What and where to eat in Vietnam

In recent years, Vietnamese cuisine has been becoming more and more popular around the world. Some Vietnamese specialties such as Pho and Banh Mi are on the favorite list of many food lovers. Vietnamese food is highly regarded as one of the healthiest cuisines in the world thanks to the ingredients like noodles, rice, fresh vegetable, as well as herbs used in locals’ daily cooking. 

Here is a useful guide that introduces you some Vietnamese delicacies, along with where to eat each dish in Vietnam. In addition to that, some information about Vietnamese eating style, Vietnamese food culture, together with Vietnam Food tours will be provided. Hopefully, the below suggestions will not only help you when you plan your trip in Vietnam but also guide you during your dream vacation.  Eat Vietnam In Your Way!

1. What to Eat in Vietnam 

1.1. What to Eat in Northern Vietnam

Banh Mi

Banh Mi Pate Vietnam

When you think about what to eat in Vietnam, there may be a list of food you have read somewhere but Banh Mi can be one of the top lists.

The iconic sandwich ranked as one of the best sandwiches in the world, Banh Mi is a crunchy French-style baguette, stuffed with an incredible combination of pork, pate, butter, pickled vegetables, fresh cilantro, chilies, and sauces. Originating from France in the late 1800s, this type of Vietnamese sandwich is the perfect option when you are in need of a quick meal.


There is no doubt that Pho is the most famous Vietnam food which most travelers should try once when they visit Vietnam. Pho is the noodle soup which you can try with beef or chicken. Pho is a noodle soup that is different from other noodle soups you may know and eat in Vietnam or other countries. Pho consists of Banh Pho or flat noodles and which is different from Bun (round noodles). To have a good Pho you will need a good broth for Pho which makes the difference among the Pho restaurants.

To have the good broth for Pho the beef bone or chicken bones are cooked in a large pot which is mostly bigger than any other broth pots. A few herbs are put inside like cinnamon, cardamom, and onion and there are some secret herbs each restaurant put them in to make sure they are different from others. Normally, the secret ingredients and recipes are kept secret inside the family to make sure they are not copied from others.

Hanoi Beef Pho

Pho is one of the best things to eat in Vietnam. For Vietnamese, Pho is eaten mostly for breakfast or at night time when people do not have much time for cooking at home. Most Vietnamese cook their meals at home so Pho is a good option when they are busy and do not have enough time for cooking.

Pho is mostly not cooked at home because to have a good Pho you need a large pot of bones and you need good ingredients and recipes so Pho should be eaten in the Pho restaurant. 

One more good advice for travelers for eating Pho is eating chicken Pho in the Pho Restaurant where they serve chicken only and eating beef Pho in the Pho restaurant where they serve beef only. There is no doubt, list Pho is number 1 for things to eat in Vietnam.

Hanoi Chicken Pho

Bun Cha

Originating from the capital city, HanoiBun Cha is grilled pork served with a bowl of a fish sauce-heavy broth, a basket of fresh vegetables and a plate of rice vermicelli noodles. It is the local dish that Barack Obama ate during his night out with the famous chef Anthony Bourdain on his official visit to Vietnam at the end of May 2016.

Nowadays, when you visit Vietnam you may visit and eat Bun Cha in the restaurant named Obama Bun Cha Restaurant as it is easy to remember this name compared to the original name of the restaurant where Barack Obama ate. Note Bun Cha for your list of things to eat in Vietnam and try it when you have a chance!

Bun Cha Hanoi

Goi Cuon 

If you have been tasting too much of the fried food in Vietnam, try Goi Cuon which is the fresh spring rolls. Goi Cuon comprises thin vermicelli noodles, shrimp, pork slices, and herbs, rolled up in rice paper. Dipping the roll into peanut sauce to make it more flavorful, you try to take a bite and feel the light and fresh taste.

Goi Cuon (Spring Rolls)

1.2. What to Eat in Central Vietnam

Banh Xeo

Banh Xeo which is quite similar to a kind of crepe is made of rice flour, turmeric, and coconut milk, stuffed with shrimp, chicken, pork or beef slices, sliced onions, mushrooms, and bean sprouts, served with fresh lettuce or rice papers. To enjoy one like a local, wrap it in lettuce leaves, mustard leaves, or rice papers, dip in fermented peanut sauce, and taste it.

