Seemingly familiar yet completely unexplored. Our extensive insight and mingle with the local life enable travelers to achieve the most authentic experience of indigenous culture and history. Travelers will truly immerse in the rhythm of living like a local in simply perfect places.
Realistic Asia follows the ideas of creating memorable vacations, using our endless local knowledge to design authentic itineraries, prioritizing constantly listening, and personalized approach to our guests to spread the true sentiment towards satisfaction of travelers when setting foot on every corner in Southeast Asia.
The contrasts and contradictions of South East Asia never cease to amaze. For every cobbled lane in Hoi An, there’s an underground Viet Cong tunnel in Cu Chi. For every carved face on Angkor Bayon, there’s a street full of French colonial architecture in Phnom Penh. With Realistic Asia, you won’t be ticking off sights from behind a bus window. You’ll see these destinations up close and through the eyes of locals. Come on an exciting journey to see an amazingly diverse continent, a realm of mystery and legend, and a place where you can encounter culture at its most magnificent.
Today you will visit the family of local musicians in their house located in a charming alley in the Old Quarter. The husband is a traditional musical artist and has shared his passion for well over 30 years, even inspiring his daughter to join the craft. Enjoy a home-cooked meal at his house with the family and get a true insight into the importance of meals at home in Vietnamese culture. While tasting delicious food the hosts are certainly more than happy to share their life stories and enthusiasm for music. Wrap up your lunch or dinner with a private performance of ‘Dan Bau’ will be held at the home after the meal. If you wish you also can learn how to play a few notes on this instrument.
Meet Chef Ai in the morning for an immersive local market tour. With over a decade of professional experience under her belt, Chef Ai is a passionate and knowledgeable guide who will show you how to select the freshest and most typical ingredients for local dishes. Experience the sights, sounds, and flavors of the bustling market as you explore with her.
After the market tour, take a leisurely stroll to Chef Ai's cozy private home for a hands-on cooking class. Listen as she shares her love and passion for cooking while guiding you through the preparation of a delicious meal. With her expert guidance, you'll be able to create your own culinary masterpieces, which you'll get to savor for lunch. This private cooking class is a unique opportunity to learn from a skilled chef and immerse yourself in the local food culture.
Experience the art of water puppetry, a unique form of folk art that originated in Vietnam, with a local artisan. Your journey begins with a 30-minute drive from your hotel to a small alley in Hanoi where Mr. Liem Phan, a water puppet artisan, resides. Mr. Liem Phan is a passionate performer who inherited his talent and tradition from his father. He has performed in several countries outside Vietnam and has a profound love for playing with puppets, making them, and creating mini-stages for water puppetry. During your visit, you will sit down for a cup of tea and listen to Mr. Liem Phan's stories about the origin of water puppetry and his memorable experiences traveling the world to share Vietnamese culture and folklore with international friends. Afterward, you will witness a 30-minute show featuring lion dances, buffalo fighting, rice farming, and boat racing, among others, on Mr. Liem Phan's private mini water puppet stage on the top floor of his house. Following the show, you may take on the role of an artisan and handle the puppets in the water or work alongside Mr. Liem Phan to make and paint the puppets.
Take a street food tour to explore the best culinary spots of the city with a food blogger – Mr. Van Cong Tu. He started his blog in 2005 and keeps sharing his enormous passion for food and culture for all these years.
He will meet you at your hotel lobby and you will have a walk through the Old Quarter past the old east gate to Thanh Ha market. This busy, eclectic market is alive with the sights and sounds of Hanoi and is the essence of Vietnamese culture. Along the way, you will try the local delicacies and listen to the explanation of Vietnamese food culture.
