Ask any Vietnamese person about their home province and it won’t be long before they tell you about the culinary specialities you can try there. People here are deeply proud of their traditional food. 

Traditional Vietnamese salad served in a nice way

A foodie's dream

In the Vietnamese capital Hanoi the national dish, pho, is rightly venerated. Wander the Old Quarter streets early morning and the scent of simmering stock laced with star anise will greet you. As the day unfolds the aroma of another classic, bun cha, fills the air as pork is barbecued ready to be served with baskets of fresh herbs. This is a city where you can tell the time by the scent of food in the air – a sure sign that Vietnam is a foodie’s dream.

Further north in the mountains a wide variety of minority dishes await thanks to Vietnam’s rich tapestry of ethnic groups. Sample them with Topas up in Sapa, in Pu Luong and on your journeys in between.

Down in the former capital of Hue intricate dishes fit for Vietnam’s last royal dynasty are now served for the masses. Tapas-like spreads create a feast for the eyes as much as the taste buds.

Noodles and beer

Further south, the glorious Hai Van pass marks a watershed not only for the climate, but for cuisine. Just beyond it, Danang and Hoi An are home to excellent seafood served up along their beaches. Put your toes in the sand and order up lemongrass clams, fresh crab, lobster, sweet and sour fish soup and all manner of sauteed vegetables with garlic. Paired with an ice cold Huda beer or chilled bottle of wine, this is a contender for the country’s best dining experience.

This region is also famed for my quang, a wonderfully balanced noodle dish with turmeric, peanuts, shrimp, pork, a handful of herbs and topped off with rice crackers. The humble baguette, or banh my, is elevated to another level here; the lightest, warmed bread imaginable is filled with all manner of delectable ingredients and optional chili sauce which shouldn’t be missed.

Taste meal in miniority village in Sapa
Tourists enjoying street food in Saigon

Food tour

In the south, Ho Chi Minh City has it all. To experience eating here a food tour is ideal, helping visitors navigate the many flavours on offer, from spicy salads to grilled meats and noodle dishes such as hu tiu.

Alongside all the street food experiences, Vietnam is home to a multitude of higher end dining experiences with everything from fine dining to Japanese and modern takes on Vietnamese classics available in settings ranging from sky bars to restored colonial villas.

Vegetarians and vegans are well served too, with many meat free classics as well as dedicated eateries in Hanoi, Hoi An and Ho Chi Minh City.