Last Update: August 2020
4 min read
There’s nothing like a food tour to get to know a new city and its food scene. Most South East Asian cities have one or more food tours available. Especially Vietnam seems to host a lot of them.
On our trip to Hanoi we found at least 10 food tours or more. On top of that, almost all of them operate the same area in and around the Old Quarter. They can’t possibly all be of good quality so we just hoped to have picked the right one when we booked our Hanoi food tour.
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Hanoi has an international airport with regular flights from all directions. Check the Skyscanner website for the full schedule of incoming and outgoing flights.
Why everyone should try a food tour
It’s easy to understand why food tours are so popular in Hanoi. Vietnamese food is delicious and abundant, but it can also be overwhelming. Furthermore, it can be a bit intimidating to order food that you have never seen or tasted before. Sometimes even the chaotic and unappealing set up of eateries can put you off.
You’d be surprised how many people play it safe and end up having their dinner in one of the westernized restaurants every night. You know, the kind that mimic the atmosphere and food from back home.
You’re missing out, don’t be that guy! Instead, book a food tour. Meet new people, try new food. You don’t even have to order, your food guide will do that for you. He/she will also add some context to what and where you are eating. Whatever you don’t like, don’t eat it, there’s plenty more to try.
Usually there are a lot of different bits and bites anyway so there’s bound to be some stuff that you do like. Just keep an open mind and tell them up front about possible food aversions or allergies. They will for sure accommodate.
Also, it’s a lot more fun sharing with other participants since you’re eating and drinking together. We all know that eating together bonds, right?!
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Food galore on our Hanoi food tour
Even though we visited Hanoi a few times before we still opted for a food tour this time around. We just chose the one with a lot of positive reviews and the promise of a small group. The price at $20 was low compared to similar tour offerings. I can’t judge the other 10+ Hanoi food tours, but in the end we were extremely happy with our Hanoi food tour.
In total we sampled 11 different foods, which equaled more than a full meal in the end. Most of the dishes were delicious and some were very surprising. Fortunately no creepy crawlies or any too exotic options.
On top of that we tried the famous Hanoi egg coffee in the establishment where it was presumably invented. The place was packed, but another perk of being on a food tour is that you will enjoy preferred seating.
Beers, soft drinks and water all came included. Our excellent food guide explained about the food and told interesting stories about the area as we made our way to each location.
Discover the local food scene
Some of the places we visited were sit down eateries while others were just hole in the wall stand up joints. At one time our guide even hailed a mobile food vendor on the street to cook up some herbaceous omelets on the spot.
I do feel that most of the eateries on the tour we would probably never have entered by ourselves. Also, some of the dishes we tried we would never have ordered ourselves, because of our unfamiliarity with it. They turned out to be surprisingly delicious.
Later, during our stay in Hanoi, we even re-visited some of the establishments from the tour feeling more confident now about the modus operandi.
So, next time you visit a new city, try a food tour. It will help you get your bearings of the local food scene and introduce you to some great food you would have missed otherwise.
What is the most surprising food you ever tried in South East Asia? Let us know in the comments below.
Mine was the durian fruit. So stinky I could never get myself to try it. When I finally did try I was blown away by the sweet, aromatic, almost alcohol like taste and the soft custard texture. Love it!
More about Vietnam: ‘Pu Luong – Vietnam’s best kept secret‘.