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.