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Ho Chi Minh City (“HCMC”), Vietnam (or Saigon, as many still refer to it), offers an amazing array of food for visitors. As your read through my Ho Chi Minh City Food Guide, you’ll discover that there is a lot more to Vietnamese food than just Pho and Banh Mi, and discover the complexity of flavours that can come from the use of fresh, simple ingredients.

Everywhere you look, no matter what the time of day, there are people eating and preparing food.  On the streets, down alleyways, and in every other “hole in the wall”, something food related is occurring.

ho chi minh city food guide

Walking through the streets of HCMC, you’ll smell all sorts of wondrous things (and, to be fair, some not so wondrous things) and it’s my hope that by reading through this food guide, you’ll be inspired to seek out those great smells and experience some of the real HCMC’s food scene.

Many people are afraid to try street food when travelling overseas. “How do I know it’s safe?”, “What if I get sick?”, “Is it hygienic?” are a few of the most common concerns that I hear when I discuss street food with people.  I certainly understand why people unaccustomed to street food have these concerns, as the visual image presented to them is very different from what they perceive as being suitable dining conditions. Additionally, everyone knows someone who has had a bad experience.

Two tips that have kept me in good stead throughout my travels that I’d like to share with you are these:

  1. Eat where the locals are eating.
  2. Look for food that you can see being cooked.

Regarding the first tip, the logic is simple. Generally speaking, food establishments stay in business not because of the tourist trade, but because of the locals that eat there day in and day out. If you come across a place that is busy and full of locals, chances are it’s good. If it was making people sick, it would be neither busy nor full of locals.

In relation to the second tip, most of the street carts and hole in the wall restaurants in Vietnam have the raw ingredients and cooking stations in clear view. If something is being cooked fresh in front of your eyes, you can see for yourself exactly what’s going on. Contrast this to a restaurant with a closed kitchen that you can’t see.

Due to the sheer volume of street food in HCMC, I won’t try to provide you with a fixed guide of establishments, but rather a guide to some of the dishes you’ll find, with a few establishments listed where possible. HCMC is a city that rewards the adventurous eater, and as long as you follow my 2 tips above, you should feel comfortable trying some new things.

Food is being prepared or eaten constantly in Vietnam. These boys were on a side street in an area that was full of mechanics and hardware stores cooking up a soup of some sort.

ho chi minh city food guide


Not far from where the boys were cooking, my wife and I saw this man working his magic with the wok. The smell coming from the wok was beautiful and we knew that the only option we had was to try whatever it was that he was cooking up.

ho chi minh city food guide

One of the things that I love about Vietnamese food is that there’s no set way to eat many of the dishes.  What you will find is that you’ll get a main dish, and then a variety of sauces and condiments to add as you please.

Something that will come as a relief to those of you that don’t like spicy food is that most Vietnamese dishes are mild to begin with. It’s up to you to either keep it mild or make it as spicy as you’d like. The yellow, red and orange chillies below are one of the more common condiments that you’ll find in HCMC.

ho chi minh city food guide

As is often the case with some of the best street food establishments in Vietnam, the menu is not in English. A mixture of pointing at pictures, or something that looks good on another table is the way to go. In this case, there was one dish that clearly stood out on the menu as being the speciality so that is what we ordered. Broken rice with greens, pork and seafood was what came out and it was delicious.

ho chi minh city food guide

ho chi minh city food guide

Com Tam Moc

Com Tam is a simple broken rice dish that is very popular in Vietnam. Com Tam Moc is a chain, and their broken rice is delicious. The menu is in English.

ho chi minh city food guide

I ordered the Com Tam Bi Cha Thit Nuong Trung Opla, which is broken rice with 3 types of pork and a fried egg. It was very tasty, with my favourite type of pork being the one in the foreground – a mixture of grilled skin and meat.

ho chi minh city food guide


Trung Nguyen

Trung Nguyen is the largest coffee chain in Vietnam, with over 1,000 cafes in the country. When in HCMC, you can’t go too long without stumbling across a branch. Despite being a chain, their coffee is excellent, with a variety of beans produced by sustainable methods, with full descriptions and differing flavour profiles available.

The cafes are very modern and nicely fit out, and free WiFi is available (I was surprised at the extent to which free WiFi is available in cafes in HCMC). Menus are in English and most of the staff speak basic English.

There are a variety of options available, but I always went for the traditional Vietnamese coffee.

