Culinary Travel in Southeast Asia: Awaken Your Five Senses
Let your stomach lead the way to Asia's most delightful smorgasbord of fragrant herbs and spices, tropical fruits, crisp green vegetables and fresh peppers. From dawn until dusk, devour the inimitable tastes and experience the extraordinary culture found in this exotic corner of the world. The journey here will leave an impression that will make you crave for more. Chinese takeout noodles and fried rice will never taste as exhilarating as dining in a Vietnamese café or enjoying your own hand-made spring rolls.
With the widespread interest in celebrity chefs plus our growing affection for eating, it's no secret that culinary travel is sweeping the tourism industry by land and sea. In fact, more leisure travelers are picking destinations based on food and/or wine interests. Just imagine, what would a trip to Italy be without the fine wines of Tuscany or sweet cannolis? Or a Spanish vacation without the bursting, sensational flavors of tapas, deep-fried churros and paella?
Culinary travel takes you off the beaten path and into the heart of the country's unique way of life. A cooking tour through Southeast Asia takes you into the kitchen of the top chefs, the daily food markets and the culinary treasures of the local cities and villages. You'll never dine the same again once you've had the authentic experience in Asia's most delicious destinations.
Spice Up Your Palate in Vietnam
Discover hundreds of new flavors and sensations in Vietnam, which is in the center of Asia's popular culinary travel stops. A celebration of tantalizing spices and fusion of Vietnamese, Chinese and French traditions, the experience will simply sweep you off your feet. A Vietnamese culinary tour is your ticket inside the time-honored customs of preparing and cooking the region's famed cuisine.
Start in Ho Chi Minh City, a bustling metropolis excited by numerous shopping areas and sidewalk cafes. At the break of morning, visit the daily floating markets that meet at the Mekong Delta, where you'll find the most vibrant, ripened fruits and vegetables. As you explore out into Vietnam's timeless sceneries, you'll see the endless patchwork of rice paddies stretching into the distance. Gaze up towards the mountains in the north towering over tiny villages, where life continues much as it has for centuries.
Embrace Hue, the former capital of Vietnam during the last dynasty, a somber city of 19th century ruins and royal tombs. The bustling Dong Ba Market invites new visitors with delicacies such as "nam" (spring rolls) and "pho" (noodle soup). Get an inside peek at the imperial city's culinary scene with a tour of a rice noodle factory or a boat ride down the Perfume River to learn how the monks farm rice and vegetables. A private Vietnamese cooking tour teaches you about local ingredients and how to cook the refined meals important to Vietnam's coastal culture.
Encounter the softer side of Vietnam through the old world charms and stylish surroundings of Hanoi, Vietnam's capital city. Ride a "cyclo" (Vietnamese man-pulled carriage) around Old Quarter, passing by the contrasting lifestyles of urban Vietnamese residents. At a glance, everyday life in Hanoi seems quite like Paris, with its striking signature of French colonial architecture, women selling French baguettes and flowers at every corner and a fascinating street life busy with the commingling of people.
Love at First Bite in Cambodia
The sweet companion to Vietnam, Cambodia offers culinary travelers a plethora of sweet dishes including sticky rice cakes and succulent tropical fruits such as bananas, coconuts and pineapples. The culinary tours in Cambodia will present you with the opportunity to visit the food markets, get familiar with Khmer herbs and spices and learn to cook alongside the area's top chefs.
Broaden your experience beyond Cambodia's ancient temples, and you'll discover the more intimate side of Southeast Asia that many visitors miss. Through a Cambodian culinary tour, you'll wander off the main roads and discover the hill tribes around Banlung, the unspoiled countryside around sleepy Sen Monorom and the charming town of Battambang with its faded colonial architecture. Phnom Penh, which sits on the confluence of three rivers, is said to be the most beautiful of Indochina's French capitals. Indulge in the vibrant riverside café and restaurant scene or wander at your leisure through the Central Market and Russian Market for bargains.
In the southern part of the country, travel by boat to explore the picturesque tributaries of the Lower Mekong River and visit the region's original floating markets. Roam into the local riverside villages and see how the Vietnamese vermicelli soup is made or learn how to pass a "Monkey Bridge," which is built by only one bamboo. And be sure to watch the spectacular sunset down the Vietnamese-Cambodian border from the summit of the mountain over the flat rice fields.
A dynamic island nation rich in contrast and color, Singapore contains a harmonious blend of culture and cuisine. In every corner of the island, you'll discover that Singaporeans are very passionate about eating — as there's always an endless variety of food, served hot or cold, at any hour of the day. Find pleasure in a unique culinary travel tour in Singapore, which embodies the finest flavors of East and West in a celebration of the country's multicultural heritage.
A breakfast of Roti Prata, or Indian pancakes, and a strong cup of Singapore-blend coffee will be the perfect way to start out your journey through the mainland. Make your way down Club Street and Fast East Square, one of Singapore's unique dining precincts combining a mélange of culinary influences from around the globe. Expect only the finest dishes from France, Italy, Israel, Vietnam and Japan as well as local favorites such as satay and fish head curry.
Visit Little India at Serangoon Road, a district symbolizing the vivacious culture of the Indian community. You'll be struck in amazement as you stroll through this borough and watch the intricate weaving of jasmine garlands with banana tree fiber or pick up a packet of curry powder and other spices from one of the outdoor markets.
Embark on a cooking tour in Singapore, exploring Chinatown and savoring the best local cuisine served from rows of outdoor hawker stalls like days of old.
Travel a new road and find the vacation you and your stomach will fondly reminisce. Contact a professional ASTA travel agent to start planning the perfect Southeast Asia culinary vacation fit for your tastes. An agent can personalize a cooking tour or culinary travel exploration according to your dietary needs and personal style, so that you can enjoy Asia in your own way.