In the recent article titled Ten destinations perfect for solo travel, the renowned travel guide website Lonely Planet praises Vietnam as the only Southeast Asian nation where can be crowned the ‘best of the best for its food.
Vietnam is an ideal destination for foodie travelers. Photo: Lonely Planet
“Subtle in its flavors and outstanding in its diversity, Vietnamese cooking is a huge draw for travelers, who’re lured into lingering at cramped tables swapping travel tales over a fifth plate of banh cuon (rice batter filled with ground pork, mushroom, and shallots),” wrote Lonely Planet’s editors.
According to the travel guide website, across the country, travelers can mingle with villagers, sample local dishes and sip rice wine in Vietnam’s many regional markets, while a myriad of street food tours and cooking schools foster social environments in major cities. Those seeking respite from the crowds should make for the hill treks around Sapa.
Taking a street food tour around Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City would be the funkiest part of travelers’ journeys to the country.
Hanoi is most popular for giving travelers the experience of appreciating French-colonial architecture, as well as discovering the history of the Old Quarter Area. It is also equally rich in showcasing diverse and traditional cuisines in Vietnam and the world with its healthy tasty dishes in colorful flavors.
Pho bo - beef noodle soup - a typical dish of Hanoi. Photo: Thao Le
HCMC or so-called Saigon is the biggest city in Vietnam. The ‘never sleeps’ travel hub appeals to its visitors’ tastebuds with its countless food stalls and markets that are open all 24 hours in seven days per week.The best dishes in Hanoi are inexpensive, yet tasty treats that can be found within the Old Quarter’s narrow alleyways and bustling street markets. This is where you can find the familiar and world-renowned Pho or beef noodle soup with various variants with beef or chicken. The wonderful Bun Cha Hanoi (grilled pork served with rice noodle and sweet-and-sour dipping sauce) was once enjoyed by President Obama during his visit to Vietnam in 2016. The Cha ca (Fried Sardines), a stinky yet tasty and crispy delicacy that originated in Hanoi, is a definite must for daredevils undisturbed by the idea of pungent shrimp paste.
The Banh xeo dish. Photo: Ngoc Bui
Other travel destinations are on the list of 10 destinations perfect for solo travel by Lonely Planet are including South America- best for adventure; Ubud, Indonesia- best for self-reflection; Berlin, Germany- best for nightlife; East Africa- best for a group tour; Singapore- best for a solo stopover; Rome, Italy- best for culture; Portland, Oregon- best city break; Caye Caulker, Belize- best for an island escape; and East Coast Australia- best for road-tripping.
A city trip to Saigon is incomplete without indulging in all-time favorites such as Banh xeo fried in a large flat pan, the legendary Vietnamese pizza or quesadilla grilled on the coal stove, duck embryo in tamarind sauce and beef offal steamed in coconut milk served with local banh mi. With all the finger-licking and creative dishes the city has to offer, it is no surprise that travelers have pinned HCMC as one of the top endorsed destinations for street food.