A Vegan Day Out In Ho Chi Minh City. – Plant-Powered Nomad

There are plenty of places in Vietnam to get stuck for longer, but Ho Chi Minh City – or Saigon to some – isn’t one of them. It’s fast-paced, polluted, and bustling. Some love it, some hate it. Start early, and you can get a decent amount of things seen and experienced in just 24 hours. Here’s my guide to where to eat, what to do, and where to sleep if you have just one day in Ho Chi Minh City.

WHAT TO SEE

The War Museum should, naturally, be at the top of your itinerary. Get a jump start on the day by grabbing a coffee and heading to the cathedral and post office, which are quick to whizz round. I avoided Vietnamese coffee while I was in Vietnam as the beans are such poor quality they’re roasted in butter or animal fat to give them flavour (read more here) so I opted for a soy latte from The Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf. Expensive for Asia, but large, caffeinated, and vegan. We settled for just admiring the outside of the cathedral. From what I can work out, getting inside requires a tour and having seen the inside of the real Notre Dame, I doubt it’s worth the money and time. The outside is pretty spectacular though, and exceptionally un-Asia. If it wasn’t for the scooters whizzing around it would be easy to forget what city you’re in.

What to do in Ho Chi Minh in a day

Coffee and a cathedral. Good morning Vietnam!

Head into the post office after the cathedral. Find postcards, write them, and post them here too if you’re a decent enough family member to do that (I haven’t send my parents a postcard in far too long). You’re in the post office after all, so why not? You don’t need long to visit here (and it’s free!) so just wander round it staring at the majestic architecture of French-Colonial rule, then wander out and try to find your way to the war museum.

One day in Ho Chi Minh City

“Where? There? Where? Where are you going? Which museum?”

The war museum is open from 7.30am-12, then closes for lunch and doesn’t reopen till 1.30. Allow a couple of hours to read everything. I think I spent about two hours here and although I read everything I moved fast, so you might want to allow a little more just in case. The war museum is truly an unmissable part of Ho Chi Minh. If your dark tourism desire isn’t sated, then you can try to squeeze in the War Museum in the morning and then the Cu Chi tunnels in the afternoon. Because it was a beautiful day I enjoyed just wandering round in the sun and looking at the architecture – until it started raining, that is.

What to do in a day in Ho Chi Minh City

Photo bomb!

WHAT TO EAT AND DRINK

If you still have an appetite after seeing the results of Agent Orange, then head round the corner to Hum Vegetarian. It’s not vegetarian, not vegan, but there are a lot of vegan options and the staff are happy to help. It’s pretty pricy, but it’s one of the best places I’ve eaten in South East Asia as it blends modern vegan and raw vegan cuisine and Asian cuisine together in a wonderful mixture of colours and flavours.

Where to eat vegan food in Ho Chi Minh City

These asparagus skewers <3

Best vegan restaurants in Ho Chi Minh City

Baked spring rolls. These were DELICIOUS.

Vegan restaurants in Ho Chi Minh City.

This salad though. And I don’t normally rave about salads.

If you’re looking for somewhere to go later, then Saigon Vegan is right next to the main bar area and is a good place to watch the world go by from over dinner, before you head out yourself to get a drink and explore the area.

Vegan restaurants in Ho Chi Minh City

Food and cake at Saigon Vegan

WHERE TO SLEEP

I went for a little more luxury in Ho Chi Minh than I usually allow myself, and stayed at The Common Room Project which I highly recommend. It’s a gorgeous and luxurious hostel hidden away down an alley in a huge old house. It feels more like being guests at someone’s country house than staying in a hostel. There are kitchen areas attached to every dorm, large comfortable beds with mattresses that are one and a half that of a single, and the common area downstairs is beautiful and friendly. It’s an easy place to meet people and is definitely worth splashing out on. You can book your stay here.

Where to stay in Ho Chi Minh City

Photo courtesy of The Common Room Project.

What would you put on your must see/eat list if you only have one day in Ho Chi Minh City? Let me know in the comments below.

