How to choose the right street food when visiting Saigon


Ho Chi Minh City (HCMC), Vietnam, offers a wonderful array of delicious food for visitors. When at this place, everywhere you look you will find people preparing food at any time of the day. Down alleyways, on the streets and in any “hole in the wall”, something related to food is occurring at any time. As you walk through the streets HCMC be sure to smell all kinds of wondrous smells. As you read through this, you will discover how to get the right food you want to take when in this awesome place.

Street stall in HCMC, Vietnam

Street stall in HCMC, Vietnam

Many people shy from trying street food when overseas and this also goes for tourist visiting Saigon. I’ve seen people shy from fresh vegetables, ice or basically anything that has not been thoroughly cooked. While these can be sensible precautions in many circumstances, overdoing the “paranoia” side of eating street food will make you miss some great experiences. People ask themselves questions like “how do I know if it is safe? What if I get stomach upsets? Is it hygienic”? Two things will make you find answers to your questions. One is that you should eat where you see locals are eating from and two is that you should look for the food that you see is being cooked so that you can trust the source.

Regarding the first tip is that locals eat where they know food is of a good quality and has no risk in it. If you get to a place where many locals have gathered to eat then know that you are at the right place. This is because if food was of low quality the locals would be avoiding it.

For the second tip, know that most of the street hole and carts in the wall restaurants in HCMC have cooking and raw ingredients in a view that is usually clear. If something very fresh is being cooked in your presence or in front of your eyes, you can be keen on how it is being cooked. Contrast this to a hotel or restaurant where food is being cooked when you can’t see.

Street food Saigon

Street food in Saigon

Some of the great food that you will get in the streets of HCMC are; banh mi, rice paper rolls, noodles and Pho among others. Banh mi is one of the foods associated with HCMC and is a very delicious snack and shows that fusion food can be the best when cooked in the right manner. Banh mi is a Vietnamese word that means all kinds of bread. This food, when cooked with pate and thit (meat) is the best. The thit is some kind of roasted or steamed pork belly, Vietnamese sausage, grilled chicken or other meat that is often related to pork. Usual condiments include paté, sliced cucumber, pickled carrots, coriander and shredded daikon. Stalls selling this banh mi can are found all over HCMC. Have a look at the ingredients that are being used and if it impresses you then go for it.

Rice paper rolls are also common in HCMC. The rolls are prepared when fresh in front of you with seafood and pork as it pleases you. This is a simple a delicious meal that you can have with no worries at all.

Street carts selling food is common in HCMC and both men and women do this. At times they are selling one kind of fruit or different kinds and at times they can also be selling the above mentioned foods. Do not hurry and purchase the food, watch how the locals get it from a particular cart. If many people take the food from the cart then buy from them.

One last resort if you need a little help, there now are guided tours that are exclusively focused on getting you to experience authentic street food by taking you to stalls and restaurants around the city. This will be a less authentic experience from a personal point of view but the food will be the real deal. Have a look at available tour companies operating in Saigon HCMC and see the reviews about them carried out by independent writers before you choose one.

Street food vendor in Vietnam

Street food vendor in Vietnam

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