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Not to Miss Traditional Food in Ho Chi Minh City

Not to Miss Traditional Food in Ho Chi Minh City


In Ho Chi Minh City, also called Saigon, food lovers have a lot to enjoy. The lively streets are packed with food stalls and vendors selling all sorts of delicious local foods. From steaming bowls of pho to aromatic rice dishes and an eclectic variety of savory snacks, there’s an endless feast to be discovered.

Whether you like noodles, rice dishes, or tasty snacks, you’ll find something to enjoy in the wide array of traditional food in Ho Chi Minh City.

Here’s our guide to exploring the best of Ho Chi Minh City’s local food scene.

In a hurry?

Here are our favorite food tours in Ho Chi Minh City / Saigon:

Street Food Motorbike Tour In Ho Chi Minh City: Experience Saigon as the locals do, on a motorbike! Taste 8 of the best street foods in town, including a drink, Saigon beer and dessert – BOOK NOW!

Walking Street Food Tour in Ho Chi Minh City: Stroll the back alleys and visit old apartments built in 1968 while tasting 10 dishes, including a drink and Saigon beer – BOOK NOW!

Vegan Food Motorbike Tour in Ho Chi Minh City: Experience Ho Chi Minh City by night from the back of a motorbike, while enjoying delicious vegan dishes prepared by some of the best vegan kitchens in the city – BOOK NOW!

Here is an overview:

Our Foodie’s Guide to Ho Chi Minh City: Must Eat Traditional Dishes to Experience

Here are our top traditional dishes in Ho Chi Minh City that every visitor needs to try.

Pha Lau (Favorite Student Food)

When you’re in Ho Chi Minh City, make sure to try a tasty dish called Pha lau. It’s a blend of Vietnamese and Chinese flavors that creates something really special.

Pha lau is a thick stew of various organ meats, such as intestines and stomach, cooked in a tasty broth with spices like star anise and cinnamon. The meat becomes tender and juicy in the flavorful broth. It can be eaten with crispy bread or rice noodles, and fresh herbs are often added to make it even tastier.

Pha Lau in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam.

Banh Beo

Banh beo is a beloved street food in Ho Chi Minh City that is enjoyed by both locals and visitors. It’s made of tiny steamed rice cakes topped with tasty ingredients like dried shrimp, crunchy pork rinds, and scallions.

The soft rice cakes paired with the flavorful toppings make for a delicious treat that you’ll want to enjoy again and again.

Banh Beo in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam.
Banh Beo in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam.

Banh Canh Cua

Banh Canh Cua is a well-loved Vietnamese traditional food in Ho Chi Minh City, offering a tasty noodle soup experience. It’s made with thick and chewy rice noodles in a flavorful broth made from crab.

This soup is full of aromatic herbs and spices, giving it a mouthwatering scent. The real star of Banh Canh Cua is the delicious crab meat, adding richness to every bite. It’s served with fresh herbs, crispy pork rinds, and a splash of lime for extra freshness.

Banh Canh Cua in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam.
Banh Canh Cua in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam.

Goi Cuon (Must Try!)

Goi Cuon, or Vietnamese summer rolls, is a favorite street food in Ho Chi Minh City. It is loved for its fresh and light taste.

These rolls are made with rice paper and filled with a mix of fresh ingredients, such as shrimp, pork, lettuce, bean sprouts, herbs, and noodles. They’re served with a yummy peanut sauce for dipping, which gives them a creamy and slightly sweet flavor.

Goi Cuon in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam.
Goi Cuon in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam.

Banh Khot

Banh Khot is a popular and crunchy treat in Ho Chi Minh City. These small pancakes are made with a tasty blend of rice flour, turmeric, and coconut milk. Cooked until crispy and golden, they’re topped with fillings like shrimp, pork, and scallions.

Banh Khot, enjoyed with fresh herbs and lettuce, is a delicious snack or starter that’s sure to please.

Banh Khot in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam.
Banh Khot in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam.

Banh Tam Bi

Banh Tam Bi is a must-try dish in Ho Chi Minh City’s bustling food scene. It combines two key elements: banh tam, a thick and chewy rice noodle, and bi, tender shredded pork rinds.

Served with plenty of fresh herbs, roasted peanuts, and a flavorful coconut milk sauce, every bite offers a delightful mix of textures and a balance of sweet, savory, and nutty tastes.

It’s a dish you won’t want to miss when exploring the city’s vibrant street food offerings.

Banh Tam Bi in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam.
Banh Tam Bi in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam.

Banh Bot Chien (You Will Love It)

Bot Chien is a popular dish among Saigon street foods, known for its crispy texture and irresistible flavor. It features crispy pan-fried rice cakes and scrambled eggs, stir-fried together with flavorful seasonings and topped with fresh green onions.

