Photo: Canals of Ca Mau, Mekong Delta.

Vietnam forum

Eating Food Washed in Water

Posted by crafte on 12/1/2013 at 05:24

I'm from USA and I've gotten mixed messages on what we should eat when traveling. This is our first time to Vietnam and I was wondering if its safe to eat the greens and veggies that normally comes with many of the traditional vietnamese meals such as Pho and Bun Bo Hue. The greens and bean sprouts are what really makes the dish for me!

I've talked to a season traveler to SE asia (he travels there probably 3 times a year over the past several years) and he says he eats everything. He just stays away from drinking the water.

Question 1: Is it safe to eat the greens even if its washed in the local water.
Question 2: The ice. One of the blogs on travelfish mentioned that food stand, restaurants, and most hotels get their ice from a single location. Does that mean its also safe to have ice in drinks?


#1 crafte has been a member since 29/12/2012. Posts: 7

Posted by somtam2000 on 12/1/2013 at 06:45 admin

Question 1: I'd eat it regardless :) To be honest I'm not sure if they rinse in purified water or not - have asked a mate in Hanoi who eats on the street about 42 times a day and will let you know.

Question 2: Ice in tourist restaurants and hotels should be fine. Ice on street stalls, particularly if shard ice (big chunky bits of ice that have been broken off a larger block) is generally still made from purified water but may not have been treated quiet as hygienically as the pre packaged ice you buy in plastic bags -- I've seen it being dragged down the footpath...

Hope that helps and I'll report back when I hear from Hanoi!


#2 somtam2000 has been a member since 21/1/2004. Location: Indonesia. Posts: 7,576
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Posted by DLuek on 12/1/2013 at 06:55 TF writer

I agree -- never had a problem with the greens or ice. The only thing I really watch out for is meat that's not fully cooked. Paid for that one the hard way.

#3 DLuek has been a member since 19/6/2008. Location: Thailand. Posts: 1,176
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Posted by crafte on 12/1/2013 at 07:18

Thanks for the tip! I would be interested to hear your friend from Hanoi. As for the meat, good point. Now that you mentioned it, the travelfish blog also mentioned the lack of refrigeration of their produce and meat. I'm excited again to eat now the greens are back on the menu!!

#4 crafte has been a member since 29/12/2012. Posts: 7

Posted by busylizzy on 12/1/2013 at 15:29

Like the two above, I have always eaten salads, veges, ice, chicken and seafood against popular advise, and in accumulated years worth of travel in SEA spread over the last few years, have only once had a problem (thanks to a simple pad thai with prawns in Bkk).

I DO draw the line at river fish though. My travelling partner got pretty sick at least 3 times in Vietnam and once in Fiji - and each time, he ate fish from rivers. I avoid it anyhow as I don't like picking through bones, etc in small fish generally - but his experiences have made sure that I don't go near it.

#5 busylizzy has been a member since 31/12/2007. Location: New Zealand. Posts: 2,155
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Posted by altmtl on 12/1/2013 at 18:31

I eat anything, including ice.

#6 altmtl has been a member since 18/5/2009. Location: Canada. Posts: 992
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Posted by somtam2000 on 12/1/2013 at 18:58 admin

OK my friend in Hanoi got back to me -- well, he laughed at me actually! No the vendors do not wash their herbs in purified water. But, like I said, I'd eat them anyway [img]smileys/smile.gif[/img]

My friend in Hanoi is Mark Lowerson and he runs a great food blog on Hanoi and Vietnam, which you may find interesting. He also runs street food walking tours of Hanoi of which I've only ever heard good things of -- perhaps look into it when you're in Hanoi.

He also wrote this piece for us on surviving street food.
Enjoy the food -- it is fabulous!

#7 somtam2000 has been a member since 21/1/2004. Location: Indonesia. Posts: 7,576
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