When your coffee arrives, it has just begun the process of filtering. The ground beans are in the bottom compartment of the silver filter, with filter holes above, for the hot water to drip through, and filter holes below, for the coffee to drip into the cup.

ho chi minh city food guide

A few minutes later, the filtration process is complete.  If you asked for your coffee with condensed milk, it is put into the coffee cup at the start.

ho chi minh city food guide

Next, you pour the coffee into your cup of ice, then stir and enjoy.

ho chi minh city food guide

Traditional Vietnamese coffee is a very tasty, refreshing way of drinking coffee and I was hooked on it during my time in Vietnam.  You can choose whether you want condensed milk or not, and whether you want it hot or cold.

There are a lot of international chains in HCMC these days. Starbucks opened their first store in Vietnam at the start of 2013. This is not that store.

ho chi minh city food guide

Highlands Coffee

Highlands Coffee is another popular chain that can be found throughout Vietnam. Menus are in English and most of the staff speak basic English.

The coffee here is acceptable, about the same level as a Starbucks.  As well as the usual Vietnamese coffee and espresso options, there is quite a large selection of flavoured options available.  I ordered a Vietnamese coffee with ice and condensed milk, and my wife ordered a green tea latte concoction.  The flavoured green tea syrup is quite a popular option in drinks and desserts in Vietnam.

ho chi minh city food guide

Albero Cafe

As well as the two major chains, there are a large number of independent modern cafes that can be found throughout HCMC. Albero Cafe was a nice one that I stumbled across. It had a chilled out nature theme, great coffee and free WiFi.

ho chi minh city food guide

Instead of water, many of the cafes in HCMC serve free iced jasmine green tea (unsweetened) with their coffee.

ho chi minh city food guide

ho chi minh city food guide

Albero Cafe can be found at 35 Truong Dinh, District 3.

The place below was not a Trung Nguyen cafe, rather it was a cafe that used Trung Nguyen beans. You’ll see the logo splashed around various cafes and coffee carts throughout the city.

ho chi minh city food guide

Walking down the street in District 3 on a rainy afternoon, my wife and I stumbled across this alleyway, which seemed quite busy so decided to check it out. Turns out it was coffee that was the only thing being sold so ordering was quite easy. Four English words that almost everyone selling coffee in Vietnam knows are “milk”, “sweet”, “hot” and “cold”. I’d say that 80% of the time we ordered coffee, we got exactly what we wanted.

You’ll find these sorts of spots throughout HCMC and the atmosphere is really great. As a bonus, they are a lot cheaper than an actual cafe if you’re in need of a caffeine fix.

ho chi minh city food guide

ho chi minh city food guide


Nha Hang Bien Duong.

Nha Hang Bien Duong is a seafood restaurant that my wife and I discovered while walking around the streets of HCMC, taking in the vibe during our first night. There are a lot of tables and seats on the sidewalk, and the place is almost completely full with locals. Not having dinner here was never going to be an option.

ho chi minh city food guide

Bia Saigon is the local beer and is found throughout HCMC.

ho chi minh city food guide

The menu is extensive and everything looks really good. One of the waiters spoke very good English and explained a few of the things on the menu for us. The hot pot looked like it was very popular so we went for that. There is a lot of fresh seafood in tanks inside and I got to go to a tank and pick the 2 crabs that I wanted.

Everything came out fresh and our waitress was very good as she showed us how to cook everything and eat it in the correct manner.

ho chi minh city food guide

ho chi minh city food guide

ho chi minh city food guide

We liked the meal so much that we returned on the following night to try some other things. The first thing we ordered was a vegetable and mixed seafood hotpot with a dried rice cake that became soft once the liquid was poured over it. I lost some of my photos from this trip an unfortunately the photo of this dish was one of those.

The next thing we ordered were little sea snails that you see all over HCMC in restaurants and on street carts. They were served in a coconut butter and the safety pins were used to get the snails out of the shells. They were very tasty.

ho chi minh city food guide

To finish with, we had grilled cuttlefish with salad.

ho chi minh city food guide

Looking at the menu, it looked like there were 3 Nha Hang Bien Duong restaurants in the HCMC. The one that my wife and I went to, which is very central, can be found at 45 Nguyen Thai Hoc, District 1.

Banh Mi

Banh mi is one of the foods that people commonly associate with Vietnam and is a delicious snack that shows how fusion food, when done right, can be brilliant. Banh mi is actually the Vietnamese word for all kinds of bread, which was introduced to the country by the French. The food that most people in the West refer to as banh mi is actually banh mi, followed by other words denoting the type of sandwich. In the case of the stall below the offering was banh mi (bread) with pa te (pate) and thit (meat).