The rice cakes have a delicious golden crust, while the eggs contribute a creamy richness to the dish. With such a delightful mix of textures and flavors, Bot Chien offers a truly enjoyable culinary experience.

Banh Bot Chien in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam.
Banh Bot Chien in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam.

Banh Mi

If you’re in Saigon and unsure of what to eat, you can’t go wrong with the iconic Banh Mi Saigon. This Vietnamese sandwich has become famous worldwide for its delicious blend of French and Vietnamese flavors.

Inside a crispy baguette, you’ll find grilled pork or shredded chicken, along with fresh herbs, pickled veggies, and a tangy sauce. The mix of crunchy bread, savory fillings, and diverse flavors makes every bite truly satisfying.

It’s a culinary delight you won’t want to miss.

Eating Banh Mi in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam.
Eating Banh Mi in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam.

Bun Mam

Bun Mam is a classic Vietnamese noodle soup packed with rich, delightful flavors that will tantalize your taste buds. This seafood-based soup blends shrimp, squid, fish, and veggies in a tasty broth made with fermented fish sauce.

Served alongside thick rice noodles, fresh herbs, bean sprouts, and lime wedges, you can personalize each bowl just the way you like it. With juicy seafood, fragrant broth, and crisp herbs, it’s a dish that’s sure to satisfy every palate.

Bun Mam in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam.
Bun Mam in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam.

Com Tam

Com Tam, also known as Vietnamese broken rice, is a street food gem in Saigon that every food lover should taste.

This dish is a delightful mix of flavors and textures that will surely satisfy your cravings.

It begins with aromatic broken rice, topped with succulent grilled pork chops, a crispy fried egg, and a side of fish sauce dressing. The tasty pork, combined with fluffy rice and tangy pickled veggies, creates a mouthwatering fusion of flavors with each mouthful.

Com Tam in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam.
Com Tam in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam.

Che Chuoi

Che Chuoi is a comforting dessert featuring warm banana and coconut soup.

Ripe bananas’ natural sweetness blends perfectly with creamy coconut milk, while tapioca pearls add a delightful chewiness. Fragrant pandan leaves lend a subtle aroma, and roasted peanuts offer a satisfying crunch.

Whether as a cozy treat on a chilly day or a delightful end to a meal, Che Chuoi highlights the harmonious mix of tropical flavors in Vietnamese cuisine.

Che Chuoi in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam.
Che Chuoi in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam.

Hu Tieu

Hu Tieu is a beloved noodle dish originating from southern Vietnam.

It stars thin, chewy rice noodles in a savory broth crafted from pork bones, seafood, and aromatic spices. Toppings like sliced pork, shrimp, squid, and bean sprouts add extra flavor and texture.

With its tender noodles, flavorful broth, and delicious toppings, Hu Tieu offers a comforting culinary journey. Whether you like it mild or spicy, this Saigon specialty showcases the delectable flavors of Vietnamese cuisine.

Hu Tieu in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam.
Hu Tieu in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam.

Where Can You Find the Best Traditional Food in Ho Chi Minh City?

Here’s where to go in the city to find the best local foods in Ho Chi Minh City.

Related read: How to Experience the Best Food Tours in Vietnam

Turtle Lake Area (District 3)

Head to the intersection of Vo Van Tan, Pham Ngoc Thach, and Tran Cao Van Streets. This lively spot is famous for its diverse street food stalls, offering an array of delicious treats to satisfy every craving.

Vinh Khanh Street (District 4)

If you’re a seafood lover, Vinh Khanh Street is a must-visit. Renowned for its fresh and flavorful seafood dishes, especially snails, this street is dotted with restaurants and street vendors serving up culinary delights.

Alley 200 Xom Chieu (District 4)

Tucked away in a local neighborhood, this hidden gem offers a range of street food options, from hearty pha lau to flavorful noodle dishes, providing a true taste of authentic Vietnamese cuisine.

Co Giang Street (District 1)

Co Giang Street is a foodie’s paradise. Vendors line the street, offering popular Vietnamese local foods such as banh mi, pho, com tam, and che chuoi, ensuring there’s something to please every palate.

Ben Thanh Market (District 1)

A renowned landmark on Le Loi Street in Ho Chi Minh City, Ben Thanh Market not only offers a bustling market atmosphere but also boasts a variety of street food options for visitors to savor and enjoy.

Alley 284 Le Van Sy (District 3)

Hidden away, this alley is a local favorite for its authentic Vietnamese street food, including mouthwatering banh mi, hu tieu, and more, providing a true taste of the city’s culinary delights.

Alley 14 Tran Binh Trong (District 5)

Known for its delectable Vietnamese street foods, this alley offers treats such as grilled rice paper, bot chien, and banh mi, making it a must-visit destination for food enthusiasts.