Disclaimer: all the opinions in this are completely my own, but if you book through the booking link above I’ll make a tiny commission at no extra charge to you, which allows me to travel for a little longer and keep writing useful posts.

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6 vegan meals you need to eat in 2016, and where to find them – Plant-Powered Nomad

I asked 5 vegan other travellers to tell me where the vegan meals we need to eat in 2016 are – from Brighton to vegan food in Africa, the results might surprise you.

A VEGAN BUFFET AT THE FOOT OF MOUNT KILIMANJARO, AFRICA

Some of the best vegan food we’ve ever had has been at Ol Tukai Lodge in Amboseli Park, at the foot of Mount Kilimanjaro, in Kenya, Africa.  The chef prided himself on the vegetarian cornucopia in his kitchen.  As a matter of fact, when we arrived for our first meal at Ol Tukai, and asked the dining room host about vegetarian food, he introduced us to the chef who, he was excited to tell us, always prepared a bounty of dishes without animal products.

As it turned out, a good 70% of the food at the Ol Tukai buffet was vegetarian or vegan.  Vegetable dishes outnumbered meat dishes three to one! The chef was more than please to pose for some photos with me at his extraordinary colorful buffet.

Pictured are pasta with marinara, sweet pea sauce, ugali and traditional dark greens, dal and rice.  And that doesn’t count the salad bar, out of frame in this picture.

We have been to Africa on safari twice for two weeks at a time and the situation at every lodge has been similar.  Plenty of vegan fare, and high quality at that.  More Africa safari lodge food photos here.

Lani can be found on her website:  http://www.lanimuelrath.com, and is author of The Plant-Based Journey.

Vegan food in Africa Vegan food in Africa

VEGAN TAPAS IN BRIGHTON, UK

In 2016, you need to eat vegan tapas! There is so much delicious vegan food all over the world nowadays that it’s actually quite difficult to pin down the best. However, I personally love sampling lots of different foods, and as many in one meal as possible. So, I’m naturally drawn to tapas, but they’re rarely all vegan. On a trip to one of my most beloved cities, Brighton, England, I heard about Rootcandi, the UK’s first 100% vegan tapas restaurant, and I had to check it out.

Six small plates of vegan delicacies on a three-tiered display stand is nothing short of a delight for all your senses. The world-inspired cuisine, like the Pan-Asain tapas platter I had, which is delicious, nutritious, and beautiful, really makes this place stand out. I’m sure this spot will mature nicely, so I definitely recommend a visit here in 2016.

Amanda is a vegan solo full-time traveler who puts the burger in Burger Abroad.

Rootcandi vegan tapas
BBQ SAUCE ROASTED CAULIFLOWER AND NOODLE SOUP IN HANOI, VIETNAM

Luckily, on this particular mission to find vegan food I had a companion. I say luckily because it was hidden down a tiny alley, off a totally different section of street than the one to which Google Maps had directed me. We eventually wandered past the sign we were looking for “Com Chay” and the word “vegetarian”. A scruffy kitten let itself be picked up and cuddled as we ordered and were told that they didn’t have half the things on the menu.

Fortunately, they did have this ‘beef’ vermicelli soup and BBQ sauce (or something similar and Vietnamese) roasted cauliflower. Despite the scruffy surroundings it stands out as one of the best meals I ate in 2015. There are many little places like this down alleys in Vietnam, just keep your eyes open and see what you find. Read more about my vegan in Hanoi discoveries here.

Amelia (that’s me) from Plant-Powered Nomad wanders the world alone teaching English and Yoga, and eating awesome vegan food along the way.

Vegan food in Hanoi Vegan food in Hanoi

VEGAN JAPANESE CURRY IN LUODONG TOWNSHIP, TAIWAN

Whenever I think back to the time I spent living in the small township of LuoDong in Taiwan, where I taught English for a year, I always think of this small vegetarian restaurant where we used to go to eat vegan Japanese curry, a sweet, yellow apple-based curry. It was full of fresh, seasonal vegetables and served with stream wu-gu fan (five grain rice, or purple rice).

