Craft Beers of Asia - Japan and Vietnam
We thought long and hard about which countries showcase the best of Asia's craft-beer scene at the moment and after much deliberation (and some essential research!) settled on Japan and Vietnam. Two destinations that contrast wonderfully, offering a heady mix of Asia both old and new.
This tour is perfect for anyone with an interest in food and drink! It showcases the must-see highlights of both countries as well as offering a first-hand experience of the burgeoning world of craft beer in Asia, complemented of course by the flavours of Japanese and Vietnamese cuisine.
At a glance
- Mingle with the locals over food & beer
- Sample craft beer in our favourite bars
- Explore Kyoto's back streets by bicycle
- Weave between Hanoi's streetfood spots on the back of a Vespa
- Witness the traditional beer making processes of bia hoi in north Vietnam
Tokyo - 3 nights
Tokyo is one of the most captivating cities in the world, and Japan’s commercial and political capital. Now a vast, energising urban sprawl, the city’s multitude of attractions range from the swirling nightlife of Shinjuku to millennia-old temples, and excellent museums like Miraikan. Tokyo’s lively nightlife is built on thousands of cool little bars, and the emergence of a craft beer scene seemed like the next logical step. There are now countless Japanese and imported microbrews on tap around the city, with quite a few places brewing their own.
Day 1 - Arrive Tokyo
On arrival in Japan, you'll be met by our representative, who will accompany you to your hotel. Excellent public transport is part of the Japan travel experience, so we'll be making the most of this throughout your time in Japan. Having settled into your hotel, the remainder of your day will be at leisure.
Suggested Craft Beer Bars
Akihabara and Tokyo Station Hitachino Lab Home of the Hitachino beers, the Hitachino Lab makes its own limited edition, and has the main beers of the brand and seasonal specials on tap. Beer tasting sessions are available. Since the beer is made on the spot, you can easily ask the staff any questions regarding beer-making. In the Akihabara branch, if you are lucky, during weekdays you might see the staff making the beer themselves. Tasting menu compares three types of beer and changes on a daily basis.
Craftheads Shibuya Shibuya is one of the main shopping, dining, and entertainment districts in Tokyo. It is famous for its intersection called ‘The Scramble’, one of the world’s busiest pedestrian lanes, and the statue of Hachiko, the most popular dog in Japan. A few minutes walk from the station takes you to Craftheads, a bar specialising in local craft beers, and hosting a wide variety of nationwide beers.
Day 2 - Explore Yanaka, Evening Street Food Tour
Spend your morning with your guide exploring Yanaka - part of the traditional Shitamachi - ‘low city’ - area and one of the oldest districts in Tokyo. The criss-cross streets around Yanaka are lined with authentic craft shops, original restaurants and small coffee houses. Your guide will introduce you to some interesting temples and shrines, including the lesser known but beautiful Nezu Shrine, a Shinto site established in 1705. You will also visit the Asakura Museum of Sculpture, once the studio of Fumio Asakura, one of Japan’s most famous artists. A stop will be made during the morning for freshly brewed coffee at one of the cosy neighbourhood cafes.
Return to your hotel where there will be time to relax before reuniting with your guide at 5pm for a tour of Tokyo’s vibrant culinary scene. Over the course of the evening you’ll visit a variety of venues, from tiny izakaya pubs to street-side stalls, each distinctive in their atmosphere and food offerings.
Suggested Craft Beer Bars
August Yanaka Beer Hall Located right next to the ‘Sunset Stair’, August has mainly August beer on tap, along with seasonal selections.
Popeye in Ryogoku A well-known institution in Tokyo, always immaculate and offering more than 50 craft beers on tap, including Japanese and import beers.
Day 3 - Explore independently
Today is at leisure. With so much to see and do in Tokyo, the options are limitless and can seem a daunting proposition. Your Selective Asia consultant can help design the perfect self-guided day for you, giving you the tools & freedom to explore this astonishing, easy-to-navigate and extremely safe city, and its surroundings.
Suggested Craft Beer Bar
Baird Beer Harajuku Tap Room 15 microbrews on tap, with a snack menu of skewers and dumplings, with donburi and curry at weekends. Located in central Harajuku, just a 2 minute walk from the Takeshita-Dori exit of JR Harajuku Station.
