The most popular drinks in Vietnam include fresh juice, beer, coffee, and tea. Each drink is usually enjoyed in a unique atmosphere. Beer is often drunk on the weekends and evenings, usually during or after dinner, and flows freely.
Tea can be an afternoon affair, or sometimes sipped throughout the day for its healthy properties. Fruit smoothies, juices, and coffee are also often enjoyed with friends on a hot afternoon, and such drinking is a perfect excuse to meet with friends.
Much like its cuisine, the drinks found in Vietnam are wide-ranging and delectable. Whether during fun-filled nights out on the town or relaxing in a hammock on one of Vietnam's beautiful beaches, there is always something to quench your thirst.
Drinking during meals is uncommon, as most meals include or are based around soup, meaning drinking is often a separate event with friends or family. This is quite common, especially as chilled drinks become more common; there is nothing more relaxing after a hot Vietnamese workday than a cold, refreshing drink.
Drinking is a common pastime for many Vietnamese and is one of the many experiences we encourage at Asia Highlights, where providing authentic and good memories is our aim. Rather than run-of-the-mill sightseeing, we work with local insiders to give you a meaningful, unique encounter with Vietnam.
Fruit Juices and Smoothies
Vietnamese juices, such as sugarcane juice (nước mía), are an extremely popular roadside drink in Vietnam. In the warmer months, this sweet snack can be a lifesaver. The fruit is often crushed right in front of you, so you know it's fresh.
For sugarcane juice, one of the more popular, remember to ask for it served over ice, and if they have it to add some kumquat juice, to reduce the intensity of the sweetness.
Sinh t? is the Vietnamese name for a fruit smoothie. Smoothies are cheap and popular with locals, and can be found in as many varieties as there are fresh fruits in Vietnam, of which there are a plethora.
Sinh to xoai and Sinh to bo, mango and avocado respectively, are our favorites, although custard apple, durian, jackfruit, and strawberry smoothies are also popular.
Nước dừa is the name for coconut juice in Vietnam, and is best enjoyed on a hot day, in a hammock, on a beautiful beach. Luckily, beautiful beaches are plentiful and coconut juice is always fresh, often served in the coconut with a straw and sliced open with a machete as you watch.
Coconut juice is healthy, refreshing, and one of most delicious accompaniments to a relaxing Vietnamese afternoon. Smaller coconuts are sweeter, although all fresh coconuts will have a bolder, grassier, and more refreshing taste than their packaged equivalents.
Green tea is still the traditional staple tea in Vietnam, accounting for over 63% of all tea sales. Containing less caffeine than its Chinese counterpart, Vietnamese green tea is often considered more fragrant and flavorful.
Drinking tea is considered a national pastime, much like smoking tobacco out of long pipes or playing Chinese chess, although is commonly perceived as more 'aristocratic', along with tending flowers or composing poetry.
Trà Sen, or lotus tea, is a Vietnamese specialty. Green tea leaves are placed within lotus flowers to infuse a unique, fragrant scent and flavor. Some connoisseurs steep the tea for a long time to impart a stronger, bitterer flavor that is considered a delicacy by some.
Jasmine tea, called Trà Hoa Lài, is also considered a specialty and is often drunk after, or to accompany, coffee. This tea is sweeter, and has a stronger fragrance than Trà sen. It is often chilled, and often the final item on a hot evening at a local coffee shop.
Trà atiso is artichoke tea, a specialty of the Lam-Dong highlands. Believed to have liver-cleansing and detoxifying properties, it is commonly drunk as a cure for hangovers. Two versions are popular: a yellow-orange colored, sweeter version made from the artichoke flower, and a quite bitter, black version made from the stem.
Càphêsữađá is the name for iced Vietnamese coffee. The Vietnamese were introduced to coffee by the French during their colonization and it has since become a cultural staple.
To make an authentic brew, sweetened condensed milk is used instead of fresh milk, and the dark roasted coffee is dripped over it at the bottom of the cup through a metal strainer called a phin. It can be drunk hot and fresh, but is often served iced, and is very popular amongst locals.
Robusta beans, the bitter cousin of the much more common Arabica beans, make up most of the Vietnamese coffee scene, although the traditional addition of sweetened condensed milk makes up for their strength.
For those wanting to embrace the bitterness of the local beans, you can order your coffee "không đường" (no sugar) or "một chút đường" (a little sugar).
Beer is common in Vietnam (having also been popularized by the French) and is among one of the few drinks commonly found at the dinner table. That is not to say an evening of beer-drinking with friends is uncommon. There is a variety of local Vietnamese beers that can only be found in their own regions, and these are often recommended for their price and freshness.
Bia Saigon and Bia Hanoi, hailing from Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi respectively, are the most popular brews, and can be found throughout the country, although smaller brands such as Bia La Rue and Huda are also very popular. In addition, German beer gardens and microbreweries are quickly gaining traction throughout the country.
Our Top Cafes
Throughout Vietnam, we have our favorite spots for enjoying cold beverages. At Asia Highlights, we have several packages that include street food tours through the Old Quarter in Hanoi and downtown Ho Chi Minh City.
On such tours, our local experts bring you to some of our favorite and most authentic drinking spots around town, including fruit juice stands, bars, and cafes.
We bring you to our favorite drinking spots, to ensure you don't miss out on some of the most unforgettable and vibrant parts of Vietnamese culture. The vibrant atmosphere that often accompanies drinking in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City is something we pride ourselves on providing at Asia Highlights.
Caution: Crushed Ice
Today, in the hot and humid Vietnamese climate, most drinks, including beer, are served over ice. In most Southeast Asian countries travelers and tourists are strongly discouraged from consuming the tap water, and by extension the ice.
While Vietnam is no exception, ice here is generally much safer than elsewhere, due to the French history of factory-produced ice. Most ice in Vietnam is still produced this way, meaning it is made from purified water and never touches any hands.
In more rural areas, however, personally crushed ice may still be found. Avoid these drinks and any crushed ice you find during your travels.
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