You may have heard that Prague has a sizable Vietnamese community, and the plethora of Pho and Banh Mi places, and the convenience stores run by Vietnamese owners, only bear witness to the fact. Due to the shared Communist past and the educational exchanges arranged during these regimes, the influx of Vietnamese students to the Czech Republic has created a healthy community that serves as the basis for new Vietnamese immigration.
What you may not have heard (unless you watched the Prague episode of Anthony Bourdain’s No Reservations show) is that Prague is home to Sapa market, a.k.a. “Little Hanoi”, a fairly large warehousing complex on the outskirts of Prague that houses one of the biggest Vietnamese markets outside of Vietnam. A bit of Vietnam in Prague. Is it a must-see? Probably not if you’re in Prague for three days. Not many people travel to our city to have a bowl of Pho or buy cheesy plush toys. But if you’re here for a week, why not? Is the place beautiful? Nope. Is it welcoming? Not if you want to take photos. But is it interesting? OMG yes! On a sunny day, and especially if that day is over the weekend, a visit to Sapa can really feel like a visit to another country, and the market becomes a vibrant place with a friendly atmosphere that stimulates all the senses, good or bad.
Now, making sense of Sapa can be a bit of a challenge. The place is very busy with vans and cars unloading and loading goods, and shops with big signs luring you in. To an untrained eye or to a first-time visitor, Sapa can be quite confusing, and it is hard to pick the good places to eat or drink. That is why we have asked four people who have detailed knowledge and run tours of the Sapa market to share their secret tips for their must-eats in Prague’s Vietnamese market. This is who they are and what they wrote.