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If there is anything travel has taught me is that locals always know best. Their inside knowledge, insight to the way of life, their background in the history — it’s priceless. Something I’ve been adding into my itineraries is half day walking tours with a local guide. Never being one for group tours, I’ve started to find that there are a few companies to go to for some incredible experiences. 

Before traveling to Vietnam, I had a lot of apprehension to getting adjusted in the local’s way of life, in particular the city of Hanoi. Hearing great reviews of Buffalo Tours, I looked to the local experts to book the majority of our time throughout Vietnam. One of our highlights that Buffalo Tours invited my husband and I on was a walking tour called “Hidden Hanoi Walking Tour.” This tour had a maximum of 8 people, which meant it was an incredibly intimate group with ample time to ask questions, get to know each other, and not feel like you were being herded around. With open minds, we set off for our day of culture and history in the lesser-known markets scattered across Hanoi.

The tour started out on board the cyclo where we toured through the picturesque Old Quarter, weaving in and out the daily traffic. A quite relaxing way to the see the city, it made for a great introduction into the hustle and bustle of which we were about to explore.

We arrived at the North Gate, where we got to explore and see the Cua Bac Church. It was incredible to hear the story behind the French influence in the city, and what a vital role it played to the architecture in the Old Quarter. Afterwards we went to the Quan Thanh Temple. It’s an 11th Century Taoist temple, with major significance for being one of the Four Sacred Temples. From here we made the journey around West Lake to our first food stop of fresh spring rolls, which were incredibly delicious.

The tour continued on through a local market, and on to the wedding district that is known for it’s rich tradition in desserts. The sweet sticky rice was great to try, and we probably would not have had the opportunity to try it like this if not for the stop on the tour. We made our way back into the Old Quarter for our last stop to try Vietnamese Coffee, something you cannot have enough of in Hanoi.

Overall our day tour with Buffalo Tours was enjoyable and we appreciated the insight from our guide who was hilarious and made the entire experience. He knew so much, and the introduction to Hanoi set us up for a great rest of our time exploring the city.

Thank you Buffalo Tours for having us on the tour! As always all opinions are own. 

PS — Are You Booking a Trip Soon? Use My Booking Checklist!

These are the sites I use most to book my own trips. Using the links below is a great way to support Bon Traveler’s travel journalism at no extra cost to you. If you need help organizing your itinerary, get my free travel itinerary template here.

1. Book Your Flights

Use Skyscanner to find the best flights. It searches 100s of airlines and websites across the globe to ensure you’re not missing out on any route options or deals.

2. Book Your Accommodations

Use for hotels and guest houses. They have the biggest inventory and consistently offer the best rates.

3. Book Your Tours & Experiences

Use Viator or Get Your Guide to find the best tours and experiences. They are my favorite tour search engines. I always check both as their inventory varies depending on the destination.

4. Book Your Car

Use Discover Cars or to find the best car rental deals. I recommend comparing rental agency reviews on Google to ensure you are booking with the best company in that destination, as the reviews are often more accurate than the car rental search engines.

5. Don’t Forget Airport Lounge Access

Get a Priority Pass membership to gain access to 1,400+ VIP lounges and airport experiences worldwide. The Priority Pass app is the first thing I check when I have a layover. I’ve been a member for over a decade, and having a comfortable place to relax before and between flights makes air travel so much more enjoyable.

6. Don’t Forget Travel Insurance

I never leave the country without travel insurance. It provides comprehensive protection in case anything goes wrong (ie. illness, injury, theft, and cancelations, etc.). I use it frequently for my travels to stay protected.

My favorite companies that offer the best coverage and rates are:



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