Vietnam has an intriguing, fascinating, and unique cuisine. A critical part of Vietnamese cuisine is the vibrant world of street foods. Those street foods reflect the richness of Vietnamese cuisine, and by picking up a piece of street food, you would have also consumed a piece of Vietnam’s culture. So, that’s a bonus for you aside from the inherent and undeniable tastiness of the street foods. So, here are just some of our recommendations for amazing street vendors in Saigon.
Overview of Amazing Street Vendors in Saigon
The fantastic street food vendors in Saigon are as old as Saigon’s history. Back then, every corner of Saigon was populated with street vendors and hawkers. Now, the number might have reduced, but not much has changed. They bring portable kitchen cookware to serve hungry patrons who don’t have time for a home-cooked meal or just want a quick and delicious treat. The means for them to carry their cooking tools are various.
Types of street vendors in Saigon
Based on the means of transport: carrying poles used to be one of the most popular ways to bring their business anywhere they want. Nowadays, they mostly either use a bicycle with a container in the back seat or a wheeled food cart (which can be driven by bicycle or motorbike aside from being pushed by hand).
Street vendor lady with baskets filled with food
A pushcart full of Vietnamese snacks
A selection of fresh and pickled fruits can be seen on the street
Based on the foods on sale: Street foods in Saigon are diverse, from noodle dishes to rice to pastry to sweet soup to coffee, milk tea, and anything needed to satisfy your appetite can be found on the street.
Street vendor fruit cart in Saigon
Coffee can be found at almost every street corner in Saigon
Typical locations of street vendors in Saigon
Naturally, street vendors and hawkers convene primarily at school and office areas. Those are where their main customers are. Some amazing street vendors can be found at To Hien Thanh Street (fruit salad vendors), Su Van Hanh Street (cafes and snacks), Nguyen Tri Phuong Street, Thanh Thai Street (grilled chicken), Pham Van Dong Street (streetside pub and seafood), Phan Van Tri Street, Co Giang Street, etc.
For an even more authentic experience, try visiting a local market and get your breakfast from there. The robust aroma of the food and the busy atmosphere at the market will surely energize your morning.
Check out our comprehensive list of Saigon’s best food streets!
Famous Street Vendors in Saigon
Banh Trang Tron (Rice Paper Salad) on Nguyen Thuong Hien Street (District 1)
For this food, the rice paper is shredded and then mixed with sauces, fruit slices, beef jerky, quail eggs, dried shrimps, vegetables, etc. The taste is umami thanks to the sauce, with a hint of sourness from kumquat juice and a kick of spice from the chili oil. Banh trang tron is an exceptionally prevalent street food that is popular among students of all ages and office workers.
Now, Nguyen Thuong Hien Street in District 3 is a mecca for banh trang tron. You will notice all of the vendors here as they display a selection of banh trang tron on the storefront. One particular shop that you should visit is Banh Trang Tron Chu Vien at 38 Nguyen Thuong Hien. He operates every day from 11:30 AM to 7 PM. Prices range from VND 20,000 to VND 30,000, more than average, but the size of the food you get is entirely worth it.
Xoi Ga (Chicken Sticky Rice) at Ba Chieu Market (Binh Thanh District)
The Ba Chieu Market is not as big or famous as Cho Lon or Ben Thanh Market in Saigon. But Ba Chieu Market definitely doesn’t lose out in terms of having delicious food vendors. One notable vendor we would like to discuss is the Xoi Ga Ba Chieu.
The stall offers 3 foods. Those are xoi ga (chicken sticky rice), xoi xa xiu [char siu (barbecue pork) sticky rice], and xoi thap cam (mixed sticky rice).
The vendor Xoi Ga Ba Chieu is on the left-hand side of Ba Chieu Market, at 318/1 Bui Huu Nghia Street, Ward 1, Binh Thanh District. That’s where Huu Huu Nghia Street crosses with Vu Tung Street. Opening hours are from 5:00 PM to 11:30 PM every day. The price ranges from VND 15,000 to VND 28,000, depending on the portion.
Banh Mi Thit Nuong (Banh Mi with Grilled Pork) at 37 Nguyen Trai (District 1)
Banh mi is one of the signatures that earns Vietnam’s name on the world’s food map. There is an assortment of different variants of banh mi. It depends on the cook to figure out what combination of meats, vegetables, and pickles will lead to a symphony of flavors.
