Don’t tell Thailand, but if only one Southeast Asian nation can be crowned the crème de la crème for its food, it’s Vietnam. Subtle in its flavors and outstanding in its diversity, Vietnamese cooking is a huge draw for travelers, who’re lured into lingering at cramped tables swapping travel tales over a fifth plate of bánh cuốn (rice batter filled with ground pork, mushroom and shallots).
All over the country, you can mingle with villagers, sample local dishes and sip rice wine in Vietnam’s many regional markets, while a myriad of street food tours and cooking schools foster social environments in major cities.
Those seeking respite from the crowds should make for the hill treks around Sapa (fear not, voracious voyagers – a bowl of pho is never far away).
Epic solo travel experience: Learning how to cook a Vietnamese feast; highly recommended is Green Bamboo Cooking School in Hoi An.