For a relatively small place (at least compared to china) South-East Asia really is mixed bag of tricks, with each part being very distinct, which naturally tends to throw up favorites. For many Vietnam is a bit like marmite, people love it, or hate it. I formerly fell into the hate it side of the fence, but unlike marmite, I’ve kinda grown to love the place, so when the chance came to do a south to north trip, I jumped at it. Here’s my week street-fooding over Viet Fucking Nam!
We started the trip in Saigon, yes I said Saigon, I don’t care what the reds say, but Ho Chi Minh City just sounds wrong.
Saigon really epitomizes the difference between south and north, it is booming and buzzing, and genuinely offers one of the best nightlife scenes in the world, and zone 1 is where it’s at. Saigon doesn’t sleep, and zone 1 has great cocktails and street eats to make it a very late night indeed. Top marks go to the Bloody Mary that came with shrimp and cheese.Saigon taken care of, we then take our first train journey, 8 hours to Nha Trang, the beach capital of Vietnam. Nha Trang is another place that has exploded over the last few years, with its old seediness being replaced by families. Yes, I miss the old days. But being by the beach means great seafood from street level all the way up to fine dining. The nights here aren’t quite as riotous as they used to be, but the main strip still offers a decent night.
From Nha Trang, it’s 12-15 hours by train to the former southern DMZ town of Hue. Hue is another tourist hotspot, but if you go down to the riverside, there’s a great nighttime street food scene, and even a DMZ bar. Unsurprisingly, the main reason to go to Hue is to see the DMZ, a 4 hour round trip, which necessitates stopping for lunch, which we did at some fish BBQ by the beach and in time for sunset. Great street food jollies to be had in Hui.
Then it’s another 15 hours or so onto genuine capital city of Hanoi. Saigon is the city that doesn’t sleep, but Hanoi not only sleeps, but it sleeps quite early. Street food wise though it is very much the capital city, with the old town offering great fusion hot-pot, high end fusion cocktails, but best of all street food and cocktails in the old town, with draft beer costing just 5 cents USD. It’s hard not to get drunk in Hanoi. And then from Hanoi, you can either take the train directly to China, or split up the journey via Cao Bang, over the border into genuine shit town of Pingxiang.
And that’s the Vietnamese street food scene to a tee!
Gareth Johnson is the founder of Young Pioneer Tours, a published writer, and all round entrepreneur. He enjoys street food, and encourage others to get paid to travel the world.