NEWS: In 2018, we will not be available to conduct tours at the following times:

September 5 - October 7, October 18-21, December 7-17

The food available in Hanoi's narrow alleys and tree-lined boulevards is just as much a part of the city as its lakes and old world architecture. In fact, all of these elements combine with the indomitable spirit of the Vietnamese people to produce a lively culinary scene that is both diverse and confronting.

Over the past twelve years, 'the god' (Van Cong Tu, author of the blog 'Vietnamese God') and 'Sticky' (Mark Lowerson, author of the blog Stickyrice) have been traversing the streets of Vietnam's capital, as well as cutting a wider arc through other regions of Vietnam and beyond, wolfing down between us virtually everything on offer.

Tu is an accredited tour guide with more than 17 years experience in the tourism and hospitality industry. He is an expert on the cuisine of the south-central coast, having grown up in Nha Trang and frequent visits to Ho Chi Minh City and Phu Quoc Island make him very well-versed in what people are feeding their faces with in the south, too. But Hanoi is where he dwells and its chaotic web of lanes and alleys are where he eats most. Tu knows the market vendors and they like him.

Mark has been resident in Hanoi since January 2002, eating on the streets here from day one. The blog 'Stickyrice' is one of the longest running foodblogs, with the first post dated May 2005. Named in The Times Online's 50 Best Foodblogs in 2009 (at #22), 'Stickyrice' has been featured on 'Gourmet's Diary of a Foodie' and as part of SBS's Featured Foodie series.

We specialise in Vietnam's streetfood and wet markets and have recently designed a series of itineraries for travellers and food enthusiaists. These tours have been carefully planned to give visitors to Vietnam an authentic taste of a country very attuned to the rhythms of food through the day and through the seasons. Together, we visit the street stalls and markets, sampling the produce and eating from their dishes and bowls, as well as cooking with the ingredients at home.
Our tours range from three hour morning, afternoon or evening walks to a full-day eat-a-thon. The most popular tour is the 3 hour (8.30am-11.30pm) morning tour which typically includes a street market walk (with ongoing explanations of food practices, strange food items, some delicacies), a visit to ceremonial cake stalls, a special French dessert, the food sections of Hanoi's main Dong Xuan market, a streetfood alley for a noodle lunch, fruit stalls and coffee at an historic old quarter cafe.

A full day (9am-3pm) itinerary for foodie tragics (including more market visits and more street snacks and drinks) is also available. It encompasses a deeper look at ingredients and is ideal for those in the food industry, whether they be chefs, food writers, indeed anyone with an enthusiasm for food, whether it be in the eating or the cooking! All tours are inclusive of all food/drinks and are conducted entirely on foot after Tu meets and greets at the hotel.

Tu and Mark can also customise tours for particular interests if given sufficient advance notice. For more information and/or to book a tour, email both Tu: and Mark:

Wednesday 7 December 2011

The Disappearance of Wet Markets

Dong Xuan market

There is no doubt that wet markets in Vietnam are indeed part of the culture, as much a feature of the country as street vendors. These days, however, these wet markets are being threatened by development and it may be that their days are numbered.


In Hanoi, in recent years, many of the city's biggest central wet markets have been knocked down and replaced by commercial office and retail complexes. Obviously we don't want to live in the dark ages in Vietnam but it would be nice to think that the authorities could attempt to maintain certain aspects of this unique part of our heritage. Many Hanoians have been patronising these markets for their whole lives, have established friendships with their regular vendors and their day is not complete without a stroll (or two) through the market each day to pick up the ingredients for lunch or dinner.

Dong Xuan market

Even for me, a beach boy who's been living in Hanoi for ten years, the speed of change and development has been pretty remarkable. The number of cars clogging the streets, especially the narrow ones of the Old Quarter, makes life difficult. Crossing the street is not so easy and the charm of this special part of Hanoi is getting lost in the noise and pace of modern life. I still enjoy my trips to the remaining wet markets but they're getting harder to find and harder to get to.

Dong Xuan market

Of course, some of the big retail and commercial office complexes have permitted the market vendors to operate in the basement of these buildings. But for regular customers, for the older people and even me, we don't really like shopping in such a strange environment?

Hue - Dong Ba market seller

Maybe I'm weird but I do like to shop in a real market and choose my own produce from my friendly market vendors.