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Kyoto - 2 nights
Kyoto is home to an astonishing 2,000 shrines and temples, including seventeen UNESCO World Heritage Sites. The oldest was established in the 6th century AD, before the freewheeling Emperor Kanmu relocated to the fertile valley with his household - and all the attendant drama of imperial Japan. Aside from its historic architecture and deep cultural connections, Kyoto is renowned for its cuisine, and the city boasts some of the best restaurants in Japan, several of which enjoy Michelin-star ratings.
Day 4 - Bullet train to Kyoto
Ride the bullet train to Kyoto, Japan’s cultural capital. For lunch, we recommend trying eki-ben, the convenient and fun lunch boxes traditionally sold at every shinkansen station. On arrival in Kyoto, having checked into your hotel, the remainder of your day will be at leisure.
Suggested Craft Beer Bar
Beer Komachi Located in Higashiyama, one of Kyoto’s best preserved historic districts, Beer Komachi is an intimate small bar offering craft beers with an assortment of Western-Japanese fusion food.
Day 5 - Backstreets by bike
Explore Kyoto on two wheels. Kyoto is largely flat, the roads are in good condition and the traffic is fairly calm for an Asian city, making it ideal for cyclists. Over the course of the morning you will cycle through the geisha districts, hoping to see a geisha or maiko as they dash between appointments; pass traditional Kyoto style tea houses; and make a stop at the Imperial Palace Park, site of the former residences of the Imperial family and court nobles. Cycle back to Kyoto Station along the Kamo River, leave your bike at the station and make your way back to your hotel. The remainder of your day will be at leisure.
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Osaka - 1 night
Osaka is defined by its flamboyance, its fun-loving people, and fantastic food and drink; this is a place to indulge yourself and allow people to entertain you, rather than potter around temples. The city's food and sake are world-renowned, thanks to plentiful supplies of high quality ingredients, and long-established merchants with preferential connections.
Day 6 - Train to Osaka, Evening streetfood tour
Make the short trip by train to Osaka, where your day will be at leisure until late afternoon, when you’ll meet your guide in the Tenma district for this evening’s food tour. A lively, unpretentious neighbourhood steeped in history, Tenma is home to Tenjinbashi-suji shopping street which claims to be the longest covered arcade in Japan, stretching more than 2.5 kilometres. The area’s maze of narrow streets and alleys come to life at night when locals flock to dine and relax in the many tiny bars and hole-in-the-wall eateries that open up. Forget Dotonburi - this is the place to get real local soul food, and your guide will show you where to find the classics.
Suggested Craft Beer Bars
Yellow Ape Located near the Naniwa River, Yellow Ape has a wide variety of finger foods and Japanese craft beers on tap. Specialises in pairing its craft beers with food.
Garage 39 One of the largest craft beer bars in Osaka with over 15 beers on tap and excellent food.
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Hanoi - 3 nights
Hanoi, Vietnam’s first and current capital, ranks among the most visually stunning cities in the world. Streets full of greenery wind between grand buildings, spacious parks, museums, temples, markets and shops, unifying the town’s many different elements; elegant pagodas rise above the infamously chaotic traffic below, exemplifying two extremes of Hanoi’s character.
Day 7 - Fly to Hanoi in Vietnam, evening Vespa tour
Take a morning flight to Hanoi, Vietnam. On arrival you'll be met by your private guide, who will accompany you to your hotel. Enjoy time at leisure until the evening when you’ll start a street food tour with a difference. Riding pillion on a Vespa, you’ll discover delicious Vietnamese specialities and hang out where the locals do. Sip a cool beer at a rooftop cafe, sample some of the city’s best Pho Cuon spring rolls on the shores of West Lake, drive along one of the most romantic and picturesque streets in the city, and fill up on Cha Ca, Hanoi’s signature grilled fish noodles. After eating, head to Ba Dinh square to watch the ceremonial changing of the guard at Ho Chi Minh’s Mausoleum, before finishing the evening on a lighter note with a drink and some live music at a trendy bar.
Day 8 - 'Old & New' City Tour
Start the day away from the city centre bustle with a cycle around the perimeter of West Lake. Spend time in the shade of Tran Quoc pagoda’s elegant tower, or watch the world go by from a lakeside cafe. As the sun rises to its highest, continue your journey into Hanoi’s past with a visit to the atmospheric halls of the Temple of Literature on the site of Vietnam’s first university. Tuck into some fast food, Vietnam style, with lunch on the famous Trang Tien Street, enjoying anything from pho to sweet treats, seated on a tiny plastic stool among the locals, with the grand Opera House just around the corner. Explore Hanoi’s contemporary culture with a Vietnamese coffee at Manzi Art Cafe, before heading back in time with a stroll past the workshops and pagodas in the narrow streets of the Old Quarter. Enjoy a beer and keep exploring, or head back to your hotel for a little downtime.
