To be honest, we can't actually organize dinner with President Obama and food connoisseur Anthony Bourdain (RIP) but we have long been sending our travelers to Bun Cha, the very joint they chose for their $6 lunch rendezvous on May 23.
Our Vietnam itineraries allow you to dive into Hanoi’s diverse neighborhoods, sample new foods, and experience life like a local. Start the day at Hoan Kiem Lake, where groups of people can be found practicing tai chi and aerobics in the early morning – you’re free to join in if you like! Explore Ngoc Son Temple, situated in the middle of Hoan Kiem Lake, before walking to a charming traditional coffee shop to sample a Vietnamese classic: Cà phê sữa đá (iced coffee). If you’re feeling more adventurous, try the local delicacy known as “egg coffee,” a fusion of egg yolk, sugar, condensed milk, and coffee. After coffee, stop in at a street food spot for bánh mì, a typical baguette sandwich filled with pickled carrot and radish, super-flavorful grilled meat, and an assortment of herbs. Feeling hungry already? Check out this recipe for banh mi!
With a full belly and a slight caffeine buzz, wander deep into Hanoi’s Old Quarter for a walking tour of Hanoi’s French architecture. As the morning comes to a close, visit Huu Tiep Lake, better known as “B-52 Lake,” where the wreckage from a US B-5 bomber is visible. At noon, return to the Old Quarter to explore the iconic, thousand-year-old Temple of Literature. Vietnam’s first university was established within this temple in order to educate Vietnam's royalty, mandarins, and members of the elite. The university functioned for 700 years, and its gardens and well-preserved architecture offer a fascinating glimpse into Vietnam’s past. Finish the day’s exploration with a tour of the railway tracks of Hanoi. Your guide will lead you on a walk along the railway tracks to witness daily life interacting with the train’s schedule. This area of the city is a photographer’s dream, rich with pop-up stalls, friendly locals, and colorful alleyway vendors selling just about everything under the sun.
Finally, relax with a big bowl of bun cha -grilled pork flanked by rice noodles and fresh herbs- and sample the local draft brew from the same rickity blue stools that Obama and Bourdain perched on. The world's most famous foodie, Bourdain has this to say about food in Vietnam, "Here in Vietnam I have all the things I need for happiness: low plastic stool? Check. Tiny little plastic table? Check. Something delicious in a bowl, check."
Ready to try out the bun cha in Hanoi for yourself? Check out our Vietnam itineraries and channel your inner POTUS.