Travelers have been flocking to South East Asia for a long time, but they have usually focused on Japan because of its history and technology and Thailand because of its party scene. But as time goes on and people’s memories of the horrific conflict fade, Vietnam is fast becoming more popular than merely a destination for die-hard travelers.

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Places like the ancient citadel of Hue and the surreal Halong Bay, which is now recognized as a World Heritage Site, are becoming more and more well-liked on social media sites like Instagram. Because of this, an unprecedented number of foreign tourists view them for themselves every year.

That being said, it’s safe to say that some of the most unforgettable experiences that travelers recall when they return have little to do with views but rather with flavors. With Pho bars popping up in many of the world’s most affluent cities, it appears that Vietnamese food is no longer a local secret.


The fact that the nation’s culinary culture has been guided by ideas from ancient times is one of its most startling aspects—at least to visitors from other countries. In actuality, this implies that each meal should satiate the sensations of taste, smell, touch, sight, and sound (crispness), in accordance with the Chinese Wuxing (Five Elements). Furthermore, a lot of food aims to incorporate (and balance) the five flavors of spicy, salty, sour, sweet, and bitter.

Less philosophically, Vietnamese cooks take great satisfaction in a few other aspects of their cooking. It’s crucial that the foods are as fresh as possible, which occasionally entails cooking them as little as possible or serving them raw. Fish, shrimp, and lime sauces are popular, as is soy sauce, which is a local favorite. Meanwhile, garlic, shallots, and black pepper are typical flavorings.

Natural variances are imposed regionally by geography and climate. There is less assistance for raising cattle or growing spices in Northern Vietnam, therefore the cuisine there is softer and focuses more on freshwater items like fish, mollusks, and crab. With an abundance of chilies and other spices, Central Vietnam amps up the spiciness. Additionally, because the royal court resided in the area, fancy and ostentatious cuisine should be expected. Last but not least, the abundance of fresh produce and fruit in Southern Vietnam has led to a preference for sweeter cooking; common ingredients include coconut milk, shrimp, and fresh herbs.


Vietnamese food is just too diverse to do it justice here, as with any nation with such a rich past. Nevertheless, we can provide a sampler menu featuring a few of the nation’s specialties:

Bánh mì

This traumatic period of the country’s colonization is reflected in this fusion of French and Vietnamese cuisine, but it is nonetheless one of the brighter outcomes now that peace and freedom have been restored.

This sandwich consists of a baguette (often made of wheat and rice flour) stuffed with meat and served with mayonnaise, pickled carrot, shredded radish, and cilantro. You should also try the vegetarian options of seitan (wheat gluten) or rousong (dried and shredded pig floss), as well as the morning choice (egg, onion, and soy sauce).

Gỏi cuốn

These rice paper wraps, sometimes referred to as “summer rolls,” are made with a variety of fresh local vegetable combinations together with meat, fish, tofu, or egg. Chilli powder and powdered peanuts are common flavorings.

They are frequently served as appetizers along with a dipping sauce, which typically has fish, peanuts, chili, or soy sauce as its primary flavoring.


Pho, or rice-noodle soup, is a staple of Vietnamese cuisine and has gained the most popularity abroad thus far. It is mostly prepared in two main ways, from the cities of Saigon (Pho Nam) and Hanoi (Pho Bac).

While Pho Nam places more of an emphasis on herbs and bean sprouts, Pho Bac is often meatier and uses green onions. The most popular meats used to flavor stock are beef and chicken.


This well-liked dessert is offered as a drink or a pudding that resembles soup.

The ingredients utilized vary greatly, ranging from sugar palm to coconut cream, lychee to jackfruit, lotus seed to cassava, as it’s more of a category than a specific meal. Glutinous grains and beans are typically used to give the sweet concoction a nice consistency.

Diving a little farther

With any luck, this little menu may entice you to explore more into one of South East Asia’s most valuable cultural assets. There are innumerable additional mouthwatering dishes to experience when visiting Vietnam; inventive variations on congees, dumplings, pancakes, and pastries are just a few of the many mouthwatering treats that could not fit into a brief overview. Fortunately, you will enjoy discovering these additional meals.