While we talk about local experiences for your trip to Vietnam, we can’t leave out an experience quite like stooping down on a roadside plastic blue chair to slurp nosedive on a steaming bowl of Vietnamese cuisine. One way to submerge at that moment is to make your own Vietnam food tour to discover the food scene and the culture of Vietnamese people in the most authentic way.
TIPS FOR A SUCCESSFUL LOCAL FOOD TOUR IN VIETNAM
A local Vietnam street food tour should last no more than 4 or 5 hours and feature about 5 local dishes that can represent the regional cuisine the best. If you’re wondering which of these means – bike, motorbike or walking should be the most suitable way for your food tour, our article attempts to give you the best answer that suits you the most.
Biking is a fantastic way to move, but riding on a motorbike in Vietnam is something you shouldn’t miss out on. Walking between the dishes will give your stomach time to digest and rest. So, combining all these means would make your food tours in Vietnam even more successful.
Biking/Motorbiking/Walking – Which is the best way for a Vietnam Food Tour?
There is no exact answer to the question since each person has their own preference and physical condition. Here, as your local guides, we share our thoughts on biking, motorbiking or walking, which is the best way to enjoy your Vietnam local food tour. Hope this will help you decide and have a successful food adventure!
Walking: In tourist-friendly cities and towns, walking is the most suitable way to go since there are so many vendors and eateries along the roads in close proximity. Walking along the roads is one of the best ways of sightseeing and submerging in the atmosphere of the city’s life. And the plus point is that walking between the eating places should give your stomach more time to digest and rest, as well as help you burn extra calories if you concern about your calories intake.
Biking: This is a wonderful way for active travellers who love exercising and enjoy outdoor activities. Yet biking might not be the greatest option for elder tourists, pregnant women or small kids with the traffic condition in some of cities like Hanoi or Ho Chi Minh (however, in other places, like Hoi An, biking is considered the best option). For road safety, a guided biking food trip is recommended.
Motorbiking: Riding motorbike is seemingly the best way for a Vietnam food tour if you want to try out eating spots that are far from each other. This way suits those who love trying the things locals do and those who want to make their own street food adventure in Vietnam.
However, driving a motorbike in Vietnam is not for everyone. Pregnant women, elders and small kids are recommended to not drive motorbike on their own. If you’re confident in your skills, you can rent and do a self-guided motorbiking trip on your own. But if you’ve never driven one before, the best choice is to book a motorbike food tour, guided by a local guide. You will just have to sit at the back and enjoy the ride.
Where to rent a bike/motorbike in Hanoi?
Renting a bike or motorbike in Vietnam is quite easy, especially in major cities which are Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh city, Da Nang and Hoi An. Here are some things to know before you rent one:
- You can ask your hotel or guesthouse for a bicycle rental since you can enjoy a cheaper deal compared to renting from rental stores and shops on the streets
- Test the bike well before agreeing on renting it. Pay attention to the brakes and tires
- When renting a bike from a shop, you’ll put down a deposit and you can also purchase an insurance
- In case the bike is stolen, you’ll have to return the key to prove you’ve locked it. If you do not return the key, then you will have to pay for the cost of the bike.
- And remember to take proper helmets and accessories with you for utmost safety.
- It’s a high chance that your hotel and guesthouse also provide motorbike rental service. So ask them before going out and rent at a shop
- Only rent a motorbike if you know how to drive one. We recommend against driving a motorbike without proper skills and knowledge.
- Driving a motorbike will require Vietnamese motorcycle license or an equivalent license in your home country plus an International Driver’s Permit (IDP). However, in practice, this is often neglected.
- Make sure you have travel insurance before renting a motorbike in case an accident might happen
- A price for a rental motorbike is about 100,000VND to 150,000VND per motorbike, without fuel cost.
- And remember to test the motorbike and take proper helmets and accessories with you.
What do you do if you don’t have the skill to ride a motorbike or the knowledge of the best places to eat in Vietnam? Consider a guided motorbike food tour – it’s the most leisure, worthwhile and safest way to enjoy Vietnamese street food culture. All you have to do is to sit at the back, enjoying the ride and the delicious local food our tour guide will show you.
