,D)

This morning you will take a guided transfer from the hotel to Huế airport to check in for your flight to Hà Nội. (Economy Class flight booked by Inter Asia’s Vietnam Operator.)

1030: Depart Huế on Vietnam Airlines flight VN 1542
1145: Arrive Hà Nội

Meet your local guide upon arrival at Hà Nội airport and take a guided transfer to your hotel.

After checking-in at the hotel you will be taken on a one-hour orientation tour of Hà Nội by ‘cyclo’ – riding through the bustling Old Quarter of 36 streets and 36 wares as well as past other major landmarks of the capital city. The tour ends at Quang Ba Flower Market which is the largest, and considered to be the best, flower market in Hà Nội. This night flower market is held year round and the blooms come from all corners of Vietnam: from places such as Quang Ba; Nghi Tam; Nhat Tan; Dam-Cau Dien and even from as far away as Dong Anh; Soc Son; Me Linh; Sapa in the northern mountainous region and Đà Lạt in the Central Highlands.

Tonight we will eat dinner at KOTO Restaurant, an Australian-funded establishment aimed at helping Hanoi street kids. Dinner & guided transfers to & from restaurant included.

Stay two nights at the O’Gallery Majestic Hotel and Spa (Run-Of-House room) in Hà Nội Old Quarter.

Day 15: Fri 09 August 19 Hà Nội (B)

This morning we will rise early to witness Hà Nộians practicing Tai Chi en masse around Hoàn Kiếm Lake (Lake of the Restored Sword), which is a 13 minute walk from our hotel. Guide and transportation are not included for this activity.

After returning to the hotel for breakfast we will embark on a tour of the city. During the city tour today we will visit the historic Hồ Chí Minh Mausoleum (viewed from the outside); the grounds of the Presidential Palace; Hồ Chí Minh’s house and garden and the Hà Nội Botanical Garden.

No visit to Vietnam would be complete without sampling the national dish – a noodle soup called phở. At the conclusion of the city tour we will freshen-up at the hotel before walking around the corner to a very popular restaurant which has the reputation of serving the best phở in Hanoi – Phở Gia Truyền Bát Đàn (49 Bát Đàn, Cửa Đông, Hoàn Kiếm, Hà Nội). Dinner will be at your own expense.

After dinner we will return to Hoàn Kiếm Lake to soak up the ambience. On Friday nights the streets around the lake are closed to all motorised vehicles – transforming the area into a hub of social activity. Rub shoulders with thousands of local families as they stroll around the lake to snack on street food; shop for trinkets and enjoy performances by local musicians, dancers and street performers.

Day 16: Sat 10 August 19 Hà Nội – Mai Châu (B,D)

We will leave the big city behind us this morning, taking a guided road transfer from Hà Nội to Mai Châu.

Set in an idyllic valley hemmed in by hills, the Mai Châu area is a world away from the hustle and bustle of Hanoi. A patchwork of rice fields blanket the landscape which is speckled by tiny villages of traditional stilt houses.

In the afternoon we will take a short guided walk to the area near Lac and Cong villages to interact with the colourfully-dressed local villagers before enjoying a dinner hosted in a local home tonight. Here we will get to know more about their lifestyle, customs and traditions. Return to the hotel by private vehicle. Dinner and transfers are included.

Stay two nights at the Mai Châu Eco Lodge (Superior room) in Mai Châu.

Day 17: Sun 11 August 19 Mai Châu (B)

Wake up to a rural soundtrack defined by gurgling irrigation streams and birdsong today.

After an early start we will drive to the Pa Co Sunday Market. Located 20 km from Mau Châu, this weekly market comes to life early in the morning and finishes a couple of hours before noon. In this part of the world it’s the busiest social event of the week and is where hill tribe villagers from the surrounding hamlets – mostly H’mong – gather to sell their wares and catch-up with friends.