The meat is usually some kind of steamed or roasted pork belly, grilled chicken, Vietnamese sausage, or other pork related meat. Usual condiments include pate, sliced cucumber, coriander, pickled carrots and shredded daikon. Common condiments include chilli sauce, sliced chillies, mayonnaise and cheese.

Stalls selling banh mi can be found throughout HCMC. Have a look at the ingredients and if it looks good, go for it. Pointing is generally the way to choose your fillings. I like to get mine with “the lot”. For the freshest bread, eat banh mi in the morning or early evening.

ho chi minh city food guide

Rice Paper Rolls

Rice paper rolls are another dish that many people outside of Vietnam associate with the country. They are very common throughout HCMC, and my wife and I found this great little place at 91 Cach Mang Thang 8 Street, District 1.

The rolls are prepared fresh out the front, with a seafood and pork option. Dipping sauces include a peanut sauce containing hoisin sauce, and nuoc mam pha, which is a mixed fish sauce. A simple and delicious snack.

ho chi minh city food guide

ho chi minh city food guide


HCMC’s District 4 contains a wealth of great food options, with prices even lower than they are in District 1. Ton That Thuyet is the street that you want and early morning around 7AM is the best time to go, as this is when the food is plentiful (when it comes to many of the smaller, family run food establishments in Vietnam, the food is not necessarily available all day long).

Many of the popular dishes covered elsewhere in this post are available in the area, however one stand out was Hoa Hanh at 183 Ton That Thuyet.

ho chi minh city food guide

ho chi minh city food guide

As well as banh mi, there was another dish that was being served at Hoa Hanh. The menu was not in English and nobody spoke English but a quick glance at the other tables revealed that this dish was the one to get. We pointed to another table and soon after, two bowls of this arrived.

A rather sweet soup with thick, udon-like noodles filled with large mushrooms and some sort of meat is what’s contained in the bowl. To top it off is a semi-soft egg type “something”. What I know for sure is that it’s a very hearty and tasty dish.

ho chi minh city food guide

Everywhere you go in HCMC, someone is doing their own take on a dish. The differences are subtle, but they are there and over time you start to get a real appreciation of the variety and complexity of Vietnamese food.

At this hole in the wall in District 1, soy sauce, fish sauce and chilli were on the table, awaiting a meal that they could be added to.

ho chi minh city food guide

My wife and I ordered almost the same thing, the difference being the noodles. Herbs, meat, mushrooms and sausage were combined in the soup and it was topped off with a fried wonton.

ho chi minh city food guide

ho chi minh city food guide

When it comes to many of these small, hole in the wall food establishments in Vietnam, the ingredients are cooked right out the front on these small cooking stations.

ho chi minh city food guide


Finally, we get to the one dish that most foreigners associate with Vietnam, a noodle dish that is deserving of its own heading.

Pho is a noodle soup consisting of broth, flat rice noodles, herbs and meat (usually beef or chicken). The quality and style of pho varies quite a bit between vendors. I chose to get the Pho with beef brisket.

My wife and I ate pho at a few places, but by far the best that we had was from the “lunch lady”. Despite the fact that the lunch lady has a reputation for making amazing pho, and has been featured on Anthony Bourdain’s “No Reservations”, there was not a foreigner in sight when we visited. This could have something to do with the fact that while the lunch lady is in District 1, the location is not obvious.

ho chi minh city food guide

Pho is served with a variety of condiments and sides, exactly what you’ll get depends on the vendor. Below is a fairly typical selection of limes, chillies, mint and basil, as well as a variety of sauces to the side.

One sauce that I discovered in HCMC that I loved was a sweet chilli sauce. Unlike the watered down sweet chilli sauce that’s typical in Western countries, this sauce sweet, but also properly chilli. It’s also a lot less thick in its consistency.

ho chi minh city food guide

The flavour of the broth of the lunch lady’s pho is out of this world. She opens up around 11AM, and only has a limited quantity of food. Once it’s gone, that’s it for the day. This pho was one of the best things that I ate in Vietnam.

ho chi minh city food guide

The lunch lady can be found at 23 Hoang Sa Street, District 1.


