During the new surge of the Delta variants cases in Vietnam and particularly in Ho Chi Minh City, the government has imposed extreme social distancing measures as an effort to stop the unprecedented effect of the coronavirus. Subsequent, the regular routine is significantly disrupted, and such simple task as grocery shopping has since become the challenge.
Due to safety reasons as well as following the restrictions, buying groceries online is now the only way to go in Ho Chi Minh City. As in other regions, shopping online for daily necessities is the safest way to protect ourselves during the surge of new COVID cases nationwide.
The COVID Situation in Vietnam as of July 2021
Since the first appearance of the Delta variant cases in Ho Chi Minh City, the number of infected patients skyrocketed. As of July 20th, Ho Chi Minh City’s total cases alone are 40,000 and climbing, with more than 1,000 – 4,000 new cases a day. Subsequently, Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh’s adjacent provinces in the South have also found new COVID cases every day. As a response, the residents in affected areas (Ho Chi Minh, the Mekong Delta) are required to follow Decree 16 and stay home as much as possible. Some notable rules to follow are:
- Residents are only allowed to go out for emergency cases (medical reasons, buying food/medicine,…) or if you are a frontline worker. Some critically hit areas give “tickets” to the people – people are only to go out to shop for necessities if they’re holding the ticket, each ticket is valid for going outside once.
- Only necessary businesses are allowed to operate (pharmacies, clinics, banks etc.). No restaurants or take-out meals are allowed to operate.
- Local markets are closed, only a few designated markets are allowed to open.
- Supermarkets and convenience stores are allowed to open, but shoppers must wear masks, social distance, and only a small number of customers are allowed to shop inside together at a time.
- Public transportation (including taxis, buses, ride-hailing, etc.) has been temporarily stopped. Only delivery is allowed. If you need a taxi to travel to the hospital, Mai Linh and Vinasun are 2 brands with a few taxis permitted to operate under urgent circumstances.
- Ho Chi Minh, in particular, has been under lockdown for around 2 months, and there have been no positive signs that the social distancing will end soon. This leads to an influx of grocery shopping, yet the supply is cut off as transportation between Ho Chi Minh and other provinces is restricted.
As a result, not only is it a health risk to go shopping at the moment but there is also a food supply shortage and limited means to go outside. Therefore, buying groceries online in Vietnam is the optimal way to plan your food at home and stay away from crowded places.
Ways to Buy Groceries Online in Vietnam
Tough times call for innovative solutions. Fortunately, in this day and age of advanced technology, food can easily be shipped directly to your doorstep. Although it is undoubtedly a dire situation in big cities like Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi, these metropolitans have a handful of professional services that can keep your fridge and tummy full during lockdowns.
Grocery Delivery Apps
Grab and other ride-hailing services in Vietnam are some of the most excellent survival tools for any foreigners living or simply visiting Vietnam. Buying groceries online in Vietnam can be as effortless as one touch of a button. Some popular delivery apps are Grab, Delivery Now, Baemin, Gojek, Chopp, etc.
- User-friendly interface and diversified options.
- Little language barrier and easy access to your merchants even though they’re far away from where you are.
- Frequent and attractive promotions.
- Generally free of scams. If there’s any, you can easily report to the apps customers’ support.
- Delivery within an hour, or you can set the time for the delivery.
- There might be a shortage of drivers during peak hours.
- Some drivers might cancel your orders because of the long delivery distance.
- Some vendors might face an overload of demands and cannot provide the products you need.
- You might not be able to order in large quantities.
- Certain delivery apps don’t offer a wide range of selections. Arguably, only Grab can offer sufficient options and more expat-friendly.
E-commerce Sites in Vietnam
Due to the unexpected demand for food, e-commerce sites in Vietnam grasp the opportunity to sell fresh produce and butchery. Buying groceries online in Vietnam can now be done via e-commerce sites such as Shopee, Tiki, Lazada, etc.
- An alternative to delivery apps in case you cannot find the products to suit your needs.
- Many promotions and coupons, Shopee and Lazada often offer free shipping.
- Flexible reimbursement/return policies
- It’s tricky to tell if the sellers are trustworthy vendors for the quality of their products.
- Delivery of fresh products is limited in some regions of the city.
- It takes a couple of days to receive your purchase.
Even if you are only used to shopping at your favorite supermarket, there is also a way around it in terms of buying groceries online in Vietnam. Many major supermarket brands like Lottemart and Aeon offer online shopping so you can spend your time on the sofa browsing for your items.
- Price and quality are guaranteed.
- A wide variety of brands, especially Western, Korean and Japanese brands.
- Free shipping when you reach a certain amount of purchase.
- Some supermarkets are currently overwhelmed by the surge of walk-in customers and put a halt to their online delivery.
- It can take a few days for the supermarket to prepare your order due to the high demand.
- Delivery is limited to 10 km around the supermarket (depending on each supermarket’s policy)
Aside from corporate brand supermarkets, independent marts and grocers offer the same professionalism and are a great alternative when supermarkets are overcrowded.
Some places you can look into are Annam Market, Le Square Epicier Fin, Nam An Market, Farmer’s Market (imported Western products), Organica, Vinamit, TERRISA Store, Tony’s Fruits (organic veggies and fruits), Dinh Phong (butchery), etc.
- Lots of imported Western products
- Many channels to contact. You can often find them in delivery apps, but should it fail, you can also reach them via social media to place your order.
Paper bags to limit plastic waste of delivery items from Le Square Epicier Fin
- Due to the high demand, it may take a couple of days for the seller to prepare your order.
- Not many promotions going on.
If you’re hungry for local produce, many Facebook groups for expats and locals have some sellers trying to reach their customers.
- Cheap local products
- Support the local community
- Risk of being scammed
- Little or no special promotions
Other Restaurants Delivery Services
In case you cannot or aren’t able to cook, or are simply craving restaurant food, there are a few restaurants that are still selling frozen, ready-made takeouts on their website. Some favorite names are Haidilao, Pizza 4P, etc.
Tips for Buying Groceries Online in Vietnam
- Plan ahead: due to unprecedented high demands, the grocers may need a few days to prepare for your order. Therefore, make sure to order at least 2-3 days ahead or be prepared to compromise that some of your orders cannot arrive. Cash on delivery payment is recommended.
- If you’re stuck in a lockdown area (supposedly your apartment or the surrounding area of your home has an F0 case), the delivery person is not allowed to bring the shipment to your doorstep. Inform the frontline worker who’s in charge of your area and the delivery service so that you can receive your order.
- Check comments and reviews to avoid scams.
Final Takes on Buying Groceries Online in Vietnam
Even after the lockdown has been alleviated and the pandemic situation is improved, the online shopping alternatives can still be helpful whenever you’re too busy to go out or when your health doesn’t allow you to go outside. Keeping notes of these options is undoubtedly one of the best survival tips when settling down in Vietnam as expats.