Everyone knows Vietnam is famous for its picturesque landscapes & ancient temples, but did you also know it's home to the cheapest beer in the world. Selena Black from our Devonport store shares her search for "Bia Hoi" (Fresh beer).
On discovering the ‘Bia Hoi’, I realised that I had stumbled upon a piece of Vietnamese gold and one of the highlights of South East Asia.
Prevalent all over the country, they are generally hidden down small side streets; strategically placed within both tourist and tourist free zones. Each is a hub of rowdiness, where locals and a few lucky travellers frequent for a few hours of socialising.
How to spot a Bia Hoi
They traditionally constitute of a collection of small almost child sized red stools spilling from an open garage-like room. The pavement slash road is occupied by the patrons of the Bia Hoi, who sit astride the tiny stools. The very vocal (and predominantly drunk) patrons clasp their jugs of locally brewed beer, each costing around 10,000 Dong, equivalent to 60 Cents (NZD). The beer is quite light (very easy to drink), and sometimes food will be on offer. Fresh crabs were a favourite at one we found in Ho Chi Minh City.
My first Bia Hoi experience had me hooked for life, and needless to say we returned every night to watch the action on the street, and mingle with locals and other travellers. We asked for the nearest ‘Bia Hoi’ in every town we visited, and were always pointed in the right direction with much enthusiasm.
In Dalat, it was tucked away in the student area, for a football Semi-final. In Nga Trang, we watched Mr Bean with the owner who was so engrossed in the program he let us get our own drinks. In Hanoi; we played cards at Bia Hoi Corner, along with throngs of other travellers sitting around the small intersection watching hundreds of cyclos (rickshaw) squeeze past. Why, oh, why can’t this sort of franchise be introduced in New Zealand?
The thing that fascinated me the most is that often, with fellow Bia Hoi goers, language will be a barrier. However with the help of a lovingly made brew in such a relaxed environment, this minor inconvenience is promptly pushed aside, and strangers succumb to the Bia Hoi way. At less than NZD1, this will sure to quench your thirst.
Looking for more information on Vietnam holidays or flights to South East Asia? Contact Flight Centre travel expert Selena Black in our Flight Centre Devonport store or one of Flight Centre's 135 stores nationwide. Phone 0800 24 35 44.