A food tour is a rather new concept added to the world’s vibrant traveling scene. The last few years have seen a rapid rise in this type of tourism, which has become one of the most popular activities to do when visiting a new city or country.
A fruit stall in Hanoi
As a new wave of travelers return home spreading flying words about Vietnamese cuisine, more people than ever have turned their eye towards Hanoi, the capital city, as the new gastronomical city of Asia. Hanoi food tours are a unique opportunity to experience authentic Vietnam through its delicious food.
With the sheer amount of choices out there - How can you choose the best food tours in Hanoi? As a tour operator based in the city, helloVietnam will give you some insider tips to pick out the good tours, whether you are a foodie or not.
How to pick the best food tours in Hanoi
Although food tours come in a number of varieties and are closely related to the neighborhood that hosts them, all good Hanoi food tours share some common characteristics:
They go local
The more local-related the tour the better. Local-related here isn’t limited to just the venue of the tour, but also the people involved. For those who appreciate food experience, having a local foodie personally takes you to his favorite spots, snack stands, and restaurants can be a trip highlight. In order to make sure you have a local foodie with you on your exploration, emphasize this desire with your tour operator, and they will arrange one for you.
They teach you how to eat correctly
Nuoc mam (fish sauce)
The best Hanoi food tour will never assign a guide who just herds you from one spot to another, lines food in front of you and lets you manage by yourself. The tour to look for is one with a dedicated guide who will teach you how each dish should be eaten; which sauce goes best with each dish and the correct dipping order. Such information can be found in the review section of the tour.
They illustrate how the food connects to the culture
A vegetable village near Hanoi
This is where many food tours fall flat. A food tour isn’t necessarily all about food. Have you ever wondered why the locals use particular spices, or why a dish tastes great in one region but other towns fail to produce similar quality? A good food tour will deepen your understanding not only of Hanoi’s cuisine, but also of its history and culture.
They offer small groups
Big groups have its advantages. You get to meet more like-minded people, make some new friends, and the cost is reduced.
But when Hanoi food tours are on your mind, remember to go for the smaller group.
Half of the fun of food tours in Hanoi is that the dining space is so small, you can see for yourself how the cook put together your food. However, that much space cannot accommodate a large group of 10 to 12 people at a time. Also, logistical issues can get in the way if there are too many people.
Types of food tours
Hanoi street food tour
Dining on the pavement
It doesn’t take a keen observer to notice that food stalls can be found on every street corner of Hanoi. Hanoi street food stems from difficult times when the whole family would set up shops out of the front room or a tea stall on the pavement to supplement income. It also encapsulates the doing-everything-together culture of Vietnam’s residents. For this reason, doing a Hanoi street food tour is a must when visiting the city.
Such food tours come with a lot of pros. As the Vietnamese put it: “an mot mot minh dau tuc, lam mot minh cuc than”, which can literally translate into “eating alone is painful, working alone is exhausting”. The Vietnamese welcome shared meals and love to have company while eating. So if you ever find it hard to talk to the locals, try eating with them and you will notice a huge difference. The second benefit that can be gained from this tour is the food. For some reason, good food in Vietnam cannot be found in established restaurants with spacious dining rooms and attentive staff. Most of the best food opportunities one can encounter in Vietnam present themselves on the pavement.
Hanoi food walking tour
Walking is one of the best ways to see Hanoi
This seems to be the best option for weight conscious travelers. In this kind of tour, the calorie counts of the food are the same, but you can better prepare for them. Food walking tours require travelers to cover the distance to the spots on foot, which provides a light exercise between meals. This is an excellent way to rev up metabolism and burn off calories. Walking can also help reduce the stuffed and lethargic feeling if you tend to overeat.
A Hanoi food walking tour can also spare you the pain of getting stuck in the traffic. Hanoi’s streets are clogged with motorbikes and mopeds. Traffic congestion can make you frustrated and can last for hours. At such times, pedestrians are the lucky few who can escape the maze.
Hanoi night food tour
It is not an exaggeration that Hanoi’s food scene is more vibrant at night. Most Hanoians are accustomed to the 9 to 5 routine, having a short break at noon. So the most suitable time for them to dine out is after 7 p.m. There is no point opening your business when most of your diners are in the office or at school.