Continue your walk through the streets of the Old Quarter to Dong Xuan market to sample some local treats such as pho tiu (rice noodles with scrummy slices of roasted pork, blanched bean shoots, scissored herbs, crushed nuts, and dried shallots placed on the top) and bun dau (a rustic dish of Northern Vietnam with rice vermicelli, tofu and shrimp paste). See dried goods and aromatics, the essentials of Vietnamese cuisine. Stroll up a 'food alley' to see other interesting dishes. Then walk down to Hang Than Street to view ceremonial cake stalls and taste a special French-influenced dessert. At the same time, learn about traditions and food gifts for celebrations.
Continue back into the Old Quarter via Hang Cot Street – check specially treated fruit which is dependable on the seasons and a common snack in Vietnam. Walk along Phung Hung Street through temporary market stalls where you can see the changing market scene in Hanoi and how modernization is shaping tradition. At the end of the tour, stop at one of the Old Quarter's busiest (yet smallest) coffee shops for a well-earned sit-down and coffee before transferring back to your hotel.
Contemporary Vietnamese art is a mixture of Eastern techniques and European influences. Today, meet with an art specialist Ms. Vu Kim Thu, who graduated from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, for a glimpse of how artists integrate the traditional into the modern and express themselves in new ways. The trip starts at the Hanoi Fine Arts University (closed on weekends & public holidays) for an overview of the place where future artists train. Then wind your way to the Fine Arts Museum, just the highlights only, for a thorough grasp of art and its development. Visit some nice and interesting galleries, including Apricot, Art Salon Natasha, or the others of Ms. Thu’s favorites before ending the trip with a small cocktail reception at an art gallery. Get to know more about her life experience by having remarkable exhibitions and lectures throughout the US.
Our experienced English-speaking guide will meet you at the hotel around 8:00 am and escorts you on the trip to Ba Vi, a countryside located on the outskirt of Hanoi.
Arrive at Ri village, enjoy the welcome drink and snacks, and meet your first host - Mr. Duoc, who is a Vietnam War veteran and tea-farm owner. Listen to the stories of Mr. Duoc's life during the war while enjoying the drink and then visit his tea plantation. You will learn how to pick the best tea leaves to make the most wonderful beverage in Vietnam. Carry on with the tea production at his small workshop, where most of the work is manual.
Then, have a short drive to Moc village, where you will meet your next host Mrs. Chin, who will teach you how to cook local Vietnamese dishes. Later have the meals you made for lunch in a beautiful tropical garden.
Have a short break after lunch, and join Mrs. Chin for a walk around the village. You will visit some local families to understand the rural lifestyle and learn how tofu, conical hats, and other local products are made. Then have a cycling trip through beautiful paddy fields.
Wrap up your countryside tour with traditional feet soak in warm water with herbs, following the traditional recipes of the Muong ethnic minority. It will relax you (and your feet) after cycling around the village. Later, enjoy a transfer from Ba Vi back to your accommodation.
Today, you will discover the hidden side of Hanoi where locals live and work alongside the railway. Your guide will take you to explore the markets and introduce you to the people who share their space with the railway.
At 8 am, you will be picked up from your hotel and taken to the food market on Kham Thien Street to see the daily shopping activities of the locals. Then, you will venture down narrow streets to Alley Le Duan for a view of one of the city's 'railway streets,' where people enjoy coffee on the tracks and make way for oncoming trains. You will also explore the Hanoi station, known for its unique blend of colonial and socialist architecture. After a stop at Cua Dong Street for a refreshment, you will be driven to Gia Lam Station to catch a train to Long Bien Station. Upon arrival, you can visit the bustling market shadowed by the Long Bien Bridge, a French relic that played a crucial role in the Vietnam War.
Note that the tour lasts for 4 hours and departs at 8:30 am.
On this unique half-day photo tour, we explore iconic locations and hidden corners of Vietnam’s capital on foot while learning how to take great photos. Following the classic structure of the 3 picture story, we discover the fundamentals of travel photography and gain a unique insight into the real Hanoi. Leave with a collection of fantastic pictures to share with friends and family. The tour is suitable for both beginner and more skilled photographers.
