One of the best parts of visiting countries like Vietnam is the opportunity to sample some of the fantastic local Vietnamese fruits! Of course, many wary travelers will steer clear of some of the more exotic offerings from fresh markets in Vietnam, but it is the perfect time to expand your horizons and delight your taste buds. Who knows – you may even find a new favorite!
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What Makes Vietnamese Fruits So Unique?
Vietnamese fruits are unique for many reasons. More than half of the fruit plantations in Vietnam are situated along the Mekong Delta, giving Vietnamese fruits their lush, tropical characteristics. In addition, the nutrient-rich soils in colder areas like Dalat mean that cool-climate fruit trees can produce larger fruits than many of their Asian neighbors.
Fruits in Vietnam are also relatively cheap due to bulk growing practice, and much of the fresh produce is sold domestically. As such, locals like to experiment with their Vietnamese fruits and add a distinct flavor twist! You’ll find fruits sold with savory sauces, stewed with fish, and rolled in salt and pepper – all part of the experience!
One of the great things about Vietnamese fruit names is that they’re all phonetic. French heavily influences the Vietnamese language, and the markings above the words indicate their stresses and rhythm. Don’t be afraid to use the traditional Vietnamese fruit names at the fresh markets in Vietnam – the locals will love you for it, even if your pronunciation isn’t quite there.
12 Vietnamese Fruits To Eat On Your Trip
Our first trip to Vietnam was in 2009. Since then, we’ve made at least a dozen trips to Vietnam, traveling all over the country. We’ve also explored loads of fresh food markets and wet markets to learn about fruits and vegetables in Vietnam.
Vietnamese fruits can’t be bundled into one category – ranging from fleshy and sweet to stringy and starchy, there is something here for everyone. So here is a list of 12 Vietnamese fruits to try on your visit.
Curious about other fruits to eat when traveling in Southeast Asia?
If you’ve ever eaten a Granny Smith green apple, these Vietnamese fruits will look familiar! Vietnamese apples are famous for their bright green skin and tart taste and are known as sour apples, sugar apples, and Ta apples, depending on where you are.
Native to Vietnam, Vietnamese apples are a tropical fruit that thrives in the warm, humid climate. These local fruits are primarily sold in fresh markets in Vietnam, though you will sometimes find smaller stocks in grocery stores and convenience stores in major cities.
Try these Vietnamese fruits dipped in chili salt – the taste and texture will leave your tastebuds dancing!
Chom Chom Fruit – Vietnamese Rambutan
Chôm chôm, or ‘hair raising’, is the Vietnamese fruit name for rambutan. These distinctive spiky fruits originated in Malaysia and are now commonplace across much of Southeast Asia.
Revered for their thick, fleshy inside, chôm chôm has a sweet and delicate flavor akin to their lychee cousin. The hint of acidity makes this Vietnamese fruit a favorite amongst locals and travelers alike, and it is a common addition to fruit salads and rice paper rolls during the summer.
Chôm chôm are in season from May to late October. Visit the large plantations along the Mekong Delta during this time to see the clusters of tiny red fruits burst into life. Try these as a snack or on the side of a Vietnamese breakfast.
Talk about a Vietnamese superfood! Not only known for its deliciously sweet and sour flavor, but soursop is also popular in traditional herbal medicine. These nutrient-rich Vietnamese fruits are high in fiber, vitamins B and C, and minerals like potassium and iron.
Soursop fruit grows best in warm, sunny climates with nutrient-rich soils and good drainage. As such, the Central Highlands of Vietnam provide the perfect growing conditions for these unique fruits.
Soursop fruit is very easy to spot due to its distinctive green, spiky exterior. Usually sold in fresh markets in Vietnam, these tasty fruits are often blended into smoothies or eaten freshly sliced.
If you’re after a tropical Vietnamese fruit to try, the starfruit is a great place to start! These distinctive yellow fruits are named for their shape, and waxy skin and are commonly sold in fresh markets in Vietnam during the summer months. Unfortunately, these special fruit trees are very unpredictable, so it’s tough to determine a set season for them. The golden-yellow flesh tastes somewhere between citrus fruit and grapes and has a similar texture to an apple.
Due to their delightful shape and taste, starfruits are often dried and used as garnishes for Vietnamese cakes and pastries. Visit any bakery in Ho Chi Minh or Hoi An, and you’ll see rows of little cakes and desserts with starfruit accouterments!
If you love avocados, Vietnam is one country you won’t want to miss. Vietnamese avocados are some of the biggest globally and are known for their decadent flesh and creamy mouthfeel. Often used in place of butter, avocados are a great source of healthy fats and fiber – as if you needed another reason to love them!
The best way to enjoy avocados is to cut them in half and scoop out the green, creamy flesh. Then, spread it on fresh bread, add it to salads, make it into mousse…the choices are endless! One of the more popular Vietnamese dishes is avocado rice paper rolls – perfect in summer.
Known worldwide for its sweet, fleshy interior, the lychee is equally popular in Vietnam. These small fruits in Vietnam originated in China and have translucent white flesh that is a perfect addition to salads and teas. Lychees have also become a common addition to many cocktails for their ability to temper stronger spirits.
