When it comes to food, there's phrase “An com chua?” that best describes the Vietnamese attitude towards food. Used as a friendly greeting throughout the day, it means: “Have you eaten yet?”. Food is at the very heart of the Vietnamese culture, and an array of gourmet delicacies awaits foodies in Central Vietnam.
Aside from ancient religious temples, white sandy beaches and treks in the rolling green hills, Da Nang offers a delicious assortment of food choices. There are plenty of food tours in Da Nang if you need guidance on how to navigate this culinary metropolis.
For a start, sample the unique delight that is bo ne, Vietnam’s answer to steak and eggs. Beef is dipped in a zingy sauce and then crusty bread is used to mop up the runny yolk, pate and beef juices. This hearty dish combined with a cup of Vietnam’s finest coffee will energise you for the local market food tour. Live like a local with this authentic experience, and sample Vietnamese favourites such as assorted rice cakes and snails.
Bo Ne, Vietnam’s answer to steak and eggs
Once a major port, this historic town boasts grand architecture and a charming riverside setting. Master the art of traditional Hoi An specialties with home cooking lessons. Some classes start with a short boat ride to a nearby local market to source for fresh produce needed for the day ahead. Learn how to make dishes such as banh xeo (rice flour crepes), pork brochettes, green papaya salad as well as local fish dishes. You may even be taught to grind your own rice flour and make pancakes filled with succulent roasted pork, fresh herbs and cucumber.
Banh Xeo served on a banana leaf and bamboo plate
Then there is the nearby Cua Dai Beach, home to several barbecue restaurants that serve up the catch of the day. Kick back with a table on the sand and delight in delicious muc nuong (grilled squid) and ngheu hap (steamed clams).
Food is at the very heart of the Vietnamese culture, and an array of gourmet delicacies awaits foodies in Central Vietnam.
On to Hue where life moves at a much slower pace. As the former imperial capital, Hue is strikingly beautiful but far more village than city. Legend says that the Nguyen kings who used to rule from Hue refused to eat the same meal twice in a year. As a result, their cooks had to come up with large repertoire of dishes, which is why Hue now boasts several that are distinct to the region.
The signature dish is bun bo Hue: noodles in a spicy beef broth, infused with lemongrass and spiked with chilli, all topped with strips of beef and pig’s trotters as well as crab and pork meatballs. For the brave, ask for huyet, cubes of congealed pig’s blood, with your order.
Bun Bo Hue, the signature Vietnamese noodle soup
While you’re there, also sample delicacies such as delicious plump dumplings filled with grilled pork and the unmissable bun thit nuong, which epitomises the simplicity and beauty of Vietnamese cuisine. Also recommended is a warm bowl of vermicelli served with nuoc cham (fish sauce), char-grilled pork, banana blossoms, shredded lettuce, bean sprouts, peanuts, cucumber, green papaya, coriander and mint.
Wander down any lane in Da Nang, Hoi An or Hue at any time during the day, and be sure to find someone indulging in a bowl of hot steaming broth or rice. Vietnamese cuisine is fresher and lighter than the signature dishes of its neighbouring countries. The varied dishes are stunning to behold, not only for their wafting scents but also for their vivid colours.
For more tips on what to do and see in Central Vietnam, watch the Road Less Travelled video guide!
The Road Less Travelled: Da Nang
Best Time to visit
The best hot and dry period is between January and August. Temperatures can hit the mid-thirties or even higher in July and August, so avoid these times if you suffer in the heat. Over the winter months, notably in October and November, the rains pick up and typhoons are not uncommon.
The best way to reach the city from the airport is via taxi. Numerous firms wait outside, but look for the green and white Mai Linh company vehicles which are always metered. The downtown of Da Nang is very walkable, but for longer journeys taxis - again, use Mai Linh - are necessary. The other option is the xe om motorcycle taxis that can be found on many corners. If you dare to use one, then haggle the fare first and always wear a helmet.
Vietnam Dong. There is an ATM in the airport. In town, ATMs can be found easily, while almost all banks offer a foreign currency exchange service.
Fly directly to Da Nang from Changi Airport on Jetstar or Silkair. Search for airfare deals and book your tickets now!