How to Survive as a Vegetarian in Saigon (Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam) ?

Very easy.
You may be surprised but Saigon is a good city for Vegetarians. It is much more vegetarian friendly than Bangkok in Thailand. By the way, I am a Vegetarian myself, you can visit my Vegetarian page.
The word in Vietnamese for Vegetarian is “Chay”. Món Chay is “Vegetarian food”.
Look at the following picture. They called a Falafel,  Kebab Chay.
Another word you should know in Vietnam is “Pho”. It means soup. The Vietnamese Pho is very famous and there is almost always noodle inside. It is possible to find also a Vegetarian Pho, in many places.
Here are the Vegetarian options in Saigon :

  1. Pham Ngu Lao area (the Backpackers zone) – For Western and Vietnamese food.
  2. Regular Restaurants in town center with Vegetarian options (mostly Vietnamese).
  3. Vegetarian Restaurants in town center (mostly Vietnamese food).

Pham Ngu Lao area (the Backpackers zone) – For Western food (and Vietnamese)

Without doubt, the best area in Saigon for vegetarians. If you are fed up with Asian food and you miss good Italian Pasta with cheese, Mexican Burritos, Falafel and so on, this is the place. There is also Vietnamese food, of course.
You should visit this neighborhood at night time, it is the most live place in Saigon with bars, restaurants, cafés and music.
Here is a map of the neighborhood. I have highlighted 2 alleys where there are good Vegetarian options. Click to enlarge :
The main street looks like this :
Here are some photos of Vegetarian dishes I like in Pham Ngu Lao :
Mexican Burrito  (there is bean inside ! No so obvious in Asia)
Italian food – Gnocchi in Gorgonzola sauce :
Or : Fettuccine in Gorgonzola sauce (If you don’t realize, these things are a miracle in Asia).
Avocado salad  (Also Avocado is not common in Asia)
Indian Vegetarian Tali (Tali is a combo set). In some Indian restaurants they serve a Tali in all hours, in others only at lunch time. Take a Tali whenever you can because you get a variety of dishes at a reasonable size each.
Vietnamese food. Coconut filled with fried rice and vegetables. Cool.
And rice with vegetables in a Lotus leaf :
The prices are cheap. A Mexican burrito about 70,000 Dong. A pasta with cheese also 70,000 Dong.

Regular Restaurants in town center with Vegetarian options (mostly Vietnamese food)

This is amazing. In the big malls in the city (like Vincom and Saigon Center), in the food courts where there are many stands and restaurants, some of them have a separate Vegetarian menu. They have thought about us and created a special menu. So, ask about it, if you don’t see it immediately.
Here in the photo, you can see a vegetarian section (in green, left bottom corner) advertised in a restaurant in a food court in “Diamond Plaza”.
And here is an excellent dish I received from this specific restaurant. Rice noodles with vegetables in soya sauce :
And the following one is a dish I received in the restaurant “Mon Hue” (a chain), they also have a vegetarian section in the menu. It is spring rolls with rice noodles and salad.
I was able to receive this western style food, in the food court of Parkson mall.
Here is how a Vegetarian section on a menu, looks like :
In the coffee chains, like Coffee Bean, there are also some Vegetarian options :
When you will travel out of town, the Vegetarian options in regular restaurants will be more limited, it will be rice with vegetables :

Vegetarian Restaurants in town center (Vietnamese food)

Relatively to other cities in the world, there are quite a lot of Vegetarian restaurants in Saigon center. They serve Vietnamese food, not Western food.

You can use the Happy Cow application to find vegetarian restaurants close to where you are.

Look at the photos above, to see what Vegetarian Vietnamese dishes to expect.

Other Vegetarian options

Whenever you are out of ideas about what to eat, then eat a cake. The “Tous les jours” bakery (a chain) is good.
There is also the famous French bakery “Paul” in the mall “Saigon Center”:
As a serious Vegetarian traveller, you should always carry with you a survival kit that contains Almonds and Nuts.
In Saigon, you can find a lot of almonds in the famous market “Ben Thanh”.

star More on Saigon and Vietnam :

star  On Thailand :

star See What to Pack ? the visual list that will help you prepare the suitcase and not to forget things.

star See Important Products for the Trip Hidden pocket to carry cash, padlock,  Universal plug adaptor…

star Visit my Vegetarian page. Why be Vegetarian ? What to eat ?

star Visit my Salsa Dance page. Salsa main Styles. Why Dance Salsa ?

star See City Information about 2 more cool cities: Barcelona and Tel-Aviv.

star Listen to basic Words In Spanish, Words in French, Words in Hebrew

star Listen to nice Songs with translation in French, Spanish, Italian, Hebrew.

star If you find incorrect data in this page, like a restaurant has closed or a big river has moved or you want to tell me something, please write me at contact.