Regular readers will know I have decreed Vietnamese street food as the best in the world, but of course man cannot live in food alone, he must drink. It turns out Vietnamese drinks are really good!
We have put together our top 9 Vietnamese drinks, as always in no particular order, but covering categories.
The Vietnamese Drinks scene
Vietnam is home to an amigo array of fruit, which means great fruit juices. They have also been brewing super-strong Vietnamese rice-wine since probably as long as the Chinese.
Vietnamese beer is pretty good, and there is now quite a cocktail and Vietnamese craft scene as well.
Vietnamese drinks with food
I cannot have any meal without a drink, not necessarily alcohol, but something to wash things down with. This is one area where Vietnam is different, Many meals are soup based, so it is considered that this is your drink with your meal. Nowadays though most street food vendors in Vietnam will also sell soft-drinks like coke.
Vietnamese Drinks – Best Beer
The best mass produced beer in the country is very much a regional thing. In the North it is all about Hanoi Beer, with the south lying Saigon Beer. In my own humble opinion? Same same, but different. Bottles of beer are cheap and plentiful, costing less than 50 cents for bigger than a pint, even in some restaurants.
Best Vietnamese Liquor
We have previously written bout where to get rice wine in Hanoi, but yes it is rice wine. Sold in almost every corner store it goes from very cheap to very expensive. Rượu đế is the traditional liquor that resembles Bai Jiu in China. If you are lucky enough to end up at a wedding in Vietnam get used to drinking a lot of this
I once got trashed in Cao Bang, which you can read about here.
Vietnamese drinks – Dừa Tươi Fresh Coconut
More common n the south than the north of the country, but an absolute Vietnamese institution. They cost next to nothing, are extremely thirst quenching and afterwards you can get a spoon and eat the flesh. A lifesaver when traveling through Vietnam, particularly by train.
Basically you pay the vendor 50 cents, or so he slices of a tiny bit of the top, a straw is put in and you drink. The joy is the simplicity. And t is biodegradable, so you can throw it anywhere – within reason.
To read about taking the train in Vietnam click here.
Drinks of Hanoi – Bia Hoi!
Another beer, or rather bia as they say in Vietnam. This is only available in Hanoi and is an intuition. The draft beer is made daily, delivered to vendors who then sell it for less than 10 cents a glass. The beer is unpasteurized, which means it is good for only a day. Do not fret though they always run out. It is easy to sink 20-30 of these, but yes it will make you drunk. The last time I had this was ta the Trump-Kim Summit, which you can read about here.
Drinks of Vietnam – Sinh Tố – The Fruit Smoothie)
A slightly newer edition to the Vietnamese street food scene,, but you will see smoothies of all flavors sold in restaurants, or by vendors throughout the country/ As with everything it is all about taste, but for menacing beats a Vietnamese Mango Smoothie, which might I add goes well with vodka.
Drinks of Vietnam – Local Vodkas
Vietnam was part of the Eastern Bloc, which meant a lot of Russians came to town. They taught the locals how to make Vodka and voila there is a Vietnamese vodka scene. Why is this so cool? Because they simply do not have vodka in China. This is one of the things I always pick up before taking the train from Hanoi to Chongzuo. Vodka costs nothing, literally $3-4 a bottle, which again is why cocktails are so cheap.
To read about street food in Chongzuo click here.
Best Vietnamese Tea – Nước Sâm
Much lie in China tea is a big deal in Vietnam, although do not be expecting Earl Grey outside of a western hotel. When it come stop Vietnamese drinks Nước Sâm, or herbal tea is the weapon of choice.
This is served hot, or room temperature and usually drank with ice. Most street food vendors will have a pot of tea on the go that you can help yourself to for no extra charge. This is the free drink to have with street food, or indeed served with most meals.
Vietnamese Drinks – Sugarcane Juice – Nước Mía
An absolute site to behold in both Vietnam and Cambodia. Machines are everywhere and vendors run the sugar cane through it creating this very sweet juice. Ice is then added and you drink it fresh with a straw. As I have mentioned before this does beg the question, why no Vietnamese Rum?
To read about Cambodian drinks click here.
Vietnamese drinks – best soup – Bun Bo Hue
Noodle soups are a huge thing in Vietnam, and essentially are a meal and a drink all in one, hence their popularity. Of course the most famous is Pho, but the lesser known Bun Bo Hue adds more spice and a real kick that we feel makes it a superior product.
You can read about the difference between Bun Bo Hue and Pho here.
Both Hanoi and Saigon have some epic high-end cocktail bars. Hanoi in particular has one that offers contemporary takes on Vietnamese cuisine in cocktail fashion. Yes that means a Pho Cocktail! Check out the photo below – truly amazing.
And for those on a budget they offer really cheap mixed drinks in Hanoi old-town.
Bonus Round – Can you drink the tap water in Vietnam?
Again vey much technically a no, with water being readily available and cheap t buy. In reality in the bigger cities you can get away with boiling it and you will certainly not get the shits from taking a shower.
And that is the Vietnamese drinks scene in a nutshell, although this ignores great Long Island Iced Teas in central Hanoi, Hipster craft beers and cocktails in Hanoi and all the really cool stuff at the DMZ in Hue.
To read about street food in Hue click here.
Come for the street food, stay for the Vietnamese drinks…