Vietnamese street food is an opportunity to develop tourism

After 2 years since the announcement of the nomination intention from 2018, Singapore's street food has been officially recognized by UNESCO as an intangible culture of humanity at the 15th session of the Intergovernmental Committee on Conservation of Nature in Paris (Lee,Olivia). According to some culinary experts, although it is difficult to compare culturally, Vietnamese street food fully capable of being recognized or developed further. Some of Vietnam's street foods have become very popular all over the world such as Banh Mi, Bun,Pho, Spring roll, and are strongly recognized as delicious dishes full of flavor and popular with tourists everywhere in the world.

Based on that comparison with my understanding of the country's cuisine, Vietnamese street food is an opportunity to develop tourism. In this study, I will discuss three issues surrounding this statement:the characteristics of Vietnamese street food, the role of street food in tourism, and how to develop the tourism industry with potential from street food.


Vietnamese street food is the result of a long history and deep culture. Street food not only shows the unique features ofVietnamese culture, but also dishes that are products of the process of cultural exchange and acculturation with other ethnic groups.  When it comes to history, because ofVietnam's rich history with many years of domination and struggle against oppression. Many scholars say there are few differences between the cultures ofVietnam and China. But this is not true. have many similarities, and Vietnamese culture and cuisine have been heavily influenced by China. It is also said that, Vietnam has been heavily influenced by France, Japan, and the UnitedStates, and that it may have lost its original unique features. There are opinions that “Vietnamese food has both Chinese and French influence. The influence from the Chinese are seen in northern regions ofVietnam”. However, throughout history, Vietnam has preserved many unique culinary traditions.

To respond to these, I believe that Vietnam's resounding world-class victories throughout its history are the most solid basis for discussion about how Vietnamese culture has been protected and maintained. Vietnam has never surrendered to Chinese aggression and domination and has had major victories known in the world. The conflicts between the two countries have been known from ancient oral legends, such as the legend of the Hong Bang period, in which the Van Lang nation of Hung Vuong had to defend against the invasion of the Andynasty. From after Thuc Phan successfully led the 10-year war to defend the territory (218-208 BC), with the name "Au Lac" until the Vietnamese gained independence and self-control, ending the Northern colonial period in905 when Khuc Thua Du gained autonomy, or in 938 when Ngo Quyen defeated theSouthern Han army, between the two countries there were constant wars over territorial disputes (Chen, King C. “China’s WarAgainst Vietnam, 1979”). Along with that, the Vietnamese people always have high self-esteem in the culture of the country. With solidarity and national pride, the Vietnamese have always fought hard to protect not only their territory but also their own soul and culture.However, with that rich history of correlation, it is inevitable that the cultural influence between the two countries is inevitable. But that does not mean the people of Vietnam lost their culture, instead it means the two cultures gained from one another. “Vietnamese food," for instance,"has a fresher taste and often has a hint of mint, cilantro, or lime which provides most dishes a lighter taste" (Lane. “What is the difference betweenChinese food and Vietnamese food?”).Chinese food, on the other hand, "often has a thick layer of sauce which provides a robust flavoring to the dish. The protein in these dishes are often provided in larger portions as compared to Vietnamese dishes.”

Confronted with a giant opponent, the US, theVietnamese people never stopped fighting to protect the country in general and the national culture in particular. The 1954 Dien Bien Phu victory over the powerful US forces was a brilliant milestone in the flow of Vietnamese national history, becoming a symbol of the struggle for peace, independence and freedom (“Some documents about the resistance war against the American invasion (1954-1975)”). At the same time, it was also an obsession and a profound lesson for the invading forces.

Moreover, despite being in contact for a long time, the people in that war were always in a state of readiness to fight and put the fight first. Therefore, perhaps because of that, this can be considered as one of the reasons why Vietnam, the US, and China have not had too many changes in culinary culture after coming out of wars.