The variant of banh mi we will talk about in this article is banh mi thit nuong (grilled pork banh mi). A notable vendor is the vendor at 37 Nguyen Trai Street, right in front of an alleyway numbered 39.
The price for this hefty-looking banh mi is VND 20,000. The food cart operates from 5 PM to 7:30 PM, Monday to Saturday. However, if all of the banh mi are sold out, the vendor will close down early. So you should try to be an early bird.
Banh Mi Huynh Hoa at 26 Le Thi Rieng Street (District 1)
Huynh Hoa is a staple name when speaking about banh mi, or street vendors in Ho Chi Minh in general. What makes Huynh Hoa’s banh mi notable is not only the size but also the harmony of the fillings and sumptuous pate spread that has yet to be rivaled by any other street vendors in Saigon. Undoubtedly, almost every tourist to Saigon has to stop by their store, but Huynh Hoa’s service is fast and efficient, despite their staff not speaking a lot of English. The price tripled what is considered a typical price for one banh mi. But trust us when we say their VND 60,000 banh mi is worth every penny.
Banh Mi Hoa Ma at 53 Cao Thang Street (District 3)
Another banh mi experience worth trying is at banh mi Hoa Ma. Before banh mi became its famous sandwich style seen today, it was served in a pan. Hoa Ma is one of the oldest street vendors in Saigon that still serves the old-fashioned style of banh mi. Paired with a fresh baguette is a sizzling pan of spam or sardines, a sunny-side-up egg, and pate.
Bun Rieu at Ben Thanh Market (District 1)
While Pho is a must-try, other noodle soups in Vietnam are often overlooked. Bun rieu does not originally come from Saigon, but the city has transformed the soup with stronger flavors. Bun Rieu is a delectable noodle soup with broth made from fresh crab paste, and many tourists to Saigon would arguably say that the shop in Ben Thanh Market sells the best bowls. The place has an inside area for more comfort and also a streetside area for an authentic experience of street vendors in Saigon.
Net-filtered Coffee in Phan Dinh Phung Alley (Phu Nhuan District)
Little does one know, the metal filter of the iconic Vietnamese coffee is only a recent addition. Back in the old days, the Vietnamese would use a net to filter the ground coffee. Some argue it doesn’t make a difference, while others say the traditional way of brewing brings about a distinctive flavor. You must try it yourself and decide, but beware of the strong coffee. The little shop inside Phan Dinh Phung Street is especially crowded at night till dawn. Such a funny time to drink coffee, isn’t it?
Lunch Lady on Nguyen Dinh Chieu Street (District 1)
If you watched Anthony Bourdain’s show, you should know who the Lunch Lady is. It was Anthony Bourdain who came up with the nickname.
What makes the Lunch Lady special is that the daily menu constantly changes. Being a street food stall, the Lunch Lady doesn’t just stick to one trick. For every day of the week, there would be a different menu. The dishes she serves are usually noodle dishes like bun Thai (Thai flavor vermicelli), bun bo (beef vermicelli), bun ca (fish vermicelli), hu tieu (a type of noodles soup), and many many more. To prepare for this, she goes to the local market early in the morning every day.
Our Advice for Eating at Street Vendors in Saigon
- Check our Tips for Preventing Food Poisoning in Vietnam
- Streetside stores often have customers sitting on small stools. It is authentic but we understand that it can be uncomfortable for Western tourists. You can ask for a takeaway if possible.
- Beware of your belongings when sitting on the side of the street.
- Be careful of being scammed. Street vendors are known for their humble ingredients, so there’s no way you should pay more than VND 100,000 (~USD 4) per portion.
- The rule of thumb for spotting a vendor worth trying is to see if many local customers are trying the food.
- Sitting by the streets can be dusty, too. Decide for yourself if it is a risk worth taking.
- The authentic experience of street vendors in Saigon is to, well, sit by the streets. But as an extra measure for safety, try seeing if you find a spot that is away from traffic.
Our Final Words on Street Vendors in Saigon
These recommended spots are just a tiny representation of numerous amazing street vendors in Saigon. So head out to the streets of Saigon to adventure; follow where your stomach leads you and bask in the excellent culinary side of Saigon.