Eating my way around Vietnam for 2 weeks

Well hello to you my reader chums! Vietnam has my heart. The food, its people, the atmosphere; there’s something special about the country. I’ve visited on two occasions and it still doesn’t feel like enough time to fully embrace everything Vietnam offers.

The main attraction of Vietnam which draws me back every time is the food scene. The pho, the iconic sandwiches, the spring rolls, the iced chocolates, ginger teas and curries, thrill all of my senses. I’m still thinking about some of the meals and drinks I ate over the two weeks I spent in Vietnam. The aroma of the food lingers in my mind when I think about dinner; I’m desperate to eat some of the dishes again.

Eating my way around Vietnam for 2 weeks

Whether you're new to Vietnam or looking for places to eat, here's my guide to eating around Vietnam for 2 weeks.


The first stop in any Vietnam trip must be Hanoi's bustle. Most travellers either go north to south or south to north. North to the centre of Vietnam was my plan for this last trip as it had places I knew I’d enjoy the most. The buzz of Hanoi thrills me; I can never get over its manic traffic, the endless street stalls, the coffee shop scene and the local vibe. It amazes me that in such a touristy place, the city still remains authentic and local.

Vietnam has a coffee shop way of life where their coffee shops only sell drinks rather than being a cafe. Sometimes this was great as I only wanted a drink, but at other times, when I was hungry too, it was a little annoying.

In Hanoi, I experienced some of my favourite coffee shops in Vietnam and the best hot chocolate I had was at An Cafe. An Cafe was a local, tiny little cafe with a couple of tables outside, serving up drinks and fruit-yoghurt pot-style breakfasts. They laid out the hot chocolate on a gorgeous gold plate and cutlery with a biscuit on the side - and it was like heaven in my mouth. The drink was a blend of thick chocolate with cinnamon and it warmed up my stomach and soul.

Hanoi Coffee Station was another modern-style cafe with a great Western brunch menu including yummy oatmeal with fruit and seeds and a strong coffee list also. The Note Cafe warmed my heart in many ways including the hot drinks. It’s very famous for people to visit on their trip to Hanoi and is covered in post-it notes with people leaving messages from their travels. I loved sitting there reading what many people across the world had to say - it’s a great way to connect travellers. Also, this is the place we tried the first egg coffee and egg chocolate, renowned across Vietnam. It was actually pretty great, reminding me of custard.

Eating my way around Vietnam for 2 weeks

Banh mi is the Vietnamese version of a French baguette and I’m obsessed with the blend of fillings they use. Traditionally, a banh mi has pate, chilli, cucumber, pickles, meat and vegetables in it, however, across Hanoi (and Vietnam as a whole), the options are endless on fillings. My favourite sandwiches I had was a classic pate style banh mi and the vegetarian option too. The vegetarian place in Hanoi called Chay Hong Phuoc was a random find and used mushrooms as an alternative filling and it was delicious, I wish I had more of it. Banh Mi Pho was another eatery we came across and offered brilliant meat options. Usually, I’m a vegetarian, but in Vietnam, many of the traditional dishes are meat-based and it’s hard to resist.

Street stalls are where you get the best food across Vietnam, especially in Hanoi as they’re wherever you look, across the bustling part of the city (old quarter). My favourite food to get on the street stalls is a classic bowl of pho, especially the beef kind. It’s cheap, cheerful and full of flavour and I absolutely love it.

As a sweet treat fan, I also have to shout out the gem of a bakery, Coba Bakery which we found on a whim when searching for dessert. Their range of cookies, cakes and chocolate mousses was insanely good and cheap.

Mai Chau

The next step on the journey was Mai Chau only for a night to experience the endless rice fields and quiet village life. What we discovered, cycling around the village is food options were very localised and meat-heavy, not to our taste in particular. However, we were staying at a homestay and ended up eating there, Mai Chau Countryside Homestay. It was rated pretty high on Google and the food was lovely and a great addition to our stay there. I tried the tofu in tomato sauce - which seemed to be a local delicacy in many parts of the country.

Ninh Binh

From Mai Chau to Ninh Binh, we came to realise the main hub of Ninh Binh was pretty quiet on the food front and we had to travel into Tam Coc for some really good dishes. Although in the centre of Ninh Binh, we found some gems including one of my favourite banh mi at a local stall, a quaint cafe serving great hot chocolate, Cafe Long Bien and the largest dinners at Trung Tuyet Restaurant. The restaurant’s portions were giant, providing way too much, divine food including vegetarian pho.

Tam Coc is the tourist spot in Ninh Binh where all the main activities and things to do are, and there, we ate well. Ngon Vegan Restaurant was packed out and we ended up sharing a table with another couple who were playing cards. It was lovely being able to connect with travellers whilst choosing a restaurant with phenomenal food. The vegetarian spring rolls were always a great starter, which we had every day during the trip. And, for mains, the coconut tofu curry had a beautiful flavour which I wish I could recreate. I’d love to eat it all over again! An iconic cafe called Brick Coffee Shop was a surprising find, serving up wholesome hot drinks and carrot cake. It’s also run by the loveliest family with kids running around.

Eating my way around Vietnam for 2 weeks

Cat Ba Island

Away from the city bustle, we headed to island life on Cat Ba and the energy had a completely different feel. It wasn’t busy with endless street stalls and non-stop traffic, but a quieter experience and heavy on the restaurant front. The odd street stall sold pancakes and more tourist-style street food than traditional.

