Vietnam

Vietnam Travel & Food Guide

By Suneela on Oct. 20th, 2023

Vietnam is a culturally diverse place. You will find differnce in food, culture and people when you move from South Vietnam to North Vietnam. South Vietnam was influenced by the French and you will find food varieties like Banh Mi (baguette sandwich). North Vietnam had more Chinese/Asian influence and you will find varieties like Pho (noodle soup).

Ho Chi Minh City

Attractions:

War remnants Museum

War remnants museum tells us the story of Vietnam War. You will learn about French colonization, US invasion of Vietnam and atrocities committed by them. You will also understand the
devastating impact of the war on country’s civilians. The museum displays a number of graphical images about the war. You will understand how much the country suffered and the how the impact of the war is felt even today. It made us view Vietnam in a different light. Highly recommended to check this museum.

war_remnants

Cu-Chi tunnels:

Cu Chi tunnels were built during the Vietnam war by the Viet Cong soldiers to fight against the U.S. They are completely underground and connect multiple villages and they stretch nearly 250 kms. These tunnels were used by Viet Cong (supporting North Vietnam) to ambush the US military during the Vietnam war. A guided day trip is highly recommended to understand the history behind it. Few tunnels are open for public to be explored. You will get to crawl in these underground tunnels as part of the tour.

On the way to cu-chi tunnels, we also got to visit a pearl museum and a handicraft workshop. The handicrafts are prepared by the local community who are affected or born with deformalities due to Agent Orange (a dangerous bomb dropped by the US during the Vietnam War). The proceeds from their workshop goes for the development of their community.

Bitexco Financial tower

Bitexco Financial tower is one of the tallest skyscrapers of Vietnam. You get a fantastic 360° view from the Skydeck observatory located at 49th floor. Plan your visit after 4 P.M and get the best sunset views from the top and observe the hustle and bustle of the city.

war_remnants

Food/restaurants to try:

  1. Among all the cuisines we tried in Saigon, Bánh mì was the best. It is basically a Sandwich with a baguette like bread with a lot of fillings.

    My Banh Mi serves really delicious Banh Mi.

    war_remnants
  2. Vị Quê Kitchen - A vegan restaurant with lot of options to try from.

Our experience with Supermarkets:

We also visited a few Co-op marts (similar to Seven-Eleven stores in Thailand) and were surprised to see that every product is described in Vietnamese language and there was no distinction between Vegetarian and Non-vegetarian foods. We had to use google lens for translating the description. We also came across a wide range of flavors in potato chips like Spicy Korean Chicken, Beef, Steak, Nori Seaweed, BBQ Pork Rib etc., but zero vegetarian options though😔. There were also a lot of mock meat ready-to-eat options to try from.

Coffee and tea lovers, know that instead of plain milk, condensed milk is used across Vietnam.

Hoi An & Da Nang

Hoi An, a well-preserved, ancient town is one of our favorite places in Vietnam. It is also a cultural capital of Vietnam filled with dreamy lanterns all over. It has lots of tiny beautiful wooden buildings, temples and cut through canals. By the nightfall, the town lightens up with colorful lanterns everywhere. Nearest airport to reach Hoi An is located in Da Nang.

Da Nang is a coastal city in Central Vietnam which is also a center for world cultural heritages like Hue, Hoi An and MySon sanctuary.

Attractions:

Hoi An Night market & a boat ride during the night:

Hoi An night market is located around the canal filled with plenty of stalls selling different street foods, clothing, merchandise, lanterns, souvenirs etc. There are a lot of restaurants and pubs around the lake. Boats are lit up with colorful lanterns and a night boat ride around the lake is to dream for. The streets around the canal is closed for traffic post 3 P.M. making it easy for pedestrians to explore.

war_remnants

Chùa Cầu - Japanese bridge:

Japanese bridge is one of the world cultural heritage sites from 16th century. You can spot this bridge on 20,000 VND currency note!

japanese bridge

Hoi Quan Phuoc Kien - Temple:

A very fascinating 17th century Chinese temple dedicated to sea goddess located in the heart of Hoi An town.

Hoi Quan Phuoc Kien Temple

The Marble Mountains:

The marble mountains are one of our favorite attractions in Da Nang. This breath taking beauty of natural landscapes formed with marbles and limestones is located on the outskirts of Da Nang. It involves a small hike and contains magnificent caves, temples, tunnels inside the mountains. Average time to stroll around the marble mountains is about 3-4 hours.

Marble Mountains

Ba Na Hills:

Ba Na hills is a hill station and a man-made marvel discovered by French and was later on developed to make it one of the most touristic attractions of Vietnam. It is located on the outskirts of Da Nang. Do check out if the same is open for public before visiting, as this attraction is closed sometimes due to poor weather conditions.

