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Vietnam is finally get more of the recognition it deserves in the world for its cuisine, with fresh ingredients and imaginative flavors, and one of the highlights of any trip to Vietnam is the food. Even if you do not expect to do much Vietnamese cooking, a cooking class is a fun and interesting way to learn about the local ingredients and how to make some of the popular dishes.

In general, most cooking classes are half-day classes starting with in the morning with a trip to the local market followed by a cooking demonstration and lunch where you can eat the dishes that were prepared.

Most of the classes tend to be aimed at casual tourists, rather than serious chefs, and many tend to be cooking demonstrations, rather than classes with individual cooking stations. Please inquire before you book. Also, please keep in mind that some of the smaller, ad-hoc programs may be more flexible to change the menu or request more interaction, especially if you arrange your own private lesson for your group.

Hanoi :

The Hanoi Cooking Centre is a purpose built cooking school, café and retail outlet. Hanoi Cooking Centre offers hands-on cooking classes and short courses in a relaxed atmosphere, designed by renowned Melbourne chef Tracey Lister, co-author of KOTO - A Culinary Journey Through Vietnam.

Situated at 44 Chau Long Street, nestled on the edge of Hanoi's famous old quarter and close to picturesque Truc Bach and West Lake, the Hanoi Cooking Centre offers visitors a truly unique Vietnam experience, one to treasure, and share with friends and family.

Develop a deep appreciation of the flavours, history and culture of Vietnamese cuisine by taking one of the Hanoi Cooking Centre's Vietnamese Cooking Classes or Street Eats and Market Tours: $45 USD per person, including market tour, class, recipes, lunch or dinner and free-flowing local beer and wine. (hanoicookingcentre.com)

Sofitel Metropole 15 Ngo Quyen Street, (+84)4/8266919 The Sofitel Metrople has the high end of the market in Hanoi cornered with half-day classes with a trip to the market and cooking demonstration followed by an elegant lunch in the Vietnamese restaurant. Class is $50 USD for morning class; reserve with hotel concierge.

Highway 4 54 Mai Hac De St . or 5 Hang Tre. Tel: (+84) 4 976.2647 www.highway4.com Highway 4 does not have set daily classes, but can arrange classes for small groups and is very flexible in changing the menu to meet the group's needs. Highly recommended are Highway 4's famous catfish spring rolls, as well as a sample of the local fruit-flavored riou (rice wine) with your meal. Class is $19-32 USD per person, depending on the number in your group.

Hidden Hanoi No. 56 Ngo 1, Duong Au Co, Nghi Tam Village, Tel: 091 225 4045 http://www.hiddenhanoi.com.vn/ or email info@hiddenhanoi.com.vn Morning cooking classes with a different menu each day of the week for small groups in a relaxed and peaceful garden setting led by the very friendly Ms. An. Class is $30 USD per person.

Hoi An:

Red Bridge Restaurant & Cooking School Book at Hai Scout Café at 98 Nguyen Thai Hoc Street, Tel: (84-510) 933.222 www.visithoian.com Morning classes which include a visit to the market, a leisurely boat cruise on the river to the Red Bridge Cooking School, a tour of the school's herb and vegetable garden, and a cooking demonstration and lunch. The half-day class is $15, including lunch.

Ms. Vy's Gourmet Cooking Class Book at the Cargo Club, 107-109 Nguyen Thai Hoc, (84-510) 910 489 www.hoianhospitality.com Ms. Vy's classes, along with Red Bridge, is one of the most popular in Hoi An. And if the food at the Cargo Club and the Mermaid restaurant are an indication, Ms. Vy deserves her popularity. Morning class is $20/person including lunch, and afternoon class is $15/person.

Nha Trang:

Vietnam Cookery Center http://www.expat-services.com or e-mail: vietnamcookery@expat-services.com With the popularity of its school in HCMC, the Vietnam Cookery Center has opened another school in Nha Trang, changing only the menu to include many local varieties. To book, contact the main HCMC office.

Saigon - Ho Chi Minh City :

"Saigon Cooking Class by Hoa Tuc"

Hand-on cooking class, in the refined set up of Hoa Tuc restaurant in the heart of Saigon. Classes are conducted by a Vietnamese chef speaking English (French with a translator). Optional market visit with our Chef to purchase the ingredients you will cook just after during the Cooking Class.Only small group from 1 to 8 persons.

From Tuesday to Sunday, 2 sessions: 10am to 1pm or 2pm to 5pm. 3hours to learn 3 dishes and 1 dessert. Each participants will have a nice folder with the recipes. Cost 45 $
74/7 Hai Ba Trung, Dist.1. Saigon http://www.saigoncookingclass.com Tel: 3 825 84 85 Fax: 3 825 16 77. Please click here for their brochure online.

Vietnam Cookery Center 177 Dien Bien Phu , District 1, Tel: (84-8) 823-5872 http://www.expat-services.com or e-mail: vietnamcookery@expat-services.com One of the more widely mentioned cooking classes in Vietnam, so book in advance. Classes held daily - $30 for a morning or afternoon class, with a visit to the market extra. They can also arrange classes on the Bonsai Boat in Saigon, thematic dinner courses, and chef and extended courses.

Omni Saigon 253 Nguyen Van Troi Street, Tel: (848) 844-9222 The Omni Saigon does not have set classes every day, but can arrange specially for groups, with individual work stations. Class is $55/person, including lunch, and trip to Ben Thanh market.