Che My 2

Che My 2 is a hole in the wall that sells a variety of desserts and snacks. “Che” is the Vietnamese word for “sweet soups”. Options consist of a mixture of ingredients such as shaved ice, ice cream, jelly, tapioca pearls, fruit, coconut, condensed milk, sweet beans and the like in a bowl or cup. The menu is not in English, so pointing at what looks interesting on the menu is what you’ll be doing here. It’s worth it, as the desserts are delicious.

Unfortunately photos of the desserts at Che My 2 were amongst those that were lost so I can’t show you what we ate.

There are 2 Che My 2’s in HCMC, the central one is at 119 Nguyen Thai Học, District 1.

ho chi minh city food guide

One drink that is very common in HCMC is sugar cane drink. My wife and I were walking down a street in District 3 when it started raining quite heavily. Needing a respite from the rain, we ducked into this place as it was quite busy.

ho chi minh city food guide

Nobody spoke English apart from one man, who only knew how to say “sugar cane”. Why not? we thought, and this is what came out a short while later, along with the ubiquitous iced jasmine tea on the side. It was very sweet, and very refreshing.

You’ll see machines set up on the streets of HCMC, with operators pushing large pieces of sugar cane through the machine, which extracts all of the liquid from the stem. It’s a very common drink in the city.

ho chi minh city food guide

Anybody that knows my wife and I knows how much we love bubble tea. For the uninitiated, bubble tea is a Taiwanese tea based drink served with a wide array of flavourings, tapioca pearls or jelly, with the option of milk or no milk. Bubble tea is about as common in HCMC as it is in Australia or the United States.

Below is one with lychee flavour and grass jelly, and grape flavour with green tea jelly.

ho chi minh city food guide

Street Carts

Throughout HCMC you’ll see men and women pushing around portable street carts. sometimes they’ll be selling one kind of fruit, or something else simple and other times they will be pushing around what is essentially a small cooking station with a few shelves. Many of the drinks and dishes that I’ve described above can be found on these roaming street carts.

The woman below was selling coconuts to drink from just outside of the Ben Thanh Market in District 1.  You should expect to pay anywhere between VND25-50 for a coconut in the main parts of HCMC. Some opportunistic vendors in touristy areas try to sell them for up to VND250 each, and then offer you a “special price” of VND250 for 2. Make sure you don’t get ripped off by these guys and stick to your guns when negotiating the price down.

ho chi minh city food guide

The same thing goes for fresh fruit vendors, who can also be found throughout HCMC. After spending half a day in District 3, and getting some amazing fruit, such as rambutans from the vendor below, it was quite shocking to see what some of the vendors in the more touristy parts of District 1 were trying to charge foreigners!

ho chi minh city food guide

Drive through fast food, HCMC-style.

ho chi minh city food guide

Just like everywhere else in the world, food and dinner is what brings the family together. Unlike many of the other places that I’ve travelled to, this family got together for dinner on this busy street corner every night.

ho chi minh city food guide

I hope that this post has given you some ideas on how to take on the food scene in HCMC. There is a lot of amazing food to be found in the city, ranging from the familiar to the unfamiliar.

There aren’t too many places in the world where you can get such a wide variety of amazing food for so cheap. The average price we paid for a meal for 2, with drinks in HCMC was about USD$5.  The cheapest was about $USD3, and most expensive, when we “splurged” at the seafood restaurant was about USD$20.

Feel free to get involved in the discussion in the comments section below. I’d love to hear of any experiences and recommendations that you might have. I would also very much like to find out the names of some of the dishes are that I haven’t got names for.

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  1. 6 July, 2016 at 9:57 PM

    Thank you so much for your food post! I have been staying in Ho Chi Minh for the last two weeks, and am here for one more week, and wanted to see if I could find any delicious dishes or places to eat that I have not yet tried. Of course, there are tons of places to get street food and restaurants to visit, but I’m going to take some of your considerations to heart. I haven’t had much dessert during my stay here, so I think I am going to visit Che My 2 for some dessert tonight! Thanks a lot again for sharing!

    • 8 July, 2016 at 12:24 AM

      Nice one! I’m glad to hear that you’re having such a great time. Enjoy your last week in Vietnam 🙂

  2. 13 November, 2015 at 10:24 AM

    This looks amazing. The food so makes me want to be there!!

    • 15 November, 2015 at 12:53 PM

      I can’t wait to go back and explore the food scene at an even deeper level.

  3. 14 July, 2015 at 1:57 PM

    For those who prefer Northern taste, I recommend Phở Phương in District 2. It’s a place you should come if you want to try an authentic Vietnamese food – the real phở.

