11 Must-Try Vietnamese Drinks That Travelers Shouldn’t Miss Out
More than just land with exquisite natural scenery, Vietnam is also a paradise for foodaholics. Walking along the crowded streets throughout the countries, travelers could easily find excellent foods and drinks that would satisfy your taste’ buds easily. In this article, Focus Asia Travel would like to introduce to you the 11 best Vietnamese drinks that you should never forget to try when coming to this beautiful land.
1. Coffee – The Iconic Vietnamese Drinks
Have you ever tasted the world-famous Espresso in Italy, the press cafe in France, or the iced Freddos in Greece? Believe us, the authentic Vietnamese coffee is second to none!
In Vietnam, coffee is not just a drink. It’s a culture. Coffee shops appear in every corner of the country, from the small village in the countryside to the bustling metropolis like Hanoi. It’s easy to catch the image of Vietnamese people sitting on the small wooden chairs in an open-air cafe and taking a sip of coffee.
So, how is Vietnamese coffee like? To be honest, it is super strong and bold if it’s your very first taste. Robusta beans, which are harvested from the plantations in the Central Highlands, are roasted and ground into powder. Then the Vietnamese would use a small metal drip filter to prepare the coffee.
Vietnamese coffee is often served with condensed milk or sugar, which brings along the sweet flavor to the drink. That sweetness blends well with the strong taste of the Robusta beans and creates a flavor utopia. Your hearts will beat fast when you try that amazing drink.
The common way to try coffee in Vietnam is to drink it cold. There are two popular drinks: iced black coffee and iced coffee with condensed milk. If drinking coffee is not your daily habit, it’s better to go for an iced coffee with lots of milk and sugar because the black one with less sugar might make you hear colors and even keep you awake overnight.
2. Egg Coffee – The Pride of Hanoians
Egg Coffee appears in every Hanoi travel guide as a must-try that any visitors should never ignore. This is the signature drink that only the beautiful capital of Vietnam offers.
In the 1940s, Mr. Giang, who worked as a bartender at Sofitel Legend Metropole Hanoi Hotel, thought of a new coffee recipe to lighten the strong flavor of the classic Vietnamese black coffee. He combined coffee with a concoction of egg yolks and condensed milk, and that beverage was called “Egg Coffee”. The yolks and milk are whisked together to form a thick, fluffy mayonnaise-like mixture. It is then poured over the black coffee to make the heavenly tasty Egg Coffee.
Nothing is better than spending time at the small cafe deep inside the alleys of the Old Quarter, taking a sip of hot egg coffee while watching the rain falling outside the window on a cold winter day.
Giang Cafe, which was established by Mr. Giang, is the best place to try egg coffee in Hanoi. You can also enjoy this drink at other coffee shops in the Old Quarter like Dinh Cafe or Loading T. Each place would have its recipe to make their iconic Vietnamese drinks, so the taste might be somehow different, yet still worth trying.
3. “Bia Hoi” – the Draught Beer Of Vietnam
Vietnamese people love beer, so don’t be surprised if you see the beer streets and bars full up with people in short T-shirts and pants, raising their big cups and making a toast by shouting out “Mot – Hai – Ba”. Fresh beer is served in kegs, and we call it “bia hoi”.
Ever since beer came to Vietnam in the early 1900s, it has become one of the most popular Vietnamese drinks to try in summer. The locals do not drink beer as it is on any special occasion. They just drink it as they want to. Thanks to the freshness and coolness, “bia hoi” could freeze the heat and quench the thirst on hot summer days.
This beer is very light (only around 3° ABV), so you can freely try it without worrying about getting drunk.
Besides the draught beer, bottled beer from Vietnam is amazing, also. It tastes nothing less wonderful than German beer. Some famous Vietnamese beer brands are Saigon Beer, Huda Beer, Hanoi Beer, etc.
4. Sugarcane Juice – One of The Best Vietnamese Drinks for Summer
If “bia hoi” is the most popular alcoholic drink, then “nuoc mia” is the representative of non-alcohol Vietnamese drinks for summer. Once appeared in a Korean travel show (Battle Trip), this drink easily surprised the tasters with its simple yet fresh flavor.