WHAT TO EAT AND WHERE TO EAT IN VIETNAM
1. Local Hanoi Food Tour – Eat out in the Old Quarter
There are several types of food tours you can enjoy in Hanoi. You can join either a cooking class tour, a private meal with a local family, or a street food (walking or motorbiking) tour.
Hanoi is the cradle of Vietnamese cuisine, overflowed with a bustling, busy food scene everywhere you go. But the place you should not miss is the famous Old Quarter where you can find every Vietnam famous food on any list.
Here are our recommendations for a solid food tour you can do in Hanoi with a motorbike or on foot:
- Pho Gia Truyen Bat Dan – 25 Hang Ca
Pho Gia Truyen Bat Dan is a great place to come and enjoy the traditional way of Pho and famous for their mildly sweet and clean-tasting broth. The restaurant is famous and there is always a line so we suggest you go early if you are in for breakfast. But if you miss, you can come back in the afternoon.
- Cha Ca Thang Long – 21-31 Duong Thanh
Like Bun Cha and Banh Cuon, Cha Ca is a dish associated with Hanoi and the best Cha Ca, no doubt can only be found in the capital of Vietnam.
Cha Ca Thang Long is close to the Old Quarter and you won’t have to take a long walk to get there. The special thing about Cha Ca Thang Long is no matter how long they were kept on the burner, the catfish is moister and more succulent.
- Bun Cha 34 – 34 Hang Than
Bun Cha has become well-known since the visit of President Obama who came to a local restaurant with Anthony Bourdain to eat two servings of Bun Cha.
If you find the restaurant Obama went to (Bun Cha Huong Lien) too crowded and has become too touristy, then settle down for a more local Bun Cha stall at 34 Hang Than. Their fatty BBQ grilled pork will never tire you out and remember to order an additional nem cua be!
- Banh Mi 25 – 25 Hang Ca
If you google ‘best banh mi in Hanoi’, Banh Mi 25 will always appear in the top list. And it has its reasons. The stall has a reputation among tourists and is considered one of the most famous for locals as well.
- Banh Cuon Ba Xuan – Doc Hue Nhai
The restaurant is just around the corner of Bun Cha 34 so you can easily visit the two places at once. Banh Cuon somehow is lesser-known compared to other Vietnamese dishes like Pho or Banh Mi but it’s one of the most common and loved every day dishes of Vietnamese people.
2. Hue Street Food Tour at Dong Ba Market
Hue is renowned for its unique street dishes of which many once served the royal families of the Nguyen Dynasty. Travelers today can find these dishes even on the streets, vendors, roadside restaurants, or in high-end eateries.
However, the fun of eating in Vietnam lies on the streets where you only enjoy the truest taste of the food but also the culture and the way of eating of Vietnamese people. Come to Hue, Dong Ba market is your place to go to have your list of best dishes in Hue checked. Spend an afternoon of 3-4 hours on foot around the neighbourhood to enjoy your treasure hunt. But if you want to broaden your findings, do not hesitate to choose a motorbike trip!
- Bun Bo Hue – Dong Ba Market, 2 Tran Hung Dao
Like Pho, Bun Bo Hue deserves its right to become one of the best among Vietnam’s countless noodle soups. And if you want to try the original taste of this tasty, spicy, abundant soup, come to Dong Ba Market – the place Anthony Bourdain claimed to have found the best Bun Bo Hue.
If you want to find the right stall, search for one that has a picture of Anthony Bourdain. That would be a little workout but it will only make your reward only taste better.
- Nem Lui – Tai Phu, 2 Dien Bien Phu
This restaurant is quite far from Dong Ba market so you should take a motorbike to the place. What you can expect is another delicious specialty of Hue – the savoury Nem Lui which is essentially marinated beef or pork kebabs wrapped around lemongrass stalks or bamboo skewers and grilled over charcoal. And don’t forget the wonderful dipping peanut sauce. You’ll be tasting all kinds of flavors in just one bite!
A serving for two would be 120,000VND.
