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Best Art Books to discover Vietnamese culture

I have a close friend who received an international scholarship for her higher education. Before leaving Vietnam, she packed tons of instant noodles, rice and fish sauce.

“Why did you do that? They won’t let you starve to death in their country” I asked. She told me that eating foreign dishes was beyond her capability and was afraid that she would never get the hang of it. I replied “Are you mad? You can’t blend in with them without being willing to taste their cuisine."

Don't you agree?

If you do, you will enjoy the following Vietnamese gastronomy books as they will help you to have a go at exploring Vietnamese specialities.

And if you don’t, you might be convinced when you have a look at my suggestions :D.

1. Việt Nam miền ngon (meaning Vietnam is a country of tasty food) – Lerin

Love eating? Love food illustrations? Then this book is definitely the perfect combination for you.

The author, also the illustrator, showcasess the well-known dishes of various regions of Vietnam with pretty and colorful pictures. They look extremely delicious and lifelike. Don’t look at this book when you are feeling dizzy with hunger or you might just want to eat the pictures! Lol.

In particular this book givesyou an insight into the spices Vietnamese people use in our cooking.

2. My Vietnam – Luke Nguyen

The book’s cover reminds me of the time I lived in my beloved hometown. It looks exactly like a place where I used to have breakfast (usually a bowl of Quang noodles) every morning before going to school.

There were also red plastic tables with several red stools as well as the waste tissues, lemon peel and sometimes bones scattered on the floor. The paint might have been peeling from the walls, but the ever-considerate owner always remembered my eating habits. There was never any need for me to remind her not to add peanuts and raw vegetables to my bowl!

It’s rare for you to come across this type of scene in dynamic cities like HCMC or Hanoi, as only the more remote areas offer opportunities for you to experience the real Vietnam.

(Credit to

This short description gives you a quick overview about the book’s spirit. Book covers of talented authors are not just ordinary but paint a real story, I believe.

3. Lê la quà vặt (meaning "Going place to place to 'nosh'")

Ăn quà xuyên Việt (meaning ''noshing' throughout Vietnam")

- Dang Hong Quan and Nguyen Trung Quy

You can find all the varieties of Hanoi’s mouth-watering dishes in these two books. I think you will truly regret it if you leave Hanoi without trying some of them.

(Credit to Viet-Studies)

These books read more like comics, with their colorful and hilarious cartoon characters. I’m certain that you won’t need any Vietnamese language ability to understand these books as a whole, since the illustrations alone tell you everything. Just looking atthe pictures gives you a glimpse of the eating habits and customs of Hanoi's inhabitants.

There is a feature in Hanoi portrayed in the book depicting several people scolding the owner. They said that as the food in the restaurant was no longer as delicious they wouldn’t need to shout.

It seems quite weird, right? But it’s the truth.

4. Pop-up Sài Gòn Phố (meaning Saigon Pop-up) - Four students from Van Lang University

Here’s a clue about this book: You will be really full after “eating” the thousands of the Vietnamese specialties shown in them. Should we have a walk to help our digestive system recover?

Now, can you guess the content of this fourth book?

I think you can - it’s about some of the spectacularly attractive destinations of Saigon.

There is a Vietnamese saying that goes: “The less you say, the more meaning it has.” Therefore, with this book, I will simply let the photographs of the wonderful pop-up pages speak for themselves, so you can explore it for yourself. Enjoy!

(Credit to

Tan Dinh Church (Credit to

Immaculate Conception Cathedral Basilica (Credit to

Dragon House Wharf(Credit to

These books would make special and unique gifts for your friends or loved ones, and are available at the addresses below (searching with the books’ Vietnamese name).




Author: Bich Tram - AskVietnamese Team Member

Proofreaders: Mrs.Lynette Teagle and Mr. Alex Curtis, Civil Servant UK