Being a vegetarian in Vietnam: difficult or easy?

Most of you have probably heard of the wonderful and magnificent cuisine in Vietnam. It is tasty, rich in flavour and quite healthy. The food itself a big factor to why anyone should travel to Vietnam. But how about for us vegetarians? Is it difficult or easy for us to find good vegetarian food?

Before I came to Vietnam, I had to apply for an E-visa, which allows you to be in the country for 30 days. As a person from Sweden, I’m allowed to stay in the country for a maximum of 15 days – but who wants to only stay in Vietnam for two weeks? The country is huge and there’s so much to see. There is another option as well and that is to get a Visa on arrival. This requires applicants to get a visa approval letter through a travel company in Vietnam, then pick it up themselves on arrival at the destination airport. However, I opted for the E-visa and everything worked out very well.

Getting visa on arrival at the airport of Vietnam
Getting visa on arrival at the airport of Vietnam

When I started traveling in Vietnam, I realized how much vegetarian options there are. You just have to be able to find it (or be able to speak Vietnamese!). The word for vegetarian is “chay” in Vietnamese and people will often know what you want if you tell them you want to eat “com chay”. Even in cities with no tourists, such as Hai Phong, there were an abundance of vegetarian restaurants. But in this article I will focus on the capital city Hanoi.

Although I wasn’t fortunate enough to try all the vegetarian places in Hanoi, there are some that I am more than willing to visit again… and again… and again! The food feels fresh, healthy and it’s oh-so-tasty! As a vegetarian I always feel like we get less options and the food can be somewhat stale and taste like nothing but salt. This is about to change though. Vegetarian Vietnamese cuisine is definitely something that will satisfy even the biggest meat lover! Here are the top 5 restaurants I recommend in Hanoi:

Loving Hut

Address: 3 Ngach 10, Ngo 121, Pho Chua Lang, Quan Dong Da, Hanoi, Vietnam

A bit on the pricier side (for foreigners it will still be dirt cheap) but the food they serve there is delicious and worth it. Be aware though! It can get really busy and you might have to wait for a table, but once you’re seated then your stomach will thank you. This is a chain so you can always just find another Loving Hut if the one you’re at is full.

Au Lac

Address: 109 Tran Hung Dao, Hanoi, Vietnam

Another really good restaurant that has more than 1 restaurants throughout the city. They serve traditional Vietnamese food, but it’s vegetarian. They also have vegan food available.

Hieu Sinh Vegetarian Restaurant

Address: 5 Hoang Ngoc Phach, Dong Da District, Hanoi, Vietnam

You want fake meat? Delicious steamed veggies? Vermicelli noodles with mushrooms? You got it. This is a really good restaurant where you will never go out from the restaurant feeling hungry!

Pizza 4Ps

Address : Ly Quoc Su, Hanoi

Not just a vegetarian place, but very popular amongst both locals and international residents. They do however, cater to vegan and vegetarian diets. If you ever get tired of Asian and Vietnamese cuisine, here is a great pizza place for you to indulge on.

Minh Chay Vegan Restaurant

Address : 30 Ma May str

If you wanna go that extra mile and eat more vegan food, here is a great place for you to do so. They are open 8am-10pm daily and you will probably end up eating here everyday. If you think vegan food is boring – think again! Not only is it ridiculously delicious, it is also a step towards being more health conscious and aware of the environment.

These are the top 5 restaurants that I always love to go back to and where I know the food will not disappoint. However, there’s new restaurants popping up all the time in this lively city, so you’ll always have new places to try. Besides these five restaurants, there are so many more spread out over the city. Being a vegetarian in Hanoi is just as easy as for someone who eats meat. And if you thought that vegetarian or vegan food is tasteless, you haven’t been to Vietnam.

Traveling as a vegetarian in Asia isn’t always easy. In fact, it can be nearly impossible, depending on where you are. I started my trip in Japan and I had heard so much about the cuisine there. People told me “it is the best food you will ever try in your life” and “once you’ve had Japanese food, you will never go back”. But they forgot one little detail; vegetarian food barely exists. There were fish products in everything, meat, chicken stock, you name it. Even if I thought it was a vegetarian dish – it wasn’t. I was quite disappointed after only having 7/11 vegetable noodles, the occasional tofu soup with fish broth and avocado sushi for my whole trip in Japan. That’s why it was such a pleasant surprise when I finally arrived to Vietnam and I discovered a whole new world when it came to vegetarian food. Eating out has never been easier for me and being a vegetarian was never frowned upon in this country. Why should it ever be? So, thank you Vietnam for not only giving me some of the most delicious cuisine I’ve ever had in my life, but also because you are so vegetarian and vegan friendly.

Cam on!