Vietnam is an absolute treat for the taste buds! This post shows you 15 incredible Vietnam culinary tours, including the best cooking classes in Vietnam, street food tours, and unique foodie experiences for chocolate, craft beer, coffee and cocktail lovers.
There’s no disputing that Vietnam is a foodie’s paradise. As you eat your way from North to South, you’ll notice that every city, town and province has its own culinary traditions, specialty produce and heritage recipes.
Hands-on foodie experiences are a great way to learn a new skill while deepening your knowledge on Vietnamese cuisine and culture. As well as the obvious cooking classes, market tours and street food tastings, I want to show you some of the best foodie experiences you might not have considered before.
This post brings together 15 of the best Vietnam culinary tours and experiences in Hanoi, Saigon (Ho Chi Minh City), Hoi An and Hue.
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Here are the booking sites and services I personally use whenever I travel to Vietnam.
– Find affordable flights to Vietnam on Kiwi.com, a booking site that mixes and matches airlines to find the best route (there’s a money back guarantee if you miss a connection).
– Use iVisa to check if you need a tourist visa for Vietnam and apply for an expedited e-visa online.
– Pre-book a private hotel transfer from Hanoi Airport or Ho Chi Minh City Airport.
– Pre-order a local 4G sim card for pickup at your first Vietnam hotel.
– Find the best hotel deals in Vietnam on Agoda, book a Vietnam hostel, or find a unique Airbnb.
– Reserve your Vietnam Rail tickets for the train to Sapa, Da Nang, Hue or Saigon.
– Buy your domestic bus or plane tickets in advance using Baolau or 12GoAsia.
– Find the best cooking classes and foodie experiences in Vietnam. Here are my top 15 Vietnam food experiences to help you decide.
– Find the best city tours and day excursions in Vietnam. Check out my top 10 best Vietnam day trips for more inspiration.
– Consult my comprehensive Halong Bay guide to find the best cruises & tours.
– Try an alternative tour or DIY experience with social enterprise Backstreet Academy.
– Pick up a copy of the latest Lonely Planet guidebook for Vietnam.
Quick reference: Top 15 Vietnam foodie experiences
- Hanoi street food tour – a walking tour of Vietnam’s street food capital
- Bia Hoi adventure with a Hanoi local – discover this Hanoi tradition one keg at a time
- Vietnamese egg coffee workshop in Hanoi – learn from a barista how to prep this unusual but historically significant beverage
- Hanoi local breakfast tour – wake up with the locals
- Night food tour of Saigon by vintage scooter – a foodie quest through HCMC by night
- Master Chef-style cooking class in Saigon – a chance to cook inside the kitchen of Australian-Vietnamese celebrity chef, Luke Nguyen
- Craft beer tour of Saigon – sip (or skull) Vietnam’s best artisan brews
- Bean to bar chocolate workshop in Saigon – working with Vietnamese cacao from revived French plantations
- Pho masterclass in Hoi An – master the art of the delicate pho broth
- Rice paper workshop in Hoi An – roll with the pros
- Rice paddy experience & farmer’s feast in Hoi An – a true field-to-plate experience
- Home-cooked meal with a Hoi An family – because mum makes it best
- Secret cocktail experience in Hoi An – clandestine cocktail bars and speakeasys
- Royal cooking class in Hue – cuisine worthy of a king (or an emperor, in this case)
- Traditional Vietnamese tea ceremony in Hue – the art of steep and sip
Best Vietnam culinary tours in Hanoi
Hanoi Street Food Tour
A walking tour of Hanoi, Vietnam’s undisputed street food capital, is a must-do for first time visitors. This 3-hour street food tour will see you sample half a dozen Hanoi delicacies with a focus on back-alley restaurants in the Old Quarter.
I love this tour because it caps groups at an intimate size. And because there are departures every 30 minutes between 10am and 6.30pm, you can easily fit it around your Hanoi itinerary. Pick up from your Hanoi accommodation and all you can eat (and drink) is included up front in the price.
If you’re looking for a step-by-step guide to the best Hanoi food, this is it. Armed with the knowledge of what to eat in Hanoi (and how to order), you’ll have no trouble getting your fill for the rest of your stay in Vietnam.
Bia Hoi Adventure
Bia hơi is in Hanoi life and just as much a part of the local culture as street food is. If you’ve never heard of bia hoi before, it’s fresh beer drawn from a keg and served in small glasses – and it’s usually drunk huddled on low plastic stools on a street corner.
