Street Food Adventures During Your Internship in Vietnam

Posted by SE Vietnam - Student Exchange Vietnam

For decades, street food has been a striking feature of big cities in Vietnam, such as Hanoi or Ho Chi Minh City. As time flies, foreign tourists visiting these cities have become familiar with, or even addicted to this strange type of business, in which street vendors offer products that may not taste as good if they were sold in shops or restaurants. However, the appeals of the business do not outweigh its drawbacks, which has led to official authority’s decision and action to get rid of it.

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Young people enjoy street food, street drinks, street talks. Source:

Street food in tourists’ eyes

If you think the more expensive and fabulous, the more appealing and delicious, you may be wrong. In Vietnam, food that draws the most attention and interest from tourists and even local people is sold on the streets! The first special thing about this type of food is its diversity and uniqueness combined with the simplicity in the way it is served and enjoyed, which can hardly be found in any restaurants. Each region of Vietnam, no matter how small or big, has its own set of delicacies, contributing to a huge Vietnamese storage of cuisines. From bánh xèo (Vietnamese crepe) to bánh mì thịt (grilled porl bread), from phở bò (beef pho) to miến trộn (mixed noodles), they are all made from natural popular ingredients with traditional techniques, and most of the time, are available on every pavement of food.

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Bánh xèo – Vietnamese crepe with beef and shrimps. Source:

Furthermore, tourists do not just enjoy the food itself – what they fall in love with is also the eating and selling styles. Sitting on an old plastic chair, observing the dynamic daily activities of people, tasting the green tea’s freshness remains a lasting memory for many foreigners. Then, they reminisce about the stentorian yet gentle voice of the hawkers, as well as the cheery laughter and carefree conversations of the old grandpas. What is all of this experience about? It’s about truly living in a culture – where there is no discrimination of ages, jobs, social classes or races. They feel like being treated as if they were part of this hospitable community.

If you are doing internship in Vietnam, meaning that you are about to stay here for a long time, watch out, or you will get addicted to this beautiful culture of gastronomy.

Street food in local people’s eyes

Needless to say, sausages, tornado potatoes, grilled meat, and dozens of other food have become indispensable in students’ life, especially in recess time or after school. Young people enjoy the food when they are having a break, talking to friends, or simply having nothing else to do. Meanwhile, working adults may take a quick grasp of it on their way to work in the early morning. For the elderly, what’s better than spending the entire day drinking tea, looking back at the past with their lifelong friends, contemplating about their kids’ future? All on the streets.

Favorable as it truly is, street food usually appears as an eyesore for many city dwellers. Their walking space is occupied, their view from the front door is blocked, and the ugly leftovers may be literally left over,…

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Pedestrians cannot walk on sidewalks due to street business. Source:

Street business in authority’s eyes

Selling stuff on streets or pavements has never been legal in Vietnam, although a lot of Vietnamese families can only make ends meet with the business. However, for the last one month, Hanoi People’s Committee has commanded strong punishment on these merchandise activities.

In fact, policemen and city security, for a long time, have been involved in suppressing hawkers and vendors from doing business on the streets, but their execution does not prove effective. This time, since March 20th, 2017, the authority has taken serious action to solve this issue.

Their current implementation has raised awareness, received positive feedback from the local people, but also caused street vendors worries. “Normally the business is tough itself, now our living method has been taken away, and also comes the fine. This is so pitiful, as I am old and nobody hires me to do anything.” – Ms. Huong (62 years old) complained.

Facing this situation, the authority is trying to create opportunities for the sellers to earn a living, in a legal way. For example, in Thanh Xuan district, authorities will reserve a part of the Thanh Xuan Bac Market for those street vendors who have been forced off the sidewalks in ongoing campaigns to restore order on the streets. The vendors or hawkers would have the first three months free from rent for market space, according to a recent directive from the Thanh Xuan administration.

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Thanh Xuan Bac market where street vendors are resettled for their business. Source: tuoitrenews

So, if you are taking internship in Vietnam or preparing for internship in Vietnam and worried that the street food culture in Vietnam may vanish? No worries! What has become culture cannot be easily wiped out. In one way or another, people and authorities will find a way to strike a balance between culture and law, which ensures you will have amazing food adventures when doing internship in Vietnam, without vendors taking any risky ventures! What are you waiting for? Start your series of adventures in Vietnam right now!


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