Aug 25 2011
As well as being a tasty and cheap dining option, eating street food provides a great opportunity for people watching and an insight into local life. If you want to take this one step further, it’s worth considering a street food tour: not only will it take you to eateries and markets you might otherwise shy away from, but the commentary is interesting and you will gain a view of local life in Hanoi that standard tours tend not to provide.
I spoke with two operators in Hanoi who provide street food tours. An, one of the founders of Hidden Hanoi, says that “most travellers have a limited amount of time, and a great way to make the most of their time is to go on walking tours to learn about different food, culture, people and language. After all, it is one thing to sightsee but to sightsee and learn is a different experience all together.”
Hidden Hanoi runs street food tours at breakfast, lunch and dinner. Their length — around two hours — makes them ideal for slotting in if you’re short on time. Or if you’re not, do all three! The tours start at an eatery and include a market visit and further food and drink stops. They’re walking tours so as well as the specific stops you get a chance to observe local life and with small group sizes (minimum two) you’ll have plenty of opportunity to ask questions. I went on the lunchtime tour and can thoroughly recommend it. Visit www.hiddenhanoi.com.vn for more information and booking.
If you’re looking for a longer tour it’s worth contacting Daniel Hoyer. Daniel is a well-known chef in Hanoi: he wrote Culinary Vietnam – as well as other cookbooks — and presides over the kitchen at Provecho on Hang Be. He runs half day and longer food-based tours in Hanoi and across the country.
“A range of people come on the tours, from real foodies to those who are just on it as part of their package holiday,” Daniel says. “I can show them one side of Hanoi from my perspective, using food as an insight to Vietnam. We go to places you wouldn’t go on your own and places the Vietnamese guides won’t take you.”
Tour itineraries are reasonably flexible, particularly if you book a private tour. The average group size is four but he also runs larger group tours. “It’s a bit difficult getting 20 people into one street food place though,” he says. Transport during the tours is by foot, van and motorbike — depending upon the tour and your preferences but Daniel highly recommends the motorbike tour around Hanoi. Bookings can be made directly with Daniel at True Colour Tour or via agents such as Exotissimo.
Daniel Hoyer (True Colour Tour)
18 Hang Be, Hanoi (inside Provecho)
T: (01689) 451 062
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