In Vietnam, sugarcane is not simply an ingredient to make sugar but it is also a favorite food of the locals. You might catch the image of people holding a sugarcane stick and chewing it when crossing the streets. Not only is sugarcane a favorite food for summer, but people also love it in the winter. If you travel to the North in the cold season, you might see the locals grilling sugarcane to eat, as it is exceptionally warm, sweet, and nutritious.
In the past, people tore apart the rind of the sugarcane and eat the inner part, which is exhausting and might make your mouth injured. Then the locals came up with the idea of squeezing the juice out by machine. The sugarcane juice is light green and exceptionally sweet. Putting some ice into the cups, a wonderful drink is complete.
You can easily find the juice vendors when walking or driving along Vietnamese streets. Usually, they would display bulks of sugarcane stalks near their squashing machines and stalls.
5. Fresh Coconut Milk – A Signature Tropical Drink
Coconut milk, or coconut water, is perhaps not a strange name as it might have appeared in the convenience stores near your houses in recent years. In Vietnam, this has been the locals’ favorite drink for centuries. Here, you won’t see the bottled or packed stuff. Instead, the sellers will chop the coconut right after you order, and you will drink the water straight out from it. For some reason, the juice appears to be grassier and sweeter than the one in bottles. It’s better to drink it cold, yet drinking it raw is just awesome already.
The smaller coconuts, which are called “dừa xiêm”, is said to be sweeter than the bigger ones. When you drink it, don’t forget to ask the sellers to take the flesh out and put it onto the juice. A perfect coconut would have the jellyish and almost transparent flesh. If you feel it too stiff and the color is white, then the coconut might be too old.
For a fresher taste, you can order “dua tac” (coconut milk with kumquat). The kumquat juice added brings along a more flavorful taste and fragrant to the coconut water.
6. Artichoke Tea – Not Just A Thing To Drink
Artichoke is often used to make salad or pizza topping. In Vietnam, it has another function: be an ingredient for tea. Artichoke Tea is a tea that not only refreshes your day but also detoxes your health.
There are two types of artichoke tea: a sweet yellowish tea made from its flowers and a bitter black tea from its stems. The first one is more common as it is easy to drink and people often have it with ice. The latter, which is better for health, is less preferred.
Artichoke tea works as a detox thanks to the huge benefits it brings. Artichoke helps relive your liver and digestion system while boosting the regulation of sugar in your blood. It is also useful if you want to lose weight or gain a flawless skin.
Artichoke is cultivated in Dalat in the Central Highlands. You can try the tea made from fresh artichoke here. Still, packages of dried tea are sold in markets throughout the country.
7. “Ruou Nep” – Vietnamese Glutinous Rice Wine
If you travel to Vietnam, then forget Vodka, Rum, or the like. “Ruou Nep” – the traditional liquor of this country will be your priority instead.
As its name states, this liquor is the wine made from glutinous rice. “Com ruou”, which is the well-cooked glutinous rice, is mixed with yeast, and stored in a closed jar for days. When it has been well fermented, Vietnamese people will distill it to become the ready-to-use wine.
The wine is strong (45 degrees ABV) and throws a big punch when you try it. It is fragrant and the aftertaste is amazing, also.
Aside from the basic rice wine, the locals also put the medicinal herbs, plants, and animals onto it to make “ruou thuoc” (medicinal wine), which is believed to be exceptionally good for health. Herbs like ginseng and animals like snakes and monkeys are the favorite ingredients that Vietnamese people always look for.
This Vietnamese liquor can be easily found at any food stalls throughout Vietnam or in any Vietnamese family. It appears on every special occasion like wedding, funeral, festivals, etc. and deserves to be one of the best Vietnamese drinks that travelers should try once in your life.
8. Iced Green Tea – An Unsung Hero Among Vietnamese Drinks
Popular as it is, “Tra Da” (Iced Green Tea) seems to always be ignored when talking about the best Vietnamese drinks. “Tra da” is simply the brewed green tea that is served with lots of ice. You might be more familiar with the classier ritual of brewing hot tea, Vietnamese locals love the iced version more.
“Tra da” is like a part of Vietnamese people, especially those in the North. They drink it every day, at any time. Simple stalls with plastic chairs are set up on the pavement to serve “tra da”. Compared to the classic tea, “tra da” is lighter and fresher, yet still bitter and diluted.