Day 9 - Street Food & Beer Tasting Tour
Your day is at leisure until you’re collected in the early evening for a few enjoyable hours tasting local food and beer. Start in Hang Ga, where you’ll taste Banh Cuon (steamed rice rolls), then head to Ly Quoc Su for Banh Goi (a meat filled pastry). After you’ve had your fill, continue to Legend Beer to savour some German and Czech beer, as well as soaking up the atmosphere - the bar is typically full of locals. Your final stop will be The Hill Station Tapas & Taps, located in Hanoi’s most famous nightlife street - this is the perfect place to enjoy some people-watching with a quality drink in your hand! The focus here is on draught beer & cider, paired with tapas made exclusively from high quality produce from a mountain farm in Sapa, or sourced locally north of Hanoi. There are rice wines to try too, and signature cocktails based solely on rice & corn wine. Return to your hotel for a well deserved lie down.
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Hoi An - 2 nights
Hoi An, one of Asia’s most significant ports during the 1500s, has retained much of its original ambience despite the intervening centuries of weather, war and modern development. Sample the city’s street food, find your favourite spot for Vietnamese coffee, and dine in style at the many restaurants exemplifying the town’s famous cuisine.
Day 10 - Fly to Hoi An
Having flown to Danang and driven the short distance to Hoi An, the remainder of your day will be at leisure. In the early evening, you may wish to explore the cobbled streets of Hoi An’s Old Town yourself. Hoi An offers a medley of dining and drinking venues, from the markets lining the street to charming boutique restaurants showcasing the best of central Vietnamese cuisine. If you’re in search of a craft beer head to the Tap House on Phan Chau Trin where you can sample Vietnamese craft beers on tap.
Day 11 - Relax in Hoi An
Your day will be at leisure. Wander across the ancient Japanese Covered Bridge, explore former merchants’ homes, and buy silks, handicrafts, antiques, and immaculate tailored suits (with an astonishing 24 hr turnaround) at the colourful shops and markets.
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Ho Chi Minh City - 2 nights
Ho Chi Minh City, formerly Saigon, is a place where the faded grandeur of French colonial architecture mingles with the high rises of fast finance; a city where the energy of modern Vietnamese culture is enriched by the country’s varied traditions and history.
Day 12 - Fly to Ho Chi Minh City, Delve into the Cu Chi Tunnels, Craft Beer Vespa tour
Fly to Ho Chi Minh City and transfer directly to the famous Cu Chi tunnels - an incredible underground network over 150 miles in length, constructed by Vietnamese resistance fighters. The remaining tunnels have been opened to visitors, offering a unique insight into the ingenuity behind them, and a glimpse of underground life during the Vietnam war. Continue on to Ho Chi Minh City and check in to your hotel where there will be time to relax and refresh.
At 6pm, you’ll commence your evening tour with a difference - riding pillion on a Vespa for a tour of local craft beer restaurants. Start your beer tour by mingling amongst the crowds of locals going home after work, and taking in the scene of complex traffic patterns whilst riding through several districts of Saigon! You’ll stop by several craft beer restaurants to try many kinds of beer, enjoy various food pairings and learn more about the local beer scene by talking with a local expert and touring a brewery.
Day 13 - 'Old & New' City Tour, Evening beer sampling
Visit your choice of Ho Chi Minh City’s highlights on a personalised tour with your guide, taking in everything from grand palaces, to French neoclassical architecture, to bustling side streets. We recommend you incorporate the impressive Reunification Palace, and the beautiful Saigon Central Post Office (designed by Gustave Eiffel), after an early morning meander through the alleys and markets of District 1 - a densely populated, and architecturally stunning area, full of aromatic markets and small businesses, that few visitors know exists, let alone see for themselves. Bear witness to the violence of the country’s recent past with a visit to a secret weapon store used by the resistance during the Vietnam war and immerse yourself in the micro-culture of HCMC’s Chinatown.
