Is Hanoi the best food destination in the world?

January 22, 2024 | 07:17 pm PT
Darren Barnard Teacher
Hanoi was recently voted by Tripadvisor as the number one food destination in the world for 2024, beating cities perhaps even more synonymous with delightful food such as Rome (2nd) and Paris (11th).

Is Hanoi truly deserving of this title, or are cities such as Bangkok and Athens who offer world-famous Thai and Mediterranean cuisine many travel around the globe for more worthy of the honor?

The annual award is given based on reviews and opinions from the community on Tripadvisor over a 12-month period. Let's explore some reasons why Hanoi has such a glowing reputation for food, as well as some negatives compared to other destinations so you can make your own mind up.

Wonderful range of food

One of the strongest arguments to suggest why Hanoi is deserving of the accolade is because of the huge array of food it can offer. Some of the top culinary picks featured on Tripadvisor include: bun cha (grilled pork with vermicelli noodles), Giang Coffee, cha ca (fish with dill & turmeric) Thang Long, and of course, pho.

Although Vietnamese cuisine isn't limited to just rice and noodles, Hanoi offers world-famous banh mi, banh cuon, pho cuon, banh goi and so many more. The capital benefits from many restauranteurs who bring their nearby provincial specialties to the city as well, such as snails from Hai Phong or goat from Ninh Binh.

Late celebrity chef Anthony Bourdain (R) enjoys a bowl of snail noodle soup on Hanoi sidewalk in an episode of his TV series Parts Unknown, featured on CNN in September 2016.

Late celebrity chef Anthony Bourdain (R) enjoys a bowl of snail noodle soup on Hanoi sidewalk in an episode of his TV series Parts Unknown, featured on CNN in September 2016.

Cheap cost

Travelers in Hanoi are also fortunate enough to indulge in countless Hanoi dishes without breaking the bank. In many of the European destinations such as Barcelona, Crete and Florence who also finished in the top ten in the list, the average meal will cost anywhere from $10 upwards, whereas this would cover many meals in Vietnam’s capital. Whilst visiting these other destinations travelers may miss out on several local specialties due to financial constraints, however in Hanoi they can comfortably eat out three meals a day without having to be too cautious of their spending.

Endless amount of restaurants

According to the Vietnam Cuisine Culture Association, there are currently 550,000 F&B establishments in the country, 430,000 of which are traditional diners, 82,000 fast food restaurants, and 10,000 others. Two key performers in the food service industry are full-service restaurants (FSR) and quick-service restaurants (QSR). These two make up 72% of the industry revenue.

This equates to endless possibilities not just in Hanoi, but throughout the entire country and whether you want a world-class dish that will be served to you within minutes of walking into a restaurant or a more formal sit-down meal, you’ll always be spoiled for choice.

Cleanliness/Food hygiene

Despite the countless dining options in Hanoi, many foreigners will be discouraged by the lack of rigorous checks that take place regarding food hygiene and overall cleanliness. Travelers may initially embrace the excitement of a vastly different food culture and the rustic nature of it, however reality can quickly set in when a rat scampers across the floor or you find a hair or nail belonging to the previous diner as you’re about to tuck into a bowl of noodles. Unfortunately the extent of washing the dishes and glasses can sometimes be as little as simply rinsing in some establishments and cause significant culture shock or worse, potential illness for the customer.

Lack of fine-dining options

Visitors to Hanoi who want to enjoy a more lavish dining experience may be disappointed to find a lack of options compared to other ASEAN destinations such as Bangkok or Bali. In 2023, four Vietnamese restaurants were awarded a Michelin star rating for the first time, three in Hanoi and one in Ho Chi Minh City. If you compare this with Thailand’s capital, there are 179 restaurants on the Michelin Guide and 36 restaurants that have been awarded stars.


A final consideration for Hanoi is a lot of restaurants fail to cater to the size of western travelers. If you’re over 180 cm tall you may often have to withstand your knees being up to your face whilst eating your bun cha. Additionally, if you are overweight then there’s either the risk of the plastic stool being unable to withstand your weight or the embarrassment of the owner adding more to ensure one of the leg’s don’t break. Elderly foreign travelers will also be unable to enjoy some of Hanoi’s finest dishes, particularly in the often-crowded popular pho restaurants as they may found the lack of space, rubbish at their feet and limited seating options overwhelming and impossible to endure.

The opinions expressed here are personal and do not necessarily match VnExpress's viewpoints. Send your opinions here.
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