Have you ever wondered why Saigon is loved by both local residents and foreign tourists? That is because the city offers a lot for one to see, do, taste, and indeed to truly feel its depth. Saigon’s street food culture is unmatched by any other destination in South East Asia.It means where else do you see, at any time of the day, stools covering sidewalks, occupied by those slurping broths, noodles, rice dishes and beer. It is that little something which helps make Saigon a city full of unforgettable experiences, and here are our recommendations on what you should try while you are exploring this dynamic city.
Di Nhau – Go for A Drink
“Di nhau” or “Nhau”, is a locally popular way to talk about drinking in Vietnam. Saigon has a huge number of drinking venues mostly encountered as small sidewalk stalls in almost all parts of the city. After a hectic day at work, especially on Friday evenings, colleagues, friends and family tend to gather at their favorite drinking spots for some long-overdue catching up.
This is the Vietnamese equivalent of “cheers!” and people say it out loud with laughter and joy before they start sipping from their bottles and glasses. There is nowhere else but at these places that you can truly feel another interesting part of Saigonese culture. In addition, the best of Saigon’s street food can be found at these venues, such as varieties of delicious sautéed sea snails, tasty steamed or grilled chicken feet, tens of choices for hotpot and many more dishes if you so desire to discover the local street cuisine.
Ganh Hang Rong – Carrying Poles by Local Women Street Vendors
Saigon is beautiful, not only due to its modernity but due to the beauty that emanates from its simplicity, such as “ganh hang rong” – the carrying poles skillfully balanced on the shoulders of local women street vendors. It’s hard to tell exactly when this sort of traditional business appeared but the lovely image of the bamboo poles carried by petite ladies in straw hats has been in the memories of the Vietnamese for generations. It is not difficult to encounter these hard-working women with baskets full of street snacks hung on the two ends of the pole. You will find it interesting to see so many stuff just within the two baskets; boiled eggs, sweet potatoes, popcorn, mixed savory rice paper, to name just a few.
Every day, regardless the heat or sudden rains of Saigon, these women still patiently keep earning their hard living on these carrying poles. If you ever happen to talk to a Vietnamese school girl about her favorite street snacks and where to get them, she will definitely point you to towards one of these lovely ladies.
Eating snacks is also a part of Saigon’s street food culture. Having a hotdog or simply a pack of chips between meals can be seen as a typical snack in the western world. However, in Vietnam or Saigon in particular, people would have local street food instead, for example a bowl of “kem xoi dua” (coconut sticky rice with ice cream), “banh trang tron” (mixed rice paper), “goi cuon” or “bo bia” (fresh spring roll/summer roll), which normally comes along with green mango and guava served with a fruit dip made of spicy chili and salt as dessert.
Hope you are able to visit the places we have recommended and enjoy all the street side delights Saigon has to offer. Please visit our website if you concern more about Cultures in Vietnam.