Backpacked Southeast Asia in 2015: Food in Cambodia and Vietnam

5 years long overdue post.

As a budget tourist, food and sightseeing were the only things I could afford. So let me share with you some food photos I took during this trip and how much it cost me then. Again, this was in 2015!

Favorites: Grilled pork and broken rice in Vietnam

Chicken noodle soup

My first meal in Cambodia was from a small eatery inside the archaeological park. I had a chicken noodle soup to pump up my growling stomach (because my last meal was at the airport the night before). To pair my meal, I had hot chocolate for my drink (because why not, I may want to sabotage my trip with a different type of stomachache). Breakfast in the park costs $5.

My sister told me that Cambodian food is bland. This noodle soup was not an exception. I had to add salt and pepper to the dish. Ending, I (and even the girls in the table next to mine) sneezed a few times. Wooh!

Indian meal paired with lassi

One night I went for an Indian meal ($7.50), another night I came along with my roommates in some shady-but-still-lively part of the city and had fried yellow noodle and avocado shake ($2.75/meal). Indian was definitely a splurge but I didn’t learn any lesson and still had Indian food ($9.50) the day before I left Siem Reap.

On the way to the farthest area I went to for dinner in Siem Reap

I couldn’t recall if I ate local dishes in Phnom Penh because my notes listed Burger King x 2 and KFC x2 (meals range from $4 – $5). After a tour, I ate in a sit-down restaurant but I forgot what I ate for $4.


One night I went to myBurgerlab for a Couchsurfing event which I ended up not attending because they were setting up late and I didn’t know how I’d go home. That was a $6~ set back including tuk-tuk back and forth my hostel.

Chicken burger

The bus travel from Phnom Penh to Ho Chi Minh City was about six hours. We were provided with two pastries and a bottle of water. We ate lunch at some point because I have a photo of noodles.

Curry noodles, anyone?


I met with Francis, a Couchsurfing friend and a local in Saigon, who introduced me to two Filipinas (which I was very thankful for.. finally Tagalog after a week!). We walked a few blocks from Phạm Ngũ Lão and found a very small eatery selling broken rice and grilled pork for VND 28,000. IT QUICKLY BECAME MY FAVORITE. It was quite a steal considering my average meal in Cambodia was at $4. Francis was so dedicated to making sure I experience being a local so we hang out at a corner, seated on small chairs and drank iced coffee for less than a dollar or Php 38.

Broken rice and grilled pork

The next day, I went to the Mekong River tour with my new Filipinas friends, Ate Jenny and her friend (sorry I forgot her name). I can’t remember how much I paid for it but probably half a million VND which included a nice lunch.

One of the dishes during Mekong River tour lunch
Dinner with a frog dish
HCMC Pinoy crowd!

By dinner time, Francis brought us Filipinos to a sidewalk restaurant where I got to try frog and other local dishes at VND 70,000 share. I forgot the name of the other guy but he is also Pinoy and traveling solo. We went to a bar a few steps away from my hostel where a Filipino band was playing and had drinks hehe. The subtle nightlife was a VND 310,000 set back haha.

Filipino band performing in a bar along Phạm Ngũ Lão

I have a line of McDonald’s on my record at VND75,000 but I can’t remember what I ate. On my way to meet another Couchsurfing friend at War Remnant Museum, Quyen, I bought a milk tea and fishballs for VND60,000.

Street food
Building where Saigon Oi Cafe is located, shot on a different night

Quyen drove me around HCMC on her motorbike which I didn’t expect at all! We settled to chill at Saigon Oi Cafe for a couple of hours before we met with his friend to eat their favorite beef pho in town. As a thank you to both, I treated them this meal. VND 100,000 for three full bowls.

Beef pho

Then we drove far and long highways to see the night lights of HCMC.

To cap off, Quyen and I had smoothie. VND 40,000

Straw and plastic spoon. Just in case you’re weird.

The next day, I had lines of food and water record amounting to VND 128,000. That included a noodle meal paired with an iced coffee (my choice of pairs haha) when I had dinner with my hostel roommates.

While waiting for my delayed flight, I had chicken and biscuit meal from Popeye’s for VND 57,000 and a takeout box of Dunkin Donuts for VND 140,000. I don’t know but the way they pack their doughnuts was hilarious.

Munchkins and large donuts together

I reached my hostel in Hanoi at nearly midnight. So I just bought some grilled street food worth VND 50,000. I won’t ever find out what it was made of but it was delicious.

The next day, I splurged a bit for brunch. Maybe I felt funny about it because I typed “hahaha” after tracking VND 176,000 for pho and shrimp spring roll.

Shrimp spring roll
So look, the bean sprouts wanted to be the main star on this photo.

I walked around the city, bought souvenirs for myself and my sister and went back to my hostel neighborhood where I spotted a Baskin Robbins! Since it was too hot and there was nothing else to do, it was just necessary to eat some matcha ice cream.

3 mini scoops for VND 70,000

I remember going to a restaurant just a few steps away from my hostel for dinner. What you need to know is, I based all my food choices on Tripadvisor and its near me option. I couldn’t remember what I had but based on my record, it was worth VND 80,000.

The next day, now I couldn’t remember eating anything but I spent VND 85,000 tagged as “hostel food”. I also spent VND 30,000 during the first stopover on my way to Luang Prabang. That is THE OREO. I will write about THE OREO in my next stories.

It’s been fun writing this at this hour. How I wish I could do this again. Teeeeheee.