In July of 2015 we embarked on a two week culinary tour of Vietnam. The first three days were spent in Hanoi and Halong Bay, which is a short drive from Hanoi. Of all of the places we visited in Vietnam, Hanoi seemed the most colorful and authentic to me, with bustling streets filled with people selling colorful fruit, vegetables and flowers, as well as many bicycles and motor bikes. We stayed in the Tirant Hotel in the heart of downtown, so we awoke to the bustle of street life right under our windows.
Cooking School at Hanoi Cooking Center
We attended a half day cooking school with a young charming chef. It started with a tour through the market where he purchased all of the ingredients we needed to prepare our meal. The sights, sounds, and smells of the market were amazing (see video at each of blog for more details). Upon returning to the cooking school, he gave each of us an apron and a glass of wine white made in Vietnam from Vang Dalat Winery. Then we learned out to make fresh spring rolls and green papaya salad with shrimp from scratch. When we were finished cooking, we got to enjoy the meal for lunch.
Temples and Street Food Tour of Hanoi
After lunch we visited several temples and important sites in the city, and learned about the history of Vietnam and the role of Ho Chi Minh. That evening our guide took us on a street food tour of Hanoi, which was very fascinating. We tried many different types of food from street vendors, and finally ate in a small crowded café perching on tiny plastic seats. We ended the evening with beer that only costs .29 cents per glass!
An Overnight Boat Trip to Halong Bay
The next day we drove about an hour to Halong Bay, a UNESCO World Heritage site of hundreds of tall granite rocks protruding from the bay, and creating impossibly beautiful scenery with amazing sunsets. Since we were the only four people who had signed up for the tour, we had the large boat to ourselves, with a crew of 5 people to show us to our rooms onboard and cook all of the meals. We felt very spoiled. They took us to many locations on the bay, including a great swimming spot, kayaking through openings in the rock, and climbing through beautiful caves. The best part was dinner, wine, and a glorious pink sunset.
Video of Our Adventures in Hanoi and Halong Bay
Below is a 3:24 minute of our adventures. You can see many more food photos, as well as special sites of Hanoi and Halong Bay. Enjoy!