Eat a Snake in Hanoi, Vietnam: Everything You Need to Know

About five miles east of Hanoi’s Old Quarter is the perfect place to sample a local delicacy – snake. The Vietnamese locals that live in Le Mat snake village have been hunting and catching snakes for generations. If you meet one of them who has been at it for a long time, they will have stories of being bitten or they may even be missing a finger or two.

The town is now filled with snake restaurants catering to both Vietnamese locals and foreigners. It is a popular place for tourists to go and dare each other to take shots of rice wine mixed with snake blood. But it’s also a popular place for Vietnamese people to go as they believe that snake is the ultimate aphrodisiac and should be eaten by men to increase their strength and virility. So if they want to make some babies, dining on snakes is a good way to get started.

Read on to learn all about what to expect when you go to Le Mat to eat a snake in Hanoi – a famous local cuisine!

Eat Cobra or Snake in Vietnam: Snake blood mixed with rice wine
Snake blood mixed with rice wine

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Eating Cobra in Le Mat Snake Village

How to Order Snake in Vietnam

You’ll start your meal (well, it’s really more of an experience) by selecting the type of snake that you’d like to eat. You’ll generally be offered the option to check out the merchandise before you buy. So they’ll either show you your live snake (if you’ve made a reservation) or they’ll take you to the basement so you can see what snakes are available for consumption.

The smaller snakes are cheaper and less expensive and the price goes up as the snake size increases.

How Much Does it Cost to Eat Snake in Vietnam?

Eat Cobra or Snake in Vietnam: All the snake wine you can drink!
All the snake wine you can drink!

The price that you’ll pay to eat a snake in Vietnam will depend on the type and size of snake you want to eat. A bamboo snake will run you about $50/kg, a mountain snake is around $60/kg, and a cobra is the most expensive at $70/kg. That price is inclusive and not charged per person.

Plan on ordering about 1/2 kg of snake per person. The more people you can round up, the bigger and more impressive snake you can buy.

But you won’t just get the snake. That cost covers 10+ different delicious dishes that are prepared using all parts of the snake – including the bones and organs. You’ll also get all the rice wine and beer you can drink. Bottled water, coffee, and tea are also included in the price.

Killing and Cooking the Snake

Eat Cobra or Snake in Vietnam: Draining the snake blood
Draining the snake blood

The restaurant staff will begin by holding your live snake out for you to behold – one person on each end. Then, faster than you can say “WAIT!” they’ll whip the snake around and slam it onto the ground, killing it instantly. If you want to catch this on video, be prepared because it happens really fast.

Then they will remove the heart and start draining the blood. The heart will be mixed with rice wine and then offered to whoever in your group is gutsy enough to drink it.

Eat Cobra or Snake in Vietnam: Snake Heart
Bottoms Up!

This is the part of the snake that supposedly is the most virility-producing and generally goes to a man rather than a woman (but not in our case!). Don’t try to chew it, just take it down like a shot.

The blood and bile of the snake will also be mixed with rice wine for you to sample during your meal.

Eat Cobra or Snake in Vietnam: Shots of Snake Blood and Snake Bile
Snake blood and bile mixed with rice wine

If you’d like to head down to the kitchen, you can see the snake being skinned, gutted, and cleaned before being cooked. In our case, it was a teenage girl that tied the snake head to the wall and peeled the entire skin off in one piece. But the most intriguing thing to witness was the tail that continued to wiggle even though the snake had been dead for 10 minutes.

What Part of the Snake Do You Eat?

Eat Cobra or Snake in Vietnam: Preparing the snake to cook

Everything! Practically every single part of the snake is used. While the menu may vary a bit depending on the restaurant you choose, it will likely be similar to what we ate in Le Mat. The meal included the following dishes:

  • Snake egg soup
  • Grilled snake ribs
  • Snake spring rolls
  • Snake meat wrapped in La Lot leaves
  • Sauteed snake stomach, liver, and testicles
  • Sauteed snake meat
  • Fried snake bones with rice crackers
  • Crispy snakeskin
  • Snake porridge
  • Sticky rice steamed in snake fat
  • Snake broth with ginger

You may be surprised, but Snake is actually really tasty. It’s lean and tastes a bit like chicken. But if you are eating it off the bone, it is a very small amount of meat, similar to trying to eat a frog.

Tips for Eating Snake in Le Mat

  • Take a Grab. Le Mat is about a 25-minute  ride from the Old Quarter of Hanoi. You’ll save money by taking Grab rather than a taxi.
  • Don’t scrimp. This is a once-in-a-lifetime experience so get that big, impressive snake and enjoy the show!
  • Eat the heart. It’s gross but makes for a great story.
  • Watch the snake being prepared. It makes the dining experience much more interesting when you see the process.
  • Don’t rush. Plan on spending 2-3 hours at the restaurant to get the full experience.

Our Snake Restaurant Recommendation

Eat Cobra or Snake in Vietnam: Hung Snake Restaurant in Le Mat village near Hanoi

Our restaurant of choice was The Hung Snake Restaurant, owned by a hilariously entertaining man named Dragon whose motto is “happiness first, money second”. Not only did he provide us with a ton of information about the restaurant and the snake parts, but he also joked the entire time about how we could borrow his bedroom.

If you want to visit The Hung Snake Restaurant, be sure to make a reservation in advance because the restaurant gets really busy, especially on weekends. You can reach Dragon directly on Facebook.

That’s it – Everything you need to know to eat a snake in Hanoi, Vietnam. Enjoy!

Eat Snake or Cobra in Vietnam: Snake Ribs
Bon Apetit!

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  • Valerie Wheatley

    Val grew up in Portland, Oregon but moved to Oahu on a whim back in 2013. She sold her house and all of her belongings and bought a one-way ticket. Since then she’s taken two around-the-world trips and has visited 60-ish countries while living out of a duffel bag.

    Val started documenting the Wandering Wheatleys travels back in 2013 as a way to update friends and family about her whereabouts and to relay humorous daily interactions. The only readers were her mom and her mother-in-law but that didn’t stop her!

    These days you’ll find Val dreaming up future trips, creating new travel content, managing a team of amazing travel enthusiasts, and chasing around her two adorable but naughty kids.

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1 thought on “Eat a Snake in Hanoi, Vietnam: Everything You Need to Know”

  1. I know a lot of Americans are probably saying “yuck!” but personally, I think a lot of Americans are pretty narrow minded about food too. My Native American ancestors ate both snake and insects as part of their diet, and this is still practiced in many parts of the world. I intend to try snake sometime if I can find a place that prepares it. Hard to do in this country, even in the Asian community!

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