- Com Hen Ba Cam – 2 Truong Dinh
The stall is rather simple but the dish is a feast of flavors with delicious baby basket clams, topped with a bunch of herbs and spices. This dish will absolutely be your favourite Hue dish.
- Banh Beo, Banh Bot Loc, Banh Uot – Hang Me Me, 14 Vo Thi Sau
About 2 kilometres from Dong Ba Market is Hang Me Me where you can find various types of rice flour cakes collectively known as “banh hue”. A single serving for all the “banh hue” including banh beo, banh nam, banh loc, banh ram it, banh uot, and cha tom would cost a little more than 100,000VND. There’s a lot to try so remember to save it for lunch so you can enjoy all these delicious rice cakes!
3. Da Nang – Enjoy the street food in Vietnam’s most popular coastal city
Not only known for the iconic Golden Bridge and My Khe Beach, Da Nang is also known for an active local street food scene. Finding the best street foods of Da Nang on a scooter in the evening is the best kind of night you will enjoy out there. Are you ready to taste the savory, unique, and most importantly, cheap Da Nang’s specialties on your trip to Vietnam? Here are our best recommendations for what to eat in Da Nang and where to find them!
- Banh trang cuon thit heo – Tran Restaurant, 4 Le Duan Street
This dish is the most popular Da Nang treat and Tran Restaurant is the place to try it. Even though this dish can also be found in Da Lat and Hoi An, the various dipping sauces make each version different and special. And Tran restaurant provides its special sauce to make the dish even more unforgettable.
- Bun Cha Ca – 109’s Fish Cake Noodle Soup, 109 Nguyen Chi Thanh
With a history of more than 40 years of making Bun Cha Ca – a local Da Nang noodle soup – the restaurant is the best place to try. Just get on a motorbike, get to the place and order a bowl of Bun Cha Ca, you’ll see the reason why you have to try this special noodle soup.
- Banh Canh Ca Loc Thanh Huong, 130 Le Dinh Duong
Banh Canh is from the South and also most seen from Central to South Vietnam, and just recently in Hanoi. Banh Canh’s noodle is quite different from other kinds since it’s not entirely made from rice but rather from cassava or wheat flour or cassava mixed with rice flour. Therefore, it has a distinctive taste to Pho or Bun, quite like a kind of jelly.
- Seafood – along My Ke Beach
My Khe beach isn’t only known for its beautiful, pristine stretching coast but also where you can find the best seafood restaurant to enjoy a gourmet dinner! You will get to choose fresh seafood yourself and tell the chef how you want them cooked.
And what’s more satisfying than grilled BBQ seafood accompanied with a cup of fresh draught beer? Nothing.
4. Hoi An Food Tour – Magical culinary experience in Hoi An Old Town
Visiting Hoi An without going on a street food tour would be a grave mistake because this lovely, atmospheric town has long been famous for its cuisine and special dishes. What can top eating a steaming bowl of good stuff in Hoi An while enjoying the view of sparkling colorful lanterns along the river? That would be the most authentic local experience you can get in Vietnam.
The food in Hoi An has its own unique cuisine characteristics of Quang Nam province, with many of the dishes relying on local ingredients which make them impossible to find outside of the area. Not only is the old town magical, but the food is also interesting and worth discovering!
We recommend biking or walking for your food tour in Hoi An since the town is not too big and the top spots are quite close together.
- Cao Lau Khong Gian Xanh – 687 Hai Ba Trung
One of the top three must-eats when coming to Hoi An and is often mistaken with Mi Quang, also another famous Hoi An specialty. Cao Lau Khong Gian Xanh serves the original Cao Lau with bigger and fatter slices of roast pork. This dish is suitable for lunch or breakfast, a serving is only about 35,000VND.
- Com Ga Ba Buoi – 22 Phan Chu Chinh
This is a signature dish of Hoi An you shouldn’t miss out. Com Ga Ba Buoi which has been around since the 1950s is the right place to try Hoi An chicken rice. A serving will cost 35,000VND which is a nice bargain for a full and nice lunch.
