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Street Food Cao Bang in Northern Vietnam

Street Food Cao Bang

This might be town that few tourists frequent, but there I something cool about being off the beaten track here, not to mention a vibrant Street Food Cao Bang scene.

Located to the north of Hanoi and about 5 hours by bus Cao Bang is actually further from the capital than getting to China. This has led to many in the area moving to the informal economy in Guangxi. And it was this in a roundabout way that led me to Cao Bang. On this occasion at least for a wedding.

So, what to say about Cao Bang? Well during the Sino-Vietnamese War it briefly fell to its northern neighbors! And the city is also the capital city of the province of the same name.

Eating in Cao Bang

While far form eclectic there are a decent amount of dining options in Cao Bang, with a few at least being of the more expensive variety. We went as group to one of these that featured a private room and was quite Chinese in presentation. There were a mixture of dishes provided, with heavy influences from both Vietnamese and southern Chinese Guangxi cuisine.

In fact the differences between Northern Vietnam and Guangxi get much smaller the closer you get to the border with cousin, as well as the overall look of things. Chongzuo for example has a very similar vibe.

Aside from sit down restaurants there are lots of coffee shops, with a few even having a crack at western food. Alas I did not discover a Lotteria when I was here.

Street Food Cao Bang

Of course the best food choice is to go for Street Food Cao Bang, with the city much like other in the region simply coming to life as night falls. And this is a very welcome change with quite literally every corner being woken up by hawkers setting out their street food stalls and turning what was once quietness into a party.

This is particularly true around the main drag in the centre of Cao Bang, but is also true for most back streets. The style here is very much BBQ and in the fashion of how the Chinese eat and indeed drink over the border. Not so heavy on the fish, but lots and lots of meat on a stick, as well as innards such as cow stomach. Not generally as spicy as its Chinese neighbors though.

And if you need something a little more Vietnamese in Cao Bang then there is always Banh Mi. The Banh Mi in Cao Bang tends to be served with spicy and slightly greasy pork, not all that dissimilar to in Vinh.

Drinking in Cao Bang

There are not really bars to speak of Cao Bang, save a few coffee/beer hybrids and of course Karaokes that cater to gentlemen. In fact and much like in other Vietnamese towns the drinking is done on the street and with BBQ. Therefore street food Cao Bang and nightlife Cao Bang are largely one and the same.

And the weapon of choice? Hanoi Beer, rather than Saigon beer and served on ice. This is common throughout Vietnam and something I will write about, but beer on ice is very much a thing in these parts. Sadly despite proximity to Hanoi there is no Bia Hoi scene in Cao Bang.

There is though Vietnamese Rice Wine and Vietnamese moonshine. The rice wine here is similar to what you get in China, with the good stuff being brought out for weddings, where they drink an absolute shit tonne. It is though at least in Cao Bang better than Chinese bai jiu, at least in my humble opinion.

And the moonshine! Much like on Hanoi Railway Street and even with the Guilin Street Food scene they made rice wine infused worth fruits such as strawberries. This costs almost nothing is served in a big cup and really hits the spot.

So, if you do fund yourself here the street food Cao Bang scene will feed you with there being enough liquid delights to keep you hydrated.