Lychees have a relatively short fruiting season around May and June, and are usually snatched up fairly quickly by large restaurant chains and vendors. So if you’re having trouble finding the fresh variety, don’t despair! You can also find lychees flavored jellies, energy drinks, and candies in many Vietnamese grocery stores.
Mangosteen is popular across many Southeast Asian countries, and Vietnam is no exception! These unique Vietnamese fruits originated in Malaysia and quickly became a delicacy across Vietnam, Borneo, Thailand, and Cambodia. Hidden behind a thick purple rind, the sweet white flesh is juicy and refreshing and is best eaten fresh from the skin.
Mangosteen has a relatively short fruiting season, from late May to early August. Due to their limited growing quantities, mangosteen isn’t common in many countries outside of Southeast Asia. Unfortunately, the quantities of this precious Vietnamese fruit also inflate the cost in foreign markets. So the best place to try one is on its home soil!
Vú Sữa – Vietnamese Milk Fruit
Also known as star apples, the Vietnamese fruits have a unique taste that you won’t forget in a hurry. Vú Sữa (the Vietnamese fruit name, meaning ‘milk from the breast’) gets its name from the sweet, milky juice contained in this special fruit’s white flesh.
Vú Sữa is commonly grown in central and southern Vietnam, with the most extensive orchards located in Can Tho Province on the banks of the Mekong Delta. These special fruits of Vietnam are round, with a green or purple exterior depending on their ripeness. Cut them open, and you’ll be hit with a sweet fragrance that will have your mouth watering.
While you may find these Vietnamese fruits in desserts and cakes, the best way to eat vú sữa is freshly peeled and sliced. So look for the smooth textured fruits in fresh markets across Vietnam – we promise you won’t regret it!
Indigenous to Africa, tamarind was introduced to Vietnam with French colonization in 1865 and has stuck around as a key ingredient in many Vietnamese foods. One of the more well-known uses for this tangy fruit is nước chấm me, a spicy dipping sauce used for meats and vegetables.
Unlike many fruits in Vietnam, tamarinds aren’t particularly pleasing to look at – they look similar to brown edamame beans and become flaky and pungent when dried. In addition, tamarind isn’t usually eaten raw, as the high acidity and sour compounds can cause stomach upsets.
Instead, look for tamarind in sour soups, fresh salad dressings, or marinades for chicken and fish. For those looking for a sugar fix, you can also find tamarind candies and jellies in convenience stores around Vietnam.
Mãng Cầu Tamg – Bumpy Apples
If you’ve traveled around Asia before, you may have seen these Vietnamese fruits stacked at fresh fruit markets or on grocery store shelves. Mãng Cầu tamg (the Vietnamese fruit name, meaning ‘bumpy apples’) is also known as custard apples and are famed for their soft, milky flesh and vanilla taste.
Mãng Cầu tamg are usually in season during June and July. Still, not all trees will ripen simultaneously – this often means a more extended fruiting season and fresh bumpy apples available all year round!
When this Vietnamese fruit is ripe, break it open by hand and gently peel the green skin away to expose the creamy nodes beneath. Be careful to avoid eating the skin and the black seeds – both have a bitter, unpleasant taste.
When visiting a fresh market in Vietnam, you’ll probably see stacks of large, brown fruit clusters next to swirling coolers of milky liquid. These are Vietnamese water coconuts!
Water coconuts (Vietnamese fruit name ‘dua noc’) are the fruits of mangrove palms native to the Mekong Delta and parts of Northern Vietnam. These scary-looking fruits have a similar taste to regular coconuts, even though the exterior is vastly different.
The juice of the water coconut is thick, semi-transparent and sweet, and will often have large chunks of the fruit floating inside. Drink the liquid mixed with crushed ice on a warm day for a cool Vietnamese refreshment.
Vietnam has two kinds of persimmon: hồng chin (ripe persimmon) and hồng giòn (crunchy persimmon). These Vietnamese fruits may look like tomatoes, but don’t be fooled. The taste is light and sweet, with a slightly tart aftertaste.
Persimmons are popular fruits in Vietnam due to their delightful taste and crunchy texture. Easily bruised, these Vietnamese fruits are often wrapped in foam during shipping to prevent any damage.
Grown in the highland regions of Long Son, Dalat, and Moc Chau, persimmons are harvested in Vietnam during the fall months and are famous for their plentiful bounty and high quality.
Persimmons are also one of the most versatile fruits from Vietnam on this list. You’ll find persimmon candies, cakes, and even fruit wine sold at markets or on grocery store shelves. Dried persimmons also make a great sugary snack while you’re sightseeing!
Eating Tasty Fruits In Vietnam
By now, you should have a rough idea of just how many delicious fruits that Vietnam has to offer. While some of the fruits on this list might be familiar, it’s the ones you don’t know that will give you the best taste adventure. The diversity of fruits in Vietnam is something special and an experience that you should embrace wholeheartedly!
If you aren’t a fan of some of these native Vietnamese fruits, markets will also sell more common pieces to delight and comfort tired travelers. However, if you’re traveling, there’s a good chance that you’re looking for something outside your comfort zone – a great place to start is with fruit!