It’s a small, local but exquisitely designed vegetarian restaurant hidden amongst sprawling apartments near to the rice paddies at the edge of town and is run by a local family who grow all their own food on their organic farm, including growing their own rice, seasonal vegetables and even making their own cheese (very rare in Taiwan).

We used to wander down on a summer’s evening after work and went by scooter in the cold and torrential rain, pleased to be welcomed in by the friendly family and ready to fill out bellies with hot curry. Even after going there every week for over 6 months, we never found out the name of the restaurant but it’s located at 54 Jingye Road opposite the Beicheng Elementary School.

Charlie is a long-term traveller from the UK who writes about simple ways to travel sustainably, including house sitting, slow travel and eating local. Check out her slow travel blog Charlie on Travel and follow her travels on Facebook.

Vegan curry in Luodong Taiwan

VEGAN BRUNCH IN TOULOUSE, FRANCE

South-western France, the home of foie gras, is not exactly the most vegan-friendly travel destination. While the staff in local restaurants were eager to help once I explained what vegans do and don’t eat, sadly, they sometimes had trouble scrounging up enough vegetables from the kitchen to make even a decent salad. But none of that mattered, because it made the experience of dining at La Belle Verte in Toulouse all the more memorable. While La Belle Verte does serve meat, the cuisine offered here could best be described as “plant-strong”. The owners give priority to using organic, local and seasonal ingredients, and they are knowledgeable about veganism and happy to cater for vegan diners.

On Sundays, they offer a brunch that is out of this world. The menu changes each week depending on what’s available at the nearby farmers’ market, but any non-vegan items can always be substituted with vegan ones. I was presented with a plate stacked so high that a piece of toast had to be balanced on top of my pumpkin soup! It was way too much food for one person, but that didn’t stop me from eating every last morsel.

Wendy Werneth is an intrepid traveller, vegan foodie and polyglot who is on a mission to show the world how fun and fulfilling vegan travel can be. You can follow her adventures at The Nomadic Vegan and download her free ebook, 8 Steps for Fun and Easy Vegan Travel.

Vegan food in Toulouse

VEGAN CHURROS IN BRIGHTON, ENGLAND

All the food at vegetarian restaurant Terre a Terre is brilliant and inventive. They are famed for their unusual descriptions and wacky names – to the extent that sometimes reading their menu doesn’t even help you understand what a dish is. But it’s well worth the confusion…even on occasions when I haven’t been able to deduce from the menu what my dish might be, it’s still been delicious. Case in point, a description from the menu of the dish Soubise Soubise: “Blasted buckwheat basted Roscoff onion bunged to the brim with hazel herb onion caramel nut mince served with cranberry juice kraut, radicchio pear pickle, toasted cream swede pie, roast parsnip and potato pave.”

However, Terre a Terre’s dish that set me over the edge into rapture (including noises that should not be made in a restaurant with polite company!) was their churros, or as they call the dish, Churrisimo.  The cinnamon sugar dusted doughnut sticks come with traditional thick chocolate sauce but also a few of Terre a Terre’s own unique additions: vodka soaked cherries and sea salt caramel dipping sauce.

Caitlin can be found at The Vegan Word. Caitlin is a vegan food and travel writer who has travelled to 30 countries (and counting) and just published her first book, The Essential Vegan Travel Guide.

vegan churros terra a terra

Have you eaten anywhere that you think should be on this list? Tell me about it in the comments below.

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Where to stay in Hoi An – Under the Coconut Tree – Plant-Powered Nomad

Looking for a place to stay in Hoi An that’s a little bit different? Somewhere close to the beach, social, full of cool people but where you’ll still get a solid night’s sleep? Look no further than Under the Coconut Tree, a place where people come for two days and stay for two weeks.

Accommodation in Hoi An

The beautiful old town

WHERE TO SLEEP

Where to stay in Hoi An

The open air dorm

Under the coconut tree hoi an

The beautiful private double room

Under the coconut tree hoi an

The walk to the dorms

Under the Coconut Tree offers family rooms which you can rent as a group, dorms which are open air, and beautiful private rooms that have space between the walls and the ceiling for a breeze to waft through. The music and the lights go off at 10, and everyone gets a lot quieter so I slept soundly every night here, and woke up early when the sun got strong.