“Tra da” is perhaps the cheapest drink you could find. It is often offered for free at eateries. In case you need to pay, then it would cost only 4,000 – 5,000 VND only for a full cup.
9. Kumquat Tea – A Must-Mention In The List Of Vietnamese Drinks
Kumquat Tea is recently one of the most haunted Vietnamese drinks. It has been driving the whole country crazy in recent years. During the summer day, the temperature in Vietnam might reach 40 Celsius Degree. While people have to involve in the traffic or work outdoor, finding an exceptionally cool drink to dispel the thirst is their priority.
First appeared in Saigon, “tra tac” (in the South), or “tra quat” (in the North) has become a cannot-miss drink in summer in the S-shaped country. It is simply a drink made from tea, kumquat, and honey (or sugar). Different to other drinks which are served in only small-sized bottles, “trà tắc” is often sold in huge cups (up to 1 liter). It is not a luxurious drink that you need to come to the large drink shop to buy but you can easily get it on the street vendors. Maybe just in a few seconds when waiting for the green light, you can get one fast and furiously.
More appealingly, the price for a huge cup of “trà tắc” is extraordinarily cheap. It’s only 10,000 – 15,000 VND (under $1) for a 1-liter cup. Both cheap and tasteful, this is a must-try Vietnamese drink that travelers should never miss.
10. “Ruou Can” (Tube Wine) in Central Highlands
If you travel to the Central Highlands, don’t forget to taste “ruou can” – the traditional tube wine of the tribal people here. Not only is it an impressive name among Vietnamese drinks but it is also an important cultural feature symbolizing this region.
“Ruou Can” is the Vietnamese name of a fermented wine made by the ethnic people in the Central Highlands of Vietnam. After being well cooked, glutinous rice is mixed with different types of herbs (leaves and roots of trees in the local forests) and fermented in a jar in at least one month. In the past, women had to go into the jungle to find about 20 types of herbs to make the yeast. However, as it has become hard and time-consuming to find, people tend to make the ready-to-use yeast to make wine. The quality remains, though. Similar to the normal wine, the taste is better when being kept for a long time.
People drink “ruou can” through the long, slender cane tubes placed in the earthenware jug. Each person uses separate tubes, and about 2-4, even up to 10 people share one jar.
This traditional tube wine is served on important occasions like weddings, festivals, and harvest feasts, which take place in the local “Nha Rong” (communal house) or by the campfire. Taking some sips of “ruou can” and dancing to the Gong Music are said to be the must-try for any Central Highland Vietnam tours.
11. “Tra Cung Dinh” – Hue’s Royal Tea
“Tra Cung Dinh” – the Royal Court Tea is a famous specialty of Hue – the ancient citadel nestled quietly along the Perfume River in Central Vietnam. This tea was served for the Kings and the Royal families in the feudal times. This is among the most gentle and luxuriant Vietnamese drinks.
Hue Royal Tea contains tens of natural herbs like Artichoke, ginseng, licorice, angelica, jujubes, jasmine flowers, etc. Hence, the tea is exceptionally aromatic with the harmonizing blend of the different aromas. And its sweetness is extraordinary, too!
Moreover, “Tra Cung Dinh” is proven to be good for health. It boasts a good sleep, treats hypertension, balances the cholesterol level, and even more.
Hue people often serve tea with cake. Just leave all the stress and sorrow behind and set your mind free when sipping a cup of Royal Tea and have a piece of delicious cake. It’s not just about drinking. It’s art, fulfillment, and enjoyment.
The best place for a tea party is Dong Khuyet Dai Cultural Space inside the Forbidden City, Hue.
These 11 Vietnamese drinks are not all that you could expect to get when traveling to this land. There are many more names that Focus Asia Travel cannot mention in this article, which just tastes perfect. If you are interested in getting to know more about the drinking culture of Vietnam, travel there and experience it yourself. What you may receive will never disappoint you.
If you are thinking about a tailor-made Vietnam tour that is specially designed to meet your requirements, contact Focus Asia Travel. We have an experienced team who have been in this business for years to help you plan the best trip. Feel free to reach us at any time as we are always willing to support.