  4. Alfee
    29 June, 2015 at 8:17 PM

    Really happy to stumble on your blog 🙂 Heading to HCMC next month and hope to follow your food 🙂 steps.

    • 29 June, 2015 at 11:19 PM

      Nice one. I’m glad you found it! Have an awesome trip 🙂

  5. 21 February, 2015 at 1:00 PM

    I like Vietnam food. Thank you for the list. Everything is so tasty!

    • 22 February, 2015 at 6:48 PM

      It is great isn’t it. I’m glad you enjoyed reading through the post!

  6. clive12
    14 November, 2014 at 10:48 AM

    One more question, when you say the seafood was fresh, it wasn’t still alive was it? LOL

    • 14 November, 2014 at 1:17 PM

      Not while eating it ☺

      • clive12
        14 November, 2014 at 1:42 PM

        I meant when they first brought it out? LOL

        • 14 November, 2014 at 1:49 PM

          Nope. Didn’t eat anything that was served while still alive!

          • clive12
            14 November, 2014 at 2:37 PM

            Good! I couldn’t do it! 🙂

  7. Franklin Felix
    12 November, 2014 at 9:20 AM

    Wow…… I enjoy reading your blog about street food in Vietnam. I am very happy to have found your blog because i am visiting HCMC next month.

  8. 20 October, 2014 at 12:07 AM

    Enjoyed your post and your information will come in handy when i travel to HCM next month.Thanks!

    • 21 October, 2014 at 10:59 AM

      Have a great trip 🙂

  9. Angela
    13 October, 2014 at 11:08 AM

    Just stumbled across your blog. So glad I did. Heading to Vietnam in Dec/Jan so looking forward to all these wonmderful tastes. Thanks for sharing your tips

    • 13 October, 2014 at 6:06 PM

      Enjoy your trip Angela, and happy eating!

  10. Kosin
    23 September, 2014 at 2:59 PM

    Even though I am Thai and used to street food, I am really really excited about Vietnamese food. Love it here in Europe but can’t wait to taste the AUTHENTIC ones in HCMC. Your post made me even more hungry 😉 Gonna fly there tomorrow!!! PS: Do you have more tasty recommendations? 😀

    • 23 September, 2014 at 8:47 PM

      You won’t be disappointed Kosin that’s for sure. No more tips from me beyond what’s on here. Looks like I have a good excuse to go back and discover some more things!

      Have a great trip 🙂

      • clive12
        14 November, 2014 at 10:47 AM

        I’m going in a few weeks. Can you have ice? That was one thing that I was concerned about in India.

        • 14 November, 2014 at 1:18 PM

          Ice is generally fine. Look for the cylindrical shaped iced cubes with a hole through the middle as a guide. Those are what most people use and are safe.

          • clive12
            14 November, 2014 at 1:43 PM

            Im excited about the coffee drinks you showed above. YUM!

  11. Cathy Mcculloch
    9 September, 2014 at 8:05 AM

    Thanks for taking the time to post was very informative, was there last January tried a few things, but definitely will be more adventurous when we go back Feb 15 thanks to your posts.

    • 9 September, 2014 at 9:19 PM

      That’s great to hear Cathy. Get into it!

  12. 6 September, 2014 at 9:48 AM

    Very wonderful post. Hai and I share your passion for Saigon’s street food. Here’s what we’re doing now:

    • 8 September, 2014 at 9:29 PM

      Thanks. Always happy to see others who are as passionate about Saigon and it’s food as I am.

  13. Chau Lai
    18 August, 2014 at 6:21 PM

    Did you eat at Bien Duong restaurant? That’s my father’s business. Thank you for visit us. If you want to be there again, we will give you a discount card!

    • 18 August, 2014 at 9:34 PM

      Indeed I did Chau. It was a great meal. I’d love to come back next time I’m in HCMC.

  14. 19 June, 2014 at 10:37 PM

    Love this post! I missed out on HCMC when I went to Vietnam as didn’t have that much time so was mainly in Hanoi, Halong and Hoi An – would love to go back and experience this city! Those condensed milk coffees really helped me through the heat though I’d have loved to have tried the green tea latte version 🙂

    • 21 June, 2014 at 1:23 AM

      Thanks Shikha. With less time I think it’s important to focus on just a few cities and get to know them. Like you say – it means that HCMC gives you an excuse to go back to Vietnam again 🙂

  15. crea
    9 June, 2014 at 11:20 PM

    Wow.. Was once clueless on what should I eat there. Nw I had my list to eat for my HCMC trip on this coming august. Thank you for those delicious notes. ^^

    • 10 June, 2014 at 9:34 AM

      You’re welcome crea. Have fun in August!

