Unique offbeat local experiences in Vietnam
Vietnam is a beautiful country to visit. From pristine beaches to chaotic cities to the serene Bays and add eclectic food to the mix, makes it top billing on every traveller's list. But beyond the famous sights and sounds, the cities offer many hidden nooks and nuances that is always delightful for every traveller. Today we cover the cities of Hanoi and Hoi An, highlights of our upcoming travel to Vietnam and the many offbeat things you can do there on your own time. Just to help you delve a little deeper into the local culture.
1. Cooking class in Vietnamese food: Vietnamese food is awesome, the Pho, the Bahn Mi and the rolls. Oh, don’t even get me started. Well if you want to impress your buddies after you come back from your trip by cooking them a Vietnamese pop-up meal then this is the way ahead. Enrol yourself in one of the classes, they span from 2-6 hours, depending on your interest level, you learn how to make delicious Vietnamese food.
2. Drinks: locally brewed beer and snakes blood: If you like your glass of alcohol you have plenty of options on the Vietnamese streets. Hanoi is a favourite watering hole with Beer Street being the hub of all those who are in love with the larger. Try the Bai hoi beer which has 3% alcohol and is great as an all-day drink. It's incredibly cheap, so sitting on the roadside chairs, making friends with all around you, will not pinch your pocket much.
Post those beers if you are looking for a bit of an adventure, try the snake blood shots. And the buck doesn’t stop at the snake blood, there are snake bile and snake venom too. It is definitely a once-in-a-lifetime kind of experience.
3. Pottery class in Hanoi: If you are a fan of the ceramics and have a penchant for design or are plain curious to get to a traditional potter’s wheel and learn the nuances of the job. Try the Bat Trang ancient traditional village for a pottery master class, it will surely be worth the bike ride from Hanoi.
4. Party at Hanoi Backpackers hostel: Aaah! Those nights fuelled by local beers, cosy conversations and friends made from all over the world, that’s what the best nightlife scenes feature at the Hanoi backpackers. Don’t expect a fancy ambience, don’t expect a formal atmosphere. Shed your inhibitions and be ready to meet the world in this tiny hostel in downtown Hanoi. Travellers from all over the world use it as a base to explore the north and the south of the country!
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5. Tailor your clothes in Hoi An: Imagine having custom made bespoke threads, dresses, suits, or even swimsuits by local tailors at an incredible price. Well, that’s Hoian offers. You can just walk in choose your fabrics, get them stitched to your size, come back to do some fittings and voila your new clothes are ready. All in a matter of 3 days or less, believe it or not.
6. Light a lantern at Hoi An: The quaintest town in Vietnam, much loved by travellers is often seen lit up by these silk lanterns when the sun sets. You can, as a traveller, buy paper lanterns which can be found on any of the market streets, light it and set it to sail on the river. Quite a mesmerising experience this is said to be.
7. Hoan Kiem Lake and activities around it: On an early morning walk around the Hoan Kiem you are certain to feel a sense of strange peace. While you soak in the sights, spend a little time with your thoughts, as the day breaks you will see a flurry of activity on the banks. Runners, tai chi enthusiasts will take over and it’s a wonder watching them early in the morning all coming together to form a sort of community of wellness.
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8. Train rides within Vietnam: If you want to delve deeper into a place’s culture, always take the trains. Vietnam has an expansive network of trains. So if you want to do a weekend to Sapa then a 14-hour overnighter will get you there. If you want to reach Hoian and skip the flight that takes you there, jump on a 17hour overnighter. They have comfortable sleeper coaches, with bedding and if you are on a budget, it also saves you on a nights accommodation.
9. Train street: This street in Hanoi very close to the Train station is the subject of many iconic pictures. Its an exhilarating feeling being there at 330pm when the train passes by. It's chaotic and colourful and beautiful at the same time. On other times of the day its also quite a sight to see. Check it out during your DIY walks around the city and don’t forget to bring back a photo for Ma.
10. Bicycling and conical hats: Bike tours are so popular here, whether it's for tours or getting to a starting point of a hike or a basic form of communication. I mean both cycles and motorbikes and it is a quintessential Vietnamese experience to zip around in it. Don a conical hat to protect yourself from the sun and there you go, you will get the look right on point. Don’t forget to take pictures of your conical hat day out on bikes
11. Food: Cao Lau and a tasting plate. When in Vietnam don’t forget to order a plate of Cao Lau. Cao Lau comprises of the signature Cao Lầu noodles, slices of barbecue pork, pork crackling, bean sprouts, lettuce and herbs, it is then finished with a spoonful of stock. Cao Lau noodles are carefully made from local fresh rice. It’s a must taste and is quite distinctive from other Vietnamese food. Go for it and if you are vegetarian ask for a veggie version. Also, tasting plates in nicer restaurants are a good bet as a crash course in Vietnamese cooking. You will get tastes of Vietnam served to you on a plate.
Author: Sudeepta Sanyal (@Moonlitekingdom)
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