Tropical Fruits


Kenny and I were extremely excited to try all the fruits we could while in Vietnam and Cambodia. We had many old favorites and got to experience quite a few new ones as well:

  • Bananas – apparently there are five types of bananas that grow in Vietnam. I don’t remember how many types we tried, but most of the ones we had were very small.
  • Green orange – these taste just like oranges, but they are green on the outside instead of orange! Most of the local just call them oranges, although it felt so wrong to me to call something green an orange. When we told our Mekong Delta guide that oranges are orange back in the US, she couldn’t believe it!
  • Green coconut – not too different from the brown variety, but in green!
  • Dragonfruit – my favorite! They are fuschia on the outside, with green tentacles. On the inside, they are white with little black seeds. They are extremely refreshing, especially when cold. We always ate them with spoons.
  • Papaya – just like the ones at home.
  • Green papaya – usually in salads. Delicious.
  • Mango – Nha Trang had the best mangoes I’ve ever tasted.
  • Pineapple – we had delicious pineapples in both Cambodia and Vietnam.
  • Watermelons – the watermelons in Vietnam are much smaller than the ones we usually get at home, although they taste about the same.
  • Palm fruit – we had never heard of palm fruit, until one of our drivers at Angkor Wat pointed it out to us and then procured some for us to try. It has the texture of lychee meat, but not much discernible flavor, although it’s quite refreshing.
  • Rambutan – they’re like lychees, but they have curly red alien tendrils on the outside. Quite tasty.
  • Longan – these are also similar to lychees, but smaller. The seed to meat ratio is high.
  • Starfruit – in Vietnam, starfruit is eaten with salt and a little bit of chili pepper.
  • Jackfruit – we didn’t like the first one we tried, in Siem Reap. We had our second one in the Mekong, and we both quite enjoyed it. I don’t know whether it grew on us, or the Vietnamese one was better.
  • Water apple – we tried green ones and red ones when we were in the Mekong. They mostly taste like water, with a slight tart flavor. 
  • Sapodilla – I never saw a whole one, but I had some sapodilla in fruit shake form and later in a fruit salad at the Hotel Rex in Saigon. It was brown and mushy and I didn’t quite like it.

We also tried something on our Halong Bay cruise that had a texture like jicama, but the flavor of a pear. Unfortunately I never saw what it looked like on the exterior, because they were always served to us pre-sliced (and skinned?). But if you have any idea what I’m talking about, I’d love to know the name.

Some fruits we wanted to try but never found:

  • Mangosteen – supposedly these are delicious. We realized later that we might have seen them in a market in Saigon (but nowhere else).
  • Soursop – we never had a solid one, but we tried it in fruit shake form, which was delicious
  • Custard apple – I’ve heard of this, but I’m not sure what it is.

And although we saw many of them around the markets, we never did work up the courage to try durian. The smell was enough to scare us away.

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