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A local’s guide to street food in Vietnam

by Guest author on 7th June 2018

Vietnam is renowned for its love of food and adventurous attitude to eating, and street food is where the country’s carousel of flavours and ingredients is at its most vibrant. Take your lead from the locals and sniff out the very best street food from Hanoi to Ho Chi Minh City...

From North to South...

As you travel through Vietnam, you'll find that the flavours, texture, ingredients - even the cultural values inherent within the cooking - vary greatly between north and south. And that's before you even mention the infinite regional and individual twists on common dishes! There can be a fair bit of rivalry as to which region does it ‘properly’.

Dishes from south Vietnam are often crisply fried with sweet, spicy sauces and flavoured with coconut, garlic and fresh herbs. Food further north is based around simpler, subtler flavours where the central ingredients are the focus. Black pepper brings mild heat, and many dishes are steamed.

Noodle bowls are on offer everywhere in Vietnam, as soup, in sauce and dry fried, with the bestl-known being the northern Vietnamese dish of pho (pronounced ‘fuh’). These steaming bowls of fresh broth, rice noodles, thinly-sliced vegetables and shredded chicken or beef are served 24 hours a day. It’s no surprise that ‘pho’ also means ‘street’ in Vietnamese as it is, perhaps, the ultimate Vietnamese street food.

But how do those who live in Vietnam find the best street food amongst so many options?

Top tips from those in the know...

Don’t miss...

The lunchtime buzz along Ngo Trang Tien in Hanoi as small plastic chairs and tables are hurredly laid out in the narrow street ready for the midday rush. Wander down this tiny alley breathing in the tempting smell of the many dishes, choose a few to try and take a low pew to enjoy lunch among the students and local workers. Some of our must-try dishes here include bun cha barbecued pork noodles, bun oc snail noodle soup, and a sweet starch and coconut soup known in its many varieties as chè...

The best original pho you’ll ever taste in Hanoi’s Old Quarter around Pho Hang Bo and Pho Hang Can…

A fragrant, clattering heap of escargot-style snails in lemongrass in Dalat. This cultural fusion of French and Vietnamese cuisine brings out the best of both...

Whizzing through the late night traffic of Ho Chi Minh City (HCMC) on a Vespa street food tour to find edible delights a little further off the beaten track. Tell your guide what you’re in the mood to try, or let them lead the way. Be sure to include a portion of delicate, translucent goi cuon fresh spring rolls packed with herbs and prawns...

A write-home-about classic bahn mi stuffed baguette from Banh Mi Hong Hoa on Nguyễn Văn Tráng or Bahn Mi 37 on Nguyen Trai in HCMC…

Comforting bowlfuls of creamy banh tam bi - thick noodles smothered in a creamy coconut sauce topped with pork and chilli - in rural towns along the Mekong Delta…

Bun thit nuong grilled pork noodle salad; a traditional street food that has been a Hue favourite for many decades...

If you're interested in exploring Vietnam's street food but would like a local to show you the ropes, ask your Destination Specialist about our Go Local experiences.