Food trail through Southeast Asia

Published On: September 8, 2017 12:01 PM NPT By: Republica  | @RepublicaNepal

Choosing our next travel destination is always an exciting prospect. And naturally, there are many things that dictate our picks. Culture, budget, scenery, weather, are some things we almost always consider but what if we tell you that there is another incredible incentive? Yes, food. We are talking about local cuisines. 

Perhaps the biggest sin a traveler can commit is to stick with the same old burgers, pizzas or in our case, dal bhat even when you have flown yourself across oceans to a new land. 
If experiencing local culture is a huge part of your traveling objective then trying local food is a must. Traditional foods are part of a country’s heritage and almost always strongly rooted within the history and lifestyle of its people. 

Besides, different areas of the world have so many vastly different flavors and dishes. If you allow it, it can really add another dimension to your travel experience. So it’s no wonder that food tours have gained such prominence in the last decade or so. So to begin with, since destinations in Southeast Asia happens to be one of the most popular travel destinations for us, Nepalis, The Week brings to you some of the best ways to trace its food trail.

Taste of Thailand
We have all heard a lot about all the street food that Bangkok has to offer. Food is readily available all hours of the day, week in and week out. In fact, Thailand’s capital spoils you with so many culinary options it can actually be a little intimidating at first. 

So, if you wish to explore the culinary Thai delights the right way, food trails of Thailand tour in particular is widely popular. It’s actually an 11-day tour package dictated purely by the hunt for culinary delights. It starts from the capital, Bangkok and ends in Thailand’s famous tourist spot, Chang Mai. 

What may begin with familiar options like Pad Thai and mango sticky rice, steadily turns to a food hunt through the lesser known crannies where you will get authentic Thai dishes like Tod man pla (fish cakes), Yum takai (lemongrass salad) or green curry and coconut ice cream, served in the Thai royal fashion, at a restaurant run by descendants of the Thai royal family. What’s more, your accommodation and transportation throughout the 11 days are completely taken care of.

If you wish to take in the Bangkok food with a feel of Bangkok’s night life, then there is also the option of Midnight Tuk Tuk food tours. This is exactly what it sounds like. You explore Bangkok at night while tracking down the best local eats. The tour tends to promptly end at midnight and, by that time, you shall become well acquainted with little known Thai staples like Guay Tiew Kua Gai, (fried noodle) and Kao Mun Kai (chicken with rice).

The Malay way
Malaysia is a country that effortlessly blends Indian, Chinese, and Malay influences into its day-to-day food life and there are many guided programs that are more than willing to help you experience it.

And it’s not only in Kuala Lumpur alone. Programs like Simply Enak also operate in cities like Georgetown and Penang. With readymade food tour packages like theirs, you will find a great way to taste the true Malaysian heritage.

Their native guides share authentic Malaysian favorites like Satay, Murtabak, Pan Mee and Roti Canai. One can even choose to go off the beaten track and visit one of the largest wet markets in Kuala Lumpur. Here along with the flavors of the different cultures of Malaysia, the sights, sounds and smells are also there for you to experience.

If you enjoy a drink with your food then that is an available option as well. They have programs like Eat Drink Georgetown that is considered the perfect Penang food trail for small groups looking to taste the best street food and enjoy locally inspired cocktails.

You really do have the luxury to pick and choose as a trip to Malaysia also comes with many of these food tour packages. They even have websites like to help you out.  We hear they even host food tours on cruise ships or throw private birthday or honeymoon food tours on request. 

The Indonesian impact
Where the food tour game is concerned, Indonesia’s most popular tourist destination Bali certainly wins some major points. The serene coasts of Bali alone are a major attraction but a food tour of the area might just help take that island experience of yours up a notch (and yes, that is possible).

One of the most raved about services happens to be the half-day Sanur foodie cycling tour.  The seaside town Sansur features a relaxed coastal ambiance and on this food tour one gets to bike around to some of the most worthy food joints that serve traditional Balinese food. Look out for local dishes like chicken betutu. You’ll find a range of good drinks – their ginger fizz – and also classic desserts like deep-fried fermented yam with ice cream.

Most of these local joints have gained legendary status because of their impeccable flavor profile. All local food ingredients have been obtained from the area and they are also known to use authentic spices. The local stops pride themselves in preserving their food culture and as a tourist you can really set yourself for an adventure to discover it all. 

As you cycle through the coast streets, you can also absorb the local atmosphere. Starting with breakfast itself, the tour takes you through lunch and afternoon coffee. You end up tasting five to six different types of food. Further, we hear, the guides don’t only provide you with the bicycles, they also hand out culinary tour kits. If you want to find out what that includes, you will just have to experience the tour yourself.

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