Vietnam Cookery Center
Opened in 1999, the Vietnam Cookery Center was one of the first Ho Chi Minh City cooking schools to offer Vietnamese food classes with English translation. Set in a colonial-era building in the heart of downtown Saigon, the hands-on classes with regularly changing menus draw travelers from around the world.
Many classes at the Vietnam Cookery Center begin with a visit to Ben Thanh Market, a short walk from the school itself, to discover essential herbs and ingredients and perhaps chat to a vendor or two. From there, students work with professional chefs to create four different dishes—generally a starter, a soup or a salad, a main course, and a dessert—from a regularly changing menu, then share them for either lunch or dinner. Professional cooks can also arrange one-on-one tuition.
Things to know before you go
- The top-floor terrace at the center offers views across downtown Saigon. Don’t forget to get a picture.
- Vietnamese cooking is extremely regional and Hanoi, Hue, and Ho Chi Minh City all have different cuisines. Keen cooks might want to try a course in each city.
- The Vietnam Cookery Center is not wheelchair accessible.
How to get there
The Vietnam Cookery Center sits off Dong Khoi in the heart of Old Saigon, just a block or two from the Saigon Opera House and Saigon Central Post Office. It’s about a 0.5-mile (800-meter) walk north of Ben Thanh Bus Station on Ham Nhgi.
When to get there
The Vietnam Cookery Center offers two sessions most days of the week, with private options by arrangement. If seeing a market in action is important to you, Ben Thanh is livelier during the morning class.
How to Choose a Vietnamese Cooking Class
Vietnamese cooking classes run the gamut from simple, child-friendly options such as assembling rice paper rolls to full-day extravaganzas with farm and market visits. If you’re interested in a specific dish, such as pho or banh xeo, search for a class that focuses just on that; if you’re after a closer encounter with Vietnamese culture, consider a private course with a local in their home; and, for a farm-to-table experience, try a Mekong Delta tour.
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- Paris Square (Cong Truong Cong Xa Paris)
- Saigon Central Post Office
- Saigon Opera House (Opéra de Saïgon)
- Dong Khoi Street (Duong Dong Khoi)
- Reunification Palace (Independence Palace)
- Ben Thanh Market (Cho Ben Thanh)
- Saigon Skydeck
- Bitexco Financial Tower
- Museum of Fine Arts
- War Remnants Museum (Bao Tang Chung Tich Chien Tranh)
- Can Gio Mangrove Biosphere Reserve
- Ho Chi Minh City Cruise Ports
- Pham Ngu Lao Street
- Tao Dan Park
- Jade Emperor Pagoda
- Cruising the Mekong Delta
- Ho Chi Minh City Water Puppets
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- Mekong River Cruises from Ho Chi Minh City
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- How to Spend 1 Day in Ho Chi Minh City
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