Yes you’ve got the coffee, but there are so many Vietnamese drinks you’ve GOT to try on your visit! Here’s a guide to all the ones I’ve enjoyed during my time!
One thing I did not expect while staying here so long was that I would be in love with so many different Vietnamese drinks! Like I knew I’d be chuckin’ back a cà phê sữa đá more times than is healthy, but I didn’t expect to find some many delicious drinks I’ll definitely miss when I’m gone! Variations on coffee, tea, smoothies… I’m not even getting into the very specific places where I liked very specific drinks (hello, lemonade from Anantara Quy Nhon)!
I’ve had a good year+ to try all sorts of these delicious beverages, so I thought I’d share a list for you guys to have on hand when you visit. Before I dive in, here are some general words to know so you know what to expect:
- cà phê – coffee (easy) (kah – fae)
- sữa – milk, assumed to be condensed milk! (seua)
- đá – iced (dah)
- nóng – hot (nohm)
- trà – tea (j/cha)
- nước – used for juices, but nước sôi means water (neuc, neuc soy)
- sinh tố – smoothie
- ít đường – less sugar
- không đường – no sugar
Also the way Vietnamese goes, you have the main word first and then the qualifiers after. So “iced milk coffee” is “coffee milk ice” or cà phê sữa đá!
If you reallyyyyy want to get fancy, you can say “One glass/cup of X” by saying “Một ly X.” “Ly” is the counter word for cup or glass; “chai” is the word for bottle.” So example:
- “One cup of iced coffee” – “Một ly cà phê sữa đá”
- “One bottle of beer” – “Một chai bia hơi”
Anyway, here’s a list of Vietnamese drinks you’ve got try when you visit!
19 Vietnamese Drinks to Try
1. Cà Phê Sữa Đá
Cà phê sữa đá has to be one of the most addictive drinks out there! Fill a glass about 2cm with condense milk. Then use a drip filter (like this) filled with dark roasted Vietnamese coffee beans and pour in boiling water. Once it’s all dripped in, mix and put in the ice cubes. Now, when I say dark roasted, I mean the darkest roast you’ll find in the world. Vietnamese coffee is strong. The type of strong that will give even regular drinks a bit of a jitter if they drink a few cups!
The key to really enjoying cà phê sữa đá is to let the ice melt a bit before you drink. In the tropical heat, this takes mere minutes! You should absolutely be able to find this drink no matter where you are in the country, and if you can’t — I have questions! To really have a proper Vietnamese morning, pair with a nice big bowl of phở.
2. Cà Phê Đen
Cà phê đen translated just means black coffee. However, this will not be like ordering a black coffee at your diner back home. No, this stuff is strong and not for the faint of heart! But hey, if you like your joe on the bitter end, you might like this more!
3. Cà Phê Cốt Dừa
Cà phê cốt dừa is also my weakness when it comes to Vietnamese drinks! I first tried it at Cong Caphe back on my first trip to Vietnam, and have had more than my fill since being back. A lot of the translations for this will just be coconut coffee, but be careful and look for the “cốt dừa” in the Vietnamese name. This makes sure you’re getting the milk of the coconut not just coconut water or chunks.
The way this drink is made is coconut milk is blended with condensed milk and ice and then coffee is poured over top. YUM!
4. Cà Phê Muối
I’ve talked about this on my post on things to do in Hue because it’s the city’s claim to coffee fame! Salt is whipped with milk; then you drip coffee over and add an ice cube. So, so good. I made a reel here if you want to see what it’s like coming together.
5. Cà Phê Trứng
Cà phê trứng, or egg coffee, is a must if you visit Hanoi. I’ve even made this at home to varying degrees of success. An egg yolk is whipped with condensed milk and then coffee dripped over top. The heat of the coffee will cook the egg and the result is like a sweet dessert in a drink. Most places will only serve it hot, but I’ve had luck getting it iced in Hanoi!
6. Trà đá / Trà lài
This iced tea will almost always come with your coffee if you go to the local spots (not the trendy cafes). Like I would be utterly shocked if you go to an outdoor cafe with low seats, owned by a middle-aged Vietnamese woman or man, and they didn’t give you a trà đá dripping with condensation!
It’s at local food spots as well, but you may have to ask/pay a little more for it. While it’s typically made from jasmine tea (trà lài), it’s almost always just listed as trà đá.
7. Sinh tố bơ
Okay, so smoothies anywhere isn’t that groundbreaking, but have you had an avocado smoothie before? I’ve only had sinh tố bơ once in Hoi An when my friend at the time wanted me to try it. It’s pretty delicious but just remember most smoothies here are made with condensed milk!
8. Chè Sương Sáo
If you ever see “chè,” it can either be a sort of drink or more of a hot dessert. In this case it’s a drink I got at the Cai Rang market when I visited Can Tho. The “sương sáo” comes from what translate as flute mist powder, which you turn into jelly and then mix with coconut milk, condensed milk, water, and some other ingredients!
9. Trà Vải
There are a lot of fruit teas (peach, kumquat, etc), but my favorite and the one I know I won’t get as often back home is trà vải, or lychee tea! Usually when I’m working from cafes and I’ve drank too much coffee, I’ll switch to a nice lychee iced tea! The best is there’s usually some whole lychee in there to eat after.