  16. 28 May, 2014 at 9:57 AM

    Hi Paul,
    It is amazing to see how a traveller like you come to know so much and is so passionate about Vietnamese food and street food culture. The photos are of such high quality and taken from great angles. I wonder how long you spent in Saigon altogether? Respect to your devotion and affection, from a local. HCMC is indeed a very interesting place to visit, especially if you’re a foodie.
    I’m lucky enough to have passion about food in Saigon, maybe from a different angle and perspective from you, because I grew up in this city and have spent quite a long time there. Could you be so kindly grant me a permission to post here the link to my Kickstarter project, which is about food in Saigon?

    • 10 June, 2014 at 10:06 AM

      Thanks Mickey. I was only in Saigon for one week. Barely enough time to scratch the surface of what’s on offer. I’ll have to get some tips of you if I ever find myself back in the city.

      Feel free to post your link here if you’d like.

  17. 30 April, 2014 at 4:52 AM

    Great post Paul, I’m so hungry right now.

    Vietnam is a destination that’s on my to-do list 🙂

    • 30 April, 2014 at 7:41 AM

      It’s nice to know my post had the desired effect 🙂 There’s so much inspiration in Vietnam for travellers, foodies and photographers. You should definitely visit.

  18. Hammy
    17 April, 2014 at 9:48 PM

    Which district is best for street food, and which street? Are the streets active thru out the year, in rain and sunshine? Is June or July a good time to visit? Thanks for a very useful blog. I will keep a print as a reference.

    • 26 April, 2014 at 12:20 PM

      Hi my best advice is to try and find some of the places that I’ve specified in the post. If you look at my post about District 4 you’ll see that there’s some amazing breakfast to be had in there early in the morning too but to be honest in a city like HCMC, there’s street food on seemingly every street all year round. It’s really that great.

  19. Moonpie Alien
    10 April, 2014 at 10:01 AM

    Thanks for a great post with wonderful photos! I’m living in HCMC right now with my husband and am anxious to find some of the places you mentioned. Keep up the great work!

    • 10 April, 2014 at 10:26 AM

      Nice one. I’m getting hungry just thinking about all of the great places you’ll discover while you’re over there.

  20. 24 January, 2014 at 8:25 PM

    Thank you for your posting. You had a great experience and very nice picture.
    I just wondering one small thing.
    I see you said that “Overall, the food in Hanoi was sweeter than that in Ho Chi Minh city”. In my opinion, the food in HCM is sweeter than Hanoi. In HCM, almost food plus sugar and sugar.

    • 25 January, 2014 at 5:52 PM

      Interesting you say that Keo. Are there any dishes in particular that you find to be quite sweet in HCMC?

  21. 23 January, 2014 at 12:26 PM

    Great blog! I really enjoyed your point of views as a Westerner. Its amazing that you and your wife took the plunge and tried all the food here. My mom is even afraid of street food and thats really a pity. I just moved to HCMC for work and really love the food and life here.

    Check out my blog for travel & food spot reviews in Vietnam and the rest of the world:

    • 25 January, 2014 at 5:50 PM

      You only live once eh. Lots of people are afraid to take the plunge and try some new things but it’s worth it. I hope you find many great places while you’re living over there.

  22. Eric Kway
    3 December, 2013 at 10:38 PM

    Hi Paul, thanks for the great post. I’m heading to HCMC with my family on Friday. Thanks for the great tips.

    • 8 December, 2013 at 11:39 AM

      Thanks Eric. I hope you all have a great trip.

  23. Lan
    25 November, 2013 at 9:37 PM

    The noodle place in the post is actually a vegetarian stall. All the meats look-alike are actually non-meat items but they taste like meat. This is quite common for vegetarian restaurants in VN.

    • 2 December, 2013 at 6:42 PM

      If that’s true then that’s amazing.

  24. Ros
    24 October, 2013 at 7:28 PM

    Great post! I’m heading over there on Monday and am really excited to go and explore the food scene. Thanks for the great tips. Love that I googled HCMC food guide and found a fellow Melbournian.

