Vietnam on a budget: 7 local dishes for under 2 dollars

You don’t need to be rich to travel anymore. Sometimes it’s enough if you’re smart with your budget and know where to go, what to eat and find out about the free activities to do. What’s so good about traveling to Vietnam though is that even if you’re on a low budget, you can still treat yourself from time to time. The prices here are cheap (depending on what you compare it too, of course) and for travelers who are on a tight budget, this is the perfect destination.

There are two things that are vital while you’re traveling and something you must spend money on: accommodation and food. But you don’t have to live in a five-star hotel or eat in high-end restaurants. You can still enjoy Vietnam to the fullest by checking into more budget-friendly hostels or hotels, and the street food here is incredible. Your taste buds will definitely be satisfied.

If you want to keep your budget as low as possible, but still want to eat good food, here are the 7 dishes you can indulge on without having to worry about your wallet:

1. Banh Mi

Famous Vietnamese food is Banh Mi Thit - bread stuffed with pork, ham, pate, egg and fresh herbs as scallions, coriander, carrot, cucumber, chilli....
Famous Vietnamese food is Banh Mi Thit – bread stuffed with pork, ham, pate, egg and fresh herbs as scallions, coriander, carrot, cucumber, chilli….

One of the most famous dishes in Vietnam, this is the Vietnamese baguette which is filled with all kinds of delicious things. You can eat a banh mi for breakfast, lunch, dinner or whenever you feel like eating something. You will see banh mi stalls almost everywhere. This dish will be impossible to miss! Some say the best banh mi is found in Hoi An, but if you’re not going there, you’re bound to find just as delicious baguettes elsewhere. They are filling, incredibly tasty and of course: cheap. You’ll most likely pay about $1-$1.5, depending on where you buy them.

2. Pho

Traditional Vietnamese beef soup - pho bo
Traditional Vietnamese beef soup – pho bo

Another very popular dish that has spread worldwide. This noodle soup is so simple, yet so satisfying. There are several flavors such as pork, chicken and vegetarian. This noodle dish can either be quite expensive or very cheap, depending on where you go. Usually the street food stalls selling pho will give you a bowl for $2 and sometimes, less.

3. Banh Xeo

Banh xeo - Vietnamese rice pancake with fish sauce, tomato and fermented carrot
Banh xeo – Vietnamese rice pancake with fish sauce, tomato and fermented carrot

Banh xeo is the Vietnamese version of pancakes. Savory and crispy, these delicious things will fill your stomach and make you come back for more! It’s a specialty of Danang and you’ll find plenty of restaurants or food stalls selling theses pancakes. Usually they sell for less than a dollar for each piece, so depending on how hungry you are, you can most at least get two pancakes for under $2.

4. Mi Quang

Mi quang and raw material as pork meat, salad, vegetable, chilli, lemon, yellow noodle, dried shrimp, Quang noodle is famous Vietnamese food, very delicious eating

You may be fooled by this dish to think this is similar to pho, but trust us, it’s different but just as good. Mi Quang is also a noodle soup, but the difference is the use of quang noodles. These noodles are best in Da Nang, but you shouldn’t wait until you go there to try Mi Quang. You can get a bowl of Mi Quang for about $1.5.

5. Sticky rice

Sticky rice, also called Xoi, is cooked with many different versions. You can get savory sticky rices or more sweet, such as with corn and coconut. Xoi is a very popular dish in Vietnam and you’ll find these everywhere in the country. You can find a small serving for as little as $0.5. You’ll even be able to afford to try many of the flavors.

6. Rice

Com Tam Suon Bi
Com Tam Suon Bi

Not talking about plain rice, but the Vietnamese says “com” which means rice but also food. Get a plate of food – rice and usually some veggies – for around $2, sit with locals in the food stalls and get to know the Vietnamese everyday life. You’ll most likely see locals sitting on small plastic chairs, eating food and drinking a cup of coffee, before heading back to work.

7. Ice-cream

Craving something sweet? Of course you are. Ice-cream in Vietnam is usually quite cheap and you can find it in many kiosks or go to an ice-cream shop. You can satisfy your sweet tooth for under $1. There are a ton of other sweets that you should try in Vietnam as well, but ice-cream is always a good solution when the weather outside is hot.

Before traveling to Vietnam, remember to apply for your Vietnam visa. You can either opt for a Visa on Arrival, E-Visa (only certain countries are allowed to apply for this) or go to your nearest Vietnam Embassy or Consulate and get your Vietnam visa there.

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