Cooking classes

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What we say: 3.5 stars

Morning Glory and Red Bridge get particularly well rated when it comes to cooking classes, but if you're after something more intimate and cheaper, find a restaurant you enjoy that offers classes.

And if they don't offer classes try asking for a lesson as it's sometimes possible to arrange one -- outside of peak dining hours -- for the cost of the meal and $5 or $10 extra. There is also a whole new wave of 'family' cooking classes to choose from, where you can bring the kids along. Two of the best are Green Bamboo Cooking School run by Ms Van, who incorporates the usual market tour into a very hands-on class held in her home on Cua Dai, and the Coconut Cooking Tour run by local boy Phouc (Mr Happy) who has set up a rustic kitchen overlooking the river near Tra Que. Phouc's tours include a market tour, countryside bike ride, a visit to his family's vegetable plot at Tra Que, cooking class and foot massage, all at backpacker prices.

What gives Coconut Tours the edge other than price is that having grown up in Tra Que, Phouc introduces you to a more genuine side of local life; you may even get to meet his grandmother, who served as a spy during the war. Phouc also runs an introduction to street food tour, which receives great reviews and is half the price of the popular Last Great Taste of Hoi An tour, run by Australian expat Neville Dean.

Coconut Tours: T: (0905) 411 184. http://www.sites.google.com/sites/coconuttourshoian
Green Bamboo Cooking School: T: (0905) 815 600. http://www.greenbamboo-hoian.com
Morning Glory: 106 Nguyen Thai Hoc St, Hoi An. T: (0510) 241 555. http://www.restaurant-hoian.com
Red Bridge: Thon 4, Cam Thanh Village, Hoi An. T: (0510) 3933 222. http://www.visithoian.com
The Last Great Taste of Hoi An: T: (0905) 382 783. http://www.tasteofhoian.com

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After years of camping in her back garden in the New Forest, Caroline Mills’ parents went wild and jetted her off to Morocco where her dream of becoming a traveling belly dancer was born.

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