2016 Nov 27
- Done: Weekend evening
- Price: USD 20
- Apparently there are tons of less-legitimate ones. So please check the reviews and actual locations.
- I tipped the guide at the end and she seemed confused and almost embarrassed, although the other guide I tipped in Ha Long bay was very appreciative. I was confused about their tip culture, so either asking when you book the tour or doing more research would be helpful.
I visited Kim’s tour office earlier that day to make the reservation, and came for the 5 PM tour. Our group was too big so we were split into two groups. The one I belonged to were all Americans beside me and my travel mate. Everyone was friendly and willing to talk. The tour guide, who was a university student in Hanoi, was also very nice and friendly. We visited 9 places in total.
Bun Cha (BBQ Pork Noodle)
This was my favourite of the tour. I was starving at the start of the tour so I could have been biased, but nevertheless it tasted amazing. It was much more refreshing than pho, since the soup of bun cha is cold, light and slightly sour. Apparently bun cha is considered the dinner dish as opposed to the heavier pho, which is eaten more often in the morning.
Nom Bo Kho (Dried Beef + Green Papaya Salad)
This was also very fresh and refreshing. The beef, however, was very hard and I had to chew to the point where my jaw started to hurt. It was kind of fun to sit on the tiny stools.
Kem Chanh Bac Ha (Lemon Menthol Ice Cream)
It was very cheap (VND 6.5k ~ USD 0.29) so I ended up getting a different flavour later during the trip. This was a good palate cleanser, although I wished it had more lemon flavour than menthol.
Banh Cuon (Steamed Rice Pancake)
The taste was alright, but you can actually participate in making of the pancake, which was cool. Everyone got to try flipping the pancake.
Nem Chua Ran (Fermented Pork Donut), Banh Gon (Pillow Cake), Nem Cuan (Spring Roll), Banh Ran Ngot (Sweet Donut)
#1 and #4 were really great. We also had green tea with lime which was amazing I was tempted to ask for the recipe.
Bun Rieu Cua (Crab Noodle Soup)
It tasted a little fishy, so I was not a huge fan. Apparently they used small crabs found in rice fields.
Kem Kon (Sticky Rice + Ice Cream)
The dessert was absolutely amazing. The coconut flavour was very strong.
Bia Hot (Fresh Beer)
We all got a cup of beer near the beer corner and drank standing in the middle of the street. It tasted a little watery.
Banh My (Vietnamese Sandwich), Ca Phe Trung (Egg coffee)
It was a very cute little shop, and the owner even offered us some alcohol. I was completely stuffed at this point, and the food wasn’t overwhelmingly good.
The whole tour took more than 3 hours (much longer than expected from the itinerary), but it was well worth it. I loved that I could try so much of the food without making my stomach explode (it came close). I would highly recommend this to anyone visiting Hanoi for the first time.