These are our top 10 favourite foods we found in Ho Chi Minh for under $5. Not all are authentic Vietnamese foods, but they were all definitely mouth wateringly delicious.
1. Bun Thit Nuong – 25K VND
This dish consists of cold noodles with grilled pork and fried spring roles. It is also topped with fresh herbs and roasted peanuts, making it super delicious. It comes with pickled carrots and nuoc cham, that amazing sweet and spicy fish sauce that tastes oh so good.
Prices for Bun Thit Nuong can vary greatly depending on where you get it. If you’re in the more touristy spots, it can set you back 45-65K VND. However, we got ours from a local morning market where we paid 25K VND for this delicious meal.
We ate Bun Thit Nuong at the morning markets pictured above. You have to walk through a pretty crowded and smelly market to get there – smelly because they’re selling fresh meat and fish. But it’s really worth it. It’s a local place, which means the prices are cheap and the flavors are delicious.
2. Banh Xeo – 70K VND
Banh Xeo is up there amongst one of the top three dishes you should definitely try when you’re in Vietnam. The name means sizzling pancake. It’s a giant thin crunchy yellow rice flour pancake with various fillings inside.
We initially thought it was an omelette, but there’s actually no eggs in it! The yellow comes from tumeric. Paired with the sweet and sour Vietnamese dipping sauce, nuoc cham, the flavor is amazing, you just have to try it.
We ordered the pancake with roasted pork. One portion was enough for both of us. It also comes with a huge plate of lettuce leaves and mint and other herbs.
We actually had no idea how to eat the Banh Xeo, but we decided to break it up and put it in the large lettuce leaves, adding some of the mint and pickled carrot, before rolling it up like a wrap and dipping it in the dipping sauce. Be warned, it can get messy, but it’s oh so delicious.
We found this Banh Xeo at Asiana Food Town.
3. Banh Mi – 17K VND
Of course, you can’t visit Vietnam without trying the Banh Mi. The word actually means bread, but it’s sold with various sandwich fillings, including pork, pate, chicken, vegetables, coriander, and sauces.
You can find a huge variety of Banh Mi around the city and at a variety of prices too. We generally preferred to pay 15-20K VND for a Banh Mi.
A word of warning, we are not shy about trying street food from little hawker stalls, so I’d say we have pretty good stomachs. However, we did get food poisoning from a Banh Mi, which we suspect was either the pate or the meat that had been left out too long. It was unfortunate, but didn’t stop us from going back to enjoying Bani Mi again a few weeks later. We just tried to avoid pate and meat that didn’t look so fresh.
Our favourite Banh Mi that we ate many times and did not get sick was purchased from Banh Mi Chim Chay, a little stall that sets up from 5:00-11:30PM.
We recommend the caramelized shredded chicken Banh Mi for 17K VND. You can get one for 20K if you want more meat in it, but the 17K one is plenty. It was the most delicious Banh Mi we tried in Ho Chi Minh.
4. Pho and Mien Ga – 35K VND
Of course, no trip to Vietnam is complete without trying the fresh Vietnamese noodle soup called Pho. There’s just something about this dish that tastes so fresh. We like to add a lot of lime and mint leaves, and a little bit of chilli to ours. Just a few pieces of chilli go a long way. We learned that two or three pieces were plenty.
Pho is served with the thick fresh white rice noodles. A good Pho with meat can set you back 60-85K in tourist spots, but we found a hawker stall selling it for 35K. Even better, the price of a Pho or Mien Ga there without meat was 20K.
On the other hand, Mien Ga is chicken soup served with the thin glass noodles. It is also equally as delicious, so it just depends on which noodles you prefer.
We found these soups in the evening next to the Banh Mi Chim Chay stall. It’s the perfect place to go to grab a filling soup and a delicious banh mi.
5. Bot Chien – 30K VND
Another dish sold in the same area as the Pho and the Banh Mi was Bot Chien. These were crispy fried rice flour cakes with fried egg and vegetables on top. It was delicious and well worth trying.
Other things you could get on this street of hawker stalls included dumplings and steamed pork buns for 13-17K per serve. There were also cheap drinks, such as iced tea and fruit juices.
6. Turkish Kebab – 30K VND
As the name suggests, this is not an authentic Vietnamese dish, but it was extremely tasty and became one of our go-to night foods.
Ga means chicken and Bo means beef. We always had the chicken kebabs, which were deeeelicious and very well priced at 30K VND.
The stand was located close to a Vin Mart store just off Bui Vein street. Just look out for the Kebab stand spelled Kebap instead.
7. Pork Belly Burger – 70K VND
These were a little bit more on the pricey side compared to other street food, but the texture and flavor was to die for. It’s a very small burger, but the bread is fluffy and a little bit sweet, and the pork was melt in your mouth tender with a delicious sauce.
We found this tasty one of a kind burger at the Benh Thanh Street Food Market.
8. Banh Tieu – 5,000 VND
Banh Tieu is a slightly sweet hollow sesame donut. It’s the perfect blend of sweet and savory that goes down so well with an ice coffee in the morning.
Just look for any street hawker making them and order one of the ones with sesame seeds on it. They taste the same, but we prefered the ones with the little ‘fingers’. They’re best fresh, but be careful if they’re straight out of the oil because they will be hot!
These hawkers often sell deep fried banana also, which is nice and cost 6,000 VND. Find a hawker who will give you a good price. One lady in the main tourist street tried to charge us 20K VND, which could get us four banh tieus from our favourite local morning street hawker! He was located outside the VIB Bank opposite the bus terminal.
9. Shakes and Smoothies – 35K VND
When it’s a hot day, sometimes you aren’t that hungry, but you feel like you need something in your belly. That’s where the nice cold shakes and smoothies come in!
There’s a great little smoothie place in a side street off Bui Vein called Five Boys Number One Smoothies. I recommend trying the dragon fruit smoothie. We also really enjoyed coconut smoothies and avocado smoothies. The prices are generally around 35K VND, but you can add more expensive ingredients or mix ingredients and increase the price if you prefer.
10. Desserts!! 30-35K VND
There are so many interesting desserts to try in Vietnam. This time, we skipped a lot of the local stuff, but we did find some delicious ice cream desserts at Asiana Food Town (the same place we got the Banh Xeo).
We got these two desserts from the same stall and they both cost around 30-35K VND and were equally delicious. It’s also interesting watching them make the rolled ice cream in front of you. And as a reward for making it to the end of the post, I’ll include a little gallery of the process for you!