This year,
Chapman Food Science
took a break from the California winter and flew to Vietnam as part of their FSN 510 Food Industry Study Tour. The entire course was designed in partnership with
Nong Lam University
and their faculty from the Food Science and Technology Department. With 10 full days of traveling through southern Vietnam, the class was able to experience a taste of Vietnamese food, culture, and hospitality. They visited various farms, food manufacturing facilities, and points of trade around Ho Chi Minh City, Mekong Delta, and the city of Da Lat.

Below are highlights and favorite activities from the class:

Collage of photos from Da Lat, Vietnam.

Collage of photos from Da Lat, Vietnam.

“Being a part of Chapman’s Vietnam food industry tour was an awesome experience! My favorite was our time in Da Lat. The weather was much cooler and the air quality was better than in Ho Chi Minh City (HCMC). We started the first day off with an awesome bahn mi omelet and Vietnamese coffee for breakfast, then headed to Thien Vien Truc Lam Pagoda by cable car. The views were absolutely amazing! It looked like a vibrant aerial view painting with blue skies and scattered clouds. The views atop Langbiang Mountain were also just as incredible! We visited Caudatfarms and saw their amazing tea, coffee, and hydroponic farms. We were then served their oolong tea in the company director’s beautiful tea cup and saucer collection. The oolong tea was fragrant, floral and so good! I think the environment may have contributed to my experience but this was the best tea I’ve had in a long time! We also tasted coffee berries straight off the coffee plant, but it wasn’t my 
cup of tea
 due to its slightly sour and bitter taste. I could have stayed in Da Lat for days! The weather and views were an awesome and welcomed break from the heat and hustle and bustle of HCMC. There is definitely #ALotToDoInDaLat!”

-Tara Okuma

Langbiang Mountain sign

View from Langbiang Mountain

“The Vietnam industry tour was an amazing experience. On our 10-day trip we got to travel to Ho Chi Minh City, drive to the Mekong Delta with stops in  Bac Lieu and Ca Mau, and fly to Da Lat. Of all the places we went to, my favorite was Da Lat. It was about 20 degrees cooler and so with endless mountains and beautiful greens. While in Da Lat, we had the chance to take a break from tours and go on a hike to Langbiang Mountain. This was my favorite part of the trip. The hike was difficult and we lost some people along the way but when we finally managed to make it to the top, I’ve never felt more accomplished! On the hike to the top we saw some interesting including hawks and zebra/horse hybrids, which is basically just horses painted with black strips to look like zebras. The view from the top was breathtaking and it was the perfect way to end our time in Da Lat!”

-Allie Corvese


Michael Wilson takes a selfie atop the moountain.

“I think that out of everything we did as a group, my favorite thing to do was the hike up the mountain in Da Lat. When we first got to the base of the mountain, I pretty much knew I was going to die. There was some small part of me that knew that if I didn’t do it, however, I would probably regret it for the rest of my life.

There were two options: You could take a jeep to the top, or hike one of the many trails leading to the top. The funny thing is, they made it seem like there was only one way to reach the top. When we got started there were 8 of us (Dr. Prakash, Allie, Danielle, Samantha, Leandra, Cindy, myself, and “Juan”) but only 5 of us made it to the top together; Dr. Prakash and Juan went back to look for someone, and Samantha got lost on one of the many paths to the top.

It took Cindy, Allie, Leandra, Danielle and myself 59 minutes to get to the top. Our group only split up twice, but luckily the two separate paths we took connected back together shortly before the top of the mountain. It was a breathtaking experience, literally, with beautiful views of the surrounding valley. It made it into the top 5 experiences of my life for sure, firmly cemented at number 4.”

