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In many ways, Ha Giang is a paradise for food lovers. The typical foods in Ha Giang are different from other cities in Vietnam, like Bánh cuốn, smoked pork, black chicken ... and any kind of vegetables.
But in Ha Giang, navigating what’s safe to eat can be a minefield.‘Vegetarian’ generally means not eating meat or seafood: anything else, including meat stock, shrimp paste or fish sauce, is fair game. Get it right and you’ll be feasting on a variety of aromatic and flavorful dishes; get it wrong and you’ll find yourself inadvertently chewing on some gristle. Here’s how vegetarians can eat well in Ha Giang.
Vegetarians have a lot to look forward to in Ha Giang. Vietnamese kitchens are known not only for balanced, flavourful, healthy cooking but for their liberal use of fresh vegetables and herbs in every meal. Throughout the region when you do Ha Giang Loop, it’s not easy to find vegetarian restaurants and but you can find meat-free versions of mouthwatering local dishes. Prepare for beautiful meals on your Ha Giang Loop trip with this easy guide to vegetarian food in Ha Giang.
What to expect on Ha Giang Loop
Vietnamese cuisine varies from north to south, and each city has a dish it does exceptionally well. Still, everywhere you go, some things remain popular: steaming, aromatic noodle soups, crunchy banh mi sandwiches, delicious rice paper rolls made with herbs, pickled vegetables, and lettuce, and robust Vietnamese coffee. These Vietnamese staples can be enjoyed across the country, and vegetarian versions are plentiful. So you can find all of them in Ha Giang.
Most Ha Giang restaurants offer a selection of salads and cooked vegetables, and many have a dedicated section for vegetarian options. A vegetarian breakfast might consist of a banh mi with egg or a bowl of mushroom congee. Lunch could be a banana heart or lotus stem salad with rice crackers, or a bowl of rice noodles served with hearty broth and fresh greens. Dinners are a great time to mix and match, with garlicky water spinach, fresh spring rolls, grilled eggplants, tofu in lemongrass and chili, caramelized mushrooms in clay pots, five-colour fried rice, and Vietnamese chè for dessert.
There’s really no danger of going hungry as a vegetarian in Ha Giang. If anything, you might find it hard to leave!
Where to look
Even though most of the population are adventurous meat-eaters, Vietnamese tend to view vegetarianism positively. A quick online search may show you some vegetarian restaurants in your location, in case of nothing found so you can go to find some restaurants and ask for vegetarian foods, they can cook the vegetarian food version of any dish for you. Look for the words ‘quán chay’ or ‘cơm chay’ to locate a vegetarian place to eat, or to find veggie options on a regular menu.
Vietnamese Buddhists eat meat-free food on the 1st and 15th of each month, and during these days you can find extensive vegetarian options in restaurants and many vegetarian dishes sold in the morning markets. Many travelers come to love Ha Giang homestays meals, which offer a wide array of novel dishes for vegetarians and vegans.
What to order
A few keywords will help you find more vegetarian options to eat in Ha Giang, Vietnam. ‘Chay’ (pronounced ‘chai’) is the magic word. Say, "Tôi ăn chay” to let someone know you’re vegetarian, or “không thịt” to ask for no meat in your food. “Không nước mắm” — no fish sauce — is also an important phrase to use when placing orders. You can add the word ‘chay’ to request meat-free versions of regular dishes. Like this:
Phở chay = vegetarian pho
Nem chay = vegetarian spring rolls
Bánh mì chay = vegetarian baguettes
Gỏi cuốn chay = fresh vegetarian spring rolls
Mì xào chay = stir-fried vegetarian noodles
Vegetarian food Vietnam
Rau muống xào tỏi
There are some dishes no vegetarian should miss when in Ha Giang. Here are a few:
Nộm hoa chuối: banana flower salad with lime
Đậu sốt cà chua: braised tofu in tomato sauce
Rau muống xào tỏi: stir-fried morning glory with garlic
Đậu hũ chiên sả ớt: Tofu fried with shredded lemongrass and chili
Cà tím mỡ hành: Eggplant simmered with green onion
Best vegetarian restaurants in Ha Giang
There are some excellent vegetarian restaurants in Ha Giang: