With only a few days experience cycling the streets of Hoi An, I was a little nervous when asked to review Grasshopper Adventures’ ‘Hoi An Food Tour by Bike’. My fears soon dissipated after a warm welcome at the Grasshopper Adventures gate from tour guide Tommy and meeting the other people in our group – two guys around my age and a lovely family, all on holiday and all great people!
Our first stop was just around the corner where we sampled the famous and delectable ‘Banh Mi’. Next, we ventured into some traffic and through the rice fields, arriving in a small local farming community (Tra Que) surrounded by perfectly lined up rows of vegetables, herbs, spices and other crops. Now, I’m not much of a cook, but it was fascinating to learn about the different ingredients and combinations, and how they’re used in Central Vietnamese dishes.
We were welcomed into a family home adjacent to these market gardens where all the ingredients for ‘Cao Lau’ were set out on a table, and our local host showed us how to prepare our dish in the right way. This was extremely tasty washed down with a cold glass of passionfruit juice and I would have easily had seconds – but more food awaited us.
Back on the bikes and back through the rice fields, the soft breeze was welcome as we were certainly building up a sweat. I would have loved to stop to take some pictures of the gorgeous sunset, but it was almost like a race to get on to the next stop as our next food fix beckoned …
… in a restaurant that you probably wouldn’t even look twice at; one where more time and effort is spent making good food than on the decor. Here I sampled ‘Banh Xeo’ for the first time, a sizzling tumeric-infused, rice-batter pancake traditionally stuffed with vegies, pork and shrimp that’s found all round Vietnam. We were also shown how to make our own version of fresh spring rolls using rice paper, vegetables and an intriguing pork sausage on a stick.
Once my mouth returned to normal after a chili eating dare, we continued on for three more stops, each time zig-zagging through the town and across the river, to quaint little cafes and restaurants. As a huge fan of pork and seafood, I particularly enjoyed the beautifully presented BBQ dishes that were served to us along with an ice-cold beer in a lively riverside restaurant.
So, is it worth it?
At the start of the tour I was imagining it was going to be a struggle to get through the 15 km journey, but I actually found myself wanting more. My belly was full enough, but I was having such a great time chatting and sharing travel stories with my tour companions, that I could have quite happily continued on.
The organisation from start to finish by Grasshopper Adventures was superb and as someone who has done plenty of tours all over the world, having a guide with excellent English and a great sense of humor is really what makes a tour special and ‘Grasshopper Adventures – Hoi An Food by Bike’ provided that in spades.
Above and Beyond
- Have food allergies? Don’t worry, dietary issues are carefully checked before heading off.
- Bikes are carefully selected (according to your height) in advance + helmet is provided.
- Impeccable organization that is second-to-none.
- Great English and food knowledge.