Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Energy Drinks in Vietnam

Recently I had the chance to visit Vietnam and with me I brought all of the energy drinks that I could find in safe and clear plastic bottles. I wish I was able to bring all of the ones I had there, but many came in cans, glass bottles and even sealed plastic "to-go" cups. Normally I would have securely placed the glass bottles in my check-in luggage, but unfortunately on the way there our luggage was so roughly handled that a 1L bottle of scotch that I was bringing as a present was broken...sad. Therefore I could not take any risks and have anything fragile in my luggage. I did have some cans in my carry-on, but due to safety regulations which I completely forgot about, the containers had to be see through and as such the cans were disposed of by a friendly airport security lady.

Before I review these real quick, I should note that energy drinks are even more widely spread than in North America and are much cheaper than anything we have here. Red Bull (the Thai one) is sold absolutely everywhere where water and beer are sold. In fact, it seemed like Red Bull was a necessity right after water. A can of the stuff ran anywhere from $0.70 to $1.25 depending on the location.



Sting is made by Pepsi and from what I saw it comes in two different flavors - regular and strawberry. The regular one smells like Red Bull and tastes like a mix between Red Bull and a regular Monster, except sweeter than both. The aftertaste is candy-like sweet and feels "sticky" from all the sugar. The cough syrup flavor has been dialed down and there are no other obvious medicinal notes. Not the biggest fan of this one.

Taste - 6/10

Sting Strawberry

This one smells like fresh strawberries and tastes EXACTLY like a red gummy bear. I mean, the energy drink is so sweet that it is just like drinking a melted down pile of red gummy bears. I like red gummy bears, but when I have to consume 330 mL of melted down gummies, I stopped liking them at about 1/3rd of the bottle. Ice helps, but you are still left with a sickly sweet aftertaste.

Taste - 6.2/10


You guessed it - another strawberry energy drink, but this one has a nasty plastic aroma with almost no strawberries in it. The taste is better and much less sweet than the strawberry Sting, but still sweeter than what I am used to. There is still a hint of the plastic taste, but it is much less than the aroma. There is also an odd undertone that is either more plastic or a medicinal ingredient. Not sure if this one is any better than the strawberry Sting, but I was able to consume a bit more of it before I got really tired of the sickly sweet taste.

Taste - 5.8/10

Red Dragon

Another red drink and another strawberry energy drink...wait, nope, this is just borderline strawberry. It is a mix between a raspberry and a strawberry and probably my favorite of the 3 strawberry energy drinks. It is almost as sweet as the other ones, but that little bit less makes it much better to drink. Ice really helps down on the sweetness thanks to the tiny bit of water that melts and dilutes the flavor.

Taste - 6.5/10

Overall, all of these energy drinks, and all other ones I had in Vietnam are VERY sweet so it is recommended to consume them with ice or cold water unless you are into extremely sweet drinks.


Unlike energy drinks in North America, the Vietnamese energy drinks contain less caffeine and the contents are often reported on a 1 L basis. I have provided these concentrations and converted them to a "per bottle" basis below:

  • Sting - 250 mg/L or 82.5 mg per bottle
  • Sting Strawberry - 250 mg/L or 82.5 mg per bottle
  • X2 - 220 mg/L or 72.6 mg per bottle
  • Red Dragon - 190 mg/L or 62.7 mg per bottle
Yup, no energy drinks came even close to the numbers we are used to seeing. 

Since all drinks are so sweet, the effects are immediate and headache inducing if you have more than a bottle at a time. You get an immediate sugar rush with a huge dose of jitters followed by about an hour of caffeine rush followed by a moderate to severe crash depending on your natural energy level. 

Cost - $0.90
Energy - 5/10

Overall - 10.8/20 to 11.5/20...all were extremely sweet with a terrible sugar rush and a crash