If you have thought about a trip to Vietnam, then check out this tour company. They specialise in small groups, have contacts on the ground in Australia and Asia and were recommended by our travel agent – Sally at Time Fly’s Travel Seaforth in NSW. http://www.timeflystravel.com.au
Sally sent us a flyer from Wide Eyed Tours http://www.wideeyedtours.com about an “Anthony Bourdain inspired food tour” to Vietnam, starting up in Hanoi and working our way down the country to Saigon. I love a small tour company that can tailor make your travel itinerary, so I rounded up a group of 5 ladies and off we went. Prior to our departure, we were asked if there was anything we wanted to see as it could be added to the tour.
I knew all the ladies, however some of them had never met so as we got to the airport and I made introductions, we drew a straw to see who was sitting with who on our Vietnam airlines flight to Hanoi and we were off. The flight arrived into Hanoi on time late at night and we were met by a local guide, that had been arranged by Wide Eyed Tours who got us to our hotel and organised to collect us the next morning for our city tour.
All the hotels throughout the trip were fabulous. All within walking distance of old towns, museums and markets! We generally had a triple share and a twin share room side by side all organised as part of our tour. We actually got to meet Ha from their Hanoi office on our first day in Hanoi, she met us at a traditional coffee house dating back to 1936! The photo above is outside of the cafe. It was lovely to meet this lady who clearly loves her job, phoned us every day to check in that all was going to plan or to let us know if our schedule times would change with flights etc.
We loved the fact that at each of our arrivals into a new city we were met by a new local guide who spent time with us, helped us get settled into our hotel, take us to photo opportunities we had seen on social media or helped us find an art store when wanted to find a sketch book.
Our guide in Hanoi took us to see the amazing artwork at Phung Hung Street on the archways of the Long Bien Bridge and then to Train Street, a real live working train track that goes straight through the street, where families live and work, chickens roam, laundry is drying and shops sell trinkets. The train travels through the street twice a day and the locals move their motorbikes, washing up and head inside. The train doesn’t slow down so take care if you go to watch.
This was only day 1 of our trip!
As our tour progressed from a few days in Hanoi down to Halong Bay and onto the old capital of Hue, we were in awe of not just the food- what a culture explosion in the scenery, the history and the beautiful people we met along the way. All happy and smiling and making sure we were happy. On to Hoi an and the very busy Saigon it just got better and better.
By having a local guide spend some time with us, we got to get our bearings in each new town, see the local sights before we had free time to wander ourselves. They know the back streets for the best markets, the best way to walk and bike ride through villages, the best bridge to cross on a motorbike- just wonderful.
The food side of things was fabulous from Bun Cha in Hanoi where Barrack Obama and Anthony Bourdain sat together over this amazing dish and a beer. The dish with roast pork and BBQ pork arrives in a steaming bowl of broth that is served with vermicelli rice noodles, fresh greens like mint and coriander, chilli, garlic, it’s the best! And the street food all the way down the country, was simply amazing, we really had a great food experience. Anthony Bourdain passed away whilst we were touring Vietnam a tragic loss to the food world and I’m so grateful for his inspiration.
Little did we know that each region has its own style and therefore a twist on how they make the classic Vietnamese rolls, fair to say we made a LOT of rolls.
And if in Saigon- this is a must do experience Dining at Noir– again planned and recommended by our new friends at Wide Eyed Tours, we had no idea about what dining in complete darkness in Saigon was or the philosophy behind it.
All in all our 13 day trip through Hanoi, Halong Bay, Hue, Hoi An and Saigon, was the perfect experience as not only a taster of their food but a taster of their culture.
There is so much to see and do and I for 1 can’t wait to go back! Special thanks to Ha and our local guides.