We will pick you up from your hotel by taxi and take you to the tour starting point, the historic Long Bien Bridge. After a brief introduction about the story behind the bridge, there is an overview of camera settings. We then head up to Long Bien Bridge to shoot the establishing picture.
Now it's time to move to the Long Bien market, Hanoi's biggest wet market. Our focus is on taking naturalistic photos of people at work and play. We’ll then have a refreshing green tea from a street stall before moving on.
In the Dong Xuan market, we continue to practice relationship pictures. The market was built by the French in 1889, although it has undergone several renovations. The photographic emphasis here is on architecture and scenes.
Now we head into the Old Quarter streets. Traditionally, each of Hanoi’s 36 streets is specialized in certain goods. Our focus here is on street photography and portraiture. We will learn how to approach and interact with people for quality portraits.
Then we move on to explore the railway tracks. In this part of town, people live right alongside the railway, and we have a chance to look closely at their unique way of life. Our photographic focus is on the composition of photos and storytelling.
Then move on to old apartment zones that were built from subsidization after the liberation day of 1975. You will have a chance to look closely at local people’s unique way of life in old apartments. And our photographic focus is on different architectures before and after the Vietnam-American War and the storytelling of local people who are still living in their apartments.
Finish the tour with a cocktail at a local artist’s studio and interact and take part in the final photography workshop for expert feedback. Then we will drop you back off at your hotel.
My Son is one of the original Hindu temple sites in South East Asia. For the Cham civilization that ruled Central Vietnam. Between the 2nd and 13th centuries, My Son was an important religious site and place of worship. A one-and-a-half-hour drive from Hoi An will bring you to My Son, where there are 20 ancient monuments still standing today. The temples are set in a verdant valley surrounded by hills and overlooked by the impressive Cat Tooth Mountain. Stroll around this UNESCO-listed temple complex to learn about the Cham culture, architecture, and civilization with Mr. Nguyen Thuong Hy, who has dedicated 35 years to the restoration and preservation of Southeast Asia’s most significant architecture and relics. Before returning to Hoi An, enjoy a traditional lunch at Mr. Hy’s nearby home.
A UNESCO World Heritage Site, the ancient town Hoi An is well-preserved where some streets are off-limits to motorbikes and building alterations are well enforced. Today you have the opportunity to chat with Kieu Maily - A Champa Cultural Researcher. Kiều Maily made life in Ho Chi Minh as a broadcaster and writer, but ancient Hoi An City became a favorite destination for her to promote the traditional culture of the Cham people. She was born and raised in a Cham ethnic community in the hot and sandy Phuoc Nhon Village, Phan Rang City, Ninh Thuan Province. Today, You will have a chance to interact with her and enjoy exploring the Champa Amaravati House Hoi An - a Cham experience center. The Champa Amaravati House will offer you live performances and Cham cuisine. You enjoy the true art of Champa culture while sharing the historical stories of exhibits and art performances told by Cham artists.
Your friendly guide and driver will pick you up from your hotel in the center of Hue and take you on a tour of the Tam Giang Lagoon. The first stop is the An Dinh Palace, a stunning European-style palace that has been recognized as a world cultural heritage site by UNESCO. Then, you'll visit the Ru Cha mangrove forest, which is named after the type of mangrove tree that grows abundantly in the area. This forest acts as a natural barrier against the Thuan An Sea in Thua Thien Hue province.
Your guide will then take you to Chuon Lagoon (Tam Giang Lagoon), where you'll board a boat and receive an introduction to the Tam Giang lagoon system. You'll explore Chuon Lagoon, passing by floating houses and taking stunning sunset photos on the lagoon. You'll also have the opportunity to experience life as a fisherman on the lagoon by participating in activities such as beating the water, pulling fishing nets, and catching fish.
Additionally, you can try kayaking on the vast lagoon and jump straight into the crystal blue water for a swim. Be sure to bring your camera for some amazing photo opportunities and soak up the sunshine.
Finally, you'll stop at a local's house or restaurant to enjoy local specialty dishes or seafood and chat together. Afterward, you'll be driven back to your hotel in Hue city and have the rest of the day to relax and explore at your leisure.