WHAT TO EAT

Under the coconut tree hoi an

The restaurant area

Under the Coconut Tree have a bar and a restaurant with the same, more or less, prices as the restaurants outside. There’s a decent choice for vegans and vegetarians, and both Western and Vietnamese food. Everything I tasted was good, although I particularly liked the chilli and lemongrass tofu. The restaurants outside are excellent, too. If you’re vegan/vegetarian I particularly recommend The Tamarind Tree across the street who have an extensive veggie friendly menu and the best fried spring rolls I tasted in my time there.

GETTING AROUND

getting around Hoi An

My trusty scooter

There’s a scooter rental shop right across the street where, for 80,000VD ($4) a day, you can rent an automatic scooter to buzz around on. The roads in Hoi An itself can get a little busy, but the road in and out  of the town is a straight road and safe enough to drive on. It will take 10 minutes to motorbike in, or half an hour with a push bike. If motorbikes aren’t your style, a taxi is around 70-80,000VD and a mototaxi is 40-50,000. Make sure you agree a price before you get in, or ask the driver to switch on the meter. Be careful at night when it can be a little dodgy – agree the price, and be careful of your money as they’ll swap the 100,000 you gave them for a 10,000 and then ask for more.

WHAT TO DO

What to do in Hoi An

Lanterns floating down the river at night

I spent a lot of time in Hoi An itself, which is beautiful and very pretty to walk around and explore at night when the lantern festival happens. It’s also an excellent point to do day trips from. For the fish eater, right up the road is a man who runs cooking classes that are smaller and more personal than most. For a veggie option Minh Hien Vegetarian Restaurant in town runs vegetarian cooking classes. For motorbike day trips, you can go to My Son. Located 50 km from Hoi An, My Son was an imperial city during the Cham dynasty between the 4th and 12th centuries. You can also drive the scenic Hai Van pass, or keep going to a lake a little further away.

What to do in Hoi An

View from the Hoi Van pass

Cham island is another day trip, or if you prefer hiking you can visit the Marble Mountains. At night relax with a cocktail at Soul Kitchen up the road from Under the Coconut Tree – they have live music every night. More often than not, though, you’re just going to find yourself relaxing on the beautiful beach that’s only a minute’s walk from the hostel.

What to do in Hoi An

An Bang beach Hoi An

THE STAFF

Under the coconut tree hoi an

Without a doubt, what makes Under the Coconut Tree really special is the wonderful staff who work there. Aside from the staff on the front desk, the housekeeping staff are a comedy team who bumble around laughing and pinching the bottoms of the long-terms stayers. On my first night there, the man in the bottom bunk of my bunk bed crashed his motorbike. Everyday housekeeping would arrive and clean him up, putting iodine and fresh bandages on his wounds. In the afternoons they would check up on him, then tweak his nose and tut at him. Having subsequently crashed a motorbike myself in Cambodia, which has also left me with a lot of wounds and bandages that need changing, I can confirm that this is definitely not standard behaviour for hostels. I would have given my one remaining undamaged leg for the wonderful housekeeping staff to wander by each day and tend my wounds. The staff on the front desk are equally wonderful, and we all hugged goodbye when I left. In the week I was there, Under the Coconut Tree became family and a home.

Where to stay in Hoi An

What to do in Hoi An

A lake a day’s drive from Under the Coconut Tree

Under the Coconut Tree books up fast, so make sure you make a reservation. Book your stay here.

Disclaimer: all the opinions in this are completely my own, but if you book through the link above I’ll make a tiny commission at no extra charge to you, which allows me to travel for a little longer and keep writing useful posts.