    • 24 October, 2013 at 8:36 PM

      I’m sure you’ll have a great trip Ros. Thanks for the kind words – it makes me genuinely happy to know that people are getting something out of this post. There’s so much great food and I’m glad that I’ve been able to make some of it that little bit easier to find. Us Australians do get around 🙂

  25. 24 October, 2013 at 1:59 PM

    I love your photos. I am an amateur for sure but was wondering 1) What kind of camera do you have? 2) Do you have any special photo tips for taking these incredible photos like using the manual button and fstops and such but maybe in easy terms that the beginner may understand?

    • 24 October, 2013 at 8:39 PM

      Hi Allison. I used the Fujifilm X100S for most of the Vietnam photos. I actually bought it on the trip. It’s a great camera. Loads of fun to use. Before that I was using a Panasonic GF1 which I loved and still use when I need something other than a fixed lens (which the Fuji is). I’m still learning the camera and on the trip I didn’t do too much fancy to be honest. The main thing was exposure and manual focusing – especially when taking photos close up of food. I’ve also started shooting in RAW which gives me a lot more control in post processing to get the photos just right.

  26. 5 October, 2013 at 11:15 PM

    Flying into HCMC for four days for a wedding in Jan 2014…thanks for the great food guide…Will do our best to seek these out. The bride is a local, so I guess she will take us to some of her childhood favs as well…looking forward to it. My wife and I will try anything food wise. If the open air food areas are anything like Singapore then we are in for a blast! Cheers.

    • 7 October, 2013 at 5:30 PM

      I’m glad you found some stuff of use Damian. I love knowing that people are trying new things based on my recommendations. I’ve been to Singapore several times and it’s a lot more “raw” in atmosphere than in Singapore. I imagine the street food scene is like it was in Singapore before the government took it all into hawker centres. You’ll love it. Enjoy HCMC and the wedding!

  27. Pete
    3 August, 2013 at 12:21 PM

    Absolutely loved this and your photos are fantastic. We are planning a trip to Vitenam next year and my taste buds want to leave now. We get fantstic Pho and Banh Mi in Melbourne where there is a large Vietnamese community so I have a good idea of the treats in store for us.

    • 3 August, 2013 at 12:42 PM

      Thanks Pete. You’ll have a great time. After eating your way through Vietnam you’ll need to slowly ease yourself back into Victoria St and Footscray!

  28. Sheree
    31 July, 2013 at 3:07 PM

    Is fresh milk available in the coffee shops? can’t stand evap or condensed milk. Sheree

    • 31 July, 2013 at 6:22 PM

      Hi Sheree. Fresh milk is hard to find in the streetside carts etc, however Trung Nguyen and Highlands Coffee do have the option of fresh milk and European style coffees.

    • Giang
      3 February, 2014 at 10:56 PM

      Hi Sheree,
      If you wanna find fresh milk, you should see this one:
      You can find Lothanmilk chain store in Hochiminh

  29. Lynne
    30 July, 2013 at 3:01 PM

    Very well done report .. thanks .. better than any I have read.

    • 30 July, 2013 at 6:44 PM

      Thanks Lynne. I’m glad you enjoyed it.

  30. Tom
    28 June, 2013 at 5:51 PM

    Enjoyed reading your write-up on HCMC food guide and my mouth is watering at the sight of the food dishes you photographed!!! Am off to Vietnam in a few weeks with my partner and can’t wait to experience this country.

    • 30 June, 2013 at 5:46 PM

      I’m glad you enjoyed the post Tom. I’m sure you’ll have a great time when you’re over there. Enjoy!

  31. 25 June, 2013 at 7:40 PM

    Almost everyone I knew said they loved Ho Chi Minh city and I wondered why, but now I think I know 🙂

    • 25 June, 2013 at 9:13 PM

      Same. I’d only heard good things and once I got there it still managed to exceed my expectations!

  32. Clare Deegan
    24 June, 2013 at 1:48 AM

    Hi there Paul
    My partner has booked us a trip to hcmc for 5nts and 10nts phan thiet in sept, so reading your site has been very interesting and will try all the places you have mentioned , could you tell me is it easy to get from airport to district 1 and from there out to the coast, also the shopping , what type of clothes shopping is there? Typical female question I suppose ….

    • 25 June, 2013 at 9:12 PM

      Hi Claire. It’s very easy to get from the Airport to District 1. We actually organised a transfer via our hotel as it was only around USD$18, but a Taxi should only cost you around USD$8. With taxis, make sure you only use Vinasun (white with a green and red stripe) or Mai Linh (either green or two tone green and white) – these are the two legitimate taxi companies, they have meters etc, most of the other taxis are scammers. Your best option on the taxi front is to go to the counter that you can find when you walk out of customs. They will give you a slip and organise a legitimate taxi for you.

