Vietnam probably wouldn’t come near the top of your list when thinking of great beer cultures, but this country actually has some of the cheapest beer in the world. No, you can’t get a local hop-heavy microbrew or an ink-black stout, but if you care more about what kind of quantity your travel dollar will get you, it’s hard to go wrong here. Plop yourself down at a bia hoi (fresh beer) stand and you’ll be ordering by the pitcher for next to nothing.
I was reminded of how much I loved this practice when I saw this Wall Street Journal article last week about how the local beer brewers were still doing better business than the foreign brands by beating the giants at the keg beer game. Consumption at these draft beer outlets—usually outdoor cafes that may be just folding chairs and tables on a sidewalk—makes up 30% of the local beer market.
That article linked above left out one key data point though: the price. A big mug will cost you about 20-25 cents U.S. and a 2-liter pitcher will often be a dollar or less. Sometimes far less. A few pitchers and some tasty street food will set you up right for the night.
You often have to start early though. When the kegs run out, as they often do just as night is falling, it’s time to close up shop. Then you’ll have to up the ante and buy bottled beer somewhere else. That’s cheap too, but you might have to pay a dollar or more for a big bottle in a bar instead of a dollar for a pitcher.
Hanoi is known as the home of bia hoi, but you can get it almost anywhere in the country if you keep your eyes peeled. I’ve personally downed pitchers in Nha Trang and Saigon as well. Cheers!
[flickr photo by noodlepie]