• Tropical fruit, ripe for the buying. Get to know the local produce.

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  • Come explore the Nguyen emperors' royal tombs in Hue.

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  • Our home-away-from-home in Hanoi, the historic Metropole.

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  • See the influence of foreign merchants—Chinese, Japanese, European—on Hoi An's charming streets.

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Culinary Vietnam. A Hosted Journey with Chef Thai Dang. 13 Days.

In March of 2015, we’re off on a new and exciting Hosted Journey to Vietnam. Our host is R. Crusoe friend Thai Dang, chef and co-owner of Embeya Restaurant in Chicago, which Esquire magazine named one of 2013’s Best New Restaurants. 

     With Chef Thai by our side, we dig into the heart of Vietnam, his native country. Come discover the secrets of Southeast Asia’s finest cuisine as he conducts cooking lessons, takes us through vibrant markets to peruse fresh local ingredients, and teaches us about the subtleties of regional Vietnamese cooking. 

     But there’s more to this journey than the food. On visits to Hanoi, Da Nang, Hoi An, My Son, Hue, and Ho Chi Minh City, we also examine Vietnam’s incredible history, culture, and ancient remnants. We stay at the very best hotels. And we spend time with interesting local experts as well as members of Chef Thai's extended family.


Dates:7 March 2015

Type:Hosted Journeys/Special Interest Group Tours



Day 1: United States
Saturday, 7 March 2015
• Overnight flight to Asia.
Overnight in flight
Day 2: Asian Gateway City (Bangkok, Hong Kong, Singapore, Tokyo)
day, 8 March 2015
• Land in the Asian gateway city of your choice.
Overnight at airport hotel (at traveler's expense)

Day 3: Asian Gateway City; Hanoi, Vietnam
Monday, 9 March 2015

• Fly to Hanoi, transfer to hotel.
• Tour briefing, cuisine overview with Chef Thai, cocktail reception, welcome dinner.
Overnight in Hanoi
Day 4-5: Hanoi
Tuesday & Wednesday, 10-11 March 2015

• Ba Dinh Square, Ho Chi Minh mausoleum and home, One Pillar Pagoda, Temple of Literature, Hanoi Hilton, Opera House, French Quarter via cyclo, water pupper performance.
• Mixology lesson with Danielle Pizzutillo, dinner presentation by Chef Thai.
Ethnology Museum with local expert, pho lunch, optional art touring.
• Dinner cooking lesson with Chef Thai.

Overnights in Hanoi
Day 6: Da Nang
Thursday, 12 March 2015

• Fly to Da Nang.
• Cham Museum with local expert.
• Hotel check-in.
• Dinner at hotel.
Overnight in Da Nang

Day 7: Hoi An, Da Nang
Friday, 13 March 2015

• Walking tour of old Hoi An (UNESCO Wortld Heritage site) including Tan Ky House, Fukhien Association, Thien Hau Pagoda, and market.
• Cooking lesson and lunch with Chef Thai and local chef.

• Free time
Overnight in Da Nang

Day 8: My Son, Hoi An, Da Nang
Saturday, 14 March 2015
• Walking tour of My Son (UNESCO World Heritage site) with Cham expert.
• Afternoon at leisure.
• D
inner in Hoi An with a presentation by the restaurant's chef.
Overnight in Da Nang

Day 9: Hue
Sunday, 15 March 2015

• Drive to Hue.
• Tour ancient sites including Nguyen emperors' royal tombs, Kinh Thanh Imperial Citadel, Forbidden Purple City, Long An Palace, and Thien Mu Pagoda.
• Cooking lesson and dinner at renowned architect's traditional private home (tentative).

Overnight in Hue

Day 10-11: Ho Chi Minh City
Monday & Tuesday, 16-17 March 2015

• Fly to Ho Chi Minh City, orientation driving tour, hotel check-in.
• Optional Cu Chi Tunnels visit or Cholon neighborhood and market.
• War Remnants Museum, leisure time at Ben Thanh market or on Dong Khoi Street.

Overnights in Ho Chi Minh City

Day 12: Dong Nai, Ho Chi Minh City
Wednesday, 18 March 2015

• Drive to Chef Thai's family village, shop the markets, cooking lessons, celebratory farewell lunch with Dang extended family.
• Return to Ho Chi Minh City, evening at leisure.
Overnight in Ho Chi Minh City

Day 13: Ho Chi Minh City; United States, or Cambodia
Thursday, 19 March 2015

• Fly home, or continue with R. Crusoe on an optional post-tour extension to Phnom Penh and Angkor, Cambodia.

Please note: This itinerary is subject to change.

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Per person sharing room $6,870
Single supplement $2,490
Internal airfare per person (estimate) $330

The above prices are based on a minimum number of 15 travelers as well as present currency exchange and fuel rates. If fewer than 15 travelers participate, or if there is a major change in exchange rates or a fuel surcharge, a price supplement may apply and/or the itinerary may be adjusted.

For more information or to book, please call R. Crusoe travel specialist Jane Franklin at 888-490-8019, or email her at jfranklin@rcrusoe.com.

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Meet Our Co-Host, Chef Thai Dang.

Along with R. Crusoe managing director David Weber and his wife, Patty, Thai Dang co-hosts this journey.

     Thai was born in a village outside Saigon and resettled in America with his parents, six brothers, and two of his three sisters in the mid 1980s. After living in Illinois for 18 months, the family moved to a large Vietnamese community in Virginia.

     Following his passion, Thai enrolled in culinary school. He met and married his wife, Danielle Pizzutillo, and entered the world of upscale restaurants. One position led to another, and soon he was cooking under Laurent Gras at Chicago’s three-Michelin starred L20.

     Before long, Chef Thai opened Embeya in Chicago. His menu is progressive Asian, taking flavors of Southeast Asia and adding his personal twist.

     Esquire magazine named Embeya “one of 2013’s best new restaurants. The flavors all sound promising on [Chef Thai’s] menu. They deliver on the plate.”

     We are thrilled to have Chef Thai and his wife, Danielle, as hosts for this extraordinary journey through Vietnam.

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Post-Tour Option: Cambodia

From Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, fly to neighboring Cambodia, and land in the city of Phnom Penh. Check in to the Raffles Le Royal, an historic hotel, then tour the treasures of this interesting city.

     Consider visiting the infamous Killing Fields and then Tuol Sleng Prison. Both are important though chilling reminders of Cambodia’s dark past.

     Fly to Siem Reap, gateway to magnificent Angkor, the stunning UNESCO World Heritage site. Home is an elegant hotel, La Residence d’Angkor. One of the finest temple complexes in the world, Angkor is twice the size of Manhattan and contains 30 or so temples built between A.D. 900 and 1200 as part of Angkor Thom, seat of the mighty Khmer Empire. The architecture exemplifies both Buddhist and Hindu traditions.

     Experience sunset at the site, then sunrise the following morning, if you choose. Tour the most significant temples the following day, each a stunning work of art.

     Visit a workshop where young Cambodians learn the Khmer traditions of stone-carving and wood-sculpting.

     Tour Tonle Sap, Southeast Asia’s largest lake, by boat. Whole communities live on houseboats. Stop along the route to visit Vietnamese and Khmer fishing villages. 

For details on a post-tour extension to Cambodia, or to book, please email R. Crusoe travel specialist Jane Franklin at jfranklin@rcrusoe.com, or call her at 888-490-8019.

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