My family and I had the privilege of spending an evening with Lucy and Frank from HanoiKids on their street food tour. We were in the area on a river cruise and land tour package with AMAWaterways and I had my 16 yr old daughter with me and thought this would be an eye opening experience for her. I had originally requested the tour a little over a month before we were scheduled to be in Hanoi, and we were waitlisted for a while, I followed up a few times via email and about 4 days before we wanted to go i got an email from them we had cleared the waitlist.
I think their entire concept is one of the best ideas in tourism development I've ever seen (and full disclosure, I do work in the tourism industry, but not in this region). Our HanoiKids escorts met us in the lobby of our hotel and then we walked from there to the Old Quarter of the city, stopping at one of the parks to do Zumba with a crowd that was there on the way. They took us to 3 different spots in the area where we tried papaya salad with beef jerky, pho ga, spring rolls, and then my mom wanted meat skewers so they found us a vendor that sold those. We bailed on the sweet stop, as my folks were tired and took a taxi home. We spent about $15 on everything (insane because we ate so much) Lucy and Frank hung out with me and my daughter and we did some night market shopping and then back to the central plaza to listen to Vietnamese pop artists performing and just in general soak up all the activity that was going on - they even managed to find me a clean restroom! Our hosts are engaging energetic young ladies and the conversation was fast and ongoing. I'm surprised they were able to keep up because we threw the kitchen sink at them language wise (lol - you remember everything but the kitchen sink girls don't you??), but their english was fantastic, their stories even better and omg the food was incredible.
We've been home for a few days and spent over 18 days in SE Asia and we were lucky to meet some truly special people along the way, but this was really our favorite evening of the whole trip. our snapchats, facebook and instagram are all filled with great pictures and amazing memories of the evening. Our dinner out with HanoiKids exceeded all expectations and is truly a unique and wonderful way to get to know the real Hanoi.
1. Book early and have some flexibility- the waitlist thing seems to be pretty common
2. If possible, schedule for a weekend - Friday night -Sunday a large portion of the riverside and old quarter are blocked off for pedestrian traffic only, which makes getting around easier, but also is an event unto itself with pop up karaoke, ballroom dancing, zumba, public concerts, more street vendors and a general festival atmosphere for the denizens of Hanoi. This is apparently an every weekend thing there.
3. Don't be afraid to ask for what you want! The students are really flexible and open so if there are specific things you want to try or see, ask for it! They will do their best to find it for you.
4. Don't be shy - ask questions about anything and everything, the benefit for the students is to practice practical conversational english - not the formal structure they learn in school which is vastly different.
5. This is especially a great tour for families with older children and teenagers who may find the societal differences between home and Asia overwhelming. Kids relate better to people their own age, so discussing personal tastes in music, social media, movies, etc is really eye opening for everyone
We as a family have traveled extensively all over the globe, and there aren't enough superlatives for the quality of this experience and what it meant to our family. Cam Un/Thank you so much HanoiKids!
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