The Highlights of Vietnam + Angkor Wat

Accompanied throughout by MasterChef AU 2012 contestant Mindy Woods

Departure November 15, 2014. From $4,385pp

I am absolutely thrilled to be leading this tour to Vietnam and Cambodia and hope that you will be able to join me on this incredible adventure.

Together we’ll discover the contrasts between fast paced Saigon, and more sedate Hanoi with its gorgeous pockets of old world charm. We’ll spend time on a traditional ‘junk’ cruising picturesque Halong Bay, and I am really looking forward to seeing the magnificent temples of Angkor Wat – once almost impossible to visit.

Best of all, we’ll discover together the amazing flavours , tastes and traditions of Vietnamese cooking which epitomise this incredible country and its culture. A long the way we’ll have the chance to talk of my sensational experience on MasterChef, and all the fabulous things that have happened since.

Yours in the discovery of culture and taste,

Mindy Woods – AU contestant 2012

Culinary Highlights:

  • Visit local houses and sample freshly picked produce
  • Lunch at the Ancient Faifo restaurant
  • Hands on cooking experiences
  • Enjoy the restored royal home – The Tha Om for dinner

Discovery Highlights:

  • Stay in boutique and newly refurbished hotels
  • Visits to Ho Chi Minh, Danang, Hoi An, Hue & more
  • Visits to local markets & fishing villages
  • Overnight cruise on a traditional junk boat in Halong Bay
  • City tour of Ho Chi Minh and Hue
  • Visit to Cu Chi Tunnels

Itinerary in Brief:

Day 1 – Arrive Saigon: A private transfer will be waiting to take you to your hotel. Stay 3 nights at Grand Hotel Saigon (Luxury wing). (N)

Day 2 – Saigon: Meet Mindy Woods, the popular MasterChef contestant from the 2012 series this morning as she joins your tour and you all enjoy a full day’s sightseeing. First, we drive into the countryside to see the famous Cu Chi Tunnels, then return to Saigon for lunch at the Hoa Tuc restaurant.Later, a city tour includes the Notre Dame Cathedral (interior view is only available if a service is not in progress), the Central Post Office, and visits to the former Presidential Palace and the War Remnants Museum with Mindy. Enjoy a welcome dinner hosted by Mindy is set in the restored splendour of the formal dining room of the former US Embassy. (B, L, D)

Day 3 – Saigon: Head into the southern provinces to the Mekong Delta. We board a motor vessel to Turtle Island. Visit a local house, sample freshly picked fruit, and take a walk through a village to gain an insight into rural life. Later, board a sampan with Mindy to traverse the canals en route to our lunch stop before returning to Saigon. (B, L)

Day 4 – To Danang: Transfer to the airport for a flight to Danang. See the unique Song Han Bridge prior to visiting the Dien Hai Rampart. With Mindy, visit to Cham Museum to inspect artefacts from the 2nd to 15th centuries before heading out of town to see the Marble Mountains. Stay two nights at Hoi An Riverside Resort & Spa. (B)

Day 5 – Hoi An: This morning’s sightseeing features this World Heritage-listed ancient town with its well preserved buildings and unique cuisine. See the 400 year-old Japanese Covered Bridge, the Assembly Hall of the Chaozhou Chinese Congregation and the colourful market with its silk stalls. Lunch at the Ancient Faifo restaurant hosted by Mindy. (B, L)

Day 6 – Hoi An: Today we feature a hands-on cooking experience hosted by Mindy. We accompany our chef to the local market to learn how to select the best ingredients before heading to a French colonial-style cooking school where we learn how to prepare a meal using typical ingredients from central Vietnam and enjoy it together. (B, L)

Day 7 – To Hue: Drive to Hue today accompanied by Mindy. We visit China Beach on the way, and drive over the magnificent Hai Van Pass to pause for lunch in a fishing village. Later, we explore Hue with a 10 min cyclo-ride to the Imperial Citadel – a UNESCO-listed site. Visit the impressive Thien Mu pagoda with its seven storey tower. Stay overnight at Moonlight Hue Hotel. (B)

Day 8 – Hue – Hanoi: Visit the An Hien garden house with its traditional Vietnamese architecture, and later the former home of Princess Ngoc Son. Following this we have lunch at the Tha Om restored royal home, where a descendent of the royal family will welcome you for lunch in a beautifully furnished dining room. Transfer to the airport for our flight to Hanoi. After settling in to our hotel, we drive to the Nineteen 11 restaurant for dinner hosted by Mindy, which is situated in the grounds of the historic Opera House. After dinner, visit the Dai Nam Theatre to see the “My Village’ show which depicts village life. Stay for 2 nights in the Silk Path Hotel (Premium Deluxe Wing). (B, L,

Day 9 – Hanoi: We discover the national capital on tour today. Visit the Temple of Literature and drive to the Museum of Ethnology to learn about Vietnam’s 54 ethnic minority groups.Afterwards, drive back to the Old Quarter of Hanoi to observe the bustle of everyday life. There’ll be opportunities to sample local fare with Mindy as your culinary host.(B)

Day 10 – To Halong Bay: Drive to the UNESCO World Heritage site, Halong Bay and board a junk. After lunch on board hosted by Mindy, settle into your cabin. Later, visit a fishing village to learn about their lives before returning to the junk. Attend the chef’s cooking class and watch the evening meal being prepared. Stay overnight on aboard. (B, L, D)

Day 11 – To Hanoi: Participate in an early morning Tai Chi class if you wish. Later, explore Sung Sot grotto where stalactites hanging from the ceiling take on numerous shapes and forms. Return to the junk for brunch prior to disembarking and driving back to Hanoi. Dinner will be hosted by Mindy at Hoa Sua restaurant, which is run by a charitable foundation that cares for street children and uses the restaurant to teach them hospitality industry trades. Stay overnight at Silk Path Hotel. (B, D)

Day 12 – Siem Reap: Transfer to the airport for the Vietnam Airlines flight to Siem Reap. Transfer to your hotel on arrival. The remainder of the day is at leisure. Stay three nights at Tara Angkor Hotel. (B)

Day 13 – Siem Reap: This morning visit Angkor Wat, one of the wonders of the modern world. Stroll through the intricately carved hallways and discover small shrines which are still in use today. After lunch visit the picturesque Ta Prohm temple. Later, visit the ancient royal city of the Khmer Empire. (B, L)

Day 14 – Siem Reap: Take a short walk with Mindy through a village to understand local cooking customs before learning to cook three Khmer dishes in a hands-on cooking experience and afterwards enjoy the food you have helped prepare for this farewell lunch hosted by Mindy. Drive into the countryside for a boat ride on Tonle Sap Lake. See the floating schools, markets and police station prior to driving back to Siem Reap. (B, L)

Day 15 – Depart Siem Reap: Today is at leisure prior to the afternoon transfer to the airport for your outgoing flight. (B)

Meal basis: As per itinerary – B: Breakfast, L: Lunch, D: Dinner, N: No meals

To find out more about this adventure, contact Trans Otway Travel on (03) 9600 1482 or email contact@transotwaytravel.com.au