How to Uncover Ho Chi Minh City’s Culinary Gems

Don’t try figure it out on your own, join one of these top Ho Chi Minh City food tours.

Related read: Things to Do in Ho Chi Minh City: A Guide for Travelers

Street Food Motorbike Tour – Top Notch

This tour takes you off the beaten tourist paths, guided by locals with expert knowledge, into neighborhoods rarely covered by guidebooks. Here’s what you can expect:

  • Authentic Tastes: Sample a carefully selected menu of eight traditional street foods, enjoying genuine flavors that define Saigon, paired with a local beer and a refreshing beverage.
  • Unique Venues: Explore hidden alleyways and charming districts, including the historic lanes of Chinatown, uncovering the city’s rich cultural diversity.
  • Local Interaction: Experience heartfelt connections with community vendors, adding personal touches and smiles to your journey.
  • Live the Local Rhythm: Ride through Saigon on a motorbike, experiencing the city’s pulse as a local, with student guides adding a layer of friendship and insight.
  • Cultural Immersion: Each stop is more than just food; it’s a dive into a world of new discoveries, blending flavors with cultural understanding.

This Motorbike Street Food Tour is not just about tasting food but is an adventure in flavor, culture, and connections, recommended for anyone eager to experience Saigon’s unseen gems.

Price: from $28

  • Ten dishes, snacks, drinks & local beer included (no hidden cost)
  • Friendly English-speaking tour guide
  • Convenient pickup directly from your hotel
  • Helmet
  • Alcoholic Beverages
  • Transportation by motorbike. One guest with one guide (separate motorbike)
  • Accident Insurance up to 5000$ per case
  • Photos from your tour guide

Choose from multiple starting times to fit your schedule – 11AM, 12PM, 1PM, 5:30PM, 6PM, or request a time that works best for you.

Don’t miss out on this unique culinary adventure!

Cach lam chuoi nep nuong in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. Traditional food in Ho Chi Minh City
Cach lam chuoi nep nuong in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam.

Walking Street Food Tour

Dive into the heart of Ho Chi Minh City with the Walking Street Food Tour, a journey that marries the delight of local flavors with the discovery of hidden historical sites. Here’s a snapshot of what you’ll experience:

  • Diverse Local Cuisine: Enjoy a meticulously selected range of ten street food dishes, ranging from savory specialties to sweet treats, all accompanied by refreshing beverages and traditional Saigon beer.
  • Cultural and Historical Insights: Wander through back alleys rich with history, including stops at historical apartments that bear the marks of the Tet Offensive in 1968.
  • Guided by Experts: Local connoisseurs will guide you, offering an authentic, insider’s view into the city’s culinary and cultural heritage.
  • Best Price Guarantee: Experience all this at great value, ensuring you receive the best price for your culinary adventure.
  • Personalized Experience: The tour is designed to accommodate all dietary needs, ensuring everyone can indulge in the flavors of Saigon.
  • Authentic Immersion: More than just a food tour, this is a chance to live like a local, eat like a local, and uncover the authentic spirit of the city.

Perfect for the epicurean adventurer, the Walking Street Food Tour is a feast for the senses, offering a true taste of local life and an authentic slice of Ho Chi Minh City.

Price: from $27

  • Ten dishes, snacks, drinks & local beer included (no hidden cost)
  • Free pick-up & drop-off right at your hotel in district 1,3 and 4
  • Friendly English-speaking tour guide
  • Transportation by Taxi or Grab
  • Accident Insurance up to 5000$ per case

Tour times are available at 12PM, 1PM, 5:30PM, and 6PM, or you can choose your preferred time.

Join this tour for an unforgettable culinary adventure through the vibrant streets of Saigon!

Super delicious street food in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam.
Super delicious street food in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam.

Eat Local in Ho Chi Minh City

The traditional food in Ho Chi Minh City is an essential experience for any culinary explorer.

Diving into the bustling markets and lively streets to sample the city’s fare is not just about enjoying an array of exquisite flavors, but also about embracing the vibrant culture and rich history that come with each bite. From the fragrant bowls of pho to the crunchy banh mi, each dish offers a story, a tradition, and a taste of the local zest for life.

Whether accommodating dietary preferences or seeking authentic interactions, the street food landscape in Ho Chi Minh City is as accommodating as it is diverse. To truly understand the heart of this city, one must eat as the locals do, and there’s no doubt that the dynamic food scene here is a deliciously persuasive reason not to miss the unique charm that this Vietnamese gem has to offer.

  • SaigonVibes

    Welcome to Saigon, a bustling and exciting city just waiting to be discovered! Let’s arrange your vacation together! For an amazing adventure, explore its colorful streets, rich culture, and must-see sights. Sample the most amazing dishes that Ho Chi Minh City has to offer.

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