Vietnamese cuisine is a serendipitous co-mingling of age-old traditions, a French colonial past, and its agricultural present. And eating your way from north-to-south—perhaps passing through Hanoi, Hoi An, and Ho Chi Minh—is a delightful way to experience this multifaceted cuisine. Whether you squat with locals at a street stall or dine in style at a white-tablecloth restaurant, you’ll find fresh herbs and pungent fish sauce, but also balance: yin and yang, sweet-sour-salty, fresh and fermented.
Food and cooking are very much ingrained into daily life in Vietnam; as is the amazing array of kitchen and home crafts, many sprung from customs and traditions dating back centuries. Whether in the metropolis of Ho Chi Minh City or the tiny hillside town of Sapa, you'll find numerous crafts on display. Not just the lacquerware that Vietnamese artisans are famous for, but also hand-woven tribal textiles, bamboo kitchenware, hand-sculpted pottery, and practical kitchen tools.
And if you can’t eat your way around the country, picking up some colorful treasures and practical tools from Vietnam for your kitchen wherever you happen to be is the next-best thing. Here are six to look out for.