Southeast Asia offers an array of exquisite and unique cuisine that will delight any food lover. From the fragrant curries of Thailand to the more unusual snake dishes of Vietnam, there is just so much on offer. By choosing Southeast Asia as your foodie travel destination, you can be sure you’re heading to the right place for an explosive culinary experience.
As you embark on your gastronomic tour of the beautiful countries of Southeast Asia, here are some of the best culinary hotspots, signature dishes and unique food experiences to add to your travel itinerary.
Packed full of diversity, with a fusion of ethnicities, religions, food, and festivals, Malaysia boasts exciting and original culinary style. There is a little bit of everything on offer, making this destination an unquestionable choice for a foodie looking for a gourmet taste experience.
Malaysia is the place to enjoy the Laksa dish, in all its many varied forms. Laksa is a spicy, noodle soup which can feature a range of ingredients and flavours, depending on which region you are visiting.
There are many food tours and street food markets to explore, taking you from India to China in a matter of minutes, all of course with a magical Malaysian twist.
With spectacular landscapes of unspoiled beaches and rich rainforests, cities bursting with culture and streets lined with delicious food stands, emitting enticing, mouth-watering aromas to ignite your taste buds, Vietnam is a must for foodies.
Explore Hanoi’s street food market and try Pho; a fragrant, beef broth with noodles, which is the most well-known Vietnamese street food.
For the daring and adventurous amongst you, when in Vietnam, you have to try snake! There are snake dishes in many forms from fried snake skin, snake sausages and meatballs, snake salad, soup, wraps and spring rolls. There are even entire restaurants which just serve snake courses!
Renowned for its distinctive wildlife, Indonesia doesn’t disappoint when it comes to its gastronomical delights either! Indonesian cuisine is one of the most vibrant and exotic cuisines in the world, demonstrating complex and intense flavour.
The differences in dishes, vary wilding across the islands – in Sumatra, you can expect Indian and Middle Eastern influences while in Java, the cuisine is mainly indigenous with a hint of Chinese influence, so island hopping around Indonesia is a must.
Although you will find satay throughout most of Southeast Asia, Java is where it originated. It remains Indonesia’s most popular delicacy, so it’s a must try for foodie visitors.
Thailand is paradise for any food lover and is the perfect place to enjoy the best of Southeast Asian food. The countries light, fresh, aromatic and enticing dishes are packed full of spice and flavour. Each region has its own signature dishes, using locally sourced spices and ingredients.
There is an overwhelming choice of dishes available, but here are some the favourites to try:
- Som Tum – Raw papaya ground with green beans, tomatoes, garlic and chilli and mixed with dry shrimp, salted crab or peanuts to create this spicy, sweet and sour salad.
- Pak Bong – A leafy Southeast Asian plant cooked in garlic, chilli, fermented black bean, fish sauce and oyster sauce.
- Tom Yum Goong – A spicy shrimp soup packed full of refreshing, spicy and sour flavours
- Pad Thai – Fried noodles, egg, onion and bean sprouts, dressed in chilli, fish sauce, palm sugar and crushed peanuts.
As a country, Cambodia is steeped in rich history and culture. With the Mekong River running through the heart of the country, it is no surprise that freshwater fish feature in most of the dishes.
If eating snake in Vietnam made you shudder, then this one may not be for you. Every day, hundreds of tourists flock to Skuon to try the regional delicacy of a fried tarantula! Whilst it may sound terrifying, it is well worth it for the unique experience.
Rest assured there are many other delicious dishes which feature more familiar produce across the country. For those of you with a sweet tooth, you might like to try Som Ang – bananas coated in sticky, sweet, coconut infused rice, which is then roasted in a banana skin on an open grill – described as similar to a Crème Brulee dessert.