The beer is very diluted, which explains why it goes for as little as 20 cents a glass! You don’t come to bia hoi for the taste necessarily, but rather for the experience.
Most tourists head to ‘Bia Hoi Corner’ in the Old Quarter, but local bia hoi joints are often much more atmospheric. During this tour, you’ll visit 4 or 5 family run bia hois that have been operating for generations. You’ll learn to bia hoi like a local, and soon discover that some of the tastiest food in Hanoi is served at these modest drinking holes.
This tour is an Airbnb Experience run by Hanoi local, Lan. If you’re new to Airbnb, you can sign up with my referral link to get $21 AUD off your first Airbnb Experience.
Learn to Make Vietnamese Egg Coffee
Cà phê trúng, or egg coffee, is one of Hanoi’s most iconic beverages. Born out of necessity during wartime when rations were low, the recipe was first developed at a coffee house in the Old Quarter – although there is an ongoing dispute about who made it first!
This short experience with an award-winning barista takes place at a rooftop bar overlooking downtown Hanoi. You’ll learn how to prep this unusual but historically significant drink – and I’ve heard the finished product is the best egg coffee in Hanoi.
Hanoi Breakfast Food Tour
If there’s one meal you want to get right in Hanoi, it’s breakfast. It may be tempting to default to the hotel buffet, but it’s worth it to venture a bit further!
Run by social enterprise Backstreet Academy, this early morning street food tour pairs you with a Hanoi local who’ll show you what’s best in the way of breakfast fare. You’ll visit sit-down eateries, street stalls and markets as you see the different ways people start their day in Vietnam’s capital.
Not only will you get to eat heaping upon heaping of delicious food, you’ll also beat the crowds to see Hanoi as she rises for another day – by far my favourite time to explore.
Best Vietnam culinary tours in Saigon (Ho Chi Minh City)
Night Food Tour by Vintage Vespa
Seeing Ho Chi Minh City by night, all dressed up in lights, as you whiz through on a motorbike is an unforgettable experience. For this Saigon food tour, you’ll ride pillion with an experienced driver so you don’t have to worry about road safety or missing out on photo opportunities.
On the back of a vintage Vespa, you’ll crisscross Vietnam’s largest city to seek out the best street food markets and local drinking holes. Unlimited food and beverages are included, along with the services of an English-speaking guide who will show you exactly what to drink and eat in Ho Chi Minh City.
Master Chef-style Cooking Journey
Ever dreamed of sharing a kitchen bench with Australian-Vietnamese celebrity chef, Luke Nguyen? Here’s your chance! Well, sort of.
This one-of-a-kind Vietnam cooking class is hosted at Grain, Nguyen’s Saigon cooking studio. Billed as a ‘cultural and culinary experience’ that defies run-of-the-mill cooking classes, there’s a heavy focus on learning about the history of Vietnamese ingredients and recipes.
After a fish sauce tasting, you’ll get to work preparing 5 classic dishes from market-fresh ingredients. Assistants are present, but overall the class is quite hands-off to encourage you to spread your wings and express yourself. The highlight, of course, is sitting down with your colleagues to eat what you made.
Craft Beer Tour of Saigon
If Hanoi is all about the bia hoi, then Saigon is definitely craft beer territory. On this tour, you’ll sip (or skull) your way through Vietnam’s best artisan brews.
On foot and on the back of a scooter, you’ll discover some of the city’s best craft beer bars that tourists normally overlook. Like every Vietnam culinary tour on this list, there’s a strong emphasis on connecting food and drink with Vietnamese culture, history and heritage. In the case of craft beer, this means learning about Saigon’s fusion of Eastern and Western influences – something that sets the city firmly apart from Hanoi.
Bean to Bar Chocolate Workshop
When Vietnam was part of French Indochina, cacao grew abundantly in high-altitude plantations. Then, like Kampot pepper in neighbouring Cambodia, coffee in Dalat and countless other colonial pursuits, Vietnam’s cacao industry collapsed.
In recent years, entrepreneurs have gone about reviving a number of the country’s old cacao plantations to kickstart an artisanal chocolate scene. This half-day workshop takes place at one such farm, Alluvia cocoa garden in Cho Gao in the Mekong Delta, 90 minutes south of Saigon.
It includes a farm tour, chocolate tasting, and make-your-own chocolate bar masterclass. There’s no need to temper your expectations – this is some of the best cacao in the world.
Best Vietnam culinary tours in Hoi An
Many people choose to do their Vietnam cooking class in Hoi An because there are so many well-regarded culinary schools to choose from. This specialised class will teach you to master the most ubiquitous yet tricky of dishes, delicate pho broth.
