Has it ever surprise you that there’s a place called “Sapa, little Hanoi” in Prague? Sapa, isn’t it a town of Vietnam, 9.026 kilometers far from the Czech Republic? Well, you are right and wrong! If you haven’t noticed yet, you can experience Vietnamese culture and visit authentic Vietnamese market while living in the Czech Republic.
Prague’s Little Hanoi, known as Sapa, was created around 2000. Due to the shared Communist past and the educational exchanges arranged during these regimes, Vietnamese become the third largest group of immigrants in the Czech Republic, after Ukrainans and Slovaks. It’s a chance for you to find an enormous authentic Vietnamese market pulsing and thriving like those you’ll find right in Vietnam just on the outskirts of Prague!
Sapa market is a place to experience Vietnamese culture and life outside of Vietnam. There’s nothing called a “map”, so you must go and figure things out by yourself. You will see the large complex of warehouses, restaurants, outdoor stalls, covered markets, small groceries, a Vietnamese school, travel agencies and many more! Many people might feel these warehouse stores appear rundown and dirty from the outside, but inside are kept scrupulously clean.
Everything from cleaning products, candy, school supplies, bags or clothes are being sold for a cheap price, but don’t be shocked if you must buy at least 10 of them. As the central distribution center for Vietnamese items in Europe, it is perhaps for this reason that nearly everything there is sold wholesale. So, if you plan to shop, it’s the best idea to drive or rent a car! 🙂
Top 5 must try foods
Talking about Vietnamese culture, we can’t miss the Vietnamese cuisine, and I’m not talking about some bowl of Phở or Bánh mì sandwiches. You can try Phở everywhere you visit, but not in Sapa! You should try something new that you barely cannot find it anywhere but in Vietnam. I’m recommending 5 things that you should try if you visit Sapa, little Hanoi in Prague:
1. Bún cá – fish broth with rice noodles and fish patties
Bún cá is a common street food in Vietnam, serve as breakfast and is a famous food from Hai Phong city! There’re many Vietnamese restaurants in the center of Prague, but only few serve bún cá because many Czechs don’t like fish. Nevertheless, just give it a try and see if you like it or not! Most people are surprised that even a fish-based dish can be so well flavored and lack the fishy odor they avoid 😉
2. Bánh cuốn – steamed rice pancakes with minced meat and Jew’s ear that is soaked in fish sauce and served with chả, Vietnamese ham
In Vietnam, people have bánh cuốn as breakfast as well as bún cá. The texture of the rice pancakes is perfect and yet the taste along with fish sauce. Vietnamese people love fish sauce and almost all Vietnamese disks have it. Maybe the feeling after eating it is not so nice, but the feeling while eating is amazing! However, not many restaurants in Sapa serve the best bánh cuốn, so you should look up for some good restaurants recommended by Vietnamese locals.
3. Xôi – sticky rice
Sticky rice is a common food made from sticky glutinous rice steamed or cooked. There are 2 kinds of sticky rice, sweet and salty. The sweet sticky rice usually mixes with cane sugar and other ingredients such as peanuts, green beans or pandan juice. Salty sticky rice serves with steam meat, chả (Vietnamese ham) and egg. Both disks are good and tasty!
4. Chè – Vietnamese dessert
Chè is any traditional Vietnamese sweet beverage, dessert soup or pudding. Varieties of chè are made with mung beans, black-eyed peas, kidney beans, tapioca, jelly (clear or grass), fruit (longan, mango, durian, lychee or jackfruit), and coconut cream. It’s many mysterious ingredients that I can never named all in my cup of chè, but the taste is always good! For the summer, it is fantastically refreshing with a cup of chè and a bit of crushed ice! But don’t worry, they have hot version as well 😊
5. Vietnamese coffee
Where is the best Vietnamese coffee in Sapa? I recommend that you order iced Vietnamese coffee from any of the men with carts on the street. Vietnam coffee is very strong and is usually served with condensed milk, because fresh milk and dairy products are hardly ever consumed in Vietnam. So, remember to mix your coffee before drinking it because the condensed milk is at the bottom of the cup. You don’t want to drink strong coffee and sweet condensed milk separately!
As a Vietnamese living abroad, I feel at home while visiting Sapa, little Hanoi in Prague. This place might bring a great Vietnamese culture experience to foreigners. Of course, you’re not coming to Prague to experience Vietnamese culture and cuisine, but it’s a good experience! If you’re staying in Prague for a couple days, it is worth to pay a one-day-trip!
Do you feel more like trying Indian cuisine in Prague? Check out our article about an Indian restaurant.