How to satisfy your stomach for $1 in Saigon?

By Kim Thuy   June 23, 2016 | 02:43 am PT
Diverse and cheap: Saigon’s street food is there for everyone to explore, even those who only have a few cents in their pockets as well as the lazy ones who can't be bothered to move. Why? Because it's available on every corner.

Vietnam's largest city is considered a “food melting pot” where food from all over the country converges, giving you so many options to satisfy your stomach you could carry on eating for days without getting bored.

So, let’s explore this food paradise with just a dollar, and we promise you will never go hungry in the city.

Street cakes

If you want to taste something unique in Saigon, something different from the popular 'banh mi', try a cake.

Street cakes made from fruit and vegetables are incrediably cheap and diverse as Saigon has such an abundance of these ingredients. 1,001 combinations of tropical ingredients guarantee you a mouthwatering explosion in just one bite. 

Street cakes are usually priced between VND5,000 and VND20,000 ($0.22 - $0.9). Cakes that contain only fruit or vegetables are cheaper than those with shrimp or meat.


This attractive green cake only costs VND5,000. The cake is a combination of flour, coconut, glutinous rice, sugar and pineapple leaves. It is cooked in a bamboo tube. Photo by VnExpress/Kim Thuy


'Girdle-cake'. There are various versions but they all have one thing in common: spicy. Photo by VnExpress/Vanquan


'Banh khot'. This cake itsef comes in several different forms but the sauce is equally important. You can find them on Saigon's streets for just VND10,000-20,000 per portion. Photo by VnExpress/Kim Thuy


 'Banh bot loc' - a small, clear-looking, chewy tapioca dumpling. Photo by

Street-style barbecue

If you are a barbecue lover but expensive restaurant food is unaffordable, then get down to the streets where a variety of local tastes are waiting to drive away your hunger.


Photo by VnExpress/Kim Thuy


Different kinds of grilled food, both meat and vegetables on display. It usually costs only VND5,000 per skewer. Photo by Vnexpress/Kim Thuy


What about some grilled sweet potato or corn? Only VND10,000-20,000 each. Photo by

The popular 'banh mi' and its various versions

Grilled fish, grilled pork, grilled beef, chilli salt grilled 'banh mi' or 'banh mi' with egg or fermented pork rolls and sweet potato..., it would take all day to list all the versions of the tasty 'banh mi'.

'Banh mi', which is among probably the most sought after street food in Vietnam, can be found anywhere on Saigon's streets for between VND10,000-15,000. Why not splash out with you dollar and try two with a drink to wash them down.


Photo by

A typical Saigon 'banh mi' contains pork, beef or fish and some veggies. Saigoneers have evolved the 'banh mi' by combining different elements and cooking the meat in different ways.

The creativity they put into the beloved 'banh mi' stretches beyond imagination. Remember the 'bun cha' craze started by Obama? Saigoneers have been quick to create a 'bun cha' inspired 'banh mi'.


A vendor prepares 'banh mi' with grilled pork. Photo by VnExpress/Kim Thuy


And now the grilled pork is ready to serve with 'banh mi'. Photo by VnExpress/Kim Thuy

Spicy is important to Saigoneers. They usually love having chilli or chili sauce in their banh mi. 

Colorful sticky rice 'xoi'

In Saigon, sticky rice usually costs only VND10,000. How can anyone go home hungry if they spend less than a dollar on this?


The sticky rice catches your attention at first sight. Only VND10,000 per portion. Photo by VnExpress/Kim Thuy


A take-away portion. Photo by VnExpress/Kim Thuy

Fresh, sweet 'che' – a thirst-quencher for summer

The sweet 'che' has always been the summer sweetheart of Vietnamese people because we all know that the main thirst quencher, ice, goes best with these sweet soups, be it watery or thick.

In Saigon, don't forget to stop by a street food store to have some 'che' for between VND10,000 and VND20,000 and shrug off the heat of summer.


Photo by


Photo by

Related news:

Chilli salt grilled 'banh mi': summer doesn't seem hot enough

Forget about banh mi, here are ten hottest and cheapest street foods in HCMC

Angkor style 'che' in Saigon

go to top