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Street Food vs. International Fast Food Chain Restaurants in Ho Chi Minh


Having trouble finding your favorite fast food brands when visiting Ho Chi Minh City? Here are the reasons and why you should consider switching to local food.

International Fast Food Chain Restaurants in Ho Chi Minh City

Ho Chi Minh City in recent years has seen the introduction of a great many international fast food chains, including McDonald's, Pizza Hut, Lotteria, Jollibee, etc. However, all of them can never seem to thrive. In 1997, the first KFC store opened in Ho Chi Minh City. Until now, this brand has increased its branches to about 140 all over the country. Although this number seems to be dwarf compared to other countries where thousands of stores have been established in a much shorter period, in Vietnam, it can be considered as a rare bright case.

international fast food restaurants in ho chi minh mcdonald

McDonald’s attracted a lot of attention when it opened its first store in Ho Chi Minh City. However, this situation did not last for too long

Even though the long appearance of these brands did somewhat change the eating habit of the local, fast food is still an alienated culture to the locals. International fast food chain restaurants are mostly where young people hang out or on special occasions such as birthdays or anniversaries rather than a casual daily meal. Thus, fast food is considered a luxury compared to street food.

Another note is that most of the fast food stores are located in the central districts and crowded streets where many international visitors frequent and some of them don't even open 24/7. That is to say, it is not as easy to find fast food restaurants in Ho Chi Minh as in other metropolitans in the world.

On the other hand, the menu of international fast food chain restaurants in Ho Chi Minh City will surprise you as most of them are created to adjust to the lifestyle of local people. For example, lots of the menus here offer rice dishes which are familiar to the native.

international fast food restaurants in ho chi minh mcrice

international fast food restaurants in ho chi minh mc mooncake

Rice and mooncake are two instances of what McDonald has to do to adapt to the Vietnamese market

Vietnamese Street Food Vs. Fast Food: What Should You Choose?

We understand that sometimes adapting to foreign cuisine is not an easy challenge. But once you are ready to step out of your (food) comfort zone, here are the reasons that you should go for Vietnamese street food.

1. Faster than “fast” food

Fast food is favorable for its convenience. But in Vietnam, you can get a Banh Mi at around the same time (or even less) to receive a burger from McDonald’s. In addition, Vietnamese street food in Ho Chi Minh is abundant and you can find something to fill your stomach at any time. Check out the Street Vendors in Ho Chi Minh.

international fast food restaurants in ho chi minh banh mi

Food that has many ingredients of different colors is scientifically said to be good for your health!

2. More nutritious

The nutrition in most Vietnamese dishes is very balanced. Forget about the high fat, high calories fried chickens, and head to an Authentic Pho store. Moreover, since the local cuisine is incredibly diversified, you can easily choose a delicious dish that follows your diet, including vegetarian, gluten-free, or anything else.

international fast food restaurants in ho chi minh pho

A star in Vietnamese cuisine - Pho

3. Fresh and newly cooked

Lots of Vietnamese food are made from unique recipes requiring fresh ingredients. Take Bun Rieu - Vietnamese Crab Noodles as an example. To deliver the best taste, its broth needs to be simmered for hours, and the cook would prepare it every early morning before opening their stores. Other ingredients such as noodles, meat, crab, and vegetables are also calculated to be not leftover to the next day.

international fast food restaurants in ho chi minh bun rieu

Look how attractive it is!

4. An important part of Vietnamese culture

One of the most appealing aspects of traveling is culture discovery. And trying the local cuisine is the easiest and most enjoyable way to approach it.

With Vietnamese cuisine, not only the dishes themselves would make you fall in love, but also the distinctive selling and buying methods are fascinating. You would easily experience having a meal on the sidewalk, watching the hustle and bustle vehicles passing by. The seller’s “store” can be just two bamboo baskets, and if you want to eat on-site, all you have is a plastic stool to sit on and you need to hold your bowl until you finish it. Sounds too hard for just a meal? Don’t worry, the excellent taste and aroma would make everything worthwhile.

international fast food restaurants in ho chi minh ganh

A simple Vietnamese food “store”

international fast food restaurants in ho chi minh sidewalk

A normal image of one crowded street food stall that you would come across frequently in Vietnam

5. More environmentally-friendly

At international fast food chain restaurants in Ho Chi Minh City, even when you decide not to take away, you still cannot help using several plastic items and waste. If you already have some spare time, we suggest going for Vietnamese food stalls that dominantly provide reusable utensils.

Summary of Street Food Vs. International Fast Food Chain Restaurants in Ho Chi Minh City

As you have gone all the way to Vietnam, do not miss this opportunity to try as much Vietnamese food as you can. Everyone can have a different experience, but surely there would be something that makes you feel satisfied just like your fast food at home.

Check out our Private Motorbike Food Tour - a chance to try out authentic Vietnamese dishes highly approved by local guides!


© Written by Mai Bui for



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