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Vegan food in Hanoi – featuring gelato, Pho and ‘chicken’

There’s no shortage of vegan food in Hanoi. In fact, in nearly two weeks there I only got round about 2/3rds of the restaurants, and that’s with my appetite, too! I even found a few more places that aren’t on Happy Cow. Despite the crazy scooter traffic, hassling street vendors, and smoggy pollution blocking the horizon, I fell in love with Hanoi. It’s vibrant, crazy, and full of life and – most importantly – food.

First off, get your lingo down. My wonderful friends at Vegan Food Quest have written a handy guide of how to say your dietary requirements in Vietnamese, as well as a guide of what’s what in case you’re confused by what you’re ordering.

Secondly, allow half an hour more than you think you need to get there for when the address has moved. I’ve tried my best to update the locations on Happy Cow, but the pin doesn’t always send you to the right location regardless. There are so many little alleys in Hanoi, and at the end of the day, it makes finding them more rewarding (I think afterwards, anyway. Hangry me doesn’t really agree.)

100% VEGAN RESTAURANTS

Vegan food in Hanoi

May Trang/White Cloud

White Cloud had just, literally just reopened in their new premises the night I visited. It was also their 6 year anniversary since they first opened. As a result their menu was limited, but the lovely owner gave us a load of food and refused to let us pay, because it was a special occasion. The food was delicious, light and full of flavour. I’d love to go back some time and try more from their menu.

Note: on Happy Cow it’s changed to saying closed since I went. I don’t know if this is because they’ve closed since I was there, or if it’s because someone went to the old address and reported it closed. If you go please let me know! Open lunch and dinner times, closed Sundays.

New address: No 299 Au Co street, Tay ho District, Ha Noi, Viet Nam.
Tel: 0912143647 Homephone: 0466517859

Vegan food in Hanoi

Hieu Sinh Vegetarian Restaurant

Hieu Sinh only opened in July 2015 and is a little further out than some of the other places. It’s well worth the visit though. Unlike most of the fully vegan restaurants in Hanoi, Hieu Sinh doesn’t do mock meats. Everything I tried was delicious, especially the spring rolls which are breaded and fried, and the vegan yoghurt which is sweet and creamy and doesn’t have the curious sour taste of some soy yoghurts in Asia. I tried to go back a second time early in the morning and they were closed, so the hours on Happy Cow aren’t correct and need checking. They’re open till late in the evening, though. If you’re vegan in Hanoi, don’t miss visiting Hieu Sinh.

Happy Cow

Vegan restaurant in Hanoi

Bo De Quan

I here went with a friend after a Muay Thai class, and we were both extremely hungry. We tried to order everything on the menu, and the woman looked at us (two 130lb, quite tall women) in horror. ‘Too much food!’ ‘We’re really hungry!’ we said. Perhaps luckily for us, they didn’t have half the dishes on the menu (a common theme in Asia) and we had to settle for the two soups, some spring rolls, and a Vietnamese pancake. The banana soup came with rave reviews, but although it was good we both agreed we preferred the other one which was a stew like concoction. The spring rolls and the pancake were both good, and all of it set us back hardly any money at all. Towards the end of the meal a rat wandered up to the counter and started helping itself to some fresh broccoli in a bowl. The woman came in, saw the rat and screamed a lot of Vietnamese at it, then looked at us and split her sides laughing. If you’re used to the food hygiene standards in Asia, then go here. Don’t worry, you’re not going to get ill. The food is good, cheap and hearty. But if you’re expecting a Western style place, maybe think twice.

Happy Cow

Vegan food in Hanoi

Truc Lam Trai

Truc Lam Trai isn’t quite vegan as they still use honey, but it’s definitely somewhere to check out. They have an extensive menu of mock meats that are tasty but not too real to freak me out, although the Ukrainian couchsurfer I went with didn’t realise it wasn’t really fish that he was eating until we told him it was vegetarian. It certainly looks real (unlike the chicken). Truc Lam Trai wasn’t the cheapest place, but neither was it expensive and it’s was tasty and lots of food. Worth a visit if you like mock meats.

Happy Cow.