Learn the secrets of a closely guarded family recipe in this 4-hour Hoi An cooking class, which includes making pho noodles from scratch. As part of the itinerary, you’ll also visit two villages by car and boat to see how farmers raise their crops – and walk around Hoi An market for a close-up look at the aromatics and sauces that give pho its balanced flavour.
Secret Cocktail Experience
Hoi An is known for its lantern-lit laneways. You might not notice on first glance the hidden bars tucked away down the UNESCO Old Town’s side streets.
On this tour, you’ll be treated to 5 exclusive cocktails, all mixed with local ingredients and quintessentially Hoi An flavours. A selection of clandestine cocktails lounges and speakeasy bars feature on the 3-hour after-dark itinerary, which is hand-crafted by a long-time Hoi An resident and offered through Airbnb Experiences.
As you saunter and sip your way through the whimsical Old Town, you’ll hear about the different cultures and kingdoms that left their mark on Hoi An throughout history to make the city what it is today.
New to Airbnb? Sign up with my referral link and get $21 AUD off your first Airbnb Experience.
Rice Paper Workshop
Want to roll with the pros? Another of Vietnam’s most ubiquitous dishes, the fresh spring roll or nem ran may look humble, but there’s an art to making these tasty parcels.
Held in Tra Que, a small village on the city’s outskirts that’s known for its sprawling organic herb gardens, this 3-in-1 Hoi An cooking class is fantastic value for money and great for kids. After pick-up from your hotel, you’ll transfer by car or bicycle to the village to tour the 300-year-old gardens. Lend a hand watering the fields, ride a buffalo, and learn how to make delicate rice paper sheets. As a reward, you get a foot massage!
That’s all before the cooking class even starts! For the main event, you’ll cook two dishes, rice paper rolls and ban xiao pancake, to accompany a feast of clay pot fish, papaya salad and dessert prepared by the resident chefs.
Rice Farming Experience
Rice is kind of a big deal in Vietnam – especially in the countryside around Hoi An. For a true field-to-plate experience, this rice paddy experience and farmer’s feast is all about taking you behind the scenes of the country’s biggest export.
It starts with an idyllic bike ride through the countryside, after which you’ll meet a local rice farmer and have a chance to chat to them about daily life in the fields. Tea is served in the middle of the rice paddy – and then it’s time to get to work. Dressed in traditional garb (conical hat and all), you’ll hit the muddy fields for a hands-on lesson in rice planting and ploughing.
The 4-hour tour culminates with a home-cooked lunch or dinner at the farmer’s home.
Home-cooked Meal with a Local Family
You know what they say – mum does it best. After your first home-cooked meal, you’ll be able to confirm this age-old adage holds true in Vietnam.
Mama No, your host, is a kitchen whiz and used to work as a street food vendor before she decided to open up her home to hungry travellers. This two-hour meal is as much about the atmosphere and the company as it is about the food – although everything that comes out of her kitchen is naturally top notch.
Best Vietnam culinary tours in Hue
Royal Cooking Class
Hue’s Imperial City is a perfect backdrop to this unique cooking class, which focuses on ‘royal cuisine’ – the Emperor’s favourite dishes devised in the kitchens of the royal court. Some of the recipes and flavour combinations are totally unique in Vietnam and can’t be found outside of Hue.
After a 60-minute market tour, you’ll work on benches set in a pretty outdoor courtyard to prepare a selection of royal favourites. Imperial recipes have influenced Hue’s modern food scene in interesting ways. Through this tour, you’ll see how flavours of past and present mingle – a truly wonderful experience for serious foodies.
Traditional Vietnamese Tea Ceremony
Just as Japanese tea ceremonies are steeped in tradition (pun intended), Vietnam has its own time-honoured tea rituals. Before the French introduced the humble coffee plant to Vietnam’s highlands, it was a tea-drinking nation. Experience the pomp and pageantry of the ceremony and taste 4 different types of Vietnamese tea on this 2-hour tea lover’s tour.
With a local expert as your guide, you’ll be privy to the history of tea cultivation in Vietnam and the different elements that go into making the perfect cuppa. With the Perfume River as your backdrop, you’ll swig your way to true relaxation. And what is a cup of tea without a sweet snack? That’s where the banh Hue, Hue-style cake, comes in.
And there you have it – 15 wonderful Vietnam cooking classes, workshops and hands-on tours that any foodie will love.
Have you ever done a food tour or had a special culinary experience in Vietnam?