In a tourism-heavy place, food suits tourists’ tastes rather than a traditional appeal. Although, we visited a few places which offered some great options. Like Coffee was brilliant for a vegetarian banh mi, whilst The Little Leaf restaurant served a delicious ginger tea. Ginger tea was one of those morning routines I’ve continued since being in Vietnam as they made the tea with fresh lemongrass, ginger and something sweet. The Bigman Restaurant also deserves a shoutout for a wide range of food including good pho.

Eating my way around Vietnam for 2 weeks

Da Nang

Moving back from the islands' side of things, we centred ourselves in Da Nang, in the middle of Vietnam. Da Nang wasn’t as wild as Hanoi, yet, the city appeal was there with lots of traffic, tall buildings and a party vibe to it. It’s one of those underrated cities with more than meets the eye, including a beautiful beach. The food options varied from brilliant local food at Kimdy restaurant and My Quang Ba Mua to Insta-worthy brunch places such as Je M’aime Cafe and Eatery. Kimdy Restaurant served up delicious cheap pho, whilst, at My Quang, I tried my first rice pancakes and loved them.

As breakfast isn’t a common thing across Vietnam (well, non-traditional), sourcing cool places for fulfilling options can be tricky. An’s Cafe had to be the loveliest place serving up cheap fruit, oatmeal and smoothies, whilst Je M’aime Cafe and Eatery was the pricier option with a contemporary co-working ambience.

Hoi An

Getting a bus down to Hoi An, was a bittersweet moment as I was incredibly excited to finally visit Hoi An, but sad it would be our last destination in the country. Two weeks of roaming around felt fast and slow all at the same time.

Hoi An is a foodies hub with many dishes, traditional to the town itself. These dishes include Cao lau, white rose and mi quang (this dish, in particular, is renowned more in Da Nang). I wasn’t the greatest fan of mi quang, yet cao lau and white rose were like heaven on my tongue. Cao Lau is a sweet noodle dish with pork and white rose meat-style dumplings. I don’t know the specific ingredients of how they make either but I could eat buckets of the noodles and dumplings as they are that good.

As Cao Lau is raved about, we tried it at Cao Lau Khong Gian Xanh and it was the cheapest and greatest meal all in one. The restaurant had a completely local feel despite the tourist energy throughout the old town of Hoi An. We had it with herbal water and the combination was a dream. I haven’t stopped thinking about it since. Another strong dinner option in the ancient town was Pho Xua Restaurant, as its dumplings were divine. It also featured the various local dishes, whereas some restaurants would do one or the other.

Banh mi was eaten during our trip and I didn’t stop in Hoi An, visiting the most popular sandwich place in the ancient town. Called Banh Mi Phuong, I had high expectations for this sandwich and genuinely, it did live up to them. Considering the famous name around it, I expected the sandwich to be costly but it was very affordable and tasty.

Eating my way around Vietnam for 2 weeks

Coffee shops were in the bucket load across Hoi An and it was pretty hard to choose where to have a drink, or to pick one with food too. My favourite coffee shops included Raw Coco Coffee, Cong and Tamy Coffee. The best thing about Vietnam overall when it came to cool drinks is they use quality chocolate in their iced and hot chocolates. It wasn’t overly milky and instead, had a definitive chocolate flavour - and Raw Coco Coffee and Cong made it perfectly. Tamy Coffee was a fab place for cakes as well, perfect for evening or day treats.

Breakfast in Hoi An was an easy choice as it catered to modern, brunch-style places. Phin Coffee and Restaurant had to be my favourite because it was tucked away around some of the windier roads in the old town and the cafe featured endless amounts of plants. It had a natural appeal and served up great French toast and smoothie bowls, with a long list of drink options.

For more typical Instagram, brunch places, Rosie’s Cafe and Ellie’s Cafe are solid choices and the food there is top quality. Rosie’s Cafe is designed for tourists with a typical English menu, whilst Ellie’s Cafe is still locally run, catering to Westerners.

Overall thoughts

I’ve travelled the most around the north and centre of Vietnam and would be intrigued to discover how different the south differentiates when it comes to traditional meals. I’ve loved experiencing more of trying their unique foods and flavours, and even dabbling in a cooking class, learning to cook rice pancakes. It was certainly an experience seeing how simple some of the food is, yet it’s incredibly tasty. This makes me realise as the Italians say, the best food is the simplest.

Vietnamese food is on another level to many cuisines, packed with flavour, heart and tradition. It’s difficult to eat poorly across Vietnam as most dishes have a local influence and authenticity is still incredibly strong. My time in Vietnam guaranteed a very happy tummy and dreams of wanting to recreate dishes and dinners over and over again. It’s certainly a place hard to beat when it comes to its delicacies!

Eating my way around Vietnam for 2 weeks

With two visits to Vietnam, I’m excited when I have the opportunity to travel again and eat my way around the various cities, towns and beach destinations. The people, the food and the warming culture will always stay with me.

Thank you for reading! What's your favourite Vietnamese dish?

Thank you for reading <3

1 comment

  1. Thanks for sharing, the food looks amazing, I dont have a favourite dish as there are so many to choose from, I did like the food in Cambodia and Laos when I went there :)

    Nic | Nic's Adventures


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