Ho Chi Minh City (HCMC) is Vietnam’s culinary capital with an eclectic variety of delicious cuisine to choose from. If you’re looking for an authentic and budget friendly experience, visiting one or all of the below street food destinations will offer you a chance to try different menu items without the commitment of a full blown restaurant experience. Pick the stalls where you see the most locals ordering from and you can't go wrong!
1. Nha Hang Ngon – Dong Khoi Area
- You can find this popular 3 story spot packed with locals and travelers eating from the many food stalls surrounding a cute garden. Each stall specializes in a specific dish or cuisine.
- Try the Banh cuon, which is a steamed rice sheet roll of goodness stuffed with ground pork, minced wood ear mushroom and shallots. You will get sides of Vietnamese pork sausage, sliced cucumber and bean sprouts. I like to liberally add fish sauce over the entire thing but you may also dip the rolls to control how fishy you want the dish to taste.
- Try the many authentic Vietnamese desserts here, which contain items such as beans, bananas, and a heavy dose of coconut milk. I would recommend a cold dessert like Che ba mau, which literally translates to Three Color Dessert, to cool you down after being out in the sun.
- Location: 160 D Pasteur, Hours: 7 AM to 10 PM
2. Ben Thanh Market – Dong Khoi Area
- This indoor market is situated in one of HCMC’s most bumpin’ areas. The food stalls are a great way to check out different dishes all in one place. The food items are all reasonably priced and stalls are usually open until the afternoon.
- There is a night market that opens up after the main market closes.
- Try some Vietnamese fruits like durian, purple mangosteen, pitaya (aka Dragon Fruit) and longan. Many of these fruits contain small pits, so be careful.
- Try some Banh xeo, which literally translates to "sizzling cake", if you get a chance. It's a savory fried pancake which is commonly stuffed with pork, shrimp, green onion, mung bean and bean sprouts.
- If you're into spicy food, I would recommend trying out the chilis at the table. They will have raw green and red chillies, jars of chopped pickled chillies and a hot chili satay. Try them out and see which ones you prefer!
- Tip: Be careful to look after your personal items and electronics while in this area. Make sure to stay hydrated as it can get fairly hot out.
3. Binh Tay Market – Cholon Area
- This market situated in HCMC’s Chinatown is Cholon’s main market. This market sells mainly wholesale but it's popular with tourists. The market was built by the French with a beautiful courtyard and gardens. You can find a variety of street food vendors here and also explore this historical area. Keep your eye out for traditional Chinese architecture!
- The main complex is under renovation, so check to make sure that it is open before going. You can visit the Food Hall, where you can find food stalls to order from.
- You can also buy coffee, fresh fruit, spices, herbs, mushrooms, and seafood from here.
- Cool fact: Cholon’s meaning is ‘big market’ and was originally a black market during the American War!
- Tip: This place can get very crowded in the morning and there are many aggressive sellers here, so be prepared for this experience or else go later in the day.
- Warning: Vendors here may not speak English.
I hope that you’re able to better plan your trip with my top street food picks for Ho Chi Minh City. Please stay safe and eat your heart out in this exciting place!
- Amy Yes