Cooking classes are a wonderful way to spend time learning about a destination's cuisine and culture. Traditionally, I have sought out this type of experience when traveling abroad. And, even though our family was filled some challenging circumstances and restrictions, I wanted this particular Southeast Asia trip to be no different. I was on the lookout for a cooking tour that could accommodate a child who couldn't eat wheat, two kids under the age of 10, and my non-meat eating husband. After much research, one cooking tour company in Hoi An, Vietnam stood out: Hoian Eco Coconut Tour. We also loved that the tour featured some of the other activities that we wanted to try in Hoi An too like visiting a local market and fishing for crabs in the traditional Vietnamese basket boats. They reassured us that they could accommodate my pescatarian eating hubby and gluten free child with no problem. We were thrilled that they agreed to partner with Kid Allergy Travel (via sponsorship) and went ahead with booking the Eco Tour & Cooking Class via email for a day during our visit in July.
Hoian Eco Coconut Tour - Eco Tour & Cooking Class
This is an all day action packed tour broken into three main parts. Since there is so much to present regarding our experiences on this tour, we have broken the posts into different sections so that you can get as much detailed honest info about what to expect.
Some lessons learned from the overall experience:
- Great transportation. Transport is included and consists of a very nice air-conditioned van trip for pickup and drop-off at your hotel, boat ride from the food market to the crab fishing area. Please note that if your mobility is impaired in any way, a walk from the basket boat fishing dock to the cooking school is required so please consider this before booking.
- Gluten Free Approved. You can take this cooking class even if you are gluten free! We #nimatested all the food once it was prepared to verify that there was no cross contamination during the cooking process. We are proud to report that all but one dish came out gluten free! Not really sure what happened when we made the Banh Xeo or Rice Pancake but that one came out as "gluten found" so Kid Allergy just skipped that course.
- Pescatarian friendly. They accommodated my non-meat eating husband beautifully with two nice sized fish fillets.
- Little Kid friendly. The Food Market and Basket Boat Fishing was completely little kid friendly. With the exception of the chopping portion of the Cooking Class right at the beginning, everything else was structured in a way that the 5-year-old could participate.
- Food is tasty. And plentiful! Plus, you get a recipe book after you have completed the Cooking Class so you may replicate them at home.
- They go the extra mile. Bottles of water handed out before going through the Food Market. Rain ponchos provided for those who didn't have anything to shield them from the rainy season downpour that happened during Basket Boat Fishing. Locking up the cats at the Cooking School because someone was uncomfortable. Accommodating our food allergy and dietary preferences. Being inclusive of the kids. Hoian Eco Coconut Tour is conscious of the little things and made an effort to take care of everyone there.
- Watch your head! The dragon bridge at the Cooking School is beautiful but it is also very short. My hubby isn't particularly considered tall and he still hit his head on the mouth of the dragon while chasing after the little one. Be cautious when going through to avoid any accident for yourself.
- Got Sea Sickness? One of the ladies who mans the Basket Boat puts on a huge production with music blaring from a portable stereo and she rocks the boat back and forth to the tunes. If you are not one for being the center of attention or can't handle the twists and turns associated with rocking around in a tiny woven basket on the seas, I would make this known to your Tour Guide before heading on this portion of the experience. My kids loved watching it but I could see how some people might not be into being thrust into this kind of situation unknowingly.
- Cooking Class doesn't wait for slow pokes. In the middle of the Cooking Class my little one had to use the well appointed potty facilities. Because the cooking school is on such a tight schedule, we did miss the preparation of a whole dish which totally bummed me out. Plan before the class starts to use the facilities if you don't want to miss out, especially if you have small children who aren't as good as us older folks at their potty timing.
This was a fantastic overall experience showcasing some of the must dos when visiting Hoi An, Vietnam. The group aspects of the Food Market and Basket Boat Fishing were great for kids aged five and ten years old even in the rain.
What would we modify? Well, mom and dad would've loved the option to do a private Cooking Class. I never inquired about this, but it is good to note that where the pace of the other parts of the tour were perfectly timed for our specific family, we might have benefited from a more leisurely pace for the Cooking Class portion via a private session. Our unique situation was characterized by trying to keep up with everyone else who didn't have the restrictions we faced: tiny unexperienced hands to manage, a kid who had to potty midway through, needing extra time to properly carry out food allergy testing using the Nima Sensor, and needing to cook fish instead of meat which added extra steps.
If you ask Kid Allergy, however, he will tell you a different story. He enjoyed being part of a group in the Cooking Class, even if it stressed mom and dad out a bit by the mere logistics. He finally felt included in a food related activity, and this is a huge win for a kid that has felt on the outskirts around food for almost half his life.
Either way, the Kid Allergy Travel family feels strongly that this Eco Tour & Cooking Class with Hoian Eco Coconut Tour should definately be on your itinerary when making the trek to this part of Vietnam. Our crew couldn't imagine a visit here without experiencing all three parts of this tour. If you happen to be short on time when visiting Hoi An, we especially think you could complete this Eco Tour and Cooking Class and feel like you got a good sense of what this part of Vietnam has to offer for families. Even if you have visited other food markets or taken cooking classes in different Southeast Asian countries, we think this particular adventure is unique enough and worth the time needed to complete the various parts of the tour to round out your Vietnam journey with kids.
Kid Allergy Travel received complimentary admission to attend the Eco Tour & Cooking Class with Hoian Eco Coconut Tours. Although this was part of a media visit, rest assured, the opinions provided in the post by Kid Allergy Travel remain our own. Photos by Kid Allergy Travel.
Wanna find out more about the price and availability for this tour and others offered by this tour company? Take a look at Hoian Eco Coconut Tour tour details page now.
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