Vietnam is a foodie paradise, with restaurants and street vendors serving up fresh and locally sourced cuisine. With each area of Vietnam so distinct in its culture and climate, this list will guide you to the best local specialities in each part of country.
Ho Chi Minh City: Phở
Ho Chi Minh City, formerly known as Saigon, has many local specialties which feature unique twists on Vietnamese cuisine. What sets Southern pho, a beef or chicken broth served with rice noodles, apart from pho throughout the rest of the country is its special and intricate blend of fresh herbs and spices, including star anise, cinnamon, ginger and coriander to name a few. Southern pho is typically spicier than its northern counterpart, and is usually served with chili peppers and lime which is to be added directly to the broth. For breakfast lunch or dinner, pho is a savory, spicy, and hearty treat. Try Pho 24, which has chains internationally, or take a seat at any street vendor for a more authentic experience.
Hoi An: Banh bao vac
Hoi An is known as the culinary capital of Vietnam, with dozens of cooking classes around the city offering visitors the opportunity to cook and taste their own custom creations. Hoi An cuisine is unique in its range of flavors, offering everything from sautéed squid to broiled snails. While it is difficult to choose just one dish from Hoi An, banh bao vac, or white rose, is a dish unique to Hoi An and its original recipe remains a tightly guarded secret. These small and delicate dumplings are shaped like a rose, filled with shrimp and topped with crispy onions. Although you can get them almost anywhere in Hoi An, try The Market for a hands-on marketplace experience.
Huế: Bánh bèo
Huế, the former capital of Vietnam during the Nguyen dynasty, is a historic and scenic city in the heart of Vietnam. Because of its royal history, Huế’s culture is sophisticated and flavorful, borrowing ingredients and flavors from around Vietnam, as well as culinary influences from its past imperial rulers, including the Chinese and the French. Bánh bèo are small, thin rice paper crêpes, often eaten as an appetizer. They are served individually, and are usually topped with dried shrimp and served with tangy fish sauce and scallions. The presentation and simplicity of this dish is what sets it apart from other specialties in hue, although bánh it ram is another local treat which shouldn’t be missed.
Da Nang: Mì Quảng
Mì quảng, or quang noodles, is a noodle and broth dish unique to the Quang Nam province of Central Vietnam. What sets quang noodles apart from other noodle dishes throughout the rest of the country are their yellow-tinted noodles, modest broth and seasonings. Quang noodles feature only a small amount of a rich pork broth which is quickly soaked into the noodles, and features a garnish of peanuts or crispy rice crackers on top. If you’re someone with a more adventurous palate, Da Nang also offers oc hut, or sucking snail, which is sold at most food stalls throughout the country. It’s sautéed in oil and served with papaya and mango.
Hanoi: Bun Cha
The modern capital city of Hanoi is as rich in flavors as it is in culture. Hanoi is a foodie haven, with shops throughout the city offering cuisine from around the world. Today, Hanoi food is an eclectic mix of Vietnamese street food, French colonial influence, and Western comfort food. Bun cha is Vietnamese comfort food, consisting of juicy grilled pork served with a side of rice noodles and herbs. It’s filling and flavorful and makes you feel like you’re eating a home-cooked meal with family, even if you’re sitting on a small blue bench next to a food cart. Check out Hanoi’s Top 10 Restaurants and take your mouth on a culinary journey.
Every country needs to have a signature sandwich, and bánh mi is Vietnam’s. Bánh mi is a general term for Vietnamese bread, however it more commonly refers to a crunchy French baguette filled with meat pâté, sliced pork, cilantro, and pickled vegetables. Variations on this delicious street food exist everywhere, but they are ubiquitous in Hanoi and available in many variations. Banh Mi 25 is a modest street cart, boasting cheap and delicious sandwiches loaded with meat. It’s a true carnivore’s paradise.
Bánh bao is a perfect snack to satisfy late-night cravings. Although their origins are likely Chinese, these soft, pillowy steamed buns have been adopted to fit the more eccentric and adventurous Vietnamese audience. You can find bánh bao filled with various types of meats and quail eggs, although if you can get your hands on the BBQ pulled-pork variety you have officially won the street food lottery.
KEEN TO EXPLORE THE WORLD?
Connect with like-minded people on our premium trips curated by local insiders and with care for the world
Since you are here, we would like to share our vision for the future of travel - and the direction Culture Trip is moving in.
Culture Trip launched in 2011 with a simple yet passionate mission: to inspire people to go beyond their boundaries and experience what makes a place, its people and its culture special and meaningful — and this is still in our DNA today. We are proud that, for more than a decade, millions like you have trusted our award-winning recommendations by people who deeply understand what makes certain places and communities so special.
Increasingly we believe the world needs more meaningful, real-life connections between curious travellers keen to explore the world in a more responsible way. That is why we have intensively curated a collection of premium small-group trips as an invitation to meet and connect with new, like-minded people for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in three categories: Culture Trips, Rail Trips and Private Trips. Our Trips are suitable for both solo travelers, couples and friends who want to explore the world together.
Culture Trips are deeply immersive 5 to 16 days itineraries, that combine authentic local experiences, exciting activities and 4-5* accommodation to look forward to at the end of each day. Our Rail Trips are our most planet-friendly itineraries that invite you to take the scenic route, relax whilst getting under the skin of a destination. Our Private Trips are fully tailored itineraries, curated by our Travel Experts specifically for you, your friends or your family.
We know that many of you worry about the environmental impact of travel and are looking for ways of expanding horizons in ways that do minimal harm - and may even bring benefits. We are committed to go as far as possible in curating our trips with care for the planet. That is why all of our trips are flightless in destination, fully carbon offset - and we have ambitious plans to be net zero in the very near future.