- Banh Mi Phuong – 2b Phan Chu Trinh
Banh Mi Phuong perhaps is the best Banh Mi shop there is in all Vietnam, recognized by both locals and travelers. A Banh Mi is known for being abundant, with many types of fillings and a special sauce. On top of that, for its reputation, the price remains relatively cheap, only from 15,000VND to 25,000VND!
- Banh Bao Banh Vac – White Rose Restaurant, 533 Hai Ba Trung
The restaurant is known for inventing the dish Banh Bao Banh Vac or White Rose dumplings which have become the most famous Hoi An treat. White rice dumplings are made resembling the shape of roses, hence the name of the dish. The spiced minced shrimp or pork and crispy fried shallots will enhance the flavors. The dish is served with a special dipping sauce made with shrimp broth, chilies, lemon, and sugar.
5. Saigon Food Tour – discover the Southern flavors on a scooter!
Like Ha Noi, Ho Chi Minh City is one of the best places for you to enjoy Vietnamese cuisine. The best Ho Chi Minh City dishes are composed of the defining traits of Vietnamese cuisine like noodles, rice, pork and beef while taking the local flavors with herbs and ingredients to make their own special interpretations. While you should focus on the discovery of Southern tastes, you might also like the southern version of northern and central dishes like Pho, Banh Xeo, Bun Bo Hue better!
You can easily find these treats at the roadside eateries, vendors, and restaurants. We recommend riding a motorbike to make finding the eating spots easier.
- Bun Mam Dac San – 22 Phan Boi Chau
A bowl of noodle soup with fermented fish broth, seafood and pork belly will surely arouse your appetite. This dish is not to be missed if you are a fan of dishes with strong flavors. The big chunks of fish and meat will be its plus points and surely you won’t be disappointed. Compared to other street meals, the dish is a little more expensive – 65,000VND per bowl.
- Com Tam Tran Quy Cap – 260 Vo Van Tan
One of the best places to try the southern staple dish which is Com Tam or Broken Rice. They’re known for their Com Tam Suon Nuong (Broken rice with grilled pork ribs). A serving of Com Tam Suon Nuong will be 65,000VND and you’ll feel quite full.
- Hu Tieu Nam Vang Quynh – A65 Nguyen Trai Street
Hu Tieu is a dish that you can mostly find in the south of Vietnam, especially in Saigon. The dish has its origin from China but now has become everyone’s go-to dish in Sai Gon.
There are two versions of Hu Tieu that are so famous, Hu Tieu Nam Vang (Cambodian version) and My Tho (Vietnamese version in My Tho). Hu Tieu Nam Vang Quynh serves one of the best Hu Tieu Nam Vang in HCMC.
- Banh Mi Op La – Banh Mi Hoa Ma, 53 Cao Thang
This popular food stall serves Banh Mi Op La, a fun version of Banh with a hot pan of pate, two fried eggs, meat and pickled vegetables. The place is only open from morning to noon, so you’ll have to come early. Without indoor seatings, it will be even more fun to eat while enjoying the bustling atmosphere of Saigon’s busy streets.
6. Can Tho and Mekong Delta – Food Trip on Boat
Mekong Delta is known best for its unique and authentic floating markets. And a lesser-known fact is that a floating market is also a great place for a food tour, in the morning! The most famous floating market and tourist-friendly must be Cai Rang market in Can Tho.
Visiting the market in the early morning will give you the chance to see and enjoy the busy, bustling atmosphere of local traders selling and buying fruits and other goods. Once settled on a local sampan, you’ll be weaving through countless other boats with heaps of fruits on top of them. Some boats also sell local breakfast like noodle soups, coffee, tea, coconut drink and other treats.
Enjoying a bowl of Hu Tieu or Banh Canh on a local boat would be an awesome, authentic experience if you’re visiting Mekong Delta.
Are we getting your stomach grumbling? If we are, what is stopping you from doing your fantastic local food tour in Vietnam right now? Need a guide? Say no more! Our local guides who are all big food lovers will show you the way to find the best places to eat in Vietnam. Contact us now for more information!