VietnamFood & Drinks3 Local Cheap Eats in Ho Chi Minh City

3 Local Cheap Eats in Ho Chi Minh City

Undoubtedly, Ho Chi Minh City is a paradise for street foods and cheap eats. On almost every street, stalls and vendors sell food every day, especially in the late afternoon to evening. In this guide, we will review 3 local cheap eats in Ho Chi Minh City that many locals opt for.

Cheap Eats Styles in Ho Chi Minh City

There are many ways for you to enjoy street foods in Vietnam. You can find quick snacks, full meals, and sweet treats in these street food places. The stalls could be mobile or settled in one place.

Outdoor eateries. You will see many stores in Ho Chi Minh City with small stalls at the front, some tables inside the house as well as to the outside. The stalls are fixed at these houses (usually the sellers’ houses), so you can quickly return for another meal.

Pop-up stalls. These pop-up restaurants are street vendors with mobile stalls, but they usually stand in one place where they can sell the most. Sometimes, the vendors only have a few bags or a carrying pole containing tools and ingredients, along with a stack of plastic chairs. They will place these plastic chairs out when customers come and clear out when the police patrol the areas.

Take-away. In order not to be caught by patrols, the vendors only push or carry their stalls around or settle at one place and sell prepared foods that they have already put in boxes and bags. You come to their stalls, order, pay for the food and go. There are no seats for you to stay around. You can eat while strolling down a street or in a park.

Review on Local Cheap Eats in Ho Chi Minh City

Below is an independent review of the 3 places to have cheap eats in Ho Chi Minh City that many Vietnamese, especially students and office workers, favor.

76 Alley Hai Ba Trung, District 1

The alley is located in Ho Chi Minh downtown, about a 15-minute walk from the Saigon Opera House, surrounded by many office buildings. It is a dead-end alley with a narrow and crowded entrance. You will see the two rows of vendors lining up on the two sides first, and when you get through them, you will find a parking lot for motorbikes and bikes (VND 5,000/bike), and an area with plastic tables and chairs. You can order the food and bring it to the tables to eat. Vendors here sell a variety of foods, from noodles and rice to summer rolls, banh trang nuong (Vietnamese pizza), and stir-fried corn.

Price range: VND 10,000 – VND 20,000
Opening hours: usually from 3 PM to 6 PM

The tables and chairs in the eating area are cleaned, but the old brick-tiled floor is a bit messy. The locals may have no problem with it, but if you have an easily upset stomach, we wouldn’t recommend visiting this place to try street foods.

Banh trang nuong (Vietnamese pizza)

local cheap eats ho chi minh city banh trang nuong

This Vietnamese pizza filling is a mixture of ground pork, shrimp flakes, two quail eggs, butter, and green onion, topped with some mayonnaise and chili sauce. You can have one for VND 12,000. That is the average price of a Vietnamese pizza, but the ingredients used in this one are quite stale.

Bap xao (stir-fried corn)

local cheap eats ho chi minh city stir fried corn

This Bap xao has standard ingredients like corn, shrimp flakes, and green onion, stir-fried with butter. The price is VND 15,000 for one serving without an egg and VND 20,000 with an extra egg. There are little shrimp flakes, but the stir-fried corn is buttery, savory, and flavorful.

Bo bia (popiah)

local cheap eats ho chi minh city bo bia

The price is VND 20,000 for 5 rolls. Ingredients of Vietnamese popiah are usually poached/steamed/stir-fried julienne carrot and Chinese water chestnut, lettuce, Chinese sausage, and fried beaten eggs. Strangely, this popiah was also added with Bun (Vietnamese vermicelli), a typical Goi cuon ingredient (summer rolls). But the dipping sauce is quite good, savory, and peanutty.

local cheap eats ho chi minh city passion fruit pennywort
Pennywort and Passion Fruit Drink. VND 10,000 each

200 Alley Xom Chieu, District 4

Located in a district for food lovers, District 4, this alley has a wide variety of foods to offer, such as basket clam noodles, sticky rice, banh beo (water-fern cake), snails, offal stew, and sweets like sugar-coated banana, che – sweet soup, and sugar cane juice. You can park your bikes at nearby schools and walk to the shop for food. There are stores and mobile stalls from one end of the alley to another. This place is also a bit more spacious than an average alley, where you can drive your bikes easily.