Banh Xeo (Vietnamese Pancake)

Cao Lau

A specialty from Hoi An, one of the best foods to eat in Vietnam, Cao Lau features thick noodles with slices of roast pork, fresh herbs, and crispy croutons in a savory broth. The noodles are unique, made from local water and lye, giving them a distinct texture and flavor. The dish is garnished with greens and herbs, bean sprouts, and fried pork skin, adding layers of texture. The rich, aromatic broth ties all the elements together, making Cao Lau a must-try when visiting Hoi An.

Mi Quang

A popular dish from Quang Nam Province, Mi Quang consists of turmeric-yellow rice noodles topped with pork, shrimp, quail eggs, peanuts, and fresh herbs, served with a small amount of broth. The broth is made by simmering pork or chicken bones with turmeric, giving it a distinctive golden color. The dish is typically garnished with a variety of fresh herbs, banana flowers, and toasted sesame rice crackers. The combination of textures and flavors makes Mi Quang a hearty and satisfying meal.

Com Hen

Com Hen Hue

Originating from Hue, Com Hen is a flavorful combination of rice, baby clams, herbs, peanuts, and fried pork skin, served with a side of clam broth. The clams are sautéed with onions, garlic, and chili, then mixed with rice and garnished with a variety of fresh herbs, bean sprouts, and crispy shallots. The broth, made from the clam cooking liquid, is served on the side and can be added to the dish according to taste. This dish is known for its complex flavors and textures, making it a unique culinary experience.

1.3. What to Eat in Southern Vietnam

Hu Tieu

Hu Tieu

A noodle soup from the Mekong Delta, Hu Tieu is made with clear, chewy noodles in a flavorful broth, topped with pork, shrimp, quail eggs, and fresh herbs. The broth, typically made from pork bones, is light and fragrant, allowing the flavors of the toppings to shine. The noodles, which can be either rice or tapioca-based, have a distinctive chewy texture. Hu Tieu is often garnished with fried shallots, garlic chives, and lime wedges.


Che (Sweet Soup)

Refers to any Vietnamese sweet soups or pudding, Che can be either hot or cold, depending on the seasons. Also, it can have a wide range of ingredients like red beans, mung beans, fruit, and tapioca beads. 

Banh Trang Nuong

Banh Trang Nuong

Often referred to as "Vietnamese pizza," Banh Trang Nuong is a popular street food made with grilled rice paper topped with ingredients like quail eggs, dried shrimp, pork, and scallions. The rice paper becomes crispy as it cooks, providing a crunchy base for the toppings. The dish is typically drizzled with chili sauce and mayonnaise, adding a spicy and creamy element. Banh Trang Nuong is a fun and flavorful snack, perfect for enjoying on the go.

Bo La Lot

Bo La Lot consists of grilled beef wrapped in betel leaves, served with rice noodles, fresh herbs, and a side of dipping sauce. The beef is marinated with garlic, lemongrass, and fish sauce, then wrapped in the aromatic betel leaves and grilled until charred and smoky. The rolls are often served with a side of vermicelli noodles, lettuce, and herbs, which can be used to make fresh spring rolls. The dipping sauce, typically made from fish sauce, lime juice, and sugar, adds a tangy and savory element to the dish.

2. Where to eat in Vietnam

Vietnamese food is renowned for its diversity and each region is famous for its dishes. Definitely, you may sample the local specialities throughout the country but also, there is one place in Vietnam you should try one dish rather than the other ones. 

For instance, you may venture to Hoi An to savor the stunning Cao Lau or visit Hanoi to eat delicious spring rolls. Banh Xeo in Saigon is the best in the country. It is also advisable to relish a cup of egg coffee in the capital city, Hanoi, and taste the world-famous Banh Mi in the ancient town of Hoi An. Hue, the old capital city is renowned for its Bun Bo Hue and some types of Vietnamese sweet soup - Che. 

3. Vietnamese Eating Style 

Like many other countries in Asia, Vietnamese people tend to dine in “family style”. All the dishes are normally put in the middle of the dining table at the same time, each person gets a bowl of rice, and then shares with the others the bowls or plates of food. 

