What to eat at the supermarkets and convenience stores in Vietnam

Eating out is a huge business in Vietnam and is often tastier and cheaper than trying to shop and cook for yourself. However, there are occasions when you do not really want to go to a full-on restaurant or café and are instead looking for a quick snack in an indoor place. So why not explore this list of supermarket and convenience stores in Vietnam?

Unusually, these places offer a wide range of food and beverages in often-nice surroundings with air conditioning, plug sockets and comfortable tables and chairs that can also be used as a desk.

CIRCLE K / FAMILY MART / GS 25- the 3 most popular convenience stores in Vietnam

Circle K is probably one of the main convenience stores in Vietnam and can be seen on most high streets. Almost all of the circle K’s have a seating area – in the smallest ones this may only be a bench and high stools however with larger ones this can be a large seating area which is generally well designed and attractive. 

Food

The shop has a wide variety of foodstuffs – there is a cold food section which offers sandwiches (which do look pretty dry but they now have a new system of toasting your sandwich for free) – seaweed-covered rice / ready-made meals e.g. rice and meat/spaghetti bolognese etc. If you purchase a meal that needs to be warmed up then you give your meal to the shop assistant and they will heat it up for you in the microwave. 

Circle K’s can be found on most high streets throughout Vietnam

Circle K’s can be found on most high streets throughout Vietnam

All of the circle K shops have a large selection of noodles on the shelves. These are cheap and convenient and an easy snack/meal – there is free hot water to put in the noodles (this is either a hot water machine which is in the customer side of the shop or you give it to the shop assistant and they will add the hot water for you) In addition, they also offer a lot of snacks – crisps/seaweed/nuts etc. 

Drinks

All convenience stores in Vietnam have a large selection of cold drinks in fridges – the usual fizzy drinks such as Coca-Cola / Pepsi / Miranda etc. as well as iced coffee/milk tea in bottles/cans as well as a section of alcoholic drinks – beer/cider etc. 

Circle K’s also offer a selection of hot fresh food and drinks– the menu is prominently displayed over the serving counter. There is a range of banh mi (roll sandwiches) / fresh noodles (with options of different spices / fried eggs/sausages and steamed buns. In relation to drinks, there is freshly made iced coffee and tea/ various juices and iced slushies.

FAMILY MART

This is a chain of convenience stores in Vietnam that’s similar to Circle K but found only in Southern Vietnam. It is very similar to Circle K but has a slightly different range of fresh food options, offering a range of additional items such as sausages on a stick/corn / fresh-spiced boiled eggs etc. The prices are similar to that of circle K – all very cheap and reasonable. 

There are a range of tasty fresh foodstuffs for sale in Family Mart

There are a range of tasty fresh foodstuffs for sale in Family Mart

GS25

This is a relatively new chain of convenience stores and is currently only in the Southern area. This is a Korean chain and as such although it offers the same foods as Circle K/ Family Mart, however, in addition, there are a lot of fresh products which are Korean in nature such as tombokki as well as a larger range of Korean drinks

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A large range of fresh Korean foods can be purchased in GS 25 stores

A large range of fresh Korean foods can be purchased in GS 25 stores

SUPERMARKET FOODS

In most of the large supermarkets, you will find a separate eating area. This is often very popular during lunchtime (11.30 – 1) and can get quite crowded depending on the location of the shop. The food is cheap, tasty and popular and is a great alternative to a café or restaurant.

In addition to the tables, chairs and plugs, a supermarket eating area will also have a microwave for public use / free plastic forks and spoons / free wooden chopsticks / free tissues and then a range of free condiments e.g. ketchup/chilli sauce / pickled garlic / chopped chilli peppers etc. To use these you simply go to the area and help yourself. 

3 main choices of foods: 

1/. Foods from the main supermarket – e.g. crisps/noodles/pastries and cakes/bread / ready-made meals  – with these you simply purchase at the main checkouts and then go to the eating area and heat up your food there and sit in the area. 

2/. Packaged fresh food – typically there will be a large range of freshly made food that is already wrapped and priced on the shelves near the eating area. These vary according to the size and type of supermarket but typically consist of different types of chicken and rice/rice balls/pasta etc. Some larger supermarkets will also offer a range of salads and sushi and if there is a separate bakery, they may also offer pizza slices. 

3/. Fresh food  -In many supermarkets, there is a choice of various dishes that will be displayed above the counter. These are typically rice or noddle based and maybe items such as pho/rice, meat and vegetables/noodle soup etc.  To purchase these you typically pay for the dish (in order that it is clear what you would like I take a photograph of it and use this photo) at the checkout (there are often separate checkouts near the food area) and then take the ticket along to the food counter.  When you get your plate of food, you can heat it up a little more in the microwave if desired and then add the different free condiments. 

Overall, although it may seem unusual to go along to a supermarket or convenience stores in Vietnam for your quick lunch, in reality, it is a very viable option to a street café in relation to a cheap eat.  You will be amazed by the variety and choice on offer! 

Author

Vietnam Teaching Jobs (VTJ), which was founded in 2012 is a well-established platform for teachers to find their dream teaching job in Vietnam. Covering the entirety of the country, we have successfully paired thousands of happy teachers and schools. Be part of the thousands of happy teachers working in Vietnam, register and apply for your dream job today!

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Vietnam Teaching Jobs (VTJ), which was founded in 2012 is a well-established platform for teachers to find their dream teaching job in Vietnam. Covering the entirety of the country, we have successfully paired thousands of happy teachers and schools. Be part of the thousands of happy teachers working in Vietnam, register and apply for your dream job today!