Travellers interested in tasting the unique cuisine around the world are certain to be in culinary paradise on an Indochina holiday. One of the most distinctive traditions in Vietnam is its street food scene with a wide range of delicious and low-cost meals served up outside with patrons sitting on small plastic stools on the pavement.
Any traveller to Vietnam that misses out on the street food is missing an essential part of the country’s cultural elements.
With such as a varied range of dishes in the different towns and cities it can be a tough decision to know what to try. But, for the food lovers that visit the top street food cities it is easier to appreciate the menu choices and what shouldn’t be missed.
Vietnamese street food
Some of the best street food eats that are likely to be encountered on the Vietnam customized tour include Pho (fresh rice noodles in a salty broth with beef or chicken and herbs), Bun cha (small patties with slices of marinated pork and seasoned pork cooked over a charcoal fire), Xoi (savory sticky rice with fried eggs, slivers of pork or chicken, dried shallots and other mix-ins), Banh xeo (crispy crepe filled with fresh herbs, bean sprouts, shrimp and pork) and Goi cuon (fresh spring rolls filled with coriander, seafood or meat and salad greens with a fish sauce).
Most of the Vietnamese street food is tasty, cheap, and widely available at all hours.
A word of caution: the vendors and stalls aren’t subject to strict regulation so to stay safe and healthy, make sure to visit the stalls that seem popular with locals or have a high turnover.
Here are a few of the top street food cities to visit:
Hanoi is a region that is certainly proud of its cuisine. This is easily noticed when taking a walk in Hanoi’s historic Old Quarter district. The pavements are rich with locals and tourists sitting at small plastic tables throughout the course of the day. Also, this region is also appreciated for its lively nightlife that isn’t too far from where the food stalls stand. Many cities have their social gatherings centred on drinking cocktails or beers, but in Hanoi this is more aimed at the local food. Plus, the cost of the street food is really inexpensive, so the travellers on the Indochina tour packages should be able to enjoy a well prepared and cooked dish at every mealtime.
The food in Hanoi is rich and varied with nearly everything to be found in the Old Quarter quite mouth-watering. But, a few of the must try dishes include Hanoi’s tastiest specialties like pho, bun ngao, ngan nuong, bun ca, bun rieu and bun cha.
Even with the high-end restaurants in this capital city, some of the best dishes in Hanoi are still found on the street with endless dishes featuring fresh herbs, cilantro, chillies, lemongrass, and fish sauce.
Sapa is a misty mountain town in the north of Vietnam with its ethnic minority locals and mysterious atmosphere. But, one of the finest features of the local region is the delicious food. The foggy, humid and cold weather in Sapa makes mealtime a matter of staying warm and an enjoyable past-time. Dishes in Sapa are rich in flavour and often cooked over a sizzling open flame.
The street food scene is vibrant in the region with dishes that are more filling, warm and savoury than elsewhere in the country. Particular favourites include fresh seafood flame-grilled barbeque with chicken or beef. Many food stalls prepare a light snack like sticky rice in a bamboo pipe or com lam, as well as sweet potatoes, duck eggs, and grilled up pork skewers
Hoi An is among the best and well-known central cities in Vietnam for its delicious food. A visit to this ancient city on the Vietnam holiday makes it possible to not only explore this delightful and atmospheric town, but also appreciate the distinct culinary flavours. With its past history as a port city, Hoi An has accepted plenty of culinary influence from China, Japan and other nearby countries. Plus, this city is relatively quiet compared to the more urban districts, so the street food scene here is a lot of more peaceful and relaxing.
A visit to the Thu Bon River area while in the city gives a perfect opportunity to try the Hoi An specialities with its wide range of street food stalls. Favourite dishes cooked up year-round include banh it, banh can, mi quang and cao lau, which is a favourite dish with noodles and has a unique Japanese twist.
Ho Chi Minh City
Similar to the northern cities, a visit to Ho Chi Minh City on the Indochina tour can present a further street food hub. But, the dishes served on the stalls in this part of the country are quite different from elsewhere. The year-round heat in Ho Chi Minh City means plenty of dishes are sweeter and thinner than the alternatives in the north. The savoury and thick tastes noticed in northern Vietnam are traded in for something that is decidedly lighter.
Specialities in Ho Chi Minh City include dishes that showcase sweetness with bun thit nuong (a sweet soup with peanut-infused meat and noodle dish), com tam (broken rice with a selection of sides) and pho cuon (spring rolls with a sweet dipping sauce). A further popular dish is the city’s iconic sweet soup che which is available to taste everywhere in Vietnam, but highly favoured in Ho Chi Minh City.