Hải Vân Pass:

Hải Vân Pass is a 21-km long mountain pass renounced for its scenic beauty located on the outskirts of Da Nang. We got the best panoramic views exploring it on a motorbike ride. It was a fantastic ride to remember!

Hai Van Pass

My An beach:

One of the pristine white sand, blue water beaches located in Da Nang filled with lots of surfers. We loved a drink while chilling on a beach-side restaurant.

In addition to the above attractions, you can also take part in lot of activities like Lantern making classes, cooking classes, pottery or handicraft workshop. You can even get a tailor-made costume based on your preferred design,

Food/restaurants to try:

Vietnam is famous for various types of Coffees. Believe me, you will be mind blown with the types of coffee flavors the country has to offer!

Also, spring rolls are very commonly found across Vietnam. There are also cooking workshops on making spring rolls in many places.

  1. Everyday Restaurant-Bakery-Coffee - Located by the Hoi An canal. We fell in love with the food and ended up visiting it on every single day of our week long stay in Hoi An. It was very flavorful and a treat to our tastebuds after sailing through the bland food for sometime.

    Must try - coconut coffee, Braised eggplant, pineapple fried rice, peanut butter coffee, egg coffee.

    Coconut Coffee
  2. ROM Vegetarian Bistro - Hoi An - A tiny beautiful café located in the residential part of Hoi An.

  3. Bánh Mi‌ Phượng - Best Banh Mi in Hoi An town. Loved the taste and you can get to see the entire process of making of Banh Mi.

Hanoi

Hanoi is the capital city of Vietnam and is a major tourist destination in Vietnam. Streets of Hanoi filled are with bustling traffic and are jam-packed with people.

Attractions:

Ha Long Bay:

Ha Long Bay is famous for its limestone, rock formations and caves. You can book a day trip combining with multiple options like Ti Top Island, Ca Ba Island, kayaking, Surprise caves etc., We loved spending the entire day on the boat, exploring the caves, kayaking in the heart of Ha Long Bay.

Ha Long Bay

Hoan Kiem lake:

This lake is located in the heart of Hanoi City. Take a stroll around the lake to watch the locals spend their evenings and leisure times. You can occassionally see elderly couples dancing to a beat from their portable music system, women dressed up in Vietnamese costumes and getting their photoshoot, children making a conversation with foreigners and trying to learn English.

This lake has a totally different vibe on the weekends. The streets around the lake are closed for vehicles and is open for the public to walk along, play, conduct workshops, concerts etc., This lake is a must visit.

Hoen Kiem Lake

Hoa Lo Prison Relic:

French built this prison in 19th Century to arrest political prisoners in regard to Indochina disputes. It gave us the opportunity to learn more about the war crimes committed by French in the past. Later, it was used for prisoners of the war by North Vietnam during Vietnam war. We had a distressing experience visiting this prison after reading about the atrocious conditions of the prisons of war.

Hoa Lo Prison

Temple of Literature:

Temple of literature is a well preserved 11th century marvel established to educate Vietnam’s bureaucrats, nobles, royalty etc., It is also featured on 1,00,000 Vietnamese Dong currency note!

Temple of Literature

Vietnam National Fine Arts Museum:

We really loved exploring Vietnam National Fine Arts Museum which showcased arts discovered and preserved from various historical periods.

Old Quarter Ta Hien Corner:

Old Quarter Ta Hien Corner is famously known as “The Beer street”. It is the most happening streets of Hanoi with lots of street food, music etc., Grab a drink and take a walk across the street and enjoy the nightlife!

Old Quater

Phung Hung Mural street:

We loved strolling on the streets of Phung Hung. There are a lot of wall murals in 3D paintings highlighting the cultural aspects, tales from local communities etc.,

Mural Street

Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum:

Ho Chi Minh was the communist leader of Vietnam and his body is preserved in this Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum, open for public to visit. Before visiting this place, do check out the timings as it is open only during a few days.

Food/restaurants to try:

Hanoi being the most touristy destinations of Vietnam, has a variety of cuisines to choose from.

We tried various cuisines including Italian, Indian, Chinese and Vietnamese during our stay in Hanoi. There are lots of restaurants around the Hoen Kiem lake and you can walk around the lake and explore different restaurants.

  1. Banh Mi Vegan - Decent Banh Mi to try.

  2. Little Bowl - A tiny place run by an elderly woman serving authentic Vietnamese dessert. Loved every bite of it!

  3. King Roti - A small shop located near Hoan Kiem lake that serves freshly baked bun-like flavored bread. We were taken away with the amazing taste and also packed a few before leaving Hanoi.

Let us know if you liked any of our recommendations in the comments below.