Hanoi - Post Report Question and Answers

How would you describe the availability and cost of groceries and household supplies relative to your home country?

Affordable and most brands are available. Imported goods from Europe and USA will be marked up, but staple foods are quite affordable. Quality and cuts of meat can vary. - Aug 2021

On average, cheaper than both the USA and Europe, but quality is a mix. Imported goods can be really expensive, so if you have a snack cracker habit, you'll need to pay for it. Likewise, the quality of meat is pretty poor unless you go to one of the specialty shops, and even then it's not great. You can save some by having your household staff do the shopping for produce, etc. in local markets, just be sure to wash it well (there are plenty of cleaning mixes you can buy). Local beer is very cheap (not very good though), while wine is ridiculously expensive, easily double or more of US/European prices, and poor value. - Dec 2019

if you shop at local markets, the cost is minimal. Food is fresh and quality is good, and there are western style grocery stores that have almost anything you need. There are a few specialty markets (L's Place, Annam Gourmet, Veggys, Red Apron wine, Hanoi Small Goods) that carry harder to find western products and you pay for that. There is also a Costco like store (Mega Market) and, of course, Amazon Prime. This is a consumables post. - Jul 2019

You can definitely live on the food available here, but there are times you spend all day looking for something (say, tahini) can’t find it, and then happen to see it weeks later. Cost is all over the place. Produce is cheap (more so if you have a local buy it for you). Grocery stores are “normal” prices. Nothing is a great deal. If you want quality, you pay for it. (We think local ice cream tastes like jet fuel, and a pint of Hagen Daz will set you back about $10). Household supplies are available, but who knows what’s in them or if they actually work well. Paper products are available, but poor quality. - Apr 2018

You can buy just about any Western product (including cheeses, meats, and wines) you want at one of the small foreign grocers, but you'll pay 25-50% more than U.S. prices. Hanoi has an increasing array of local, relatively modern medium-sized grocers where you can buy plenty of Vietnamese, Thai, and Korean products of reasonable quality and cheap price.

In the suburbs there are several warehouse stores (Big C and Metro - think a cross between Costco and Walmart) where you can buy Asian goods in larger quantities. Produce isn't as great in the supermarkets, however.

The best produce comes from either the local wet markets where Vietnamese shop (but you risk the possibility of pesticides or products of Chinese origin) or through specialty or on-call grocers who sell organic, "clean" produce, including arugula and other Western salads! Overall we were pleased with the variety of fresh produce available, as Vietnamese cuisine incorporates many fresh vegetables. The CLO can help broker an introduction. If you like Korean or Japanese groceries there are specific grocery stores catering to those communities (i.e. K-mart) throughout the city. - Dec 2017

More expensive than we expected (about US$40/night for dinner groceries). Availability is such a nuisance and you will need to go to many stores to 1) find what you need, 2) find what you need and make sure that it's not from China (contaminated). We ultimately hired someone to do our shopping, food cleaning and cooking. Well worth every penny. - May 2016

Local food is pretty affordable. In season produce is cheap. Imported/Western goods are quite expensive. I was actually surprised at the cost of food when we arrived. I was expecting it to be cheaper. - Aug 2015

Mostly available. The hypermarkets are more towards the edge of town. - Mar 2015

Fresh fruit, veggies, and meat from "wet" markets are very cheap. Western style grocery stores are available but inconvenient to embassy housing. There's also Metro which is a poor man's version of Costco. Recommend taking advantage of the consumables shipment. - Aug 2014

I find almost anything we need here, but we tend to use local products as much as possible. It is quite cheap. There are two main types of supermarket SuperCenter and Metro. Metro is like Costco. I find that SuperCenter has more imported products. For veggies and fruits, I rely on my helper who goes to the market: it is usually cheaper. If you’re looking at high-end imported products, there are a few specialty shops, butchers and companies around Tay Ho lake that cater to foreigners’ needs. French Bakeries are everywhere around town. - Dec 2011

You usually can find much of what you need here though imported goods are pricy. - Aug 2011

Local groceries and supplies are cheap. If you need U.S. brands, they are a bit more expensive than in the U.S. - May 2010

Limited availability. You get a consumibles allowance, so tht can help fill in any gaps. - Dec 2009

A few stores are good for produce. The markets have outstanding qualities and selections. Most western goods are available. - Feb 2009

Unless you are shopping for tourist items, shopping in Hanoi is limited. There are no moderngrocery stores although there is a Metro and Big C which are something like a Wal-Mart with some food items as well as clothes. There are a few very small gourmet-style stores in Hanoi with importanted items from Europe and the U.S. which are about 2-3 times the price. In addition, they receive their shipments every few months qnd items can be out of stock. We like one shop that imports good cheeses from France and Europe but once supplies are out they may not get another shipment for months. So if you like it and they have it, buy it. Local Vietnamese stores carry a moderate variety of mostly off-brand items (mainly from China) which are very inexpensive and of questionable quality. We bought a kitchen knife from one that shattered the first time we used it. For the U.S. Embassy Vietnam is a consumables post and would recommend using the allowance to purchase all your basics. We brought everything including diapers, baby-food, baby-formula, shampoo, your favorite wine/beer by the case, over-the-counter medications, baby meds (a must as there are none here), mustard, Tabasco hot sauce, pasta sauce, cannned goods, paper towels, household cleaners, chips, breakfast cereals, and any other item with a long shelf life. In addition, Embassy staff are allowed to be members of the commissary at the U.S. Embassy in Bangkok and dedicated commissary flights from Bangkok come about once every 2-3 months. Otherwise Hanoi is an APO and Netgrocer.com is an option to get food. Local produce and meat is inexpensive but there are questions about sanitation. Meat is typically slaughtered and sold that day in open stalls on the side of the road. Imported beef from Australia is available at one shop. Local fruits are plentiful, cheap, and safe to eat, however are usually sold only when in season. Name brand detergints, soaps, and shampoos are available on the local market but selections are limited. - Sep 2008

Most everything you want or need is available, just not necessarily at the same store. Depending on what you are looking for, you may need to go to 3 to 5 stores to find it. The 2 main super markets are Metro, which requires membership and is cash and carry only, and Big C. There are several smaller stores, Veggies and L's Place that carry a lot of western foods, not just American brands, but are very expensive. We also can order out of the embassy commissary in Bangkok several times a year. In conjunction with support flights for the DOD office that coordinates the location of military remains from the Vietnam War, you can join the commissary in Bangkok for US$40 upon arrival and the CLO coordinates with the support flights. This is a consumables post, so in hind sight, I would recommend using it prior to arrival, this will give you the chance to figure out the shopping scene once you get here. Local fruits and vegetables need to be washed with a chlorine solution prior to consumption. Local beef is not very good, there are at least 2 butchers we use with very good results for pork, chicken and Australian beef. Both also deliver at no charge. Both also offer lamb, various sausages and luncheon meats. - May 2008

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