What do you do with them protein bars you saved for a rainy day?? That’s right, pack them *on the top of your suitcase* before the not-so-happy-go-lucky Vietnam vegetarian food adventure. “No ham… What about bacon?” To read more about Hanoi click HERE.


CARRY A NOTE IN VIETNAMESE and be very specific with requirements.

There are mixed opinions about veggie food there. Let’s look at 4 factors:

Variety. We walked all day every day looking at both restaurants and street vendors and even though we could find SOMEthing to eat, there weren’t all that many options, especially with street food. I have to say though, if you are willing to literally walk an extra mile, you can find vegetarian, vegan and even raw food, Japanese desserts or fancy juice bars in the Old Quarter. But if you’re after authentic experience, eating in the street together with the locals, well… get ready for a meat feast.

It’s nice to sit outside on the tiny chairs, but were actually refused by the guy saying they got nothing vegetarian. So made our way back to the western bar with a balcony, had custom-made egg burger, fries, and a grilled vegetable baguette.


Availability. For a regular Joe I’d advise carrying some fruit and dedicating some time to find a decent place to eat. Street vendors had deep-fried donuts and some had baguettes with fried eggs. Or fruit. Most of the restaurants have limited vegetarian options, but are willing to adapt to your needs, which is awesome. On our cruise we had to reiterate what we can and cannot eat, and still received something like “So no ham? What about bacon?”. Also in our first hotel we ordered an omelet which came with bits of bacon, which is pretty standard in Asia. And the Sechuan tofu we got in one restaurant was drowning under a pile of minced meat. Meat is god. If you don’t find bits of pork in your dish then be sure that it either has fish sauce, shrimp paste or stock made from bones – or a combination of all of these.


Taste. This is where I give a mere star. At certain times I felt “Why the heck am I eating this?” – bland tastes, poor combination of ingredients and general grey area of vegetarian food making in Asia resulted in a ‘meh’ food rating. The problem with vegetarian food in Vietnam is identical to Thailand. People love their meats here and even though Buddhism is one of the most popular religions, all that means is that a couple of times a month they restrain from eating meat by replacing it with… vegetarian duck, pork, fish, shrimp… you name it. They don’t really know how to cook vegetables. If you do get any with your fake meat they’re usually boiled to the point where there’s no taste left whatsoever. And that’s only half the problem.


The vegetarian food here is called “Jay” (in Thai) or “Chay” (in Vietnamese). And to meet the religious standards of these part-time Asian vegetarians their food cannot contain any animal products (which is awesome as it means it’s vegan), but it also cannot contain any strong spices, including garlic, onion, chilli and pepper. Now I don’t know about you, but I’ve just mentioned half of the spices we use to cook everything. So here you go, if you’re in for trying out the Asian vegan flavours, get ready to feast on your freakishly real vegan pork with overboiled pak choi (if you’re lucky to get any) and loaded with MSG that they use to compensate for the lack of flavour. I understand this is a lot of bad PR, but having good food is very important to us, and that’s why after two years in Asia we now stick to mostly western places or bring our own food when we travel.

On a brighter note, when we were in Ho Chi Minh City we visited a 100% vegetarian restaurant, which was brilliant! All the dishes on the menu sounded delicious. We ordered some ‘meat’ options because we were with our friends, and it exceeded our expectations. Even the price was attractive enough to try many different dishes without breaking the bank.


Price. I’d say five stars for price! Burgers, paninis, or other simple main meals come at like 200 baht mark, which is like 4 pounds. Snacks and breads, vegetables from supermarkets cost anything from 10 baht to 100 baht, which is brilliant. The laughing cow cheese triangles came at only 50 baht! The local cheese is also pretty cheap and the cucumbers and tomatoes taste much better than in Thailand. Cheap Vietnamese wine for 100 baht or so (don’t…) was not finished because it was like drinking watered down wine rinsed with vodka. Another wine for 400 baht from Chile was more decent. Beers in bars cost 25,000 dong, or like 30 baht. Cheap. So it’s easy to see that price may compensate for taste.

Beer. Unfortunately it’s just as tasteless as Thai beer.  Halida, Hanoi beer, La Rue, Saigon special. Same same, but different.

What we ate:

Fried-egg baguette sandwiches, tofu, a bad avocado, cheese, omelettes, raw cucumbers and tomatoes, salad, fried eggs, more omelettes, spring rolls, rice, English breakfast, bananas, more omelettes, fries, a grilled vegetable baguette (oh yes!) and lots lots lots of home-brought snacks.