-Michael Wilson


Tea fields in Da Lat

“My second time away from home and I could not be more excited to travel to where my mom grew up. Even though I don’t speak Vietnamese and my mom wasn’t coming with me, I was beyond stoked to take advantage of this opportunity to learn about and tour the food industry in Vietnam as I have basically grown up with Vietnamese food at home. Between visiting different types of markets, fish and shrimp farms, a lime farm, a cake factory, black pepper and cashew processing plant, and a tea and coffee farm, my favorite place we toured was the tea and coffee farm in Da Lat. I just loved the environment we were in as the weather was cooler, it was incredibly interactive since we got to pick our own tea leaves and coffee berries on top of touring their processing facilities. We learned a lot about the different processes of making tea between green, black, and oolong; and how coffee goes from the berry to the bean. Seeing the attention to detail which they show to their product gives me a higher appreciation for them and when drinking their tea or coffee. Overall an amazing experience and I would definitely go back if given the opportunity once again!”

-Cindy Locke


Floating market in Vietnam early in the morning.

“My favorite part of this trip would have to be when we all visited the floating market. I am never usually a morning person so typically the 4am wake-up call would be almost impossible for me. However, the thought of being greeted by the cool morning air and starting the day on a boat got me up. Since the sun does not start to come up until about 5am we got a chance to have breakfast and some Vietnamese coffee at one of the stands on the river. Once the sun started to come up, a lot more boats starting coming onto the river to start selling fruits and vegetables. It was amazing to see how many people there were and how quickly the area starting to fill up; at one moment, it was a calm and quiet scene and the next it was bustling with boats filled with a large variety of food about to be sold. The picture shows one of the boats on the market advertising what kinds of food they were selling by hanging the food on the mask of the boat.”

-Leandra Filiaci

“The most unique experience of the Vietnam food industry tour was the visit to the floating market. Although we were awake before the roosters and we were so early that the market wasn’t even open yet, I found this trip to be my favorite from the tour. After getting on a boat, we enjoyed a 30-minute ride down the Mekong Delta. The view of the shores were so pretty with the sun rising and the vibrantly painted boats. Once we reached the market, there were many boats selling a variety of goods, mainly fruits and vegetables. These included fresh coconut, pineapple, dragon fruit, and watermelon. The boats show what they are selling by hanging a sample of their product off of a long pole. Small boats would come alongside ours and try to sell us fruits and coffee. I tried a star apple and a small cup of coffee with condensed milk. The experience of this impressive site coupled with the peaceful boat ride made it my favorite part of our tour.”

-Samantha Lin


“My favorite experience in Vietnam was definitely the “Unofficials” I loved going out to explore Vietnam “after hours”, and it was a great way to get to hang out with my classmates and professors in a more spontaneous setting. We visited rooftop bars, went on a street food tour, explored night markets, and sipped on craft beer at a Saigon craft brewery. One of my most memorable “Unofficial” was on our last night in Da Lat, where we visited a bar called “100 Roofs Cafe.” It was also known as the “Maze Bar,” because it was designed as a labyrinth of rooms and stairwells, which eventually leads to a rooftop view of the city.  The cool part is that one of the professors from Nong Lam University also joined in our outing! Exploring Vietnamese culture and nightlife with the rest of my classmates and professors is definitely something I will never forget!”

– Karen Lee


“After 10 days of making memories, it is hard to choose just one that stands out above the rest. From cruising around on motorbikes to eat some local cuisine, to trekking-or getting periodically lost- up Liang Bang mountain, every moment was one to be remembered. With that said, the greatest thing about the 2017 Vietnam Food Industry Tour was having the chance to experience new cultures, lifestyles, customs, and sceneries with a group of classmates that are now great friends. Along with the bus rides, plentiful meals, and sleep deprivation came so many laughs, jokes, and bonding experiences that made the trip one to remember. Vietnam is undoubtedly an amazing country with a fascinating food industry from manufacturing and exporting, to restaurants and street vendors; and being able to learn all of it with a group of people that share the love of food science truly made it the academic experience of a lifetime (or at least until 2018!).”

-Danielle Rosen


Thanks for the great trip, and #CUNextYear! :)

To see more of our awesome adventures in Vietnam, please watch our 
 video on YouTube!

This article is part of our on-going series “The Science of Food” which is comprised of essays from students in the M.S. in Food Science program at Chapman University. The essay was originally published on the Food Science Student Association’s blog.