This evening, you will depart from your hotel to witness the incredible A O Show. This unique performance combines various forms of art, showcasing the serene countryside and picturesque landscapes of Vietnam. The show is remarkable for its depiction of traditional Vietnamese folk games, dances, and circus acts, set against the backdrop of a blend of traditional and modern music, illuminated by artistic lighting. Bamboo pipes and baskets are incorporated into the performance as set decorations, and the performers and musicians dress in farmers' clothing, demonstrating the traditional daily activities of villagers and festive celebrations.
After the show, you will enjoy a dinner of beautifully decorated dishes of innovative Vietnamese cuisine at the Dining Room restaurant, which offers a different approach to traditional Vietnamese dining. Finally, you will be transferred back to your hotel.
Ho Chi Minh is the youngest and most vibrant city in Vietnam with newly-built skyscrapers and a modern lifestyle. But at the same time, behind that splendid beauty, there are thousands of untold stories about its true local life. Hidden away from the main districts of the city, the fascinating history, and local life thrive in these backstreets.
Your private guide will take you to a secret weapon chamber that has been used as a place to hide and store weapons during Vietnam War. After getting insight into the Vietnam War, weave through a slum area and meet and chat with the locals, whose families living in the same tiny houses for generations. It will give you a true understanding of local life. Then chill out at a coffee shop tucked away in an old French colonial apartment block. Later, visit a hidden restaurant located on the top of another old apartment.
This evening, discover Ho Chi Minh City in the most exciting and delicious way possible: with a food tour on a motorbike. Meet your guide at the hotel and hop on a vintage Vespa. Then hit the road on a mouthwatering exploration of Saigon after dark. The first stop is at a bakery to try a fresh and delicious bread roll before heading to a vintage coffee shop tucked in a back alley. And that's just to start.
Continue zipping along the city's bustling streets to an old apartment complex that comes alive at night with hundreds of food and drinks stalls. After sampling a few savory tidbits you'll visit a 50-year-old dessert shop to try homemade sweet soups. Your guide will then lead you to an off-the-beaten-path restaurant for multiple courses starring the freshest seafood in the city. End the night at a cozy bar tucked away in a quiet alley as you sample local beers and craft cocktails while chatting with friendly locals. Feel free to cut loose, as a taxi will be waiting to take you back to your hotel.
We believe that every journey to Southeast Asia is an exciting experience. Each featured interests always reflect the culture and contain valuable inspiration in each region. No matter what kind of adventure you’re looking for, our themed trips will help you to find it. Whether you want to pump the pedals, discover a destination through its culinary treats, or travel with kids, our diverse range of themed itineraries have got you covered.
Our dedicated team of travel professionals has unmatched knowledge and expertise in creating perfect vacations. Together we share the passion for travel and love to our destinations and devote ourselves to “getting it right” the very first time. Our objective is to provide you with top-notch services with 24/7 support, accompany as a close friend and personalized care.
Our creative team is committed to creating unforgettable travel experiences and long-lasting memories. All our travel advisors extensively travel through our destinations seeking new unique things to do and new interesting routes to meet any desire of our travelers.
We are locals who know the destinations from A to Z and are excited to share the beauty of our destinations with travelers. We personally check all services we offer. Our team always has many ideas for immersive experiences unlocking the authentic charm of Indochina.
Our team is committed to providing the utmost care for our travelers and is available to them 24/7. Each itinerary is created based on the interests and desires of the clients, and each product is customized to match the vision and values of our agent partners.
Realistic Asia is committed to keeping our destinations for our children the same beautiful as they are. We carefully select our partners and tightly work with the local community in designing the experiences. Moreover, Realistic Asia is cooperating with local NGOs in different projects to contribute to the development of the community.
We are constantly moving, innovating, and improving ourselves to be better every day. Thus, each of our travelers’ feedback is absolutely valuable to us.