Through that process of formation, Vietnamese cuisine is not only dishes and recipes, but it is a natural culture formed in life and in history. According to historian Dr. HanNguyen Nguyen Nha, Vietnamese cuisine has 9 characteristics: Sociability or diversity, Low fat, Rich in flavor, The synthesis of many substances, many flavors, Tasty and healthy, Using chopsticks, Community or collective, Hospitality, Calculation of making a tray. “Like some other Asian countries, the use of chopsticks is a very interesting feature of Vietnamese cuisine, you can use chopsticks in most dishes, from braised, fried, fried, or cooked with chopsticks, even soup. Vietnamese chopsticks are present in every family meal, even when roasting, Vietnamese people rarely use forks to skewer food like Westerners. Along with that, picking is an art, picking it up well, keeping it tight, don't let food fall...” she said about “Using chopsticks” (“Features of Vietnamese culinary culture”). As well as the meaning of “Community or collective”,she expressed “Community is very evident in Vietnamese cuisine, there is always a bowl of fish sauce in the meal, or separate small bowls from the common bowl”,while “Hospitality” is about connection between people in the meal, “Before each meal, Vietnamese people often have the habit of inviting. The invitation shows communication, affection, hospitality, concern and respect for others”.

Excluding traditional or well-known dishes asPho, Banh mi, Ban Chung Banh Giay, there are also dishes that are products of the process of cultural exchange and acculturation with ethnic groups living inVietnam for a long time such as Chinese, Cham, Khmer, or Western countries and recently, there are also snacks from countries such as Thailand, Korea, Japan,Turkey, etc.  These dishes are received by Vietnamese people and change more or less depending on taste and processing style of the Vietnamese. Cultural exchange with the Chinese, the Vietnamese have a lot of dishes such as noodle soup, fried noodles, fried rice, shumai, dumplings, dumplings, in which the noodle dish is received and created by theVietnamese in the South processed in accordance with local products and the result appeared a typical Vietnamese noodle soup such as Sa Dec noodle soup, MyTho noodle soup. Through a long process, noodle soup has become a popular street food in the Southern region, especially in Ho Chi Minh City, where visitors can easily find a bowl of noodle soup on the way, or on carts at the top of alleys. From exchanging with the Khmer, the Vietnamese created vermicelli with soup in Soc Trang. When interacting with the Cham and Indians, the Vietnamese have more curry dishes, often cooked with coconut milk, which is also a specialty of the tropics. It can be said that special combination in traditional culture and the variation in exchanges with other cultures have created a unique street food of Vietnam.


With the development of the world and cooperation and exchange between countries, Vietnamese street food is becoming famous all over the world, which is really a great opportunity contributing to the development of the Tourism industry. However, the question here is whetherVietnamese cuisine is really that famous and loved?

Vietnamese cuisine has been endorsed and praised by the world media many times. Oxford English Dictionary has officially put the names of two Vietnamese street foods, Pho and Banh mi, into the English dictionary. In 2012, the world culinary magazine "Food and Wine" voted Ho Chi Minh City as one of the cities with the best street food in the world. During the 2013 street food congress in Singapore,"grilled banana" and "banh khot" were voted as favorite dishes. If you visit Hoi An, surely you cannot help but hear about "Banh mi Phuong", the bakery is always crowded and has been called by Anthony Bourdain - a famous American chef - called the best sandwich all over the world. The American television channel CNN voted spring rolls as one of the 50most delicious dishes in the world and was recognized by the Asian Record Organization as one of the 12 delicious Vietnamese dishes in 2012. More than that, Vietnamese street food is also highly appreciated by writer RichardSterling, author of World food – Vietnam (Nguyen, Trinh. “Vietnamese street food culture -'hidden' heritage?").

The unique feature of street food contributes to the attraction of tourists. The use of natural, environmentally friendly materials such as “Dong” leaves, banana leaves, and bamboo ropes in the processing and decoration of dishes also makesVietnamese cuisine unique compared to the cuisine of other countries. other countries. With the unique characteristics in the culinary culture mentioned above, the street food style ofVietnamese people also makes visitors find it interesting.