In the early evening, you'll be met by your guide who will accompany you to two of the cities most 'of the moment' craft beer venues for one final beer sampling session. You'll have the chance to try Pasteur Street Brewery's Cyclo Imperial Chocolate Stout and contrast that with a bia hoi in a local restaurant to end your evening.
Day 14 - Depart Ho Chi Minh City
Transfer to the airport in time for your onward flight.
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We only provide privately guided holidays - meaning that you will not be expected to share guides or transport for the duration of your visit. You can also start on any day you choose.
Please click on the hotel category buttons below to view hotel details. These are recommended properties only - we have many alternative options for you to choose from if you would prefer. You can mix hotel categories throughout your holiday.
|Hotel class||Price per person (based on total # travelling)|
|2 persons||3 - 4||5 - 6|
Hotel Gracery ShinjukuA brand new hotel addition in the heart of the up-and-coming, lively Kabukicho area of Shinjuku, the Hotel Gracery has the advantage of a wide and varied range of shops, bars and restaurants on its doorstep.… See more
Contemporary Japanese style, friendly service and its good location near many key sights make Noku Kyoto a great choice for anyone seeking a modern bolt hole in this ancient city...See more
Cross Hotel OsakaThis modern urban property sits plum in the centre of Osaka, making it perfect for exploring Japan’s second largest city, with popular locations like Dotonbori and Osaka Castle within very easy reach... See more
La Siesta Classic Ma May
La Siesta Classic Ma May is a welcoming boutique property just a short stroll from Hoan Kiem Lake, within very easy reach of the many temptations of Old Quarter, and offers great facilities for a central Hanoi hotel...See more
Hoi An Chic Green RetreatA lovely and personal boutique hotel in a rural but convenient province beyond the town, the Hoi An Chic marries a sweet contemporary style with an eco-friendly ethos... See more
Liberty Central Saigon RiversideSister to the Liberty Central at Ben Thanh Market, Ho Chi Minh's latest riverside hotel, the Liberty Central Riverside doesn't disappoint... See more
Park HotelAs much of an art gallery as a hotel, the Park Hotel is a ‘Design Hotel’. Thought-provoking design and architecture are an essential element of the property.… See more
The CelestineLocated in the Gion district of Kyoto, the Celestine is a modern boutique hotel which combines chic interiors, well-designed facilities and high traditional service standards… See more
Osaka Marriott Miyako Hotel
Located on the top floors of Japan’s tallest building, the Osaka Marriott Miyako Hotel has a convenient central location, great facilities and absolutely jaw-dropping views over the city and beyond to Osaka Bay...See more
Movenpick HanoiPreviously known as the Gouman Hotel, the Movenpick Hanoi is not only the seriously new-and-improved version - it has undergone the most outstanding transformation... See more
La Siesta Resort & Spa
A great location beside rice fields near the Thu Bon River, yet just a short walk from Hoi An Old Town, is not the only thing going for La Siesta Resort & Spa – it’s also a beautiful boutique retreat, surrounded by tropical gardens…See more
Liberty Central Saigon CitypointWhen researching a city hotel it’s all about a central location and the new Liberty Central Saigon Citypoint certainly ticks that box... See more
Palace HotelOriginally built in the early 1960’s and an iconic property of the time, the Palace Hotel was razed to the ground in 2009 and completely rebuilt, re-opening in 2012 with a more up-to-date look... See more
Hyatt Regency KyotoSituated in a secluded old district in central Kyoto, the stylish Hyatt Regency is conveniently close to several important temples and the National Museum, as well as key transport hubs for exploring the city and beyond... See more
Occupying the top floors of the Nakanoshima Festival West Tower in the heart of the city, the Conrad Osaka is a sleek luxury hotel with sweeping views from all its guest rooms and public spaces…See more
Sofitel Legend Metropole HanoiOpened in 1901 and once host to a roll-call of iconic 20th century guests, the Metropole Hanoi exudes historic charm like no other property in the city... See more
Anantara Hoi AnFormerly known as the the Life Heritage Resort, the Anantara Hoi An is set on the banks of the De Vong River in the French Colonial quarter on the outskirts of Hoi An old town... See more
Hotel des ArtsNew hotels are opening up in Ho Chi Minh City on a frequent basis and existing properties are investing in makeovers to compete, so it takes something special to stand out from the crowd. Step in Hotel des Arts... See more
Solo travellers are always welcome - please contact us for a tailored quote.