Vegan restaurant in Hanoi

Com Chay Ha Thanh

Don’t follow the directions that Google maps will send you to for this one, it took us about half an hour of wandering to find it. Follow the alley and street address. 116 Ngo 166 Kim Ma – go to 116 Kim Ma, go down 116 Ngoc (the alley) then turn left at the first left, walk for about 20 second and it’s on your right. Don’t give up! It exists, and once you’ve found it once you can find it again. It’s really worth it. They have an English menu, although they don’t speak English, and they have a huge range of food that is excellent. This is one of my favourite local places that I ate at. The food was exceptional, especially the cauliflower – it was a little but different. Take the time to find this place, you won’t regret it.

Happy Cow.

Vegan restaurant in Hanoi

Zenith Yoga Cafe

Vegan, not vegetarian like Happy Cow says. The only place in Hanoi to get vegan cake, although they had sold out when I went there. I had the black bean burger and the cookie. The bean burger needed more flavour and a sauce of some sort – it was very dry – but other than that it was good. The cookie was very dry and more like a biscuit to dunk. Sadly I couldn’t finish it. The shakes were delicious. It’s the most expensive restaurant in this list, but I would go back to try some other options and take a Yoga class with them. The studio itself is beautiful and the staff are friendly.

Happy Cow.

VEGETARIAN

Vegan ice cream in Hanoi, Vietnam

Gelato Italia

This is one of those really really exciting discoveries. Gelato Italia is an Italian run ice cream shop in Tay Ho, and it’s really, really good. Especially the dark chocolate. On one of the days I went, I discovered that I’d got there just in time for the all you can eat buffet for only 110,000D (about $5). I made myself a little ill that night. They have a list on the board of what’s suitable for vegans, and their list changes regularly I’ve heard. It’s hard to find good vegan ice cream options in Asia, so this was a very exciting find.

Trip Advisor

OMNI (WITH VEGAN OPTIONS)

Vegan food in Hanoi

The Hanoi Social Club

This is one of those ‘chill here all day’ places. They offer a vegan breakfast of a coconut chia bowl, which is delicious, and they have vegan options clearly marked on the menu. They also have homemade soy milk, which curdled and developed a weird cakey consistency when it was turned into a latte. It wasn’t pleasant. The music is good, the staff are lovely, and they have a handmade jewellery store on the first floor that has beautiful and original handmade items. I couldn’t resist buying a couple of pieces. They also sell vegan chocolate. They just need to get their latte sorted! The prices here are more Western prices, but the portion sizes are good, as is the food.

Happy Cow.

Vegan food Hanoi

Joma Cafe

Joma Cafe are a chain that you can find all around the city, and of all the cafes I found they’re the best option for vegans. They have Arabica coffee (read about why Vietnamese coffee isn’t vegan here) and soy milk that makes a pretty tasty soy latte. They also have a few soup options (although make sure you ask for no cream) and a couple of Western style hummus/veggie options – a plate and a wrap. If you’re looking for somewhere to sit and work with a coffee and some food for a few hours, I definitely recommend Joma Cafe.

Facebook.

Vegan restaurant in Hanoi

Aubergine Cafe

Aubergine Cafe was the first place I ate when I arrived in Hanoi, and it was good – really really good. The options were a little different to the usual ones, and the decor is quite cute and endearing. The staff are very welcoming and lovely. For a busy backpacker area, the food was a very reasonable price and I meant to go back several more times during my stay in Hanoi, I just never made it. There’s a clearly labelled vegetarian menu, and f you’re in the area and looking for somewhere for lunch, definitely give Aubergine Cafe a try.

Happy Cow.

Vegan restaurant in Hanoi

Minh Thuy’s

Minh Thuy’s is another omni place with a clearly labelled vegan menu, although you have to ask to not have egg added to your food. It’s good Vietnamese food in a convenient area, and is a very decent price. There are lots of options for vegans, and you should definitely wander in for a bite to eat if you’re in the neighbourhood and hungry.

Happy Cow.

There are still quite a lot of places I didn’t get to on this trip. Have you found more places in Hanoi that are vegan friendly? Let me know in the comments below.

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