The Pa Co markets are teeming with local H’mong people dressed in their finest attire – the colourful weaving of their outfits enhanced by the bright morning sun. The stalls of intricately woven brocades are accompanied by other traditional handmade items; fruit, vegetables, live fish and livestock. Whilst at the markets you can nibble on ethnic and Vietnamese delicacies or even sip some local rice wine!

The remainder of the day will be spent visiting H’mong farms in and around Mai Châu.

Day 18: Mon 12 August 19 Mai Châu – Hà Nội (B)

Check-out after breakfast and take a guided road transfer from Mai Châu back to your hotel in Hanoi.

Lunch today will be eaten at restaurant called Bún Chả Hương Liên (24 Lê Văn Hưu, Phan Chu Trinh, Hai Bà Trưng, Hà Nội). This busy noodle restaurant is where former US President Barack Obama sat on a blue plastic chair and slurped down a $6 meal of bún chả and beer with the late celebrity chef and television personality Anthony Bourdain. Try and get a seat on the second floor where the table that these celebrity diners ate at is encased in glass. Dinner will be at your own expense but transfers to and from the restaurant are included.

After lunch we will have some free time before doing a private street food tour to discover some more of Hà Nội’s best culinary spots with a food blogger – Mr. Van Cong Tu. The 3-hour tour will begin at 1600 hrs.

Mr. Tu will escort us through the streets of the Old Quarter – past the old east gate, to Thanh Ha market. Along the way we will be given opportunities to try local delicacies whilst our guide explains Vietnamese food practices. This busy, eclectic market is alive with the sights and sounds of Hanoi and you will see many weird and wonderful things for sale there. The Vietnamese really do have a recipe for everything and anything!

Continuing through the streets of the Old Quarter to Dong Xuan market, we will sample some local treats such as Phở Tíu and Bún Đậu. See dried goods and aromatic herbs for sale – the essentials of Vietnamese cuisine – before wandering up a ‘food alley’ to marvel at an array of interesting dishes on offer. Heading down to Hang Than Street we will view ceremonial cake stalls and taste a special French-influenced dessert. An explanation about the traditions and food gifts used for celebrations will be provided by Mr Tu before we continue back into the Old Quarter via Hang Cot Street. This is where specially treated seasonal fruits which are a common snack in Vietnam can be found. We will then walk along Phung Hung Street through temporary market stalls to see the changing market scene in Hanoi and learn how modernization is shaping tradition.

At the end of the tour we’ll pop into one of the Old Quarter’s busiest yet smallest coffee shops for a well-earned rest and cup of Vietnamese coffee before transferring back to our hotel. Food sampled en route and drinks at the coffee shop are included.

Stay one night at the O’Gallery Majestic Hotel and Spa (Run-Of-House room) in Hà Nội Old Quarter.

Day 19: Tue 13 August 19 Hà Nội – Singapore (B)

A private guided transfer from the hotel to Hà Nội International Airport will be provided to those group members who are returning to Australia today.

1235: Depart Hà Nội on Singapore Airlines flight SQ 175
1705: Arrive Singapore

2130: Depart Singapore on Singapore Airlines flight SQ 235

Day 20: Wed 14 August 19 Arrive Australia (No Meals)

0705: Arrive Brisbane (or your nearest capital city)

B=breakfast, L=lunch, D=dinner

COST

The total cost of all land arrangements (including internal flights Ho Chi Minh City-Dalat-Da Nang & Hue-Hanoi) for this tour will be:

Twin/Double:                    AUD $ 5,230 per person

Single:                                  AUD$ 6,480 per person

We’ll need a minimum of eight people booked on this tour to guarantee the departure. The maximum group size will not exceed 16 people (plus Jerry & Thuan).

Jerry Coleby-Williams
Director, Seed Savers’ Foundation Inc.
Patron, Householder’s Options for Protecting the Environment Inc.
Patron, National Toxics Network Inc.
8th February 2019

Jerry and Thuan, Tra Que market garden, Hội An.

Jerry and Thuan, Tra Que market garden, Hội An.

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