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Zero Waste Travel in Ho Chi Minh


Traveling is believed to be one of the factors that create more waste in our world. Therefore, zero waste on a trip is definitely something that needs a lot of effort and patience. It is apparent that most developing countries have not had a proper system to treat waste, and Vietnam is not far from an exception. The metropolitan of Ho Chi Minh can be a challenging destination for those who aim for zero waste travel.

Learn more about Air Pollution to see why you should partake in the zero waste travel movement.

What to Pack for Zero Waste Travel in Ho Chi Minh:

Is Zero Waste Travel in Ho Chi Minh City Possible?

Yes, but it will not be an easy challenge. The awareness of reducing the amount of waste has just been raised significantly in recent years and the majority of local people including sellers and customers are still not very active in making their life more eco-friendly.

In Ho Chi Minh City, it is normal that no matter what you buy, the seller would give you plastic bags to carry your products without charging any extra fee. You might also find some coffee shops serving takeaway cups even when you intend to have your drink there. If you visit the supermarket, you may see some products with plastics wrapping or package which has nothing to do other than making the products more captivating. Therefore, zero waste travel in Ho Chi Minh City is a task that requires lots of research and determination in practice.

Tips for Zero Waste Travel in Ho Chi Minh City

When going to coffee shops in Ho Chi Minh

There are a lot of nice coffee houses in Ho Chi Minh City. However, if you happen to visit one that serves their drinks in plastic cups, you can avoid ordering a beverage and go for a slice of cake instead. Another solution is that you can bring your own cup and ask them to fill your drinks with it. Note that your cup’s capacity should be sufficient since there are some drinks, such as bubble tea, that can be up to 700 milliliters.

zero waste in ho chi minh city tumbler
If you have a tumbler, you can bring it along

Since all coffee stores in Ho Chi Minh City use plastic straws, you should pay a little attention if you want to avoid receiving one. At self-service shops, tell the waiters you do not need a straw as soon as your drink comes out, otherwise, you will end up with an unwanted straw. In addition, there are many coffee shops in the city that are not self-service. You can request that your drink should not come with a straw, but there are high chances that the waiter might forget about it due to overcrowded customers. In case you are a person that cannot live without straws, you can find many types of reusable straw in Ho Chi Minh City.

zero waste in ho chi minh city straw
Some types of reusable straw you can find in Ho Chi Minh City

If you are in a rush and just stop by for a takeaway, the shops would give you a drink sling or a bag, both of which are made from plastic, to carry your cup of coffee. Therefore, try your best to refuse it or bring fabric slings with you. They are widely sold in Ho Chi Minh City in various designs.

zero waste in ho chi minh city drink sling
You can use fabric drink sling for a long time

When going out in Ho Chi Minh

We recommend you bring your own bottle from home to Vietnam, fill it with water and bring it with you whenever you go out. In Vietnam, since you cannot drink tap water, buying a water bottle is your only choice, which means another piece of plastic would be thrown out later. The tricky thing is, just like many other developing countries, Vietnam relies quite much on purchased water. It can be hard to find a water-filling source when you stay in a hotel. The solution is that you can use the kettle which is provided in almost any kind of accommodation to thw boil tap water, then it is safe to drink.

It is also great if you can sit in and enjoy your meal in the restaurants rather than choosing takeaways. Although food delivery has become widely popular for several years, most of the stores in Vietnam do not use recyclable packages for your takeaway food: boxes, bags, cutleries - all are made from plastic and disposable. Take some time to sit down at the table, and you will not only make a step closer to zero waste travel in Ho Chi Minh City but also have higher chances to eat freshly-cooked dishes. There is another thing that is unlikely to be biodegradable is the disposable wet wipes. You can avoid using it by going to the bathroom, or using the tissues that are available at some restaurants. It would either save the earth or save you a small amount of money.

zero waste in ho chi minh city sit in
Having the great joy of sitting in

If you choose motorbikes as your means of transport in Ho Chi Minh City, you would need a face mask to deal with smog and hot weather. Though single-use masks are widely sold in pharmacies, it is not a very eco-friendly option. Look for the fabric mask that you can use as long as you want in the supermarkets.

zero waste in ho chi minh city mask
Fabric mask is really diversified in Ho Chi Minh City

When going shopping in Ho Chi Minh

Whatever you buy, the cashier or seller would always, always give you a plastic bag but don't hesitate to say no and return it.

zero waste in ho chi minh city nylon bag
If you do not say no, you might end up receiving more plastic bags than you expected

In case you still need something to carry your purchases, prepare a tote bag or a small backpack if you intend to buy quite a lot, especially when you buy fruits at the local markets. Some supermarkets, on the other hand, offer a reusable shopping bag so you can check out this solution too.

Some Addresses to Make Zero Waste Travel in Ho Chi Minh City Easier

There are some addresses for zero waste travel in Ho Chi Minh City where you can take a look. They offer many types of products for personal care such as shower gel, shampoo, skincare, home care like laundry soap, detergents, and straws or utensils made from bamboo, wood, or metal. For products that are liquid, you can bring your carrier there to top up.

Lai Day Refill Station

Address: 83 Xuan Thuy, Thao Dien Ward, District 2
Opening hours: 9 AM - 9 PM

Green Around the Corner

Address: 32 Tran Ngoc Dien, Thao Dien Ward, District 2
Opening hours: 9 AM - 6 PM

Summary of Zero Waste Travel in Ho Chi Minh City

Zero waste travel in Ho Chi Minh City is possible for those who want to achieve it. The biggest problem you would have to face during the trip here is plastics. Refuse to get stuff made from this material except when you have no other choice, and prepare to bring your own reusable one to avoid that tricky situation.

Check out our private motorbike tours with professional local guides
for fun and insightful trips in Ho Chi Minh City!

family outing in ho chi minh city motorcycle


© Written by Mai Bui for | is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to

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Monday, 20 March 2023

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