A Complete Guide to Street Food in Vietnam

Estimated reading time: 7 minutes

As your fellow foodie, my recent trip to Vietnam was nothing short of a culinary revelation. Vietnam street food is renowned for its vibrant flavors, fresh ingredients, and diverse offerings. Whether you’re wandering the bustling streets of Hanoi or the lively markets of Ho Chi Minh City, street food in Vietnam is an integral part of the cultural experience. Join me as I take you through my guide to street food in Vietnam, sharing the best foods to try and where to eat street food in Vietnam.

The Allure of Vietnam Street Food

Vietnamese street food is a feast for the senses. The enticing aromas of grilled meats, the sight of colorful fresh herbs, and the sizzle of street-side woks are just the beginning. Street food vendors are a common sight, offering a wide array of dishes that are both affordable and delicious. From hearty bowls of pho to crispy banh mi sandwiches, there’s something for everyone to enjoy.

Here are my favorite must-try street foods in Vietnam:

1. Pho

try pho in vietnam

No guide to street food in Vietnam would be complete without mentioning pho. This iconic noodle soup is a breakfast staple in Vietnam. Made with beef or chicken, pho is served with a fragrant broth, rice noodles, and a variety of fresh herbs.

I enjoyed pho particularly in the street stalls in Hanoi. You will find good ones around the Old Quarter. Vendors begin preparing steaming bowls from the early hours of the morning. These humble stalls often have small plastic stools and tables set up on the sidewalk, allowing you to immerse yourself in the local atmosphere while savoring a bowl of this delectable soup.

2. Banh Mi


A legacy of French colonialism, the banh mi is a Vietnamese sandwich that combines a crispy baguette with various fillings such as pate, grilled meats, pickled vegetables, and fresh herbs.

For an authentic experience, try the banh mi at Banh Mi Phuong in Hoi An, a favorite among locals and travelers alike. Don’t forget to pair your banh mi with a refreshing glass of Vietnamese iced coffee to complete your street food experience.

3. Bun Cha


This dish consists of grilled pork patties and slices served with rice noodles, fresh herbs, and a tangy dipping sauce. Bun cha is especially popular in Hanoi, and one of the best spots to savor it is at Bun Cha Huong Lien. This is exactly where I went for my tasting.

There, I also learned that Bun Cha Huong Lien was famously visited by President Obama and Anthony Bourdain. I highly recommeng pairing it with some crispy spring rolls and a cool glass of iced tea to enhance your dining experience.

4. Goi Cuon


Also known as fresh spring rolls or summer rolls, goi cuon are made with rice paper wrapped around shrimp, herbs, pork, rice vermicelli, and other ingredients. They are typically served with a flavorful peanut sauce. So, if you have a peanut allergy, make sure to let the sellers know before you order!

You can find excellent goi cuon at Ben Thanh Market in Ho Chi Minh City. These rolls are not only delicious but also a healthier option compared to many fried dishes. The fresh ingredients provide a light, yet satisfying bite, perfect for a quick snack or appetizer.

5. Cao Lau


This regional specialty from Hoi An features thick noodles, slices of pork, fresh herbs, and crunchy croutons, all bathed in a savory broth. The unique flavor comes from the water used to cook the noodles, sourced from a specific ancient well in Hoi An. How cool is that, right? I really enjoyed hearing about the unique stories of how the Vietnamese food is prepared.

I tried chaou lou at one of the many local eateries in Hoi An’s ancient town, the renowned Thanh Cao Lau. Here, you can enjoy the dish in a charming, historic setting that adds to the overall experience.

Where to Eat Street Food in Vietnam

Navigating the vibrant street food scene can be overwhelming, so here are some top spots to help you decide where to eat street food in Vietnam:

  • Hanoi: The Old Quarter is a street food haven. Don’t miss the night market on weekends, where you can sample a variety of local delicacies.
  • Ho Chi Minh City: Ben Thanh Market and the surrounding streets offer a plethora of street food options. District 1 is particularly popular for its food stalls.
  • Hoi An: The central market is a great place to try local specialties like cao lau and banh xeo. In the evenings, head to the riverside for a delightful array of street food vendors.
  • Hue: Known for its imperial cuisine, Hue offers unique dishes like bun bo Hue (spicy beef noodle soup) and banh khoai (sizzling pancakes). The Dong Ba Market is a must-visit for food enthusiasts.

Tips for Enjoying Vietnam Street Food

  • Hygiene: Look for stalls that are busy with locals, as high turnover often means fresher food.
  • Communication: Learn a few basic Vietnamese phrases or use a translation app to help with ordering.
  • Variety: Don’t be afraid to try new things. Street food is all about exploring and experiencing the local culture.

FAQ about Street Food in Vietnam

Can I eat street food in Vietnam?

Absolutely! Eating street food in Vietnam is a fantastic way to experience the local culture and cuisine. The vibrant street food scene offers a wide variety of delicious dishes, and it’s generally safe if you follow some basic precautions.

Which city in Vietnam has the best street food?

Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City are both renowned for their street food scenes, each offering unique flavors and specialties. Hanoi is famous for dishes like pho and bun cha, while Ho Chi Minh City excels with its banh mi and fresh spring rolls.

Is street food cheap in Vietnam?

Yes, street food in Vietnam is very affordable. You can enjoy a hearty meal for just a few dollars, making it an excellent option for budget-conscious travelers looking to taste authentic Vietnamese cuisine.

How to avoid diarrhea in Vietnam?

To avoid diarrhea, stick to busy food stalls with high turnover, as the food is more likely to be fresh. Drink bottled or filtered water, and avoid ice in your drinks unless you’re sure it’s made from purified water.

How to avoid getting food poisoning in Vietnam?

To avoid food poisoning, choose street food vendors who prepare food fresh to order and have good hygiene practices. Avoid raw or undercooked meats and seafood, and wash your hands or use hand sanitizer before eating.

Embarking on a street food tasting tour in Vietnam is an adventure that promises unforgettable flavors and a deep connection to the local way of life. With this guide to street food in Vietnam, you’re well-equipped to navigate the bustling markets and street corners, discovering the culinary gems that make Vietnamese cuisine so beloved around the world. Happy eating!

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