Depending on where you are, you may realize that getting “Western” food, such as hamburgers and pizza is actually more expensive than the local food of the country that you are in. I know this is true in Vietnam, since ordering steamed veggies costs (20,000 VND/0.89 USD) or vegetable pho costs (30,000 VND/1.34 USD), while a personal pizza costs (120,000 VND/5.37 USD). This is a habit that can not only keep you from putting on pounds, but it can also help keep money in your wallet. Five dollars may not seem like a lot, but that money can go a long way in Southeast Asia. You will undoubtedly have cravings for “Western” food at least one point in your travels and that’s okay. If you do cave and decide to get a hamburger, just at least try to get a side of vegetables instead of fries.
Five dollars may not seem like a lot, but that money can go a long way in Southeast Asia.
Don’t limit yourself to restaurants/cafes
When I first went to Vietnam, I was shocked to see the abundance of fresh fruit and vegetables that was available to me. I was ecstatic to say the least since I had such a limited variety of fruits and vegetables for a very high price when I was living in Korea for two years. Obviously when buying off the street, you need to be wary about certain fruits and vegetables being washed with local water because you don’t know if it is clean water. In order to avoid that risk, I not only purchased a pocket knife, but I also had a vegetable peeler from Korea! Buying a knife on the side of the road isn’t expensive and it costs about (70,000 VND/3.13 USD). When it comes to the fruits and vegetables, the price depends on what you’re buying but the information I have below is what I felt was most consistent.
Price per kilo (2.2 lbs):
Dragon fruit (40,000 VND/1.79 USD)
Oranges/clemetines? (25,000 VND/1.12 USD)
Bananas (30,000 VND/1.34 USD)
Green Mangoes (30,000 VND/1.34 USD)
That’s just a rough estimate and just remember you can always haggle to get better prices than what they offer you at first.
Since I have been in Vietnam, I have been reverting back to my vegetarian lifestyle since it is not only cheaper, but it is healthier. As I said before, steamed vegetables only cost about (20,000VND/0.89 USD) and along with the other vegetarian options, it is the cheaper route. Additionally, I try to avoid eating too much meat since I feel that it is healthier and also because it’s hard to trust the quality of the meat here and how sanitary it is. You will see slabs of meat just sitting on the side of the street so when you order some beef pho, it’s hard to not question when the cow was actually killed, let alone, butchered. Additionally, going vegetarian might not only keep you from getting sick, but it can also potentially lower your risk of dying early.
You will see slabs of meat just sitting on the side of the street so when you order some beef pho, it’s hard to not question when the cow was actually killed, let alone, butchered.
Drink water and limit your sodium intake
Something that you’ll realize when being in Vietnam is that most of the time you will have free breakfast, courtesy of your hostel or hotel. However, majority of the time, it will be something that you wouldn’t usually have for breakfast, aka: pho. It’s important that you limit your amount of sodium intake during the day because as we know, too much sodium can be a bad thing. In addition to this, it is VERY important to stay hydrated and drink an adequate amount of bottled water (make sure it’s sealed and sold by a reputable manufacturer) when traveling since you want to avoid dehydration and further complications.
Don’t replace meals with snacks
This one may seem like a no-brainer, but when you are traveling across the country via bus, you find yourself wanting quick meal replacements. Some buses run as long as 36 hours and since those buses aren’t going to stop for you to get a hearty breakfast, you need to come well prepared. One great solution brings us back to number 2 on the list and stocking up on vegetables and fruit for the long road ahead. Another great option would be buying some bread or a bahn mi before heading out on your journey. Snacks are a great source of quick energy, but it’s important to remember how much nutritional value a packet of Oreos has when compared to a sandwich.
One great solution brings us back to number 2 on the list and stocking up on vegetables and fruit for the long road ahead.