Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam

Fruity Vietnam

15 Comments 10 November 2009

I’m a fruit person…I love it, I crave it, I must have it!  One great thing about living in the sweltering Vietnam climate is that the fruit is great all year around!  I would walk through the markets and my eyes would pop seeing so many different kinds of colorful fruit!  Vendors walked the streets daily selling whatever was in season.  The hardest part for me was to figure out what half of the fruit was as much of it was new to my American eyes and palette. 
To assist you as you travel through Vietnam and SE Asia – here’s a little more information about the fruit that you see.  Don’t be afraid to spend the spare change, haggle on a price and try some of these delicious new or old fruits!   (I’ve included the English and Vietnamese name on all of the items!)
bumpy apples:  mang cau tamg

bumpy apples: mang cau tamg

 I love Bumpy Apples!  The hard outer shells are peeled off and expose a firm apple/pear like fruit that’s very sweet.

apples:  tao

apples: tao

Yes – they have apples everywhere!  Now, if I could just figure out how to bake a pie without a stove – I would be really happy!


rambutan:  chom chom

rambutan: chom chom

Rambutan look a bit scarey, but they taste wonderful!  You break off the colorful, hairy outer shell and you get to sweet fruite inside!

water-coconut:  dua-nuoc

water-coconut: dua-nuoc

 Water coconut is a relative to the standard coconut.  You find these in the Mekong Delta and they taste just like a regular coconut!  I have seen these around Saigon for a while now and never knew what they were!  They look quite menacing, but dont’ be afraid to give them a try!

tamarind:  me

tamarind: me

 Tamarind is used for many things, but it can also be eaten plain as a fruit.  You just peel off the hard shell and get to a soft, sticky, red fruit with a small pit in the middle. 

persimmons: hong

persimmons: hong

 Persimmons are filling the markets right now.  They come from Dalt and are juicy and yummy!  They have a few different varieties – soft or crunchy.  I prefer the soft – the texture of a tomato, but taste much sweeter!

longa:  nhan

longa: nhan

For some reason when I eat longa it reminds me of the fall in the US.  Peel off the thin outer shell and eat the fruit inside.  Good, small, sweet treat! 


durian:  sau rieng

durian: sau rieng

 Durian, the king of fruit.  You can read about my experience trying durian here.  You can find it everywhere in the markets now – or should I say – you can smell it everywhere in the markets now!  Eaten alone, in shakes or ice cream – the smelly and squishy fruit is an aquired taste for sure!

coconuts: dua

coconuts: dua

Ah – my favorite!  Coconuts are everywhere in Vietnam!  Cold drinks, jellies, and shakes – you can’t beat the fresh milk!
dragon-fruit:  thanh-long

dragon-fruit: thanh-long

I still remember seeing endless rows of colorful, pink dragon fruit as I road the bus to Mui Ne.  These fruit definitely have personality on the outside – pink leaves tipped with green, but I find the inside a bit bland unless they are eaten in season! 

So – get out to those markets and start buying and trying some of this colorful, delicious fruit!

Your Comments

15 Comments so far

  1. I love food too, and love exploring native fruits as you do! I recognize (and have tried) everything except the water coconuts, and I’ve never eaten tamarind as a fresh fruit.

    I like the bumpy apples (also known as Atemoya in Hawaii and Custard Apple in Australia) best when they’re actually soft on the inside. I cut them in half and scoop out the insides with a spoon, spitting out the large black seeds.

    Yum! Gotta go find some fruit now!

  2. Sonia says:

    Love this post! It took me back to our explorations in the markets of Singapore, Bangkok, and Malaysia. I couldn’t get enough bumpy apple (also heard it referred to as “custard apple”) and rambutan (which we think looks like Sputnik). Sampling local fruits, even the sketchy ones like durian, is one of my favorite parts of travel.

  3. Mark H says:

    I also adore fruit and also food markets, so it is a wonderful double. In SE Asia, the range is staggering and the mood of the market is part of the fun. Rambutans are a pet favourite and some of the fruit juiced (have to watch that they don’t add water or ice though) is so sweet.

  4. Donna Hull says:

    While in Vietnam last month, I visited a fruit orchard in the Mekong Delta. Coconut is my favorite. Chicken that I am, I avoided the Durian. Wish I had carried a copy of this post with me. It’s very hard understanding all of these exotic fruits.

  5. admin says:

    @donna – it took me 2 years in Asia to finally try it – well worth the wait…ha!
    @mark – Actually in HCMC you can drink the water and have the ice in the majority of restaurants – it’s filtered. I had a mango shake there with ice practically daily! A rare fact that people dont know about HCMC.
    @sonia – rambutan as sputnik…I love it!
    @nora – yeah – I never new you could eat tamarind as a fruit either, but it was really yummy!

  6. Lilliy says:

    Great post. I love trying new fruits too.
    My favorite sightseeing in any city or village is to visit their local market. I love the bargaining and the local crowd along with the many colorful fruits and vegetables. Its always cheaper to buy at the local market than in any shop.
    You placed photos of two of my favorite fruits too, Rambutan, and Tamarind.
    Tamarind is actually used here in Jeddah in so many ways. They eat it as something to nibble on the salted packed ones, in Ramadan its a popular fruit drink, they love using it as the marinate sauce with backed fish or just a s a side sauce beside fried fish with black rice ( sayadiah) its so amazing.

    Lilliy K.
    Twitter @funlilliy
    Stumble Upon: http://funlilliy.stumbleupon.com

  7. heidi says:

    Some of these fruits I haven’t seen, but I would like to try it.

  8. I broke out in a rash just looking at a picture of the Rambutan – severely allergic. Wish I wasn’t because they’re so delicious! Durian? Never quite got up the courage. Would like to try the crazy looking coconut, though. Think my favorite exotic fruit is Snakefruit from Bali.

  9. Anil says:

    The fruit in SE Asia is awesome. There were so many natural foods and fruit to eat I never knew existed before.

  10. Tony says:

    The “Bumpy Apples” are my favorite and could be the one single object I miss most about Vietnam. I loved it so much I brought it into work and my co-workers used to tell me that eating it would give me pimples. At first I hesitated, but then I realized as much as I really dislike getting huge pimples, especially on my nose =(, eating this fruit was freakin worth it.

    That’s how much I love mang cau.

  11. Huong Vu says:

    I love to read all of your entries about VietNam. Im Vietnamese and now living in USA. That’s funny and very lovely. Thanks a lot !

  12. admin says:

    @Huong – thanks so much – I’m glad you are enjoying my take on your country! I really did love it there, The culture is so different from my own (American); every day there was interesting and usually included some sort of revelation such as “I can’t believe they do THAT!”

  13. Toan Nguyen says:

    I like this article. I am a Vietnamese and I also like fruits. These are some of the fruits that are not mentioned in this article and they are also really good: Mangosteen, Jack Fruit, Star Apple.

  14. Toan Nguyen says:

    Missing: Mangosteen, Jack Fruit, Star Apple

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Sherry traveling the world

I'm Sherry, a corporate cube dweller turned nomadic traveler. I travel to off-the-beaten-path destinations to bring you unique travel experiences and photography. But it's not just about travel, it's also about life experiences of a middle age wanderer.
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