Price range: varies
Opening hours: usually from 3 PM to 7 PM

At one end of the alley, there are 4 stalls next to each other selling pha lau, oc, che, and nuoc mia.

Pha lau (offal stew)

local cheap eats ho chi minh city offal stew

This Pha lau store has a place to park your bikes across it (for free if you are going to eat at the store). VND 20,000/bowl with one loaf of bread. The offal is stewed in a light curry soup, a bit chewier than expected, but the soup and fish sauce is nice.

Oc (snails)

The price is about VND 40,000/dish, depending on the dishes you order. This store offers many types of seafood like snails, clams, and balut. There are different ways to prepare different kinds of snails, but they are usually boiled, stir-fried, or grilled.

local cheap eats ho chi minh city garlic snail
Garlic snail stir-fried with garlic
local cheap eats ho chi minh city blood cockle
Blood cockles stir-fried with tamarind sauce
local cheap eats ho chi minh city oc bong
Oc bong (snails with dotted pattern with smooth white shell) stir-fried with spicy butter sauce

Che (sweet soup)

local cheap eats ho chi minh city che thap cam

This sweet soup is che thap cam, a mixture of almost all their ingredients (mung beans, red beans, white beans, jelly, and coconut milk. It is good for a VND 15,000 drink.
If you are a sweet tooth, this che is what you should try.

Read more on Vietnamese desserts you must try

Nuoc mia (sugar cane juice)

local cheap eats ho chi minh city sugar cane juice

You can have this glass of sugarcane juice for only VND 6,000. The drink is refreshing, not too sweet, and perfectly balanced with spicy and oily foods.

Check out more fun things to do in Ho Chi Minh City:

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Nguyen Thuong Hien, District 3

This food street in District 3 is famous for banh trang tron (a rice paper mix). You can find many stalls lining up selling this delicious street food along with snails, khoai lac, xoai lac (veggies and fruit shake), and fruit drinks. Except for snails and some drink stores, there are no tables or chairs for you to sit down. You shop and go. The food-selling area starts from one end, crossing Nguyen Dinh Chieu, and to the other at the intersection with Nguyen Thi Minh Khai.

Price range: varies
Opening hours: usually from 5 PM

Banh trang cuon (rice paper mix roll)

local cheap eats ho chi minh city banh trang cuon

For VND 15,000, you can have a box of rice paper mix roll. In the roll that is cut into small pieces, all of the ingredients of the rice paper mix, like shrimp flakes, beef liver jerky, Vietnamese coriander, and fried shallots, are rolled up. The soy sauce, shaved unripe mango, one boiled quail egg, and one fried quail egg are put aside. It is a good snack with a balance of savory and sour, soft and crunchy.

Khoai lang lac pho mai (sweet potato with cheese powder)

local cheap eats ho chi minh city sweet potatoes cheese powder

This snack could easily fill you up because of the starch in the baked sweet potatoes. The cheese powder gives the sweet potatoes enough saltiness and flavor. The price is VND 20,000 for one bag.

local cheap eats ho chi minh city strawberry smoothies
Strawberry smoothies. VND 20,000/glass
local cheap eats ho chi minh city orange juice
Orange juice. VND 15,000/glass

Summary of 3 Local Cheap Eats in Ho Chi Minh City

There are many other food streets across Ho Chi Minh City. These 3 streets are famous with the locals because they are near the city center and offer foods and snacks at a low price. The food quality is under the price shown, but it is where you can find many locals in their daily lives.

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