In Vietnamese daily meals, the dishes consist of rice, a vegetable dish, a meat or seafood dish, Vietnamese–style soup, and fermented fish sauce for dipping. Vietnamese use fish sauce not only as a seasoning but also as a dipping sauce. At the dining table, a bowl of fish sauce is well placed in the center so everyone can reach it.

In addition to that, local dishes are boiled or steamed, other than fried or stir-fried so they are rather fresh and light. Also, Vietnamese people consume more vegetables than meats so it can be said that vegetables are the standard diet in most local households. 

Family Meals in Vietnam

4. Vietnamese Food Culture 

Vietnam is very proud of having one of the most diverse and healthy gastronomies in the world. Mentioning about Vietnamese food culture, we can say that Vietnam is a typical wet rice country. In Vietnam, many main dishes and snacks are made from rice such as boiled/ steamed rice, rice porridge, famous Banh Chung (square cake), along with uncountable made-from-rice delicacies from every region. Even the legendary pho is made from rice as well. 

Banh Chung (square cake)

Next, it is very clear that fish sauce appears in every meal of Vietnamese. In the centre of the tray or the dining table, there goes a bowl of fish sauce which is used by all the eaters. Nowadays, Vietnam has hundreds kinds of sauce, used for different dishes and different regions and even different seasons.

Boiled Pork with Fish Sauce

Another great culture feature in Vietnamese food is snack paradise of sweet potato, cassava, peanuts, and so much more. If you dare, try to venture to the street vendors on the sidewalks to taste these snacks. 

Last but not least, Vietnamese food offers great diversity. Vietnam is a long country which is divided into 3 parts (North, Central, and South). Each region has got some specialties which should be proud of. Whilst Hanoi offers the most authentic food experience, Hue provides some royal dishes and Ho Chi Minh City boasts about its various street food.

5. Vietnam Food Tours

Travel to Vietnam, travelers want not only to visit the most beautiful places of Vietnam but also eat the best and the most popular food in Vietnam. Enjoying the best food is a need for all travelers besides visiting the beauty and learning about Vietnam culture.

Enjoy Vietnam food tours in your style

5.1. Saigon Street Food Tour 

Saigon is one of the top ten cities in the world that is renowned for its street food. Participating in one of Saigon Street Food Tours allows you not only to sample some of the world’s best street food but also to delve into the history, culture, and food of this bustling metropolis. During the tour, the tour guide will take you to the best, authentic small restaurants or street vendors that only locals know to taste the city’s specialties. On the tour, you may ask your guide about the dishes’ ingredients as well as the historical background of Southern food. It is interesting if you pull up a plastic stool to dine on the sidewalks as locals do. 

Saigon Street Food Tour comes with two options which are walking tour or motorbike tour. Join in a Saigon Street Food Tour and that can be one of the best Vietnam Food Tour. 

Hu Tieu Nam Vang

5.2. Hoi An Cooking Class

Hoi An Cooking Class allows you to learn some famous delicacies of Central Vietnam. It also gives you the chance to visit a local market, as well as explore a tropical vegetable garden which can help to know more about the ingredients used in the locals’ daily cooking. In the class, you will be instructed how to cook Central Vietnam’s typical dishes, along with a short food carving session. At the end of the class, you will be sitting down to enjoy the food you made and be handed the recipes of the dishes. 

So if you visit Hoi An and you are interested in Vietnam Foods & Drinks do not miss the chance for this best Vietnam food tour place. 

Hoi An Cooking Class

5.3. Hanoi Cooking Class

Hanoi Cooking Class is quite similar to the cooking session in Hoi An as you will also start the tour by visiting a local market, learn some local dishes, together with receiving the secret recipes of Vietnamese cuisine from the chef. 

Each region of Vietnam has got its own specialties. Joining the cooking classes in different cities gives you the opportunity to learn the popular dishes of each region. It is also what differentiates a cooking class in Hoi An and one in Hanoi.  

Above are 3 best places you may choose one or even 3 of them for your Vietnam Food Tour.

Join hands to cook your own Vietnamese meals

Whether you're indulging in the comforting bowl of Pho in Hanoi, savoring the unique flavors of Mi Quang in Hoi An, or enjoying the bustling street food scene in Saigon, every meal is an adventure. Ready to start your culinary journey in Vietnam? Don't wait! Book your food tour now at Incredible Asia Journeys and dive into the rich and diverse flavors of Vietnamese cuisine. Bon appétit!

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