Coming to Vietnam, visitors can easily encounter traditional and pure Vietnamese dishes without having to spend a lot of time searching or having to step foot in luxury restaurants. The dishes that attract the most attention from foreigners are Pho, spring rolls, Banh xeo, beef vermicelli, grilled pork vermicelli, fried egg rolls, Banh Chung and Banh Giay... Previously, Banh Chung and Banh Giay, symbols of Vietnamese culture in the Southern, usually only during Tet and festivals, but today these two traditional cakes are sold popularly on the street, used as breakfast for people in the city. To fit the serving size for one person, street Banh Chung is made smaller but still wrapped in “Dong” leaves, tied with a traditional bamboo string. Banh Giay is also processed small and compact, the outside is wrapped with a layer of banana leaves, inside is a piece of fried rice or cinnamon rolls. By that, visitors shared that they find it interesting to enjoy traditional Vietnamese dishes, through which they can understand more about Vietnamese culture.



To become one of the countries with attractive street food, attracting more and more domestic and foreign tourists and make the most of the resources and potential of street food, it is necessary to develop a long-term strategy. However, there is an issue that has been debated by Vietnamese culinary experts for a long time, that Vietnamese government had no strategies to support communication, image building, food safety control, and landscape creation to promote street food as well as develop the culinary tourism industry.

In my opinion, this problem can be solved in the near future probably. According to Decision No. 147 / QD-TTG -"Vietnam tourism development strategy to 2030", Vietnamese government has recognized the potential of the culinary tourism industry and has plans to develop this sector in the general plan. In that public document, there are nine solutions proposed by the government with two main goals. Firstly, Vietnam has become an attractive destination, striving to be in the group of three leading countries in tourism development in Southeast Asia and 50 countries with top tourism competitiveness in the world, in which All 14 criteria for tourism competitiveness increased, in line with the requirements of sustainable development. The second goal is that Tourism is really a key economic sector and sustainable development.Vietnam has become a particularly attractive destination, belonging to the group of 30 countries with the world's leading tourism competitiveness, fully meeting the requirements and goals of sustainable development. Out of the 9solutions mentioned above, I feel 2 strategies are particularly useful for my discussion topic. The first strategy is in section 6: "Development of tourism products", the Government will focus on developing cultural tourism products, associating with preserving and promoting the values ​​of cultural and historical heritages. National tradition; focus on exploiting the strengths of diverse culinary, special of regions and regions to form into a unique, distinctive, and competitive tourism product, contributing to building an outstanding tourism brand in Vietnam. Next, in section 9: "State management of tourism", to improve the effectiveness and efficiency of state management in tourism, the Government will enhance the role and responsibility of local authorities. at all levels in building a civilized lifestyle, ensuring hygiene, environment, food hygiene and safety, security and safety for tourists; creating a civilized and friendly tourism environment. These policies are going to be implemented into small plans and projects to put into practice in the time up to 2030.

I also believe that potential strategies that can be implemented to develop culinary tourism in Vietnam include a promotion, tour design, organization of street food activities, strict regulations on safety and hygiene food production. It is necessary to actively promote street food culture to the world through annual world street food congresses or in Vietnam tourism promotion campaign, as well as design street food tours with quality, reasonable in price, time, space, menu. It is also essential to focus on the communication function in cuisine or organize periodic and annual street food festivals to attract tourists in major tourist centers such as Nha Trang, Ho Chi Minh City,Hanoi, and Phu. Quoc, Da Nang, Hue, etc. When creating delicious - clean - culturally rich street food courts, attracting tourists is a way to promote Vietnamese culture. From there, creating a premise for tourism to also develop.

Vietnamese cuisine in general and street food, in particular, are outstanding and proud results for the historical formation and cultural development of Vietnam. Since then, Vietnam has a unique street food scene, attracting tourists with its distinctive cultural features. In conclusion, if promoted and focused on developing in a methodical and planned way, Vietnamese street food has all the strengths and foundations to develop the tourism industry and promote Vietnamese culture. Personally,I firmly believe that street food will help Vietnamese culture go further around the world.