When it comes to food, the Vietnamese kitchen is famous worldwide and many tourists who come here fall in love with the cuisine. Not only is it healthy, it’s also incredibly tasty. But there’s much more to discover in Vietnam such as the country’s drinks. The locals don’t really drink something with their food but save it instead for a separate event, such as going out with their friends or stopping for a refreshing juice by the street. If alcohol is involved, it’s usually seen as the main focus, while the food is considered an accompaniment.
Something that might be worth thinking about is that most drinks in Vietnam are usually served over ice. This is firstly because refrigeration is not common and because room temperature in Vietnam is usually hot, so getting ice in your drink is a safe bet to get a cold and delicious drink. Although you’ve probably read in most guidebooks that you should avoid ice due to risk of getting bacterias, but ice tends to be safe in Vietnam. It’s the crushed ice that you should avoid, since most of it comes from ice that’s been crushed with hands, and it’s those hands that you should be concerned about. But if the ice has a hole in it, it’s generally safe since it’s been machine made.
So, let’s take a look at all the delicious drinks you can get in Vietnam, both alcohol and non-alcoholic.
1. Coconut water
We’re not talking about the coconut water that you can buy in cans, but the fresh one straight from a coconut tree in the vendors house. You’ll probably see this very popular drink being sold almost everywhere because of the huge amount of coconut trees growing in the country. If you think you’ve tried coconut water before because you’ve bought it in a store, you’re wrong! The fresh ones are always tastier, much sweeter and the flavor is incredibly fresh. Go for the smaller coconuts if you prefer sweeter ones. Fresh coconuts are usually sold for a really cheap price, so make sure to get a few on your trip to Vietnam.
2. Sugar cane juice
Although it sounds like it’s a drink full of sugar, it’s not as sweet as you might think. It’s considered a “cooling” drink for the really hot days. You’ll see it sold by street vendors who use electric squashing machines to squeeze out the juice from the canes. Then they usually mix the juice with a tiny sour citrus fruit called calamansi. It’s one of Vietnam’s most beloved drinks and a must-try.
Fun fact: Did you guys know that Vietnam is number 3 on the top consumers of beer in the world? They’re just behind China and Japan – now that’s a lot of beer. When night falls, you’ll most likely see locals sitting by the street stalls, drinking beer with their friends on plastic stools, eating tapas-style dishes such as barbecued prawns or coconut snails for example. Some of the most popular beer brands in Vietnam are Saigon Beer and Bia Ha Noi. If you’d like to do it the local way, go to one of the street stalls and order a beer there. They should cost no more than one dollar. But if those don’t fall under your taste, the craft beer scene has been growing and there’s a lot of breweries opening up in the country, so you can try some local or international brews.
Last but not least – Vietnam’s most beloved drink perhaps, both amongst locals and internationals. Vietnam is the world’s biggest producer of Robusta coffee, which many say is inferior to the Arabica coffee. The locals usually drink it either with condensed milk or just black with either a bit of sugar or none at all. If you feel adventurous though, Vietnam has some coffee specialties such as yogurt coffee, egg coffee (which sounds way worse than it is) or coconut coffee. Either way, getting at least one cup of coffee in Vietnam is a must.
Remember that you have to apply for a Vietnam visa in order to enter the country. You can acquire it either by getting a Visa on Arrival or E-Visa, which are both done online, or go to your nearest Vietnamese Embassy or Consulate and apply with them.