      As for shopping, there is lots of clothes shopping. There are a few brand new shopping complexes full of all the mid/high end brands. One of the main shopping streets, Le Loi also has stacks of international brands.

      If it’s locally made stuff that you’re looking for, I didn’t buy anything but there was lots around, especially at the markets (e.g. Ben Thanh Market (District 1) and Binh Tay Market (Chinatown, District 6).

      No idea about Phan Thiet as I didn’t head out there sorry.

      Have a great time on your trip, it’ll be great fun 🙂

    • Giang
      3 February, 2014 at 10:52 PM

      Hi Clare,
      Im Vietnamese living in HCMC. If you wanna go shopping, Le Loi street or Ben Thanh market as Paul mentioned is somehow ok for foreigners cuz its easy to find but quite expensive. If you have time, you should stop by Pham Van Hai Market (Pham Van Hai streert, Tan Binh district). Don’t buy clothes in Tax building (downtown near Ben Thanh market) or buildings near it cause they sell fake with unacceptable price. I bought a bag cost 200 dollars while its real price is only 6 dollars in open market. OMG.

  33. 20 June, 2013 at 9:40 PM

    This is an incredibly well put together and insightful article and I can only image it’s going to leave many people with a huge desire to catch the next plane.

    • 20 June, 2013 at 9:48 PM

      Thanks For the kind words Dale. If it inspires just one person to visit and try some things that they wouldn’t usually have tried I’ll be very happy.

  34. 20 June, 2013 at 3:05 AM


    • 20 June, 2013 at 9:58 PM

      It all tasted as good as, if not better than, it looked.

  35. 19 June, 2013 at 4:39 PM

    What a fantastic post – thanks so much for sharing! We’re off to HCMC in a couple of months and this post has compounded my excitement! I’ve traveled many times throughout Asia (but never to Vietnam specifically) – one thing I am always careful with in terms of eating and drinking is avoiding ice in drinks. I see that a number of your drinks (e.g. coffee) contained ice cubes. What are your thoughts on this?

    • 20 June, 2013 at 9:45 PM

      Hi Georgia, I’m glad I could make you even more excited about your trip 🙂

      Regarding the ice thing, you are completely correct. My wife and I didn’t really think about it until halfway through our trip, which is crazy as we were drinking bottled water from day 1. It’s certainly a risk. One tip we were made aware of was to look for ice cubes that are long and spherical with holes in the middle (you can tell the type in the pics). The majority were like this and supposedly it is a sign that the ice comes from a good source.

      Many of the “cold” drinks are actually served warm/room temp and poured over a cup of ice so it is hard to avoid.

      • 21 June, 2013 at 9:11 AM

        Yes, it is hard to avoid/remember to ask for when travelling.
        Thanks for your response 🙂

      • Ann
        18 May, 2014 at 9:01 PM

        I live in Saigon and ice is safe as long as it comes from the supplier. There are two types, the one you described and the broken chucks that are hacked off of very large blocks.

        I really love you photos and you have been places I have not been and now want to try in the Ho.

  36. 18 June, 2013 at 4:18 AM

    Great research! It makes me want to go back today.

    • 20 June, 2013 at 9:54 PM

      I already want to go back too. There’s still so much more to try.

  37. Ann
    17 June, 2013 at 10:12 PM

    I enjoyed reading your post and love your enthusiasm, but I have an incredibly pathetic Western gut and would never eat at those places. Yes, it’s my loss. I do love cold Vietnamese coffee with condensed milk though.

    • 17 June, 2013 at 11:52 PM

      Thanks Ann. The coffee is rather excellent 🙂

  38. 17 June, 2013 at 4:55 PM

    Wow – you gotta be proud of the shots you achieved here! Now when people come to me for HCMC recs I won’t have to dig around in my notes – I can just send this on!

    • 17 June, 2013 at 7:58 PM

      Thanks. It was hard to stop to take photos and refrain from eating straight away.

  39. 17 June, 2013 at 1:34 PM

    Everything looks so tasty! The food was definitely one of the highlights of my time in HCMC. I never knew pho could taste so good until I ate it locally.

    • 17 June, 2013 at 7:59 PM

      Such an amazing city for sure. Likewise, I thought I knew Vietnamese food, but once you’ve been there, everything is so much tastier and on another level.