Header image courtesy of René De Anda (via Unsplash)
Ho Chi Minh is home to some of the best eats, and we’re not just talking about its five-star restaurants. Whilst most of us tick off scooter rides and elephant orphanage visits, a trip to Vietnam is still not complete without ensuring a daily dose of street food for the full cultural experience. Without further ado, here are a few prime spots to grab a plastic stool and get authentic, scrumptious street food in Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam.
Bordering Saigon’s two most vibrant districts—Phú Nhuận & Bình Thạnh—Vạn Kiếp Street is strung with neon signs and an extraordinary line-up of Vietnamese street food stalls. Variety is everything, and this region showcases probably the biggest range of food options, which brings music to the ears of hungry travellers. The street is packed with youngsters gathered around plastic tables, laughing and munching on everything, from phở to quán út lang (skewered meats)—reminiscent of a family-like atmosphere.
Vạn Kiếp Street, Bình Thạnh, Hồ Chí Minh, Vietnam
Often referred to in its English form for non-locals, Seafood Street (Vĩnh Khánh Street) is exactly what its name suggests—a catch-of-the-day kind of place. Crowded with rows of restaurants serving seafood on sizzling barbecue grills, the area boasts an electric vibe, welcoming visitors from all over to try the aromatic delights. For something a little more unique, try the infamous snails, cooked in three ways—with morning glory, salt and chillies, or refreshing coconut milk.
Vĩnh Khánh Street, Quận 4, Hồ Chí Minh, Vietnam
There’s much more to Bến Thành Market than the occasional tacky souvenir. In fact, the District 1 market is one of the earliest surviving structures of Saigon and serves as a significant memoir of the region’s history. Walk through the meander of endless stores and come to the food stalls for a taste of the street eats. With over 10,000 visitors flooding in every day, this market is a must-visit, especially for newcomers.
Bến Thành Market, Chợ, Đ. Lê Lợi, Phường Bến Thành, Quận 1, Hồ Chí Minh, Vietnam
The long and windy Sư Vạn Hạnh Street is a local favourite for late-night snacks. From dusk till dawn, the street is crowded with eager diners, perched on stools around small plastic tables. Some may be put off by the old, run-down buildings surrounding the area, but there is a variety of karaoke bars and restaurants there. Devour a dessert from Block H, a popular eatery serving over sixteen different types of chè, a traditional Vietnamese sweet soup.
Sư Vạn Hạnh Street, Hồ Chí Minh, Vietnam
District 1’s Cô Giang Street is conveniently located near the backpacker region, yet remains a local favourite for eating. With some of the best street food on the corner of Cô Giang and Đề Thám streets, the area specialises in hủ tiếu xào, a variation on the classic Chinese fried noodle. Although the street is in the central region, it’s actually more peaceful than its neighbouring quarters. Discover the range of authentic Vietnamese eats and culture over an open-air seating evening—there’s plenty of food for all.
Cô Giang Street, Quận 1, Hồ Chí Minh, Vietnam
The longstanding Nam Giao restaurant is nestled in an alley near Bến Thành Market, serving all-time favourites from cơm hến (baby clams and rice) to bánh bèo (steamed rice cake with shrimp). The street food stall continues to excel in its juicy flavours and unique Vietnamese fare.
Nam Giao, 136/15 Lê Thánh Tôn, Phường Bến Thành, Quận 1, Hồ Chí Minh, Vietnam
For the full Vietnamese local street food experience, Phở Bò Viên Thập Cẩm is a tiny bolthole serving, you guessed it, the infamous phở. Although there’s a huge language barrier (they don’t speak any English), it’s quite simple to communicate by choosing what it’s known for—its uber-cheap, hearty noodle soup sprinkled with fresh herbs.
Phở Bò Viên Thập Cẩm, 7 Nguyễn Thái Bình, Phường Nguyễn Thái Bình, Quận 1, Hồ Chí Minh, Vietnam
Deemed as the best spot in Saigon to eat bánh xèo (a savoury, sizzling Vietnamese crepe), Banh Xeo 46A serves up different flavours of the pancake, including mung beans, vegetables, pork, and shrimp. This is arguably the go-to for every traveller—or at least, that’s what Chef Anthony Bourdain says, a celebrity fan of the eatery.
Banh Xeo 46A, 46A Đinh Công Tráng, Tân Định, Quận 1, Hồ Chí Minh, Vietnam