From Rice Paddies to Alleyways: A foodie’s tour of Vietnam

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Steve Morison, Emily Allen, and their daughter Talia (9)

The Plan
The Morison/Allen family flew China Southern Airline to Hanoi,
Vietnam. Upon arrival they checked into the Thu Giang Guesthouse in the Old Quarter. The guesthouse was clean and airy and set them back a mere USD 15 a night.
After a few days of soaking up the local culture, the family purchased three berths on an overnight train and headed to the central Vietnamese cities of Hue and Hoi An. During their train trips they were treated to views of rice paddies and water buffalo. Once in Hue, they visited the walled remains of the old imperial compound, called the Forbidden Purple City, located just north of the Perfume River.
While in Hue the family stayed at the Halo Guesthouse, they loved how welcoming the owner was. The room, which had a spacious bathroom and a comfortable balcony, cost USD 15/night.

The Best Part
The family loved all of the amazing food. In Hanoi, on the corner of Hang Non Street, Talia and Steve enjoyed watching a Vietnamese woman prepare paper-thin rice pancakes with ground shrimp. The pancakes, called banh cuon, are dunked in a salty-sweet-and-spicy sauce. They were delicious, and only 50 cents. Dad’s favorite were flavorful sausages called nem chua ran. The alleyway restaurants serve them on a banana leaf with a side of double-fried French fries and dunking sauces.

Weather Report
Be prepared for a lot of rain.

Most Unexpected Part
Food was always a highlight and the family were lucky to experience a street fair in Hue, where they enjoyed small rice dumplings called banh bot loc, and a hearty soup called bun bo hue. Also in Hue, they relaxed over a six-course lunch in a refurbished courtyard home. Billed as a meal modeled after the exquisite feasts once prepared for the emperor, the first course featured an extravagantly decorated
pineapple designed like a peacock that Talia loved.

Kid-friendly Features
All of the hostel owners were very nice. Most people spoke some basic English so getting around wasn’t a hassle.

For beautiful scenery, make sure to take the train from Hanoi to Hue and Hoi An – avoid buses as they are very slow.

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