It is a while ago now that Miles and I visited this understated, beautiful country, which is so rich in sad war history and blankets of green fields producing some of the freshest and tastest food we have eaten.
If you are thinking about a trip, this is the last of 3 posts on Hanoi, my favourite, Hoi An and Ho Chi Minh City. And there will be plenty of photographs as i had the most enjoyable time photographing this culturally vibrant place.
Part 3 of 3: Hanoi, a bustling foodie destination
Hanoi in January is freezing, the temperature change from Ho Chi Minh in the South to Hanoi in the North near the Chinese border is drastic. We were ill prepared, so don't make the same mistake.
Hanoi is Vietnam's capital, so it is densely populated and the traffic busy (mostly with cars, as opposed to scooters!). It has approximately 7 million people living in an area of 3,345 square km, and is the country’s hub of economy and politics. As a tourist, you don't need to spend much time in the city, two nights is enough.
The highlight for Hanoi was hands down the Hidden Hanoi cooking class we did on our first full day in the city. Tucked in behind a big building off a busy road, this quaint little house, with vegetable and herb patch on the front, is a great way to spend 4 hours of your time in Hanoi. Classes run Monday to Saturday, 11AM to 2PM for US$45pp, or add a market tour beforehand at 10AM and pay US$55pp.
We couldn't pass up on the market tour, which takes you to an authentic local market in the back streets of Hanoi that you would be very lucky to stumble upon if you were without a local to show you the path.
Our guide, a young vietnamese girl with impeccable English, took us stall-to-stall explaining the various vegetables and herbs, and purchasing produce along the way for our Seafood cooking class.
Back in the kitchen with apron on, we began to cook the menu of fresh Vietnamese spring rolls, Sweet and sour prawns, sour snake head fish soup (ekk!) and green papaya salad. To cut a long and very fun story short, all the dishes we superb. The sweet and sour prawns were the winner, but actually making the spring rolls and papaya salad with the Vietnamese cooks was great as they are two of my favourite dishes. You are not limited to this menu either, you can choose a day with another menu to cook; Monsoon, Street Food, Pho, Village amongst others.