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Jun 15, 2023 / 18:31

Gastronomy - key to attracting international tourists to Hanoi

The richness of Hanoi's cuisine and the city's reputation for healthy eating have contributed to making Hanoi an attractive destination in Asia.

Over the past few years, Vietnamese cuisine has been the subject of much praise from major travel websites and food guides. This indicates that the local cuisine is a huge "gold mine" of international tourist appeal. To tap this potential, it is important for the tourism industry to create a local food map.

Many advantages for captivating travelers

 Four Vietnamese restaurants have recently been awarded Michelin stars.Photo: Michelin Vietnam

On June 6, four Vietnamese restaurants, three of them in the capital Hanoi, were awarded one star each by the world-renowned Michelin Guide.

Earlier, readers of TripAdvisor, the world's largest travel site, voted Hanoi one of the top 20 food destinations in the world for 2023. Similarly, the US travel website Travel + Leisure named Vietnam the best culinary destination in its "Bucket List Places in Asia in 2023" list.

Indeed, Hanoi's cuisine fascinates not only tourists but also international politicians. Former US President Barack Obama enjoyed bun cha (Vietnamese grilled pork with rice noodles) in Hanoi in 2016, and South Korea's former President Moon Jae-in and his wife enjoyed beef noodle soup in the same city in 2018.

It surprised locals when Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese visited a steam beer bar on Duong Thanh Street in Hoan Kiem District, where he sampled Hanoi specialties.

Fresh noodle with duck, a Hanoi specialty prepared by Tam Vi's chef 

Nguyen Trung Khanh - General Director of the Vietnam National Administration of Tourism - believed that the 4 Michelin-starred restaurants would consolidate Vietnam's food tourism brand and entice international tourists to choose the country as their next destination.

"The fact that Vietnam's cuisine in general, and Hanoi's in particular, has received stars from the Michelin Guide and has been selected by TripAdvisor as one of the world's top culinary destinations in 2023, shows that Vietnamese cuisine is gradually gaining a foothold on the world's food map. This is a great potential to attract international visitors," Nguyen said.

"In the coming period, the tourism industry will continue to promote Vietnamese cuisine worldwide through international fairs, focusing on Michelin Guide-starred restaurants and hotels. At the same time, we will also strengthen cooperation between travel agencies and these restaurants in organizing food tours," he added.

According to Nguyen Quoc Ky, Chairman of the Vietnam Culinary Culture Association, with unique and diverse cuisine, Vietnam can create many attractive tourism products to enhance the experience and encourage tourists to stay longer.

A master plan needed

 The dish of polemo salad is prepared by chefs from Sente Restaurant in Hanoi

The World Food Travel Association (WFTA) estimates that international tourists spend 25-35% of their travel budget on food and beverages. However, to tap into this "gold mine," it is vital for the tourism industry to create a food map to attract travelers.

Phung Quang Thang, chairman of the Hanoi Travel Association, said that so far, many travel companies such as Vietrantour, Hanoitourist and TransViet have offered food tours in the capital, but these tours have not yet made an impact. For a themed food tour in Hanoi to be successful, two factors must first be identified: highlights and standards.

Specifically, highlighted dishes need to be recognized for promotion, and professional restaurants specializing in Vietnamese cuisine need to be developed.

"Visitors come on a food tour not only to eat but also to explore and participate in the preparation of the food and experience the Hanoian taste," Thang explained.

Nguyen Cong Hoan, CEO of Flamingo RedTours, said that culinary tourism is a highly cultural and artistic service.

A variety of Hanoi specialties like cha ruoi (sandworm omelet), cha com (young sticky rice sausage) or spring rolls are always available at the restaurant of Luklak Vietnamese Cuisine 

"Therefore, Hanoi should have a master plan for the stable development of food tourism, encouraging both luxury restaurants and street food, and Hanoi should have a policy for branding and developing internationally recognized restaurants, thus strengthening the position of Hanoi food in particular and Vietnamese food in general," he suggested.

To promote food tourism, Hanoi has opened many specialized streets, such as Tong Duy Tan Food Street in Hoan Kiem District or Dao Ngoc - Ngu Xa Night Food and Walking Street in Ba Dinh District, for tour operators to conduct food tours.

On a food map of Hanoi after its restaurants were honored by Michelin, Dang Huong Giang, director of the Hanoi Department of Tourism, said that according to Hanoi's tourism development direction to 2030, culinary products and services will be diversified.

 A new concept of gastronomy in Hanoi: the tasting menu is served at Gia Restaurant

To make food tourism products the strength of the capital's tourism, the Hanoi Department of Tourism will soon intensify the promotion of Michelin-starred restaurants and other prestigious diners and eateries through media channels, social networking sites, and domestic and international tourism promotion events.

"We will create a food map so that tourists can discover and experience local cuisine," Giang said.