These prices are shown in GBPUSD.
Selective Asia is a UK-registered company, but our client-base spans the globe, so we bank in both GBP and USD and can therefore provide a fixed price in either currency.
We also have payment facilities in Canada, New Zealand, Australia and the EU, and can typically offer better-than-bank exchange rates on the date of payment in these currencies (against a booking priced in GBP).
- After an indulgent couple of weeks you could extend your trip down to Phu Quoc island off the southern tip of Vietnam for some rest and relaxation on one of the countries finest beaches.
- From Kyoto, you can take a very special, cleansing trip up the mountain for an overnight stay in the seat of Shingon Buddhism.
At Selective Asia we specialise in creating unique, tailor-made experiences. The holiday itineraries provided on this website are intended to help you visualise what is achievable in your destinations of choice, over a given period of time and at an intended budget.
While many clients are happy with one of our recommended itineraries in the current form (and at the price quoted), there are those that wish to personalise their holiday in some way, whether it be a change of hotel, an additional destination or even start from scratch. This is when our tailor-made specialists come into their own; with many years of experience both living and working in the region they are ideally equipped to advise on alternatives and to facilitate any necessary changes.
The important stuff
Please note: Japanese hotel contracts are extremely seasonal in comparison to most of their Asian counterparts and therefore you should expect surcharges at various times of the year, including weekends, not just during peak seasons such as Christmas, New Year and Cherry Blossom. Your consultant will be happy to advise you of these.
- English speaking, local guide
- All accommodation listed
- All train tickets and rail passes as listed
- Luggage forwarding service as listed in Japan
- 4G Wi-Fi To Go Package in Japan
- Land transportation by private air-conditioned vehicles in Vietnam
- Any domestic flights listed (unless marked otherwise)
- All admission fees at attractions, temples and activities as mentioned in the itinerary
- All meals listed
- International flight reconfirmation.
- Flights to/from Asia. We are an ATOL bonded operator and can arrange flights for all our clients, regardless of whether you are departing from the UK or from almost any other worldwide destination.
- Flight from Osaka to Hanoi
- Entry visas
- International airport departure taxes
- Any meals not listed in the itinerary
- Drinks, other than water on activity days and limited beer sampling on guided tours
- Personal expenses (laundry, telephone, drinks, tip...)
- Travel insurance
- All other services not listed in 'inclusive'
All prices are correct at the time of publishing. They are liable to change and can only be confirmed upon submitting an enquiry.
FlightsWe will arrange all internal flights used within our holiday itineraries. We can also arrange discounted flights from all UK airports to Asia and we are a fully bonded ATOL operator. If you would like a quote for your international flights then please complete the required section on the enquiry form.
VisaYou will not require a visa to enter Japan and you may need one for Vietnam. Your consultant will be happy to advise you on visa requirements.
PassportPlease ensure that you have a valid passport with at least 6 months validity remaining after your return date. You will also need at least one blank page for each of the countries you are visiting.
InsuranceYou will require a comprehensive travel insurance that covers you for medical costs associated with hospitalisation, emergency travel and repatriation back to your home country. We offer our customers a specially discounted insurance policy, ideally suited to the needs that a trip such as this creates. Tick the insurance box in the enquiry form and we will send you a quote to suit your needs.
Vaccinations and Malaria PreventionYou will undoubtedly require vaccinations for your visit to Asia. Please consult your doctor or a vaccination clinic for the most up-to-date advice. They will also be able to advise you of the most suitable anti-malarial medication if required. It is important that you do this well in advance of your departure date.
Booking ProcedureOnly once you are completely happy with any holiday itinerary we create for you will we ask for a payment. In order that we can secure availability for your booking we would typically require a deposit of 20%.
Travelling ResponsiblyWe care about the places and the communities that you will travel through. It is important to us that we travel as responsibly as possible throughout Asia and that we are giving something back to the regions and the people that make these journeys so special. Full details on our approach to responsible travel can be found on a dedicated section of this website.
Our tailor-made service costs you no extra
This itinerary is designed to work straight off the peg, but we'll happily tailor it until it's a perfect fit for you, to ensure we’re making the absolute best of your time and funds. All you need to do is ask...
Your own private guides & drivers
You'll typically have your own private guides & drivers throughout your trip. When you will be sharing a service (eg a boat cruise) with others, we'll always let you know.