10. Trà Gừng Sả
I believe trà gừng sả, or lemongrass ginger tea, is what they serve hot at spas before you go in to get your massage. It’s usually served hot, and just the loveliest thing to drink before and after you spend 60-90 minutes having someone rub out all your knots.
11. Nước chanh leo
Passionfruit on its own is way too tart for me, but mix it with probably heaps of sugar in a passion fruit juice, aka nước chanh leo, and I am sold! Definitely one of the most refreshing Vietnamese drinks to have when you’re out and about exploring.
12. Sâm Bổ Lượng
When I was eating at the Vinh Long market, they asked me if I wanted something from the chè lady. Not knowing anything listed, I translated and told them pick for me, and this is what I got! Sâm Bổ Lượng translates to ginseng tonic, and when I looked up its ingredients, it includes lotus root, lotus seeds, something called “bo bo,” longan, tapioca, sugar, jujube and some other ingredients. I just remember it was really refreshing! (And of course, notice the trà đá!)
13. Dừa Tươi
Dừa tươi simply just means coconut water, and means you want a coconut to drink! Doesn’t get much simpler than cracking open a coconut, sticking in a straw, and sippin’ away!
14. Cam vắt
Cam vắt just means squeezed orange. Along with cà phê sữa đá, it’s probably the easiest drink to find. They just squeeze the oranges, add water and sugar, and call it a day. They’ll put in a ton of sugar, so if you want less just say “ít đường” or “không đường” for no sugar.
15. Nước mía
Mmm nước mía. While I first tried this drink in HCMC back in 2016, I didn’t think about it gain until my friend posted about it on her stories. This is sugar cane juice, pure and simple, and it’s soooo refreshing. You can watch most ladies make it right then and there at their stalls. When I stayed at my Airbnb in D3, there was a lady who had a stall right near the entrance to my building. I used to get dropped off right in front of it and for less than 15,000 VND, how could I not get one to help me cool off in my apartment? She even used the bigger cups for it, so you got a lot.
16. Rau má
Rau má is a pennywort juice that I admittedly haven’t tried, but see everywhere all the time. It’s made with the leaves of pennywort plants and looks like a green juice. Just look for “rau” signs when you’re walking by drink stalls!
17. Đá Me
I’m actually not sure how common it is to find tamarind juice, but my homestay served this to me in Vinh Long, and it was delicious! If you’re not familiar, tamarind trees produce this sort of brown pod like fruit, which you can then use to make this really refreshing drink!
18. Bia hơi
I mean, I feel like most countries have their own version of beer, and Vietnam is no different with its bia! There’s actually multiple bias all around the country, but I remember Alyshia’s favorite was her Bia Tiger. I couldn’t tell you any of their differences, but you’ll have to try them out when you visit! Off the top of my head, I know of Bia Saigon, Bia Qui Nhon, and Bia Hanoi, but I’m sure there’s more.
19. Honey Wine
Had to add this in! Ok, so it’s not exactly a Vietnamese drink, but it’s made ethically and sustainably from bees in Vietnam and it’s so good! Even I liked the sip I had and I don’t like wine at all. When you visit L’Herbanyste in Thao Dien, ask them about Pollen Messenger and honey wine!
for more in vietnam
I’ve been able to explore a lot of this country, so here are all my other guides:
- 50 Vietnam Travel Tips
- How to Plan a Trip to Vietnam
- 22 Photos to Inspire You to Visit Vietnam
- How to Plan the Ultimate Leaving Vietnam Trip
- The Best Things to Do in Hanoi
- Hanoi to Halong Bay: How to Get There
- A Day Cruise Along Halong Bay
- Mu Cang Chai Travel Tips
- A Secluded Sapa Itinerary
- Hiking & Herbal Baths with the Red Dzao in Sapa
- Historical Things to Do in Hue: Ultimate Guide
- Hue in One Day: A Speedy Itinerary
- Azerai La Residence Hue Review: A Luxury Stay
- A Semi-Relaxing Phong Nha Travel Itinerary
- Quirkiest Things to Do in Dalat
- How to Visit Yok Don National Park
- Top Things to Do in Hoi An
- How to Spend 3 Days in Hoi An
- Hoi An Tailors: Tips for What to Get Made
- The Vietage: A Luxury Train in Vietnam
- Anantara Quy Nhon Villas: A Luxury Review
- Things to Do in Ho Chi Minh City: A Bucket List
- A Guide to 15B Hem Le Than Thon: Little Japan Saigon
- Where to Go in District 5 & Cho Lon of Saigon
- Best Things to Do in District 1, HCMC
- What to Do in Mui Ne and Phan Thiet
- Anantara Mui Ne: Best Resort for a Girls’ Getaway
- Mekong Delta Day Trip: What to Expect
- A Guide to Vinh Long in the Mekong
- Con Dao: An Island Travel Guide
- Azerai Can Tho: A Luxury Stay in the Mekong
- Odys Boutique Hotel Review: A Chic Mid-Range Stay in HCMC
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